Paul, in 1 Corinthians 1:18, writes about “the message of the cross.”
To Paul, the message of the cross was the gospel (1 Corinthians 1:17).
The message of the cross, the gospel, is powerful...it is the power and wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:17-18).
It is the message Paul was sent by Jesus to proclaim (1 Corinthians 1:17).
The context of 1 Corinthians 1:17 was that believers in Corinth where boasting about and aligning themselves with certain teachers (1 Corinthians 1:12).
Consequently, they were arguing with one another about which teacher was the best communicator (1 Corinthians 1:10-11).
They were also taking pride in the teacher that baptized them (1:13-17).
However, Paul attempted to divert them from following a certain teacher and from taking pride in who baptized them.
He diverted them by driving them to the gospel, the message of the cross (1 Corinthians 1:17-18).
So what is the message of the cross?
Acts 20:24 says that Jesus sent Paul to proclaim the gospel of God’s grace (see also Galatians 1:11-12 and Ephesians 3:1-2).
So the message of the cross, the gospel, is God’s grace.
Paul uses the word grace over 140 times in his letters.
Grace is the central message that Jesus gave Paul to announce to others (Acts 20:24).
In Colossians 1:3-8, he writes how understanding the gospel of grace immediately changed the lives of those who heard and understood it.
He also writes about how grace changed his life (1 Corinthians 15:9-11; 1 Timothy 1:12-17).
Paul expounds on the gospel of grace in Romans, Galatians, and Ephesians.
A summary of the gospel of grace, the message of the cross, is:
"Grace is everything God freely, fully, and forever did for us in Jesus to bring us into a love-relationship with himself, leaving us nothing to do but to rest by faith in what he did."
At the cross, Jesus took all our sins and unrighteousness upon himself (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).
By faith, we receive God’s forgiveness and righteousness.
We now stand before God 100% forgiven (no guilt) and 100% righteous (completely clean, pure) forever.
God sees us as forgiven and righteous.
We do not try to stay forgiven and righteous.
We are eternally forgiven and righteous...nothing can change that (Romans 3:21-25; 5:17; Colossians 1:14; 2:13).
In addition, the law was nailed to the cross (Ephesians 2:14-15; Colossians 2:13-14).
We do not relate to God by the law but by grace (Romans 3:21-25; 5:1-2; 6:14; 7:1-6; Galatians 2:19-21; 5:4).
This is a powerful message (1 Corinthians 1:17, 24; 2:4-5).
It is a message worth proclaiming.
It is a message people need to hear (2 Corinthians 4:15).
It is the message Jesus sent Paul to proclaim (Acts 13:38; 20:24; 26:15-18; Romans 3-8; Galatians 1:11-12; Ephesians 1:6-8; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21; 2 Timothy 1:11).
Paul did not depend upon a polished sermon and elegant speech when proclaiming the message of the cross, the gospel of grace (1 Corinthians 1:17; 2:1-5).
His goal was not to impress or please people (Galatians 1:10-12).
He simply shared the truth about the cross, the gospel, grace (2 Corinthians 2:2).
This was because he knew a simple presentation of the gospel of grace, the message of the cross, was the power of God to transform a person’s life (1 Corinthians 17-2:5).
God wants you to understand the message of the cross, the gospel, grace.
It is the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24, 30; 2:7).
He sent his Spirit into your heart so you could understand all that he has freely given to you in Jesus (1 Corinthians 2:10-16).
The Spirit of God in you wants to give you the revelation of grace.
He wants you to fully understand the message of the cross and experience its transforming power in your life.
When this happens, your faith will not rest upon a person’s, ministry’s, organization’s, or denomination’s teaching, but your faith will rest completely upon the wisdom and power of God...the message of the cross...the gospel...God’s grace.