"The Offense of the Cross"

 •  2 min. read  •  grade level: 9
Rationalism and Ritualism are the two great enemies of the cross. The first epistle to the Corinthians touches on the one; the epistle to the Galatians deals with the other. A gospel which pays court either to man's reason or man's religion will never fail to be popular. Well versed, no doubt, in Greek philosophy, and no careless student of human nature, Paul might have drawn all Corinth after him had he gone there " with excellency of speech or of wisdom " in announcing the testimony of God. But just because the Greeks were wisdom-worshippers, he turned from everything that would pander to their favorite passion, and became a fool among them, a man of one idea, who knew nothing " save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." The enthronement of Christ on high, and the glories of His return, are inseparable from the Christian's faith; but in Corinth it was the cross' the apostle preached: the cross in all its marvelous attractiveness for hearts enlightened from on high, in all its intolerable repulsiveness for unregenerate men (1 Cor. 1:17,18, 23; 2: 1-617For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. 18For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:17‑18)
23But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; (1 Corinthians 1:23)
With the Galatians it was against the religion of the flesh he had to contend. He testified to them that if they were circumcised Christ should profit them nothing (Gal. 5:22Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. (Galatians 5:2)). How was this? Had grace found its limits here, so that if any transgressed in this respect they committed a sin beyond the power of Christ to cleanse? Far from it. Grace has no limits; but there are limits to the sphere in which alone grace can act. Circumcision in itself was nothing; but it was the mark of and key to a position of privilege under covenant utterly inconsistent with grace. " The offense of the cross " was, that it set aside every position of the kind; not that it brought redemption through the death upon the tree, but that because it so brought redemption all were shut up to grace. If Paul had so preached Christ as to pay homage to human nature, and respect and accredit the vantage-ground it claimed by virtue of its religion, persecution would have ceased, for the cross would have lost its offense (Gal. 5:11; 6:1211And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased. (Galatians 5:11)
12As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. (Galatians 6:12)
Oh for power to preach the cross of Christ! so to preach that cross that it shall become a reality to all, whether they accept it or despise it; that men who never were conscious of a doubt, because they never really believed, shall see what priests and soldiers saw, and the rabble crowd that mocked His agonies, and seeing shall exclaim, " It is impossible that this can be the Son of God " that some again shall see what John and Mary witnessed, and, gazing, shall cry out, with broken hearts, in mingled love and grief, " My God, was this for me?" and turn to live devoted lives for Him who died for them and rose again.