The Berean Expositor
Volume 45 - Page 63 of 251
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Such are perishing; they are on the road to destruction and to them the gospel of God
is nothing but foolishness (1: 18). To the Greek with his culture and art the cross was
abhorrent. The idea that a dead Jew hanging on a cross, could meet all their needs was
utterly stupid to them as well. To the Jew with his idea of a conquering Messiah, a
powerful Being who could rid them of the Roman yoke, the cross with its outward
portrayal of weakness was equally repulsive; it was a "scandal", a "stumbling block".
The only wisdom that man knows is centred in himself and entirely leaves God out of
account. The only salvation that he can understand is what he imagines he can work out
for himself and for the world. The essential difference between the wisdom of God and
the wisdom of man is that the former is Christ-centred, whereas the latter is man-centred
and because of his sin and poverty of ability it is doomed to utter failure. The Greek
mode of thought still persists today and is behind all the man-made schemes for
`progress' so-called and the betterment of the world.
pp. 47 - 51
In the section of the epistle we are now considering, 1: 18 - 2:5, it is surely clear that
human wisdom is set in complete opposition to the wisdom of God. Sin and human
limitation have so adversely affected man's mind, that he cannot grasp the thoughts or
ways of God (Isa. 55: 8, 9). Yet in his pride and blindness he deceives himself into
thinking that his ideas are best, and does not hesitate to bring even the Creator to the
bar of his own puny judgment. No wonder the wisdom of man at its best is looked on
as foolishness by God, and the ways of God are looked on as foolishness by men
(I Cor. 1: 18, 20, 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" (21).
Note that it does not say "by foolish preaching". Alas, there is too much of that. More
accurately it is "by the folly of the Christian preaching". It is the message preached that
appears to be folly to the unsaved, natural man. Whether it was to the Jew, who in his
unbelief constantly demanded that God should back up His message by signs additional
to those He had already given (Matt. 16: 1-4), or the Gentile (Greek) who had an
inflated idea of his own intellectual capacity. Christ crucified was the only truth that
could meet both needs and this was the only proclamation that Paul determined he would
give (22-24).
The Apostle now points to the Corinthian church as being a practical illustration of this:
"You can see what I mean, brothers, by looking at your own calling as Christians, for
there are among you not many who are wise by human standards, not many who are
powerful, not many who are nobly born" (verse 26 C. K. Barrett's translation).
The Countess of Huntingdon, who did such a fine work with the Gospel in the times
of the Wesleys, was reputed to have said she thanked God for the letter `m'. The context
said "not many noble", rather than "not any noble", for she was a society woman who had