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, March 8, 2015
Wisdom and Strength - March 8, 2015 - Third Sunday in Lent - Text: 1 Corinthians 1:18-31
There seems to be a war going on in our world today, a war for the minds of people in general and a war for the minds of our children in particular. With the idealism that we want only the best for our children, that we want our children to have it better than we had it, that we really are looking out for what will make for a better future for our children, with that idealism we make such horrendous blunders in the name of education. With a great misunderstanding of wisdom and strength we make great strides toward raising the STAAR scores as well as college entrance exam SAT and ACT scores. We strive to make our children smarter than the children from other countries. More often than not all this striving is striving for human wisdom which our text reminds us is foolishness when compared to God’s wisdom.
Paul tells us that of the seeking of signs and wisdom there is no end. We have had sign seekers, of one kind or another, since the beginning of time. We have specially educated people who look into the sky to see what kind of weather we are going to have and when all is said and done their guess is usually no better than yours or mine. As we often joke, the job of a weather man is the only job one can have and be wrong more times than right and still keep his job. We have specially educated (and I say that loosely) people who look into the stars, or into cards, or tea leaves and so on to see what our future will bring. Today we have many sign seekers who want proof. We even have people in our own Christian churches who are seeking for signs as proof that a person is a Christian. We have forgotten what faith really is. Faith based on proof is no faith. But faith that is firmly based on the objective facts of the past and the hope of the future in heaven is true faith.
We have sign seekers and we have wisdom seekers. We have people who work for one degree after another thinking that if they just knew enough then they would have it made. And I have to admit that even I like to read, study and learn even more. But it gets worse, shall we say, as we even have people today who have studied so much that they believe they are smarter than the Bible. There are people who believe God’s word has become another book with stories that can be explained in human terms and there is nothing special about it. To these “educated” people, to believe in the so called miracles of the Bible is foolishness and is only for those people who need that as a crutch in their lives.
Is it no wonder that the proclamation of Christ crucified is a stumbling block? Why would anyone put their faith in someone who was condemned to die? Heros are not people who die, heros are people who overcome and win out in the end. The good always defeats the evil. Thus, Christ crucified is more than a stumbling block, it is a death trap, an eternal spiritual death trap.
Not only is Christ crucified a stumbling block, it is also foolishness. How can death be a way to life? It does not make sense to us that someone who is supposed to be our Savior dies. It is not logical that death is a way to life? To the unbeliever this is all foolishness.
But to those who are called, to the Christian, to us, it is the power and wisdom of God. No human being can raise another person from the dead, although our doctors and scientists are trying their best. Only the power of God can raise Christ from the dead. What more do we need as proof that Jesus is the Son of God than the witness of all those who saw Him alive after His resurrection.
Christ resurrection showed the power of God, but it also shows the wisdom of God to save us from our sins. Remember in the beginning, back at creation, God created the world and everything in it perfect and everything was perfect until Adam and Eve fell into sin. Adam and Eve’s sin separated them and us from God. Physical death is a result of that sin and eternal spiritual death is a result without faith in Jesus Christ. But, God in His grace immediately came up with the perfect plan to bring us back into a right relationship with Himself. His plan included the foolishness of the death of His only Son. Yet, even with that promise we continue to be sinners. Our Old Testament lesson for today is the account of the giving of the ten commandments. One quick skimming of those commandments puts us in our place and makes us realize what sinful people we really are. We constantly break our relationship with God by placing our human needs above our Lord, trusting in ourselves instead of relying completely on Him, by cursing and swearing, by neglecting to be in God’s Word, through personal reading of our Bible, through personal and family devotions, by not being in Bible Class as well as by not being in worship every Sunday. We constantly break our relationship with our fellow human beings by being disobedient, not only to our parents, but also to those in authority over us, by killing and if not actual killing, by hurting and harming others through hating, name calling, and the like, through our lusting, through our stealing, through not only our gossiping, but also our listening to gossip, through our discontent and coveting. We break these commandments in thought, word, and in deed. And we break these commandments by doing something we are not supposed to do and by not doing what we are supposed to do.
Praise the Lord for the power and wisdom of God. Praise the Lord that His weakness is stronger than our power. We may think we have power, well, after all, we can blow up the earth, but in His power God said, “Let there be” and there was. God alone can create and destroy matter. We human beings can only change the matter which our Lord has created for us.
Praise the Lord that His foolishness is wiser than our wisdom. We may think we are wise, especially when we begin to explain the processes that occur in our world. This is where we need to constantly remind ourselves, lest we forget, that we are merely explaining processes. It is God who created all the processes, how long has it taken us to understand just a few? Oh, there are people who would like to explain away the world according to chance, but the faith it would take to believe those theories is much greater than the faith the Lord gives us to believe His truth.
From time to time I see a car with the Christian fish made with legs and the name “Darwin” inscribe in the middle. I have always wondered what it would be like to stop the person and asked, “So, how many years did it take for all those parts to come together by themselves to make your car?” Certainly, the person would have look at me like I was crazy. And I did leave out the whole problem of where did the parts come from in the first place. If you would ask anyone this question they would think you were out of your mind. Yet, no one seems to mind suggesting that our bodies, which are even more complex than a car, evolved over millions of years. How much greater is the foolishness of God than the greatest wisdom of man.
What Does This Mean? There are basically two religions in the world. There is man’s religion and there is God’s religion. The religion of man is based on self-righteousness, on man’s reaching up to God, on man’s ability, his character, his working out his own salvation, his attempting to be the person God wants him to be. Basically, according to man’s religion, one must earn his or her salvation. A person is to do good and then he or she is saved.
And then there is God’s religion. God’s religion is based on grace. God does it all and gives it all. And God does it all and gives it all even though we are undeserving of any and all that He does and has to give. God gives salvation and then a person is motivated, again, by God, to respond, that is to do and to live.
Thus, the cross is foolishness to the self-righteous and so they do not hear the preaching of the cross. The cross is simply another reminder of our sin and our inability to do anything about our sin. We like to think of ourselves as basically good people. Have you noticed how the people of our world flock to these churches that, basically tell people they are good people. And if we are basically good people, then we do not need anyone to pay any price for our sins, because basically we do not have any sin. This is man’s wisdom. Or should I say, “This is man’s wisdom?” (Said in a questioning tone). Remember, as I said last week and as I have said numerous times before, the forgiveness of sins is our greatest need and the greatest gift we are given to by God. For, without forgiveness, we are yet in our sins and we would be destined to eternal spiritual death. When we think we are so good that we have no need for forgiveness, when we are not reminded of our sins so that we confess, then we remain in our sins and our destiny is set.
Yet, as we see, there are many in our world today who revel in this foolishness and in this powerlessness. People flock to churches and seminars where they are told how good they really are and how they can do some many good things to please the Lord. There are many who believe God wants and even needs something from them. Here again we see human wisdom at its best. As Christians, as redeemed children of God, as sinners made saints through God’s grace which gives faith, forgiveness and eternal life we are certainly reminded, what could our God possibly need from us? He is the One who created us. He is the One who redeemed us. He is the One who is working in us our Sanctification. He created us in order to do for us and give to us, in order to love us. How many parents do you know have children so they can be served by their children? No, we have children in order to love them, care for them, and raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We are God’s children and He created us to love us, care for us and nurture us.
So, if we are going to boast, then we only boast in the Lord. As we look at our three texts for this morning, we are reminded that we boast in the fact that our Lord loves us so much that He gives us the Ten Commandments, which point out our sins, so we do repent. We boast in the Lord, that Jesus is the Son of God, even God Himself, who came to earth to do for us what we are unable to do. That is, Jesus obeyed all the commandments perfectly for us and then took our sins of breaking all the commandments, and paid the price for our sins. And now we are reminded of the foolishness and weakness of our Lord, which are far greater than what we believe to be our wisdom and strength.
Praise the Lord that in His power and wisdom He did not let the weaknesses and foolishness of this world get in the way so that He did accomplish His plan of salvation so that by grace, through faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection we have the promise of forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. To Him be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.