By Michael Garwood

1 Corinthians 1:18 says, “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” To a world perishing under the curse of sin, trusting in a man put to death for claiming to be God’s son certainly seems foolish. It is for this reason that men and women in secular social circles openly mock the name of Christ. For Christians on the other hand, Jesus Christ has revealed the power of God through his death and resurrection so that he would redeem people from all nations to the glory of his name. During the days of the early church, it was easy to get discouraged waiting for faith to be realized. The first Christians saw Christ risen from the dead, learned from his teaching, and watched as he ascended to the father. They knew that Christ reigned victorious, but their everyday lives continued to be dominated by the will of the emperor. Many of these Christians were persecuted for what they knew to be true; that Jesus is the only way to be redeemed from a lifetime of sin before a holy God. As the early believers faced trials and tribulations, they were encouraged by the fact of Christ’s glorification, knowing that he completed the work he was sent to do. Philippians 2:8-11 says, And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. When Paul in Philippians says that the name of Jesus is the name above all names, he is making serious theological points. Surely, the cross was the pinnacle of God’s love as well as the culmination of the messianic prophecy from Genesis that Jesus, as the seed of the woman, would crush the head of the serpent. God is therefore glorified as he provides the means of salvation, as he said he would from the beginning. Even the chosen name Jesus, as a form of Joshua, means, “Yahweh is salvation”. No wonder the angel says of Christ’s birth in Matthew 1:21, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”Another point made in Philippians 2:8-11 is that Jesus Christ is in fact God. In Isaiah 45:22-23 God says, “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.’” God is clear throughout all scripture that he is the only God. In addition, because of being the only God, he is to be worshipped alone. When you compare Isaiah to Philippians, you see that Paul is claiming the deity of Jesus as a member of the divine trinity. One to whom worship is deserved from every man, woman, and child. Just as the early believers were encouraged to stand against suffering, knowing that Jesus had already overcome the world; Christians today should also stand firm in faith and be encouraged. The world may slander and persecute Christians. They may refer to Christians as the worst sort of people, but the God of the universe has chosen Jesus as the means of displaying his righteousness. Christians should therefore join with Paul in the words he spoke to the churches in Rome. Romans 1:16-17 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

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