The Fifth in a Series of Sermons on 1 Corinthians
If people are dead in sin, and the message of Christ crucified comes to them as either foolishness or a stumbling block, why is it then that the Apostle Paul insists so strongly on the proclamation of the cross? The reason is simple. Paul knows that it is through the preaching of Christ and him crucified that God the Holy Spirit calls those whom God has chosen (whether they be Jew or Greek), creates faith in their hearts and then unites them to Christ. Although this message confounds Jews and stumbles Greeks, it is through the preaching of Christ crucified that we see the demonstration of the wisdom of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.
As we continue our series on Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church we are wrapping up chapter two and Paul’s discussion of human (or “worldly”) wisdom, in which the Apostle contrasts with God’s wisdom as revealed in the gospel. As we have seen in previous sermons, Paul insists that the gospel is not based upon human wisdom or power. The great paradox laid out by Paul is that what the world regards as wisdom, God regards as foolishness. And what the world regards as foolishness is the same message through which God reveals his wisdom and power!
This is why a huge gap exists between Christian and non-Christian thinking, and helps us understand why it is that God must grant us understanding of spiritual things. If not, the cross will remain foolishness to us. This is why a true understanding of the gospel must be revealed by God, since the gospel can never be discovered by human wisdom. And, as Paul reminds us, if the Corinthians fail to see this, the church in Corinth will continue to struggle with kind of issues now facing them: schism and division, sexual immorality, lawsuits, improper conduct in worship, etc.
We now come to the key issue raised by Paul in the closing verses of 1 Corinthians 2. If true wisdom comes from God, and yet is seen by Greeks as foolishness, how is it that people come to faith in Jesus Christ? This, Paul says, is the work of the Holy Spirit.
In verses 6 and 7 Paul writes, “Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.” Paul is making a contrast between the wisdom of men, and true wisdom, i.e., that which comes from God. When Paul speaks in verse 6 of the wisdom of this age (true worldliness), he ties it to the rulers of this age. What does Paul mean?
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