Series A Fourth Sun. aft. the Epiphany
TEXT: I Corinthians 1:26-31
THEME: That with the wisdom of God in Christ, we may see the foolishness of this world "victories" and see, instead, the wisdom and victory of Christ.
TITLE: "Victory In Defeat"
On a foggy morning of November 6, 1632, 25,000 Swedish soldiers knelt in prayer led by the Swedish king, Gustavus Adolphus…[cpr. Vol. 9, Pt I, p. 38] Gustavus Adolphus was wise, powerful, and of noble birth, but even he tasted of the way God works in this world. God works with a heavenly wisdom made perfect in "weakness" and "foolishness" according to worldly standards.
I. SURPRISE! WHAT THE WORLD CONSIDERS TO BE FOOLISH, WEAK AND LOWLY, GOD USES TO ESTABLISH TRUE WISDOM AND VICTORY. (vv. 27-28)
True and eternal victory was realized through Christ's despised life and the seeming defeat of His death.
Through the ages, man has scoffed at the idea that God would become a man.
Since the fall, humanity has not at all considered it odd that he can be God!
Adam & Eve wanted to be like God, knowing good and evil.
Eastern mystics insist that they can become enlightened enough to have the the knowledge of divinity.
Their modern counterpart, New Age thinkers, proclaim loudly that they are God!
Secular Humanist in our culture proclaim themselves to be the final authority and the final solution in making all judgments and solving all dilemmas
Yet, the world's wisdom insists that God cannot become a man!
"Foul!" cry the scholars, this cannot be, because we cannot believe it!
"Foul!" cry some theologians, we cannot surrender man's supremacy in all things.
Drawing even greater scorn, the "wisdom" of fallen humanity declares even more foolish, more weak, and more lowly; that God in the flesh would die, nailed to a cross, to obtain forgiveness for the world.
First, this is foolish because it presumes we are in need of a Savior instead of solving our own problems with our own means.
Second, this is crazy because there's nothing really wrong with us in the first place!
Man is born good, the world, wisely insists.
Something, anything else must be to blame for our sorry state…poor education, bad parenting, lack of enlightenment…ANYTHING!
God's wisdom and victory is dispensed through the "foolishness" of preaching Christ Crucified!
Like the Corinthians, we today still look for religious truth demonstrated by either "wisdom" or the "miraculous."
"Truth must be scientifically measured, or it's just not true.", the world insists.
"If I could experience an 'out-of-body" experience, then I would know the truth.", proponents of the New Age proclaim.
"Let's go to Seattle and listen to KC Jones talk with the voice of a 15,000 year old Norse warrior named Ramtha, and we'll know the truth!" some would say.
God, in His infallible wisdom, transmits all of His power and wisdom through the simple preaching of men.
What do we preach? Christ crucified and risen from the dead!
Utter foolishness to the ears of unbelief.
Yet, in His ultimate wisdom this "foolishness" in the eyes of fallen humanity is the true and only hope for the world.
II. SURPRISE! THE "FOOLISHNESS" AND "DEFEAT" OF THE CROSS SHALL EVER MARK THE VICTORY OF CHRISTIANS IN THIS LIFE.
Jesus Christ is the ultimate expression of true wisdom. (v. 30)
Through Christ, our human pride is completely routed!
To the intellectual elite of Greece, land of Plato, Aristotle, and Homer; Paul declares that wisdom is not from men, but from God.
ILLUS: St. Paul, audaciously addressed the Great Council of the Areopagus on Mars Hill in Athens and some nearly laughed him off the grounds. (Acts 17:32-33)
Yet it was to the simple, but incredible message of Christ crucified and risen to which Paul calls the intelligencia of Greece.
No human intellect, no element of pride can stand when we learn that our salvation is the work of another and not of ourselves!
Today too, the wisdom of this world insists that humanity be credited, at least in part, with obtaining salvation!
To faith must be added works, human wisdom insists.
To faith must be added the cooperation of human will in accepting Christ, human pride commands.
Paul will have none of it…God's wisdom: Salvation is alone the work of Christ…The weakness of a child, the defeat of the cross, the foolishness of an empty grave: Here is the wisdom of God!
What looks like foolishness and defeat in the life of a Christian is actually our greatest victory and our only cause for boasting!
We have been rendered "foolish" by the unyielding demands of God's holy Law. We have been measured and found wanting in every respect.
Gone is every plead for sufficiency, every suggestion that we have been good enough.
Rather, it through the Law-keeping of Christ, the atoning payment of Christ, and the victorious rising from the dead of Christ in which we find our victory and our wisdom!
The seeming "foolishness" of our baptism, of absolution, of preaching, of receiving bread and wine as the Body and Blood of Christ are a divine wisdom, forgiveness and joy!
Surprise! Now in the seeming weaknesses of life, we find strength in Christ!
When afflictions come our way -- weakness, illness, even death; it is here we experience our strength in Christ.
Disaster and pain are never pleasant, but they cause us to look to Christ and thereby participate in the perfection of His weakness.
In such despised things, we now boast, for victory in defeat is ours.
Like Paul as well, we may view the potential of speaking of the wisdom of God in Christ Jesus as doomed to defeat, but it is not so!
Like Paul on Mars Hill, we may speak without fear, face rejection without personal injury and rejoice in the souls our words may bring to faith though the working of the Holy Spirit.
In making the moral choices we daily face, the children of God opt for what seems like foolishness in the eyes of the world, but in reality is a reflection of our Lord and Creator's will.
Yes, at times life seems overwhelming, the voice of the world's wisdom convincing and the ridicule of our faith credible. But it is not so! In Christ crucified and risen we have victory not only at the grave, but today and every day. Let us celebrate the strength and victory of Christ!
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