The Foolishness of God
Good Friday, April 7th, 2023
Christ Covenant Church – Centralia, WA
1 Corinthians 1:18-31
18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence. 30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: 31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
Father, let the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O LORD, our Strength and our Redeemer, Amen.
What does the death of Christ do for sinners? How is it that one man, dying a brutal death 2,000 years ago, can have any impact on us living in a completely different time and place? How does that work? How can Christ’s death way back then and there, do anything for us living here and now?
Well, the answer that Scripture gives to this question is that Jesus Christ is God. And because Jesus Christ is God, and because God can do whatever He wants, He can make the death of Christ to bring about salvation for whoever He wills.
As it says in Psalm 115:3, “our God is in the heavens, He does whatever He pleases.”
And also in Romans 9:15, “For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.”
This was the whole purpose for which the Son of God took on human flesh in the first place: to live and die and rise for sinners, to show forth the love of God that while we were yet dead in sin, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8).
So God makes the death of Christ, to do many things for sinners. And the fact that Jesus died 2,000 years ago, is of no obstacle to a transcendent, omnipotent God who is beyond time and space. “Our God is in heaven, He does whatever He pleases, and it pleases Him to effect many things for His people.
So of those innumerable blessings that flow from the fount of Christ’s passion, I want to very briefly look at 5 of them that Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians 1:30, where He says, “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.”
Five Effects of Christ’s Passion
#1 – Union with Christ
Paul says, “but of him (referring to God), are ye in Christ Jesus.”
Everything that happens to us in salvation, from being born again by the Holy Spirit, to being resurrected on the last day, comes to us by way of union with Christ. Salvation is a work of God’s grace from beginning to end, so that the only thing we can ever boast in, is to boast in the Lord.
Grace humbles us, grace saves us, and it is by the grace of Christ’s passion that we are united to Him in his death.
Romans 6:3-4 says, “Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
In baptism, God unites us to Jesus Christ. The outward symbol signifies this spiritual reality of rebirth, of cleansing, of washing away our filth, of passing through the waters of judgment and coming out clean on the other side. Like Noah in the Ark, God places us inside of Christ and then shuts the door, and so wherever Christ goes, we go also, we are safe in Him from the flood of judgment.
So that is the first effect of Christ’s passion. God unites us with Christ, He does this in baptism, and therefore we die and rise with Him.
#2 – Christ Becomes Our Wisdom
Paul says, “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom…”
All of us are born fools. We are born at enmity with God and devoid of wisdom.
Proverbs 22:15 says, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him.”
So far from being born as wise sages, we begin our lives in utter foolishness and must be taught (usually by pain or threat of punishment) to do what is right.
But when we are united to Jesus, and his death becomes our death, God makes Christ to be our wisdom, meaning, to hold fast to him by faith and to do what He commands, is what changes us from fools to wise men.
Whereas our first parents, Adam and Eve, sought wisdom according to the flesh, according to what was good and pleasing to the eyes, God gives us wisdom when we walk by faith, and not by sight.
God gives us wisdom not according to this visible world that is passing away, but according to the invisible world that is to come, which lasts forever.
As Jesus says in Matthew 11:25, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes.”
How does Christ become wisdom for you?
By hearing His word as a little child hears and believes his father.
Jesus says, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:25).
A little child who hears the Word and believes, has Christ for wisdom, and that little child has become more wise than all the doctors, lawyers, and teachers of our age who deny God and reject His Christ.
As Paul says earlier in our text, “It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” So believe and you will have Christ for wisdom.
#3 – Christ Becomes Our Righteousness
“But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness…”
Paul says of the Jews in Romans 10, that “they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes.”
The Jews, like many people today, tried to build a ladder to heaven. They used the law and their efforts as the materials to build this ladder, not knowing that the only place that ladder could get them, was down into hell.
Being ignorant of God’s righteousness, they went about trying to establish their own righteousness. It is very much the same today.
Man cannot help but try to justify himself. He has an incessant need to be and feel right.
Why do people still wear masks?
Why do people believe in evolution?
Why are people so insistent that you acknowledge their chosen gender identity?
It’s because we all want to feel and look righteous, while at the same time knowing deep down, that we are not. This is what fuels the rage in our culture, it is why people are so angry all the time. Because we are desperate to justify ourselves and will do so at any cost.
And this is what Christ has come to bring an end to. Christ is the ladder the descends from heaven, and faith is the only way you can climb up.
“For God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).
By faith, Christ becomes our righteousness.
#4 – Christ Becomes Our Sanctification
“But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification…”
Just as every person has a need to feel righteous, so also every person desires to be distinguished. We all want to be and feel special, we want people to know and love us for who we really are. We want the honor and glory of being superior to others. And all of this is a disordered desire for sanctification.
Sanctification is distinguishment. To sanctify something is to set it apart from common use for special use. And when Christ becomes our sanctification, He gives us the most glorious distinction of all: that is to become a vessel of His mercy.
As it says in Romans 9:23, “That He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory.”
Men seek distinction through strength or smarts or feats of bravery. Women seek distinction through beauty or talent or the outcome of their children.
But when Christ becomes our sanctification, He alone becomes our grounds for boasting.
As Paul says earlier, “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.” And what does any of that matter when Christ gives us his nobility? When Christ makes us co-heirs and inheritors of the world with him?
What is all the boasting of the world, when the whole world belongs to us in Christ?
Christ is our sanctification, He is the one who makes us holy. Finally…
#5 – Christ Becomes Our Redemption.
“But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.”
Redemption is what changes us from slaves to sons. It is what God did for Israel when he brought them out of Egypt, and it is what Christ does for us when He goes to the cross.
The price of redemption depends upon the value of the object, or if you were a Hebrew slave, the redemption price would be calculated based on how many years of servitude remained.
How many years of servitude do we deserve for our sins? What would be the price of redeeming one soul?
Psalm 49 says, “Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice, that he should live on forever and never see the pit.”
The cost to redeem just one soul, is more than any of us mortals could ever pay.
And yet because Jesus Christ is perfect man, and the incarnate Son of God, His passion is of infinite worth. Just a single drop of Christ’s blood, is more than enough to redeem the entire world.
So I charge you on this Good Friday, to receive Christ and all of his benefits, all of these effects that flow from his passion. For as the Scripture says, “whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but will have everlasting life.”
In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.