(You can find a recording of this sermon here.)
This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.
Think of the amazing world that we live in. What new invention, new gadget blows you away? What is out there that you would say is a techno miracle?
Text: Today we are looking at 1 Corinthians 1:18-31. When you read this text through you discover that what God did on the cross in Christ was way outside the box of the great thinkers of the day. On Sat/Sunday I talked about God’s soccket. If you were not there, just google the word “socket” and you can read the story. God’s soccket was the message of the cross, a new “technology” that had some of the critics up in arms.
Big Idea: Better to be a fool in God’s Kingdom than wise in the eyes of the world.
Open up your bible and work through this text and see how Paul develops this big idea.
1. God demotes those on High (v.18-25)
V.18 - What is the contrast you see in this verse? How would you describe the two groups of people in this verse?
V.19 - What does Paul say God will do to the wisdom of the wise and the intelligence of the intelligent?
“Destroy”: render useless
“Frustrate”: to declare invalid
V.20a - Who are the intelligent and the wise?
Note that the original context is Isaiah 29:13, where Israel was saying that their wisdom and intelligence was greater than God’s. Paul now adapts this saying to his current discussion.
V.20b - Note the word “foolish”. Is this the first time Paul uses it in our text? Paul is simply taking a word that they (the wise man, the philosopher and the scholar) are using and applying it to their own wisdom.
“Foolish” - it is where we get our English word “moron” from. Take a moment and in your group talk about who the real morons are in your life (just kidding!)
V.21 - What is Paul saying about the wisdom of God vs. the wisdom of man in this verse? What was considered foolish about the wisdom of God? Before you answer that question from the context, think of 2013. What is foolish about the message of the cross today?
V.22 Paul talks about what was considered foolish by referring to two groups of people:
The Jews wanted a conquering Messiah with a world empire, not a condemned and crucified one (Matt. 27:42; Luke 24:21). Only criminals of the worst sort were crucified. For the first-century Jew, dying on a cross signified that one was under God’s curse.
Roman society was built around power and status; power was concentrated in the male head of the household, in wealthy and aristocratic families, and so forth. Associating power with a crucified man—the epitome of weakness—made no sense.
V.23-25 - What does Paul say Christ is in these verses which would be the exact opposite that Jews and Greeks would be saying? Notice the irony of v.25.
Based on what Paul has said thus far, I would far rather be a fool in God’s kingdom than wise in the eyes of the world.
Discuss the following:
- One of the biggest road blocks to coming to faith in Christ is the power of idolatrous human wisdom that keeps us captive. Agree? Illustrate Know anyone who is being held captive by the power of idolatrous human wisdom? Why not take some time in your group or on your own to pray for that person.
- Paul is not saying don’t love God with your mind, he is saying don’t limit God by your mind! Does your mind have any stretch marks on it? Growth can be painful!
- Botox Church wants to take the mystery of the Gospel, the wonder of God’s soccket and reduce it, clean it up, reshape it, making it more palatable for the current day crowd. How do we do this today?
2. God promotes the lowly v26-31
Note the “lowly” from v.26-29. Remember the lowly were probably many of the freedmen (just a class above slaves known as trouble makers) who helped resettle Corinth.
V.29 - What does this statement make clear about salvation? That it is a result of ____________ not works!
V.30 - Notice who is the ultimate lowlife that has been promoted?
This Jesus (that they say is a fool) is actually the wisdom of God. Wisdom is another way of saying the cleverness of God. Look at Jesus and you see the cleverness and brilliance of God. The exact opposite of what they were saying. In fact note
v.18, 24, 30 point to Christ as the brilliance of God.
How is Jesus an example of the cleverness of God? V.30
Our righteousness - A status of legal rectitude/correctness that satisfies the moral requirements of God. Jesus makes us righteous by our faith in Him (Romans 1:17)
Our holiness - This is a word that emphasizes our righteousness. I think the emphasis in this day and age is key. We need Jesus, but not to be happy or to be wealthy or to have white shiny smiles. We need Jesus because Scripture says (v.18) that we are perishing – this bears the sense of wreckage and points to the tragedy of waste and loss. Without holiness no one will see the Lord.
Our redemption - This refers to the fact that Jesus is our payment for sin (Mark 10:45), meaning to pay a price in order to secure the release of something or someone. It connotes the idea of paying what is required in order to liberate from oppression, enslavement. Scripture declares that we are bound, prisoners of sin. This was a great act of love. It was our debt not his, it was our sin not his, it was his sacrifice not ours to gain our freedom.
Do you think our world would be a better place if more people were made righteous before God? (Morally aligned with God’s values.)
Do you think our world would be a better place if holiness was found in our political hallways, exemplified in office towers? What if holiness was found in more of our churches?
Do you think our world would be a better place if humankind was redeemed from some of the dark maladies – greed, perversion, selfishness, hate, racism that controls the human heart?
Paul is saying that Jesus is the cleverness of God! Thus his final words in v.31
Like I said, better to be a fool in God’s Kingdom than wise in the eyes of the world. Jesus is our boast! Are you a fool?
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