2020-08-16 – 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:16 – Spiritual Wisdom
Bible Text: 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:16 | Preacher: Pastor Jerry Higdon | Series: Corinthians | 2020-08-16 – 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:16 – Spiritual Wisdom (Party/Concert)
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us.
Trivia Question: How many squares are on a normal western style chess board? 64. There is an ancient Indian legend about a king who loved chess and he was quite good at it. One day a traveling sage visited the kingdom and was challenged to a game of chess. To entice him to play, the king offered to give the sage whatever reward he asked for if he won. When the king was defeated, to honor his word he asked the sage what prize he would like. The sage asked for one grain of rice to placed on the first square of the chessboard, and then that it be doubled on each following square. The request seemed modest, so the king ordered a bag of rice to be brought. One grain was placed on the first square, two on the second, four on the third, eight on the fourth and so on. But it quickly became apparent the terms of the request were impossible to meet. By the twenty-first square more than one million grains of rice would be required. By the thirty-first square the total would go over one billion—with more than half of the chessboard still left to go.
So you see small things can really have a big impact when they are added together; that’s wisdom. And that same dynamic goes also with our Christian walk. We all should endeavor to leave a remnant of Christ wherever we go. Wisdom tells us that it can surely grow to be something remarkable indeed.
Today we are going to talk about that thing called wisdom.
Please turn now to 1 Corinthians 1:18, page 1011 in your pew Bibles, which is the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God. Prayer..
Last week we read the first part of this letter saint Paul had written to the Corinthian church. He had heard reports about divisions within that church and Paul knew that such division could ruin a church and cause them to be ineffective at sharing the Gospel. He told them, and effectively us today, that we need to strive to be United in Christ, especially in regards to the basic tenants of our faith. King David also wrote about that, he said, ”How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”
As we continue on in this First Corinthians letter from Paul, he continues to counsel them on the issue of Spiritual Wisdom, for which is the title of today’s message, Spiritual Wisdom. Starting at verse 18 it reads:
18 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. 19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and I will set aside the intelligence of the intelligent.
20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the debater of this age? Hasn’t God made the world’s wisdom foolish? 21 For since, in God’s wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of what is preached. 22 For the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles. 24 Yet to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God, 25 because God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.
This first sentence here is so true in our world today isn’t it, the Gospel of Jesus is foolishness to those that are perishing. However for the Christian, the Gospel is everything. The Gospel gives us purpose, the Gospel gives us freedom, the Gospel gives us hope, and the Gospel gives us peace, Amen? But to those who don’t embrace the gospel, it is foolish. They see the joy, peace and purpose we have as Christians and they despise us and the Gospel. We need to continue to pray and reach out to them in love. Paul references here a quote from Isaiah 29:14, where it says: “Therefore, I will again confound these people with wonder after wonder. The wisdom of their wise will vanish, and the perception of their perceptive will be hidden”. Isaiah’s prophecy will have its ultimate fulfillment in the last days when Christ finally sets-up His kingdom and in that all human wisdom effectively dies, and everyone will bow down to His majesty.
Jesus demonstrated this wisdom dynamic many times while He was serving out His ministry here on Earth. Over and over Jesus confounded “the wise” and He elevated the lowly. When we read the Gospels we see He was so wise in so many ways. Ever since He was found in the synagogue as a youth, the teachers and scribes were fascinated at Jesus’s knowledge and wisdom. They called Him a great teacher or Rabi although they knew He wasn’t trained up in their system.
Paul here was once one of those Jews that were looking for signs, however despite all the miracles Jesus performed they still couldn’t see. They kept asking Jesus for signs, even though He fed 5,000 and 4,000 people with a few pieces of fish and bread, and He raised several from the grave and healed so many, they still wanted more signs. In John 4:48 Jesus said, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will never believe”. We still have that same dynamic in our world today sadly.
These Greeks of Corinth that Paul was writing this letter to were amongst those who were considered the “enlightened ones”. From the Greeks come Socrates, Aristotle and Plato, Greek mythology and academics. They were considered the great “thinkers” of the world. And from everything I know about Paul, I would say he would have been a formidable foe. He was a great educated debater and thinker with much wisdom. But I would argue that he knew that they would never be satisfied using just worldly wisdom, so instead he simply appealed to them with the simple Gospel, and we should consider doing likewise. I have an MBA Degree in Business and Technology. Even still, when I run into certain types of self-proclaimed and prideful intellectuals, I know my wisdom isn’t going to get me anywhere with them. So like Paul, I try to appeal to them with the simple Gospel, and I follow-up with prayer. That is the best formula for success in my opinion.
Our verse 26 continues: 26 Brothers and sisters, consider your calling: Not many were wise from a human perspective, not many powerful, not many of noble birth. 27 Instead, God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong. 28 God has chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world—what is viewed as nothing—to bring to nothing what is viewed as something, 29 so that no one may boast in his presence. 30 It is from him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became wisdom from God for us—our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption— 31 in order that, as it is written: Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.
If you look at the lineage and backgrounds of those Christ chose as His Apostles and Disciples, you would have never guessed He would have chosen them. If you look at the men and women that God chose throughout the Old Testament you would have never guessed He would have chosen most of them either. And God chose me too. Who would have figured.
Again, verse 28 says, “God has chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world—what is viewed as nothing—to bring to nothing what is viewed as something, so that no one may boast in his presence”. He chose me, and I have nothing to boast over. And He chooses you too. Despite all our sins, despite all our errors, despite our lineage, despite our lack of knowledge and wisdom; God still chooses us to be His servants, to be His hands and feed, to be His mouth and to be His ears. The question is, are you willing to be that servant; a Christian servant of God to carry His Gospel message to those He puts in your path and to the world at large. Are you willing? And if so, then like Paul wrote here, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord”. So be humble, and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ proudly, and boast only in the Lord, Amen?
Paul continues now in chapter 2, verse 1 with a proclamation. He wrote:
2 When I came to you, brothers and sisters, announcing the mystery of God to you, I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom. 2 I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. 4 My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not be based on human wisdom but on God’s power.
Remember Paul was a church planter, missionary and evangelist. He spoke both Hebrew and Greek, and probably some Aramaic, which was the common language of Judea at that time. We also know that the New Testament, including this letter was written in Koine Greek, but the Corinth people spoke Doric Greek. Although I am sure there was a lot of cross over between the languages, Paul, when he got to Corinth was probably wrestling with those language dynamics. Not to mention the cultural differences and the fact that He was presenting the Gospel to a nation that didn’t know even the God of the Jews. That is a pretty tall order in my opinion. I would think it was probably something like sending one of you off to Shanghai China to preach the gospel. Most of the people of China don’t speak a lick of English and they don’t know anything about Jesus or Father God.
I am sure you would admit that it would be a very challenging and even scary proposition to undertake. That is what Paul is dealing with here.
So he humbled himself and instead of approaching the task as an educated scholar, he instead shared the Gospel with compassion and humility. Apparently, it was effective as the Corinthian church grew. And although it had issues, it continued to thrive. We too have a difficult task here in Orion, IL. God wants us to make a difference here for His glory and His purpose and we will be blessed I promise you for doing so. But we are not alone in this effort. See now how Paul finishes this chapter speaking about this thing called Spiritual Wisdom.
6 We do, however, speak a wisdom among the mature, but not a wisdom of this age, or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 On the contrary, we speak God’s hidden wisdom in a mystery, a wisdom God predestined before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age knew this wisdom, because if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But as it is written, What no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human heart has conceived—God has prepared these things for those who love him.
10 Now God has revealed these things to us by the Spirit, since the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except his spirit within him? In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who comes from God, so that we may understand what has been freely given to us by God. 13 We also speak these things, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people. 14 But the person without the Spirit does not receive what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually. 15 The spiritual person, however, can evaluate everything, and yet he himself cannot be evaluated by anyone. 16 For who has known the Lord’s mind, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
When we decide to stand up in our faith and present the Gospel to other people, we will have to decide, like Paul, how we are going to choose to engage the people God puts into our path. Sometimes I get to go to colleges like Black Hawk and present the Gospel to the students there. With each engagement, I have to assess where the person is in their faith walk. What is their intellect level and how to approach the conversation in the most effective at that time.
Like Paul tells us here, we have God’s Holy Spirit inside us, and Jesus calls the Holy Spirit our Counselor. In that we should become more comfortable in seeking the Holy Spirit’s council as we are sharing the Gospel message. And many times I have even experienced the Holy Spirit in me, reaching out to the Holy Spirit in the another person. It is amazing to witness. Sometimes it is so clear and obvious to me that I am talking to another Christian because of that spiritual handshake.
You might recall when Jesus’s Mother Mary came initially to her Aunt Elizabeth’s home. Mary was pregnant with Jesus and Elizabeth was pregnant with John the Baptist. Luke 1:41 it says, “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!”
We all need to lean more into that Spiritual Wisdom dynamic, and in that I promise, you will be blessed. I love when I see the Holy Spirit working in my life, and my prayer is that you too will experience that joyful affirmation as you choose to follow the Great Commission and share the Gospel of Jesus with others. Let the Holy Spirit be your Guide. Humble yourself and tell the people what and why you believe in the Gospel. And in that I promise, you will surely be blessed.
Like Paul, we are not called upon to invent the message, nor to decorate the message, but to proclaim the Good-News Gospel and God’s Holy Word. And the best way for us to do that is to know our Bibles and spend time with God in prayer. He loves you so brothers and sisters. I hope you believe that.
So, how many squares are on a normal western chess board? 68.
That might win you a trivia contest someday. But more important is the wisdom of knowing that every tiny bit of effort you make, coupled with the Holy Spirit’s power can change the world as we know it in a very positive way.
Would you please stand with me now, as we close with an invitation..
“A FRIENDLY CHURCH IN A FRIENDLY TOWN”