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THE PREACHING OF THE CROSS

A sermon written by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
and preached by Rev. John Samuel Cagan
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, May 27, 2018

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (I Corinthians 1:18).


Our pastor, Dr. Hymers, has been preaching for sixty years. He has preached thousands of sermons. He wrote the sermon I am preaching now. Many hundreds of his manuscripts are on our website, word for word. They are translated into 38 languages. The sermon videos and manuscripts go out into 221 countries of the world. Pastors all over the world are preaching his sermons. Dr. Hymers is an outstanding preacher! And yet, with all his experience, he finds it hard to decide what to preach.

“Why is that so hard?” you may ask. I’ll tell you why. There will be many people in our church on Sunday morning who are not real Christians. Some will be from a Buddhist background. Others will be from a Catholic or new-evangelical background, nominal Christians, Christians in name only. Some will have no real religious background at all. Others will be unsaved people in our own church, who know a great deal about the Bible, but have never experienced the new birth. All of them will have one thing in common. They will not be truly converted to Jesus Christ.

On Sunday morning the sermon is only about one hour or less. In that short hour, the sermon must say something that changes everything you thought about religion, and make real Christianity seem true, not just a truth, but the truth – the only truth. The sermon must get you to agree with that and change your entire way of thinking, and try to persuade you to give up your false ideas, come under conviction of sin, and turn your whole life over to Jesus Christ. That’s a big assignment! And there is only about one hour to do it! What I am about to preach may seem like a simple Gospel sermon, but a great deal of thought and prayer has gone into it.

Our text is a single verse of Scripture. I am now praying that the few words I say from it will help you; at least I pray that you will remember a little of what I said when you go home today, that, at the very least, the thoughts I bring out will cause you to think about our Lord Jesus Christ, and what He has done for the salvation of your eternal soul. Here, then, is the text, in I Corinthians 1:18. Listen as I read it.

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (I Corinthians 1:18).

This sermon will have three main points: (1) the preaching of the cross itself; (2) the foolishness of the preaching of the cross to those who perish; and (3) the preaching of the cross alone is not sufficient to have a strong church.

I. First, the preaching of the cross itself.

What does the Apostle Paul mean by those words, “the preaching of the cross”? The term, “the preaching of the cross,” has one main theme. It means that there is only one truth set forth in those words. They refer to the one and only true Gospel. There is one Gospel, just as there is only one God. And there is only one Saviour – Jesus Christ. We do not believe the post-modern idea that “the preaching of the cross” may be true for me but not for you. The post-modernist may say, “That is your truth. It is true for you. But it is not my truth.” I say that is post-modern double talk. When the Bible speaks of the cross, it speaks of an objective truth – a truth that must be dealt with by every one of you. A truth which remains true whether you believe it or not. Because God spoke of it in the Bible, it is true whether you think it is true or not. It is an objective truth, which means it is true even if your mind does not grasp its importance.

Next, “the preaching of the cross” is founded, not only on what the Bible says, but also on the historical facts – the fact that Jesus Christ suffered deeply for your sin, that He went through great anguish and pain in the Garden of Gethsemane, when your sins were placed in His own body. He went through horrible torture when they beat Him half to death in Pilate’s court. Then He was dragged off to Mount Calvary, where they drove nails through His hands and feet, where they raised the cross, and left Him hanging there, bleeding and dying to pay the penalty for your sin, so that you could be saved, not only forgiven of your sin, but justified by His death, that is, counted sinless through one simple act of faith in Him.

“The preaching of the cross” is preaching that shows you that you are

“dead in your sins” (Colossians 2:13),

and that only the substitutionary death of Christ in your place, could pay vicariously for your sins, cancelling your sins, and giving you new life by Christ’s resurrection from the dead.

The “preaching of the cross” shows that you do not earn salvation by good deeds or by occasionally coming to church. No! No! The preaching of the cross shows forth the truth that nothing good you do has anything whatever to do with your salvation. “The preaching of the cross” strips away all the so-called “good” things you do – and says that the only thing that can save you is what Jesus did on that cross to make full atonement for your sin vicariously – one man, Christ (the God-man) dying to pay for your sins, without any additions of good things you have done, or “decisions” you have made.

I don’t doubt for a minute that you have done some good things. I am simply saying that these good things will not save you! Salvation comes through the death of Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, who took your sins upon Himself and paid for them when He was nailed on the Cross. The Apostle Paul made all that clear when he said,

“But God commendeth [shows] his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him” (Romans 5:8-9).

God loved you while you were yet a sinner. Christ died to pay the penalty for your sins while you were yet a sinner. And you can be justified by His Blood, even though you are a sinner.

Lord Jesus, for this I most humbly entreat,
   I wait, blessed Lord, at Thy crucified feet;
By faith, for my cleansing, I see Thy blood flow,
   Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Whiter than snow, yes, whiter than snow;
   Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
(“Whiter Than Snow” by James Nicholson, 1828-1896).

I hear Thy welcome voice,
   That calls me, Lord, to Thee
For cleansing in Thy precious Blood
   That flowed on Calvary.
I am coming, Lord! Coming now to Thee!
   Wash me, cleanse me in the blood
That flowed on Calvary.
   (“I Am Coming, Lord” by Lewis Hartsough, 1828-1919).

That is the preaching of the cross!

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (I Corinthians 1:18).

But there is another thought in our text.

II. Second, the foolishness of the preaching of the cross to those that perish.

Please listen to those words,

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness.”

Listen to the text again.

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness…” (I Corinthians 1:18).

The word “foolishness” means “foolish talk,” “nonsense.” Hearing preaching that says you must be saved from sin by the death of Christ is only “foolish talk” to the unconverted mind.

Those who are perishing see no value in the preaching of Christ’s vicarious death to pay for their sin. The reason they think it is foolish is because they see no value in it. That is where the Holy Spirit comes in. Jesus said,

“When he is come, he will reprove the world of sin…” (John 16:8).

The Holy Spirit must reprove a person, convince him of sin, or he will not see the value of Christ’s death on the cross. Before a person is convinced by the Holy Spirit of sin, he will only think of preaching on the cross as foolishness. The Greek word translated “foolishness” comes from the root word “moros,” from which comes our English word “moron.” The preaching of the cross seems like the talk of a moron, a stupid person, until you are convinced in your heart, by the Spirit of God, that you are a lost sinner.

That is why you cannot “learn” to be a real Christian. Salvation does not come by learning human wisdom. The Apostle Paul made that clear in verse twenty-one, when he said,

“The world by wisdom knew not God” (I Corinthians 1:21).

Salvation does not come by learning human wisdom of any kind. There must be an illumination in the heart, showing you that you are a hopeless sinner. Until that happens, preaching that tells you that the only solution to your problem is the crucifixion of Christ seems like the idle talk of a moron. Unless you feel inwardly that your problem is sin, you will never see the importance of Christ’s death on the cross. The Bible says,

“Christ died for our sins” (I Corinthians 15:3).

He died in our place, to pay the penalty for our sins. The Bible says,

“The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (I John 1:7).

But that will only seem to you like an interesting theory at best, and a fool’s talk to the rest, until your eyes are opened by God’s Spirit to see that there is no other way to be saved from the curse of sin. Only when you are convinced of your helplessly sinful condition will you be able to sing from your heart,

For nothing good have I
   Whereby Thy grace to claim –
I’ll wash my garments white
   In the blood of Calvary’s Lamb.
Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe;
   Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.
   (“Jesus Paid It All” by Elvina M. Hall, 1820-1899).

But the preaching of the cross alone will not give us a strong church. That brings me to the last point.

III. Third, the preaching of the cross alone is not sufficient to have a strong church.

The preaching of the cross is necessary if you are to be saved. It is on the cross that Christ died and shed His Blood to save you from your sin. But the preaching of the cross alone will not give us a strong church. That is why Christ gave the churches pastors. The Bible says that Christ “gave some...pastors” (Ephesians 4:11). The Greek word translated “pastor” is poimen. It means “shepherd.” Jesus gave some men the gift of being a pastor, a shepherd, of their local church. And the pastor is a gift to the church. The people in the church are the sheep, the flock. The pastor is the shepherd of the church. He takes care of the sheep. He protects the sheep. He guides them and keeps them from wandering astray. That’s what a shepherd does.

Another Greek word for “pastor” is episkopos. The word means “overseer.” It is translated “bishop” in the King James Bible. The Bible says, “If a man desire the office of a bishop [episkopos, overseer, pastor], he desireth a good work” (I Timothy 3:1). A pastor oversees the church. He looks over it. Literally he sees over it. He watches over the church. He prays and thinks about the church. He sees how the church is. He sees what the problems are. The pastor sees the church in a way that others do not. With God’s guidance, he sees what to do. The pastor looks over – oversees – the people in the church. He sees how they are doing. He sees their struggles and their problems. And with God’s guidance, he helps them succeed in their Christian lives.

Without a gifted pastor, the church will not succeed. It can have all kinds of activities. We can have meetings. We can bring visitors on Sunday. We can give you a song sheet and a bulletin. We can give you a meal. We can have good preaching – the preaching of the cross – and we do. But the preaching of the cross alone will not give us a strong church.

Why did God give pastors to the church anyway? Why is the gift of pastor listed as one of the spiritual gifts? If preaching alone would produce a strong church, why didn’t our Lord just give “some, evangelists” and not pastors at all? Christ knew that the preaching of the cross alone was not enough to have a strong church. The church needs a pastor, and that’s why He “gave some...pastors.”

Without a pastor, the church will fail, even if the preaching is good. It will grow weak. It will get into trouble. Finally it will die. Without a pastor, the people in the church will backslide. They will grow cold. They can make big mistakes in their lives. They will get into trouble. Why?

First, because there is a Devil. The Bible says he “walketh about [as a roaring lion], seeking whom he may devour” (I Peter 5:8). Who will he devour? The sheep! But the Devil doesn’t want you to think about him. He wants to jump on you and eat you up – and you won’t even realize that it was the Devil who did it! The Devil and his demons are out there – whether you remember it or not.

Second, because all people are sinners. Because Adam disobeyed God, all of us are born with a sin nature. The Bible says, “By one man's [Adam’s] disobedience many were made sinners” (Romans 5:19). Everyone – even Christians – has that sin nature. It is natural for us to sin. It is natural for us to go wrong. Murphy’s Law says, “If anything can go wrong, it will.” Things don’t naturally get better by themselves. They can go wrong, they can go downhill, easily enough. And they do. People don’t naturally become strong Christians by themselves. They can backslide. They can grow cold. They can make mistakes. And they do. You don’t have to work hard to make that happen. It happens by itself. Churches don’t naturally become strong by themselves. They can become weak. They can fall into trouble. That’s easy enough. You don’t have to work to make that happen. It will happen all by itself! And it does. That’s why a church needs a pastor. Christ “gave some...pastors.” Thank God He did!

The pastor of our church is Dr. Hymers. He has been in the ministry for sixty years. God has used him to bring hundreds of people to Christ. He has counseled people for many years. He has taken care of people. He has helped them. Dr. Hymers has founded two churches. He guided our church through trial and suffering. He took our church through a horrible split. God used him to build our church, to take care of us, to protect us, to keep us. Dr. Hymers is not only a pastor. He is an outstanding pastor! I thank God for our pastor, Dr. Hymers!

What about you? You are not the pastor. But you can help him. You can tell him when you see something that might be wrong. This is all the more true for the deacons and leaders in our church. You’re here to help the pastor. Don’t just let things go. Don’t assume the pastor knows. If you see or hear anything that might be wrong, tell the pastor.

Some of you are not Christians at all. You have not trusted Jesus. Your sin has not been washed by His Blood. What about you? You need to be saved by Christ. He died on the Cross to pay for your sin. He shed His Blood to wash your sin away. He rose from the dead to give you life. If you would like to speak with us about trusting Jesus, while the others go upstairs to have lunch, you come and sit in the first two rows. Amen.


WHEN YOU WRITE TO DR. HYMERS YOU MUST TELL HIM WHAT COUNTRY YOU ARE WRITING FROM OR HE CANNOT ANSWER YOUR E-MAIL. If these sermons bless you send an e-mail to Dr. Hymers and tell him, but always include what country you are writing from. Dr. Hymers’ e-mail is at rlhymersjr@sbcglobal.net (click here). You can write to Dr. Hymers in any language, but write in English if you can. If you want to write to Dr. Hymers by postal mail, his address is P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, CA 90015. You may telephone him at (818)352-0452.

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.sermonsfortheworld.com.
Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

These sermon manuscripts are not copyrighted. You may use them without Dr. Hymers’
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from our church, are copyrighted and can only be used by permission.

Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
      “Saved by the Blood of the Crucified One” (by S. J. Henderson, 1902).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE PREACHING OF THE CROSS

A sermon written by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
and preached by Rev. John Samuel Cagan

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (I Corinthians 1:18).

I.    First, the preaching of the cross itself, I Corinthians 1:18a;
Colossians 2:13; Romans 5:8-9.

II.   Second, the foolishness of the preaching of the cross to
those that perish, I Corinthians 1:18b; John 16:8;
I Corinthians 1:21; 15:3; I John 1:7.

III.  Third, the preaching of the cross alone is not sufficient to
have a strong church, Ephesians 4:11; I Timothy 3:1;
I Peter 5:8; Romans 5:19.