The church in Corinth was facing some challenging issues. The Apostle Paul recognized that the solution was simple: “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (2:2). And he reminded them that his preaching did not come with “persuasive words of human wisdom” but came through “the demonstration of the Spirit and of power so that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (v. 4).
One of the great challenges facing the church then and today is to make Christianity center around ourselves. It cannot be! The way to know that this is wrong is through God’s revelation personally applied through the Holy Spirit (v. 10). This is absolutely essential because “no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God” (v. 11). In turn the Holy Spirit continues to teach us (v. 13). The “natural man” does not understand this for spiritual things “are spiritually discerned” (v. 14). Paul’s “instruction in his letters to the churches of his day is instruction for the church of God to the end of time” (EGW, Letter 332, 1907).
Once I attended a scholarly conference. The discussion was about whether or not conversion was true. Several commented that Christianity and the new birth was a mental crutch that people lean on. Only one person commented that perhaps it was possible to experience conversion, because he knew a friend with a sufficient academic reputation who claimed to have had experienced conversion.
For the Christian, the reality of it is that the cross of Christ changes everything. This revelation is made possible through the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. It gives us “power” to live the Christian life and is full of hope. As it is written, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hat prepared for them that love Him” (v. 9).
Andrews Seminary professor Joseph Kidder observes, “The cross is the heart of all fellowship and it is only through the cross that fellowship deepens and matures. But this requires the frequent and painful crucifixion of self in all its forms—self-seeking, self-centeredness, self-righteousness—and the willingness to remain vulnerable in open fellowship with other Christians” (Majesty: Experiencing Authentic Worship, 97).
Michael W. Campbell, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Historical/Theological Studies
Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies