Let Him Who Boasts, Boast in the Lord

1 Cor inthians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  26:30
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Have you ever noticed that when a sports team starts winning, suddenly everyone becomes fans? As one who lived in Missouri for many years, I can tell you as a matter of fact that for much of their history the Kansas City Chiefs have not had many fans. Although the Tampa Bay Buccaneers may have one of the coolest uniforms in the NFL, for much of their history they have numbered as one of the bottom dwellers of the NFL. Now however, all that has changed, suddenly fans have come out of the wood work for these two teams. What is going on?
What is going on is this—Everyone loves a winner! More importantly, everyone wants to be associated with winners.
That is what was going on in Corinth. The members there picked the biggest, hottest names in the early church: Peter, Paul and Apollos and formed teams around them, because they wanted to boast about being members of a winning team. Although they were boasting about these three men, they were really boasting about themselves!
In our text today, Paul shuts down such foolishness, saying, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
Let us hear God’s Word to us today through the Apostle Paul:
1 Corinthians 1:26–30 ESV
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,
Once again, in 1 Cor. 1:31, Paul cites the Old Testament. This time, the Prophet Jeremiah. Let us read that citation in it’s full context:
Jeremiah 9:23–24 ESV
Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”
Paul cites Jeremiah because the ungodly boasting of Jeremiah’s day corresponded perfectly with the boasting that was going on in Corinth, and I would say the boasting that is still going on. People were and still are boasting about their wisdom, strength and riches. Paul says in 1 Cor 1:27-28, that He is either shaming or nullifying worldly wisdom, strength and riches. To boast about these things is the height of folly; if we are going to boast, we should boast in the Lord.
The first thing we should boast about is the wisdom of God’s call. This is found in 1 Cor 1:26-29.

Boast About the Wisdom of God’s Call (vs. 26-29)

It is clear from the context that the “call” Paul has in mind is God’s sovereign effectual call. Three times in these verses Paul uses the word “chose”. Paul is not saying that God “chooses” to save those whom He foresaw would believe. No! Paul is saying He chose to save those who were not wise according to worldly standards; those who are not powerful and those who lack social status and wealth. Moreover, God did this to shame those who consider themselves wise and strong by the standards of this world and to bring to nothing those who have everything in this world!
Consider the people who are esteemed as wise, powerful and well-heeled in our society. Now consider, what will happen the moment they die. Their worldly wisdom will be exposed as folly when they meet their Maker! Their power will do them no good before His Judgement Seat! Their riches and status will be counted for nothing as they are thrown eternally into the fires of Hell!
Now consider, who God calls: He calls those who have nothing to boast about except God.
Do you not see the wisdom in God’s call? God calls the lowly, to show to all the world that the only way to salvation is through Him! If salvation depended upon human wisdom, strength and status, the doors of Heaven would be slammed shut for everyone, even the wise, strong and well-heeled! Only by recognizing that we can contribute nothing to our salvation will we turn to Christ in faith. J. C. Ryle once said:
“What will it cost a man to be a true Christian? It will cost him his self-righteousness. He must cast away all pride and high thoughts, and conceit of his own goodness. He must be content to go to heaven as a poor sinner, saved only by free grace, and owing all to the merit and righteousness of another.”
This brings us to the second point Paul makes: We should boast in the power of God’s grace.

Boast About the Power of God’s Grace (vs. 30a)

This is found in the first half of verse 30. I want to display this verse to us in the latest version of the ESV. It differs significantly from your pew Bibles and is much more faithful to the original Greek.
1 Corinthians 1:30 ESV
And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,
Notice that it says, “because of him (that is God) you are in Christ Jesus. Most people mistakenly believe that they are united to Christ because they “invited Jesus into their hearts.” We hear this all the time from evangelists and nothing can be farther from the truth. You are not a Christian because you chose Jesus; you are a Christian because God the Father chose you and gave you to Jesus! In confronting the Jewish leaders concerning their unbelief, Jesus said:
John 6:37 ESV
All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.
People mistakenly believe that we are saved by faith. We hear this all the time, but the Bible nowhere teaches this. The Bible teaches we are saved BY grace THROUGH faith. The clearest example of this is found in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:
Ephesians 2:8 ESV
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
It really cannot be any clearer than this. Paul says it is not of our own doing, but rather salvation is a gift of God!
Moreover, it is not a passive gift, it is a gift of POWER! Human wisdom, strength and status are POWERLESS to save, but the message of Christ and Him crucified is the POWER of God unto salvation! Let us review two verses we looked at last week:
1 Corinthians 1:17–18 ESV
For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
It is the work of Christ upon the cross that saves and the message of the cross is the power of God! This brings us to the final thing we should boast about; the riches of God’s salvation.

Boast About the Riches of God’s Salvation (vs. 30b)

This truth is found in the last half of verse 30. Again, let me display this verse before you:
1 Corinthians 1:30 ESV
And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,
While it is possible to translate wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption as a series; in other words, Jesus is our wisdom, our righteousness, our sanctification and our redemption, it is probably better to see these last three words as explanations of how Jesus has become the wisdom of God personified for those who believe. What I mean is this, as we consider how Christ Jesus secured for us righteousness, sanctification and redemption upon the cross we see the wisdom of God. How wise it was of God the Father to devise a plan of salvation in which Jesus took our sin and credited to us His righteousness! How wise it was of God to devise a plan of salvation in which Jesus purchases by His blood for God a people who are set apart as Him! How wise it was of God to devise a plan of salvation in which Jesus redeemed by His blood those who were in slavery to sin and the Devil!
We look at the cross of Jesus and we see the riches of God’s Salvation! It is like a beautiful diamond, as we study it in the light we see new wonders and beauties each and every time!
What a foolish and vain thing the Corinthians were doing as they turned to the world’s glories. Everything in this world that puffs up the hearts of men and women with pride is destined for destruction and will bring to those who trust in them eternal shame! In this world, true glory is found in only one place—the cross of Christ!
Before His crucifixion, Jesus said:
John 12:27–33 ESV
“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.
Dear friends, what is your boast? What fills you heart with pride? Let it be the Wisdom of God’s Call, the Power of God’s Grace and most of all, the Riches of God’s Salvation. Let us pray.
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