Not Many Wise – Part Five

1 Corinthians 1:18 – 2:5 This week’s lessons teach us that the world’s foolishness is the wisdom and power of God.
True wisdom.

Yesterday we looked at how the Jews, the Greeks, and the Romans were all offended by Paul’s message of the cross. So what did Paul do when faced with this opposition? When he preached to the Romans, he preached Christ crucified in weakness, but in the power of God. When he preached to the Jews, he preached Christ, who came not as a sign, but to die and give his life as a ransom for many in the power of God. When he preached to the Greeks, he did not preach Christ, the wisdom of man, but Christ, the simple Gospel, the simple Savior who died in order that we might be saved. And that was the power of God to the Greeks, as well as to the Jews, as well as to the Romans.

That brings me to the final point that Paul develops in the first verses of chapter 2. Because he understood that the power of God was to be found not in the power of men or in their wisdom, but in the simple Gospel and the preaching of the cross, he made it his great determination to preach the cross. He says quite clearly that when he came to Corinth, a Greek city, refounded again by the Romans and, therefore a Roman city as well, he did not come with Greek eloquence or superior wisdom as a Greek philosopher may have done, but rather as one who proclaimed the simple testimony from God, namely, Jesus Christ and him crucified. Moreover, says Paul, “When I came, I did not come in power like a Roman might have come. I did not come as a conquering general. I didn’t enter Corinth as Julius Caesar.” No he says, “I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power.” It is the same thing today.

I suppose there is a place in our culture for establishing some kind of contact with the way people are thinking, but we have to be very careful. We certainly have the tools of technology available to us. We have radio and it is nice to be able to use that. We have printing so we can produce books, and television so we can produce television programs. Nothing in Scripture says you cannot do that. But we have to remember that the power of God is not in the technology. The power of God is not in how persuasive we can be. The power of God is not in how wise our preachers are. It is not that.

The power of God is in the simple Gospel, that Jesus is the Son of God and he died for you. That is the Gospel. That is why God can use a person who is of humble ability, a person who has, as we would say, none of the gifts that would ever get him by in the world. If he is faithful to that Gospel, and he shares it, and he preaches it, God operates in power through that Gospel. God changes lives. What psychology cannot do, and what sociology cannot do, and what scientific theories cannot do, God does through the power of the Gospel. He integrates it. He takes the facts of your experience, and he shows that it has meaning at the cross of Christ because there you find yourself to be a sinner, one who cannot save yourself. You find God to be a God of love, who is a Savior of sinners just like you. You find the power of Jesus to reach down and change even your rebellious, hardened, sinful mind, and humble you and make you into the kind of person who is a replica of God’s own Son, Jesus Christ.

Isn’t that what it is all about? Isn’t that the wisdom of God? What makes better sense than that? That somewhere there is a God, and that God has made us. That even though we have ruined ourselves by our sin, God loves us and has not given up. That God who created us in his image is working, through the death of his Son on the cross, to restore that image in you and make you one who is going to live with him for all eternity. You do not find that in the cosmos, but you find it in the Word of God.

Study Questions
  1. Why can we be confident in telling people about the Gospel?

Does knowledge of your personal limitations keep you from sharing your faith? If so, how does today’s lesson refute that fear?

Trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit, speak the plain and simple Gospel to an unbeliever this very week.

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