Agonizomai: 1 Cor 1:20-24 - Crooked Eyes, Twisted Vision

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

1 Cor 1:20-24 - Crooked Eyes, Twisted Vision

20-24 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

What the world perceives as weakness is the strength of God on display. What the world perceives as foolishness is the wisdom of God on display. This is not due to some sort of perversity of God’s part (I speak reverently here); He has not deliberately obscured things and made them unintelligible to the human mind; He hasn’t turned things on their heads for the enjoyment of some sort of cosmic game; He isn’t being obtuse or mysterious or mystical. What God is doing is showing a straight line to people who see with crooked eyes. It’s a matter of perception.

All men are fallen creatures with warped minds. Human reason is faulty because of sin. So we look at a crucified Messiah and we think "weakness" because we are making our own way through the world using our wits and our strength and our talents - utterly divorced from the God who both gives and empowers them. We think "foolishness" because we think ourselves wise when we are in compete darkness, full of misplaced pride and presumptuous arrogance. We think God’s way crooked because our eye is not single and it colours our view of truth and it distorts our view of ourselves and of reality.

But this is the fruit of deception. It is the lie full grown. It is we ascending the sides of the hill of the north and being gods unto ourselves by assuming ultimate control and judgement when we actually have neither. All that men do is done by divine permission. Even our most rational and intelligent thoughts are shadows of the ultimate reality of God’s infinite and divine Being. God is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, and all things are from Him and through Him and to Him. His will is supreme and ultimately unthwartable. Even our rebellion and our failures of obedience are encompassed by either His decretive or His permissive will.

And yet we rise up and regard God’s salvation as either offensive to our delicate religious sensibilities or as beneath our lofty rationales. This is true foolishness. And it is the sort of foolishness that turns truth and reality upon their heads, that in so doing calls evil good and good evil, and is so characteristic of the father of all men who are not in Christ Jesus.

There is, in truth, only one Wisdom - from which all that we call true wisdom flows. Jesus Christ is the fullest expression of the wisdom of God; He is God personified in human flesh for the purpose of the redemption and reconciliation of lost sinners. The lostness of the lost is a thing far worse, far more impossible to change and far more hopeless than any lost person understands. Nothing less than the incarnation of, and the sacrifice of God’s eternal Son could have worked these things. But who could have imagined them? Not Israel who rejected Him. Not the Gentiles who laughed at the very idea of a dying God.

And men are the same today as they ever were. Their outward social circumstances may vary - their culture may be different - but their hearts are identical in nature to those of all men born of Adam in every age. They hate God as He is and are in a state of permanent rebellion against His character and lordship. Because of this commonality of a fallen nature and a rebellious heart men are not qualified to assess the actions of God properly. They were never made to judge Him, but to obey He Who is perfect in thought, word and deed. To have wisdom men always needed to obey God Who is Wisdom. He could no more utter a command that was harmful than He could deny His Own nature. It is simply a matter of faith and obedience for mankind. Judgement of God’s motives was never our rightful domain.

But the Wisdom of God knew all this and used our rebellion and the rebellion of our genetic father, Adam - and our spiritual father, the devil - for good, to actually be the means by which the redemption of sinners was brought about. Our wicked hands slew the Christ according to the eternal purposes of God. That is the wisdom of God on display.

And it is also the power of God on display. Many look for the miracles - the instant healings, the exorcisms, the interventions in nature as proofs of the power of God. And so they are. But the greatest proof of the power of God is the gospel and all that it represents. It represents Christ crucified for sinners, dead, buried and then risen - declared to be Son of God in power according to the spirit of holiness by that very resurrection (declared - not made to be Son of God).

Again, it bears repeating in this apostate age that it is the gospel that is the power of God unto salvation for those that believe. It is not the methodology that counts, but the material. It is not the effort or inventions of man that make the difference, but the wisdom of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ, preached in the Spirit, that is God’s means of changing hearts. The Father elected, the Son bought and the Spirit applies salvation. The Father sent the Son, the Son did the work and the Holy Spirit takes the truth of these facts made known to men and uses them to bring about repentance and faith. And He uses (but is not limited to) redeemed people as the means by which these decreed ends are brought about in the world and throughout the gospel age.


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