Saturday in the Twentieth Week of Ordinary Time

1 Corinthians 1:18-25

God Shames the Wise with His Own Brand of “Foolishness”

“My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.  “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).  Nothing else in the New Testament mirrors these words from the prophet (some seven hundred years prior) better than these written by the Apostle Paul in this letter.

In this passage, Paul compares God’s wisdom and man’s wisdom.  Now concerning the wisdom of man, Paul is not here speaking of that wisdom in the Book of Proverbs or Job or even the Scriptures as a whole, because the Bible is God’s wisdom and not man’s.  Paul is speaking here specifically of the Greeks, that ancient people who are credited with forging the path of that which goes by the name of wisdom (or philosophy) in the Western world; you know, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and that bunch.  And although the Greeks may have reached the height of man’s wisdom on earth, Paul makes it clear that they were woefully ignorant of the wisdom that saves.  As Paul wrote in Romans, “Claiming to be wise, they became fools,” trading the glory of the immortal God for idols, and the natural relations between the sexes for dishonorable passions (1:18-32). 

But God’s wisdom crushes man’s wisdom.  God’s wisdom is the preaching of the cross—a scandal to the Jews and just plain foolishness to the Greeks: Worshiping a condemned criminal who died so shamefully and calling him God?  What nonsense!  Yes, and it is precisely this nonsense—God’s foolishness—that puts to shame all of man’s pride and vainglory.  The cross openly displays man’s depraved nature as it was he who put the One who came to save man on the cross.  Moreover, the cross exhibits the utter inability of man to save himself as he is completely powerless to tell good from evil, and even more powerless to do the good if he could identify it in the first place.  At the same time, the cross shows God’s amazing grace and love for sinful man as His Son takes man’s place and bears man’s sin.  And it is this cross upon which hung God’s Christ that only has the power to save.

In short, the wisdom produced by the darkened mind of man doesn’t even deserve the name of wisdom when compared to God’s wisdom, which is the cross.  And God now calls His own to live by that cross.  Yes, God’s thoughts and ways are so much higher than ours.  Plato didn’t think of this; Aristotle never even considered it.  But God did.  And he calls it, “wisdom.”

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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