1 Corinthians 1:18-25
March 4, 2018
Pastor Witt



Greeting:  Greetings to you in the name of Jesus Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.


Text: 18) For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  19) For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, the intelligence of the intelligent, I will frustrate.  20) Where is the wise man?  Where is the scholar?  Where is the philosopher of this age?  21) Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?  22) For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know Him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.  23) Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified; a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24) but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  25) For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than men’s strength.


Introduction: Today God would like to share something very important with us.   It is insight into something called “foolish wisdom.”   God is the developer and dispenser of foolish wisdom.   His foolish wisdom is the most exquisite knowledge, the most magnificent power, and the most beneficial gift anyone could receive.   It is wisdom of the highest order.   It surpasses all others.  Yet, it is considered by many to be foolish wisdom.


As good and necessary a gift as God’s wisdom is, there are many who fail to recognize its great worth.  They examine this wisdom and dismiss it.   They consider it useless.  They castigate it as powerless.  They condemn it as downright dangerous.  They label those who embrace this wisdom as naïve, crazy or disturbed people.   So those who welcome God’s wisdom often find that they will have to bear the disapproval or scorn of others as the price to pay for enjoying its blessings.


One might think that God would come up with a different brand of wisdom – one that would be just as effective but without the side effects of being judged as worthless and harmful by so many people.   However, God is not pleased to produce another kind of wisdom.  He has only this one to offer.   Besides, there is nothing really wrong with this wisdom.   It is perfectly good.  And it is not God’s fault if there are people who will not appreciate it for what it is.  God, on His part, will not change it to suit the  unreasonable demands and fickle whims of critics.


What is this foolish wisdom that God offers?  What are its benefits?   Why is it so polarizing?   Why is it that some consider it the greatest knowledge possible while others consider is the height of folly?   Saint Paul identifies God’s foolish wisdom as “the message of the cross,  the preaching of Christ crucified.”   It is the message of the Gospel.  It is the message of God’s saving love for sinful people.  It is the message that God’s Son, Jesus Christ, suffered and died to pay for the sins of all so that all might be rescued and delivered by God’s grace through faith in Jesus.   It is a message that is at one and the same time, horrible and beautiful, humbling and uplifting.


It is a horrible message because it says that the sinless, holy Son of God must bear our sins, take our curse and face eternal torment for us.   It is a beautiful message because it says that God loves us so very much that He was willing to make this commitment and sacrifice for us.   It is a humbling message because it says that we are powerless to help ourselves and that only Jesus could do this for us.   It is an uplifting message because it says that Jesus has paid the acceptable price for us and has set us free from the condemnation of our sin and the control of death


1. To Frustrate The Sinful Pride Of the Perishing

It is sad, but true, that God’s great wisdom is considered great foolishness by many people.  Paul writes: “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.  .  . In the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know Him.  God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.” 


Many judge the Gospel message of the cross as so much foolishness because they approach it on the basis of mere human or worldly wisdom.  Human wisdom is a fine gift from God.  It plays an important place in our lives.   Through human wisdom people may make discoveries, gain insight and create inventions.   We see the good fruits of human wisdom on display when we see a colossal sky scraper or a sports stadium, when we ride an airplane or a train that travels hundreds of miles per hour, when we undergo laser or microscopic surgery, when we use an android or an i-phone, when we receive an antibiotic that wipes out a dangerous infection or a pain medicine that gives us amazing relief.  


As wonderful and helpful as human wisdom is in so many areas of life, there is one area where it is entirely out of place.   That is in the area of appointing itself as judge and jury to give its verdict on the Gospel of Christ.  Once human wisdom contained a sound and proper spiritual component, but that ended with the Fall into sin.   The nature and wisdom of people became corrupted by our first parents fall from perfection.   Now human wisdom is spiritual impaired.  In the sinful nature, people are blind, dead and hostile to God.  The sinful nature is prejudiced against God and is the opponent of His spiritual wisdom.   Just as a blind person cannot see the 666 foot drop it would be to step off the top of the Saint Louis Arch, so mere human wisdom cannot see the depth of the problem of sin – the inexcusable offense against God and the incalculable punishment it deserves.  Just as a blind person cannot see a safety net in position to catch a person falling from the top of the Arch, so human wisdom cannot see how God would provide a Savior to save us from death.


In fact, in blind pride, human wisdom presumes to offer its own diagnoses of the human situation and its own solutions to the spiritual needs of people.  The promoters of macro-evolution as a world view announces that there is no God to create and that everything and everyone got here by dumb luck.  It proclaims that people are products of chance and are unplanned accidents.   It declares people to be animals with no souls, no basis for morals, no ultimate purpose and no eternal destiny.  In this regard, I mention a story I recently read about President Ronald Reagan.   As a believer in Christ, President Reagan was very troubled that one of his sons did not believe in God.   He said that one of his great wishes was to treat his son to an elaborately prepared and extremely delicious meal at his house.  And after the meal, he would ask his son if he believed there was a cook for the meal.  You may want to try that with your evolution-believing friends.


After discrediting the message of Christ crucified as the way of salvation, human wisdom offers its own alternatives.   People-made religions (there are many of them) will offer paths to salvation that are no longer open to imperfect people.  They will claim the path to salvation is found in a person’s own sincerity or intentions, or in one’s ethical standards and morality, or in one’s generosity and sacrifice, or in one’s suffering and endurance, or in one’s self-denial and withdrawal from life, or in some combination of these ideas.


Spiritually blind human wisdom pride-fully sets its own terms and conditions for a person to approach God, insisting that a person can tell God how the relationship should work and announcing that God will have to accept what a person decides.   In the mean time, human wisdom ridicules God’s saving wisdom, mocking Jesus on the cross as unacceptable and unworthy of us.  Some claim that a bloody death is too crude and violent a way to be saved.  Others claim that a crucified Savior is not intelligent enough or creative enough way to rescue people.   You may have heard their arguments: “How can one life and death remove the sins of billions of people?”   “How can a man who lived thousands of year ago and died a shameful death deliver us?”   “How can a just God forgive people for all they have done wrong with no cost at all to the offenders?”   Human wisdom thinks God’s wisdom falls short.


Paul explains that God uses His wisdom to confound and frustrate the people who will perish for their sins.   God truly loves all people and wants all people to be saved.  He has given Christ to be the Savior of all.  He invites all to believe and enjoy this salvation.  But God does not cater to evil and unbelief.  He is not impressed or swayed by proud, selfish demands.  Those who refuse His saving wisdom in Christ will perish.  They will not be given another way.   Recall the story of the Rich man and Lazarus.  The rich man went to hell after his death and asked that Lazarus might be raised from the dead and sent to warn his unbelieving brothers.   The answer he got was:  “They have God’s Word in Moses and the prophets.  Let them listen to that.”   God will continue to offer the Gospel of Christ to them and to others.   As they cling to their spiritual blindness, they will find it an annoyance and try to silence the Gospel, but to no avail.   God will keep loving them and keep trying to reach them.  So will we.   Some will be changed and come to Christ and be saved..  Others, sadly, tragically, will refuse to change.   They will perish as God keeps His Word – that He will destroy the wisdom of the wise.


2. To Rescue The Ransomed Souls Of The Saved

But God will also keep His promise to rescue people through His foolish wisdom.  The message of the cross and Christ is the power and the wisdom of God to save.   The cross is true, divine wisdom.  It contains the great power to remove the plight of sin.   It is the complete, perfect solution to save.


People who hear the Word of God, take it to heart, and set aside their sinful pride find great blessing.   Pride is a terrible affliction.   Pride toward other people keeps us locked up in our selfishness and locked out of true love.  Pride toward God keeps us blind to our need and to God’s help.   Comparing ourselves to God, we have no room to be proud.  We know so little.  God knows everything.  We have nothing.  God would give us everything.  We are lost without Christ.  We are saved by Christ.


God has given us Christ crucified.  He has given us exactly who we need to deliver us.  Others may think this is foolish.  We who believe know differently.  Christ is the ultimate wisdom and the absolute power to save us from sin and bring us to God.   Others may delight in their worldly wisdom.   We will take the heavenly kind.  Others may focus on human power.  We prefer divine power.  Others may sputter and fume at God.  We will rejoice and be glad in Him.  Because Jesus Christ and the message of Him crucified for our sins are God’s saving knowledge and strength for us.  This rescues our ransomed souls.  This is our treasure.   This is our confidence.  This is our hope.  Others may reject it, but we are sticking with it.  We thank God for that “foolish wisdom” He gives us.   Amen.