The Wisdom and Power of God
The tenuous situation at the church in Corinth was recognized by the apostle Paul (1 Cor 1). Divisions among men — over men — are nothing new. It is one of the ways we have trouble in the world and in the church. The church at Corinth, planted by Paul (Acts 18), needed some teaching on how God manages the church and its growth.
First, Paul emphasized preaching, “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the Gospel, not in cleverness of speech, that the Cross of Christ should not be made void (1 Cor 1:17).” Paul was not eloquent, as were the traveling orators and rhetoricians of his day, and no doubt, Apollos superseded Paul in these skills.
Second, the effect of preaching was not the result of oratorical skills, “For the Word of the Cross is to those who are perishing, foolishness, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God (1 Cor 1:18).” Preaching is merely the instrumentality of how God conveys His glorious Gospel message. The dual effect is never dependent on human performance. Therefore, one’s preference for oratorical style is selfish, misguided, and fleshly.
Third, to preach Christ and Him crucified appears foolish to those who are perishing (1 Cor 1:18). This includes those preachers who imagine themselves, to be “global leaders” or “counselors” or serve as entertaining showmen. Clearly, there is nothing new under the sun (Eccl 1:9). Charlatans of speech were there in Paul’s day, even during the days of the prophets, and they are with us, today.
Fools for Christ, preaching the foolish message of the Cross, know the most important truth of their calling, “Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Cor 1:24).” God, in His infinite wisdom, has decreed what would appear foolish to men, to be the very catalyst for the salvation of His chosen people (1 Pet 2:9).
The wisdom of God is seen in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. By sending His eternal Son, to be the Savior, it would also be the power of God to execute what was ordained. Sons of the first Adam had no understanding of what was lost and what was required of them, in order to be reconciled to God (2 Cor 5:18). What was required was beyond their wisdom (1 Cor 1:20–21), their will (Jn 1:12–13), and their ability to do anything about it (Rom 8:7).
Inspired by the deceitful god of this world (Jn 8:44; 2 Cor 4:4), Adam’s progeny have been creating ambitious religions for millennia. These are meant to appease men’s guilty consciences. Without the knowledge of the truth, those who have sinned are subject to death, judgment, and eternal punishment (Mt 25:41, 46; Rom 6:23; Heb 9:27; Jude 7). Even when confronted with the truth, they have no love of the truth, so as to be saved (2 Thess 2:10). There is nothing in men, dead in their trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1), which desires God and righteousness.
The wisdom and power of God has made the way of salvation perfectly effectual. From eternity, God predestined some people, the elect (Rom 8:30; Eph 1:4–5), to be vessels of mercy prepared for glory (Rom 9:23). God the Father gave His chosen ones to God the Son (Jn 6:37), and the son of God came to save His people from their sins (Mt 1:21). These people belong to Him (Jn 18:37), and in His power He loses none of them (Jn 6:39; 10:28–29).
Jesus Christ is the means by which God maintains His glory, in the redemption of man. If people could do anything, even one thing, to facilitate their salvation in any way, they would be stealing glory from God. By the Son of God becoming the Son of Man through incarnation (Jn 1:14), and then executing a perfect atonement via the Cross, the God-man, Jesus Christ, retains the glory of salvation for the Triune Godhead.
Man, not God, needs to make payment for sins. God, not man, is the only One wise enough and powerful enough to make the payment. The infinite value of the precious blood of Christ covers the infinite volume of sins (1 Pet 1:19; 2:24), for whom it was shed (Jn 10:11, 15; Eph 5:25) and to whom it is applied.
It is the Spirit of God, who teaches us about the wisdom of God’s plan of salvation (Jn 14:26). Who else would even know of this hidden mystery that is only revealed to whom Jesus reveals it (Mt 11:27)?
The Holy Spirit is sent from God to whomever He wills (Jn 16:13), and the Spirit Himself is the gift of God (Rom 5:5). The Spirit illumines the elect, to embrace the spiritual words of the Bible. Faith is brought forth in the elect hearers of God’s Word (Rom 10:17). The hearer hears the voice of her Good Shepherd, when the Word, preached in the Spirit, is received by the Holy Spirit-indwelt hearer (Jn 14:17; Rom 8:9, 11). Simply put, God causes the Word to be received, by the one to whom God sends the Word, through the preaching event.
Friend, it behooves you to sit under the preaching of God’s Word in a local church congregation. For you to have faith, you must hear the Bible preached in the Spirit of God. If you are not believing in Jesus, today, you must flee to Christ, to hear of the great things He has done for His chosen people, from every tribe in the world (Rev 5:9; 7:9).
In God’s wisdom, which is far above any human wisdom, God has made this to be the way of salvation. He gives faith to His beloved (Phil 1:29; 2 Pet 1:1), by telling them about His good work. God counts this faith, granted to some but not all, to be the justification in every believer (Rom 4:5).
Without this God-given faith, you remain one of those perishing souls (1 Cor 1:18; Eph 2:1). Go to God’s Word and listen to the Gospel of salvation. May God have mercy on you (Rom 9:15–16). You need it. If God has already given you faith in Christ, then you need to give thanks without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17–18). It is right to give Him thanks and praise.
August 10, 2022