The Wisdom and Power of God
As a society, we value education and specialized skill.
Our educational system has shifted in the last 100 years.
Where we used to teach our children the foundational principles that knowledge is built on, we now teach them a narrow range of skills.
Instead of teaching them how to think, we’re now more interested in teaching them what to think.
Think about the way high school education is structured now.
Everything the kids do is geared towards getting them into college.
In short, we’ve elevated man, his wisdom, and his abilities far above where they should be.
Once there, you get 2 years of general education to provide the foundational principles necessary for you to make through a 2 year program of more advanced study in order to prepare you for the specific career path you’ve chosen.
In fact, as a society, we’ve even elevated them above the wisdom of God.
We’re far more interested in teaching our kids what to think as opposed to how to think.
Men of Old
Men of Old
Consider that it was said of the Titanic that it was so well built that even God couldn’t sink it.
In the early 1800’s, in a letter to a friend, Charles Lyell, the foremost Geologist of his day, said that his goal in writing Principles of Geology was to “free science from Moses”.
M.A.’s, Harvard & Yale (1753)
Fellow, Royal Society (London, 1756)
Let’s take a look at what Paul had to say to the Corinthians on this matter.
17 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. 18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
M.A., Wm & Mary (1756)
1 Corinthians 17-25
17 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. 18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence. 30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: 31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
Ph.D, Univ. of St. Andrews (Scotland, 1759)
D.Civ.Law, Oxford (1762)
Member, Royal Academy of Sciences (Paris, 1772)
The church at Corinth had an unhealthy regard for anyone who had ability in the area of public address.
Member, Royal Academy of History (Madrid, 1784)
This was the source of the dispute between them over who was baptized by whom.
Member, Imperial Academy of Sciences & Arts (St. Petersburg, 1789)
Paul, in verse 17, is trying to correct this.
He said he did not come preaching the gospel through the vehicle of the wisdom of men or the cross would have been rendered ineffectual for those to whom he was speaking.
Abilities and Skills
Abilities and Skills
Author - Published Poor Richard’s Almanac, the first Autobiography, a series of political pamphlets that ultimately helped lead the colonies to revolt against Britain, and a chain of successful newspapers.
You’re not trusting my wisdom as I teach you or preach the gospel to you, but you’re trusting in God’s ability and wisdom to accomplish salvation in you.
Politician - Member, Phila. City Council (1748-1751)
Preaching is foolishness to the lost.
Member, PA Assembly (1751-1764), Speaker, PA Assembly (1763), PA Delegate: 2nd Continental Congress (1775-1776)
This was as true in the ancient world as it is today, though for different reasons.
US Ambassador to France (1776-1785, official in 1778)
In the ancient world, it was said of one city, that it was easier to meet a god there than a man.
President of PA Executive Council (now, Governor of Pennsylvania, 1785-1788)
PA Delegate: Constitutional Convention (1787)
In that day, men became gods.
Scientist - Discovered Electricity
The pharaohs were thought to be gods.
Inventor - The Franklin Stove, etc.
Caesar was elevated to the status of a god.
Christianity, however, claims just the opposite.
It says that God became a man.
This was absurd to the ear of the men of that day.
Today our culture in all of its wisdom has decided that God doesn’t exist.
Power of God unto Salvation
Power of God unto Salvation
To the Christian, however, the preaching of the cross is the power of God unto Salvation.
When the message of the cross is preached correctly, God uses His truth to call men to a saving relationship with Christ.
You aren’t going to persuade men to love Christ.
You aren’t going to pose a clever argument that they haven’t thought of and convince them to believe.
You cannot present irrefutable facts that will cause them to believe.
Apart from Christ, man is limited to natural knowledge and ability.
Even if the thing he knows is true, God can set aside the natural laws and facts.
God can do the the miraculous.
A man can’t walk on the water, dead children can’t be restored to life, and a woman with an issue of blood that no physician can heal can be suddenly cured; but we see that God can set aside the natural course of things and cause these things to be so.
Our most brilliant academics work with a body of knowledge built upon what they think is data and facts.
God makes His own data.
He doesn’t need to experiment.
He doesn’t learn. There is no trial and error with God.
Jews vs. Gentiles
Jews vs. Gentiles
The Jews knew true religion in the Old Testament.
The knew the ways and requirements of the one true God.
The gentiles had their great thinkers, philosophers, and orators.
So, the religious Jews wanted a sign that Christ was their long awaited Messiah.
He gave them many, not the least of which was the last. God raised Him from the dead.
Yet they still don’t believe.
The gentiles wanted an intellectual argument that proved conclusively the case for the God that Paul preached.
Yet in the face of a mountain of scientific evidence that evolution could not possibly have occurred, the wizards of smart cling to their theory like a drowning man clings to a life raft.
The end result is that both the Jew and the Gentile have made up their minds that though they don’t know the answer, the one thing that they do know is that the answer can’t be God and His messiah.
If we are to have any hope of reaching this world, we must stop relying upon clever arguments and children story version of what the Bible says.
We must rely upon the Holy Spirit to make alive and real the preaching of the gospel.
Our faith must be genuine, we must grow up and stop behaving like the world around us, and we had better learn more that just the simplest, most basic facts and information about our faith.