Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 7 months ago

God's Unusual Gospel

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Rev. Christopher Chelpka

Right. Let's turn into First Corinthians, Chapter One, first rindings one, verse seven, through Chapter Two,verse five. This is the beginning of a section which fills through the chaptersthe word. So we're going to talk about things in here that will bevisit again different ways, because the Lord impresses very important truths on our hearts. So First Corinthians one, verse seven, also all, for Christ did notsend me to baptize, but to preach the Gospel and not the words. Development is them less. The cost be emptying of its power, forthe word of the process quality to those who are perish him. That's less. We're being saved. It isn't power of com for it has betten.I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and ancernments of the discerning of theworld. Where is above, who is wise? Where is the scribe person? The demand of this age as God, God being the thing foolish the wisdomof the world, for since in the wisdom of God, the worlddid not know God through wisdom and pleased God, and the folly of whatwe preach to save those whom, for choose to be on signs and Greekssee wisdom that we preach Christ person, stomblen, the luck to Jews andfollowing the Trinis, but to those who are called call of the Jews andthings Christ the power of God and the wisdom world, for the foolishness ofGod is wise of men and the leaks. God is stronger. For consider yourcalm brothers, many of you are wise and word. The world astandards of many people, powerful that many of these world known worth. ButGod shows what is foolish of the world to shame of Gods. God showswhat is weak the world, shame strong God to chose what is low anddespise in the world, even things, the things that are not to bringto nothing. Things are so that no human being my ghost of the presenceof God and because of him, you are in Christ, Jesus, whobecame to US wisdom from God, righteousness and signification and redemption, so that, as it is written, love of Onod who mosts most of all,did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom, for I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus, Christ and himcrucified. And I was with you in weeks and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom,but in demonstration of the spirit and of power, so that your faith mightnot rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God man.This passage is sometimes confusing to some, and there's good reason for it.Paul uses the same words many times, but in different ways. He talksabout something as folly in one moment and...

...then the next he calls it wisdom, and then another he calls wisdom and then he calls it folly, andthen sometimes he'll switch back. And it's not because Paul is being illogical orhe's not making any sense, but he's trying to reframe how we think abouttwo things. How we think about the things in this world and how wethink about the word of God, the Word of God as in Christ Himself, Christ and him crucified, and the word of God, particularly in termsof its preaching. Paul is focused here, in this passage and in some tocome, on not just the content of the Gospel but the mode ofthe Gospel. How is it preached? How does it come to US noticehow? This is how Paul begins and this is what we're going to focuson this morning. He says I came to preach the Gospel, not withwords of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross be emptied of its power. Andthen, similarly, at the end of the passage that I read in chaptertwo, he says in verse three, I was with you in weakness andin fear and in much trembling, and my speech and my message were notin plausible words of wisdom, but a demonstration of the spirit and of power. You can listen to this next passage or turn with me, if youliked, a second Corinthians chapter ten, and I want to read one morepassage that's similar. Second Corinthians ten, Paul says he recounts to us anaccusation that he was receiving First Green atens ten. Verse Ten he says,for they say, that is his accusers quote. His letters are waighty andstrong, but his bodily appearance is weak and his speech is of no account. So this is what people were saying about Paul. This was the problemthat he was facing. They were saying that his letters, they're great,they're enjoyable to read, there's some power to them, but when he getsup in front of US and talks not really anything to write home about.He's not really a great preacher, they were saying. He's not a greatspeaker. Indeed, Paul even says here that he came to them in weaknessand fear and in trembling. His voice was shaking, maybe his hands wereshaking. This happens to me sometimes, still not so much anymore. I'mhere partly, I think, because we know each other so well, butI notice sometimes if I go and do some pulpit supply or guests preaching insome place, I'll get really nervous. My hands will shake him, myvoice will shake Um like, why am I shaking? I know the word. I'm going to proclaim the word of his regular job to do. Ido this every day or every Sunday, usually twice, and yet here Iam nervous. Why am I nervous? Why am I shaking? Paul wasexperiencing this well at all mentioned. As a side note, this brings mesome comfort, as Paul was bold. We know Paul went and spoke withgreat boldness. He would did not shy away. We hear him say Iam not ashamed to proclaim the Gospel, which is the power of God,Unto Salvation, both to Jews and the Greeks. But just because he wasn'ta shame, just because he was going to go for it, didn't meanthat he wasn't scared too, didn't mean that he wasn't that that he wasn'teverything that people had perhaps hoped from him.

This, of course, was contrasteda little bit with a man named a Paulo's who the scriptures say,was very good at public speaking. He was very good, he was impressiveand and, as we considered last time, because of this difference between these two, people were starting to kind of gather around one or the other.Now, what's really interesting about this passage is Paul is what Paul doesn't say. It's one of them many interesting things he doesn't say. I'm really sorryabout this, and so I'm going to study classical rhetoric more and get better. Now, what Paul says is he has specifically chosen not to care andhe has specifically chosen a mode of preaching that isn't flashy. My guess isthat he'd probably be fine with not trembling. He does. He wouldn't accuse Apollos, in other words, of not being not trembling. You wouldn't saywell, you got a tremble if you're going to preach. Well, Idon't think that's what he's getting after. But what he is getting after ishe's saying there is this mode of preaching which matches the content of the Gospel, and both are really important. Let's look at this passage and consider why. He begins in verse eighteen, for he says the For the word ofthe Cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who arebeing saved it is the power of God. Now, so this is really interesting. He says it is power, it is, it has power.It has power for those who are being saved. But he also says inverse seventeen that he preaches in this particular way so that the cross is notemptied of its power. How could the cross be emptied of its power?It is the Cross of Christ, after all. What Paul is saying isthat when the Cross is presented in a particular way it takes away from themessage, when the Cop Cross is presented in a particular way, it takesaway from the power of the message. Not that it isn't powerful, itis. He says it's powerful for those who are being saved. As itis written. Verse Nineteen, I will destroy this is powerful language, right. I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and the discernment of the discerning. I will thwart and then Paul tosses down the gauntlet. I love theseverses. Where's the one who is wise? He's like, let's roll right.Where's the one who is wise? Where's the scribe? Where is thedebater of this age? Here? These, these are expressions of confidence, right, this is he's challenging them and he says, has not God madefoolish the wisdom of the world? This is what the cross does, isit takes the socalled wisdom of the world and it shows it to be trulyfoolish. And what the world calls foolish, God shows it to be powerful.In Verse Twenty One, he says, for since, in the wisdom ofGod, the world did not know God, through wisdom, it pleasedGod through the folly of what we preach. To save those who believe, isPaul saying here? He's saying that he is not revealed through simply studyingthis world. There is wisdom in this...

...world. Paul's not denying that tostudy rhetoric, for example, to study speech. That's a task of wisdom. It's not a bad thing to know how to present an argument, toknow how to make it very pointed, to know how to make it soit rings in your ears and sticks. Some good things, but they're notpowerful to get you to the ultimate things. And this is true of anything inGod's world that he's made. you go out into the into the woods, you go up into the mountains or the deserts and you can be amazed. You can study these things, you can cultivate them, you can takethe resources that God has made and create amazing things, amazing things. Andyet God does not reveal that salvation that we have through Jesus Christ, thatpower that takes us out of this age and into the next age, throughthose things, whether it's, you know, physical resources like rocks or or trees, or intellectual resources like rhetoric. God doesn't reveal himself through this way, but instead through the simple preaching, which some people were calling folly.People are being saved and this was not an accident. Notice what he says. In the wisdom of God, it was chosen this way. God hasparticularly chosen to reveal him self this way. Okay, continuing on the in theexposition, here he says the Jews demands signs and the Greek seek wisdom. But We preach Christ crucified a stumbling block to the Jews and folly tothe gentiles. Christ on the cross is not a powerful sign. Now,Christ certainly did powerful signs right. He healed people of leprosy, rased themto raise from the dead. He healed all kinds of diseases, he castout demons. There were signs, plentiful signs, obvious signs, but theywere all leading to this ultimate work of God on the Cross. Everything waspointing to this moment and there was no outward power there. There hung oursavior, dead, ultimate powerlessness, not able to fight back against the Jewsof the Romans, not able to teach any more, not able to speakany more, not to breathe anymore. He was dead. Jesus Christ CrucifiedMeant Jesus Christ dead, powerless, ineffective, presumably, and the Greek sought wisdom. What is this? What can be learned from this? A manrises up, he gathers people after him, he's becomes famous throughout the the land. And then he dies. This is not wisdom, this is notsuccess, this is not advancing, and so people despise the Lord, theyturned away from him. And yet, though in the wisdom of God,he came in this way, he was powerful. So this is the PopPaul is not saying that Jesus is not powerful. He's saying that he's notpowerful as the world perceives him. And indeed he's not powerful in the formin which he came. He came as a servant, he came humble,he came suffering. But, as Paul goes on to say, he wasand is the power of God. He was and is the wisdom of God. And here's where everything it's put in...

...for perspective. That verse twenty fivea kind of key verse here for the Foolishness of God. The thing is, especially that the world calls foolish, that the world calls weak, thatthe world calls powerless. The foolishness of God is wiser than men and theweakness of God is stronger than that. So that gets back us back towhat I said at the beginning, that he's helping us to understand the thingsin this world and the things of God. In perspective to one another. Youmight look at some technological advancements, some amazing aspect of learning, onanything that you might in consider in this world and be rightly impressed, butit doesn't begin to obtain to the wisdom in the power of God, evenwhen it's revealed through weakness. So then, why does God reveal such awesome powerand wisdom through weakness? Why does God, in his wisdom, choosethat path? We'll get there, but before we do, plaw has onemore thing for us to consider and make that point. Not only did Jesuscome in pat in weakness and in suffering and humility, not only does themessage that he preached not come with great eloquence and power of your personal presenceand all of these things, but even you, he says, are notthat impressive. Notice what he says. Consider your calling. Brothers. NotMany of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many of you werepowerful, not many of you were of noble birth. But God shows whatis foolish in the world to shame the wise. God chose what is weakin the world to shame the strong. God chose what is low and despisedin the world. Even the things that are not to bring to nothing thethings that are. So, you see, Jesus Christ came in a certain way, that message is preached in a certain way and it comes to peoplewho are likewise not that impressive. The Corinthians, and not just the Corinthians, but the Corinthians, were wanting to advance themselves, they were wanting tobe people who are important, who were esteemed socially, who had followers aroundthem, who were able to climb the ladder in their society. And Paulkind of calls them out and he says, guys, not many of you wereof noble birth, not many of you are all that impressive. I'mnot looking out on this crowd of amazing people by worldly standards. I'Llge Paul, that's kind of hurts. If you find that offensive, it's time fora heart check, I think it's fair to say, because a lot ofus spend a lot of our time meditating on, thinking about and working abouthow to working on how to become something special by worldly standards. A lotof energy in our time and our daily lives and in our culture goes intothat objective. How do we become something special and worldly standards. And sowhen you're preacher, write you a letter, as Paul does here, and saysyou know, not many of you...

...are even obtaining that goal. NotMany of you are that special by these worldly standard. They can kind ofhurt a little bit. But why does Paul say this one? Of courseit's to humble them, because this is what their hearts are. After they'rewanting these things and he's trying to relativize it, he's trying to push itdown. He's saying not important, not important, not important. And infact it's not only not as important as we think it is, but Godhas specifically chosen the things that are not, not that important, not that powerful, not that fancy, to bring into the power and wisdom and lifeof the son of God. In other words, God calls us to embracethis fact. He doesn't want us to be foolish people, he doesn't wantus to be stupid or or doing dumb things or acting in foolish ways,but he does want us to embrace the fact that this world is not allthat there is and I don't have to climb a social ladder, I don'thave to be something special in order to receive all the blessings and of JesusChrist, all the things and honor and glory that he ultimately did attain toand even now has as he sits at the right hand of God, enthronedupon Cherobeam, on his mighty chariot, living forever and ever, in whichthe whole host of Heaven Calls Holy, Holy, Holy He Jesus Christ isultimate and Glorious and powerful way exceeding anything that this world would ever seek.But he did that and at a obtained that by first becoming low and byeven drawing in those of us who are low. What's good news to that? God also draws in the rich and the powerful. God also draws inpeople who have become something important in this world. But, as Jesus says, it's a hard thing for people like that to get into the Kingdom ofHeaven. And what do we see? What do we see so often happeningin his ministry and his Gospels? It's task collectors, it's prostitutes, it'sgentiles, it's people who are low and despised and kind on the edges thatare being brought in. Why? Why did Jesus do that? Why doesGod do that? Why am I here? It's because, in his great wisdom, he shows the things that are weak, Christ taking on human flesh, a particular mode of preaching the Gospel, and even the people that he gathersinto his church to make himself known. Here's the why we have a problemwith idolatry, we have a problem with pride, we have a problemwith getting our eyes so focused on this world that God comes into this worldand so he chooses what is weak and foolish, to turn everything on itshead and make us go what's going on, so that ultimately we wouldn't have anythingworldly to stand on and would only boast in the Lord, only onlyhim. That's why he does these things, he says in Verse Twenty Nine,so that no human being might boast in the presence of God, sothat none of us can go to the Lord and say, well, yeah, I worked really hard, I showed up to work every day, Iimpressed my boss and his boss and his...

...boss, and on top of that, I also learned a few languages on the side, and on top ofthat, I picked up this hobby and had a great family. Nothing Goddid the things that he did in the way that he did them so thatwe could not stand on those things and so that we could only say,well, I'm only here by your grace and your grace alone. God undoesour pride so that we can stand in the presence of God, because ourpride blocks us, are plied, separates us. Our Pride says I don'tneed him, I need me, I need more of the world. Butwhat we really need is God. And so, rather than reinforcing the oldsystem by God saying here's how the Gospel comes by the these really fancy amazingpeace people and and this is a super exclusive club that you can only getinto if you advance through society in these certain ways. God undoes all ofthat so that we would be undone, so that he would receive all theglory and that wisdom and power and and and and communion with God could trulybe had. We come into the presence of God not through our wisdom andthe wisdom of this world and the power of this world, but through thepower of God. And here's Paul's application. Then in verse five he says sothat your faith, your faith might not rest in the wisdom of menbut the power of God. There are amazing things in this world. Someof you are involved in amazing things, writing, research, collaboration, workingwithin your families, working within societies, the friendships that you've created truly wonderfulthings. But for all of us who have read ecclesiastes or lived in theworld for a day, we know that that stuff doesn't last. Things getand done, projects unravel, corporations that are strong dissolve and fall apart.This world under the sun is a trying place for some reason that's hard forus to understand. We'd miss the Vanity of it all. We think,we keep thinking, it's permanent, but God comes in this way to undothese things in our minds. So that's what Paul is saying here. Paul'sopposition is not to rhetoric itself. Rhetoric isn't sinful. Rhetoric is a goodthing. Paul uses rhetoric even there are passages in the scriptures that are immenselyeloquent, beautiful, inspiring, rhythmic, whatever you want, whatever words youwant to attach to that, but that was not his aim. A greatspeaker in Paul's time would not go before an audience without mastering those things first. His goal would have been to move his audience. His goal was notjust to proclaim the truth, but to persuade in such an eloquent way thatwhen he walked away everyone said wow, that guy. That wasn't Paul's aim. That work of rhetoric required a lot of study, the ability to readpeople in situations, adapt in the moment,...

...use masterful turns of phrases, charm. It was a legitimate skill and sometimes it was used for highly moralends. People would use these skills and go and defend people in court,they would support the cause of the week, they would uphold the law and pleadfor good causes. The Bible itself teaches us that rhetoric is something worthyof studying. Proverbs twenty five says. A word fitly spoken is like applesof gold in a setting of silver. Proverbs Fifteen, twenty three says tomake an APP to answer, is a joy to man a word in season. How good is it? Paul's not saying we should all talk like fools. He's not saying rhetoric is useless and not powerful. Rhetoric can be usedfor human flourishing and many blessings. And yet what Paul is saying is thatno amount of human wisdom. No amount of worldly wisdom, even rightly applied, can bring us to salvation. And so he's not going to make ithis priority to master all of those things, and master them perfectly. In fact, he's not going to worry about them. His primary job, andthe primary job of every preacher and Lord Willing me as well, is toproclaim the truth, clearly and simply, with the authority of God, andno more and no less, not relying using perhaps in some ways, butnot relying on those things as being that which will save the world, butrelying on God, who speaks and uses even simple speaking to bring about powerand salvation. This, in the end, beloved, is what gives us confidence. It allows our faith not to rest on human eloquence and power,but on the Lord God himself. And so I just ask you where aredo you want to rest your faith on? Do you want to rest your faithon the eloquence of a preacher, or do you want to rest yourfaith on the wisdom of God revealed in the Cross of Jesus Christ? Pleaselet it be the latter. That's where salvation is, that's where true powerand wisdom is. That will not be undone that is not vain and willlast for all eternity. It will save your soul and your body as well. Let's pray.

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