Thursday, January 26, 2017

1 Corinthians 1:18-31 The Cross is God's Wisdom

KEY TEXT: 1 Corinthians 1:20-24 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

KEY THOT: Philosophy, pseudo-sciences and humanistic religions constitute the peak of human wisdom and evolutionary thinking--both in Paul's time and in today's culture. It is being promoted and pushed through Western media, music and movies as the only rational and scientific worldview. Invariably, such human wisdom is anti-Christ for it despises the Cross of Christ as foolishness. But human wisdom despite its high-sounding talk is nothing but "talk, talk, talk" (Donald Trump). It has no power to defeat evil. As Paul asserts to the Corinthians: "For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through (human) wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach (the Cross) to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs (power) and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God" (vv.21-24). The message of the Cross is not only the wisdom of God but it is also the power of God to save and transform lives. That is why Paul writes in Romans 1:16, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." And neither should we.

While the apologetics of rationality to present the Gospel as a reasonable faith may be necessary to prepare the way for some seekers and sceptics, it will not work for those who are die-hard scoffers of God and Christ. Using human wisdom (philosophy and science) to defend the Cross may lower the threshold for some to take the step of faith towards Christ. But it is only the message of the Cross that will break down human sin and pride, which is the root of unbelief and rebellion against God. So, in sharing the Gospel with others, it's no use just saying that Christianity is a rational religion (other religions make the same claim too) or that it will make you healthier, wealthier and wiser (other religions can point to the same "testimony"). Only the message that "Christ died for our sins" (1 Corinthians 15:3) can save sinners by delivering them out of spiritual darkness and strongholds of intellectualism, moral addictions and demonism. Education based on Greek philosophical learning and science cannot do the job of changing human nature--only "Christ crucified" can break the power of Satan and sin.

We don't need to make apology for message of the Cross, for it is God's power and wisdom. We only need to preach it and share it. The message of the cross does not need to be defended but proclaimed and explained clearly. Even Paul himself has decided (despite his great learning in philosophy and law under Gameliel) "to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2). He doesn't want to use his human learning to confuse and cloud the powerful message of the Cross.

Father, thank You for the Cross, for it is indeed the wisdom and power of God to destroy human pride and human sin. Amen.

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