“For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:22-24).
The Evangelical Gospel Message
I grew up in an evangelical church. Everything about us was evangelical – our songs, our sermons, and even our name and motto. The Christian & Missionary Alliance is what we called ourselves, and our motto was “Living the Call Together” – a reminder that it was our responsibility to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).
When I attended that church I lived the call. I was the guy who knocked on your door on Saturday mornings, woke you up, and told you that I had good news for you.
“He died for you,” I would say. “He atoned for your sins. He came to give you life and you can have that life today if you would repent of your sins and receive Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and savior. Will you do that today?”
It was rare that anyone did. You see, I was also the guy that got the door slammed in his face several times, was told, “get off my property,” and even chased down the block by dogs. It happened so many times that it got me thinking – why isn’t the Gospel good news to everyone? Why do some get it and others don’t? Maybe you’ve thought the same.
The Bad-News Gospel
In 1 Corinthians 1:22-24, the apostle Paul calls the Gospel two things: a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks. He was making a comparison between how the Jews and the Greeks thought about the Gospel. On a scale of foolishness from 1-10, where 10 is the most foolish, the Greeks thought the Gospel was a 10! The Jews thought it was a 1. Why were the Jews more apt to believe the Gospel and not the Greeks?
The answer has to do with their upbringing. Since childhood, the Jews grew up listening to the scriptures being read in the temple. They heard about the fall of man. They understood that man sinned against God and had to pay the penalty of death. Yet at the same time, they also understood that God would one day atone for their sins and give them everlasting life. So they were looking forward to the Gospel. It was good news for those who could believe it.
For the Greeks, on the other hand, the Gospel wasn’t good and it wasn’t even believable. All because they didn’t have the same upbringing as the Jews. They never heard about the fall of man. They had no understanding that they were dead in their trespasses before God and they didn’t look forward to being set right with God. So when they heard the Gospel, it was foolishness because they were ignorant of the things God revealed to the Jews.
This is why some are open to the Gospel and others aren’t. Some people don’t have a foundation that is set for the bricks and mortar of the Gospel. We may try as hard as we can to build the walls and raise the roof of the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ, but it will only collapse within their hearts because they are unable to bear the great weight that is the hope of the Gospel.
Providing Gospel Background
It is necessary for us then to turn Greeks into Jews; to lay down the foundation of the knowledge of sin and death before we can present the Gospel. Only then may foolishness turn into stumbling blocks, and stumbling blocks into Christ, who is the power and wisdom of God.