What Are You Demanding?

What Are You Demanding?

Sermon Series: A Church with Problems

Sermon Title: What Are You Demanding?

Sermon Text: 1 Corinthians 1:22-2:5

One of the great joys of studying the books of the Bible in a verse-by-verse fashion is that you can begin to get the sense of the flow of thought that connects one passage to another.

  • You can also begin to see the logical connections that the writer is intending to make.
  • The Bible is not made up of thousand of tiny soundbites.
  • QUOTE: The Bible is not an ongoing list of unconnected blurbs, like a really long twitter feed.
    • The Bible is made of books that have themes, narratives, backgrounds and context that join the entire message together.
    • If all we ever do is look at one verse over here and another verse over there is would be easy to miss how cohesive and interdependent the message really is.

We have been studying Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church.

  • We have seen his introduction wherein he makes the point that although the church has problems and divisions, he is thankful for this body.
  • We have been examining his appeal to the church for UNITY
    • He is concerned that the division in the church has led to factions.
    • These factions are claiming notable leaders for themselves.
    • Yet, they are in actuality behaving in an ungodly way, unbecoming of the very leaders they are espousing.


In last week’s lesson, we focused on v.18 wherein Paul points to the fact that the world sees the message of the cross as foolishness.

  • You may remember I mentioned the story of the Amexamenos Graffito.
    • This is a carving in Rome from the first century which depicts a man worshipping at the foot of the cross and the one on the cross bears the head of a donkey.
    • The message is obvious: Those who worship at the foot of the cross worship are fools.
  • We saw that the cross is the place where the world and the church divide.
    • The world sees the cross are foolishness.
    • But the church sees the cross as the power of God.

As I was examining the text for this week, I noticed a connection in Paul’s words in chapter 1 and the opening section of chapter 2.

  • Note: I realize chapter and verse distinctions are later additions.
  • Even still, the section is divided by several lines of text, yet a thread of thought remains.

The connection is found in 1:23 and 2:2

  • 1:23 “but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles”
  • 2:2 “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified

It wasn’t enough that Paul made the name of Jesus known to the world.

  • It wasn’t enough that He made known His wondrous works or mighty deeds.
  • No, His focus was on the CRUCIFIXION of Jesus. 
  • It wasn’t enough to just know Jesus… he was focused on CHRIST CRUCIFIED

He tells us that it was for this very reason that the message was rejected.

  • To the Jews, this was a stumbling block.
  • To the Gentiles, this was folly.


A little background on this may help us understand what Paul is saying.

Paul often separates the world into two groups: Jews and Gentiles.

    • He was a Jew himself (identifies himself a “Hebrew of Hebrews” Phil 3:5)
    • Yet he identifies himself as the Apostle to the Gentiles (Rom 11:13)
    • Note: Even though he makes a distinction between that which they are seeking (Jews signs, Gentiles wisdom), they are both equally in need of Christ.

The Jews sought signs, and to them Jesus was a stumbling block.

    • “Stumbling Block” (ska¿ndalon) we get the English word ‘scandal’
      • This word comes from the idea of the trigger which causes a trap to spring.
      • Its the thing which causes one to stumble and fall into disaster.
      • The message of the cross was a snare, a trap, a dangerous message.
    • WHY? —>>
      • Because their assumption about the Messiah was a warrior, a conqueror.
      • He would come with a rod of iron to destroy the oppressors of Israel.
      • Some modern Jews who still hope for a Messiah still claim that Jesus couldn’t have been the One because of this missing component. 
    • One might ask, “If the Jews sought signs, why not believe in Jesus? He gave them signs.”
      • In one sense yes, and in one sense no.
        • At one point, Jesus tells them He will not give them any signs.
        • Matt 12:39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.”
        • Jesus wasn’t willing to satisfy the wicked people in their demand of signs they wanted.
        • Yet, in His divine nature, He did continually do their which were supernatural in nature (feeding 5000, healing the sick, raising the dead).
      • But the signs weren’t the ones they demanded.
        • They wanted the signs of power over oppression.
        • Instead, Jesus demonstrated power over sin.
      • They thought their biggest problem was their Roman oppressors, when their biggest problem was their sin and separation from God.

So the Jews sought a savior who would conquer their earthly oppressors, and in their minds Jesus did not qualify…

The Gentiles sought wisdom, and to them Jesus was foolishness.

    • Remember, the Gentiles (Greeks) loved wisdom.
      • Their desire was for a message that excited their intellect.
      • They had no desire for a message which their considered “simple”.
      • Their heroes were men like Socrates, Aristotle, and Plato.
        • QUOTE: J. Vernon McGee compares philosophy like this: A Blind man, in a dark room, searching for a black cat, who isn’t there!”
        • In this sense, they were constantly yearning for that which was unattainable.
    • Philosophy means “lover of wisdom” and that was the focus of the Gentile world.
      • It was consumed with new and better ways to describe what it defined as truth.
      • In Athens, Paul had seen them that just wanted to “hear something new” (Acts 17:21).
    • Then in comes Paul with this very simple message.
      • A message that is not clothed in elaborate language.
      • A message which is not adorned with the wisdom of the day.
      • But a simple, primitive, and obscene message:
          • This isn’t Greek wisdom.
          • This isn’t even Jewish religiosity.
          • This is a simple message 

Neither the Jews nor the Gentiles were willing to receive the simple message of the cross.

Essentially, Paul is saying that for both the Jews and the Gentiles, a crucified savior was just not enough for them!

    • Jews demanded a conqueror.
    • Gentiles demanded a philosopher.
    • Neither were satisfied with a crucified savior.

This Leads to the Question for Today: 

Is a crucified Savior enough for you?

A Keyword in this passage is “DEMAND

    • There was a demand on behalf of Paul’s hearers that his message didn’t satisfy.
      • The Jews demanded signs.
      • The Greeks sought (demanded) wisdom.
    • Paul brought them neither.
      • He refused to meet their demands.
      • Instead, he brought them a message they desperately needed, but didn’t want.

So the question is “WHAT ARE YOU DEMANDING?”


People often demand certain things without even realizing it:

*People demand that they be seen as basically good.

    • I honestly do not believe there is a more pervasive belief among people than that they are basically good (at least on the inside).
    • Not too many would claim to be perfect.
      • Almost everyone would agree that they are sinners.
      • But they would argue with passion that, even still, they are good.

*People demand that their opinions be taken into consideration.

    • This may seem like an odd point, but consider what I mean.
      • People demand to be heard.
      • Even when they know little to nothing about a subject, people feel very entitled to have their opinions heard and even validated.
    • Never is this so obvious than when it comes to the subject of God.
      • People make great claims about divine truth with nothing except their own vain opinions to justify them.
      • Think about the things people say which have absolutely no justification from Scripture, yet they proclaim them as confidently as possible:
          • God wouldn’t send anyone to hell.
          • God doesn’t care if you go to church.
          • God doesn’t really care if you live in habitual sin.
          • God doesn’t care what you believe so long as you are sincere.
        • Often they try to justify their thoughts by saying, “God wouldn’t want me to be unhappy, so he must want me to do this!”
    • This is an attempt to justify one’s own opinions because of the demand that every opinion be validated. 

*People demand that their works be seen as meritorious.

    • The idea of earning heaven as a reward for positive behavior is so ingrained into the psyche of most people that it is almost unquestionable.
      • Illustration: “Why Should the Death Row Inmate Get the Same Heaven as Me?” I will never forget the conversation with a man who said, “I just do not understand how a death row inmate can believe in Jesus, after all the evil he has done, and then get to go to heaven when I have lived a moral life and basically been a good person?”
      • The entire premise of this question is based on the idea that somehow and in some way, the ability to live a moral life as opposed to a lawless one should merit some favor with God.
    • One might say, “I certainly must be bound for heaven because of my commitment to my wife, my kids, my morality, etc.”

*People demand that they be able to come to God on their own terms.

    • This one is hugely pervasive.
      • Rather than being made in the image of God, people want to remake God in their own image.
      • QUOTE: Voltaire “In the beginning God created man in His own image, and man has been trying to repay the favor ever since.”
    • Men want the ability to place demands upon God and His will. 
      • They want God to feel the way they feel, think the way they think, and do what they think He should.
      • And when it comes to coming to Him, they believe they should get to set the rules.

*People demand that God receive whatever kind of worship they provide.

    • I bet you’ve heard people say, “I can worship God just as well in a fishing boat on Sunday as I can in a church pew”
      • There is even a famous meme which states “Religion is a man in church thinking about fishing and relationship is a man fishing thinking about God”. 
      • While that may sound really spiritual and good, it is reenforcing the narrative that worship is “what you make it”. 
    • When someone says, “I can worship however I choose” what they are saying is that “God doesn’t set the demands for His worship, I do.”


A crucified Savior forces us to understand:

  1. We are not good.
  2. Our opinions do not change the truth.
  3. Our works are woefully insufficient.
  4. God appoints the terms for our relationship with Him.
  5. God sets the standard for the worship He will receive. 

You see, Jesus stands in contradiction to the demands of the world. 

    • The Jews had their demands.
    • The Gentiles had their demands.
    • Jesus didn’t meet their demands, so they rejected Him.

What demands have you brought today?

    • What unrighteous demand are you clinging to that is keeping you from trusting Him?
    • What ungodly expectation are you using to salve your conscience and keep you from repentance?


It is not you who gets to set the demands, it is God.

    • If you came today with demands set on God, you have it backwards.
      • If you demand to be seen as good, know that you wont.
      • If you demand your opinions be able to influence the truth, know that they won’t.
      • If you demand your works be seen as meritorious, know that they won’t.
      • If you demand to come to God on your own terms, know that you can’t.
      • If you demand God receive worship according to your standard, know that He won’t. 
    • You are not in a place to make demands.

That role belongs to God.

And His demand is thus: 

Repent of your sin, and trust in the crucified savior.

He may be a stumbling block to the Jews.

He may be foolishness to the Greeks.


But there is no other name, under heaven, given among men, by which we MUST be saved.