The Preaching of the Cross is Nonsense

 

Isaiah 43:1-7

Acts 8:14-17

Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

Psalm 29

The words of a sage who describes himself as Solomon but may not be; Ecclesiastes 1:2.

“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” NIV

Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanityESV

Smoke, nothing but smoke. [That’s what the Quester says.] There’s nothing to anything—it’s all smokeMSG

Utter futility!—said Koheleth—Utter futility! All is futile! JSB

This is the first reading for the week (Thursday). Doesn’t that get you motivated for work? In chapter 2 the sage lists all his great deeds as well as his great wealth. In Ecclesiastes 2:11 (Friday) he admits the following.

Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.
 NIV

Saturday, the reading turns positive.

I have seen the task God has given humanity to keep us occupied. He has made everything suited to its time; also, he has given human beings an awareness of eternity; but in such a way that they can’t fully comprehend, from beginning to end, the things God doesCJB I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they liveNIV

What do we make of all this? Are our lives worth living?

The sage ends his 12 chapters with, the sum of the matter, when all is said and done: Revere God and observe His commandments! For this applies to all mankindJSB

Paul, in 1 Corinthians 1:18, says, The preaching of the cross is, I know, nonsense to those who are involved in this dying world, but to us who are being saved from that death it is nothing less than the power of GodPhillips God’s teachings apply to every human and all will be judged by those teachings. Those of us who have allowed Jesus to attach himself to us will be judged the same as Jesus.

In college, I had a couple of teachers who returned tests starting with the highest grade to the lowest. If the highest grade was a perfect score, one also announced that to the class. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone else could receive the same score as the top paper? That’s what Jesus does for us.

In 1 Corinthians 2:10b, Paul adds; For nothing is hidden from the Spirit, not even the deep wisdom of GodPhillips In verse 14, Paul adds; But the unspiritual man simply cannot accept the matters which the Spirit deals with—they just don’t make sense to him, for, after all, you must be spiritual to see spiritual thingsPhillips

Today’s reading in Acts is a testimony to the importance of the Holy Spirit in our lives. When the apostles in Jerusalem received the report that Samaria had accepted God’s Message, they sent Peter and John down to pray for them to receive the Holy Spirit. Up to this point they had only been baptized in the name of the Master Jesus; the Holy Spirit hadn’t yet fallen on them. Then the apostles laid their hands on them and they did receive the Holy SpiritMSG

A close reading of the Bible reveals many times when the Holy Spirit came in people. It always comes from God in the Old Testament and from Jesus in the New Testament. Here, we see the Spirit being channeled from God to Jesus to Peter and John, then to the Samarians.

In Luke 3:21-22, we read; Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” ESV

It is important to note that the Spirit descended on Jesus alone. Others were baptized, but it was not their time to receive the Holy Spirit. Even the Apostles received the Spirit for a few days at a time according to their needs. It was not until after Pentecost that his followers received the power of the Spirit of God.

When you wonder if you have the Holy Spirit with you, ask yourself if you are doing what God wants. Even if you are without the Spirit, you will do good. Nearly everyone wants to do good at least sometimes. Many hard-core atheists are very generous to others.

But just doing good is not enough. Doing what God wants is another level. It is the Spirit level, even if you have trouble feeling the Spirit.

I have had hands laid on me more than once and have laid hands on others, but I have never felt a tingle, let along hearing the voice of God. Did the Spirit pass me by? I don’t believe so. Too many things have happened in my life that are not explainable without the presence of the Spirit.

I have made enough trips to Haiti to understand that all the help I gave in building projects and in assisting medical workers is indeed vanity. All those people will die, all those buildings will be destroyed. But I did show the love of God. I did make friends. I did brighten the day for at least some of the poorest people in the Americas. On my last building project, all I did was take pictures of those who worked. I also photographed the kids who came to watch and let them see themselves on my small camera screen. When I stand for the Judgment, that is what God will look at.

Doubt, but believe.

 

Read my earlier comments on this theme HERE.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

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