Summary: Exposition of 1 Cor 2:1-5
Text: 1 Cor 2:1-5, Title: Foolish Message, Fools Called, Fools Sent, Date/Place: NRBC, 7/25/10, AM
A. Opening illustration: The modern university education teaching/respect model, “The power that is in the Gospel does not lie in the eloquence of the preacher, otherwise men would be the converters of souls, nor does it lie in the preacher’s learning, otherwise it would consist in the wisdom of men. We might preach until our tongues rotted, till we would exhaust our lungs and die, but never a soul would be converted unless the Holy Spirit be with the Word of God to give it the power to convert the soul.” C.H. Spurgeon
B. Background to passage: Factions over wisdom of certain teachers; 3 reasons that we are never going to make it pursuing worldly wisdom: foolishness of the message, foolishness of God’s choice of the Corinthians, and foolishness of the messenger and his proclamation. So this is third of these reasons: Paul’s preaching and proclamation was not like those that the world and its wisdom would respect. Give the normal accepted method of “exchange of ideas:” scholarly eloquence, give and take discussion, calmness, casual restraint, self-effacing politeness, political correctness, logical, continual think and return and revisit ideas, and eventually conclusions based on men and their teachings, which lead to division and factions.
C. Main thought: today we will see how the proclaimer’s delivery of the message is foolish and why.
A. Goal #1 (v. 1)
1. While undermining their personal commitments to the wisdom of individual men (by explaining that the worldly establishments would have not counted Paul’s message as wise or proper), Paul shares with the Corinthians one of his goals in preaching: to bear witness to God. “Rather than engaging in rhetoric or philosophy, Paul was bearing witness to God. He didn’t care if the powers that be (academia, politicians, wealthy, powerful, etc) thought little of him or lots. He was concerned about being obedient to the commission given him in Acts 26:16-18, to be a witness. His goal was to make sure that God is known; that the truth was heard; the gospel was proclaimed. His calling was not to do anything else.
2. Acts 23:11, 26:16-18, 1:8,
3. Illustration: “We cannot all be preachers, And sway with voice and pen, As strong winds sway the forest, The mind and hearts of men But we can be evangels To souls within our reach; There’s always Love’s own gospel For loving hearts to preach.” Brian Stewart’s story of delivering a frig to an old man… John W.R. Stott said, "The Church engages in evangelism today, not because it wants to or because it chooses to or because it likes to, but because it has been told to. Evangelistic inactivity is disobedience. It is easy to determine when something is aflame. It ignites other material." "Any fire that does not spread will eventually go out. A church without evangelism is a contradiction in terms; just as a fire that does not burn is a contradiction."
4. Even though we may not have a specific calling to pack up our stuff, sell the house, give away the dogs, and take the kids to another country, we all have a calling to bear witness to God. We are not responsible to have all the answers, not to impress those more/less educated than we are, not to preach publically in a pulpit, not to convince, not to convert, not to convict, but just to be faithful to witness. You and I must stand up and make know the transforming beauty of the gospel to those near us. God will ask us if we shared with those around us.
B. Methods (v. 1-4)
1. So in order to achieve this goal (and the last one), Paul tells us how he preached (a such a fashion that the world would have ridiculed him). 1) He intentionally avoided eloquence. Could Paul have intellectualized with the best of them? Of course, see Romans 9! But he chose not to, so as not to gain a hearing simply because of this rhetorical skill or intellectual prowess. He chose not to make the gospel more pleasing to the eyes, the ears, or the mind to gain acceptance. 2) In v. 2 Paul says that he purposed to know nothing but Christ. This means that the center focus of all he did, taught, and preached was the gospel (death, burial, resurrection, and response), based on the gospel, appealed to by the gospel, drive by the gospel, viewed by the gospel perspective. 3) Paul said he was with them in weakness, fear, and trembling. What is in view here is Paul’s physical appearance and abilities (again, the world would not have been impressed), as well as his delivery which was marked by passion and urgency. The world’s way would have been to present ideas for consideration, as thought truth was relative to your own discretion. Paul would have presented absolute truth with clarity about the demand for repentance. And all that in the midst of physical weakness. Also in view here might be his fear of the Lord with a message given. 4) Finally, his ministry of proclamation of the gospel in Corinth was not with finely crafted sermons, as much as it was a demonstration of the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit. There was a many differences between the orators of the Greek world and the Apostle, and the main one was the power by which they spoke. One demonstrated intelligence and skill, and one spiritual wisdom. One demonstrated persuasiveness, one people were convinced from another source. One brought praise to the speaker, one brought praise to God.