1:11 "For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name. 16 Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other. 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.
Christ the Power and Wisdom of God
18 For the message 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 bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”
20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who 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."
Yesterday we looked at why we disagree. We looked at why idols appealed to ancient and even some modern cultures. We saw that the root of idolatry is the desire to fashion a god who agrees with us. In Christianity we don't have physical idols. Instead we find people who think like us and form another church with a Jesus of our own making.
We also looked at the fact that our disagreements aren't all bad. They afford the opportunity for each of to get a broader more accurate view of God if we listen to each other and make an effort to see God through the eyes of others.
Today Paul is making a much more elementary point, a crucial point, a point that if believed would tear down most of the walls that divide us. Here it is: We are saved/healed by the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, not by our personal wisdom about how exactly we think He lived or died or rose or what it all means etc...
When we are honest with ourselves and the Bible (yes I know honesty with ourselves is tough stuff) we see that most of our disagreements are over foolishness. If not outright foolishness they are about matters that have an inflated importance that if compared to the life, death, and resurrection of Christ would pale into insignificance.
Allow me to illustrate.
Abraham is considered the father of the faithful. There are 8 currently active religions that trace their roots to Abraham including the big three: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The Bible records more about his personal life than any other person with perhaps the exceptions of Moses and David. The Bible record tells us it took Abraham most of his life to come to the realization that God is both able and faithful to accomplish all His promises without any input from man except that we trust/believe Him. Sadly most who claim their religion is rooted in Abraham have yet to understand that most foundational truth.
Here is my point. Abraham was a polygamist. Some will say no, he was monogamous except for Hagar but that simply isn't true. Near the end of his life Abraham divided his wealth and possessions. This is what the Bible says:
Genesis 25:5 "And Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac. 6 But Abraham gave gifts to the sons of the concubines which Abraham had; and while he was still living he sent them eastward, away from Isaac his son, to the country of the east."
Will Abraham be in heaven? In modern Christian language will he be saved? Yes. No question. Read Hebrews 11 if you have any doubts about it. Read what Jesus said about him if you have doubts.
Is polygamy wrong? Yes. The Bible states clearly that God's original design for marriage was one man and one woman. Marriage is pretty important. It existed before sin. It is considered one of the pillar teachings of the Bible. As messed up as we have made it through time and still today it was God’s design from the start. How could Abraham who lived contrary to God's design in such a key thing as marriage be saved?
Let me ask a more basic question. If Abraham lived in perfect harmony with God’s design why would he need saving/healing and if any of us could achieve worthiness for heaven by perfect living why did Jesus go through everything He went through?
Jesus said He came to seek and save/heal the lost. He was rejected by those who thought they could achieve worthiness. He was rejected by those who thought heaven was for sale, a reward to be gained, a system based on man's wisdom and accomplishments. Get it right and you're in. Get it wrong and you're out.
The truth is so radically different. "Abraham believed and it was counted as righteousness."
I am of Paul, I am of Apollos, I am of Cephas. Change the words a bit and maybe we'll understand better. I am a Baptist, I am a Catholic, I am a Pentecostal, I am an Adventist, a Seventh-day Adventist...
Jesus plus my correct knowledge makes me worthy. Jesus plus my correct religious practices makes me worthy. Jesus plus my creeds makes me worthy.
If God was satisfied with Abraham for just believing despite his glaring personal deficiencies, who are we to say it is Jesus + anything?
It seems to me that our desperate need to add to what Jesus has done, is doing, and will do, suggests we don't really believe at all.
May I share one of the quotes from yesterday:
"Rather than give up some cherished idea, or discard some idol of opinion, many refuse the truth which comes down from the Father of light. They trust in self, and depend upon their own wisdom, and do not realize their spiritual poverty. They insist on being saved in some way by which they may perform some important work. When they see that there is no way of weaving self into the work, they reject the salvation provided." (DA pg 280)
Self-obsession is the root cause of nearly every argument. A self-obsession that refuses to believe in Jesus. Full. Stop.