Summary: Exposition of 1 Cor 1:26-31 regarding the foolishness of the choice of the Corinthians to carry out the gospel in the eyes of the world, and how God promises to use them to bring to nothing all the things that the world values
Text: 1 Cor 1:26-31, Title: Choosing Nobodies, Date/Place: NRBC, 7/18/10, AM
A. Opening illustration: How many of you were the last to be picked dividing up teams in school. Could you imagine someone who deliberately chose all the worst players on the team? What if this team captain had the ability to ensure victory, even with the worst of talent, so that the team captain would be glorified?
B. Background to passage: It has been reported that there is division in the church over which teachers and their wisdom that factions of the church are following. So Paul spends the first part of this letter giving them the solutions to the division. And the first part of his answer is that the wisdom of the world is not worth pursuing, in fact diametrically opposed to the wisdom of God (so let’s not import the world’s ways and values into the church because of “wisdom”). He gives them three reasons that they should not pursue and subscribe to worldly wisdom: 1) the gospel is foolishness to the world, 2) the choice of the Corinthian believers is foolishness to the world, 3) and Paul’s proclamation of this gospel is also foolishness to the world. Therefore, do not become attached to wisdom so that you can impress the society in which you live. You have an audience of One to please.
C. Main thought: why the choice of the Corinthians would not make sense to the world, so don’t try to please it
A. God’s Choice (v. 26-28)
1. Paul asks these believers to think with him a minute, and consider their calling in Christ. To consider their lives before, and the stations in life they were in, especially in the world’s eyes. Paul makes blanket statements about the Corinthians before Christ: 1) Not many of them were wise. This word means intelligent and educated, but it also means skilled in a trade or practice, all of this above average. 2) Not many of them were mighty. This word means capable, powerful, and strong; again, above average. 3) not many of the Corinthians were of noble birth, or high rank or status. Not many in the church would fall into these categories. “Thanks, Paul!” So their selection by God is nonsensical. But with them God will put to shame their counterparts: the wise, the mighty, the affluent and nobility.
2. Ps 8:2, Matt 4:19, 9:9, 11:25, 1 Sam 16:11,
3. Illustration: Read a good book (good books don’t necessarily contain 100% good truth) back in February that I got at the marriage conference called The Way of the Shepherd. Nothing to do with marriage, but more on shepherding people. It had a chapter on selecting the right sheep. It goes through the whole gamut of how to select good individuals for your team and what to look for. It gave the wisdom of the world, rather than the practice of God. How many men have left lucrative careers to pursue ministry? How many retirees have left the country, not for the white sands of the Bahamas, but to finish out their days in a remote region of and unreached people? How many martyrs have chosen death rather than life on a matter of theology and principle?
4. This is a nice reality check for us too. Best way to deal with pride is with an accurate view of God and an accurate view of yourself. In light of God’s holiness, even on our best days, we are not even in the ballpark of being “good,” especially not good enough. So this text is an attack on our pride—which, trust me, we ALL need. It is also a reminder that God doesn’t work like we or the world think that He should. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and ways higher than our ways. And God has the tendency to do just the opposite of what we would naturally do, or what the world would tell us to do. This has many applications to advice that we get from the world. The world’s wisdom and advice is based on its values, and leads to its goals. We assume far too much when we say what God would do in a particular scenario. We go and do often, before we seek and ask about our direction. The Christians who stand out the most are the ones that are doing “crazy” things for the kingdom. Whether those things are financial decisions, lifestyle decisions, career decisions, or whatever. But these decisions are much like the ones that God makes. He doesn’t choose the wisest (in the worldly sense), most convenient, most profitable, most comfortable, or most logical.
B. God’s Reasons (v. 29-31)
1. God’s penultimate purpose and goal is to bring to nothing—nullify, abolish, cause to cease to function—the wisdom, strength, wealth, and fame of the world. But there are two purpose statements that explain why God is bringing these worldly values to naught; and they are really just two sides of the same coin. The first “that” (different word that in v. 31) indicates that part of God’s reason for choosing the weak and foolish, and despised, and bringing to nothing all that “are,” is to ensure that no humans boast, gloat, brag, or take pride in their presence before God. God eliminates the ground for boasting in human effort or wisdom. And the reason is so that no flesh can boast. Verse 30 is a whole nother sermon. And then in v. 31 there is another “that” which is a hina clause, then he quotes Jer 9:23-24, and gives the main reason, that all boasting, bragging, glorying, exulting would be in Christ. God does all He does to bring glory to Himself, which is not only for His praise, but for our good. Expound on the centrality of God’s glory.