The Preaching of the Cross - RR274B3a
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|This transcript is unedited. It was:|
|Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library|
|Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules|
|Posted by with permission.|
Let us worship God. Blessed is the man who Thou chooseth and causeth to approach unto Thee. That he may dwell in Thy courts. We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Thy house even of Thy holy temple. Let us pray.
Almighty God, our heavenly Father we give thanks unto Thee that Thy mercies are new every morning. Thy patience with us is enduring and Thy grace and mercy through Jesus Christ our Lord for all time and eternity. Teach us therefore to trust in Thee, to do those things which are pleasing in Thy sight. To be in all things Thy faithful people. Bless us now by Thy word and by Thy spirit, in Christ’s name, Amen.
Our scripture this morning First Corinthians 1:20-21. Our subject: The Preaching of the Cross. First Corinthians 1:20-21.
“Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”
In verses twenty and twenty one Paul speaks of the foolishness of preaching. Paul here refers as Vincent pointed out, to not the act but the substance of preaching. Not the act but the substance of preaching. [00:03:03]
That substance is the atonement...
That substance is the atonement. Christ’s redemptive death and resurrection, seen by the world as foolishness. The wisdom of the world is hostile to the atonement, two groups of the self-styled wise are cited, first the scribes were the Jewish interpreters of the law, they isolated the law from God’s purpose and from the atonement. For them the sacrificial system was simply a ritual prescribed by the law. They did not see the distinction between atonement or justification and the law or the way of sanctification. As a result their whole perspective was warped and fallacious. Their view of the law was for them decisive as against God’s purpose. Second, Paul speaks of the disputer, a term referring to Greek philosophers, to sophistical reasoners, anyone who has read Plato and other Greek philosophers will recognize the aptness of the term. It most certainly applies to modern philosophy, from Descartes to the present no attempt has been made to give a moral history of this tradition, it would be very interesting for someone to sit down and write about it. Certain facts of that story had once emerged as important to any study of their supposed wisdom. From the enlightenment on a disregard for women has been basic to philosophy. The debasement of women was an Enlightenment fact. Women were assumed to be like children, emotional rather than rational beings. Their social and intellectual status was thus downgraded. [00:05:52]
Biblical thinking bars women from authority in the church and headship in the family but Proverbs 31:10-31 is very clear about the managerial and economic abilities of women in business and in other fields. To assume the Enlightenment view as a Biblical one is absurd. Then next modern philosophy has been the province of largely unmarried men and homosexuals. That tells you a great deal about philosophy from Descartes to the present. It has been marked by the will to deny God at any price. In David Hume the key figure in that entire history the possibility of any human knowledge is denied in order to make God unknowable whether or not he exists. From Conte through Hagel to the present man’s reason replaces God as the creative force in history. Now the rebellion against this mass humanization of life by feminists has been closely tied to the lesbian movements. Instead of a collection this has been an intensification of the evil. Moreover even among those in the history of modern philosophy who have sought to prove the existence of God there has been a concession to the enemy in that God is a matter of concern for rationalistic reasons rather than as the savior. Salvation and atonement are not regarded as intellectually respected or valid concerns for philosophy. Like Socrates and Plato these disputers over words are given to extensive discussions about virtue while practicing philosophy and homosexuality together. These modern philosophers abstract their thinking from life and morality. [00:09:11]
As Paul noted in Romans ...
As Paul noted in Romans 1:28 such men do not like to retain God in their knowledge. They insist that the God concept is unnecessary for thinking. But God still saves men by the foolishness of preaching. This can also be called the preaching of foolishness that is the cross, which the self-styled wise men of this world regard as beneath their dignity to consider. But when Paul asks in verse twenty ‘What is the wise, where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?’ He clearly implies that God is confounded them all in and through Jesus Christ. These wise men are now very plainly and obviously the fools. Lenski powerfully summed up verse twenty one in these words and I quote:
“To announce as the savior of the world one who died the vile death of a criminal on the cross seems indeed to be the acme of foolishness. To expect that this announcement will do what all the world with its mighty effort of wisdom failed to do, namely actually to lift man up again into communion with God, only intensifies the impression of utter foolishness. In all the worlds such a scheme was never heard of.” Unquote.
It would be comparable in our day to announcing that someone who was executed by hanging in one of the states is the savior of the world. That’s why it was regarded as foolishness. We have all around us learned church men ready to provide us with proofs of God’s existence. [00:12:11]
But their lecture halls do not tell us of man’s depravity...
But their lecture halls do not tell us of man’s depravity, of his need for a savior, and of his rejection apart from God’s grace of salvation because the noetic effect of sin in their lives is total. For them this is preaching not wisdom. And they are the self-styled people of wisdom. Job’s skepticism of all such people is sound because he told them ‘no doubt but ye are the people and wisdom shall die with you’. We all know people act as though if they’re not heard and if they die wisdom will leave the world. The word preaching is in the Greek a form of kerygma and it refers to the subject not the manner of preaching or proclamation, but to what is preached. Any teaching, any philosophy, by scribe or philosopher that does not make the atonement central is foolishness, the fact of sin, of the fall, of man’s depravity is neglected by all such teachers and preachers. And Paul calls them fools. They assume that men are persuaded and changed by reason and education rather than by conversion, rather than by the word of God. They end in error because they begin with it. Paul in Romans the first chapter emphasizes the fact that men refuse to face up to the fact of sin and its effect on knowledge because they do not want God, the living God. They prefer the kind of god that their mind tells them would be properly God. Here Paul tells us that it’s the world’s wisdom that God confounds. Since everything in creation and in man’s being witnesses to God none like Hume and his errors deny the validity of man’s knowledge in order to deny the God whose witness shines through. [00:15:22]
On the other hand to accept the cross and atonement...
On the other hand to accept the cross and atonement as valid is to deny man’s self-sufficiency, man’s goodness and man’s ability to save himself. Is God downgrading reason through Paul? Rather: He is calling attention to the foolishness and arrogance of unregenerate reason. God is filled with creation with witnesses to Himself. Wisdom is to know God as he ordains we should know Him, beginning with atonement. But men seek to validate God by their reason, thereby playing judge over God in terms of their rationality. In verse twenty one Paul speaks of the wisdom of God, that is: as a part of the wise arrangement of God it can be rendered. Man rejects what he sees as the foolishness of the cross because he does not see himself as a lost sinner. Nor does he want to. He may concede that he sins at times but on the balance he sees himself as essentially a good man. He finds himself acceptable and he rejects the idea that God does not find him so. What’s wrong with God that He doesn’t see how good I am? The cross, the atonement, is therefore foolishness in his eyes. If he who supposedly knows himself best is convinced that at heart he is a good man how can God reject him? The proclamation of the true Gospel is thus to him foolishness. Paul thus begins by exposing the foolishness of the wise, of the scribes, of the philosophers, because they created a god of their own imagination and they bow down in effect to themselves and they reject the living God because they will not acknowledge themselves to being sinners as men who need the atonement. Let us pray. [00:18:48]
Our Father we give thanks unto Thee for this Thy word...
Our Father we give thanks unto Thee for this Thy word. We thank Thee that by Thy sovereign grace we have been made a new creation in Jesus Christ. We pray our Father that Thou woulds’t use us to make known the foolishness of preaching, of the cross, of Christ’s work. To those who are dying and to make them know that it is the wisdom of God unto salvation. Confound, oh Lord, the wise of this world, show forth Thy glory in and through Thy people and Thy so great salvation in and through Jesus Christ. In His name we pray, Amen.
Are there any questions now about our lesson?
What Paul is doing, as we shall see as we get into the heart of Corinthians, he is concerned with smashing the wisdom of this world in order to present the wisdom of God. And that means not only the cross and the atonement but it also means how we should live. So that Paul’s very very extensive foray into philosophy as we shall see in subsequent weeks has a practical purpose. He’s laying the foundation for the very practical requirements that the law makes on the redeemed man. Paul summons them to turn from the ways of the world and the law and the wisdom and the practicality of the world. To Jesus Christ, to the whole word of God. So Paul’s going to tell them about legal matters, courts, but one thing after another, relationships of the sexes, marriage, he covers the field because his purpose is to say: when you become a new creature in Jesus Christ you then have to create a new world, you’re a new citizen of the new creation, of the kingdom of God. So you have a duty to create a totally different world. You the new man create according to my blueprint this new world. So this is a very remarkable letter that Paul writes to the Corinthians. He writes it in terms of very practical problems that the Corinthian church was facing. [00:23:15]
This makes clear another fact...
This makes clear another fact. Here was a nightmare city in terms of depravity. And here Paul does some of his profoundness preaching and writing. He does it because he is concerned with making the issues crystal clear. There are two ways, the way that leads unto death and the way that leads unto life. And it is interesting that although Paul never speaks of two ways, someone does of course, and it was a common form of revinical teaching. It was also a common form of Christian preaching in the early church. Two ways, take your choice. The way of death, the way of life. Well the early churches preaching of the two ways owes a great deal to Paul because he makes very clear of the vast distinction between the two. Are there any questions? Well if not, let us conclude with prayer.
Our Father we give thanks unto Thee for Thy word. We thank Thee that through Paul Thou hast made very clear the difference between the two ways. The wisdom of this world and the foolishness as the world sees it of the cross. We thank Thee that Thou hast made us the people of the cross. The redeemed through the blood of Jesus Christ our Lord. How great Thou art Oh God and we praise and thank Thee. And now go in peace God the Father God the Son and God the Holy Ghost, bless you and keep you, guide and protect you, this day and always, Amen.