- The Washington Times - Monday, April 28, 2003

The following are excerpts from a recent sermon given by the Rev. Sherman Isbell at the Presbyterian Reformed Church in Bethesda.

The apostle Paul found that sometimes the church was not easily distinguished from the world. The things valued by the church more often resemble things esteemed by the world rather than what God has revealed in the Scriptures. Paul tells the church at Corinth [1 Corinthians 2: 6-9] that he had to treat them as infants rather than adults. The problem was that they coveted the praise of men rather than savoring the things of God. Worldliness is not found only in the world. Paul’s preaching was contemptible even in the eyes of the church, because they were too often drawn to the wisdom of this world rather than to the wisdom of God. Paul says that two great things are missed by the wisdom of this world. Some say they believe in the cross of Christ, and that they recognize Christ as the Lord of Glory, but consider whether the implications of these two things have taken hold of your thinking.

First, the wisdom of this world has missed the significance of the cross. Among all the things on which this world prides itself, it does not have a place for an accursed Messiah. Proud man does not want to have his guilt and spiritual ineptitude exposed. He will not acknowledge that he has broken God’s law and deserves condemnation. Proud and self-sufficient man is content to devise his own religion, but will not humble himself to go to Christ as the only mediator, who in his death suffered the punishment required for our sins. Proud man does not consider the cross of Christ supremely necessary.

What place does this world give to the cross in its thinking? Paul says that the great men who receive the esteem and awards of this world are all coming to naught. Political and financial power, and things that have wide popularity, are what this world covets, but they are flowers which fade, and what will be their significance in eternity? Ultimately the cross of Christ alone will have lasting significance, because it is the way sinners are reconciled to God.

Look at the schemes in which we take such prideour economics, our politics, shaping the social order, the pursuit of culture and science and scholarshipand what is the place which this short-sighted world gives to the cross of Christ? The wisdom of this world invests everything in these schemes, but these present structures will pass away at the final day of judgment. So much will be found to have no value when assessed at that judgment, because it stands against the Word of God. But the cross of Christ, which is supremely important, is ignored by the wisdom of this world.

Moreover, the wisdom of this world has not recognized the Lord of Glory. Herod and Pilate and the chief priests and elders had the Lord of Glory in their custody, and rejected and crucified him. They would not recognize him for who He is, the King of Glory coming into the world, the Lord of Hosts. Do you see the spirit of this world, that it despised and condemned the Lord of Glory? Do you see the great iniquity and folly of worldly thinking when it is confronted with the Lord of Glory? It responds the same way in our generation as in Paul’s day.

Consider yourself. Is this worldliness in your thinking? Paul is writing this to the church, because often believers have this worldliness, when they make the decisions of life and weigh what is important to them. Look at where this worldliness leads, to despising and mocking the Lord of Glory. You say, I am a believer, so I could not do that. But have you not seen the contradiction within yourself? Are your values so beautifully worked out that there is nothing but the pure gold of God’s Word that directs your thinking? Or is there is a great jumble of all kinds of conflicting values in your heart? Is not that why there is so much sin in our lives, because we have so much worldly thinking that discounts the supremacy of the cross of Christ.

Next week: a sermon at a Washington area church.



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