1st Corinthians - Wayne Barber/Part 17 | John Ankerberg Show

1st Corinthians – Wayne Barber/Part 17

By: Dr. Wayne Barber
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By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©1998
Oh, how God knows the heart and the mind of man. He knows what man thinks he can do. He knows what man thinks he knows. He knows what man thinks he is by what he has. And God has so come up with wisdom, the preaching of the cross that just puts all of this to shame.

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1 Corinthians 1:26-31

That No Man Should Boast

We are going to focus on verses 26 through 31. We are going to talk about “That No Man Should Boast.” These are some of the most exciting verses in the New Testament. Oh, how God knows the heart and the mind of man. He knows what man thinks he can do. He knows what man thinks he knows. He knows what man thinks he is by what he has. And God has so come up with wisdom, the preaching of the cross that just puts all of this to shame.

The Observation

Now there are three things here that we need to see. When you first read these scriptures you might get the wrong idea of them, so the first thing I want you to see is the observation Paul wants the people to make. In the context of comparing the foolishness of man to the wisdom of God, there is an observation they need to make. First Corinthians 1:26 says, “For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble.”

We must understand that God is not a respecter of persons. You could read this wrong. You could think that God is against the rich, the strong and the intelligent. That is not at all what the Scripture is saying. And when you learn to make the same observation Paul wanted them to make, you can understand where he is coming from with what he is saying.

Look in John 6:37. I want to show you that God is no respecter of persons. He doesn’t look down on this earth and say, “You are rich; I won’t choose you. You are strong; I won’t choose you. You are wise; I won’t choose you.” That is not what God does. That is not even what Paul is saying. Whether you are rich or poor, it doesn’t matter; you will come to Him on the basis of faith. John 6:37 says, “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.” So it doesn’t matter. He didn’t say the one who is poor, He said, “the one who comes.” It doesn’t matter whether you are rich, intelligent, poor or whatever. As long as you come on the basis of faith receiving Christ Jesus, He will not cast you out.

You could get from the verse that God is a respecter of persons and doesn’t like the people who are rich; He doesn’t like the people who are strong; and He doesn’t like the people who are intelligent. If that were true, then Paul wouldn’t even have been saved. Apart from Jesus Himself, Paul was the most intelligent man in all the New Testament. I love what the apostle Peter said about him. He said, “You know, our brother Paul says some things that are hard for us to understand.” I mean, Paul was an intelligent man, and God used that ability, but He filled it with His wisdom and His Word and His ways. So it is not a respecter of persons he is talking about.

The fact is those who were the wise and the noble and the strong in the world were not in the context of the believers there in Corinth. It is not because God is a respecter of persons. It is because of their wisdom, their strength and their nobility that they saw the preaching of the cross as foolishness. So Paul is saying to look around them. Look at the church at Corinth. Look at the people who are in it. And I promise you, there are not many wise, there are not many noble, there are not many strong, you see not many mighty.

Look in verse 22 again. I want to make sure now that you are catching this, because there were only two groups of people at that time, Jews and Gentiles. And these were the ones who proclaimed themselves to be all of these things above. He says in verse 22, “For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness.” Then Paul wants them to observe this. He says, “Just look around you.”

Look at the first phrase of verse 26. “For consider your calling, brethren.” The word “consider” is the word blepo. Normally it is translated “to see,” “to look at something.” But here it has more of the idea, yes, observe, but consider, do some reasoning here. He is telling them to look at the congregation that they are in Corinth. How many wise people do you find in it? How many mighty people do you find in it? How many noble people do you find in it? You don’t find many who are in the calling with which you have been called.

He says, “For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble.” The word “wise” means wise according to this world. The word for “mighty” is dunatos. It means those who are strong within themselves: they can do it, they can do it, they can.

And the word for “noble” is the word eugenes. You could translate it “good genes.” They came from the good genes. They have good families, money and a pedigree. Paul says, “Look around you. You don’t find many of these in the kingdom of God. You don’t find many of these in the church.” And it is not because God is a respecter of persons. It is because these are the people who consider the gospel to be foolishness. They consider the word of the cross to be foolishness. Now if they are in the kingdom it is not because of their wisdom. It is certainly not because of their strength. It is not because of their nobility. It is because of the grace of God. But there are not many who are a part of the chosen ones, a part of the called ones.

I love the Word of God and when you start looking at this, it just follows a pattern all the way through. As a matter of fact, later on Paul is going to quote Jeremiah 9:24. But if you will look back at Jeremiah 9:23, it will show you that he mentions all three of these things. And the implication is that man is so proud of his wisdom, man is so proud of his ability, man is so proud of his nobility and his riches and what he has, he doesn’t think he needs God. And he boasts and he brags about these things. Look at Jeremiah 9:23. It is incredible how Paul is just reaching back into the Old Testament and bringing these truths right in light of the Corinthian church. I guarantee you, you look at the church of Jesus Christ today and there are not many wise and not many noble and not many mighty in our church either; because you see, these people think they don’t need the gospel. They are not lost. Their money will get them to heaven. Their ability will get them to heaven. Or their wisdom will help them to figure it out. They don’t need Christ. In Jeremiah 9:23 it says, “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.” Boom, boom, boom. That is exactly what Paul is talking about. Evidently they had the same problem in Israel that the church was having in Corinth. People are proud within themselves.

Don’t we like to boast of these things? Have you ever tried to talk to somebody who was a real thinker and he looked at the gospel and saw it as simplistic and foolishness? Or have you ever tried to talk to somebody who is a self-made man in his business? I mean, he has brought himself up from his boot straps and you try to share the gospel with him. And he says, “What in the world do I need that for? I have built a business. I can do whatever I need to do.” These people don’t have any reason for the gospel, you see. That is why there are not many of them among the called ones.

We love to boast but that boasting usually costs us, doesn’t it? We love to tell people about what we have, what we know, what we can do. But those are the very things that make us think that the gospel is foolishness because we can save ourselves. We can do it ourselves. We can come up with a better plan. We have riches. Who needs God? And that is the reason there are not many wise, not many mighty, not many noble in the body of Christ.

He says very clearly there, “For consider your calling [he talks about their salvation], brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble.” That is the observation Paul wants them to make. If you will look around you today, it is the same thing. The people out there that you want to know the gospel are too proud. They show their foolishness by thinking that the message of the cross is foolishness. That shows you how foolish they really are. So Paul says, “Observe the believers around you.”

The Truth

Now, the second thing he wants them to do is so critical to this text. There is a truth that Paul wants them to understand. It is found in verses 27 and 28. He says, “But God 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.” Now the word “chosen” is the key word. It comes from two Greek words, the word ek, which means out of, and the word lego, which means to say something with full expression and intelligence in the thought. The idea came to mean to select someone, to make a choice of someone in a lineup of others. Random choosing does not fit this, so if you think that God just randomly chooses, no, sir; it is a special selection – yes… that one right there. And amongst many, He chooses certain ones.

It is so important to realize what this word means. It is kind of like when you think of man choosing somebody to work for him and so he has a group of applicants who come. They give him the application. He looks through them and finds two or three who look pretty good. He calls a special conference and gets all the information he possibly can before he makes his choice. Then finally, he makes his choice. That is the way man does it. Man is limited. Man doesn’t know everything, so he does the best he possibly can. He gets as much information as he possibly can. You see in the business world how this works.

That is the way it is in our choices. You can see it in marriages. How many times have you seen a couple come for pre-marital counseling and you say, “Listen, you are going to have to go through counseling.” They say, “No, no, no. We don’t need it. This is the right one. We know it is the right one. We have chosen.” Yeah, right! And six months to a year later on they are coming back and saying, “Oh, we made a bad choice, you see. We didn’t have all the information.”

I am saying that for a reason. When man makes a choice, and it is always limited because man does not have enough information to know that he is making the right choice. But, this is not talking about man’s choosing. This is talking about God choosing. Now you have got to understand this. What the world thinks is foolish and weak God chooses. He makes perfect choices and His perfect choices are based upon His omniscience. What is that? That means God knows everything. He is in full control. He knows exactly what He is doing. And when He makes a choice, He never misses anything. It is exactly the right choice. Whatever He does, whatever He selects, whatever circumstances there are that the world looks at as foolish, as the world looks at as weak, etc., God sees it as wise because it is a perfect choice.

The word “chosen” is used three times in verses 27-28 in bringing out the point that we are looking at. God chooses perfect things. Look at verse 27 again: “but God has chosen the foolish things of the world.” Are they foolish to God? No, they are not foolish to God. He is perfect in His choices. But they are foolish to the world, understand that. When it says foolish things, it means foolish as the way we would see them: “to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong.” Look in verse 28: “and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are.”

Now, with that in mind you have to realize that He makes perfect choices, but His choices are also very purposeful. Why would He choose what in man’s mind was foolishness? The verse explains beautifully what He is doing. The word hina isn’t in your scripture. It says He chooses the foolish to shame the wise. The word “to,” hina, means in order that. It helps you understand there is a purpose. It is a purpose clause. God chooses what is foolish to the world’s eyes in order that He has a purpose behind it. It is a perfect choice that has a perfect purpose in what He is doing.

Now, let’s look at that. What are some of the things he mentions here? God chooses that which is foolish. Why? He says, “To shame the wise.” When Paul uses the word “foolish” there with a definite article, it could be the foolish people He uses. In context that is probably where he is going. However, with a definite article behind it, it categorizes whatever choices He makes. It can be foolish things. It can be foolish circumstances in your life. The world looks at it and says, “That is foolish.” The world looks at it and says, “That is weak. That is not anything.” And God says, “That is a perfect choice and it has a purpose in it.”

God does that in order to what? To shame the wise. Now Paul is jumping in. Now he has been telling them about the foolishness of man and the wisdom of God. Man keeps rejecting God’s message. The word “to shame” is kataischuno. There are several words for shame. This particular word means to be humiliated or to be embarrassed. Now what is God’s plan? God sees man in his arrogance walking around boasting in what he knows. And God says, “I will show man. I will embarrass him. I will humiliate his wisdom by choosing what he thinks is foolish to accomplish My perfect goal of salvation in people’s lives.” The word has the idea to leave them dumbfounded. They won’t have an idea of what is going on. Their wisdom can’t come up with it. They can’t come to any conclusion based upon their wisdom that would even fit in the category of what God does.

Let’s illustrate that for a second. When God wanted to heal a man’s eyes, did He always do it the same way? One time He took mud and put it in a man’s eyes. Now why did He do that? That was kind of foolish to the people of that day. One time He spit and took the spittle and the mud and put it in the man’s eyes. Another time He spoke and a man was healed. Now why didn’t He do it the same way? You see, this is God. God, making perfect choices, has a purpose in making those perfect choices, and that is always to confuse and dumbfound men who think they are wise within themselves.

Vance Havner used to say, “One got his eyes healed when they put the mud in them. And then there was another little boy who got his eyes healed when they put the spittle on his eyes. And the other fellow, he got his healed when Jesus spoke.” He said, “If that had been in the 20th century, there would be three denominations come out of that: the mudites, the spitites and the speakites.” Everybody would have attached themselves to a man who had a message. But the messenger which is God Himself says, “Hey, I won’t always do it the same way. And what I do is never to bring glory to man. It is to bring shame to the wisdom of man. It is to bring glory to Myself.” He uses the things that are foolish to shame the things that are wise.

When God wanted Joseph to be exalted, what plan did He take? Man would have said, “Oh, I have got a great plan. Let’s let him go to school, get a Ph.D. and we will put him right at the top.” No, God had his brothers sell him into slavery. He was thrown into a pit, taken over into Egypt, then was falsely accused, spent years of his life in prison on a false charge and finally was exalted as the second man in Egypt. And when his brothers came to him, he said, “You meant it for my harm, but God meant it for good.” Now, you tell that to an ordinary man who is trying to figure all these things out, he would say that is foolishness. And that is the very purpose for which God does it the way He does it, to confound man, to dumbfound man, to help man understand that he needs a wisdom beyond himself if he is ever going to get in touch with a holy God.

In Judges we see this over and over again. Ehud was the left-handed judge God used in a very special way. Gideon was there in the wine press. The Midianites had come in the eighth year, and he was out there trying to get a little wheat. God said, “Hey, thou mighty man of valor.” An intelligent person looking at this would say, “This is just dumb. Why didn’t He pick somebody strong, truly a man of valor?” Because God was going to make him that because God was coming to do in him what he couldn’t do himself. He even narrowed his men down to 300 men. I mean, that was Gideon.

Deborah went up against 900 iron chariots. What is God doing, picking a woman to be the judge of Israel when Cisera has 900 iron chariots? Because God makes choices that man thinks are foolish. But they are perfect choices. And they are very purposeful. They are to shame the wisdom of the wise. So there is a purpose in this. You have got to embrace that. And the fact that God chooses things that men see as foolishness is many times the detriment to the wise, to the strong and to the noble. They look at that and say, “Ah, I can’t buy into that. It doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Wasn’t it Kareem Abdul Jabar who said the reason he couldn’t embrace Christianity is he couldn’t accept the three headed God? Well, bless your heart, Kareem. You mean you can’t understand a three headed God? Neither can we. If you could, He wouldn’t be any bigger than your brain. You bow before Him and you trust Him and you confess Jesus to be your Lord and your Savior. You see, those who are strong and mighty and rich see the foolish things that God does as foolishness. But God sees it as a perfect and purposeful choice that He has made.

Well, God chooses the weak things. God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong. That is a precious thought. The word “weak” is the word asthenes. It is the same word used in James 5 which everybody translates as “sick.” Not necessarily. It can be somebody who is weak and powerless. It means they are totally unable to help themselves. The idea here is that God chooses that which the world looks at as weak, but it is a perfect choice and it is a purposeful choice. God has a purpose in it, to shame the strength of this world. You know, when He looked at Simon Peter, instead of taking the things that the world sees as strong, God chose tenderness and love and forgiveness and pity and mercy and meekness. The world sees that all as weak.

After Simon promised Him, “I will go with you, Lord,” He said, “You will deny me three times.” He didn’t ask him, “Simon, are you strong enough to go into battle and fight for Me?” That would have really spoken to his flesh. That would have made sense to Simon Peter. He would have said, “Absolutely, I will go in there for You.” But see, Jesus didn’t do that. He chose the things that are weak. He says, “Simon, do you love Me?” And the world says, “What are you talking about? Love? Man, we are talking about a kingdom here.” See, God chooses what the world thinks is weak to do one basic thing, to prove out how weak the world’s strength really is. He is shaming the strength of the world. If God could save the world through strength, why not try it?

You know, strength and force have done a lot of things. Have you ever studied the crusades and the holy wars? They tried to make everybody Christians by force. That has never worked, and it never will work. God wants them to see that. You don’t go the way of force. What I choose, perfect choice, is that which is weak to bring shame to those things you call strong.

Galileo made the statement that the earth revolves around the sun while the typical person of that day said, “No, the sun revolves around the earth.” They put him in jail. They treated him terribly. They tried to force him to admit that he was wrong. But he didn’t until the day he died. He said, “I am telling you, you are wrong.” You see, you can’t do it by force. God knows that. So God chooses the things that the world sees as weak, things such as tenderness, as I said a moment ago and love, and forgiveness and those kinds of things. And the world says, “Ah, that is never going to work.” And God says, “Yes, it will.”

By the way, husband, if you have a wife and there is a problem between the two of you and you want her to submit to you, you don’t walk in your house and use force to get her to do that. You have to go the way of the cross and the wisdom of God. You come in, submit to Him, bow down before Him and let Him produce love and tenderness and forgiveness in your life. And as a result of that, she will submit to your leadership because she can trust the One who lives in you. That is the way God is, folks. He never does it man’s way. He won’t do it man’s way. Because what He does is perfect and purposeful. He is putting to shame the wisdom and strength of man.

Verse 28 says, “the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are.” Let’s look at them one at a time. He says first of all “the base things of the world.” That is the word agenes. Do you remember the word eugenes that we saw a while ago? This is the exact opposite. A while ago they had good genes, and here they have no genes. These are the ones who have no nobility at all. They have no pedigree at all. They have no riches. They are the poor of the earth. That is the base things of the world. That is what the world sees them as, too. If you are not successful, if you don’t have your name in Fortune Magazine, then you are nothing. And God chooses the people who aren’t anybody for a purpose, you see.

He also chooses the despised. The word “despised” is the word that means scorned, contemptible of man. God has chosen the things that are not. This was the highest insult to a Gentile or especially a Greek because to the Greek, the whole thing was in being, in existing, in all their writings. This expression meant that you think you are something but you are nothing. God chooses the nothings of this world. I mean, the world would laugh and spit on them. They are nothing. That is exactly the perfect, purposeful choice that God makes, to put the world in their wisdom and shut them up and cover up the cleverness of the prudent, as He says over in the Old Testament. He put an end to their wisdom to show them that they are not as smart as they think they are. The message of the cross defies human logic and human wisdom.

Look at the people God used who were nothing. Just think about it for a second. One of them I like is John the Baptist. He came out of the wilderness with skins on him eating bugs. John the Baptist had no formal education, no training in a trade or profession, no money, no military rank, no political position, no social pedigree, no prestige, no impressive appearance or oratory. And yet Jesus said in Matthew 11:11, “Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist.”

The greatest example is Jesus Himself: born of a virgin, born in humble circumstances, no room for Him in the inn. And the very fact that He grew up poor and the fact that when He came on His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, He didn’t come with an army behind Him. He came riding a donkey and He went to die. And the Jewish mind says, “That is foolish.” And the Greek says, “That is foolish.” And God says, “It is perfect. It is perfect. And it accomplishes My purpose and puts an end to the wisdom of the vain people on this earth who think they are wise in themselves.”

So the message of the cross, folks, is so important here. There are not many mighty and not many wise and not many noble in the body of Christ. It is not because God doesn’t love them and didn’t die for them. It is because they see in themselves what they need. They don’t see a need outside of themselves. God saves the intelligent. Thank God He does. He saves the strong. He saves the noble. But not many, because they just won’t give Him time of day. They don’t need Him. They have got everything they need.

It is not that God shuns these people, but God has actually made a choice to choose what they think is foolish and what they think is weak and what they think is base and despised and the things that aren’t for one reason. His purpose is to shame their own wisdom and to show them that He alone is the wise one who can save each of us.

The Reasoning

Thirdly, there is God’s reasoning that Paul wanted them to embrace. That is so critical, I think, here. He is bringing them to a point here. By telling them all this, he is telling them, “Don’t embrace man. Embrace the message of the cross. Embrace Christ, but don’t embrace man. Don’t attach yourself to man.” The reasoning in this is, to me, so beautiful how he brings it out. Why does God use the foolish in all these things? Verse 29 nails it. It says, “that no man should boast before God.” That is it, bottom line. No man can stand up and say, “Aha, I’m saved, but it is because of my intelligence,” as the Gnostics did of that day. And no man could stand up and say, “I am saved based on my strength. I can do it myself,” as the Pharisee would say of that day. And no man can stand up and say, “I am the noble one and because of my family line, God must accept me.” You see, no man can do that. It has nothing to do with any of that. That is foolishness to God. He has chosen another way. And when a man comes to the cross and admits what he is not and admits that he is in need and that he is a sinner and that he is desperate for God’s grace, then the man becomes wise with the wisdom of God and salvation is the result of it.

The word “boast” there is kauchaomai. It is the word that comes from the root word aucheo. It is the same word Paul uses in Romans 15. I want you to see this. Look at verses 17 and 18 of Romans 15. Here is a man who knew something about boasting in his wisdom, his own strength and his own nobility. It was the apostle Paul. Anybody who would write this had to be a changed man because he is the epitome of everything he says that God says is foolish. There was a time when all he did was boast in what he could do and what he knew and what he had. Romans 15:17-18 says, “Therefore in Christ Jesus I have found reason for boasting in things pertaining to God.” Boy, what a powerful verse there. Kauchaomai is the word “boast” there. I found a reason to stand up and shout out of things pertaining to God.

Then verse 18 continues, “For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles.” I want to tell you something. If you will look at Paul’s life, God had him do some foolish things in the world’s eyes to accomplish the goals that God had. By the way, let me just subtly bring this in. This is mainly to the lost who think God’s message of the cross is foolish. I want to tell you something. As soon as you become saved, you have the same battle. Are you going to come to the Word or are you going to come to the reasoning of man? And folks, the moment you depart from God’s wisdom and His Word and the message of the cross, you have just proclaimed to the world how stupid you have really chosen to be. Because anything outside the wisdom of God and the message of His cross is foolishness as far as God is concerned and all eternity is concerned and will not bring about the spiritual end you desire in your life. Only what God says, only dying to self, the message of the cross, continues on after we are saved. It continues on. We die daily so that we continue to live in the wisdom that God has for us. God tolerates no man’s boasting in himself. Salvation is something that man’s mind could never come up with or figure out.

The message of the cross is something money can’t buy. It is something intelligence cannot figure out. It is something that nobility cannot deserve. It is a gift by the grace of God.

Look at verse 30 of chapter 1. He says, “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus [you used to be in Adam but now you are in Christ Jesus, and by His doing, not yours], who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption.” Somebody says, “Oh, I want that wisdom. If my wisdom is foolish, I want the wisdom of God.” Then you come to Christ at the cross and Christ will give you wisdom. And Christ will give you righteousness. And Christ will give you sanctification. It all is in Him, you see. He is the only one who can supply it. A believer is given redemption in Christ, not only from the penalty of his sin, the power of his sin, but the promise that one day, even from the presence of sin.

Then the apostle Paul turns and looks back to the Old Testament and takes verse 24 of Jeremiah 9. I read verse 23 a moment ago. He says in 1 Corinthians 1:31, “that, just as it is written, ‘Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.’” Verse 24 of Jeremiah 9 says, “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.”

You see, man in no way ever deserved or earned God’s wisdom, God’s righteousness, God’s sanctification and His redemption. No way in the world. We are not smart enough to figure it out. We are not noble enough to deserve it. And we are not strong enough to achieve it. It has to be given to us as we receive the message of the cross. It is at the cross where we die and are buried and are raised to walk in newness of His life. In Him we have wisdom. And in Him we have our righteousness. And in Him we have our sanctification. And in Him we have our redemption. That is the message. And no man can stand and boast before God. It is for this reason that we can never boast of any of these things.

I want to make sure you remember that this truth does not change once you get saved. God will do some things in your life and allow some things in your life you would look at and say, “That is utter foolishness.” But be careful. When you come back to Christ you may see the divine wisdom in it, for His choices are perfect and His choices are purposeful in your life. Living under the Word, living at the cross, reckoning yourself to be dead makes you wise and will effect righteousness in your life, will set you apart unto Him and will give you the benefits of all that redemption from the power of sin as you live day by day.

I was preaching at a church recently and I said, “I am not much of a counselor.” You all have heard me say that. I said, “People come to me, and I look at it simply. My whole mind set is, “Read it. Do you believe it?” And if they do, I say, “Go live it. I am going fishing.” That is the way I look at it. I have said that and it is as honest as I know how to say it. I get tired of people who don’t want help. Ninety percent of people don’t want help, they just want relief.

After the service was over a lady came to me. She was from California and she was visiting. She walked up to me and said, “Did I hear you say something?” I am thinking, “Oh, dear God.” I said, “I don’t know. What did you hear?” “Did you say that you don’t like to counsel people?” I said, “Absolutely, I did say that.” She said, “Do you tell me that you just tell people if they believe it to go on and live it and go on.” I said, “Yes, ma’am, I said that.” “Oh, I would never want to be a member of this church.” I said, “Well, I am not the pastor of this church. I am a pastor of another church someplace else.” She didn’t know that, and she said, “Well, I tell you what, we just suffered the loss of a loved one and that is the most calloused, uncaring thing I have ever heard in my life.”

She didn’t hear the context or anything else that I had said it in. Inside of me, my wisdom was, “God, this lady acts like she loves You. I am going to send her home! Bam! Here she comes, Lord!” That is my wisdom. Or, I could have easily in five minutes made her look like she was the biggest fool who ever walked the face of this earth. But somehow that wisdom didn’t quite measure up to the Word that I have studied. There was a voice inside of me saying, “If you are going to be wise, you had better not do what your flesh is telling you to do. That will prove that you are stupid and you are not willing to live in the wisdom of God. You had better die to self, take your identity at the cross and let Jesus be Jesus in you.”

And just in a split second, I made the choice and the words came out of my mouth. I said, “I am so sorry. Never in a million years would I have said this to hurt you.” And I wouldn’t. I said, “My little baby is in heaven. My Mother and Father and all my grandparents, my wife’s Dad. I have more on that side than I have on this side and I can fully understand what you have been through. I wish my message today had been in the context of your suffering.” I put my hands on her shoulder and I said, “Listen, I am really sorry. Can I pray with you in the midst of your need?” Tears welled up in her eyes. And when she walked out of there, I honestly believe that she didn’t walk out an enemy, she walked out a friend.

My wisdom said, “That is stupid.” But God chooses the things that the world thinks are weak in order to put to shame the strength of the world. Forgiveness, tenderness, love. You can’t produce it. You can’t fake it. You have got to be at the cross. The Holy Spirit of God produces it. That is the key.

We see Princeton and Yale and other Ivy League schools now as great academic bastions of knowledge. Do you realize that back in the early days, they were Christian schools, folks, and they were there to make sure that America never drifted away from Christian principles? That is where they got their roots. One of the men who had graduated back in the early days from one of those schools was at another school speaking. He was old, up in age. The auditorium was packed because they couldn’t believe they had the opportunity to hear from this great, learned, brilliant man. After he had finished speaking, he asked, “Hey, do you have any questions?” Several questions came and finally one man stood up and the whole place got still when he asked him this question. He said, “You are the most brilliant man I have ever heard in all of my life. What is the most brilliant truth, the greatest piece of wisdom that you believe God has ever given to you in your journey with Him?” The man stood there for a long time as if pondering the question and then said, “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.”

All the wisdom of the world just pales to nonexistence with the message of the cross and the message of the gospel. And God has deliberately chosen perfectly, the things that the world looks at in disdain to put to shame the wisdom of this world. He loves those who are rich. He loves those who are mighty. He loves those who are wise. But they themselves rarely see any integrity in the message God sends to them. They call God’s wisdom foolishness. That is why you should never attach yourself to man. Man hasn’t got enough sense to get in out of the rain. You attach yourself to God. He is the One who is the originator of the message.

Read Part 18

Dr. Wayne Barber

Dr. Wayne Barber

Wayne has taught the message of “Living Grace” around the world. He is president, founder, and principal speaker of Living Grace Ministries and Senior Pastor of Woodland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He learned to exegete Scripture by studying for 10 years with Spiros Zodhiates, one of the leading Greek scholars.
Dr. Wayne Barber

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