Sunday, September 1, 2019

God will destroy the wisdom of the wise


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. (1 Cor. 1:18-29)
Paul recognized that preaching salvation through Christ and the testimony thereof did not fit with the convincing methods of rhetoric and logic of the Greeks in his day. The Greeks required something logical, and the Jews required a convincing miracle (a sign).  All Paul could do was testify and allow the Spirit to work on his hearers.    Naturally, those looking for logic or miracles would not accept that, but those who could recognize the witness of the Spirit and accept it, would be saved.

I love that Paul calls this “the foolishness of God” and “the weakness of God” that is “stronger than men.”  With the Spirit, even the most unlearned could preach the gospel. Which makes it possible for the Lord to use far more people than just the learned. World history has far more ignoramuses than learned people.

Further, Paul points out that not very many wise, learned, mighty, or noble had accepted the gospel. They depended too much on the wisdom of the world, and on their own capabilities to be able to accept the whisperings of the still, small voice. The wise, learned, mighty noble too often have their appearance and reputation to keep up, and they’d have to leave that all behind.  Paul knows what he’s talking about here, since he had been of the most zealous sect of Pharisees before his converting vision. He had to leave that all behind too, and no doubt he noticed how hard it was when he likely tried to get his friends to accept it too.

I love that Paul says, “God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise.” Doesn’t that give you hope? It does me. It tells me God could work through me or you.  The poster child for foolish things confounding the wise is the story of Joseph Smith, a poor, ignorant, young farm boy who was given a vision of God and Jesus Christ and was given a mission to translate the golden plates.  He had none of the advantages of learning or wealth or connections that one would expect someone called by God would need to have to complete such a mission, and yet he did it with God’s help.

Why does God do this sort of thing?  “That no flesh should glory in his presence.”  It shows us God can do His own work and use even the most ignorant and disadvantaged of us to do the most startling things.