Sermon: “Jesus Christ and Him Crucified” (1 Corinthians 1:26–2:5)
If the gospel seems to be folly and weakness according to the world’s standards, then how can anyone possibly believe? This is the question that Paul takes up in 1 Corinthians 1:26–2:5. First, Paul answer by insisting that God calls those whom he chooses to salvation, although Paul insists that God’s choice has nothing to do with any personal merit in those whom God chooses (1 Cor. 1:26–29). On the contrary, God’s choice humiliates the wise and the strong so that no one may boast before the Lord. Second, Paul redirects any boasting we might do on our own behalf toward boasting instead in the person of Christ Jesus—our wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification, and redemption (1 Cor. 1:30–31). Finally, Paul identifies the process by which sinners come to faith: through the human weakness of preaching and the divine power of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:1–5).
By each of these logical steps, Paul rejects any inclination of our hearts toward thinking that we may be saved because of who we are or what we do. Instead, all the glory in our salvation goes to God for his great wisdom, power, and love toward sinners. Even though we did not deserve it, God sent his Son to die for us on the cross. Then, even though we were entirely blind to the message of God’s salvation, God sent his Holy Spirit to open our eyes to see the glory of Christ crucified through the least humanly plausible method possible: preaching. In all of this, from first to last, God teaches us to glory and boast in Christ crucified alone. Thus, the message of 1 Corinthians 1:26–2:5 is that God calls his people to boast in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.