1Why are the nations in an uproar And the peoples devising a vain thing? 2The kings of the earth take their stand And the rulers take counsel together Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, 3“Let us tear their fetters apart And cast away their cords from us!” 4He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them. 5Then He will speak to them in His anger And terrify them in His fury, saying, 6“But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain.” 7“I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. 8‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Your possession. 9‘You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.’ ” 10Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; Take warning, O judges of the earth. 11Worship the LORD with reverence And rejoice with trembling. 12Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, For His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!
The foolishness of God far exceeds the brilliance of men. We too easily fall in love with our own thinking, yet God in Christ has shown us the short sightedness of our view. Paul seeks to draw us to God’s higher mind in 1 Corinthians 1:18-3:3.
The word baptize means to immerse or dip, the implication being to submerge in water. I think Paul is playing on the words here, as I, too, have done in the past.
The Christ didn’t send us to dunk people in water, a thing easily accomplished on any hot day, especially in the Mediterranean. Instead, He sent us to preach the gospel.
Further still, Jesus doesn’t send us out into the world expecting us to use our wisdom. Instead, the cross is to be the main focus not our brilliance.
Do we bring everything we have in our efforts, of course, we should, but all that we have to bear is not what it’s about. It, is about the Christ and His redemptive sacrifice.
To the worldly-minded the sacrifice of Christ is quite an unnecessary and even foolish thing. But in the resurrection of Jesus, God has mocked the wisdom of the wise. Many of the learned scholars among the Jews were certain that the Messiah would raise an earthly kingdom and defeat all the enemies of the Jewish nation, such as Rome.
They tried to force Jesus into this role, and when He would not submit to their plans they killed him. And this, they thought, put an end to Him and His message of peace and reconciliation.
As we saw from the scripture reading; When men tell God their plans, He laughs. When they exalt themselves, He mocks.
The crucified Messiah and His subsequent resurrection are fundamental to the faith.
His death was necessary to save men. An easy thing to say, but slightly complex to explain why.
To sin is to fall short of God’s will for man. It separates man from God. God is the source of life, love, and joy. If we are separated from the source of these beautiful things what are we left with? Death, despair, and misery; that is the core of hell.
The cost of sin is death. Either the death of the sinner, or a sacrifice that is sufficient to cover the cost. The old system under Moses was just kicking the can down the road. In the Christ, that system is fulfilled. The can no longer needs kicking because in Him, the true sacrifice is completed.
Why Him? Because He was the Son of God, sinless and perfect in word and deed complete in obedience to the heavenly Father. A thing no other man could be. He was both Son of God and Son of Man. God and man in one person, so that He would be the bridge between the two. So that He can stand in the great divide caused by sin; And thus redeem mankind from the jaws of hell.
His resurrection is a testimony of these things, and a testimony that we too will have eternal life through Him.
And that is why His death was necessary. And no man on earth would or could have come up with that system. Because no one understood the real problem being solved by Jesus except for the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.
And so the pontifications by men about the prophecies about the prophet, the king, and the Messiah were shown to be nothing more than chaff on the wind.
Here Paul points to there own humble condition among the vaunted wisdom of men. These fellows had no Ph.D.’s among them. They were not ennobled scholars of their day. They were not powerful people; just regular folks, slaves, merchants, craftsmen, fishermen, farmers, and the like.
This is so in keeping with the whole history of God. Often He chose to proceed with His plans through those that men deemed lesser.
Just look at the lineage of the Christ. Consider Jacob, who was Israel. He was the smaller and less esteemed by his own father, Isaac.
Tamar was the twice-widowed daughter in law to Judah, who was cast away by Judah and ignored until finally she was blessed with two sons through Judah; and in this was placed in the lineage.
Look to Rahab the harlot, who had faith in God and helped His people and was made one of them.
Or Ruth, who was a foreigner to Israel but puts many to shame with her faithful service and love toward her mother in law. And for this, she is blessed by God.
Or the youngest son of Jesse who would become mighty king David because he was a man after God’s own heart.
And on and on it goes through history. God taking the weak, cast off, and shameful of mankind and turning them to His glory.
None can say that they are of themselves competent to wash their own sins away, but through God’s providential care and consideration we have been brought to the altar of the Lord to partake of the one true sacrifice, Christ Jesus.
and our redemption
What a beautiful thing to mediate upon.
There is no boast we can utter but only that which we have in the Lord.
The profound humility of this approach touches me. It is easy to devise clever sayings and to construct intellectual towers that glorify the craftsmanship of the speaker. But in this passage is an implicit warning against such.
Not to act foolishly, but rather to approach the gospel mission with deep humility; and that we keep to the plain message of the faith. Paul came to them in simplicity of speech; because he didn’t want their faith built upon a foundation of sand.
Instead, he brought the simple gospel and demonstrations of the Spirit and power of God.
The spotlight was on God and what He has done through Christ Jesus; NOT on the apostle Paul and his fine speaking.
He must increase, but I must decrease.
So too does the apostle Paul, so must we all. Weakness, fear, and much trembling, that is, in deep humility knowing whom we serve, for our God is a consuming fire. We hold Him in deep awe, reverence, and love. We are at our best when we approach the throne of grace with right reverence, a sense of awe, and an unwavering abiding love for the Lord.
Fear is the beginning of such pilgrimages, awe-filled love is the result. For the perfect love of God casts out fear, but it is a process we all undergo often many times in our lives. Yet throughout, the gospel, plain and simple, draws us upward and onward closer to God and Christ Jesus if we rest on the power of God.
Then in our lives, we are a testimony for God and Christ, a peculiar people living for God and bearing spiritual fruit.
The mystery of which he is speaking is not something lost to time, or a secret kept away from us today. Rather it is the gospel of Christ Jesus; that in Him, all men can be saved, that He is the healing balm for the souls of all men. That God is there, and He is not indifferent to our plight, but rather has sought to cure us of the great suffering we feel in this life. The source of suffering being sin and the separation it causes. For all suffer or will suffer, even if they do not cause it through their own sin, but when we sin, our souls do suffer. We have pain and sorrow coming from the inside and from the outside. God is there, and He has done something about this. Though His solution is an eternal one, it is taking the long view, but that makes sense given His infinite nature. And so the Spirit of God has revealed to us through the word that we can be saved. We learn from it that we have been given freely of the grace of God and of the heavenly blessings on offer to all who accept the Christ. And that in Him we have an eternal inheritance as children of God to reign in heaven with Him forever and ever. Yet these things are only understood by those who have a spiritual mind. Those who love truth, those who do not start and end with the flesh, but those who want righteousness and who desire the sublime beauties of their creator.
The natural man does not accept spiritual reality. He begins and ends with his flesh. To the natural man, high minded ideals such as self-sacrificial love, loving your enemy, caring for your neighbor, turning the other cheek and the like are foolishness and weakness. Much more, the very idea of God seems difficult to grasp. The god of the natural man is man.
Therefore, to the natural man the idea that we need a Messiah to bridge the gap of sin is foolishness.
But we are to be more than this. We are to reach beyond this to maturity in the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to love as He loves, to be holy as He is holy. For we are no longer to be mere men of flesh and blood, but to strive toward that upward call. We are to adopt the mind of Christ.
You may not have been of this mind in the past, but today is a new day. Today is the day that you can put on the Christ through baptism. Today is the day of the Lord, Today is the day of salvation if you will take it.
All it takes is for you to change your mind.
So which will it be? The mind of Christ, or of mere men.
If you’ve had a change of mind, and would like to put on the Christ in baptism we would be happy to help you in the way. Feel free to reach out to us and let us know of your spiritual need, we would be delighted to help
Appendix A: Appendix of Verses | by order of appearance
1 Corinthians 1:17-25
1 Corinthians 1:26-29
1 Corinthians 1:30-31
1 Corinthians 2:1-5
1 Corinthians 2:6-13
1 Corinthians 2:14-3:3