Watering the Tulips
August 10, 2016
“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” – 1 Corinthians 2:1-2
Corinth was located only 45 miles from Athens where some of the greatest orators in human history studied and lived. Men like Socrates, Plato and Aristotle had greatly influenced the philosophers of Athens in the 1st century. This love of philosophy had bled just down the road to Corinth. These people expected any man who spoke publicly to use the styles of the speech connected with the orators of their day. They much preferred worldly explanations to questions like “Where did we come from?” or “What is our purpose in life?” or “What happens after death?”. Paul had no interest in such tactics.
One must wonder how well Paul’s preaching would be received in contemporary Christianity. Though Paul was well schooled and certainly understood Greco-Roman culture, he chose to speak plain, intelligible words to his audience when he preached. He wasn’t interested in being viewed as a great orator. Paul wasn’t trying to become the greatest preacher of all-time. His goal was simple – to urge sinners to repent of their sins and trust in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.
Paul was a preacher of the Word of God. He reasoned with people from the Old Testament Scriptures to prove that Jesus was the Messiah (Acts 9:22). Paul was the type of evangelist that opened the Word of God at the beginning of the sermon and expounded it until the end of the sermon – oftentimes for hours. His preaching wasn’t based on sad stories and allegories. His preaching had the Gospel at the center as He taught God’s Word to men.
Paul’s type of preaching was “folly to those who are perishing” (1 Corinthians 1:18). Having a clear understanding of the depravity of man (1 Corinthians 2:14), there was no reason to polish up his speech with the style of an Athenian orator. Paul spoke the Word of God plainly to common people. Whatever point he started from, he quickly made his way to the cross of Christ. The 19th century English pastor Charles Spurgeon once said, “I take my text and make a beeline to the cross”. This was the method of the Apostle Paul and it ought to be our method today. It may be foolishness to the lost, “but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24)
In no way am I suggesting that we ought not use proper English or that our sermons ought not be well prepared and outlined. That’s not the point of Paul’s message here. As pastors, preachers, missionaries, teachers and even lay people who share the Gospel with friends and family, we must realize the power to save is not in us – it has nothing to do with our oratorical skill. The Gospel must be shared in truth, of course. But, it doesn’t have to be shared in some high form of communication. We must learn to share the Gospel in a simple, clear, accurate way. And whatever we do, we must make sure that “Jesus Christ and him crucified” is the focal point. We cannot trick people into trusting Jesus. This is the work of God alone through the Gospel. We are merely the messengers (1 Corinthians 3:5-6).
Watering the Tulips is brought to you by Sovereign Grace Baptist Church in Northport, AL. For more information, please visit www.sovereigngrace.net . “Your App to the Gospel” can be downloaded on the AppStore for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, Google Play for Android & the Microsoft Store for Windows Mobile. Please download it today!