“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.” (1 Corinthians 1:18, ESV)
When I was 20 years old I was driving across the country from California to Philadelphia. My friends and I stopped in Arches National Park in Moab, UT. It is a popular tourist destination filled with beautiful rock structures. One highlight of the park is this giant rock arch which has a path that wraps around the back. The path enables people to walk to the middle of the arch for a great photo to remember the park. My friends and I walked up the path to get into the middle of this giant rock arch for a photo. After the photo, instead of walking back down the path, we thought it would be better to climb down the front of the cliff. After starting down the cliff, we realized that we could not make it down, but rather had to turn back. As people looked on, we appeared foolish. Our decision made no sense to those people who watched at the park that day; it appeared as pure folly.
Similarly, when we choose to follow the word of the cross it appears as folly to those around us. It makes no sense to the world why someone would chose to humble themselves in the way of the cross. Although people may not understand the word of the cross, it is the power of God for those who are being saved.
“Being saved” is an interesting phrase used by the Apostle Paul. We usually refer to ourselves as saved in the past tense, but our salvation does not end in our conversion. Our salvation must be complete finally in our glorification at the end of life. Salvation has three stages: justification, sanctification, and glorification. The Baptist Faith and Message defines them this way:
Justification is God's gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Christ. Justification brings the believer unto a relationship of peace and favor with God. Sanctification is the experience, beginning in regeneration, by which the believer is set apart to God's purposes, and is enabled to progress toward moral and spiritual maturity through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in him. Growth in grace should continue throughout the regenerate person's life. Glorification is the culmination of salvation and is the final blessed and abiding state of the redeemed.
So our full salvation is brought to us by the word of the cross. The word of victory over sin and death in the cross is the power of God for our salvation. The fuel for our salvation is the word of the cross of Christ. Paul