It is great to be with you today on the East side of town to see many familiar faces and, more importantly, to be gathered as a single church family here in Tallahassee. If you have your Bibles, go ahead and turn to 1 Corinthians 2. We’ve been going through 1 Corinthians as a church family. We’ve already gone through chapter one and today we’ll continue on in chapter two. But, this is a letter that Paul wrote to the church at Corinth that is also a Holy Spirit breathed scripture, words of man and words of God. And right off the bat in this letter, we’ve already seen that this church is divided over many things. So, most immediately, who do they follow? Is it Paul, Apollos, Peter, someone else? And as we go, we’ll see they’re actually divided over a lot more than that.
So they’re divided over how they practice spiritual gifts, how they come to the Lord’s supper, how they deal with sin in the body of Christ, and a whole lot more. But my hope today, as we walk through part of chapter two, is that this sermon will strengthen your trust in the gospel and in the Holy Spirit. That we see that those two things together are what change hearts and change lives. And we’re going to see Paul present this idea to us by talking about the wisdom of the world and wisdom according to God.
And in the first couple chapters, Paul is concerned with correcting misunderstandings of wisdom. About what it is, who preaches it, how you know what it is. And that’s true of this section too in chapter two, but he actually starts in verse 18 it’s why I kind of want to pick up and get a running start there because Paul shows us that there are only two categories of people. There are those who are perishing that find the message of the cross foolish, and those who are being saved and the message of the cross is life to them.
And this is what he says,
“For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. But it is the power of God to us who are being saved. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and I will set aside the intelligence of the intelligent.”
And he goes on to say that the cross is foolishness to Gentiles, and it’s a stumbling block to Jews. Those probably are not words we’re familiar with using for the cross or the gospel, right? Foolishness, stumbling block. But why is that? Well consider today, we’ll just say that the Gentiles of back then are like atheists of today, that’s a gross oversimplification. But if you talk about God taking on flesh and dying on a cross, and that that person actually who died being God that’s going to be foolish today to non-God fearing people.
Well, why was the cross a stumbling block to the Jews? Because the same scriptures of the Jews, the Old Testament said that anyone hung on a tree, and a cross is a tree, was under God’s curse. And they had no idea, no conception of a dying Messiah. It just did not fit the cultural expectation. It didn’t fit the narrative. So it was a stumbling block. It was a hindrance to belief. That’s the kind of wisdom that God chose. It’s actually foolish in the eyes of the world.
And then, Paul continues at the end of chapter one in verse 26 and following. And he continues to show us that God’s economy, God’s wisdom is basically a 180 from what the world considers to be wise. That God actually chose the weak, the lowly, the unintelligent things, the things that are just disregarded by society to shame those who believed themselves to be wise. It’s as if he’s saying, if you rely on yourself and your wisdom you will come to ruin.
And then, in verses 29 through 31 he says that this is so that no one can boast unless he boasts in and because of the Lord. So why is that? Why can we not boast in our salvation? Well, as Paul has explained it in chapter one, it’s because it wasn’t based on your intelligence. It wasn’t based on how morally sensitive you were. It wasn’t based on your upbringing, or where you were born, or any of those things because if it were, you could boast. No, Paul says, salvation, true wisdom, which is foolish to the world, only comes by the message of the cross and the work of the spirit to change hearts to receive that message. If it were anything else we could boast.
And that brings us to our passage today. So if you have your Bibles, turn with me to 1 Corinthians 2 and let’s read it together. Paul says,
” And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the spirit and of power. So that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.
Yet, we do speak wisdom among those who are mature. A wisdom, however, not of this age, nor of the rulers of this age who are passing away, but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery. The hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory, the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood. For if they had understood it, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory. But just as it is written, things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard and which have not entered into the heart of man. All that God has prepared for those who love him. For to us, God revealed those things by his spirit.”
So there’s a lot there. We’ve probably seen some more perhaps unexpected characterizations of the gospel, hidden, mystery, foolish, and we’re going to unpack those together today. But he says when he came to them, brethren or your translation might say brothers and sisters. Whenever we see that, and we need to remember Paul is writing to Christians, like this is an in-house discussion. He’s correcting them, but he’s correcting them out of love as a part of the one family of God. This is not some kind of knock down, take out letter. He wants to exhort them to better faithful living to Christ. But he says when he came and preached to them, he’s referring back to a previous event, he didn’t come with superiority of speech or of wisdom. And, in fact, he just determined to not know anything among them except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
Now why is that? That’s like an odd thing to say. I didn’t come with wisdom or persuasive words. It’s like, well wouldn’t you want to be persuasive? It seems counter to what we would expect. But the Corinthian church, remember, was divided over many things, but one of them was who they follow. Is it Apollos? Is it Paul? Is it someone else? And from what we can determine, Apollos was actually the better speaker of the day. At least if you evaluated him according to the standards of the day, because at this time there was a cultural expectation about the form a speaker would have. So Greco-Roman rhetoric, how a speaker at that time would speak was a formal thing. And you would be evaluated based on how closely you accorded with that standard when you gave your message, or your talk. And, in fact, the better a person’s rhetoric the more wise they were thought to be.
So the emphasis was on how persuasive the presentation was, not so much on the content, or its truthfulness, though that would matter some too. And so it was assumed that you were more wise if you were more persuasive based on your method and your rhetoric. Not so much based on your message. But what does Paul say? I did not come with superiority of speech or wisdom. He knew the cultural expectation. He knew how he would be evaluated and he chose not to use that. Now, he’s not saying that what he said wasn’t wise. So when he says, “I didn’t come with words of wisdom,” he’s not saying what I came with was objectively foolish. That’s not what he means because he’ll go on to say that he actually preached true wisdom later. But he is saying it didn’t accord with the standards of wisdom of the day. He knew how it would be evaluated and he intentionally stayed away from it because, and this is key, he wasn’t looking for man’s approval in his speech. He didn’t want to move someone with anything but his message.
Now, if you were reading along, your Bible translation may have had a different word there in verse one. So I read and it said that Paul came with testimony about God, and your translation may say mystery. And those two words, when Paul wrote this, are very similar and some manuscripts differ, and that’s why your translation might have been a little different than mine. But I think the best arguments favor testimony, because Paul’s building up through this paragraph here to verse seven where he says that this foolishness, that this message of the cross, it was a mystery that was revealed that used to be hidden. So I don’t think he’s actually talking about the mystery here back in verse one. It’s not that important of a thing, but I did want to acknowledge you may have seen a different word there than what I read.
So he comes with this testimony about God and he avoids moving his hearers with anything but his actual message. In fact, he even says, “I determine to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” Does that mean Paul just walked around saying, “Jesus Christ was crucified, Jesus Christ was crucified, Jesus Christ was crucified”? No, he probably said a little more than that. This is a shorthand for his gospel proclamation. He uses these short hands all over the place, like little summaries. This is the same kind of thing he did in verse 18 in chapter 1 where he calls it the message of the cross. So the message of the cross, Christ in him crucified, these are shorthands for the gospel, this message of who God is, sovereign creator of the universe who is Holy and perfectly good, who created us to live according to His standards in His image and glorify Him.
And we did not do that. All of us have turned and gone on our own way, and we have sinned. We’ve rejected God and rebelled against Him, and this creates a problem for us. So God took on flesh in the incarnation, that’s what we celebrate at Christmas, and came to Earth, truly God, truly man, and lived under God’s moral standards. And he was crucified on a cross. That’s what we’re talking about here. And everyone who places their trust for salvation in Him will not face the penalty, for their sin, but will find Him to be a perfect savior. And even that 45 second version is a summary of the gospel. You can zoom out on the gospel, you can zoom in on the gospel, but all of us should be able to explain that message of the cross.
But it’s that message that Paul is saying is central. That’s the message that this divided church should be unified around. And if they can agree on that, then they should be able to work out all of these other squabbles and internal conflicts. But they’re divided over who is more rhetorically persuasive in how they speak. They’re a long way from being unified around the gospel.
Now, some people will use this passage to support the idea that we shouldn’t ever disagree or divide over anything, if we can agree with someone that Jesus Christ is God, and that He was crucified. Is that a good idea? Is that a good point? In fact, some people will say, “Why are you making an issue out of gender, or marriage, or sexuality, or how we live? Paul said he only preached Christ and him crucified.” Well, if we only had this verse in our Bible, perhaps you could make that argument, but we have to read our Bible in context.
I have a friend who said this last week that a verse a day keeps the context away and boy, isn’t that true. If we only read individual verses, we’ll get into trouble. But we need to read verses in paragraphs, and paragraphs in chapters, and chapters in books, and books, and the whole overarching plan of what God is doing in history. And that’s why I love this equip series we’re doing on Sunday night that Matt just talked about a minute ago. You’re getting to see the big meta narrative, the big story of what God did in scripture. You’re getting to see the forest and we often miss that for the trees. So we need to understand things in their context because even if we read just a little more in 1 Corinthians, we’ll find that Paul has pretty strong opinions on things like gender, and marriage, and divorce, and the proper use of spiritual gifts, and a whole lot of things.
So what we can’t do is say, the only thing that’s important is Christ and Him crucified. More things are important. That is the thing that is of prime importance, but just because something is first doesn’t mean there isn’t other things under that. Other things are important too. There are things that support, there are ideas and doctrines that support the truths of the gospel. And there are truths and things about how we live that flow from the gospel even if those things are not themselves the gospel. So we can’t use this passage to say that nothing else is important.
Now, Paul continues on telling them how he actually proclaimed the message to them and he says,
“I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the spirit and of power. So that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.”
So he’s preaching in fear and trembling. Well, one thing, he’s not is afraid of them. That’s not what he means here. He’s not saying, “I’m just so worried about how you’re going to judge me according to these rhetorical standards of the day.” That’s not true at all. That wouldn’t make sense because he’s intentionally not using those standards.
What’s much more likely is Paul is aware of who he is preaching before. He is preaching before his God, his Creator. He has been given a message of reconciliation as an ambassador and he understands the weightiness of this calling, and he wants to be faithful. He doesn’t want to move them with his method. He wants to make sure that it’s the message and the spirit that transform lives. But this is a weighty responsibility all of us should realize, that we are called to be faithful in our announcing, our proclaiming of the gospel. That’s what Paul’s talking about here when he says preaching. He’s not referring to like standing up at a pulpit, necessarily. He’s referring to announcing this news of the Kingdom of God and that gospel summary we looked at a minute ago.
But we also see that Paul probably was not that commanding of a speaker. From what we can determine, he didn’t have the best health. And we’ve already seen that Apollos was probably the better speaker, but he’s not even using the tools available to catch up to that gap, right? He’s not using persuasive words of wisdom. He wants their faith to rest on the message of the gospel and the spirit, and not on anything he did or how he said it.
Now you might wonder, can someone actually become a Christian through persuasive speech? Like, let’s say, someone shares the gospel, and does prop it up, and does feel the need for some reason to augment it can faith still come? Well there are I think two ways to answer this. The first is to affirm that God can draw a straight line with a crooked stick, okay? If God could not work through broken, sinful people He would not work through any of us, and that’s all of us. Now, some sticks are more straight than others but, nonetheless, God continually has a history and will continue to work through broken, sinful people.
In fact, God even brings people to faith through the inappropriate methods of men. Sometimes God even brings people to faith through the preaching of non-Christians. There are pastors who halfway through their ministries have realized, before they get up to preach sometimes, I’m not a Christian. And yet, God still led people to faith through their gospel proclamation because it’s not about the speaker. It’s about the message and spirit. So, that’s the first partial answer yes, people can come to faith even when preachers prop up the gospel with manipulative or persuasive tactics.
The second answer though is I think often not. Often, people do not come to faith through overly persuasive methods. Now, if you’ve been in church for any length of time, you’ve probably seen a preacher who is overtly trying to manipulate people into making a decision. I think of youth camps and events I went to as a kid where the youth speaker would stand up there and try to find the most horrible emotional story he’d ever heard of. And if he didn’t have one, he’d take one from like a second cousin and talk about how there was a group of children on their way home from an event, and a bus hit them, and they all died. And the leader of that group was not a Christian. And so he went to face God’s judgment. And then he would say, “And you’re not guaranteed tomorrow. You could get hit by a bus on your way home tonight. Do you want to stand before God today?”
Now, I do think there’s an important question that we need to call people to, to consider their state before God. And it is true that God will punish those who don’t place their faith in Him because of their sin. But what was this person trying to do? Was he trying to move the students in the room with the beauty of Christ, and the power of the gospel and the Spirit? No, he was trying to emotionally manipulate them into making a decision. And sadly, that is all too common today. And often these decisions, I fear, are like the person Jesus speaks about in Mark 4. They’re like the seed that sprouts up on the ground and then it’s choked out and fades away. Showing that they don’t bear fruit and hence never had saving faith to start with, because their faith was on the power of men, not based on the word and power of God.
You see, there are all kinds of persuasive messages that change people’s minds and reorient their affections, and even change their lives. I probably don’t have to tell you this. And many of these messages are based on fear and hate. So I think of a lot of the messages about politics today. It’s one big vicious circle of fear leading to hate, and hate leading to fear. And it doesn’t matter which side you’re on, if there are even sides or how all that works, like that’s just what moves us. That gets clicks, and ads, and makes money. And it even moves people to associate with certain candidates. So, people’s lives can be changed by emotionally manipulative messages.
My wife and I have a two year old, and it’s very obvious that companies realize parents are scared to death that something that happens one in a billion times will happen to their kid. So you need this $39.95 product, right? Think of how many messages are marketed to parents because of fear. And we know that we can be manipulated in that way and we still pay the money because we don’t want to be the ones who are wrong that one in a billion time. We’re also really bad at understanding risk as humans, but that’s a different concept. But I hope what you see is there are lots of messages that can manipulate and move people, and that is why the gospel proclamation should not be like that.
In fact, it can not be like that because faith does not come through persuasion. It does not come through manipulation. Now, what I’m not saying is don’t sit down and reason with people from the scriptures. That’s not what I mean by persuasion. I mean trying to move people with your method and not the message because faith only comes by the power of the spirit and the means of the message of the cross. Everything else is a house built on sand that will not last.
So if we encourage someone to believe the gospel because we tell them their life will improve, or God will give them prosperity, or their marriage will get better, or they’ll get a better job well, first, we’ve lied to them, but second they’re faith will rest on the words of men, and not the power of God. They will believe that we believe in order to receive rather than humbly submitting before God through worshipful submission and saying, “All I have to plead is the name of Christ on my behalf.” There really are only two options. But, for this reason, the gospel is viewed as foolish. It’s not viewed as wise today.
And think about it, right? God’s economy is just 180 degrees off of how ours works. It says that victory was achieved through death. It says that salvation comes through surrender. That the wise in the world are actually fools and the fools in the world are actually wise and the meek inherit the Earth. That’s not a popular message today, is it? But it’s true. And, in fact, we as Christians affirm that we rally behind God incarnate who died on a cross as a criminal, and is coming back in the sky on a horse. That sounds a little out there, right? When you evaluate it according to the standards of men, it does sound crazy. It doesn’t sound like wisdom. And yet, what does Paul say in verse six?
“Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature. A wisdom, however, not of this age, nor of the rulers of this age who are passing away.”
So Paul has been railing against wisdom and now he says, “I actually did come preaching wisdom.”
What’s up there? Two different wisdoms according to two different standards from two different sources. He’s rejecting the wisdom of this age, which was largely based on its form and presentation, and perhaps practical application. And he’s introducing the wisdom of God, which is based on the content of the gospel. It’s the message not the method that makes something truly wise.
Now, why would we want to evaluate something according to the standards of men? They were different 10 years ago, they’ll be different tomorrow. The Bible says that grass withers, flowers fade, and earthly rulers and kingdoms will come to nothing, but the word of our God stands forever. Why would we base our understanding of wisdom on anything but the transcendent word of God? And yet, how many times did we find ourselves potentially being swayed by arguments that say, “You’re on the wrong side of history.” Or, “You’ll look back on that and regret it.” It might be that the view is just as old as the cell phone, but nonetheless, we should just get rid of views that the church has held for thousands of years because the standards of today say they’re not wise. But that should not be how it is for us.
So Paul doesn’t preach the wisdom of the world, or evaluate wisdom according to human standards. But what he says in verse seven is that,
“We do speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory. The wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood. For if they had understood it, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory.”
So worldly wisdom isn’t just different because it emphasizes method over message, but also because of its source. True wisdom comes from God.
Now, this whole idea of a mystery and hiddenness is probably a little bit of a complicated idea, or at least surprising. So let’s walk through that together. So Paul says, “We speak God’s wisdom and a mystery, the hidden wisdom of God, which God predestined before the world for our glory.” So why is the gospel hidden? Why does he call it a mystery? Like how does that work? Well, what he’s not saying is that we can’t know it. And he’s not saying we can’t understand it because he actually goes on to make the other point, God has revealed it to us by the spirit, right? But Paul uses this word mystery often in his writings and it has the idea of something that was previously hidden that has now been revealed. And often it has a dimension of something that was unexpected, and surprising, and counterintuitive when evaluated according to worldly standards. But, now, we see clearly because of the Spirit.
And the gospel fits this to a tee, doesn’t it? No one understood beforehand that God would save His people through an incarnation and a crucifixion. No one’s going to dream that up. That’s the major plot twist in the movie that no one saw coming because it was both hidden, and yet completely contrary to expectations of the day. The Jews considered a crucified Messiah to be a contradiction in terms. And even non-Christians would not even speak of a crucifixion because it was just so gory, and off-putting, and common and vulgar. And yet, God predestined that this is how salvation would come. First, through the cross and resurrection, but also through the Spirit calling certain people as that, seemingly crazy, message of the cross is proclaimed. Because Paul says that this wisdom that none of the rulers of the world understood it. Because if they had, they wouldn’t have crucified Jesus. That’s true, right? If the Jews and the Romans had understood and actually believed that this was God incarnate they would have worshiped him, not crucified him.
But the reason God hid that message from them is because the cross was the predetermined plan of God from before the foundation of the world to save God’s people and glorify God. And if Christ had not been crucified, we would not be saved. And so, the message of the cross, the gospel was hidden for a time, but yet it has now been revealed. And as Paul goes on to say, “Things which eye has not seen, and ear has not heard and which have not entered into the heart of man. All that God has prepared for those who love him. For to us, God revealed them by the spirit.”
Now, Paul does something maybe a little confusing here. He can combines several Old Testament quotations and kind of paraphrases them to make a point. And he says, no one imagined the gospel. It’s too wise in God’s eyes, and too foolish in the world’s eyes for anyone to have come up with it. It’s that glorious. But God has revealed it to us. It’s not hidden to us. It’s not a mystery to us, brothers and sisters, right? Writing to the church. The gospel doesn’t come by persuasion. It doesn’t come by rhetoric, or education, or intelligence, or someone having a softer heart than someone else. It’s not through innate natural capacities. No, Paul says it’s revealed by the Spirit. That’s how the gospel is revealed and that’s how faith comes.
Now you may ask, “Well, why does it come that way? Why does the hiddenness of the gospel only get revealed by the Spirit?” That’s a good question and there are four verses in this passage, I think this and the previous chapter, where Paul answers that question. He says that God does it this way so that the cross of Christ would not be made void, would not be emptied of its power. Because if we could be saved and understand the gospel apart from the cross and the work of the spirit, we would have something to boast in and the cross would be unnecessary, but that’s not how it is.
In chapter 1 verse 27 he says that God did it this way to shame the wise and glorify those who are humbled before God. That’s another reason. A third reason is in chapter 1 verse 29 where Paul says, God’s economy works this way so that no one can boast before God because it doesn’t rely on human wisdom, but on the revelation and work of God. And in chapter 2 verse 5 he says that God does it this way so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.
So here’s all how all of this fits together. We, as Christians, are called to share the gospel, to proclaim the good news of who Jesus is and what He did. That message of the cross, Christ crucified. But when we do that, we have to remember that spiritually speaking, we are speaking to spiritual dead people. As Romans 8 says, people aren’t able to respond and submit to the law of God. They actually don’t want to. It’s not that some people are more sensitive to the things of the Spirit than someone else, or they’re more intelligent and just get it. No, to quote Paul and chapter 1:18 he says, “To everyone who is perishing the message of the cross is foolish.” There’s no category of person who’s perishing that thinks, “Yeah, that message, that’s pretty cool. Like maybe not for me.” No. It’s either foolish because you’re perishing, or it is already the power of God for you because you are being saved. There’s not a middle category.
And God has ordained the foolishness of preaching the gospel to be the means He works through to reveal the hiddenness of the gospel to His people. And we can’t make that gospel message more persuasive. And actually to try to do so is to discredit the Spirit’s power. Think about it, if we think we have to make the gospel more persuasive than it is so people will believe we’re saying the Spirit isn’t powerful enough to overcome a person’s disbelief. And that is simply not true.
So we share the gospel and He saves. We have different roles and both roles are necessary. We share, God saves. I think where we get discouraged and feel a heavy burden is when we start to think we take on part of His role. Yeah, I mean I share, but I need to move them. I need to get their heart to accept it. And when we step over that we’re encroaching on the Holy Spirit’s territory, and hence we will feel a burden we were never meant to feel. Both roles are necessary, but we need to know what our role is.
So how should this passage affect us today? Like if we’re going to leave in light of the first verse 10 verses of 1 Corinthians 2 what should we be thinking? Well, first, if you rely on Greek rhetorical style in your presentation of the gospel, you should probably stop that. I’m kidding, that’s probably not us today. But I think this passage does tell us how to evaluate preaching. It tells us that there are many people today, in my opinion, who try to prop up the gospel with persuasive words to get people to believe it.
And in a room like this, many of you probably listen to sermons during the week. I think that can be helpful. But a question to ask when you hear any preaching, is the preacher trying to move me with the power of the Spirit and the gospel, or with persuasive or manipulative words? Is there a gospel substance to what is being said? Or as one of my friends from Texas says, is the message all hat and no cattle, right? Is it just all show and method and no substance? It’s a question we need to ask when we hear preaching.
Secondly, this passage should give us confidence to share the gospel. Now, I could see some of you maybe saying, “Okay, but you’ve made it seem even more complicated. Like there’s this ditch. I don’t want to be too persuasive, like how does that work?” I’m not saying don’t communicate the gospel clearly. What I am saying is it doesn’t depend on you. You’re just called to be faithful and scatter the seed. That’s a much lower bar than I think many of us implicitly belief. We just share the seed. We’re faithful in that way, we’re speakers, we’re conduits. We don’t even have to come up with the message. We’re handed the seed. It’s just our job to share it and the work of that comes by the message of the cross and the Holy Spirit. God has given us the message of reconciliation and we’re to be, his ambassadors. We’re conduits and speakers, but we are not responsible for changing hearts and minds. And everyone can share the gospel.
Now, I think many of us aren’t actually sure what to say if someone says, “What is the gospel? Okay, so you’re a Christian, you believe all this stuff. You go to church like what’s it about?” That’s your chance. What are you going to say? Some of us aren’t sure, and if that’s you, there’s a great short book, it’s like 60 or 70 pages that you should read. It’s called, What is The Gospel by Greg Gilbert. Very accessible, very helpful. I personally have found it to be a big help in my life. So if you’re not sure what to say when someone says, “What is the gospel,” perhaps get that book.
Now, it’s been said that some people might be able to share the gospel better than others, but no one shares a better gospel. And that is why the ground is level here and we should be encouraged as a church family because we realize we all are sharing that same message, the message of the cross, the message of reconciliation. We don’t change hearts. We don’t change minds. As Peter said, when Jesus asked him a question, “Lord, you have the words of eternal life to whom else would we go?” There are no other words, so let’s use the words of the cross.
Third, I think this passage should lead us to have patience with unbelievers because if we internalize what this passage is saying, that, “To everyone who doesn’t have the spirit the message of the cross is foolishness, ” that means we’re going to have to have some patience. You don’t tell someone something they think is foolish and they’re like, “Oh yeah, sure, that makes sense,” unless something changes deep within them. So if you share the gospel with someone and they think it’s stupid, or they’re offended you probably did it right. Think about it. What I get worried about is when we share the gospel and everyone’s like, “Oh yeah, I’m okay with that.” Or, “That’s okay for you.” No, like the gospel’s offensive, especially in our culture today that is based on personal autonomy, and no one gets to tell me what to do. The message of the cross is that you’re accountable to someone else. You deserve the death of the person who was hung on the cross, but if you humble yourself before Him, then you will receive forgiveness. It’s once, again, 180 degrees off of the message of our culture today.
So if we share the gospel and people are off put you might’ve done it right. In fact, you probably did. Now, make sure it’s the message that’s offensive and not your method, but nonetheless. But since we can’t change hearts we should be patient with people. We realize we’re to share, and the Lord brings the fruit. We wait on the Lord.
So fourth, I think this passage should make us reevaluate what is wise in God’s eyes because there’s a lot that passes for wisdom in the church today and in Christian circles today that I think is indistinguishable from the wisdom of the world. And some of that is a part of how we try to make the gospel look less foolish. Like how can we dress it up so it’s not as off-putting? It will always be off-putting, okay? But also I think, as we saw in our study through Ecclesiastes this summer, there are things that the world just considers to be wise even apart from the gospel that we agree with, and yet they’re foolish in God’s eyes, because consider how many Christians and their families when you compare them to unbelievers there’s no difference and how their household is structured, how their finances look, what they spend their time on, how they approach education, how they prioritize, or don’t prioritize career, or family, or success, or money.
And if two things look the same they probably are the same and that should concern us. I fear that too many of us are wise according to the standards of this age and the powerful and popular people of this age, and we’re fools in the Kingdom of God. Now, I can’t say what this looks like for you specifically, but here’s a helpful diagnostic question. How much does my life, my time, my family, my finances, the things I think are wise, how much do those look like the same things in a non-Christian’s life? And if they’re the same, maybe there’s an issue. It should make us ask the question and evaluate our hearts and our lives.
Fifth and finally though, this passage should lead us to worship. Like when we realize we were the rebels, we were fools who thought ourselves to be wise so prideful fools, thought we were doing great on our own, when we realize we were that person and God revealed the hiddenness of His grace and gospel to us as an act of mercy and love what else could we do, but worship and love Him? Like what else is the proper response? Because Paul says we should boast in the Lord because of this. I think many of us, myself included at times, don’t want to be thought foolish for the gospel. And yet, Christ was executed as a blasphemous fool in his culture.
And yet I’m shy about sharing that message, but I shouldn’t be. But how could that reality not break me? And how could I not exhibit praise for the Grace that He so lavishly poured out on me? That’s what this text should lead us to do. To realize, as the text says, that the one who glories, which should be us as Christians should glory in the things in Grace of God because God didn’t just reveal wisdom as an idea to us. It’s not a principle. It’s not just words on a page. The wisdom of God is Jesus Christ and He has revealed Him. And as this text has also said, He is our justification, our holiness and our redemption. And when we realize that our heart should be led to worship Him.