Summary: From this passage I want us to learn what Paul has to say to refute the problems of the church with the wisdom of the gospel.
1st Corinthians Series Part 2
The Wisdom of the Gospel
1st Corinthians 1:18-2:5
If you remember last week as we began our study of the book of first Corinthians, we learned that the occasion of this letter was because of problems in the church at Corinth. If you remember last Sunday night we learned that as Paul opened up the letter he commended the Corinthians for some things that were right in the church, and then he went on to some things that were wrong in the church.
In the first part of this letter Paul stated that the Corinthians have the problem of rejecting authority, they had a problem of disunity, they had the problem of superior spirituality, they had the problem of cliques. Remember last week that I stated that all of the problems outlined further in the book could be related back to one of these problems stated here in the first chapter.
As we open up the second portion of chapter 1, and the very beginning of chapter 2, with also keeping in mind the context of the book, Paul then begins to refute these problems that he would call worldly wisdom in the church, by bringing their attention to the wisdom of the gospel.
Think about this question, what is the difference between a wise person in a wise guy? You could probably list a dozen or so things. But one thing is true in every case. Wise people know how to use their intelligence to serve others and to help those around them. Wise guys are out for themselves. They use their intelligence to destroy. In this passage Paul addresses those in the church at Corinth who claim to be wise. They use their wisdom to divide the church and to promote themselves.
Paul show these people that their so-called wisdom was worthless. It could not save anyone, nor could it further the cause of Christ. All it did was destroy, bring division, and was opposed to the gospel. As far as Paul was concerned these people were not wise truly, but world truly wise guys. Tonight from this passage I want us to learn what Paul has to say to refute the problems of the church with the wisdom of the gospel.
Read Scripture: 1st Corinthians 1:18-2:5
I. The Gospel Contradicts worldly wisdom
Vs. 18-25 “for the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the dispute or of the world? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
The apostle Paul established in in this section of Scripture, that the worldly human wisdom cherished by unbelievers opposes the wisdom of God revealed in the gospel. By the Corinthians basing their divisions on human wisdom, the Corinthian Christians revealed that they had forgotten this basic truth that God opposes the wisdom of the world.
There are two things we need to know about human wisdom, and the wisdom of the gospel.
A. Human wisdom thinks the cross is foolishness.
Vs. 18 “for the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness;”
Paul in this passage describes the standards of human wisdom which the Jews and the Gentiles endorsed: "Jews require a sign". If you remember in the gospel accounts the Jews were constantly requesting signs from Jesus to prove he was from God. Yet even the miracles he performed didn't satisfy them because he did not perform them according to their asking. They reasoned in their own minds that the true Messiah would provide whatever prove the Jews require. Because of that type of reasoning, the Jews rejected Jesus.
Paul also pointed out that "Greeks seek after wisdom", and by and large, many Corinthian believers were Greek. They did not demand miracles to believe the gospel, instead they exalted the standards of their pagan philosophies and poets. Ancient Greece was well-known as the seat of many influential philosophers. The Greeks took pride in their philosophical sophistication. They were loyal to rational thinking according to their own fall in standards of human wisdom.