Tuesday 30 June 2015

The gospel this morning is one of the outstanding passages in the whole Bible. In it, Jesus is calling for an inner change in your life. It comes deom John Chapter 3

In verse 1, we read of Nicodemus. Here was a man who recognized that he needed a change and wanted to go deeper, he wanted what Jesus offered. Sometimes it may be difficult to admit this, but Nicodemus was ready to face up to it.

He was an important man in the community. He was a Pharisee, one of an elite company never more than 6,000, who took a pledge to spend all their lives observing every details of the Jewish Law. To a Jew, that Law was the most sacred thing in the world. He was also on the ruling council called the Sanhedrin, a Court of 70 members, the Supreme Court of the Jews. All the people looked up to Nicodemus, for he was a teacher and answered questions. He tithed a tenth of all his income, fasted and prayed for two hours each day. He was a man many Churches would welcome. He had religion, but not Christ.

One night he went to see Jesus, which meant he was taking a great risk, for if found doing so it would have meant losing his position, so he had to avoid being seen. No one need to be afraid of seeking Jesus, He will take you however you come. There are people now who don’t like to acknowledge that they are identified with the Church of Jesus for fear of embarrassment through being mocked. There are many who are too proud to seek Jesus.

So beneath an Oriental sky, on a hill overlooking Jerusalem, Nicodemus spoke to Jesus and said no one could help but be impressed by what Jesus had achieved. Jesus replied that it was not the acts that were important, but it was the effects on a life that mattered.

The religion of Nicodemus was that of doing good works. The problem with a religion of good deeds is that we can never know when we have done enough, but that is the basic religion of the world. 95% of the population today, believes that as long as you are honest, kind and helpful to others and do no harm, you are a fully fledged Christian with a passport to heaven. What we need to ask ourselves is, if I stood before God to day and He asked me why I should be allowed into heaven, what would I say.

Jesus sensed in Nicodemus a deep hunger and emptiness. He sincerely believed he was doing what he thought God wanted from him, yet he had an unsatisfied heart that led him to Jesus and risk incurring the wrath of his people.

Jesus answered him with that phrase, which has been immortalized by evangelical preachers, ‘you must be born again’. Jesus didn’t say ‘you must think about it’ or ‘you must consider it’. He said ‘you MUST be born again.’

Nicodemus took Jesus’ words literally and asked ‘how can a man be born when he is old. Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb. In his heart there was a great longing. He could see the effect Jesus was having on crowds and longed to have that ability. He knew it was beyond him.

The problem with so many people is that they think they are quite satisfactory and don’t need to change or do anything. They like a certain amount of religion, but not too much; having to attend Church is an unnecessary thing for them to do.

But there is also a lesson and warning for many within the Church. It may be entertaining and give a feeling of self rewarding to
write books and take part in profound discussions in academic circles, but all that is useless in practical terms, if unable to communicate the simple message of Christianity to ordinary people.

If you go into hospital you don’t want the surgeon to give a lecture on the workings of the human body, you just want him to make you well. Christianity is something we accept by faith, we do not need a theological treatise.

Like many people today, Nicodemus felt he was too old to change, to set in his ways, but we can begin anew at any age. Billy Graham tells the story of a lady on a bus in America sitting next to a Bishop. She asked him, ‘have you been born again.’ The man answered, ‘I am a Bishop’. The lady said, ‘I didn’t ask you that. I asked if you were born again’. The bishop later said he went home read this chapter and realized his life had been missing something real and he realized what the lady meant.

So many people are desperately unhappy and unsatisfied because they are missing out in their lives. They seek refuge in alcohol or drugs or gambling or whatever. The thought of seeking spiritual help is beyond their minds.
Jesus then said, ‘no one can enter the kingdom of God unless born of water and the spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.’

The Kingdom of God is a society in which the will of God is done on earth as it is in heaven. To lead a life in which we submit all willingly to the will of God. What Jesus calls for is a complete transformation in our lives. This means in our thoughts, words and actions. Something which goes beyond irregular attendance at Church, and a casual attitude to faith during the rest of the week.

If you think of a birth, the body exists before birth and can move and feel, but knows nothing of this world. It cannot see nor communicate yet the world is all around it. At the moment of birth, the embryo comes in to the world and can see, breathe and make contact. The baby is born of the flesh.

Jesus told Nicodemus he needed an experience analogous to his physical birth. So to be born again is to be changed in such a way that can only be described as a re-creation. To be born of the Spirit means to have the Spirit of Jesus Christ living inside of you. It means that God’s gracious love comes and lives inside of your heart when you are ready to believe that Jesus Christ was Lord and is the Saviour of the World.

People come to a point in life when they feel that they are going through the motion of religion, of having the ritual without there being any sense of the real thing. If you come to that point in your relationship with God, and it happens to people all the time, you need to come before Jesus and ask Him to come into your life and give you that new life.

At this time John had been baptizing and it was a sensational event. Many people now superstitiously think that if they have their babies baptized that will ensure their entrance into heaven, a sort of once and for life matter irrespective of a life in between, which is pure superstition. Water may cleanse and may make you smell nicer, but that is not enough in God’s eyes. What it stands for is important, but you have to grasp the full symbolism, which is repentance for sin, and the start of a new way of living.

Most people don’t want to admit there is anything to repent of, they are perfectly good and God should recognize that. A Vicar put a notice outside his Church which read, ‘this church is here for sinners.’ The next week two thirds of his congregation was absent.

Jesus referred to the wind blowing and being heard without it being seen or knowing where it came from or where it was going. When we are born again we feel the Spirit of God inside us. You don’t see God or control Him, but you see the effects when Jesus takes hold of your life. You get that missing motivation; worship becomes more meaningful and necessary to you. You don’t find so many excuses for not coming to Church.

When we are born of the Spirit we have a new power within us which enables us to be what by ourselves we could not be.
It may be asked how do I get it? Sometimes a man and a woman meet and immediately know they have met the person of their dreams, instantly they fall in love. The relationship may last for ever or indeed may fall apart after a while when they reconsider with the regularity of normal living. Another man and woman meet and meet again and again and suddenly realize how deeply they have come to love each other and they live on happily. If you asked them at what point they actually fell in love, they could not tell you it just developed.

So it is with religion. Many thousands of people went to the Billy Graham Crusades in the latter half of the last century. Touched by rousing hymns, massed choirs sermon by the world’s greatest preacher, they immediately had a Damascus road conversion. Quite a lot of men became clergy and even bishops, other went back to their parishes and in the more mundane atmosphere of 1662 Matins, poorly put together services and indifferent preaching, fell away; whilst others with regular worship and a desire to know the Lord just grew in grace over time.

Jesus referred to an event in the Old Testament when the Israelites were wandering in the desert and complained about God who in His wrath sent snakes which killed people. When Moses prayed the Lord told Moses to make a bronze snake and put it on a pole and when anyone was attached they would be healed if they looked up at the pole.
God said, ‘ my son will be lifted up on a cross and those who look to Him will be saved from their sins’.

We have the whole message of the gospel in verse 16, ‘God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.’ Just as a mother suffers to give us physical birth, so Jesus suffered on the Cross that we should have spiritual birth.

Monday 29 June 2015

What motivates these zealots in the Equality Commission, especially in Northern Ireland? We have just had a bakery persecuted for refusing to put a slogan which was offensive to their religious beliefs. The same slogan would be offensive to Muslims, but you can make a safe bet that in such case these zealots would look the other way.

Now we have a Christian Minister being hounded. The Pastor preached a sermon in his large well attended Church in which he stated Islam was heathen, satanic and spawned in hell. He based this statement on what he believed could be proved from the Bible, and was no doubt stirred to anger by the terrible barbaric atrocities being committed in the name of Islam in Syria and Iraq. Many people might feel this was extreme and would choose to use more moderate language if they had similar beliefs.

However, rather than chance their arm by prosecuting him for use from his pulpit, the authorities selected to proceed under the obscure 2003 Communications Act with "sending, or causing to be sent, by means of a public electronic communications network, a message or other matter that was grossly offensive”. This Church is so popular it has to stream its services by video link, so he was acted against on that fact.

The Minister has made it clear he has no dislike of Muslim people, and indeed his church provides funs for the care of 1200 children in Kenya and Ethiopia; he further stated he would not want to see Muslim preachers prosecuted. He had no cause to fear, these equality commissars have no zeal for that.

This Minister is 78 years of age, has diabetes, liver disease and cancer, yet at what will be a great expense he is being taken to Court. The defence has warned they will call many witnesses so it will last for some time, for what ultimate purpose?

There are preachers freely walking the streets of the United Kingdom issuing all manner of hate messages against the infidels of Jews and Christians; the BBC gives them regular invitations. But if a street preacher speaks from the Bible the police response is swifter than their response to any other call.

There are atheists and secularists freely posting grossly offensive remarks about Christians on the internet, yet no action is ever taken against them.

Maybe I have missed something, but I have not seen any comment from Church leaders in defence of this Minister, but I would have thought that this was of more merit than writing about food banks.

Monday 22 June 2015

A Church which has lost its way

Following the introduction of the same sex marriage act, the Church of England decided that clergy should not take part in any such union. This was declared policy which clergy were expected to accept.

There have been cases in which clergy have ignored this policy and have been allowed to go without being disciplined. This is because those in authority within the Church have not the courage to act, lest it upset too many people. In consequence this has caused caustic comment from a Judge at an Employment Tribunal.

A priest went through a same sex ceremony in direct opposition to his Bishop and his licence to officiate in the Church was withdrawn
When re-applied this was refused he appealed to an Employment Tribunal.

This man has no cause to go crying (literally) to the Tribunal. He knows the Church’s position and deliberately went against it. He was quite free to resign, quite apart from the fact that the Bible, which the Church is SUPPOSED to adhere to, lays down clearly marriage requires a woman.

But criticism must be made, and has indeed been by the Tribunal Judge against the Archbishop of Canterbury, he is the head of the Church of England and has stated previously he is against same sex marriage, and having accepted the Office he should accept the responsibilities it entails.
At the Tribunal the Bishop, who rightly refused him a licence, was asked if the ‘hot potato’ issue of a clergyman marrying another man had been delegated by the Archbishop to avoid a Church split, and by allowing individual bishops to deal with a refusal to obey the church’s rule was done politically. The Bishop gave a diplomatic evasive answer.
The Judge thought there had been no strong disapproval from the Church, rather curiously, and wondered if the Archbishop passed it on as the church was so vocal over the social and political climate of the country, and should be seen in the context when the Archbishop was tackling an agenda of austerity food banks, etc.
This was fair comment when the Archbishop has been rather more positive on those subjects.

The Judge went on to say the church had a significant gay community and this had to be juggled with the fact that other parts of the Anglican Church, the ethnic minority churches and the evangelical section of the Church would have a different view. A problem would arise if the issue of same sex marriage were to be dealt with strongly. He thought the Archbishop had an agenda in which the church’s place in a society that sees itself to be increasingly unequal in context , so decided to leave it alone, and so consequently the Bishop had it passed on to himself.

It was disappointing that Bishop Inwood let himself down, and the Church, when he was asked by counsel whether he thought the priest (Pemberton) had committed a sinful act, and said he couldn’t decide. Bishop Inwood claims to be a strong evangelical and was once on the staff of the country’s leading evangelical Church in London. He should, based on Bible teaching, have said he did.

From this sorry episode it can be seen why people think the Church has nothing to offer them. We are on God’s business and as such should not be offering shoddy goods. If we are not preaching that which God Himself laid down for us in Holy Scripture, we have no grounds for existence. The only place for the Church in society is to offer a way of life which is so different from that of the world, holy, honourable, and hopeful for now and for all eternity.

In addition to the shame brought on the Church in this story, we had the Presiding Bishop of the American Episcopal Church preaching in Westminster Abbey, well known for her liberal views, and a Canon of York Minster giving a blessing to a Gay Pride March in that city.

I read a report that the maverick Bishop of Buckingham described doctrine that he swore to teach and pass on as being ‘lousy.’ If this be true, it shows the depths the Church has sunk to when it allows a man who is prepared to break the oath he swore, continue to hold high Office in the Church and draw the consequent high salary. If the said bishop did make this comment, and still has the intention to remain in office, apart from showing complete disregard for the Church and all its more honourable members, he brings disgrace and dishonour on himself and the Church. In any well run organisation he would not have had the option of resigning.

Thursday 11 June 2015

All Christians are saddened and horrified at the treatment being faced, and endured, by our Christian brothers and sisters in Islamic countries, just because they are of a different faith. Some of the scenes shown on television of those people in Iraq who have lost their homes and all their possessions, in addition to the loss of family members, is heartbreaking to watch.

But do not let us be complacent in Britain under the rule of David Cameron’s government. Every day there are pleas for help from a range of charities, and we are shown children (especially) suffering from malnutrition, failing eyesight, shortage of water, etc.
Enshrined in our nation’s law is a commitment to donate 7% of the national budget to foreign aid. In the light of such scenes one wonders where this aid is going.

Then I read that Cameron has stated one of the things that will determine Britain’s aid to African countries will be their gay rights policies. So, if a country does not meet up to ‘gay rights policies’, does that mean all sort of suffering can be ignored?

What happens to the men and women who are being sentenced to death in Pakistan for being Christians? Are their lives not as important as gay rights policies?

However, let us look at the creeping persecution moving inexorably in Britain. I have quoted some cases before, but for those who missed out, and also to re-enforce the situation for those who may have read, just read what is happening in this ‘tolerant, liberal, freedom loving country’. (provided you are not expressing your (Christian) faith)

Christians are facing opposition whenever they speak for Jesus; street preachers are told which parts of the Bible they can and can't use in public; NHS workers are disciplined for talking to their colleagues about Jesus; magistrates who seek to stand for God's pattern for family; Christian parents bringing their children up in line with Biblical principles are just a fraction of the restrictions being placed.

Cameron has refused to consider having a conscience clause to accommodate Christians. Indeed, he sent a government lawyer to the European Court to argue that a Cross was not an essential symbol of Christianity.

A Christian woman spoke of her faith to Muslim colleagues, some of whom were open about their support for Islamist terrorism, and was dismissed from her employment despite a petition from other staff. The Supreme Court has refused her right to appeal.

A foster couple had two young brothers removed from their care by social workers who were hostile to the couple because of their commitment to Christian faith.

The Mayor of London allows a homosexual lobby group to advertise on London buses, but denies a Christian group the same opportunity.

Having received an agreement from her employers that she need not work on Sundays because of her faith, a woman was eventually sacked, yet members of other faiths are allowed to do so on their holy day.

A Christian children’s worker was sacked after a Muslim colleague initiated a discussion on faith with her, and then complained to the management, who sacked the Christian.

A street preacher was arrested for quoting verses from the Bible, convicted in Court, and ordered to pay a total of £1,200 in costs and £250 in compensation to a homosexual man for ‘emotional pain’. The complainant was not in such emotional pain to prevent him running to the police.

A long serving Magistrate was reprimanded and sent on a course in equality training, just because he stated in a private discussion that a child was better brought up by a man and a woman.

And we have the well publicised case of the Belfast bakery set up by a gay activist who ordered a cake with the slogan ‘support gay marriage’, to be placed on top of the cake with models of two men. In view of their deep Christian beliefs the bakery could not agree to put those words on a cake. Although such marriage is illegal in Northern Ireland, the Equality Commission could not wait to get the bakery to Court, where they were made to pay £500 to the man for, again, ‘emotional pain’. This was an outrageous decision; there was no discrimination being made against the man, nor was a cake declined to be made, only the offending words wee objected to. The bakery was entitled to promote their faith as the man was his cause.

How people live and act is entirely a decision for them, and few would challenge their right to do so; but that does not mean other people are forced to act against their faith and conscience.

In to-day’s Britain the only persons excluded from exercising their rights, faith and belief are Christians. Who would ever have once believed the Conservative Party would be led by someone with such non Conservative values.

Since writing the above, I listened to an interview on Sky News between Andrea Williams from Christian Concern, and someone calling herself Julia Hartley-Brewer regarding the Belfast cake case. (I always wonder why people want hyphenated names)

I have never heard such total banality and complete stupidity as that uttered by Julia Brewer.

This case was brought by a campaigning activist who could have gone to any Belfast bakery, but chose the well known Christian one. They in turn would have baked a chocolate cake, a sandwich cake, any sort of cake, but just wouldn’t put a slogan on which was grossly offensive to their Christian beliefs. It had nothing to do with his own personal sexuality.

This silly woman immediately starting referring to discrimination and comparing black people, and when outsmarted by the much more senseable and articulate Andrea Williams, said traditional marriage permitted a man to rape and beat his wife, and probably realising the fragile state she had got into, added according to the Bible. Did you ever hear such nonsense?

Tuesday 9 June 2015

Hallejuah. We have a judge who is not anti-Christian

In an important and very welcome development, Christian nursery worker Sarah Mbuyi has won her case for wrongful dismissal.

Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Sarah brought the claim against her former employer after she was sacked for a conversation with a colleague about homosexuality.

The judgment has been hailed as "a significant milestone in the journey to protect Christian freedoms" by Christian Legal Centre CEO, Andrea William

A Christian nursery nurse who was sacked after airing her views on homosexuality and marriage in answer to a question from a homosexual colleague has won a discrimination claim against her former employer.

Sarah Mbuyi (31) was fired from her job at a nursery in West London after having a conversation with a homosexual colleague in which she explained the biblical position on homosexuality and marriage. On 6 January 2014 her colleague at the nursery initiated the conversation and had asked whether she would be welcomed at church and whether God would approve of her civil partnership and allow her to marry in church. Sarah said that “God is not okay with what you do” but that “everyone is a sinner and God offers forgiveness”. Miss Mbuyi recalled: “When I said ‘No, God does not condone the practice of homosexuality, but does love you and says you should come to Him as you are', she became emotional and went off to report me to my manager.” Following a complaint made by her colleague, Sarah was investigated and sacked for gross misconduct within three days of the conversation (9 January 2014). She was told by her employers that her comments breached equality policies and that she had harassed her colleague.

Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, and represented by leading human rights barrister, Paul Diamond, Belgian-born Miss Mbuyi fought the dismissal. She submitted an internal appeal but this was dismissed. She then commenced a claim at the Watford Employment Tribunal on the grounds that she had been discriminated against because of her Christian belief that the practice of homosexuality is a sin, arguing that she had the right under EU law to enter into conversations with adult colleagues subject to the normal principles of engagement in speech.

In a brave judgment, the Watford Employment Tribunal chaired by Judge Broughton, found unanimously that Miss Mbuyi had been directly discriminated against because of her belief that homosexual practice is contrary to the Bible. The Tribunal recognised that while the employer was “not anti-Christian” Miss Mbuyi had not been treated fairly and that the decision to sack her may have been made on “stereotypical assumptions about her and her beliefs”.

Miss Mbuyi’s belief was described by the Tribunal as one which is “worthy of respect in a democratic society, is not incompatible with human dignity and is not in conflict with the fundamental rights of others” and that the employer’s policy that there was a “prohibition on employees expressing adverse views on homosexuality and/or describing homosexuality as a sin” would have a “disparate impact on Christians holding similar views to Miss Mbuyi on the biblical teachings on practising homosexuality. That is not merely because a significantly higher proportion of Christians would hold such views but also because many evangelical Christians feel their faith compels them to share it.”

The Employment Tribunal found that:
• Miss Mbuyi’s colleague had clearly indicated that she had first expressly brought up her sexuality in conversation with Sarah
• She was the first to raise the issue of Miss Mbuyi’s church
• She asked if she would be welcome in that church, and
• She asked what Miss Mbuyi believed God thought about her living arrangements
• She acknowledged that she took the conversation into the arena of homosexuality, not Miss Mbuyi
• There is little or no evidence to suggest that Miss Mbuyi targeted her colleague in an attempt to force her faith on her
• The employer’s lawyer sought to characterise Miss Mbuyi’s Christian beliefs as discriminatory, homophobic or akin to racism, which the Tribunal described as “unhelpful”
• The employer did not treat Miss Mbuyi fairly and there were concerns about the way that the investigation had been carried out, particularly the questions asked during Miss Mbuyi’s disciplinary hearing
• This was a case of ‘direct discrimination’, and finally
• Given all the evidence it was not proportionate to dismiss Miss Mbuyi

The Tribunal made clear that the internal investigation by the employer was hampered by the “stereotypical assumption about evangelical Christians” and that the employer either “pre-judged the outcome accepting unchallenged evidence that supported the stereotypical assumption and/or interpreted Miss Mbuyi’s evidence in an almost impossible way”

According to the Office of National Statistics the number of homosexual people amounts to 1% of the population, whilst some claim it is up to 3%. In either case, why is it that such a small minority is allowed to dominate and restrict freedom of Christians to quote Holy Scripture? Even within such minority, it is only a few activists seeking publicity who make it so unpleasant for others to live their lives quietly and in peace.

Saturday 6 June 2015

1 Corinthians 1 v 17/25

This morning I want to speak about the Cross. Each religious faith has its own symbol. Muslims have the crescent moon; the Jews have the Star of David, but for Christians we have the Cross. We display it on and inside our Churches; it is embossed on bibles and prayer books.

Ladies wear a Cross as a decorative item of jewellery, although for the first Christians this would be horrifying, for it represented the most cruel death devised by men, it would be like wearing a model of the gallows; yet it is still acceptable to people. People have taken this so much for granted that the cross has lost much of its meaning and power. We see people living the most immoral kinds of life, yet wearing a cross around their neck. Everyone wearing a cross should think deeply as to why they are doing so.

Ladies also wear the Cross to display their faith, and this is where it becomes unacceptable in today’s Britain. Despite the Prime Minister telling us of his Christian credentials, he authorised government lawyers to challenge in the European Court, the right of a woman to wear the Cross whilst at work, but it would be discriminatory for other faiths not to be allowed to wear what they will.

This morning we are studying Paul’s Letter to the Corinthian Church. Corinth was a cosmopolitan city with which has been described as the Soho of its day. It was a trading centre and there was much wealth and a style of living which did not match up to Christian standards. The Church, which had started with much power, was allowing some of the culture to invade the Church, and some members were influenced by the rhetoric of some preachers who were deviating from gospel; this caused division and dissension within the Church.

We have a similar situation here where there are men/women, occupying the most prominent position in the Church, openly accepting and even encouraging Christians to adopt the morals of society, despite the fact that the Bible expressly condemns doing so.

Paul wrote to give advice and admonishment, and is showing us in this passage how the Cross is involved in human affairs and thinking.

Paul begins this passage by saying Christ sent him to preach the gospel, not with profound words and high sounding ideas, for fear of diluting the mighty power there is in the simple message of the Cross of Christ.

It is not often that a sermon on the Cross is heard, if at all. Indeed, a lot of sermons have only a tenuous reference to the gospel message. The Bible places high importance on the preaching ministry. In Acts we read how the Apostles stressed that their duty was to spend time preaching and teaching, leaving other social duties to lay people. The Bible asks, how can people believe in the gospel if no one is preaching to them?’

Writing to the Galatian Church Paul stated, ‘God forbid that I should boast about anything except the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’, to indicate how much he prioritised the Cross.

When Billy Graham first started preaching he was not satisfied with the response he was getting and discussed it with a friend, who told him talk of the Cross. He did so in every sermon he preached over the next forty years as he became the greatest and most successful preacher in Christian history.

For the message of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing but to us who are being saved it is the power of God
If you accept the Cross and its meaning, you are accepting you are making a judgement on whether you believe in truth or not.
If you tell people that all their efforts and achievements will not put them right with God, and the only way is to believe the death of Christ on the Cross is the means by which they are saved, they would say you are being ridiculous.
The message we have to take is that Jesus was born a man, in a unique and supernatural way; He performed the work God gave Him to do; He was unfairly tried for a crime He did not commit, and was crucified on a Cross as a means of salvation to all mankind.

Paul said he understood how foolish it sounds to those who are lost when they heard that Jesus died to save them, but God had said He would destroy all human plans of salvation no matter how wise they seem to be to men, even the most brilliant of them.

Paul asks where is the wise man, where is the scholar, where is the philosopher of this age has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world

The Jewish scribes dedicated their lives to study the writing of wise men. The Greeks loved debating. We have a situation in which debating is carried on in University and Theological Colleges on the veracity of Scripture, with it being analysed and taken apart. Then they go out write books, reach high Office in the Church and confuse everyone. We had an Archbishop who was so clever and learned that few could understand what he was trying to convey, it was all so convoluted; all in contrast to Paul’s desire to speak in simple terms.

Paul said the Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look to wise.
This was a stumbling block which could not be overcome by Jews or Gentiles, but to those who do believe it is a message of power.
The Jews demanded that what Paul was teaching should be proved by some miraculous sign. Jews could not ever accept that the Messiah would be crucified; it was totally contradictory to their belief. The Greeks placed so much influence on human wisdom and intellectual ability to be the means of salvation. God chose a way which ordinary people could understand. Abraham Lincoln once state God must have loved ordinary people because He made so many of them. Paul gave them an ordinary and simple message, believe in Jesus Christ who gave His life to be crucified on the Cross and you will have eternal life. If we had to be very wise and academic, millions of people would never have come to know the Lord.

But there are still people who want to see some proof for what we preach. The Bible states, by grace you shall be saved through faith’. If you have to see signs or other proof to believe, you don’t need faith. True faith is believing in what you cannot see.

God said, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate’.
The message of the world sees us as self-sufficient beings; there is no need of God. We have the ability to think and reason which will prove sufficient to eventually solve all of our problems. Obviously God doesn’t think so much of it.

Just where has all the wisdom of the so-called wise brought us? How well have we done in solving the world’s problems? Have we eradicated poverty? Has all our research and expertise in the fields of science and medicine rid our world of disease? Have we found a cure for cancer? There is more suffering now than history records.
With all the highly educated professional educators, how can we still have ignorant people wandering our streets, graduating from our schools and colleges not knowing basic maths or English?
Look at the enormous amount of hatred in the world with many of the Arab countries wanting to wipe Israel off the face of the map; the barbarity of Islamic militants.

Paradoxically hatred has been introduced into our society by legislation. The (inequitable) Equality and Diversity Bill has caused considerable distress. Consider the hate mail and persecution experienced Christians who do not wish to surrender their beliefs to society’s morality. The unfortunate reality is that for all our so-called sophistication, we have not been able to solve the basic problems of society–– problems that have been around since the beginning. Certainly, we have been able to see great advances technologically. We have great new gadgets. But on the really important issues of life, we don’t even have temporary solutions.

But to those whom God has called, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.
The Cross upon which Jesus died not only was a place where he bore the sins of humanity and paid the penalty for those sins, it is also a way for our lives by his power. And the reason it looks foolish is because of its paradoxical nature. It is a paradox. It is something that seems contradictory. It is like saying that the way up is down. In fact, that is precisely what it says.

It is saying that God became weak in order to save us. It says that when we surrender our lives we truly find them. The way to true exultation is true humility. The world looks at this and says it is foolishness. But when we believe it and stake our very lives upon it, we tap into this undiscovered power and find it to be real. It is the very power of God, concealed from the so-called wise and sophisticated and revealed to those who come as a child, in simple faith and trust.

For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength
Today the cross of Christ is still a cause of offence. The message of the cross of Christ is still foolishness to those who are perishing. To them the cross is the weakest link. In the Cross, we see the power of God displayed. God was powerful enough to become weak. And it will take the power of God in our lives to humble ourselves in complete surrender to him. The good news is that God has given us his power. As we surrender to him, we experience his power to live, to love, to serve, to really matter. Never mind that it seems like foolishness to the world. They will not have the last say in the matter.

There is one underlying message running right through this passage. ‘There is only one way to heaven and that is through Jesus Christ’. God gave His only Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
We do not earn our right to heaven by all the good things we do, being saved is a gift from God, if we could earn it would not be free. God accepts us when we believe in Christ.

We who believe therefore can stand before the throne of judgement with confidence with having nothing to fear, for God is on our side.