July 11, 2021 | Taylor Walling

The Cross

Paul said, “I decided to forget everything except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” For four weeks, that’s what we’re going to do. Because of what Jesus has done, the Cross has become the prism through which we see God, ourselves, and everyone else. The Cross is the hinge point of history. The Cross is the divine counter-narrative to the typical script life hands us. The Cross is the greatest offense to a world of people who don’t think they need to be saved, and also the greatest offering of God’s love for that same world. The Cross is the great equalizer among all humankind. The Cross is the triumph of God. The Cross is the decisive victory in the war against sin and death. We are saved and shaped by the Cross.


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Well, hello Hills Church. It's great to be with you and welcome to everybody who is online and also live at all of our campuses. If I haven't met you, my name is Taylor. I'm one of the teaching ministers here, I'm excited to kick off a new series. While our senior teaching Minister Rick actually is starting his annual study break. This is something he does to pray and prepare for the second half of the year and all of the incredible messages that he is planning to give I've seen a sneak peek of the

In calendar and there's some good stuff coming our way. But in addition to some of the prep and planning that Rick does during this month, he also has opportunity especially this year since he didn't get to last year to travel and visit some of our church plants. If you're new to the hills, I'm so glad that you're with us. One of the things we love to do is to make sure that that we are not just a church whose about our local version of the church. But we are a church whose about the kingdom of God, which means we want to fund and support.

Which is starting in many different cities, around the country and even around the world and Rick, and I talked about how encouraging it is to get to go and be with some of these Church Planters, whenever we get the opportunity to visit. They often are encouraged that were there and think they think us and thank you Hills Church for your generosity, but we leave just as filled up because of the just the incredible boldness, that the church Planters, show the innovative ways that they work to reach out to their

T the strategies, they employ to to affect their cultural context. And so with them in mind, I want to begin this new series on the cross, talking about a different Church Plant in a different city. A city was a rich city, booming with trade and business in part because it was an international Hub, which meant it was a multicultural City. It was also city known for its entertainment host, it all kinds of different sporting events that would draw huge crowds. They pack out.

The theaters for different speaking and theater. And and yet at the same time, with all those events, the city had a bit of a party scene, had a reputation for for some of its booze and excessive sexual expression, but it with all those different things that play, it was also a religious City, the lot of different spiritual expressions and it was in a city, this Dynamic, this complicated, this affluent that church planter came and

Here was their strategy going to let this church planter in their own words, describe their strategy when I came to you. I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I Proclaim to you. The testimony about God for I resolved to know nothing. While I was with you except Jesus Christ. And him crucified such was Paul's strategy when he arrived in the city of Corinth to plant a church.

Now I'll be honest as a preacher and as a somebody who is partly paid to do some public speaking. His his words here, both inspire me and bother me because it sounds like a false dichotomy like hold on. Are you saying you saying? I can't I can't be eloquent. I need to stumble over my words to have an authentic Christian sermon. I don't think that's actually what Paul is saying. I don't think he's dogging, the idea of preparation. I think the Paul is dogging, the idea of performance and

Church as entertainment see. The reason he's doing this is because when he says eloquence and human wisdom, we hear one thing, but the Corinthians would have heard another, they would have had a very specific setting in mind those packed out amphitheaters.

Corinthians loved the idea of wisdom, the pursuit of wisdom, the Greek word for wisdom is Sophia, Corinth was a city. Just consumed with the idea of Sophia so much. So that there was a movement, among them called, sophistry from that root word of Sophia. That's where we get the word sofisticated, and these sophisticated lovers of wisdom. Sure. Love to hear themselves talk. And if the history books had it, right? They could pack out audiences

And Captivate a crowd. But the thing about this sophistry movement of public speaking, it was a little bit like to maybe kind of you might say, like, like, like a comedy club mixed with a TED talk. Like, it was intended to be entertaining. It wasn't so much substance as it was style. It wasn't what you said. It was, how you said it, you didn't need to be an expert. You just needed to entertain. That was the movement of sophistry. And so when Paul shows up, his strategy is to

Make sure he's not going to get lumped in with the other public speaking entertainers which is why he says at the beginning of his letter to the Corinthian Church in in chapter 1 as he's writing back to them. A few years later after having planted this church and moved on, he hears about some issues going on and when he writes back he brings back up some of the ways his strategy as a church planter. He does it in Chapter 2 that we just read but in verse 17 of chapter 1, Paul says Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach

The gospel not with wisdom and eloquence less the Cross of Christ be emptied of its power C for the Apostle. Paul, as he started to preach, he wasn't going to try and just entertain the crowd or draw an audience because he wanted the cross of Jesus to stay front and center and wanted people to leave. Not saying what a great speaker, but what a great God. And so, and so, as he begins to do this,

What we're going to do is we're going to copy that strategy for the next four weeks. Now we try and do this every week as a church, but we're going to do it in a very focused way this month to know nothing. But Christ and him crucified. The cross will be our refrain, it will be our theme. It will be our song. It will be our Focus again and again. And so, in week, 2, we're going to be talking specifically about what Jesus accomplished on the cross and week 3, we're going to talk about how the cross, not only saves us but shapes.

Lives. As followers of Jesus and in week, 4, we're going to talk about how we as a community are united by the cross. For today, as we begin, we need to start with the core reason that we preach the cross. And that's the very next thing. Paul says, in First Corinthians chapter 1 verse 18. If you have your Bibles and you haven't turned their yet, I invite you go ahead and turn to First Corinthians chapter 1. We are going to stay right there in that chapter for the rest of

Of this message. Here is the Bold audacious declaration that a church planter named, Paul makes to some Christians in Corinth 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.

Paul claims that the message of the Cross, some translations might say the word of the Cross is the very power of God. So it would be important for us to Define. What is the actual message of the Cross later in this same letter, Paul kind of gives what he calls, the things that were of first importance. It's that Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures that he was buried, and he was raised on the

Third Day, according to the scriptures and then that he was witnessed by many of his followers who saw him alive after he had died on a Roman cross.

In at its most basic, that's kind of the nutshell of the message of the cross. The message of the Cross is not about some kind of theology. It's not a, just a proposition, it is a declaration of an event that God came to Earth. Lived, a holy and righteous life was crucified and Rose from the grave three days later. There's much more to say and we will this month, but for now, that's where we need to start. That's the announcement. Jesus Is God In the Flesh? Jesus died on a cross, Jesus.

Those from the grave and because of that everything has changed, that's the Declaration. That is the message of the cross.

And what I need you to know is that while today, we can celebrate that in the day that it was initially announced, it did not receive Applause.

And so we need to start with this. If you're taking notes, the first place we need to begin. Is that the cross is God's worst offense.

Even as I say those words, the cross is God's worst offense. A kind of ring Hollow to us If we're honest.

Because over time and in thought the cross has become domesticated.

So result of two Millennia of being inside of a culture. So influenced by Christianity that, at this point, Western Society can only be described as post-christian because it doesn't even know what it is yet. It's still reacting against this great huge Global influence of the Christian faith.

And so the cross we have become so distanced from the horrific reality of the Roman cross. So to help jog our Collective memory, we're going to do a short history lesson on crucifixion. The Romans it's been said didn't invent crucifixion that might go to the Babylonians of the Assyrians. There's some debate there but everybody can agree that the Romans in a Twisted way, perfected it. So here's what Romans would do.

To those who were sent to the Cross, would begin with a flogging. The, with those known as a cat of nine tails that had shrap some of clay Rock glass that would be raked