17 April, 2024

April 7 Study | God’s Wisdom

by | 1 April, 2024 | 0 comments

INTRODUCTION TO THE APRIL LESSONS: If the living church had problems (which was last month’s emphasis), then the powerful church had answers. Even churches with brokenness, like the Corinthian congregation, can provide knowledge and insight. Powerful churches learn to stress the right things (i.e., the big things of the book, the Bible). Powerful churches stress God’s wisdom over the foolishness of this world. Powerful churches stress spiritual gifts that edify others over pandering to the pride of the user. Powerful churches stress love over self-centeredness. Powerful churches stress the resurrection over the hopelessness of the world. 

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Unit: 1 Corinthians (Part 2) 
Theme: The Powerful Church 
Lesson Text: 1 Corinthians 1:18—2:7 
Supplemental Texts: 1 Kings 3; Proverbs 1:1-7; Romans 11:33-34; 1 Corinthians 3:18-23; James 1:5; 3:13-18 
Aim: Pursue godly wisdom, and don’t be discouraged if the world thinks you’re foolish. 

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Download a PDF of this week’s lesson material (the study by Mark Scott, the Application by David Faust, and Discovery Questions): LOOKOUT_Apr7_2024

Send an email to [email protected] to receives PDFs of the lesson material each month.

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By Mark Scott

Wisdom can show up in the strangest places. Books like Robert Fulghum’s All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, Philip Gulley’s Front Porch Tales, and the too-numerous-to-count Chicken Soup for the Soul books are not deep in content but all were bestsellers. Maybe it indicates that for all our knowledge, we do not recognize true wisdom.  

The supplemental texts for today’s lesson help us focus on God’s wisdom. Solomon prayed for God’s wisdom, and it showed up in his decision about the prostitutes’ babies (1 Kings 3). Solomon also wrote that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:1-7). Paul reminded us that no one knows the depths of God’s wisdom (Romans 11:33-34) and that the wisdom of the world is folly with God (1 Corinthians 3:18-23). Finally, James said the pure wisdom from above has to be prayed down (James 1:5; 3:13-18).  

The Corinthians were in danger of becoming enamored with the wisdom of the world. Wisdom can look shiny, and we might wrongly assess the cross of Christ as comparatively dim. The Corinthians could not put their fractured fellowship (1:10) back together without wisdom from God. Paul reminded them that what seemed profound in the world had no power to unite them.  

God’s Wisdom Shows Up in the Gospel 
1 Corinthians 1:18-25; 2:1-7 

There is a mind-boggling profundity in the message of the cross. What seems to be a picture of weakness actually is the only true power to get us home to God. The message of the cross (1:18) and the testimony about God (2:1) are synonymous. They refer to the gospel message (i.e., the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus). Some translations use the phrase “the foolishness of preaching.” While there has been plenty of that through the ages, Paul was not referring to the activity of preaching but rather the content of the message preached. In fact, Paul had little respect for eloquence or human wisdom (2:1). Paul was pushing back against the long-winded Corinthian rhetoricians who said nothing. 

The contrast between the seeming wisdom of the world and the message of the cross was strong. To many, the message of the cross seemed foolish (i.e., moronic). But to those being saved it was the power of God. Paul reinforced his argument by reciting Isaiah 29:14, where God seemed to take delight in frustrating the worldly wise with his superior wisdom. 

Paul called out the wise person, the teacher of the law, and the philosopher of this age. No one was going to learn the wisdom of God by just visiting the library. God’s wisdom was learned by revelation. The preached message of the cross would reveal God’s wisdom. And this wisdom was greater than miraculous signs (which the Jews desired) or the wisdom of the world (which the Greeks sought). In fact, the Jews looked at the cross as a stumbling block (a scandal, in Greek), and the Greeks looked at the cross as foolishness (that is, moronic). Paul spoke of the foolishness of God. How could God be called foolish? Paul also spoke of the weakness of God. How could God be called weak? God’s seeming foolishness began at the apex of human wisdom, and God’s seeming weakness began at the end of human strength. 

All of this is why Paul put no confidence in the rhetoric of this world. He desired to make Jesus and his crucifixion central in his message (Logos). Paul could hold his own with the rhetoricians, and he did have a message for the mature. But he chose a posture of fear and trembling for his message was a demonstration of the Spirit’s power.  

God’s Wisdom Shows Up in Less-than-Stunning People
1 Corinthians 1:26-31 

The Corinthians needed only to look in the mirror to embrace what Paul was saying. The Corinthians were “nothing to write home about” (as the saying goes). They were not exceptionally wise or influential. They did not come from a royal bloodline (noble birth). In comparison to the people of this world, the Corinthians were foolish, weak, lowly, and despised. But God’s power was revealed in that he took foolish, weak, lowly, and despised people and shamed the wise and powerful.  

The reason for this was so that people would know whom should get the praise. Fallen creatures have nothing to boast about. Boasting in God is the only thing that makes sense. Paul put Jesus forward as the epitome of God’s wisdom, righteousness, holiness, and redemption. God deserved the praise because he is really smart and strong.  

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