God’s Wisdom Foolish?

An exposition of 1 Corinthians 1:18-31. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, October 3, 2010.

Do you remember the Rubik’s Cube?  The Rubik’s Cube is a 3 dimensional mechanical puzzle invented in 1974 by Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture Erno Rubik. Originally called the “Magic Cube”, the puzzle was licensed by Rubik to be sold by Ideal Toys.  As of January 2009, 350 million cubes have sold worldwide making it the world’s top-selling puzzle game.  It is widely considered to be the world’s best-selling toy.  Have you tried to work the stupid thing?  6 sides red, yellow, blue, green, orange and white.  You twist it until you get each side with a solid color.  I never could do it.  I came close once.  I was within a couple of turns the next thing I knew they were all mixed up again!  I did what any normal, thinking person would do…I declared it a stupid, nonsensical waste of time and threw it away.  That’s what we do.  We dismiss that which we don’t understand.  If it doesn’t make sense to me…it’s foolish.  Galileo was written off as a crazed fool when his views of the universe conflicted with the established doctrine.  Columbus was considered a nut with his silly talk of a globed world.  Everyone knew the world was flat.  The same is true in the spiritual realm.  When a man is presented with the claims of Christ if those claims do not fit his definition of faith, if he considers them outlandish or nonsense he simply dismisses them as the ravings of an ignorant, confused religious zealot.  He may even pity the poor fool who believes such drivel but who’s the real fool?  Our text this evening is found in the first chapter of Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth.

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

Paul, writing from Ephesus, is considered about the church at Corinth.
It had been established during his 2nd missionary journey.
He spent a year and a half ministering to the people and establishing the work.
He then sent Apollos to carry on the work.
Word reached him in Ephesus that things were rotten back in Corinth.
There were all kinds of moral, ethical and doctrinal problems in the church.
So Paul, as a loving pastor, writes the church in an attempt to bring correction.

There are a couple of important things to keep in the forefront.  Though this was one mixed up church he addressed them as SAINTS.  A people marked, set apart, declared righteous by God because of Christ.  These were genuinely saved folks.  Born again, spirit empowered believers who had gotten off track.  Though he speaks frankly with them, he addresses them as saints.  Further he makes it clear that they are expected to live holy lives.  “Sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints…”  You are sanctified (declared holy) and you are to live accordingly (called to be saints).  Yes, they are children of God.  Yes, they are saved.  They’ve not lost salvation but no, it is not okay how they’ve been living!  He is going to make it clear, a little later, that they will answer to God for the lives they are living.

Here is the other thing.  Given all their problems the first one addressed is the fact that there are divisions among them.  That is a problem because a divided church robs the believer of joy, robs God of the glory due Him, and it robs the world of a true testimony of the gospel.

They had gathered into little clubs around the identify of their favorite pastor/teacher.
I’m of Paul.
I’m of Apollos.
I’m of Cephas or Peter.
Then the really spiritual crowd – “we just love Jesus.”

Paul responds:
Is Christ divided?
Was Paul, Apollos, or Peter crucified for you?
Any of them your Savior?

What is it that is going to bring this crowd together?  What needs to happen for them to get along?  They need to take their eyes off of men (themselves and their leaders) and put them where they belong on Christ alone!  They need to unify around the gospel.  We never outgrow the gospel.  The gospel is not the “ground floor” and then we move on to really important things.  The gospel is everything!  The gospel says I’m nothing.  The gospel says I’m in solely because of grace.  I am accepted and beloved because God is merciful and kind.  The gospel says I’m no better than anyone else – so love, embrace, forgive and live in the truth and the wonder of the gospel.

That becomes Paul’s focus beginning with verse 18.

Paul makes an astonishing point in this text…

Your perspective, your approach/understanding of the cross determines the effect of the cross on your life.

  • The Principle Stated – 1:18
  • The Hindrances Addressed – 1:19-22
  • The Wonder of the Gospel – 1:23-31
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