- Ecclesiastes 3.11 The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun
The city of Corinth, like most metropolitan cities today, prided themselves in their universities and philosophies. They were extremely educated, but they were hedonistic and sexually tolerant and promiscuous.
They were a very open-minded society that prided themselves in their openness to all religions. It was in this climate that prided themselves in their brilliant orators, worldly philosophy, sexual and religious open-mindedness that Paul was sent by Christ to preach the gospel. Oh, the love and mercy that God has for sinners!
18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
Paul came to intellectual, polytheistic, morally loose Corinth with a simple, but powerful message, the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Paul reminds us that there are two divisions of mankind–the unsaved and the saved; it literally reads those who are perishing and those who are being saved.
To those who are perishing, the cross is foolishness.
- 2 Corinthians 2.14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for or they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
- Acts 17.18 Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoics, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.
To those who are saved, the cross of Jesus Christ, the slain Lamb of God, it is the power of God unto salvation.
- Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
Only the gospel of Jesus Christ contains the power of God that is able to deliver sinners from all the debt of sin, the power of sin, the guilt of sin and the pollution of sin.
What is the answer to man’s social, racial and immorality problems? Well, to answer that question, we first need to realize that each one of those problems stems from sin, and thus the only answer to man’s problems is the cross of Jesus Christ.
That is why what has come to be known as “The Great Commission”, Jesus told us to Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16.15
When the church becomes more cause focused than Christ and gospel focused, we have lost our way, and will inevitable become another social or political wing of society.
19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. (Isa 29:14)
By turning to the passage in Isaiah, we learn that God does not save a man’s soul by using the wisdom and understanding of men; He saves men’s soul from damnation through the preaching of the cross.
The preaching of the cross is wiser and more powerful than the wisdom and ability of man, because neither worldly wisdom nor fleshly wisdom is able to save a person from sin’s debt or deliver them from sin’s power.
Let me give you a couple of examples. A person can have the human wisdom and brilliance to build a spacecraft to put a man on the moon, and yet not have the strength to resist being addicted to gambling or immorality or covetousness.
20 Where is the wise (In Greek, the term “philosopher” means a lover of wisdom)? where is the scribe (the Jewish learned class)? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
These passages are filled with intense irony. Those who are wise according to the standards of the world think the gospel is foolish. But even the most “foolish” thing about God is wiser than human wisdom (vv. 25, 27).
God uses the simplicity of the gospel to demonstrate that real foolishness belongs to those who oppose Him (v. 27). Please keep in mind that Paul is not belittling a good education or philosophy, or wisdom or scholarship. He is speaking against those who were using the mind that God gave them to argue against the God Who created them with that brilliant mind in the first place.
The devil capitalizes on the arrogance of human wisdom to keep them blinded from the truth of the gospel.
- 2 Corinthians 4:3,4 But even if our gospel is hid, it is hid to those who are lost, in whom whose the god of this world hath blinded, the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, Who is the image of God should shine unto them.
The world through it’s own wisdom can never come to the knowledge of God. The knowledge of God must come from a wisdom that is outside of the libraries, and universities and philosophies of this fallen world system.
- Matthew 16.15-17 But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven.
Jesus thanked the Father for His good pleasure in hiding these things from the wise and learned but revealing them to little children.
- Matthew 11.25,26 I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him.
Interestingly, Jesus makes one of the most oft quoted invitations to sinners after this statement of the revealing work of God in drawing sinners to Him.
- Matthew 11.28-30 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Come to Me. Take from Me. Learn of Me. That is the sum of the Christian life.
22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
The Jews asked for a sign from heaven, not merely miracles, such as Jesus and the apostles worked (Ac 4:22; 6:8; 8:6; 15:12; 19:11), but a sign from heaven.
What was Jesus’ answer to the Jews who demanded a sign from Him?
- Matthew 12.38-40 Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
The Greeks demanded a well-argued system of philosophy. As I said earlier, In Acts 18, the Epicureans and Stoics called Paul a babbler (seed picker), because he preached the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
We preach Christ crucified- Not merely Christ, as is preached by the new age movement or other world religions, but Christ Crucified. The Crucified Savior Who died on the cross for our sins.
All the world religions preach a Christ, but not the Christ of Scripture. They do not preach the Christ Who redeems man from their sin. The do not preach the Christ Who is The Only Door into heaven. They do not preach the Christ Who is Emmanuel, God with us.
We preach Christ unto the Jews a stumbling-block.
Jesus was a stumbling block to the Jews because they had an entirely different conception of the Christ. It may seem strange, but even with 53, Psalm 22 and many other Scriptures before their eyes, the Jews were no longer looking for a Messiah that would be crucified for their sin, but a political, military Messiah who would give them the kingdom now!
Yet it was predicted that Jesus would be “a stone of stumbling.”
- Isaiah 8.14 And He shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel.
- Matthew 21:42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?
That God would take on flesh and die for the guilty was the height of absurdity to the Jews. The very thought that the Messiah (God’s anointed) had been hanged on a tree and had come under the divine curse (Gal 3:13; Dt 21:23) was intolerable to many Jews.
We preach Christ unto the Greeks foolishness.
According to Greek philosophers, a God who suffered was a contradiction in terms. How can you believe that somebody dying on a cross can be God? The very idea of incarnation, of God becoming a man, was revolting to the Greek mind.
Jesus is still a stumbling block to fallen man people today because it was Jesus Who said Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3.3-7). They stumble at Jesus because it was Jesus Who said, except ye repent, you shall likewise perish (Luke 13.3,4). They stumble at Jesus because it was Jesus Who said, except you deny yourself and pick up your cross daily, you cannot be My disciple (Luke 9.23).
24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
It is interesting that the Greek word for the English word “called” here speaks of both being invited and being appointed.
The knowledge of Jesus Christ exceeds all the wisdom in the universe. What looks like foolishness to the world is actually God’s wisdom; what looks like weakness to the world is actually God’s power.
The greatest demonstration of this truth is the cross of Jesus on Mount Calvary.
26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many (note that he didn’t say, not any) wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world (those of lowly birth), and things which are despised (who the world calls “nobodies”), hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are (philosophy of men and man made religious systems of high repute):
God uses common people, ordinary people like you and I to work in His kingdom. We do well to look at our calling unto salvation because it magnifies the grace of God in saving sinners.
The Gospel call to salvation is to be given to all classes of men; but in many cases the wise, the educated, the mighty, or the well to do, are often too busy making a living, or far too smart or too self righteous to think that they need the grace of Jesus Christ to be saved in the same way that the most rank criminal in the world does.
A simple, uneducated, untalented, and clumsy believer who has trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior and who faithfully and humbly follows His Lord is immeasurably wiser than the brilliant professor or doctor who scoffs at the gospel and knows nothing beyond his books, his own mind, and his own experience.
29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
Pride is self-deification. What you and I need is an Isaiah 6 experience with The Lord. We need a Woe is me encounter with Jesus.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, not the proud in spirit.
30 But of him (the free grace of God) are ye in Christ Jesus (united to him by faith), who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus- It is The Father that unites sinners to Christ by His call.
Wisdom- Jesus is wisdom. **Colossians 2.3 In Whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
It is only in following Jesus that we walk in wisdom; and, it is only in listening to Jesus that we hear the knowledge that we need.
He is righteousness. In the writings of Paul, righteousness means to be in right standing with God. When God calls Jesus Christ our righteousness, a very humbling, corresponding idea must be understood — that in us there is nothing but sin and unrighteousness.
Sanctification- This means to be set apart for The Master’s use; consecrated, devoted.
Redemption- Christ Jesus became our redemption, which means that He paid the penalty for our sins on the cross and released us from our slavery to sin.
Our redemption is past (justification; freed from sins debt), present (sanctification; freed from sins power), and future (glorification; freed from ever sinning again).
31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
The message of the cross magnifies the glory of God alone.
- Jeremiah 9.23,24 Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord
- 2 Corinthians 10.17 But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord
- Revelation 5.13 And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
A saved person glories in Jesus Christ alone. We glory in Who He is and in what He has done for us. All glory and honor and praise be unto The Lord Jesus Christ for ever and ever.
The doctrine of salvation by grace, through faith in the crucified Savior Jesus Christ is the one and only gospel that humbles the pride of man and exalts the glory of God foundation of human hope.
- Ephesians 2.8,9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Take a moment to consider God’s objective of setting you apart in Christ.
What are the ramifications and implications of that reality for your daily life? Your family life? Your church life?