Faith In First Corinthians, Part 2: The Believer’s Faith Stands in the Power of God, Not in the Wisdom of Man:Volume 5, Number 43
Created Date: June 26, 2022
Posted Date: June 26, 2022
The first three chapters of 1st Corinthians deals with divisions among believers despite God’s blessings to them and the foolishness of men vis a vis the wisdom and power of God. As noted in our last study, the first occurrence of the word faith in 1st Corinthians is: “And my (Paul’s) speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand (be) in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”. Several previous passages lay the groundwork, or lead up to this passage, beginning with: “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” . A proper rendering of the Greek translated with the phrase “to them that perish” should be “those that are perishing.” Therefore, many at that time were perishing because the preaching of the cross was foolishness to them. And they subsequently died and are bound for hell, just as untold millions since then.
As we look about us today, we see literally billions of men and women, many of whom are considered wise by world standards, perishing because the preaching of the cross is foolishness to them. What is the wisdom of man? It does not refer to the knowledge acquired in disciplines such as medicine, mathematics and administration that propels men to worldly esteem. An example of the wisdom of man to which Paul refers can be found in his encounter with the Athenian philosophers/wise men on Mars Hill when he pointed out the many idols/gods they worshiped, including the unknown God,. His audience epitomized the wisdom of men in which they were perishing while only a few believed the Gospel, the preaching of the cross, . The wisdom of men/women today is manifested in the religions to which they adhere; atheism, agnosticism, Bahai, Buddhism, Confucianism, Druze, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Rastafarianism, Shinto, Sikhism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism, Traditional African Religions, Africa Diaspora Religions, Indigenous American Religions and yes even Judaism, Catholicism, Protestantism, etc. Before you get excited about the inclusion of Judaism, Catholicism and Protestantism, please let me explain. To begin with, any person who recognizes anyone other than the Lord Jesus Christ as the mediator between God and man is delusional, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;” . If anyone depends solely on the fact they belong and adhere to Judaism, Catholicism or any of the myriad Protestant denominations, but not on the cross of Christ, they are perishing. Believing from the heart on the cross of Christ is an acknowledgment one is a lost sinner, that Christ died for their sin and rose again for their justification, .
I had two acquaintances some time ago who have passed on. They thought the preaching of the cross of Christ was foolishness. Both were considered knowledgeable and wise men in the Phoenix community. One was the senior pastor of a thriving Phoenix church affiliated with a protestant denomination dating back to this country’s colonial times. He belonged to numerous prestigious charitable and political organizations that did good works in the community and influenced government. He was sought after for his advice and built up his church’s attendance; it was the in-place for the rich, powerful, and influential to attend. I noticed when he gave invocations at meetings and luncheons, he never mentioned our Lord Jesus Christ. He was very ecumenical, sans the cross of Christ. The second acquaintance was a well-known and respected government administrator, who, after his retirement worked throughout the country as an expert consultant in his field. He attended the church of his good friend, the pastor. One day after the pastor retired, I was talking to the second man and asked how things were going at his church. He answered seriously that he was disappointed, it was not going well because “the new pastor was preaching about Christ’s shed blood on the cross for sins, you know, that kind of stuff, and the church was losing members.” Unless these two came to believe the Gospel of the Cross of Christ prior to their deaths, they have perished because it was obvious His cross work was foolishness when I knew them.
God has made foolish the wisdom of this world,and it pleased Him to save those who believe by the foolishness of preaching, . Christ is the power and wisdom of God to believers who He has called, . Then Paul asks rhetorically why God chose the foolish, weak, base (ignoble) and despised things of the world to confound the wise and mighty and to bring to nothing the things that are, and answers: “That no flesh should glory in his presence,” . Thus we know that no man or woman who has ever lived who is saved to eternal life will be able to claim they did anything by their own power to earn salvation and eternal life. The conjunction “but,” meaning “on the contrary, on the other hand, notwithstanding;” “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” . We must let that sink in; of God believers are “in” Christ Jesus (members of His Body) who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.
When Paul came to Corinth, he didn’t come with excellent good sounding speech or wisdom when he declared to them the testimony of God,. He chose instead to make known only the message that Jesus Christ was crucified for their sins, . He came to them weak and trembling with fear and didn’t preach with the wisdom of men. His speech (Greek logos, usually translated word) was not with enticing (Greek word found only here meaning “persuasive”) words (Greek logos again) but in demonstration (the Greek translated demonstration is found only here in the NT and means “making manifest, showing forth, demonstration, proof”) of the Spirit (in this case the Spiritual gift of Divine wisdom) i.e., the powerful gift, . And concluding: “That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” .
Thank God our faith, “the substance or ground of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,”, is not based on the wisdom of men, but in the unlimited power of God. The wisdom of men will be burnt up in the trash bin of history and believers will glory throughout eternity in the wisdom of God expressed in the cross of Christ. “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:” .