In 1 Corinthians 1:18, Paul said, “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”. In verse 17, he declared the idea that the cross could “be made of no effect” if it were presented with “the wisdom of words”. Then he shows why this is true of the cross and the message of the gospel.
To those who reject the salvation of the cross, the idea of being saved through the work of a crucified man is foolish. The words “message of the cross” sounds totally different to us today, but in the first century, saying “message of the cross” was about the same as saying message of the electric chair – except worse! What message does a cruel, humiliating, instrument of death have? To us “who are being saved it is the power of God”. However, it’s “foolishness to those who are perishing”!
It was impossible for Paul to preach the gospel without presenting the “message of the cross”. The gospel is the “message of the cross”.
In verse 20, Paul said: “Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world”?
The wisdom of this world is a wisdom that excludes God, emphasizes human self-sufficiency, makes man the highest authority and refuses to recognize God’s revelation in Jesus Christ. God calls this wisdom foolishness because man has failed to find the truth or come to know their creator. The older I get the more I see the frailty of human wisdom and the secular world view.
The gospel and the “message of the cross” must never be made suitable to philosophy, science, or any other so-called wisdom of man. There’s a tendency in the world to think that the smartest and wisest humans will know the most about God. I call these “eminent theologians”. They may look nice and be good orators, but they either forgot the message of the cross or they never knew it. God can’t be found through human wisdom, but only through the message of the cross. Human wisdom can never bring the true knowledge of the true God.