The Wisdom of the All-Wise – November 12, 2023

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 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. 22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence. 30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: 31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

God’s wisdom is His ability to carry out His will perfectly. Wisdom is knowledge applied. God is not just all-knowing and all-powerful; He is also all-wise. One thing you will not find in Scripture is a place where God makes a mistake or issues an apology. That is because He does everything perfectly in wisdom. With God resides all wisdom. He is the source of all wisdom. In Romans 16:27, the Apostle Paul refers to God as “only wise.” Therefore, the only way that you and I can know wisdom is to know God. Solomon wrote in Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.”

In 1 Corinthians 1:18-31, the Apostle Paul wrote to address the division that existed in the Corinthian church over who their favorite preacher was. Their issue was that they were applying worldly thinking to their evaluation of servants of God and their church. Paul points them to God’s wisdom and how His wisdom has been demonstrated to make “foolish the wisdom of this world.” In this passage we can learn three things that God’s wisdom accomplishes.

The first thing that Paul points out about God’s wisdom is that it is through His wisdom that people are saved. Paul marks off that the “preaching of the cross” or “message of the cross” is “foolishness” to those that are lost. The gospel of Jesus Christ runs contrary to the thinking of the world. The reminder that Paul gives is that the world, in all of its wisdom, could not reach God or know God on its own. In fact, the only way that you and I can know God and be saved from our sin is because He has revealed Himself to us through His Word and His Son. The “wise,” “scribe,” and “disputer” were skilled people, lawyers, and philosophers of the world. God is bringing all worldly wisdom to nothing. For all of the problems that human ingenuity can solve, it cannot solve the greatest problem, our need for salvation from sin. Only God can do that. Thus, God has rendered null the wisdom of this world. In His great wisdom, He has provided a way for people to be reconciled to Him through the cross of Jesus Christ.

Next, Paul points out that the world stumbles at God’s wisdom. Paul addresses the rejection of the gospel by the world by pointing out that Jews stumbled at it because they require a sign and the Greeks stumbled at it because they demanded rationalization and rhetoric. The Greeks and Jews could not accept a crucified Messiah or God. If mankind were going to invent a gospel, they would have a victorious hero who demonstrated the utmost might and “success.” Our Messiah would be a conquering king who did not submit to His enemies. What makes the gospel unbelievable to the world is what should make it most evident that it is true and not a human invention. That is that the gospel is very much about the suffering of the Creator of all things for the redemption of His creatures who were guilty of treason against Him. The real issue is that the gospel runs contrary to the world. The world is about self-advancement and not self-sacrifice. The gospel demands we deny ourselves.

Lastly, Paul points out that God is glorified through His wisdom.  Paul points to the state of the Corinthians when they were saved. Most of them weren’t the wisest, the noblest, the wealthiest, or most influential of society. Instead, most of them were like us, ordinary people. When we consider the disciples of Jesus, none of them were extraordinary people. However, Jesus took them and turned the world upside down. The reason that God uses people that the world does not hold in high regard is so that He might be glorified. God uses greatly those who recognize, not how special they are, but how awesome He is. It is those who are totally dependent on Him that He uses for His own glory.

In the wisdom of God, He has ultimately given “wisdom,” “righteousness,” “sanctification,” and “redemption” in His Son Jesus Christ. While we can have none of those things without Christ, all of these are ours in Him. Worldly wisdom could not achieve any of these things. Instead of wisdom, the world’s wisdom is nullified as foolishness. Instead of providing righteousness and sanctification, it pushes people further from God and into their own sin. Instead of providing redemption, it teaches people to trust in their own merits when they need to be rescued and redeemed. The remedy for the wisdom of the world is to simply submit to God’s wisdom in Christ. Have you tried the world’s ways and found yourself just as lost in your sin? The answer is in the message of the cross. The answer is in God’s wisdom revealed in His Son Jesus Christ. Only He can save you. Only He can set you free.