June 5, 2020
Occidental Community Church family,
1 Corinthians 2:1. "When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2.For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified."
It is so tempting as a pastor to get sidetracked from the central message of the Cross of Christ. I have personal opinions on matters that I consider very important. I have ideas that I think others need to hear. But I must resist the urge to preach these things. Paul wasn't saying here that he preached the same exact message repetitively, over and over again, to the exclusion of any other. Rather, he was saying to the Corinthians that his focus in all he taught and preached was the Cross where Jesus died for their sins. Every message pointed back to Christ's sacrificial death, which alone had the power to save and transform them. 1 Corinthians 1:18. "For 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."
A few months before the Japanese attacked Pearl harbor in 1941, the Gideons International were able to place fifty thousand copies of the New Testament on all the ships in the Pacific Fleet. After the disastrous attack in which thousands of men were killed, many of the sailors' bodies were found in the posture of reading their Testaments. A great number of them had signed their names on a blank line on the last page, signifying their acceptance of Jesus Christ as their Savior.
A nurse whose son was in the Navy came to Honolulu to work in one of the hospitals. She hadn't heard from her son in two years. When the attack came she offered her services to the Navy and was assigned the unpleasant duty of assisting in the identification of the dead at the morgue. One by one she uncovered the bodies to secure their dogtag serial numbers so that word could be sent to the nearest of kin. After a while she uncovered a body, only to be looking into the face of her very own son. She was so overcome with emotion that she fainted and had to be carried back to her quarters to recover.
Later, her son's personal effects were brought to her. Among them was a small, white New Testament, water-soaked and unreadable. But she noticed that her son had signed his name on the last page. This mother never went to church and never read the Bible, but she asked the Navy chaplain for a Testament like the one her son had. That night she read it from cover to cover, learning that she was a sinner, but that God so loved her that He gave His Son to die on the cross to save her from her sins. She noted on the last page a blank space where she could sign her name if she would receive Christ as her Savior. Having seen her son's signature in his water-soaked Testament, she realized that he had accepted Christ as his Savior before being killed. Taking her son's New Testament, she signed her name under the name of her son. The message of Christ dying on the Cross had saved her just as it had saved him!
Stories of remarkable conversions like this abound in the work of the Gideons as they faithfully place Bibles all around the world. But there is one element common to all these conversions. In one way or another, the message of Christ's death on the Cross and His resurrection three days later was read. The power to transform people everywhere does not lie with man. We have neither the power nor the influence necessary to change the human heart. That power belongs to God alone. He uses the gospel of Jesus Christ to awaken man's heart to the need of salvation.
We at Occidental Community Church are convinced of this. All that we do is related either to bringing people to this point of conversion or to helping them grow to maturity in their faith. It is the greatest, most challenging, and most rewarding work God has given us to do. We must never lose our focus. We must never take our eyes off Jesus. We must never stop preaching the foolishness of the Cross!
Romans 1:16. "I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes."
Trusting in Him,