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.” In this article we give answers to the question: Why is the gospel foolishness to those who don’t know Jesus.
1) It seems too easy.
You just ask forgiveness and Jesus comes into your life? Nothing else? Aren’t you required to pray 3 times a day? Won’t you go to hell if you don’t go to church? It seems foolish.
In response, we need to be clear about the message of the gospel: what needs to be done for us to be saved has already been done. That message may seem too easy, but that’s grace—being given something we don’t deserve.
Many people are not willing to admit that there is something wrong with them. And those people who do know and see that something is wrong—they quite often are dominated by guilt and cannot accept that it’s simple to find forgiveness from God. We need to remind people that God loves them enough to take their place and pay the price for their forgiveness. Take them to John 3:16, Romans 5:8 or Romans 8:38-39. God doesn’t wait for us to be good before he wants to be our friend and saviour. He takes us as we are, sinfulness and all.
2) It seems too hard.
Many people see the gospel as losing control of their lives. They think it is all about what they won’t be able to do anymore. They look at the Christian life and think, “I won’t be able to get drunk with my mates. I’ll have to go to church on Sunday. I’ll have to stop visiting the Gentlemen’s Club. Fun would be over. Why would I do that?” They may not be happy with their inner lives, but still it seems foolish to give up the things they see as fun.
We need to help these people see that with every choice there is something gained and something lost. What will they be losing if they choose Christ? And what will they be gaining? How does this compare to what they will gain and lose if they reject Christ?
In the words of Jim Elliot: “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, to gain that which he can never lose.”
So much is lost in this life when a person rejects Jesus, but the ultimate cost is eternal. In Matthew 13:41-43 Jesus says,
“The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”
At the end of our time here on earth, every person will find themselves in one of two destinations: heaven or hell. If giving up control of your life seems too hard, think about the consequences of not choosing Jesus.
3) They don’t believe in God.
If someone doesn’t believe in God, then, of course, the gospel sounds foolish.
Almost everyone who puts their faith in Christ as an adult does so because of a significant relationship with a real Christian. If a person in your life doesn’t believe in God, part of your evangelism is to spend time with them. Try to go past surface conversations and keep dropping in comments about what God means to you or how he has answered your prayers or how something in the Bible has spoken right into your situation. Trust God to reveal himself to that person through you and others. Only God can do that.
“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). In the end, only the Spirit of God can help a person see past the ‘foolishness’ of the gospel to the simple, powerful, life-changing truth of what God has done for us. This is why prayer is such a central part of evangelism.
So while the message of the gospel may seem to be foolish to those that don’t believe, it really is that simple. Confess your sins, trust in Jesus and you will be saved. For those of us who may be tempted to add something to that message to make it seem more ‘reasonable’—if we change it, it is no longer the gospel.