Are You Wisely Foolish or Foolishly Wise?

March 23, 2013

1 Cor 1:17-21

A very wise man came up with a concept of taking the wild, wonderful world of computers and breaking down the esoteric terminology and protocols into common language. He is very rich now, I am sure. All because of books like “DOS for Dummies.” Others have copied him and come up with similar books for other complex subjects and people rave about them and cannot wait to get them into their homes.

I submit to you that the idea for taking complex subjects and putting them in such common language did originate with that man or in this century. Indeed, the concept is very old! It was conceived in the mind of God at least six thousand years ago. He did not call what He was doing “Deity for Dummies” or “Divinity for the Degenerate.” He called it His Word or the Law and the Prophets. In recent times, He made it even simpler by summarizing the whole of the Law and the Prophets and called it the Gospel or “Salvation made Simple” or if you are more of a theologian “Soteriology made Simple.”

The amazing thing is that while man is clamoring for books making complex things simple they reject the Gospel as being too simple. They want to make it hard, esoteric, and mystical to the nth degree. They care not that it is logical or even bordering on lunacy just as long as it is not simple. If even a genius cannot understand it, then it must be theologically correct. Make them sweat! Beat them! Berate them! Sacrament them! Place impossible and heavy burdens on them and they are thrilled and assured that they are on the right path!

Admittedly, God has not chosen to tell us everything. He is also very complex, but He has chosen to reveal deep and secret things to us. (Dan 2:19-23, Psalm 36:6, Job 12:22, Psalm 92:5, I Cor 2:10-12) In fact, He has to make it simple for us to be able to comprehend. We are far more cerebrally challenged than we like to admit. Because of that fact and because His thoughts are not our thoughts we have a simple Gospel. (Isa. 55:8,9)

I was listening earlier to a radio personality using various things to prove the resurrection. Some of it was very detailed and he quoted many learned men like Simon Greenleaf. Mr. Greenleaf is considered one of the greatest, if not the greatest authority on legal evidence. There is a school of law in California named after him and he taught at Harvard back when Harvard might still be called an institution of higher learning. At any rate, Mr. Greenleaf believed that the resurrection could stand up in any court of law better than most contemporary cases based on its evidence. In his mind, the evidences were beyond reasonable doubt. Criminals have been convicted on less evidence. Now, he lived awhile back before the current judicial system that turns criminals back out on the streets in spite of overwhelming evidence because a legal tittle was omitted or the arresting officer zigged when he should of have zagged.

I am glad that there are all of those intellectual things out there for the sincere skeptic to analyze, but the bottom line is that you must simply believe Jesus. Paul was a highly intellectual man and very analytical. In our day, he would have had multiple doctorates. He knew his Hebrew juris prudence. He was well versed in the philosophies of his day, both Jewish and Gentile. He was the supreme apologist and polemicist. When Paul took you on theologically, you lost. He tore away all fantasies and philosophies from their shadows and exposed them as the lies they were in the glorious light of Gospel truth. His influence ranged from the poorest of folks unto Caesar’s household.

His great success in witnessing did not lay in all his vast learning or debating ability. It lay in his focus and simplicity of his message. You must simply believe Jesus because the Gospel is simple. The Cross is simple!

17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

Paul was focused on one thing and that was to preach the Gospel. I find it interesting here that baptism is shown separate from the Gospel. While baptism is required as a step of obedience and identification with Christ, it is not part of the Gospel. There is no salvation in it. If there were, Paul would have been a baptizing wild man. He was a man who finished the job! If he witnessed to a person, he was going to bring them to the point where they either accepted or rejected Christ. He allowed no neutral zone. That is why people become saved or become angry. They must choose. The Gospel forces the issue. Believe or not, but know the results of your decision either way.

Therefore, if Paul was going to bring a person to the point where they must decide he would be sure to complete the transaction if baptism closed the deal. He would not let the person out of his sight unless he baptized them. They could not be his joy and crown if they were not saved. (Phil 4:1) As much as he liked the Olympic games, I can picture him wrestling someone into the water if salvation were in there. The Gospel and the Cross are much simpler that. Faith plus anything is too complex.

He was to preach the Gospel, but not with wisdom of words. The word wisdom is the Greek word, sophia. Philosophy comes from philos, a fraternal love and the word sophia. A philosopher is supposed to be a lover of wisdom. More often than not, I fear they are a lover of their own words, philologos, than of wisdom. (Hmm, can I coin a Koine Greek phrase?) Paul was not going there.
Paul would do nothing to make the Cross of Christ of none effect or neutralized. The Galatians through ignorance and the sleight of hand of the Judaizers were neutralizing the Cross by leaving faith and going to works or faith plus and Paul read them the riot act! (Gal 3)

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.

To the pseudo-intellectuals of this world the Cross is just too simple. They want a chance to prove how great they are and how wonderful it is that God has them around. They think the whole thing foolish, absurd, and silly. “What!” they say, “I only have to admit that I am a sinner and accept the work of Christ on the Cross for my salvation! That is ridiculous. I need no one’s help to get to God. I am good enough and I will get better as I do such and such!” That is like saying that a tomato with a small rot spot will get rid of it one day as it lies on the ground sweltering in the summer sun.

The very thing they cast away as being too simple is the very power or dynamite of God that blows away their theories and wisdom. You must simply believe Jesus because the World is ignorant! God has destroyed its wisdom!

19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.

Paul is referring to Isaiah 29:14. In Isaiah 29:13, God was saying that His people were giving lip service to Him, but had hearts that were far from Him. This is what would prompt God to do a marvelous and stunning thing. That thing would wipe out the prating of those who professed to have understanding and wisdom.

From the first theological misconception that resulted in the eviction of Adam and Eve from the garden, man has talked about God and devised ways to serve Him and please Him. Like Adam and Eve, they missed the simplicity. Once Eve added touching to the ban on eating the fruit the foundation was laid for all the complex religious activity throughout the following centuries.

You can choose any religion from the earliest antiquities up to today’s cults and even “mainline” denominations and read some pretty pious platter. A lot of it sounds holy and the mystical things seem to add to the aura of God and the need of complex rituals of service or atonement to even get close to God maybe liking you. If you are lucky and follow all these things as much as possible then God may only allow you to suffer a little bit here and maybe your stint in purgatory will be less or your karma will cut some time out of your reincarnation cycles.

God has blown all of that wonderful theological and philosophical hooha away by the Cross. Some of the proponents of these doctrines had some super titles and positions. Some had many degrees. It does not matter. You must simply believe Jesus because big names mean nothing.

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?

I am reminded of Job by this verse. After Job and his “friends” sat around and hashed out the situation, God appears and straightens them all out. The one question of God to Job that really stands out is “Where were you when I laid out the foundations of the world?” (Job 38:4) He goes on to ask Job a barrage of questions to give Job a chance to show his wisdom and understanding. To paraphrase, all Job can say is “Oy Vey! What was I thinking? I think I’ll shut up now.” (Job 40:1-5) His friends were probably thinking along the same lines. They all sounded good, but they were all wrong.

God is issuing the same challenge to the wise (sophos), the scribe, and the disputer of this world. “Come on declare until me your wisdom and I will show you how foolish you really are” says the Lord. He is not afraid.

For years, various pseudo-intellectuals have had pontifications that the Bible has many errors and could not be true. They did not believe that there was a king David because David was not a Hebrew name. Then they found writings outside of Israel referring to Kind David.

They did not believe there were a people called Hittites. Therefore, the Bible must be wrong. A few years later they dug up the evidence of the Hittite Empire. I know they just hated that. These are only two examples of the myriad of things that have been proved.

I believe God gets a belly laugh out of these things. “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh. The Lord shall have them in derision.” (Psalm 2:4) Derision means to have them stuttering. Can you imagine the embarrassment of the academia nuts when they had to choke on their words when they dug these and numerous other things up that they mocked and laughed at because they were in the Bible? What is that old saying about he who laughs last? You must simply believe Jesus because God’s way is not our way because God is smarter than men.

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. (KJV)

God’s wisdom or sophia is that men would not find Him by their concept of wisdom. He would not be put in a test tube. He would not be found in complex theologies and esoteric philosophies. He would be found in the method He had instituted in the beginning and He will not change. (Mal 3:6)

You must simply believe Jesus because God demands belief or faith.

God demanded that Adam and Eve trust Him. When their minds did not understand death or the significance of why that particular fruit was forbidden they were to trust Him. They had to believe what He said. They did not fall when they ate. That was the fruit of their fall. They fell when they doubted God. When they trusted their five senses and the devil that is when they fell. The eating was just the outward expression of their hearts.

After that, God allowed men to live in their senses and conscience. The wonders of creation and their own physical makeup should have led them to seek God and to trust Him. Instead, they worshipped themselves and the creation. They only trusted in what they could see and could not see beyond to the Creator. Only a few of them found Him by searching with a trusting heart.
Then He spoke to them through their conscience by giving them the Law. They would be able to see that they had a problem. They could not keep the law and now their conscience could understand sin. They had guilt. What would they do with it? God provided the sacrifices to atone for them.

Those who trusted God tried to keep the law and when they failed, they trusted Him by offering the sacrifices. After, all what sense did it make to shed the blood of innocent animals for their sin? It made no human sense because they did not know at the time that God was training mankind. He was teaching them to trust Him and to accept the death of another to atone for their sins. When He sent His Son to provide the perfect sacrifice, they should have been ready to understand that and accept it.

Throughout the whole of history, God would do miracles to blow away man’s concept of reality and to show Himself as the Creator of reality. Some believed. Some did not. Moses believed at the burning bush and Pharaoh refused to believe after ten miracles.
After Malachi was written, God was silent for four hundred years until Christ came on the scene. Everything God had ever said or did had been for this moment in time. Now it would be revealed what man had learned about God throughout the previous four millennia.

Sadly, they learned very little. Christ came with wisdom beyond anything they had ever seen. He astounded the scholars at the age of twelve. He amazed them during his three years ministry when they realized that he had not been seminary trained. (John 7:15) He spoke as one having authority and not as the theologians who were guessing and making their own interpretations. (Matt. 7:29)

Not only did He talk the talk as it had never been talked before, but He walked the walk as no man can. He was sinless. None can say that, but Him. He performed miracles that surpassed anything the prophets had ever performed and even performed one that had never been done before. (John 9:32) This should have convinced even the most hardened skeptic.

God had spoke at Christ’s baptism. That was the first time in four hundred years!! That should have been ultimate proof even if Christ had done nothing else. If He had left the baptismal pool and went straight to Calvary, they should have believed. Instead, He gave them three years of public ministry with signs following. He was the encapsulation of all that God had ever done and spoke as God because He was the Son of the living God and man still chose everything, but God to trust.

Yes, the preaching of the Cross seems foolish to the whiz kids of this world. They want Him to roll back the clouds of Heaven and reveal Himself. He has done that many times in the past and still many did not believe. He is going to do it again in the future, but they will only hide from Him rather than repent. (Rev 6:12-17)

It pleases God to save the believer by this preaching because they trust Him. They may not understand everything, but they have faith. When Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness those who believed God looked and lived. Those who thought it foolish died. God has also raised up His Son on a tree. Those who look and believe live forever. Those who do not look or look and mock die in their sins. They do not die because they are greater sinners than those who are saved. Some moral people will be in Hell. They only die in sin because they refuse to believe God and trust in His Son’s work on the Cross. Faith is everything and yet it is simple.

Where are you today in your spiritual journey? Are you so wise in this world’s false wisdom that you are a fool in God’s reality? To be foolishly wise is death. Place your faith in Christ and you will be amazed at how many of your questions will be immediately answered. Other questions will seem foolish to you and you will no longer require an answer.

To my wisely foolish family of faith, I exhort you to walk in Him as you received Him and fear not the foolishness of this world that passes itself off as wisdom. Walk in childlike faith before your Father and He will help you to confound the wise. Our salvation was simple. Our walk is the same simple faith. Walk wisely, my brethren for the days are few. We shall soon be home whether by undertaker or upper taker. Maranatha! He is risen!


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