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What should we do in response to evil? The answer to that question is near the heart of the Gospel, according to the Apostle Paul. We can answer it by looking to see what God did. But you might not like it. Pastor Luke preaches from 1 Corinthians 1:18–25 in “SCANDAL,” part 3 of his 4-part series “1 Corinthians 1.”
Talk It Over
OPEN. 1. When have you been scandalized by something or someone?
OBSERVE. Read 1 Corinthians 1: 18-25.
2. Paul contrasts those who are perishing from those who are being saved (v. 18). Why doesn’t he leave open the possibility that some people can save themselves?
3. We have had centuries to become accustomed to the message of the cross (v.18), but it was scandalous to Paul’s readers. Read v.18 again but substitute for “cross” an offensive method of execution. How does it change the impact of the verse for you?
4. Read Isaiah 55: 8-9. How is God’s wisdom different from human wisdom? Read Proverbs 4: 5-8. Should human wisdom be discounted entirely? How are the two types of wisdom related? What does Paul mean in v. 20 when he says God has made the world’s wisdom foolish?
5. Read John 2: 13-21. What “sign” was Jesus referring to there? When did he perform that “sign”? Who found it convincing and who didn’t?
6. Pastor Luke said that Christianity is not a set of beliefs or teachings about God, but the response to Jesus’ resurrection. How does the Resurrection answer the objections that people raised in v. 23?
7. Read Philippians 2: 3-8. How does that passage (based on a hymn in the early Church) connect God’s wisdom with God’s power?
APPLY. 8. Paul says (1 Corinthians 1: 22) that Jews wanted God to perform miracles to validate the expected Messiah, but Greeks (or Gentiles, v. 23) want their religion to make sense. If you knew nothing else about them, would you be more willing to accept a religion that made sense but was powerless, or the reverse?
9. Paul says that Jesus’ crucifixion is a stumbling block, that is, an offense or scandal. How much of its scandal is because it challenges human ideas about wisdom and power? How much is because none are saved apart from it? (See Q.2 above.)