In this world there are only two kinds of people—the saved and the unsaved. And because of who they are (saved and unsaved) they have different beliefs and different responses to God and to His Word. And when it comes to the gospel (the message of the cross), their thinking is particularly different.
1 Corinthians 1:18
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.
Let’s examine this verse one phrase at a time.
The message of the cross. Most importantly, the message of the cross is not simply a message that He died for us as a martyr on a cross—to demonstrate an example of love toward us. Though He loves us, the message of the cross is much more than that—it is the doctrine that proclaims salvation through the atonement that Christ made for us on the cross.
Is foolishness. The message of the cross is by no means simply a message of love to us in that He died as a martyr and as an example, for that would not appear foolish to anyone. Albert Barnes from his Barnes Notes said,
…if that was all [that Christ died as a martyr], there would be nothing that would appear contemptible, or that would excite their opposition more than in the death of any other martyr. The statement that Polycarp, and Ignatius, and Paul, and Cranmer died as martyrs, does not appear to people to be foolishness, for it is a statement of an historical truth, and their death excites the high admiration of all people. And if, in the death of Jesus on the cross, there had been nothing more than a mere martyr’s death, it would have been equally the object of admiration to all people. But; the “preaching of the cross” must denote more than that; and must mean:
(1) That Christ died as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of people, and that; it was this which gave its speciality to his sufferings on the cross
(2) That people can be reconciled to God, pardoned, and saved only by the merits and influence of this atoning sacrifice.
Now the reason why the true message of the cross is foolish to some people—to the unsaved—is because the whole idea, to them, of Christ’s blood bringing atonement and forgiveness to anyone seems unreal, unbelievable, impossible, and even magical. Indeed it would be impossible if the miracle working God was not involved. Therefore, to them it is foolish because they have not believed in God, and they have not experienced the power of God in their life.
Those who are perishing. These are the unsaved, who have no spiritual life in them and whom do not receive truth from God; hence, they do not know the mind of God and get no instruction or understanding from Him (1 Cor. 1:14-16). Their mind and body is progressively perishing—or dying, and they have no hope of restoration apart of Christ’s atonement. Sadly, they will ultimately spend eternity in hell.
To us who are being saved. From conversion, salvation is a process of transformation. There was a point when we were saved, but our salvation continues—thus the term “being saved.” As we behold our Lord, in this life, and get to know Him, we are transformed gradually from faith to faith, and from glory to glory (Romans 1:17; 2 Cor. 3:18).
When we actually see Him (1 Jn. 3:2) we will be fully transformed in the sense that we will be without sin and without flaws. In another sense, we will continue to grow in our relationship with Him and in increasing knowledge of Him throughout eternity. (Since we will have a superior mind and be like Christ in every way we will have such a great capacity to experience love and joy and to think and reason, and in all things to grow to greater and greater heights forever, experiencing and discovering many new and wonderful things.)
Power of God. Themessage of the cross—that Christ’s blood saves people from sins—is a message of power. This power cannot be found anywhere on earth or in heaven; it is a power found only in the life blood of Christ our Savior.
Do you have need of this power—to save you from your sins? Do you feel that you are slowly perishing and that when you die there will be no hope for you? Are you afraid that possibly you will spend eternity without God in hell?
I want to tell you now that if you decide to trust in God and receive the gift He has provided for you—salvation through His Son, then His awesome power will save you.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believed in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.