Humility in Preaching | 1 Corinthians 1:13-17

Humility in Preaching | 1 Corinthians 1:13-17

1 Corinthians 1:13-17 Humility in Preaching


  • Last week I preached a sermon I never would have thought I would ever preach. I preached on division in the church, specifically denominationalism.
    • Paul says this concerning early denominationalism:
      • 1 Corinthians 1:11-13 ESV  11  For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers.  12  What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.”  13  Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
        • In Short Paul is saying “Stop being divided over who’s teaching you follow or don’t follow”
        • He is not saying it is wrong to follow one teaching or another, he is simply saying DON’T LET IT DIVIDE YOU!
    • In verses 14-17 Paul takes this concept even further, now looking at himself, and specifically his role as pastor and preacher in the church. Let’s take a look, starting with verse 13 once again and all the way to 17:
      • 1 Corinthians 1:13-17 ESV  13  Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?  14  I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius,  15  so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name.  16  (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.)  17  For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
    • I think the real power, and what today’s message is about, is that last line that Paul says “17  For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”


  • Church, we in America have the same problem as the Corinthians. It think this problem is even more prevalent in the more Charismatic and non-denominational church crowd.
    • That problem is this: We idolize pastors and preachers.
    • Let me say that again, we as Christians have a tendency to idolize pastors and preachers, and it is to our own detriment.
  • Before I get into this I want to set the stage by just being clear that we were are talking about here is sin. Black and white, pure and simple, pastor idolatry is sinful. The first two of the 10 commandments make that clear.
    • Exodus 20:1-4 ESV  And God spoke all these words, saying,  2  “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.  3  “You shall have no other gods before me.  4  “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
      • What God is saying here is this “I am God, follow me, worship me, serve me, try to be like me, make me famous, no one else, I am God no one and no thing else on heaven or earth is”.
  • But what we do with our pastors is we listen to them as if they themselves are God.
    • Yes pastors do their best to preach the Word of God, to be true to His Word, to be Inspired. Absolutely. But we are still men, we still have flesh, we still sin, and fall and get things wrong.
    • And this all ties in with division because if you all think that I am God’s perfect servant, and first Christian Church down the road think’s their pastor is God’s perfect servant… then what happens when the two of us disagree, when we preach different sermons, and have different theologies.
      • All of the sudden the church is divided… because “My Pastor Says is better than what Your Pastor Says” next thing you know we are calling each other names and not going to each others Christmas parties… and it seems as though Christ is divided!
        • But Christ is not divided, is He church?
        • The problem is not that Christ is divided, the problem is that we are lifting up our pastors, our churches, and our understandings as if they themselves were Christ. And that is sinful.
  • Now let me slow it down, back it up a bit. In the verses that we read today there are really two topics or subjects that Paul uses to demonstrate his point. First baptism, then preaching.

Concerning Baptism

  • Let’s see what he has to say about baptism and how that pertains to pastor idolatry:
    • Verses 14-16 deal with Baptism so lets read those once again.
    • 14-16  I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius,  15  so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name.  16  (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.)
      • Paul says “I thanks God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius”
        • What an odd thing for Paul to say. Because we know that baptism is nearly synonymous with salvation, because Biblicaly baptism happened on the day of salvation, it is almost like Paul is saying “I thank God that I saved none of you”.
          • Now there is a distinction here I want to make clear… Paul is NOT saying “I thank God none of you were baptized except Crispus and Gaius” no, to the contrary I am sure Paul celebrates their salvation and the baptism that follows!
          • Instead he is saying “Thank God you were baptized by someone other than me!”
            • I once heard an evangelist try to encourage young believers to go out and evangelize, that is, he was trying to encourage them to lead people to Christ. He used this story to encourage them:
            • One day, he said, you are going to be in heaven, and you are going to see me there with a crowd of people around me. And all those people will be thanking me, and you will ask them “Why are you thanking this man” and they will say “Because of him is why we are here, he lead us to Jesus”… then you will look at your own crowd and realize there is no one thanking you, how sad that day will be for you!
              • Church do you understand the heresy in this example? NO ONE IS GOING TO HEAVEN BECAUSE OF YOU! NO ONE! NO ONE IS GOING TO HEAVEN BECAUSE OF ME!
              • We go to heaven because of Jesus Christ, we will be giving Christ all the praise and Glory in heaven! Yes God works through us to lead people to Christ, but it was Jesus who died for our sins, not any of us!
              • And Paul understands this sentiment, that is why he says in verse 13 “Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?”
    • No only that but Paul was famous, and he knew that, Paul had a huge impact on Christianity and church planting, he know that too, but Paul did not desire to be famous, he did not want people worshiping him or idolizing him, he wanted people to worship Jesus.
  • But Paul knows that we as humans have a tendency to make idols, and what he is saying is “Man it is the best thing that could have happened for me not to have baptized you”. Because Paul knows that as a famous man that could lead to him getting the glory instead of Christ.
    • For this reason church is why I try to do as few baptisms myself as possible, but to instead invite you the church to do the baptisms.
      • If you invite someone to church and they get saved I am going to ask you to baptism them.
      • Because its not about me, its not about you, its not even about the person being baptized, it’s all about Christ. Amen?
  • So then Paul gets to the meat of the matter as he transitions into talking about the way he preaches.

Concerning Preaching

17  For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

  • Paul says “Look, I was called to preach the Gospel, and that is what I intend to do. I was not called as a Baptist but as a preacher”.
    • What I think Paul is really saying is “Look, I was not called to be famous, but to make Christ famous!”
      • Because we all know that there is a danger of having pride in leading people to Christ, right?
      • Just like the story I share about the evangelists who wants to be surrounded by people in heaven.
        • The reason I say this is because I know that as a pastor I want to be able to brag about how many people got saved on any given Sunday.
        • I want to share the numbers with people!
        • And I know my other pastor friends get excited about this too!
          • We had 300 baptisms this week! How many did you have?
    • And again, there is nothing wrong with being excited with how many people get saved, we should rejoice over salvations and baptisms! IT’S A GREAT THING! But we should never take pride in it.
  • So Paul says “I was called to preach so that is what I intend to do”. But the next statement he makes is a shocking one.
  • “OK Paul, you are called to preach, how then do you intend to preach?
      • Wait what? You don’t want to be an eloquent and wise preacher?
      • NOPE!
  • Dude this fly’s in the face of modern American preaching! We pastors take so much pride in how good we are at preaching!
    • We preach powerful sermons, we preach poetic sermons, we preach emotional sermons, we try to make our messages as accessible as possible.
    • In fact some preachers go to School to learn how to preach the most eloquent and the most wise sermons that can possible be preached!
      • BUT NOT PAUL!
      • Paul says he specifically and intentionally preaches sermons that are not full of wisdom or eloquence.
  • “But Paul, Why? Why would you do that?”
    • Well he tells us right at the end of that verse.
    • 17  For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
    • Why? Because I don’t want the cross of Christ to be emptied of it’s power!
  • You see Paul want’s people to hear his sermons and not remember him, not remember his sermon, but know the Christ of whom he preaches.
    • This is what I always say…
      • I would one day love to go to a foreign country and preach to thousands upon thousands of people, and leave that place with no one remembering my name, no one remembering who I was, and preaching an otherwise unremarkable message… but instead I want them to remember my God, my Christ, His Holy Spirit and the presence there. I want the Holy Spirit to be the one that leads people to Christ, through my message, but not by my message. I want Jesus to be famous and Christian to be forgotten.
      • I don’t want people to know my name, I want people to know Jesus.
      • I don’t want to be so good at preaching that people come to hear me speak. I want Christ to be so present that people come to meet him here.
    • Yet pastors do it all the time. We see Christian programs that are named after the televangelist who is preaching… We go to mega churches where the pastors face is plastered on Giant banners hung in the foyer.
    • We see entire ministries named after the minister instead of Christ! WHO ARE WE TRYING TO MAKE FAMOUSE HERE?
    • I remember when I was in Seattle a big name preacher was coming to town to hold a rally in the football stadium. They sent a box of free bumperstickers to our church to promote the event. The bumpers ticker had in huge letters the name of the preacher… like 95% of this bumper sticker was the guys name… then in little letters underneath “Revival at Century link stadium”. WHAT THE HECK IS THAT?
    • Please, I beg of you church, if I ever change the church website to please just take me out back and shot me…in the leg. I give you full permission.
      • Yet pastors and preachers do this all the time, the increase their own fame, it’s almost like they are using Jesus to get famous instead of letting Jesus use them to make Jesus famous.
        • Did you catch that?
          • Many preachers today are using Jesus to get famous, instead of allowing Jesus to use them to make Him famous!
    • Someone read John 3:30 for me. “He must increase. I must decrease!” More of Jesus, Less of me! LORD HELP ME TO PREACH LIKE THAT, TO PASTOR LIKE THAT!
  • Again Paul is saying “I don’t want the power of the Cross to be lost on my good preaching”.
    • Because let’s face it people. I can get Amanda to come up here and play some tear jerking chords on the piano while I preach the wisest, most eloquent sermon you have ever heard. I can bring you to tears and then present a gospel invitation that you can’t ignore. But then when you say the prayer and you do the thing, you really aren’t putting your faith in Jesus, because it was not Jesus who invited you into salvation, it was my awesome preaching, so instead you are really putting your faith in me. And thus I have robbed you of true salvation and robbed Christ the power of the Cross.
    • Instead, I want to preach what Christ has for me to preach, and let Him work on your heart! I want Him to bring you to tears, I want Him to invite you in.
    • I want you to leave this place remembering His face, not mine, His words, not mine. MORE OF JESUS LESS OF ME!


  • I just want to conclude by saying this. Please don’t take my passion for anger. I praise God for televangelists. I praise God for revival meetings held by famous preachers. I know they too are doing the work of God. I even follow some pretty famous dudes, like Francis Chan.
    • But as for us, as a church, I want to make sure the only Idol we have is Jesus.
      • Once again take this test. IS THERE ANYONE ON EARTH that if they turned out to be a fraud, a faker, a phony, then your faith would be shaken? If so you have made an idol.
      • If it comes out that me and Amanda are cartel drug Lords who sell blue meth and are using the church to launder money… would your faith be shaken? Then you are idolizing us. It is my Jesus I want you to follow after. It is Him whom our faith, trust, and hope is in. Not me, not Amanda, not anyone else. Just Jesus.


Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.