Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Sunday, February 9, 2014
The Wisdom of Christ Crucified - February 9, 2014 - Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany - Text: 1 Corinthians 2:1-12 [13-16]
This week we pick up where we left off last week as we continue our walk through Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians and again I remind you that as Paul is writing to the Christians at Corinth, or better said, as God, through Paul is writing to the Christians at Corinth, so these are God’s Words, through Paul to us here at St. Matthew Lutheran Church of Westfield in the year 2014. These are not my words to you. These are not Paul’s words to you. These are God’s Words to us.
We have already been reminded by Paul that outside the Church, that is outside of faith in Jesus Christ alone there is no salvation, only eternal condemnation. We have already been reminded that the cross of Christ is foolishness to those who are perishing. And we have been reminded, again, that we get it right when we get right who is doing what, that is when we believe we are running the show, when we are running the verbs we are getting it wrong, but when God is running the show, when God is running the verbs we are getting it right. Thus if and when we are to boast, we boast only in the Lord and what He has done, does and will continue to do for us, namely give us faith, strengthen us in the faith He gives to us and keep us in faith until He comes again or until we go to Him.
In our text for this morning Paul talks about wisdom. The word he uses is the word sophia and Paul distinguishes between the wisdom of this age or world that is human wisdom and true wisdom which comes only from God. So, first let us look at the wisdom of the age or human, worldly wisdom. The wisdom of the world really only explains the processes of the world God created. What is called science and scientific fact in our world cannot prove what is taught as fact that is the religion of evolution. Even philosophically the religion of evolution cannot be proven. Evolution cannot be proven mainly because noone was there to observe evolution happening. The religion of evolution is not based on observable facts, but on historic conjecture that is that by looking at the world in which we live in today some people believe they can explain the world of long ago and even the creation of the world, and this is simply not the case. Worldly wisdom fails to distinguish between historical science and observable science and instead confuses the two which is why it fails.
So, rather than concede the truth of God’s Word, the wise men of this world simply make unsubstantiated claims and as those claims are disproved they simply rewrite their explanation. Anyone can look at the science books of the past and compare them with today and see that the only constant is the constant rewriting of explanations.
The main problem with human wisdom is the fact that we are conceived and born in sin and so the sin that is in our whole DNA affects our human reason so that our human reason is flawed. Human wisdom, tainted human wisdom does not seek to honor the Creator, rather tainted human wisdom seeks to remove the Creator and instead it seeks self glory. Look how smart I am and how I do not need a Creator God, that is the boast of human wisdom.
Godly wisdom on the other hand is indeed true wisdom. Godly wisdom comes only from God which means that too often it is not understood by sinful humanity. Human wisdom does not understand the Godly wisdom of how God can use the simple earthly element of water and His Word, namely His name to give and create faith in Holy Baptism. Human wisdom does not understand how God can be three persons in one Godhead. Human wisdom cannot understand how God can use the simple earthly elements of bread and wine and His Word to give us His body and blood and thus to participate in His life, suffering, death and resurrection. Human wisdom does not understand how God’s Word can be efficacious, that is how God’s Word by itself can do what it says.
Indeed, human wisdom probably has the most difficulty with understanding how Godly Wisdom is hidden in the crucifixion. How can death be a good thing? How can God die or even allow Himself to die? Death is not viewed as strength but as weakness. Death is not viewed as victory but as defeat, at least according to fallible, sin tainted human wisdom.
Thanks be to God that even though we are conceived and born in sin, even though our minds, our thoughts and reasoning are tainted by sin, that He gives us His Holy Spirit who gives us a right understanding, even an understanding mind so that we do have Godly Wisdom. As God gives us faith through the waters of Holy Baptism, as God gives us forgiveness of sins through confession and absolution, as God strengthens and keeps us in faith through His Word and through His Holy Supper, so He gives us His Holy Spirit who works in our hearts, lives and minds to understand the gifts of God, the power of God and the love of God, yes, to understand the things that are not discernable to the sinful natural mind.
What does this mean? This means that we begin by confessing that our human wisdom is flawed. Indeed our human wisdom is flawed and can be seen to be flawed in its constant correcting itself. As I have said before, when there is a discrepancy between what God has said in His Word and what tainted human wisdom puts forth as truth, my rule of thumb is that tainted human wisdom has made a mistake and needs to go back and see where they got it wrong. God’s Word has never been wrong and has never and will never change. God’s Word is truth and is the foundation upon which we build a true and right understanding of all things.
This also means that we confess that our sinful human nature cannot, of itself completely and fully understand God or the things of God. Here again as we hear God’s Word and study God’s Word, we know we have a right understanding when what we believe, teach and confess does not contradict what God says in His Word. When we speak what we believe, teach and confess it is always only what God says, never adding to it, nor taking away from it. Indeed, we truly understand God’s Word only as the Holy Spirit works that correct understanding in our hearts and minds.
God reveals His wisdom in His creation. God the Father, along with God the Son and God the Holy Spirit in unity, created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. He created time on the first day when He created light and then on the fourth day when He created the sun, moon and stars He put them into the time system He created on day one. God created all creatures to reproduce after their own kind, so that one kind does not, has not and never will turn into a different kind. God created humanity to be the pinnacle of His creation and the earth to be the center of His creation so that there is no other planet like our planet. We are the center of our Lord’s universe and we are special to Him. In His wisdom, even knowing that Adam and Eve would sin and spoil His creation, our God shows His love for us in that He created us anyway.
And so, God reveals His wisdom in His redemption, in Christ crucified. Certainly knowing that Adam and Eve would sin could have discouraged God from creating humanity, but it did not. Certainly after Adam and Eve had sinned God could have destroyed all He created and started over, but He did not. No, instead, God demonstrates His wisdom and His love for us in His plan of salvation for us and all humanity. As we said earlier, the world does not and cannot understand how death can be a good thing, how death can be a powerful thing, how death can be anything except defeat, because this wisdom of God is hidden from those who do not have faith and do not accept the things from God as Paul says.
Thus, God gives us His wisdom through the Holy Spirit working through the Gospel. Certainly, while the tainted human wisdom of the world does not and cannot understand why God does what He does, the Holy Spirit works in our hearts and in the hearts of all believers to understand the depth of the love of our God. The Holy Spirit helps us to understand God’s love in His creating a perfect world and how God had the best in mind for His creation. The Holy Spirit helps us to understand that although God’s command is that we are perfect, because of Adam and Eve’s sin, sin conceived and born in us, we cannot be perfect. Thus the Holy Spirit helps us to understand the fact that it is because of our imperfections and sin that Jesus, who is truly God who took on human flesh and blood in order to do for us what we are unable to do. Jesus lived perfectly for us in our place. Jesus obeyed all of God’s laws perfectly. He fulfilled all of God’s prophecies perfectly. He did what all humanity was commanded to do but could not do, perfectly. And then because of His great love for us He took our sins upon Himself and suffered and paid the price, the eternal spiritual death penalty for us in our place. He did what had to be done according to what He had given and created for us because of His great love for us. Indeed, the Holy Spirit stirs in our hearts and minds to see, know and understand this love God has for us, which is truly Godly wisdom.
Godly wisdom, given to us by God Himself, that is given to us by the Holy Spirit working through the means He has given Himself to work, His Word and Sacraments, is to know and understand that it is God who gives. God gives faith, forgiveness and life and we are given to. God gives life at conception reminding us that every life, even the life of the pre-born child is special to God. God gives faith through the waters of Holy Baptism and through His Holy Word. God gives forgiveness of sins through His Word, through Holy Baptism, through confession and absolution and through His Holy Supper. God strengthens and keeps us in faith through these same means of grace. God gives us the gifts Jesus earned and paid for, for us. God gives and we are given to and as we are given to, our desire is to be given to even more. Our desire is to be where the gifts are given and distributed when and where they are distributed.
God’s desire is that all people are saved and yet we live in a world in which many people continue to refuse and reject God and the gifts He has to give. We live in a world which does not understand the wisdom of God, but instead trusts the fallible, sin tainted wisdom of humanity. And yet, God continues to pour out on us, His children, His Wisdom as it is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit. My prayer for you is that the Holy Spirit will continue to work through the means of grace, the Word and the sacraments as you make regular and diligent use of these means of grace giving you faith, giving you forgiveness of sins, strengthening and keeping you in faith until Christ comes again, or until we go to meet Him. So that when we do meet our Lord we may stand before His throne with all the saints and say, to God be the glory for Jesus’ sake. Amen.