Summary: 1) The Preeminence of God’s Wisdom 2) The Permanence of God’s Wisdom 3) The Power of God’s Wisdom 4) The Paradox of God’s Wisdom & 5) The Purpose of God’s Wisdom
Stephen Hawking, the world’s most famous scientist, was welcomed last Sunday to a new research position in Waterloo by the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. "You could say he is drawing a picture of god," said Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty in his introduction of Prof. Hawking. He compared him to Newton and Galileo as people who radically moved our understanding of the universe, and to Thomas More as "a man for all seasons." Another individual described Prof. Hawking as an "entrepreneur" in the tradition of Einstein, whose research unleashed a flood of "value creation." "We are at the point where new ideas are needed if we are to secure our future," he said. (Joseph Brean, National Post • Monday, Jun. 21, 2010)
Without exception, Human wisdom elevates the self and lowers God. It always, no matter how seemingly sincere and objective and scholarly, caters to human self–will, pride, fleshly inclinations, and independence. Those are the basic characteristics of the unredeemed, and they always direct and determine the unredeemed’s thinking, desires, and conclusions. The reason people love complex, elaborate philosophies and religions is because these appeal to human ego. They offer the challenge of understanding and doing something complex and difficult. For the same reason some people scoff at the gospel. It calls on them to do nothing—it allows them to do nothing—but accept in simple faith what God has done. The cross crushes human sin and crushes human pride. It also offers deliverance from sin and deliverance from pride.
Many of the Corinthian converts carried their spirit of philosophical factionalism into the church. Some of them still held onto beliefs of their former pagan philosophy. They were divided regarding philosophical viewpoints. They could not get over their love for human wisdom. Although they had trusted in Christ and recognized their redemption by grace through the cross, but they wanted to add human wisdom to what He had done for them.
Becoming a Christian does not give us all the answers to everything—certainly not in the areas of science, electronics, math, or any other field of strictly human learning. Many nonbelievers are more educated, brilliant, talented, and experienced than many believers. If we want our car fixed we go to the best mechanic we can find, even if he is not a Christian. If we need an operation we go to the best surgeon. If we want to get an education we try to go the school that has the best faculty in the field in which we want to study. As long as they are used properly and wisely, medicine and technology and science and all such fields of human learning and achievement can be of great value. Christians should thank God for them.
But if we want answers to what life is about—answers about where we came from, where we are going, and why we are here, about what is right and what is wrong—then human learning cannot help us. If we want to know the ultimate meaning and purpose of human life, and the source of happiness, joy, fulfillment, and peace, we have to look beyond what even the best human minds can discover. Human attempts to find such answers apart from God’s revelation, are doomed to fail.
We do not have the resources even to find the answers about ourselves, much less about God. In regard to the most important truths—those about human nature, sin, God, morality and ethics, the spirit world, the transformation and future of human life—philosophy is bankrupt.
In 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5 we see: 1) The Preeminence of God’s Wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:18) 2) The Permanence of God’s Wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:19–20) 3) The Power of God’s Wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:21-25) 4) The Paradox of God’s Wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:26-28) and finally: 5) The Purpose of God’s Wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:29-31).
1) The Preeminence of God’s Wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:18)
1 Corinthians 1:18 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. (ESV)
Since the cross represents painful death and profound humiliation, it calls into question the conventional wisdom about power and the divine. The ancients took for granted that deities possessed power, and the degree of their power determined their ranking in the pyramid of gods. In the cross, that pyramid is turned upside down. The most powerful God appears to be the most powerless. The cross (confuses) of all secular and religious attempts based on human wisdom to make sense of God and the world. Victory is won by giving up life, not taking it. Selfish domination of others is discredited. (The Shame of a Death on the cross, the penalty reserved for the lowest criminal), is removed through divine identification with the shamed in a shameful death. God offers a new paradigm that makes the experience of shame the highest path to glory and honor. What makes the story of the cross even more offensive to humans is that it is not simply the foundation of human redemption but is also to become the way of life for believers. They, too, will endure the wounds from slander, mockery, and affliction as they live for others (4:8–10; 2 Cor. 4:7–12; 6:4–10; 11:24–29) (Garland, D. E. (2003). 1 Corinthians. Baker exegetical commentary on the New Testament (63). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic.)