It Is From Him

Why Only Some Believe  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  35:51
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Good evening!
Please open your bibles with me to 1 Corinthians chapter 1. We are in the second week of our mini-series entitled, “Why Only Some Believe.” Last week, we looked at the fact that God destroyed the wisdom of the humanly wise and used what fallen humanity deemed to be foolishness, a crucified messiah, a god who died, to show that His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. Our passage tonight helps pull the context together on why the church needs to seek unity.
As we walk through Paul’s argument, we saw his plea for unity, the explanation of the problem he had heard about (with the factions developing under different teachers), he then says he wants no part of it because he came to preach the gospel, the same way the other teachers had done. He is showing that he didn’t convince them of anything that lead them to believe, because the wisdom of God is something that is revealed to those who are called, as it says in verse 24.
As we come to our passage for tonight, we see Paul is using the example of their calling in Christ to be reason that the only boasting there should be among them is in Christ. The sectarianism displayed in their church was not what God desired or what Christ intended for the church. He uses their calling to show that it was something that was from God and not from them - they had no ground to stand on in which they could boast.
For our series, Why Only Some Believe, we are exploring the truths that Paul lays out in God’s Word that help us understand why some people will remain so hostile to God, why they will remain in spiritual death and eventually be destroyed in the second death - eternal separation from God. It also helps us to answer the question, why do some people believe? And when we talk about believing, we are not talking about lip service belief or even a cognitive recognition, but we are talking about believing in the heart and being saved. There are many who would recognize and affirm with their mouths that Jesus is the Lord, but as a matter of heart, they remain unconvinced. And why? Because to those who are spiritually dead, outside of Christ and without the Holy Spirit, the heart cannot accept the Lordship of Christ because it is foolishness to them. It makes no “earthly” sense. Spiritual matters need to be discerned spiritually and to the spiritually dead, it cannot happen.
The Corinthian church was divided when they should have been united. It seems as if Paul also addresses the possibility that some of the Corinthians felt he had somehow schmoozed the them into believing the gospel. With cleverness and eloquence, he somehow convinced them to believe. He then gives us the theological reason that someone cannot be duped into being truly saved - it’s not possible because, like we saw last week, God’s wisdom doesn’t make sense to the spiritually dead, and as we will be examining this week, that the calling we receive is not originated from us, but it is from God: Every aspect of our salvation is a gift from God. It Is From Him.
So please read with me from
1 Corinthians 1:26–31 CSB
26 Brothers and sisters, consider your calling: Not many were wise from a human perspective, not many powerful, not many of noble birth. 27 Instead, God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong. 28 God has chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world—what is viewed as nothing—to bring to nothing what is viewed as something, 29 so that no one may boast in his presence. 30 It is from him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became wisdom from God for us—our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption 31 —in order that, as it is written: Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.
For those of you who like to take notes, or just like to know where we are going, our outline tonight will look like this:
He is our Righteousness
He is our Sanctification
He is our Redemption
God shows His power in the cross in a couple of ways:
He raises Christ from the dead, validating every claim He ever made about being the Son of God.
He puts death to death, meaning the path to eternal fellowship with God was forever and permanently paved for those who believe
He used the humiliation Christ endured to show His might.
It is interesting when you think of how the Romans invented the most gruesome and cruel means of execution, that over a thousand years earlier, the Lord would speak about someone dying on a tree. In Galatians, Paul refers to this and reminds us of how exactly the first-century Jewish people would have seen Jesus’ crucifixion - as a curse.
Galatians 3:13 CSB
13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, because it is written, Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.
It no doubt pleased the Jewish leaders to see Jesus crucified and be shown to all as having been cursed by God. He was mocked, spat on, beaten and laughed at, utterly humiliated. And to a world that refuses to believe in Him, they are happy to leave the story there. They are happy to leave Jesus in the grave as someone who was cursed by God. But God brings glory to Christ through this. We who believe in the Lord look back to the cross with mixed emotions. We are sad to see that Jesus, the only Son of God had taken such a severe beating and humiliating death to bear the penalty for our sins. But we also can’t help but look at the cross as a symbol of the love, of the power, of the sinlessness and of the stateliness, or grandeur of Christ. The King humbled himself, remained sinless and became the sacrifice for our sin that was all God would need. Atonement was made for us forever at the cross, so we see the cross through the lens of eternal gratitude.

He Is Our Righteousness

A common theme that we’ve hit on a few times is the substitutionary atonement, meaning that while Christ took our punishment, while our sin was imputed to Him (meaning that the responsibility of our sin was taken away from us and given to Him), we receive by grace through faith Jesus’ righteousness as our own - His righteousness is imputed to us, meaning that all the merit or reward for His righteousness was given to us - all to the glory of God.
When we stand before God on the day of judgment - if you are in Christ, God will not see your sin, but He will see His Son’s righteousness in you. What does this mean for us today though? Can we go on sinning and know that everything is covered at the end? No! We are supposed to abstain from sin. Jesus even commands that we be perfect, as God is perfect. And guess what? We will fail.... And fail, and fail and fail and fail some more. We are perfected souls trapped in sin-tainted and corrupted bodies. It wont be until we stand before Christ in heaven or until he comes back to rapture the church that we will be completely free from sin. But what matters most is that the threshold of perfection that God’s holiness requires, His righteous standard that we could never meet was met by Jesus on our behalf.
I think that is why Paul is using the calling of people in our passage tonight as an example of God using the foolish of the cross to shame the wise.
Read with me in
1 Corinthians 1:26 CSB
26 Brothers and sisters, consider your calling: Not many were wise from a human perspective, not many powerful, not many of noble birth.
The great equalizer of all humanity is Jesus. In Him, there are no distinctions of persons by their ethnicity, socio-economic status, gender, or whatever other division we can think of. Compared to Him, we are all imperfect sinners.
And this is what Paul is writing to them about: Consider your calling: You were called and not many of you were wise by human standards, powerful or born in to a noble family. He is saying that they have something here to be grateful for: there was less in their way that would inhibit them from responding to God’s call.
To humanity, wisdom is wise - having lots of education and the hands-on experience to put that education to work: that is “true wisdom” according to the world. To humanity, “power” is great! Having the ability to influence others and have authority is what drives a lot of people. We can see that running rampant as the election looms over us and we hear nothing but the reasons why this person or that should have authority over this and that.
Being born from a noble family was as important in the first century Jewish and Greek community, if not more, than it is to us today. We see the influence prominent families can have within a community. Pastors are trained in a lot of seminaries to find out who the prominent families are in the church they are being called to minister to because these families can supposedly make or break the ministry influence the pastor has at that church.
What Paul is saying is that not many were considered wise, powerful or from nobility - which worked in their favor! Every fiber of our being drives us to be successful the way society defines being successful, but that is not God’s definition of success. Dr. John MacArthur said this:

God’s wisdom is a kind of paradox. In human thinking, strength is strength, weakness is weakness, and intelligence is intelligence. But in God’s economy some of the seemingly strongest things are the weakest, some of the seemingly weakest things are the strongest, and some of the seemingly wisest things are the most foolish. The paradox is not by accident but by God’s design.

The real way to be successful in life is to put your faith in God and in trust Him alone.
Nothing we could ever do could be enough for us to be considered righteous in God’s sight: not adherence to the Law, not charity work, not giving all your money to the poor, not doing good deeds til the day we die - this is because we are all guilty of sin before God. And he uses the message of the cross to do what no one could ever do - present fallen humanity to a holy God as righteous. It was not our ‘righteousness’ that did anything, if you could even call it “righteousness.”
Isaiah 64:6 NASB95
6 For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
Even our supposed ‘righteousness’ is offensive to God because it is polluted by sin. But praise the Lord, it is Christ’s righteousness that God sees in us.
2 Corinthians 5:21 CSB
21 He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Humanity is incapable of being holy before God, so Christ did it for us. He lived a righteous and sinless life before God and became our righteousness. Christ is our righteousness.
And the righteousness we receive from Christ is not just some arbitrary spiritual righteousness that lives out in the ether, but in having Christ’s righteousness, we become more and more conformed to the likeness of Christ in the course of this life. We are made holy as we grow in the grace and knowledge of God. Our growth in holiness is both a gift and a process we undergo, called sanctification - meaning to make something holy.

He Is Our Sanctification

Read with me again starting in verse 27
1 Corinthians 1:27–28 CSB
27 Instead, God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong. 28 God has chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world—what is viewed as nothing—to bring to nothing what is viewed as something,
There are so many standards of success in this world. We value intelligence, wealth, good looks, good reputation and power - things that God has determined to make worthless. God shows us how powerful He is by making the world’s nobodies His precious and beloved somebodies.
God has bought us with a great price - the blood of His own Son and make no mistake! He intends to pour into His investment. Many of us have thought the fullness of the gospel in our lives is complete because we are saved, but beloved, salvation is only the beginning! The gospel has eternal ramifications in our lives and we need to be sensitive to that. Just because we are now saved doesn’t mean that God is done working in us; God uses His people to reach the lost and accomplish His will in the world.
But how does he do that? He doesn’t leave a forgiven sinner in the state He found them in, but rather the Holy Spirit lives inside of them, what we called the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and He works in our lives to bring about holiness. This is not like salvation! Salvation is instantaneous, once you are saved, you are completely saved - you cannot be any more saved than you were when you were first saved. If you don’t believe in Jesus, you can be more saved by believing in Jesus and that is our hope and prayer for you.
Holiness is something that takes a long time. In fact, while your heart is still beating, God is still working in you to bring about holiness. The process of becoming holy is what Paul talks about whenever he mentions “Sanctification.” It comes from the Greek word ἁγιασμὸς, which means to have a personal dedication to the interests of God, to be consecrated, set apart for Him. For this to happen, we need to take a stand against sin - we need to learn to hate sin because God hates sin.
Many would be well-advised to look at the sin in their lives and see if their spiritual condition is getting any better or any worse. When we find ourselves stagnant or even downright disobedient, we can lean on God their too. One of my favorite promises in all of scripture is found in
1 John 1:9 CSB
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
If He is purifying us from our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness when we confess our sin, should we make it a regular practice to go before Him and confess our sins? Shouldn’t we strive to seek the one who promises to cleanse us? Shouldn’t we grow to see our hearts break over the things that breaks His? Sin breaks God’s heart. It should be something that breaks ours too. We talk less and less about sin as being something bad and talk about it more like its a condition we can’t avoid. But make no mistake, God hates sin and believers are to hate sin too.
While humans see suffering, famine, war, hate, God sees what happened to the creation He once called “good” in Genesis 1 and 2 and sees it thoroughly blown to hell as an impact of sin. One true sign of growing in our sanctification is a sensitivity to our sin and even to a point in the sins of those around us. We aren’t called to withdraw or to conform to the world, we are called to be lights in the world as we are being transformed by God.
Romans 12:1–2 CSB
1 Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
To the world, sin is good. We live in a very hedonistic society, one that says we should pursue pleasure of all sorts because that is the point of life - but in God’s economy, that is the most foolish thing a person can do. God has made the world’s wisdom of seeking pleasure and seeking only for our own benefit and made it foolishness. God wants us to be sanctified. He wants us to be Holy.
1 Peter 1:16 CSB
16 for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy.
Holiness goes against everything our carnal and earthly nature understands, and that is how God chooses to shame the wise. He does it on our behalf which is how He shames the strong. He brings the world’s ideas of wisdom and strength to nothing and takes those considered nothing by the world to show His power and might.
The Lord saves people who do not deserve it. He saves people who can not earn it. It is when we realize that we cannot deserve it, when we cannot deserve it, when we humble ourselves before Him and believe in and call on the name of Jesus that He sets us free from the bondage of sin so our lives can be redeemed to serve God.

He Is Our Redemption

What does it mean to be redeemed? Let’s use some synonyms to help us with the concept.
Synonyms for redeemed include: reclaimed, recovered, ransomed (is one of my favorites), repatriated, recovered, rescued, restored, so on and so forth. We were held hostage by sin and God paid our ransom to rescue us from sin and restore us to right standing with Him.
1 Corinthians 6:20 CSB
20 for you were bought at a price. So glorify God with your body.
Notice the language in that verse, you were bought - that is a passive verb, meaning that the action of the verb is being enacted on the subject. It shows that the purchase of your soul was not something you did, but was something God did - He ransomed you, redeemed you at a price. The price, was the blood of Christ. But it’s followed by a command, an imperative statement: So glorify God with your body. What does it mean to glorify God with our bodies? It is a call that Paul will give to the Corinthians later in this letter that tells them to reflect God’s power and majesty.
Redemption shows the purpose of God using what the world considers foolish to shame what the world considers wise - that He is the one we should praise - not ourselves. The Corinthian church was forming factions under their preferred teachers and what it was revealing was pride in their own opinions because the teachers all taught the same message! Humanity is expertly skilled in taking anything God gives us and twisting it into a sinful shadow of what God intended it to be. God gave teachers to the church, and here goes the church - letting these teachers be used as an excuse to divide their unity in their own hubris and pride.
Read with me in
1 Corinthians 1:29–31 CSB
29 so that no one may boast in his presence. 30 It is from him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became wisdom from God for us—our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption 31 —in order that, as it is written: Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.
God redeemed us because He wanted to, but He knew our propensity, that we would be prideful in our redemption. God knew we would sinfully take credit for what He had done, so He used what we consider foolish to be wise so that we cannot take credit for it.
It is from HIM that you are in Christ - He became God’s wisdom for us. Those of you who know Christ, who love Jesus see the majesty in the unfolding of our redemption because of how brilliantly God orchestrated it all. We often lose sight of how brilliant God is because we focus on what He is doing for us instead; with His grace, His mercy and love. And these are all good things to consider and meditate on, but if it stops there, I am afraid we are missing the point! Notice How Paul brings it full circle - instead of boasting in yourselves and your wisdom and your strength, boast in the Lord. My heart’s cry for us all tonight is that we ponder the vastness of God, that we consider His nature as not only our redeemer but as the only real deity. He is God. He is so vast that He can make the entire universe and is yet found in the still, small, quietly spoken voice. We serve a wonderful God. He orchestrated and carried out every detail to not only pave the way for our salvation but to call us to faith in Him. Everything we have is because of Him, including our righteousness - because it is Christ’s righteousness; including our sanctification - because it is the Holy Spirit at work in us; and including our redemption.


If there is boasting in the church, that boasting should be in what Christ has done, not what we have done. Paul is trying to tell the Corinthians why they need to stop boasting in the teachers they follow or their level of insight because it wasn’t something that came from within them, it came as a gift from Christ to all who believe. There is nothing for ourselves to boast about because on our own we were rightly destined for eternal hell. What we boast about then is what Christ has done because He is righteous, He is Holy, He is our redeemer.
Church - we are called to be united under one boast: Christ. We boast in Christ’s death for our redemption of Sin. We boast in Christ’s resurrection as the firstfruits of what we will experience in Him - what we are guaranteed by Christ because of Christ. We boast in Christ’s ascension to heaven to prepare a place for us.
We need sound doctrine and we need to be obedient to what Christ has commanded. We need to be united too. We need to be united in humility under Christ understanding that He is why we have all that we have in God. If we are to boast, Christ is our greatest boast. As far as the church is concerned, is there a reason for us to boast over one another? No! Our boasts should be the same, meaning we need to see one another - not as theological enemies or only in light of their position on doctrinal matters. There are others in the church. If they truly are believers, we should join them in humbly boasting in what Christ has done for wretched sinners like us. If they are not believers, they should see the unity among us and think, “Wow! That is just not the way the world operates. There is something special in this community and I want to know what it is.” That’s when our boasting in Christ reveals the supernatural love of God among His people.
My hope and desire for each one of us here tonight is that we see others how Paul described in
Philippians 2:3 CSB
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.
Let’s serve one another, lets encourage one another, lets love one another and lets walk alongside each other as we grow in the likeness of Christ. Let’s bear one another’s burdens and worship Christ passionately, together. Let’s witness and testify to goodness, mercy, grace and love to the unbelieving world as a church - unified under Christ - and let Him do what He does best: save lowly sinners like you and me.
Let’s pray.
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