Welcome back to Pastor Dennis Rokser’s series The Issue of Incongruity that originally began on May 5, 2008. If this is your first encounter with the series I strongly encourage you to click on the title above, which will link you to the first of this now five part series. Each article will end with a link that will guide you through this compelling series.
Warmest greetings once again in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ who declared, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature,” (Mark 16:15).
For those who may be just joining us for this series on the issue of incongruity, the bottom line subject being addressed in these articles is:
“Does the Bible allow for an incongruity or difference between the CONTENT OF THE GOSPEL message which is to be faithfully PREACHED and the content of SAVING FAITH post-Calvary which must be BELIEVED in order to have eternal life today?”Permit me to briefly review the three previous nails that have been pounded into the coffin of incongruity.
Nail # 1: 1 Corinthians 15:1-2
Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you -- unless you believed in vain.Note that THERE IS NO INCONGRUITY BETWEEN THE GOSPEL that was PREACHED by Paul and THE GOSPEL which was BELIEVED by the Corinthians! There was no MAXIMUM preached and MINIMUM believed!
Nail #2: 1 Corinthians 15:3-11
For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures… Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.WAS THERE ANY INCONGRUITY OR DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE GOSPEL WHICH WAS PREACHED EVANGELISTICALLY AND WHAT THESE CORINTHIANS HAD BELIEVED FOR THEIR ETERNAL SALVATION?
The answer: NO! NEVER! Listen to it again:
Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach (What? “the Gospel”- vs.1), and so you believed (what? “the Gospel” - vs.1). NO INCONGRUITY!
Nail #3: 1 Corinthians 1:17-25
1 Corinthians 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. 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… For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.• Was there any hint of incongruity or disparity between the Gospel which was PREACHED and what God required the lost to BELIEVE?
NONE!!! This so-called issue of incongruity is an artificial dichotomy, a straw man, a non-issue in the Scriptures. Furthermore, this verse makes it clear that “the Gospel” Paul preached and the saving content of faith are one in the same!
Nail #4: 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
• What is the Gospel Paul declared called in verse 1?
… declaring to you the testimony of God
Dear friends, it is always important to realize that the Gospel declares what God has done for man, never what man has done for God. Amen? This is the message of grace.
• What was Paul determined to preach evangelistically when he came to Corinth?
For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
Note again that it is both the PERSON of “Jesus Christ” (His name underscores His deity and humanity in addition to His work) and His FINISHED WORK on the cross (“crucified” in the perfect tense) was the centerpiece content of the Gospel Paul preached to the unsaved Jews and pagan Gentiles in this immoral and idolatrous city in Greece.
• Was there any incongruity in Paul’s preaching between the PERSON of Christ and His CROSS-WORK?
Paul did not separate Christ’s PERSON and FINISHED WORK when preaching the Gospel. There was no incongruity between Jesus Christ’s person and cross-work in Paul’s preaching; in fact, Christ’s person and work are inseparably connected since Calvary. The message Paul preached was not a gutted gospel that was sliced of its substantive content that makes it persuasive and powerfully effective in the heart of the unregenerate by means of the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. Paul preached CHRIST AND HIM CRUCIFIED!
1 Corinthians 1:18 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.
1 Corinthians 1:21 …it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.
1 Corinthians 1:23 but we preach Christ crucified…
• Was there any incongruity or difference between the message Paul PREACHED evangelistically to the unsaved and what was expected for them to BELIEVE for their eternal salvation?
What saith the Scripture?
1 Corinthians 2:4-5 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.What does God require that a sinner’s faith be in for eternal salvation? Negatively, it is NOT to be in “the wisdom of men” and their messages of salvation by human merit and works. Positively, it is to be in “the power of God.” But what had Paul earlier highlighted as the POWER OF GOD?
1 Corinthians 1:18 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.Their faith needed to be in “the Gospel” (1:17) which centers in “the message of the cross” (1:18a) which is the “power of God” (1:18b; 2:5).
This echoes a parallel truth written by Paul in Romans 1:15-16,
So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.These passages make it crystal clear once again that Paul PREACHED evangelistically to the lost the saving Gospel that focused on the PERSON and FINISHED WORK of JESUS CHRIST (“Christ and Him crucified”). In doing so, the Holy Spirit (2:4) used this message to open sinners’ eyes to receive the gift of eternal life by putting their “faith” in the Gospel (the message of the cross) which is “the power of God.”
Again I ask: Was there any hint of incongruity or disparity between the Gospel which was PREACHED and what God required the lost to BELIEVE?
Dear readers, again God has spoken and He has not stuttered: NO INCONGRUITY!
Can you hear the hammer hitting the nail of 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 as it sounds out loud and clear … NO INCONGRUITY!
In my next article we will examine Nail #5: 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10.