Summary: A look at the relevance and power of the gospel message, even in a society that trys to dismiss it.
I Corinthians 1:18-31 - The Foolishness of God
By James Galbraith
First Baptist Church, Port Alberni
April 22, 2007
1Co 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”
1Co 1:20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.
1Co 1:26 Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”
Introduction - Who’s the fool?
There was once a man that was considered the town fool. The townsfolk would play a game to show how foolish he was.
They would approach him with a penny in one hand and a quarter in the other. The towns-person would hold out both hands, open them and offer the town fool his choice of one of the coins.
The man would always choose the penny, much to the amusement everyone watching.
One day a newcomer to town asked him, “Why do you always take the penny when you could take the quarter? Don’t you know that a quarter is worth much more then a penny?”
The man replied, “I understand the value of the two coins. But if I took the quarter, people would stop playing the game…”
This story may seem like a fable, but it is lived out on a daily basis in the places we work, play and live.
There is a certain way of doing things that people tend to follow, and if someone operates outside of it they can be set apart as fools or worse.
Let me give a few examples:
If you can legally buy an item for $20 instead of $50, you do it.
Saving money is good, and the best price is the best price.
If all other considerations are equal, and you are offered a promotion, you usually take it, especially if it is sure to advance your career, increase your salary and generally improve the quality of your life.
If something is good to eat, and it is offered to you, and you are hungry , and there is no risk to your health or anyone else’s, you eat.
In the above situations, to act contrary to the actions I explained would be considered foolish by many, if not most, people.
Most of the time, it is healthy to avoid foolishness,
but the message of the passage before us today is that
there is a time and place to act in what may be considered foolish ways.
We see the writer addressing what he calls “the foolishness of God”.
In two paragraphs, he explains that most people consider the work of Christ and those who follow him to be foolish.
The first paragraph addresses the perceived foolishness of Christ’s own work on the cross and the gospel message.
The second paragraph turns to the perceived foolishness of who God is working through to advance his Kingdom on this earth.
The focus of the first paragraph is to contrast the work of Christ on the cross with the wisdom of the worldly powers, both Jewish and Greek.
Those who are called ‘perishing’ here are soon divided into two groups, both of which consider the story of Christ and the cross to be foolish.
Those who are called ‘Greeks” here are actually Romans, the Greeks, and any who are not Jewish by birth. The thought of a executed carpenter in a remote, troublesome province of the mighty Roman empire being the salvation of the world was simply too much for them to take.