Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 11 months ago

God's Unusual Gospel


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 chapters the word. So we're going to talk about things in here that will be visit again different ways, because the Lord impresses very important truths on our hearts. So First Corinthians one, verse seven, also all, for Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the Gospel and not the words. Development is them less. The cost be emptying of its power, for the 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 the world. Where is above, who is wise? Where is the scribe person? The demand of this age as God, God being the thing foolish the wisdom of the world, for since in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom and pleased God, and the folly of what we preach to save those whom, for choose to be on signs and Greeks see wisdom that we preach Christ person, stomblen, the luck to Jews and following the Trinis, but to those who are called call of the Jews and things Christ the power of God and the wisdom world, for the foolishness of God is wise of men and the leaks. God is stronger. For consider your calm brothers, many of you are wise and word. The world a standards of many people, powerful that many of these world known worth. But God shows what is foolish of the world to shame of Gods. God shows what is weak the world, shame strong God to chose what is low and despise in the world, even things, the things that are not to bring to nothing. Things are so that no human being my ghost of the presence of God and because of him, you are in Christ, Jesus, who became 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 him crucified. 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 might not 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 talks about 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, and then sometimes he'll switch back. And it's not because Paul is being illogical or he's not making any sense, but he's trying to reframe how we think about two things. How we think about the things in this world and how we think about the word of God, the Word of God as in Christ Himself, Christ and him crucified, and the word of God, particularly in terms of its preaching. Paul is focused here, in this passage and in some to come, on not just the content of the Gospel but the mode of the Gospel. How is it preached? How does it come to US notice how? This is how Paul begins and this is what we're going to focus on this morning. He says I came to preach the Gospel, not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross be emptied of its power. And then, similarly, at the end of the passage that I read in chapter two, he says in verse three, I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in 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 you liked, a second Corinthians chapter ten, and I want to read one more passage that's similar. Second Corinthians ten, Paul says he recounts to us an accusation that he was receiving First Green atens ten. Verse Ten he says, for they say, that is his accusers quote. His letters are waighty and strong, 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 problem that 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 gets up 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 great speaker. Indeed, Paul even says here that he came to them in weakness and fear and in trembling. His voice was shaking, maybe his hands were shaking. This happens to me sometimes, still not so much anymore. I'm here partly, I think, because we know each other so well, but I notice sometimes if I go and do some pulpit supply or guests preaching in some place, I'll get really nervous. My hands will shake him, my voice 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. I do this every day or every Sunday, usually twice, and yet here I am nervous. Why am I nervous? Why am I shaking? Paul was experiencing this well at all mentioned. As a side note, this brings me some comfort, as Paul was bold. We know Paul went and spoke with great boldness. He would did not shy away. We hear him say I am 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't a shame, just because he was going to go for it, didn't mean that he wasn't scared too, didn't mean that he wasn't that that he wasn't everything that people had perhaps hoped from him.

This, of course, was contrasted a 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 impressive and 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 sorry about 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 and he has specifically chosen a mode of preaching that isn't flashy. My guess is that 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 say well, you got a tremble if you're going to preach. Well, I don't think that's what he's getting after. But what he is getting after is he'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 of the Cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being 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 in verse seventeen that he preaches in this particular way so that the cross is not emptied of its power. How could the cross be emptied of its power? It is the Cross of Christ, after all. What Paul is saying is that when the Cross is presented in a particular way it takes away from the message, when the Cop Cross is presented in a particular way, it takes away from the power of the message. Not that it isn't powerful, it is. He says it's powerful for those who are being saved. As it is 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 these verses. 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 the debater of this age? Here? These, these are expressions of confidence, right, this is he's challenging them and he says, has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? This is what the cross does, is it takes the socalled wisdom of the world and it shows it to be truly foolish. And what the world calls foolish, God shows it to be powerful. In Verse Twenty One, he says, for since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God, through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach. To save those who believe, is Paul saying here? He's saying that he is not revealed through simply studying this world. There is wisdom in this... Paul's not denying that to study 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, to know how to make it very pointed, to know how to make it so it rings in your ears and sticks. Some good things, but they're not powerful to get you to the ultimate things. And this is true of anything in God'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 take the resources that God has made and create amazing things, amazing things. And yet God does not reveal that salvation that we have through Jesus Christ, that power that takes us out of this age and into the next age, through those 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 has particularly chosen to reveal him self this way. Okay, continuing on the in the exposition, 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 to the gentiles. Christ on the cross is not a powerful sign. Now, Christ certainly did powerful signs right. He healed people of leprosy, rased them to raise from the dead. He healed all kinds of diseases, he cast out demons. There were signs, plentiful signs, obvious signs, but they were all leading to this ultimate work of God on the Cross. Everything was pointing to this moment and there was no outward power there. There hung our savior, dead, ultimate powerlessness, not able to fight back against the Jews of the Romans, not able to teach any more, not able to speak any more, not to breathe anymore. He was dead. Jesus Christ Crucified Meant Jesus Christ dead, powerless, ineffective, presumably, and the Greek sought wisdom. What is this? What can be learned from this? A man rises up, he gathers people after him, he's becomes famous throughout the the land. And then he dies. This is not wisdom, this is not success, this is not advancing, and so people despise the Lord, they turned away from him. And yet, though in the wisdom of God, he came in this way, he was powerful. So this is the Pop Paul is not saying that Jesus is not powerful. He's saying that he's not powerful as the world perceives him. And indeed he's not powerful in the form in which he came. He came as a servant, he came humble, he came suffering. But, as Paul goes on to say, he was and 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 five a kind of key verse here for the Foolishness of God. The thing is, especially that the world calls foolish, that the world calls weak, that the world calls powerless. The foolishness of God is wiser than men and the weakness of God is stronger than that. So that gets back us back to what I said at the beginning, that he's helping us to understand the things in this world and the things of God. In perspective to one another. You might look at some technological advancements, some amazing aspect of learning, on anything that you might in consider in this world and be rightly impressed, but it doesn't begin to obtain to the wisdom in the power of God, even when it's revealed through weakness. So then, why does God reveal such awesome power and wisdom through weakness? Why does God, in his wisdom, choose that path? We'll get there, but before we do, plaw has one more thing for us to consider and make that point. Not only did Jesus come in pat in weakness and in suffering and humility, not only does the message that he preached not come with great eloquence and power of your personal presence and all of these things, but even you, he says, are not that impressive. Notice what he says. Consider your calling. Brothers. Not Many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many of you were powerful, not many of you were of noble birth. But God shows what is foolish in the world to shame the wise. God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong. God chose what is low and despised in the world. Even the things that are not to bring to nothing the things that are. So, you see, Jesus Christ came in a certain way, that message is preached in a certain way and it comes to people who are likewise not that impressive. The Corinthians, and not just the Corinthians, but the Corinthians, were wanting to advance themselves, they were wanting to be people who are important, who were esteemed socially, who had followers around them, who were able to climb the ladder in their society. And Paul kind of calls them out and he says, guys, not many of you were of noble birth, not many of you are all that impressive. I'm not 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 for a heart check, I think it's fair to say, because a lot of us spend a lot of our time meditating on, thinking about and working about how to working on how to become something special by worldly standards. A lot of energy in our time and our daily lives and in our culture goes into that objective. How do we become something special and worldly standards. And so when you're preacher, write you a letter, as Paul does here, and says you know, not many of you...

...are even obtaining that goal. Not Many of you are that special by these worldly standard. They can kind of hurt a little bit. But why does Paul say this one? Of course it's to humble them, because this is what their hearts are. After they're wanting these things and he's trying to relativize it, he's trying to push it down. He's saying not important, not important, not important. And in fact it's not only not as important as we think it is, but God has specifically chosen the things that are not, not that important, not that powerful, not that fancy, to bring into the power and wisdom and life of the son of God. In other words, God calls us to embrace this fact. He doesn't want us to be foolish people, he doesn't want us 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 all that there is and I don't have to climb a social ladder, I don't have to be something special in order to receive all the blessings and of Jesus Christ, all the things and honor and glory that he ultimately did attain to and even now has as he sits at the right hand of God, enthroned upon Cherobeam, on his mighty chariot, living forever and ever, in which the whole host of Heaven Calls Holy, Holy, Holy He Jesus Christ is ultimate 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 by even 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 in people 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 of Heaven. And what do we see? What do we see so often happening in his ministry and his Gospels? It's task collectors, it's prostitutes, it's gentiles, it's people who are low and despised and kind on the edges that are being brought in. Why? Why did Jesus do that? Why does God 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 gathers into his church to make himself known. Here's the why we have a problem with idolatry, we have a problem with pride, we have a problem with getting our eyes so focused on this world that God comes into this world and so he chooses what is weak and foolish, to turn everything on its head and make us go what's going on, so that ultimately we wouldn't have anything worldly to stand on and would only boast in the Lord, only only him. 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, so that none of us can go to the Lord and say, well, yeah, I worked really hard, I showed up to work every day, I impressed 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 of that, I picked up this hobby and had a great family. Nothing God did the things that he did in the way that he did them so that we 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 undoes our pride so that we can stand in the presence of God, because our pride blocks us, are plied, separates us. Our Pride says I don't need him, I need me, I need more of the world. But what we really need is God. And so, rather than reinforcing the old system by God saying here's how the Gospel comes by the these really fancy amazing peace people and and this is a super exclusive club that you can only get into if you advance through society in these certain ways. God undoes all of that so that we would be undone, so that he would receive all the glory and that wisdom and power and and and and communion with God could truly be had. We come into the presence of God not through our wisdom and the wisdom of this world and the power of this world, but through the power of God. And here's Paul's application. Then in verse five he says so that your faith, your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but the power of God. There are amazing things in this world. Some of you are involved in amazing things, writing, research, collaboration, working within your families, working within societies, the friendships that you've created truly wonderful things. But for all of us who have read ecclesiastes or lived in the world for a day, we know that that stuff doesn't last. Things get and 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 for us 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 undo these things in our minds. So that's what Paul is saying here. Paul's opposition is not to rhetoric itself. Rhetoric isn't sinful. Rhetoric is a good thing. Paul uses rhetoric even there are passages in the scriptures that are immensely eloquent, beautiful, inspiring, rhythmic, whatever you want, whatever words you want to attach to that, but that was not his aim. A great speaker 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 not just to proclaim the truth, but to persuade in such an eloquent way that when 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 read people in situations, adapt in the moment,...

...use masterful turns of phrases, charm. It was a legitimate skill and sometimes it was used for highly moral ends. 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 plead for good causes. The Bible itself teaches us that rhetoric is something worthy of studying. Proverbs twenty five says. A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. Proverbs Fifteen, twenty three says to make 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 used for human flourishing and many blessings. And yet what Paul is saying is that no 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 it his priority to master all of those things, and master them perfectly. In fact, he's not going to worry about them. His primary job, and the primary job of every preacher and Lord Willing me as well, is to proclaim the truth, clearly and simply, with the authority of God, and no more and no less, not relying using perhaps in some ways, but not relying on those things as being that which will save the world, but relying on God, who speaks and uses even simple speaking to bring about power and 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 are do you want to rest your faith on? Do you want to rest your faith on the eloquence of a preacher, or do you want to rest your faith on the wisdom of God revealed in the Cross of Jesus Christ? Please let it be the latter. That's where salvation is, that's where true power and wisdom is. That will not be undone that is not vain and will last for all eternity. It will save your soul and your body as well. Let's pray.

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