Summary: God's wisdom is higher than human wisdom and His weakness is greater than our strength. Let's submit to the wisdom of God.
A couple months ago a snake handling pastor in Kentucky died from a rattlesnake bite after refusing treatment when he went home after the service. This has happened more than a few times and continues to be quite a common practice in some churches in that area. There’s even a reality show called “Snake Salvation”.
A few years ago there was a story that an African pastor drowned in front of his congregation as he attempted to walk on water. So here it goes… (handle a toy snake)
That’s the only kind of snake handling you will see me do. And you won’t see me walking out on the lake unless the ice is at least a foot thick. In some ways I admire the faith that these people have. But the real problem is what they are doing with Scripture. Does the bible command us to pick up deadly snakes, drink poison, and walk on water?
Well the end of the book of Mark includes the snake handling and the drinking poison part, but this is a portion of scripture that for one thing is not found in all the manuscripts, and for another thing, it doesn’t command anyone to do this. Yes Paul gets bitten by a deadly snake in Acts and it doesn’t affect him, but he didn’t do it on purpose, and I’m quite sure when Jesus referred to someone drinking poison and not being hurt, he wasn’t meaning to go out and intentionally drink poison to test God. And the walking on water thing was given to one man at a certain time and he actually ultimately failed, remember.
When we look around and see what man has accomplished even in the last 40 years, it’s pretty easy to be impressed with the ingenuity, imagination, and intellect of man. But when we look at how people live their lives, and what some people do under the umbrella of Christian faith, wisdom does not seem to be as prominent. The wisdom of man even as we try to interpret Scripture is very suspect. So I want us to look at Paul’s words in the first couple of chapters in 1 Corinthians. Paul is writing to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both our Lord and theirs.
So he’s talking to believers, and he begins the letter discussing the divisions that have been reported to him in the church, which of course represents a lack of true wisdom. But I want to pick it up in verse 18 of chapter 1, and I think this is incredibly valuable advice in our day when human wisdom has been exalted above all things.
Read VV 18-25…
The Jews wanted signs and they got so many from Jesus and the apostles that they had no excuse not to believe. The Greeks were a very intellectually elitist society as contrasted with barbarians. To both groups the crucifixion on a cross was either offensive, or ridiculous. It was folly to the Greek and offensive to the unbelieving Jew. But Paul says to us who are being saved it is the very power of God. Paul even said back in verse 17 that he does not preach the gospel with eloquent words, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.