The Transforming Power of God’s “Foolishness”

Brent Aucoin April 1, 2018 1 Corinthians 1:11-13, 17-31
Outline

When Paul came to Corinth, notice how he describes his demeanor: 1 Corinthians 2:1 - …and when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.

Notice how the Scriptures describe Paul’s successor Apollos: Acts 18:24-25 - Now a Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the Scriptures. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus.

Question: What is the potential pitfall of a group of people who experience these two pastors’ styles?

Answer: Division and disunity

3 steps in transforming all of your life; including your relationships with God and others

I. Recognize the Problem of Man’s Foolish “Wisdom”

A. What is man’s foolish “wisdom?”

  • “cleverness of speech” –v. 17
  • “wise man, debater” –v. 20
  • “Jews ask for mighty displays of power” –v. 22
  • “Greeks ask for wisdom” –v. 22
  • “mighty” –v. 26
  • “noble” –v. 26
  • Was Jesus a good-looking model with muscles and a six-pack? (Is 53:2)
  • Was Jesus rich enough to have a big beautiful home? (Matt 8:20)
  • Did Jesus have a position of authority? (Phil 2:6-7)
  • Did Jesus have celebrity athletic ability? (Is 53:2)
  • Did all the crowds heap upon him praise and popularity? (Is 53:3)
  • Did Jesus have a spouse? (No)
  • Did Jesus have biological children? (No)
  • Did Jesus have a high paying job? (No)
  • Did Jesus have a Harvard degree? (No)
  • Unity in relationships (v. 10)
  • Knowing God (v. 21)
  • Salvation (v. 21)
  • Christ’s Righteousness (v. 30)
  • Sanctification (v. 30)
  • Redemption (v. 30)
  • The destruction of man’s ability to boast in himself and, instead, only in God (v. 31)

1 Corinthians 3:21 - “So then let no one boast in man”

Man’s foolish “wisdom” is seeking to be identified with and trusting in what appears to be strong and powerful on earth

B. What are the results of man’s foolish “wisdom”?

  • Destruction in relationships (v. 12)
  • The inability to know God (v. 21)
  • Ultimately perish (v. 18)

“the world through its wisdom did not come to know God”

II. Believe the Solution of God’s Wise “Foolishness”

A. What is God’s wise “foolishness?”

Question: For what was Jesus known?

Answer:  Jesus is known precisely for His lack of being known for anything the world values in life.  He is precisely known for his death!

Question: What man on earth has ever been known more for his death than his life? What is the significance of Jesus’ crucifixion which has changed the lives of billions?

Answer: Christ’s willingness not to seek out or trust in earthly pleasures and treasures so that He could take the destruction, broken relationship with God, and death for your seeking out and trusting in earthly pleasures and treasures. 

God’s “foolish” wisdom is that He uses the opposite of what the world values in order to save the world. A crucified Messiah instead of a war-mongering king. A servant instead of a boss. Humility instead of pride. Death of His Son instead of the life of His Son. Love instead of self-seeking. The least shall be the greatest. The first shall be last. The humble shall be exalted.

B. What are the results?

Jeremiah 9:23-24 - Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord.

III. Build on God’s Wise “Foolishness” in Every Aspect of Your Life

If God used our value system to determine salvation, nobody would be saved

1 Corinthians 1:26 - For considering your call brethren that not many were wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise and the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong.

So build on your calling—the “Foolish” Wisdom of God

Wow, I don’t remember the last time Easter fell on April Fools Day.

That could be sacrilegious…or highly appropriate…..You will see today why it might be actually highly appropriate.

I did a little google search on the origin of April’s Fools and there is no definitive story about why many cultures around the world have set apart April 1st as a day to play pranks on one another.

But if you haven’t already played some pranks on your children for April Fools day and Easter…let me give you a few suggestions.

  • Tell your kids you are having an Easter egg hunt today and that you have hidden the eggs very well. Only don’t tell them you really didn’t put any eggs out.
  • Or, go hide the eggs and instead of putting candy in them, put a piece of broccoli or cauliflower or peas.
  • Or, when you are coloring eggs today, put some unboiled eggs in with the hardboiled ones and see what happens.
  • Or, maybe we should just obey Eph 6:4 Fathers do not provoke your children to wrath…J

Who doesn’t love a fun and harmless prank?

On my wedding day all of my groomsman wrapped my car in saran wrap. The only problem was it was January 8th and below freezing outside. Wow was I cold taking off all that saran wrap.

However there are some pranks that really are not that wise and can go wrong…

On the first of April 2002, a pair of Kansas City DJs scared listeners by announcing that water in nearby Olathe contained high levels of a "naturally occurring substance" — dihydrogen monoxide. Side effects included increased sweating, urination and pruniness of skin. Dihydrogen monoxide is H2O, or water. About 150 concerned citizens called the water department, and more than two dozen dialed 911. "It's a terrorist act," a city official said. In 2003 the next year Florida DJs pulled the same silly stunt and were suspended and were facing charges.

Some pranks are harmless

Some causes job loss

However, there is a foolishness that permeates all of us that leads to our own harm.

It’s a foolishness in us that is present at birth.

It is in every human.

And it is perpetuated by every religion—even strains of so-called Christianity.

It is not a prank,

It is a deception that envelopes all of humanity that Satan wants us to believe and will lead to our destruction.

It is in you and it is in me. It is in this church.

If you are a guest with us here today at Easter, thank you for being here, but just like me, you are infected with this foolishness.

To all of us infected by this foolishness we have a hard time believing that God’s answer to this foolishness is not equally or more foolish than what we believe.

So with that in mind turn if you will to 1 Cor 1:11–13, 17–31

In the chair bible in front of you that is on page 130 in the back section of that bible.

On Easter morning, and On April fool’s day we are speaking about

The Transforming Power of God’s “Foolishness”

This year we have been considering our Annual Theme

Being Careful How We Build

For those of you who might be new with us this morning that theme was a natural fit for this year since we are building a ministry site called the Northend Community Center. 

The Northend Community Center will be a Hub of ministry and relationship building in the Northend of our Lafayette Community.

Here is how the building looked last week.

See those two buildings on the upper left being constructed?

On the right is the future site of Car Works…a service to those with lower income who need car repair and also job skills training for Northend teens and adults.

On the left is the future home of Family Promise. A temporary housing facility for Homeless families.

Last week the church family had the opportunity to tour the facility.

Here is Pastor Wright giving the vision to a few Faith folks.

Here is the Northend Gym…Imagine how this huge gym that contains space for two full basketball courts can be used as a blessing to the neighborhood.

Here are Faith folks looking into the new Northend Fitness Center

And here is just an adorable picture that I wanted to show you.

Imagine the Northend filled with the likes of these precious souls

Thus our theme this year is “Being Careful How We build” not because we are primarily talking about how we build buildings—although we need to be careful there also—but primarily how we build our lives on the foundation of Christ.

Today on Easter, we are doing a stand alone message that is not a part of any series

Next week we will start a series on the book of Nehemiah—the man God used to rebuild Jerusalem and continue God’s redemptive plan.

Now, look in your bibles at 1 Cor 1 verse 11.

The apostle Paul, who was also a pastor, is speaking to the members of a church that he established in a town called Corinth.

The Corinthian church was having some problems…

  • Remember I said, that there was foolishness in all of us?
  • Remember I said, there was foolishness here at Faith in our church—because we are all stained by it?

Well there was foolishness in the church at Corinth.

Let’s read now.

              11          For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you.

              12          Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.”

13          Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

Let me stop and give you a bit of history.

The apostle Paul was the first pastor of the dear people at Corinth.

He labored there for a year and a half

Now Paul would be the first to tell you that he was not a master of speeches and oratory.

When Paul came to Corinth notice how he describes his demeanor: 1 Cor 2:1 And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.

The pastor Apollos succeeded Paul.

Notice how the Scriptures describe Paul’s successor Apollos: Acts 18:24 Now a Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the Scriptures. 25This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus.

So imagine the scenario: You are fed for a year and a half with a man who is solid theologically. But he is not the best at sermons and he is not the most charismatic guy.

Then you have his successor come in. And oh boy, he is a firebrand preacher with passion but not only passion he is the smartest man alive and he talks like it.

Question: What is the potential pitfall of a group of people who go experience these two pastor’s styles?

Answer: Division, disunity

So, those who like Paul better, the older crowd probably, say, “I’m of Paul.” The younger crowd says, “I’m of Apollos.”

Then some who are listening to the radio say, “I’m of Peter…have you heard him”

Then you always have some in the crowd, those people, above the fray, the super spiritual….“I’m of Jesus.”

What is this my friends?

And How is it solved?

What is this foolish disease and what is the cure?

Let’s keep reading

              17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void.

              18          For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

              19          For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,

And the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.”

                             This is quote from the OT in Isaiah. When God’s people in their own wisdom thought that they would trust in a stronger nation to save them from attack from another nation. That stronger nation ultimately turned on them and harmed them. In their wisdom they were trusting in what was perceived to be strong in this world. But that security turned on them, and harmed them and did not protect them. They did not trust in God they trusted in something on this  earth.  They thought they were being clever and wise but God made their wisdom, foolishness.

So…

              20          Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

                             What is the wisdom of the world?

 Let’s keep reading

              21          For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

                             What ever wisdom and foolishness is it has to do with salvation/security

              22          For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom;

Jews looked to security in signs (like the Red Sea crossing)

Greeks looked to security in being smart….and wise

              23          but we preach Christ crucified,

A Messiah crucified?!….how is that security?!, how is that salvation?!…

Indeed…

 to Jews a stumbling block (where is the mighty miracle) and to Gentiles foolishness (there is no power in a dead man),

              24          but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

Power…wisdom…in a crucified Savior?…..Somehow if you want power and wisdom… it is in a crucified savior… not in a popular celebrity.

              25          Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

Whatever is the foolish “wisdom of man”…if God operated based upon that then….you would not even be chosen….

              26          For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble;

Mighty, noble, power, wisdom….there are the items that the wisdom of man is searching for in order to have significance and  salvation..

              27          but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong,

              28          and the base things of the world and the despised (those earthly things that do not appear to be wise, powerful, mighty) God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are,

              29          so that no man may boast before God.

              30          But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,

              31          so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

The Transforming Power of God’s “Foolishness”

In the time that we have left let’s consider this Easter

3 steps in transforming all of your life including your relationships with God and others

Something was wrong with the Corinthians…something is foolishly wrong in us…

The first step to transformation in all of life….

I. Recognize the problem of Man’s Foolish “Wisdom”

Obviously you can see that I put “wisdom” in quotes.

I and Paul are playing on the words foolish and wisdom

In reality what man thinks is wise is actually foolish

And what man thinks of God’s plan is foolish but is the only way of life that results in a life that lasts, is significant now, and will stand in eternity with God.

So what was the problem with the Corinthian Church?

What is our problem in life…

Really follks, when you boil it down, we have one real problem that affects all of us and is the source of the many other issues that come in our life.

A.     What is Man’s Foolish “Wisdom?”

Did you see it in the text

What are these things?

These are items by which man seeks to exalt himself over another.

Cleverness of speech—an ability that people have—

Remember Barak Obama in his first campaign?

What were people trusting in?

Wise man, debater—the “intellect”

The mighty—those with power and influence and normally those with power and influence are those who are popular and have money or those who have a special skill that has been shown to be amazing before the world…athletes….models….

Those who are noble…those who are noted for their positions of authority…..

Paul will summarize later in chapter 3

1 Cor 3:21 “So then let no one boast in man”

Let’s make this very simple….

Man’s Foolish “Wisdom” is seeking to be identified with and trusting in what appears to be strong and powerful on earth.

The Corinthian were selecting their favorite pastoral celebrities…

If I am associated with Paul then I am in the in crowd

If I am associated with Apollos the smart one I am in the best crowd

If I am associated with Jesus then I am the spiritual/moral one better than the ones associated with Paul or Apollos..

Even the association with Jesus was used as a club against the others….

Was that the point of Jesus’ coming that if you are associated with him you are better than everyone else….you see… even so called “religion” could be used to exalt self….

So Church goers use morality as their identity or significance.. I read my bible…I go to church

Non-Church goers…the irreligious those secular people just have a different set of values by which they distinguish themselves….riches/fame/positions of authority…

Here again, whether religious or irreligious we all have the same foolishness…we seek to identify something in the world’s eyes that is exalted…and either I go after that or identify myself with that….

And with God man’s foolish “wisdom” is take note of me God because of how good I am….be satisfied with me God because of how good I am…..look at all the things I do….

That is the foolishness that infects all of us…

What are the

B.      What Are The Results of Man’s Foolish “Wisdom?”

Why will Man’s Foolishness destroy relationships?

It will also pit one man against another…

This is the problem in your marriages men…you believe in some way you are better than your wife.

This is the problem in your marriages women…you believe you are better than that husband God gave you..

Let me say this…this is the problem in our parenting…we believe that because we are bigger and know more we are better than our children and we condescend to them

This is the problem in America…white superiority v. Black lives matter…

This is the problem of the nations at war. . . one people boasting in their race, power, capabilities…

In fact, if you look throughout Corinthians, this is the foolish root of all of the problems that Paul was addressing….

So in chapter 5, Paul addresses the son who had sexual relationships with his fathers wife…because in some way he viewed himself and his pleasures as superior or entitled to his father’s wife

In chapter 6, Paul address church members who are taking one another to court…someone defrauded someone else and the other says you can do that do you know who I am…I will sue the pants off you

In chapter 7 Paul address divorce...broken relationships

In chapter 8-10 Paul address how believers were hurting one another with their liberties, because I have a right to….and this makes me significant…

In chapter 11 Paul deals with men and women roles…the battle of the genders is not new…

Friends…the reason why your broken relationships right now are broken is not a mystery. On this Easter if you get this you are on your way to taking steps to heal those broken relationships.

Friends, the foolish wisdom of man destroys….Not only does it destroy relationships…it destroy any ability to know God.

“the world through its wisdom did not come to know God.”

The greatest hindrance to knowing God right now is not your sin…..it is what you are trusting in to get over your sin…

Let me say that again…the greatest hindrance to knowing God right now is not your sin…it is what you believe you are trusting in to get over your sin….

Let me say that in another way….you will never come to know God by appealing to him how great you are morally, how many times you have read your bible, how many times you have prayed or how successful you were, how rich you were…

Your greatness does not impress the Greater God….He doesn’t value that type of greatness…that is why it is foolish wisdom.

And because you can’t know got through man’s foolish wisdom you will…

If God is cannot impressed with your good works…guess where you won’t be after you die?

If you cannot take your wealth, popularity, celebrity status, academic prowess, athletic ability, position of authority with you when you dead, what happens then…you perish without any significance, security, hope…

So where is the hope….

The second step in transforming all of life including your relationships and your relationship with God is…

II. Believe the Solution of God’s Wise “Foolishness”

A.     What is God’s wise “foolishness?”

Friends what is Easter all about?

Jesus was risen!

Why was he risen?

Because he lived out the only value system of the Father.

And God vindicated Jesus values system not ours…

Let’s see…

What do you know about Jesus?  Let’s check.

  • What Jesus a good looking model with muscles and a six-pack? (Is 53:2)
  • What Jesus rich enough to have a big beautiful home? (Matt 8:20)
  • Did Jesus have a position of authority? (Phil 2:6-7)
  • Did Jesus have celebrity athletic ability? (Is 53:2)
  • Did all the crowds heap upon him praise and popularity? (Is 53:3)
  • Did Jesus have a spouse? (No)
  • Did Jesus have biological children? (No)
  • Did Jesus have a high paying job? (No)
  • Did Jesus have a Harvard degree? (No)

Question: For what was Jesus known?

Answer:  Jesus is known precisely for His lack of being known for anything the world values in life.  He is precisely known for his death!

Question: What man on earth has ever been known more for his death than his life? What is the significance of Jesus’ crucifixion which has changed the lives of billions?

Answer: Christ’s willingness not to seek out or trust in earthly pleasures and treasures so that He could take the destruction, broken relationship with God, death for your seeking out and trusting in earthly pleasures and treasures. 

So what is God’s foolish wisdom?

A Crucified (not powerful by earthly values) Savior (v. 23)

“The foolish things of in the world’s eyes” (v. 27)

“The base things in the world’s eye’s” (v. 28)

God’s “foolish” wisdom is that He uses the opposite of what the world values in order to save the world. A crucified Messiah instead of a war-mongering King. A servant instead of a boss. Humility instead of Pride. Death of His Son instead of the Life of His Son. Love instead of self-seeking. The least shall be the greatest. The first shall be last. The humble shall be exalted.

And what does this bring my friends…

B.      What are the results?

This was Paul’s prescription for the Corinthian’s division problem.

This was how the Corinthian’s came to God in the first place and was how they were to live….

Do you see if it you are not the smartest wisest, most moral, most humble person in the room and you know it, the you stop trying to convince others that you are all of that.

Instead you are pointing them to the one who is the most righteous…Jesus and you are found by faith in

Not your own….

[Gospel appeal ]

Now you grow not to earn God’s favor but because God’s favor has been bestowed upon you.

As Tim Keller puts it we don’t perform in order to get God’s favor. But because Jesus performed on our behalf now we rest in His performance, and out of love for what he has done grow in this Divine Wise Foolishness of God…

God’s “Foolish Wisdom” is what brings harmony and unity to the world and what saves.

God’s wise foolishness is the power of transformation

This was not new to God people…Paul is quoting an OT passage…

Jeremiah 9:23–24 - Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord.

The third step is to

III. Build on God’s Wise “Foolishness” in Every Aspect of Your Life

If God used our value system to determine salvation, nobody would be saved

1 Cor 1:26 For considering your call brethren that not many were wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise and the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong.

So build on your calling—the “Foolish” Wisdom of God.

Today is April Fools.

Today is also Easter— the day we celebrate how God raised up the “Foolish” Wisdom of God—lowly meek Christ crucified.

What we are talking about is not simply an academic exercise or only a preparation for the future. There are real life implications now.

In our culture recently, we had two cultural leaders die in the last few months….Hugh Heffner and Billy Graham….

These men could not be more different in their life….

Heffner lived a life a reckless abandoned the epitome of pursuing the earthly pleasures.

Graham lived a quiet life of servitude simply going around and proclaiming the message of the Gospel

Heffner never embrace the marriage or sexual ethics of the Bible in humility

Graham was faithful to his one wife in humility strengthened by his faithfulness to his one groom—Jesus Christ.

Heffner is known for the Playboy Mansion.

Billy Graham…who knows where he lives…

Of Hugh Heffner

Ross Douthat wrote in the New York Times, -- The arc of his life vindicated his moral critics, conservative and feminist: What began with talk of jazz and Picasso and other signifiers of good taste ended in a sleazy decrepitude that would have been pitiable if it wasn’t still so exploitative. Early Hef had a pipe and suit and a highbrow reference for every occasion; he even claimed to have a philosophy, that final refuge of the scoundrel. But late Hef was a lecherous, low-brow Peter Pan, playing at perpetual boyhood — ice cream for breakfast, pajamas all day — while bodyguards shooed male celebrities away from his paid harem and the skull grinned beneath his papery skin (Ross Douthat, New York Times, September 30, 2017).

- contrast that to Billy Graham, who may have been used of God to preach the good news of Jesus Christ to more men and women than any other human who ever lived…and who did so with grace, and humility, and high moral character…

Now, if I say Billy Graham was better than Hugh Hefner, Billy would role over in the grave and I would refute everything I just set about what we should value—not even moral goodness.

The different between Billy Graham and Hugh Heffner is where they found their identity and their trust.

Who is the fool now.  What will you chose this Easter?

The foolish “wisdom” of man

Or the Wise “Foolishness of God.

 

Brent Aucoin

B.S. - Mechanical Engineering, Oklahoma State University
M.S. - Engineering, Purdue University
M.Div. - Central Seminary
Th.M. - Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Ph.D. - Baptist Bible Seminary (Clarks Summit, PA)

Pastor Brent Aucoin and his wife, Janet, came on staff in July of 1998. Brent is the President of Faith Bible Seminary, Pastor of Seminary and Soul Care at Faith Church (Lafayette, IN); ACBC certified; instructor and counselor at FBCM; retreat and conference speaker.

View Pastor Aucoin's Salvation Testmony Video