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"The Simple Wisdom of the Gospel"
1 Corinthians 2:1-8
Wednesday AM Bible Study
March 28, 2007
Paul continues to deal with the matter of sectarianism in the church. The Corinthians had separated themselves into divisions based on teachers who were measured by worldly standards of wisdom. In 1:18-31, Paul countered this sinful behavior by showing how the Gospel demonstrates itself to be a wisdom from God that is foolish in the eyes of this world; and how it also demonstrates God's grace toward those that the world considers foolish. Now, Paul shows how the "foolishness" of the Gospel (in the world's eyes) was reflected in the way that Paul himself proclaimed it.
This passage is a great one for preachers. But it is also a great one for all of us who are concerned with sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. It teaches us to make sure we proclaim the singular message that the world considers foolish--"Christ crucified". And it exhorts us to determine ourselves to proclaim it in a way that is plain and simple--unadorned with worldly wisdom. As we proclaim it simply, God stands behind it and proves its power in those who are saved by it.
I. PAUL PROCLAIMED THE GOSPEL SIMPLY (vv. 1-5).
A. Note his message (vv. 1-2). It was not with "excellence of speech" or "wisdom" according to the world's standards. He had determined to know nothing but "Jesus Christ and Him crucified". He proclaimed a message that the world scoffed at--a crucified Savior (1:18). And he sought to insure that it was unencumbered in any way by fancy words or sophistry.
B. Note his manner (v. 3). He presented himself, not as a bold, dynamic speaker, but as one who was weak, fearful, and in much trembling. It wasn't the message that was weak, fearful or trembling, but the one through whom the message was delivered. He wasn't seeking to impress his hearers with himself, but rather with the truth.
C. Note his means (v. 4). He didn't rely on persuasive words that would be designed to impress the hearers. Rather, he sought that the conviction of the truth of the Gospel would lay in God's power that was demonstrated in it.
D. Note his purpose (v. 5). He wanted to insure that no one should rest their faith in him. This was in stark contrast to the speakers that the people of the world had gathered around. Rather, Paul wanted the faith of his hearers to rest in the power of God alone.
II. YET, HE MAINTAINED THE GOSPEL'S PROFUNDITY (vv. 6-8).
A. Note that he spoke wisdom to the mature (v. 6a). None of this was to say that the Gospel was not profound. Paul maintained that he did speak wisdom; but a wisdom to the "mature" (literally, "perfect")--that is, to those who had come by faith to stand in God's perfect favor through Christ, and who were in the process of growing in sanctification (Philppians 3:15; Hebrews 6:1-3). The Gospel is so simple that a child can believe it and be 'perfected'; but so profound that that 'perfected one' will spend the rest of his or her life seeking to plumb its depth.
B. Note that this is a transcending wisdom (v. 6b). It is a wisdom that is inaccessible to the wisdom of this age, or of the rulers of this age--both of which are destined to come to an end and to be rendered nothing (1:18).
C. Note that it is expressed in a mystery (v. 7). Paul spoke the wisdom of God in a "mystery"--that is, in truth that is kept in the heart of God from before the world was made, and revealed in time; but inaccessible to human wisdom and insight (Ephesians 3:3-5). It is that which can only be known by revelation as a result of God's grace (Col. 1:26) and taught through those whom God has appointed to reveal it (1 Corinthians 15:51).
D. It is a hidden wisdom which none of the rulers of this world knew (v. 8). This is demonstrated in the fact that, if they truly understood the wisdom of God and the truth of the Gospel, they never would have done that which is the absolute height of human foolishness--that is, to have crucified the Lord of glory.
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