WHAT GOD DID FOR US IN
JESUS' DEATH AND RESURRECTION
1 Corinthians 1:18-31 For the word of the cross is
foolishness to those who
are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is
written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And the cleverness of the
clever I will set aside." Where is the wise man? 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 through its wisdom did not
come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the
message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for
signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to
Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are
the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom
of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the
weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brethren,
that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not
many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame
the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the
things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised
God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things
that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in
Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and
sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, "Let him who
boasts, boast in the Lord."
This is the fourth part of what God did for us in Jesus' death and
resurrection. In the three previous lessons, we have noted:
God through Jesus provided us a new way to Him.
God through Jesus demonstrated His love for us.
God through Jesus made it possible for unholy humanity to associate with the living God.
Tonight we want to stress the enormous chasm God bridged to allow
us to come to him. Most if not all of Paul's writings were to gentile
Christians. I do not think many of us realize what an enormous transition it
was for idol worshippers to begin following Jesus Christ.
First, they lived in a world dominated by the presence of idols and the
influence of idolatry. Worship of the gods was everywhere! Idols were
visible everywhere! Temples dedicated to idol worship were extremely
common. Idolatry was more than religious expression in the world of the
first century. It was an important part of politics. It was an important part of
the work place. It was an important part of agriculture (and their age was an
agricultural age). It commonly was a part of the home routine. In the first
century, in every day life, it was impossible to escape the presence and
influence of idolatry.
Second, to make the transition from idolatry to following Jesus Christ
was an enormous personal transition. It involved changing one's personal
concept of deity. It involved changing one's concept of worship (Jesus was
the sacrifice, and was already offered). It involved changing religious habits
that were a part of your life. It involved changing your concept of godly
behavior. It often involved changing your daily life in fundamental behavior.
- Let me illustrate how deep the change was by looking at the
of 1 Corinthians 1.
- Paul began this letter in the manner he began a number of his letters.
- He gave his common salutation, which was typical of the way many
- He expressed appreciation for them [even though we quickly learn
they had many spiritual problems].
- The Roman world of the first century functioned commonly [where
there was a primary Roman influence] on a system of patronage.
- An influential man kept numerous people loyal to him by placing
those people on his monthly retainer.
- He was free to expect those people's help at any time he
- If you took the patron's monthly support, you were indebted to
him and expected to do as he requested.
- That just was the way business commonly functioned in that
- It does not take a lot of insight to realize that system of doing
business was ripe for major problems.
- What we would consider a bribe, they did not consider a bribe at
- The system promoted a lot of competition and jealousy among
those receiving the retainer.
- It also stressed the power of control.
- Among Christians at Corinth, there were quarrels.
- The issue seemed to be, "Who is in control? Who is our primary
- Paul declared the objective of baptism was not control of the
- There was to be no "you owe me because I am responsible for
- Christ was not to be understood as a new patronage system.
- To illustrate that fact, Paul reminded them that his emphasis
was on Jesus' cross, not on baptism.
- Paul did not repudiate the role of baptism--he merely stressed the
fact that the emphasis needed to be on Jesus' cross.
- The rest of that first chapter focused on the importance of Jesus'
Note Paul's emphasis on Jesus' cross.
- There were many who did not see any work of God or any personal
appeal in Jesus' cross.
- Remember, death on a cross at the hand of Roman authority was a
despised form of execution designed to show contempt.
- It was a horrible, painful, and typically slow form of execution.
- It was a form of execution that occurred to "teach people a
lesson"--if you behave in the manner of this criminal, a horrible
fate awaits you also.
- To us the Jesus' death is glorified; that was not the case to
many first century people.
- Typically, we do not associate the concept of inspirational
attractiveness with a common public execution.
- Thus, by first century thinking, the word of the cross was absolute
foolishness to those who rejected that God acted in Jesus' death.
- It was unwise.
- It was defenseless.
- It was ridiculous to associate an hope filled act of God with a public
- Only those who responded to God through Jesus' death saw wisdom
in what God did in the cross.
- Those who were called to God through the cross saw God's power
- Those who were prominent, whether Jew or other nationality, saw
only weakness and foolishness.
- The fleshly wise were not impressed.
- The fleshly powerful were not impressed.
- Fleshly royalty were not impressed--one of the perks of position
was to postpone death as long as possible!
- Only those saved by God's act in Jesus' cross were impressed by
God's wisdom and strength.
- Paul asked the Corinthian Christians to look at what God did.
- God used the foolish things of this world to confound and shame
the fleshly wise--what is more foolish than providing eternal
salvation through an execution?
- God used weak things to confound the strong [powerful]--what is
weaker than the dead body of a executed person?
- God used base, despised things to confound human
reasoning--what is more base and despised than the dead body of
a useless man?
- God used "something which is not" to bring to nothing things that
are--is anything in this world more opposite what we call reality than
resurrection from death?
- Why did God accomplish salvation in this manner?
- Paul said it was done in this way so no human could brag about his
achievements in his salvation.
- God owes no one.
- Salvation exists as an act of God, not the act of humans.
It is by God's act we are in Christ Jesus.
- We have not obligated God!
- God responded to our need!
- Jesus' death and resurrection is our wisdom from God.
- We are not saved because of our great intellect.
- We are saved because of God's revelation to us in Jesus Christ.
- Jesus Christ is God's ultimate wisdom to us!
- Jesus' death and resurrection makes us righteous.
- We do not make ourselves righteous!
- Apart from Jesus Christ we cannot be righteous.
- We are righteous because we are clothed in Jesus Christ so
when God looks at us He sees our perfect Savior, not all our
flaws. Galatians 3:23-29
- Jesus' death and resurrection sanctifies us.
- As we discussed last Sunday night, because of what God did in
him we can associate with God.
- God can look upon us as holy because of what Jesus did for us.
- Thus, unholy humanity once again has opportunity to associate
with the holy God.
- Jesus' death and resurrection redeems us.
- Because we commit evil we belong to evil.
- In actuality, Satan should possess us.
- Only because of Jesus' death on the cross and resurrection from
the tomb does Satan not possess us.
- Because God bought us back from evil and Satan can we
belong to God.
To me, there are three key verses in our text tonight:
1 Corinthians 1:18 For the word of the cross is
foolishness to those
who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of
God's wisdom and power are seen in Jesus' cross. Were it not for the
cross, there would be no reason to give us even a second look.
1 Corinthians 1:25 ... the foolishness of God is wiser than
men, and the
weakness of God is stronger than men.
Ours is a relationship of dependence, not a relationship of informing. In
truth, God does not need us. We need God.
1 Corinthians 1:30 ... by His doing you are in Christ
Jesus, who became
to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and
We spiritually exist to give God credit for what He did, not to take credit from
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 15 January 2006
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