In our last few verses we discussed the fact that many so-called Christians put their trust in denominations or religious leaders rather than in Jesus Christ. Paul has already warned us that those who put their trust in the person or brand of Christianity that has baptized them have emptied the cross of Christ of its power (I Corinthians 1:17). Today’s Bible verse tells us why people are so quick to turn their faith away from the cross and towards religious leaders and man-made institutions:
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 (I Corinthians 1:18 NIV).
So the reason why some people reject the message of the cross is because they think it is foolish. They do not really believe that the all-powerful Creator of the universe will really forgive them for their sins just because they believe a certain truth in their head. They think that salvation must involve more than just belief in the saving power of Christ’s blood. So they try to enhance the gospel by adding on new man-made requirements. They claim that you need to follow a particular preacher, or be baptized by some elite clergy that supposedly are part of a special apostolic line. But actually, these things that seek to add to and enhance the gospel in the end make it null and void, because they destroy your trust in Christ alone to save you. A warning to you who seek to add manmade requirements to the gospel: if you think the simple message of the cross is foolishness, then you are perishing. You are rejecting the only thing that can save you because you think you can improve on God’s plan of salvation.
But not all of us consider the cross of Christ to be foolishness. Those of us “who are being saved by it” recognize it “as the power of God.” We realize that the sacrifice of Jesus 2,000 years ago is great enough in and of itself to save us if we simply believe in it. No special rituals or traditions are required to empower it. We cling to the message of the cross, and only to the message of the cross, because we know there is nothing else that can save us. If we give up on this message we give up on everything.