Presented, April 27, 2008 pm
Studies in 1 Corinthians (4)
THE FOOLISHNESS OF THE MESSAGE PREACHED
1 Corinthians 1:18-31
When we think of things that are foolish, the last thing that comes to our mind (I hope) is the gospel and things associated with the Christian life. Things that I consider to be foolish would include wasteful living, denying the existence of God, some of the ungodly laws that are being passed in this country and state, living one’s life without real purpose, ruining one’s life with assorted addictions, rejecting the gospel and many other things. On the other hand, I realize that many who do these things would look at the fact that I attend worship services several times a week, refuse to partake of many of their activities, and my claim to be a follower of Christ and see me as living a life of foolishness. It was this contrast in attitudes that Paul had in mind when he penned the text we want to examine tonight.
We are continuing our study of the book of 1 Corinthians. Having addressed the unity of baptism Paul now turns to the message he preached and noted how the world reacts to it. In essence Paul notices there are two different responses to the gospel. Let us examine our text.
I. The Wisdom of this world
a. What is worldly wisdom?
In essence the term has reference to any wisdom that stands opposed to submission to God’s will. The wisdom of this world comes in many forms. In the days of Paul wisdom meant something totally different to Greeks and to Jews.
1) Greeks put great weight in the philosophies of men, even in matters of religion and deity. They only wanted to accept what nature could physically prove and were skeptical of everything else. They scoffed at the idea of miracles (including the resurrection – cf. Acts 17:31-32). They are mentioned 3 times in our text (20 – “Where is the wise” “Where is the disputer of this age?”, 22, 23 – a stumbling block – they trip over the truth)
the other hand were very supernatural.
They rightly believed in God and had finally been convinced that
there is only ONE true God.
But they wanted everything verified!
How many times in the life of Jesus did they ask Him for a sign? (Matthew 12:38, 12:16, etc.)
And when Jesus DID show them signs (and the apostles as well) they rejected them anyway – because the message did not accord with their WORLDLY WISDOM!
These Jews are mentioned in the same 3 texts (“Where is the scribe”)
3) Is today any different? TODAY the wisdom of this world could mean many things: The total rejection of God (i.e. atheism, agnosticism), the redefining of God (humanism, God in nature, etc.), or the reinterpretation of His will (i.e. “it doesn’t matter what we believe”, “I know what the Bible says, BUT…”, rejection of miracles, etc.), appeals to emotions and feelings over truth (How many today are still seeking miraculous signs?), etc.
4) The wisdom of this world described in James 3:13-17
how you describe it, the one with this wisdom rejects God’s word.
NOTE: Was this not the problem that was causing division in the church at Corinth? Rather than appealing to the cross of Christ, they surrendered to their own self-serving and contrary appetites.
b. Worldly wisdom in our text
the message of the cross as foolishness (18).
The message of the cross is supernatural. It is simple and it defies human logic (E.g. “How can a man dying save the rest of mankind?” “Why?” – the million dollar question!)
In reality it is the demands of submission that makes it foolish.
grasped onto by those who are perishing (spiritually) (18).
2 Thess. 2:9-10 speaks of the deception of the lawless one and how those who are perishing will follow it. Why? Because they did not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved.
destroy “the wisdom of the wise” (19)
A quotation from Isaiah 29:14. A cry against Jerusalem in its rejection of God (even before Israel was carried away into Assyrian captivity).
Like all things earthly – worldly wisdom WILL perish and be brought to nothing.
weaker than the wisdom of God
Seen in the fact that God will destroy it (19)
And that God has made the wisdom of this world foolishness. Worldly wisdom fails quite often!
What happens to the philosophies of man? Most of them perish in a little time or they are replaced by the latest and greatest thinking. AND in the meantime, with EVERY human philosophy comes those who cling to it even after its popularity dies – causing more division in the world (i.e. clashing of thoughts and ideas).
wisdom does not KNOW God. (21)
It does not take the time to get to know who God is. That does not believe there is no belief in a divine being – many do believe in “a god” but they don’t really KNOW God.
The ONLY way to KNOW God is to read His Word and apply it – 1 John 2:3
6) God’s wisdom a stumbling block and foolishness to many (22-23). It is there and its existence cannot be denied (i.e. the Bible cannot be destroyed). Many trips all over the word in his quest to reject it.
7) The foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men! (25)
8) Worldly wisdom is elitist (26) – unlike the gospel. In fact it draws men AWAY from the gospel.
9) It glories in flesh (29) – it seeks present gratification. It is a source of pride!
II. The Wisdom of God
a. What is the wisdom of God?
1) Let it be CLEARLY understood that wisdom is good! We need and MUST apply wisdom to our lives. Proverbs 2:1-12, 3:13-14, etc.
2) The wisdom of God is simply His message to us. In His word we find Who He is, what He has done, what He CAN do, what He expects of us, etc.
3) Like the wisdom of the Gentiles and Jews, it too is described in our text – in terms of salvation.
b. The wisdom of God described in our text.
1) It is the message of the cross (18). A message of God’s love (John 3:16) and how much Jesus gave up for us. It is a message of resurrection and hope.
2) It is the power of God (18). Romans 1:16 describes the gospel in these terms.
3) It is saving wisdom (18) – Romans 1:16b-17 – unto salvation, for in it the righteousness of God is revealed…”
4) It is greater and more powerful than worldly wisdom (19-20). See above.
foolishness of preaching (21)
What makes preaching the gospel foolish? In reality there is nothing foolish about the gospel. We know that, but tell that to a sinful and rebellious world that worships and serves the creature instead of the creator (Rom. 1:18-32, esp. 25) and that is selfish in its pursuits (2 Tim. 3:1-5).
To the world, is it not the simplicity of the message and the simple requirements of salvation? Is it not that it requires man to come out of his comfort zone and embrace those who are different with equality – Galatians 3:27-28? Is it not the FAITH that it requires to trust in God? In man’s eyes – these are all factors.
Perhaps it is best described by our Lord when asked why He taught in parables: Matthew 13:10-17. In reality their error is seen in their hardness of heart and closed ears.
6) BUT, to those who believe – the message preached is a message of salvation! There IS something better than this world with its misery, toils, trials and disappointments.
7) To us who are called (by the gospel) it is both the power of God and wisdom of God.
8) It is wiser than the wisdom of man? Would this world be a better place if all applied the moral principles outlined in the Bible? Be honest in answering that!
9) It is available to all. You don’t need a college degree or wealth or power to achieve it. In fact it appeals more to the poor and weak than it does to those who are satisfied with this world’s goods.
10) It produces humility (29) – that no flesh should glory in His presence.
demonstrated that wisdom to us (30)
The text says he became for us wisdom from God. Remember how He told His disciples, that whoever had seen Him had seen the Father (John 14:9)? In coming to this earth Jesus demonstrated how we can ALL submit to God’s wisdom.
He also became righteousness and sanctification and redemption
Vs. 31 – when we understand the wisdom of God we will glory in the Lord instead of ourselves. And if we would ALL do that, we could achieve the unity He desires in us. Think about it!