1 Corinthians  1_18-25      So Dumb, It's Smart

Rev. David Holwick  V

First Baptist Church

Ledgewood, New Jersey

July 15, 1990

1 Corinthians 1:18-25


SO DUMB, IT'S SMART



  I. The glory of human wisdom.

      A. Smart people, geniuses.


      B. Astronomers and "Big Bang."


      C. Is God needed anymore?

          1) Fish cartoon:

               "Of course there's a God.  How else would our water

                    get changed?"


II. The foolishness of the Christian message.    1:18-25

      A. Intelligent approaches to wisdom.

          1) Jews demand signs.            1:22

              a) God performed powerful acts in Jewish history.

                  1> Exodus.

              b) They looked to "signs" to validate Messiah.  Matt 11:38f

              c) Idolatry - they thought they had God figured out.

          2) Greeks demand wisdom.              1:22

              a) They limited God to what could be deduced by human mind.

              b) Humans can learn a great deal, but we are near-sighted.

                  1> Hubble space telescope and focusing flaw.


      B. Christians present Christ crucified.         1:23

          1) Contradiction in terms, like "fried ice."

              a) Messiah means power, splendor, triumph.

              b) Crucifixion means weakness, humiliation, defeat.

          2) Scandal to Jews.         1:23

              a) Jews did not crucify, but hanged blasphemers and

                   idolaters after execution.

              b) Signified curse by God.            Deut 21:23

          3) Scandal to Greeks.

              a) A crucified Savior is too humiliating to be God-made.


III. Why God did it this way.

      A. To destroy human wisdom.

          1) Human wisdom cannot discover God.       1:21

              a) God must reveal Himself.

          2) Human wisdom is a projection of human fallenness.

              a) Our "gods" are not gracious to the undeserving.

              b) They are usually limited to the elite.

          3) Human wisdom is a source of pride.


                Shirley MacLaine representing the New Age:


               "We already know everything.

                The knowingness of our divinity is the highest

                   intelligence.

                And to be what we already know is the free will.

                Free will is simply the enactment of the realization

                   you are God, a realization that you are divine."

                                                                 #1184

              a) We are only creatures, not the Creator.


      B. To show the greatness of God's love.

          1) Salvation is by God's prior action, not our wisdom.


IV. The cross is still a scandal.

      A. We try to cover it up with symbols and creeds.

          1) Make it more digestible.

          2) But God is not powerful in spite of the cross.

                He is powerful because of the cross.


      B. Only the power of the cross can set people free.

                 C.S. Lewis on the wisdom of this: (Christianity)

             "This is one of the reasons I believe Christianity.

                 It is a religion you could not have guessed.

              If it offered us just the kind of universe we had

                 always expected, I should feel we were making it up.

              But, in fact, it is not the sort of thing anyone would

                 have made up.

              It has just that queer twist about it that real things

                 have."

                                                           #1183


  V. The foolishness of who gets saved.         1:26-31

      A. Most believers came from the lower classes.     1:26, [cp 6:10]


             Remarks of anti-Christian Celsus:

          Their injunctions are like this:  "Let no one educated, no

            one wise, no one sensible draw near.

          For these abilities are thought by us to be evils.

          But as for anyone ignorant, anyone stupid, anyone uneducated,

            anyone who is a child, let him come boldly."

          By the fact that they themselves admit that these people are

            worthy of their God,

          They show that they want and are able to convince only the

            foolish, dishonorable and stupid, and only slaves, women,

              and children.

                                            Origen, "Contra Celsum" 3.44

                                                                   #1182

          1) Some believers were well-off, even in Corinth.


      B. God chooses to work through the weak to show his glory.

          1) No human can boast before him.          1:29

          2) Salvation is in trusting God completely, or nothing.  1:31

              a) God's wisdom has to do with salvation, not intelligence.

          3) The one thing we can boast in is God.     1:31


      C. God still reaches out to the weak and outcast.

          1) Often they are the ones not welcome in church.

              a) Divorce.

              b) Sinful past.   Addicts.

              c) Criminal.

          2) We still want to remake God in our (suburban) image.

          3) But God's call of the weak is the heart of the gospel.

               Illustration:  Tony Campolo.


             A handicapped boy attended a junior high church camp.

             The boy walked with a limp and spoke with a severe lisp

                that at times made his speech impossible to understand.

             As a prank, his cabin mates chose him to lead the mealtime

                devotions for the whole camp.

             They thought it would be a lot of fun to see him embarrassed.

             Not realizing their malicious intent, the boy limped to the

                podium and very slowly, deliberately, and sincerely

                   - with a stutter and a lisp -  declared,

             "Jeesssuss loooves meee!  And I looove Jeesssuss!"


             A silence fell over the cafeteria.

                Some of the boys from his cabin had tears in their eyes.

             Tony Campolo recalls that more lives were opened to Christ

                through that moment than in any other experience in camp.

             God had not chosen the football hero or the most outgoing,

                polished speaker to accomplish his purposes that week.

             As is typical throughout the gospels, God used the most

                unexpected and, at first glance, most unlikely person

                   to convey his message.

                                                                    #263


VI. Do we have to be stupid to be a Christian?

      A. It is not a matter of stupidity, but accepting God's wisdom.

          1) Christian faith is not so much what you know, but whom

                you put your trust in.

          2) There is much wisdom in our faith, even from human view.

              a) God is rational.

              b) But our minds are not enough to comprehend him.


      B. The deep things of God must be revealed by the Spirit.   2:7,10

          1) It is not hidden to believers.          2:14

              a) It is not even limited to "super-Christians."

              b) Basic gospel, not "deeper truths".

          2) How this wisdom is received.

              a) Not gotten from dynamic sermons.

              b) Only from the Lord, through salvation.


      C. Simple, but many miss it.

          1) "I must be good to be a Christian and go to heaven."

          2) Correct - "God is good, and I want to put my trust in him."



Copyright 2018 by Rev. David Holwick

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