Tag Archives: The Cross and Christian Ministry

D.A. Carson – Knowing Nothing Except Jesus Christ

29 Dec

What then does it mean today to resolve to know nothing… except Jesus Christ and him crucified? More narrowly, what elements in our ministries need overhauling when judged by this standard? For this commitment must not only shape our message but our style.

We have become so performance- oriented that it is hard to see how compromised we are. Consider one small example. In many of our churches, prayers in morning services now function, in large measure, as the time to change the set in the sanctuary. The people of the congregation bow their heads and close their eyes, and when they look up a minute later, why, the singers are in place, or the drama group is ready to perform. It is all so smooth. It is also profane. Nominally we are in prayer together addressing the King of heaven, the sovereign Lord. In reality, some of us are doing that while others are rushing on tiptoes around the stage and others, with their eyes closed, are busy wondering what new and happy configuration will confront them when it is time to take a peek.

Has the smoothness of the performance become more important to us than the fear of the Lord? Has polish, one of the modern equivalents of ancient rhetoric, displaced substance? Have professional competence and smooth showmanship become more valuable than sober reckoning over what it means to focus on Christ crucified?

~D. A. Carson~


The Cross and Christian Ministry (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Book House Company; 1993) Chapter 1.3 – The Preacher of the Cross.

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D.A. Carson – To Those Whom God Has Called

7 Sep

22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 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

These God-called people, “both Jews and Greeks” (i.e., people called by God without racial distinction), have come to discover that Christ, Christ crucified, is “the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1:24). The language is chosen carefully. The Jews demanded powerful signs and expected a powerful Messiah. They were offended at the ridiculous implausibility and inherent weakness of any notion of “Messiah crucified.” Yet in deep irony, it is that moment of sublime weakness, the cross of Jesus Christ, that most greatly displays the power of God–and Christians recognize it. For their part, the Gentiles loved what they called wisdom. They dismissed as crass foolishness any notion of a hero who was crucified. Yet in deep irony, it is this moment of transparent folly, the cross of Jesus Christ, that most greatly displays God’s breathtaking wisdom. That is what Paul says: “to those whom God has called,” regardless of background, Christ crucified is “the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1:24).

~D. A. Carson~


The Cross and Christian Ministry (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Book House Company; 1993) p. 23.

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D.A. Carson – Jews, Greeks, and the Power and Wisdom of God

5 Sep

22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 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

“Jews demand miraculous signs” (1: 22).
Thus the demand for signs becomes the prototype of every condition human beings raise as a barrier to being open to God. I will devote myself to this God if he heals my child. I will follow this Jesus if I can maintain my independence. I will happily become a Christian if God proves himself to me. I will turn from my sin and read the Bible if my marriage gets sorted out to my satisfaction. I will acknowledge Jesus as Lord if he performs the kind of miracle, on demand, that removes all doubt. In every case, I am assessing him; he is not assessing me. I am not coming to him on his terms; rather, I am stipulating terms that he must accept if he wants the privilege of my company. “Jews demand miraculous signs.”

“Greeks [i. e., Gentiles] look for wisdom” (1: 22).
We have already discovered what this means. These people may not erect conditions that God has to meet, but they do something just as bad. They create entire structures of thought so as to maintain the delusion that they can explain everything. They think they are scientific, in control, powerful. God, if he exists, must meet the high standards of their academic and philosophical prowess and somehow fit into their system, if he is to be given any sort of respectful hearing.

In both “Jews” and “Greeks,” there is profound self- centeredness. God is not taken on trust. Both the demand for signs and the pursuit of “wisdom,” and all the countless progeny they have spawned, treat God as if we have the right to approve him, to examine his credentials. This is the most reprehensible wickedness, the most appalling insolence, the most horrific mark of our deep rebellion and lostness.

~D. A. Carson~


The Cross and Christian Ministry (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Book House Company; 1993) p. 20-21.

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D.A. Carson – The Power of God in the Gospel

25 Aug

Paul does not want the Corinthians to think that the gospel is nothing more than a philosophical system, a supremely wise system that stands over against the folly of others. It is far more: where human wisdom utterly fails to deal with human need, God himself has taken action. We are impotent when it comes to dealing with our sin and being reconciled to God, but where we are impotent God is powerful. Human folly and human wisdom are equally unable to achieve what God has accomplished in the cross. The gospel is not simply good advice, nor is it good news about God’s power. The gospel is God’s power to those who believe. The place where God has supremely destroyed all human arrogance and pretension is the cross.

~D. A. Carson~


The Cross and Christian Ministry (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Book House Company; 1993) p. 15.

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D.A. Carson – The Dividing Line Between All Humanity

23 Aug

The ancient world deployed various polarities for describing humanity: Romans and barbarians, Jews and Gentiles, slaves and free. But Paul here [in 1 Cor. 1:18-21] sets forth the only polarity that is of ultimate importance: he distinguishes between those who are perishing and those who are being saved. The dividing line between these two groups is the message of the cross: “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” (1:18).

~D. A. Carson~


The Cross and Christian Ministry (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Book House Company; 1993) p. 14.

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D.A. Carson – Our Brutally Idolatrous Self-Centeredness

21 Aug

Our self- centeredness is deep. It is so brutally idolatrous that it tries to domesticate God himself. In our desperate folly we act as if we can outsmart God, as if he owes us explanations, as if we are wise and self-determining while he exists only to meet our needs.

~D. A. Carson~


The Cross and Christian Ministry (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Book House Company; 1993) p. 15.

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D.A. Carson – Destroying the Church is Dangerous

23 Apr

The ways of destroying the church are many and colorful. Raw factionalism will do it. Rank heresy will do it. Taking your eyes off the cross and letting other, more peripheral matters dominate the agenda will do it—admittedly more slowly than frank heresy, but just as effectively over the long haul. Building the church with superficial ‘conversions’ and wonderful programs that rarely bring people into a deepening knowledge of the living God will do it. Entertaining people to death but never fostering the beauty of holiness or the centrality of self-crucifying love will build an assembling of religious people, but it will destroy the church of the living God. Gossip, prayerlessness, bitterness, sustained biblical illiteracy, self-promotion, materialism—all of these things, and many more, can destroy a church. And to do so is dangerous: ‘If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple (1 Cor. 3:17). It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

~D. A. Carson~


The Cross and Christian Ministry (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Book House Company; 1993) p. 83-84.
HT: Tim Challies

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