Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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The Power of God’s Foolishness

ImageIn 1 Corinthians 1, the apostle Paul realistically predicted the reaction of most people to the message of the cross. He wrote, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing” (18). Many times when I have preached a simple lesson on some aspect of truth, I will be asked by a brother or sister in Christ, “How can anyone in their right mind reject such an obvious truth?” The answer is given by Paul, it is foolishness to them. They reject the message and proofs supplied by God, preferring instead their own ideals and opinions. As Paul continued, “For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness.” (22-23).

In contrast, to those “who are being saved”, the message of the cross is “the power of God” (18). In verse 24, the preaching of “Christ crucified” is said to be to “those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (24).

Consider the subjects of verses 23 and 24. In both verses Paul writes of Jew and Greek. In utilizing this convention he includes all men. He mentions Jew and Greek again in verse 24, with the addition of “those who are called.” In other words, the “called” originate from all people and cultures. The only difference between those who are in the world, and those who are of the elect, or “called” is how they respond to the message of the cross.

This, of course, applies to the initial reaction to the preaching of the gospel. Paul wrote that the gospel is the “power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Romans 1:16). This truth can be illustrated by example, as when the Jews first heard the gospel preached in Acts 2. We are told that some mocked (13), but others believed, “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (47).

The application can be extended to the entirety of Christ’s teaching. In our text in 1 Corinthians 1, Paul writes of the preaching of Christ as foolishness to the unbeliever, but that the “foolishness of God is wiser than men” (25). In other words, the teaching we find throughout the New Testament will not appeal to the worldly minded. Men exalt themselves against God, and refuse to accept His will.

Men reject God’s standard of morality. Just about any type of sexual expression is considered acceptable in our society, but the Holy Spirit proclaims, “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4).

Men reject the exclusive nature of true religion. They consider all religions to be equally meritorious, and make no differentiation, but Jesus stated unequivocally, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

We could go on and on about how both Jew and Greek today consider the words of God to be foolish. About this we are not surprised. We preach the message of the cross to men, fully aware that most will consider us strange and our message absurd. We look only for those who have honest hearts, and are willing to examine and accept the foolishness of God (cf. Acts 17:11).

A more serious and practical question arises. How should we react to those who accept the rudiments of gospel (that is, they have obeyed the gospel), and yet reject other parts of Christ’s teaching? The apostle Paul convicted those who rejected the concept of the resurrection in 2 Timothy 2. He indicated that the teachers of this error were spreading a “cancer” (17), and that those who had believed it had their faith overthrown (18). Further, he intimates that they are in “opposition” to the truth (25), and that if they did not repent they would remain captive to the devil (25-26). Thus, he called for Christians to avoid their teaching (23), and to humbly correct any false teaching they heard (25).

John (2 John 9-11), Peter (2 Peter 2) and Jude all agree with Paul’s assessment. They condemn the error that comes from within, call for the faithful to avoid the false teacher, and exhort the faithful to contend for the truth and refute error.

We have brethren today who are unwilling to identify and refute the false teacher, despite Paul’s admonition. Further, they fellowship those who teach error, despite John’s admonition not to “receive him into your house nor greet him” (2 John 10).

We have brethren today who reject moral truths with regard to drinking, gambling, lascivious dancing, gambling, immoral entertainment and recreation, etc., despite God’s call to the child of God: “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct” (1 Peter 1:15).

We have brethren today who are unwilling to withdraw from the disorderly, despite Paul’s admonition to: “deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Corinthians 1:5); and the warning, “do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?” (6).

Such brethren are every bit as guilty of counting the message of the cross as foolishness as those in the world. They are “wise in [their] own opinion” (cf. Romans 11:25), and reject God’s wisdom on these matters. When these things happen, we must condemn their foolishness, avoid those who seek to spread this “wisdom of this world”, and defend the truth of God against their teaching. The truth is the power of God!