Day 49…1 Corinthians 1:
1 Corinthians 1:18-31: World’s wisdom vs God’s
The Corinthians (or Greeks) valued wisdom, that is, the world’s wisdom. Paul teaches them in this letter that there is the world’s wisdom and then there is God’s wisdom–which is far superior.
v.18, Paul says he knows that the “message of the cross” (or the Gospel) sounds foolish to “those who are on the road to destruction”–unbelievers or the World. In other words, the message of Jesus death and resurrection is nonsense or stupid to the world because they don’t see it as a valuable way to salvation. They would rather have their ears tickled with philosophical arguments, etc. Paul continues by saying “those who are being saved recognize this message as the very power of God.” Those of us you have accepted this Message as the truth and the only way to salvation, we see it as a powerful message straight from God himself! And only with such power can the Gospel message save sinful people and transform them into believers–God’s children.
v.19, Paul quotes Isaiah 29:14: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.” …to make a point, God’s ways are not like the world’s ways. Both phrases underlined refer to the world’s type of wisdom and intelligence. They are wrong and worthless when they are used as a means of salvation. If you look at Isaiah 29:13 this verse being quoted can be put into context:
And so the Lord says,“These people say they are mine. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. And their worship of me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote.”
So God says he will destroy their wisdom and intelligence because it can never help them find him. They can spend a lifetime gaining all the wisdom and knowledge of the world but it will never teach them to have a personal relationship with God. They must come to Jesus the risen Saviour to receive eternal life and a relationship with God.
v.20-24, Paul says that those who have lived by their own wisdom–”philosophers…scholars…debaters”–will be left with nothing. God has made them all look foolish and their wisdom has become nothing more than “useless nonsense” when it comes to providing salvation. And since God decided that the people of the “world would never find him [salvation] through their human wisdom”, he chose the crucifixion of his Son as our salvation. And he chose to use ”foolish preaching to save all who believe.” God chose weak, failing and foolish humans as his instruments to preach the salvation Message to the world. Then Paul spends the next few verses talking about how different people see this message:
Jews. They thought it was foolish because they thought the Messiah should be a conquering King who did many miracles and “signs from heaven.” Even though Jesus did many miracles while on the earth, most Jews (even first-hand observers) refused to believe. They would say, “besides he was executed as a criminal, no saviour could be a criminal.” The idea of Christ being crucified was too much of a contradiction to what they believed and ultimately became a stumbling block to them. So when Paul preaches that Christ was crucified the “Jews are offended.”
Greeks or Gentiles. They sought after “human wisdom.” They revered their great thinkers and philosophers and to them the Gospel message just didn’t cut it. It was foolish to think Jesus had to be crucified to save us. When Paul preaches that Christ was crucified the Greeks or “Gentiles say it’s all nonsense.”
Called or Believers. They were made up of both Jews & Gentiles. They don’t stumble over the Message but find that the Gospel of Christ crucified “is the power of God and wisdom of God.”
v.25, nothing compares to God, even the most “wisest human plans” or “greatest of human strength” or the greatest achievements of man. Paul is not in anyway saying God can be foolish or weak but he is really saying that even though man sees God’s plan of salvation (Jesus’s death and resurrection) as foolish or weak…it is still greater than anything man could dream up.
v.26-27, then Paul reminds all the Corinth believers that very few of them were “wise in the world’s eyes, or powerful or wealthy” when they became believers. Paul was pointing out that you don’t need to be intellectual, political or have a social position in the world to be chosen by God. To the world it would have made more sense to call the leaders and influential people rather than what seems to be the foolish of the world. God can use us no matter what our position or status is. “God chose…foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. …powerless to shame those who are powerful.” God does not choose people as the world would–powerful, influential, popular, etc. His sovereign chose is not based on anything that people can do or achieve because no amount of human achievement can replace Christ’s work on the cross.
v.28-31, “God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all…” the ordinary people of humble origin to show that success came only through HIS power, not theirs. So that they can never “boast in the presence of God” that God chose them because of their talent or intelligence. Only faith in Christ gets people into heaven and eternal life, not any achievement we have done or will do. Paul closes the chapter reminding the Corinthian believers that God alone made us “united with Christ Jesus.” These believers (and today’s believers as well) had received eternal life in Jesus NOT because of who they were or what they had done but because “Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin.” And because our salvation is completely by God’s grace “if [we] want to boast, boast only about the Lord.” In other words don’t boast in your salvation, but only in Jesus, the provider of yours and my salvation.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO ME? The one message that is so clear to me is: my salvation is not because of anything I have done, who I am or what I have accomplished. It is only by God’s grace that I am saved. And the only thing I can boast in is that Jesus provided it through his death and resurrection.
WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT? I need to thank God first for the salvation he has provided through his Son. Second, thank God that he was willing to use me, a feeble, weak and foolish human to spread his Word. If it was up to the world, I would definitely be on the bottom of the list.
Thank you God that you chose me.
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