Preached at Northwest Christian Church
David P. Kautt
Sunday Morning, April 17, 2011
1 Corinthians 1:18-31, “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. For it is written:
“ I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”
“ I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”
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? 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. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.”
I don’t want to be, I don’t want you or anyone else I know and care about to be, an April fool! Have you had that thought on your minds the last several days?
Listen, my friends, as we live day-by-day, in a world where fools and foolishness seem to be the name of the game, and, as we who wear the name of Christ, who claim to belong to God through faith in His Son and who more and more are marginalized and even vilified in an increasingly hostile culture, to be or not to be an ‘April fool’ is a significant question indeed!
This week, as we mark another anniversary of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, where will we stand in respect to those monumental events? Among the soldiers carrying out gruesome orders, perhaps with a bit of disdain for this stupid Jew who actually thought He could do battle with the Roman empire and win?! Among the Jewish leaders, laughing triumphantly, scoffing arrogantly, daring God to rescue Him, if He really is His Son?! Among the passers-by, caught up in this scene of great human agony and yet, perhaps also caught up in the tide of opposition, the swirling tsunami of scorn and hatred toward the Man on the middle cross? Among the frightened and confused friends and followers of the One over Whose head are the words, “This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews”?! Though we will not fully arrive there today in our study, the Lord-willing, that’s where we will end up next Lord’s Day, on Resurrection Day. Where do we stand, where do YOU stand, where do I stand as far as Jesus is concerned? To put it simply, and straightforwardly, our eternal destiny - not just our momentary ‘happiness’ or our ‘success in life’ – but our ETERNAL DESTINY hinges upon that question, “where do you stand with respect to Jesus? What will you do with Jesus?”
April fools, August fools, November fools, as the passages in the psalms that we looked at previously indicated to us, sadly, but truly, they are all the same!! They reject God! Through the pride of their countenance, they will not seek after God! In fact, all their thoughts are, ‘There is no God!’ (Psalm 10:4, 14:1) Flattering themselves in their own eyes, mouthing words of iniquity, and deceit, devising mischief upon their beds, refusing to abhor evil, CEASING TO BE WISE, and do good, rejecting the fear of God, who do they do? Where do they stand on ‘Good Friday’ and ‘Resurrection Day’? Psalm 36:1-4 indicates that they transgress against God; that’s what they do! And their place, the spot where they stand this week, is that place in that dark and distant place where those who have rejected God stand. The ‘April fool’ - is that an appropriate description for anybody you know? Is it a name that fits you or me?
The ‘April fool’ – the first thing I believe, the first sad and tragic thing we learn about him or her is that he rejects God! And, then, as you would expect, if he continues in that path of folly, where those who lack real understanding walk, where those who have turned aside to corruption have turned (see Psalm 14:2-3), if he continues in that foolish way, where do his feet take him next? 1 Corinthians 2:14. Take a look at what the Word of God says about the April fool’s next destination.
1 Corinthians 2:14, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
Speaking to us from the larger context of the passage we read at the outset this morning, the apostle Paul, our Divinely-inspired teacher, instructs us to this effect: the April fool, if he continues on the path of rejecting God, refusing to fear Him, turning aside to prideful thoughts like, ‘I know as much as He does! I don’t need !’ – the apostle Paul informs us that if the April fools continues on the path that he – Paul the apostle – once traveled, when he was known by the name ‘Saul of Tarsus’; if our foolish friend or loved one stays the course and continues to steer his feet into that path – where does he end up next? What does he do next? 1 Corinthians 2:14 – Looking at the things of God (the Bible, and the Cross, etc.), trying to wrap his mind around these things, he simply will not, cannot do it! The ‘April fool’, the ‘natural man’ as Paul describes him, he “does not receive”, he does not take, welcome or accept the things of God, these things. Why? Because as far as he’s concerned what are they? They are “foolishness to him” and he is unable to know or understand them, since he lack the spiritual discernment necessary – required – to grasp them!
Do you know anybody who fits into that category? It’s a sad state in which to be located! For instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to teach him, instead of receiving the marvelous gift of the mind of Christ, formed and fashioned in all who believe His Word and make it their Daily Bread, the natural man, the ‘April fool’ is satisfied with his own ‘wisdom’, which really is foolishness as far as God is concerned.
I don’t want to be an April fool, do you?! I don’t want anybody I know and care about to be one either, do you?! Yet, sadly and very, very tragically, some are, some, apparently, want to be…
So, what’s their final destination? If the ‘April fool’ continues on the path of rejecting God and rejecting and refusing the things of God, where will he ultimately end up?
1 Corinthians 1 – We read it earlier; would you come back to it with me now, please?
1 Corinthians 1:18-25, “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. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” 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? 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. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
You see it, don’t you? The very sad and tragic truth that details the ultimate end of the April fool is this, if he continues to reject God – “I don’t need Him! I know as much as He does!” – if he refuses the things of God – “this doesn’t make sense to me! I mean, it’s stupid!” – thinking that his wisdom, his HUMAN wisdom, is superior to God’s ‘wisdom’, then, where will he end up, ultimately? What will be the last things and WORST thing he will choose to do? He will choose to reject the MESSAGE, the saving message about the Savior who came to be his from-God gift of wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption (see 1 Corinthians 1:30-31), and in doing so, he will lose, for eternity, his only hope of salvation and deliverance. He will perish in an eternal hell!
My friends, my dear friends, do you see it? Do you see and perceive the sad and desperate situation of those who choose man’s ‘wisdom’, man’s folly in place of God’s wisdom and saving power? As I told you when we began this series of messages a few weeks ago, our target, our ultimate aim in this series is to take our stand at the foot of the cross. April fools can become heaven's servants, vessels of honor in the hands of God, if they will bow down at the foot of the cross. But, how? How is an April fool to get there? Ultimately, he or she gets there, as Paul says here in 1 Corinthians 1, by faith. By trusting in the One whose cross-centered salvation message is God's means to transform April fools...
Yes, ultimately, the gospel of Christ is God's power to save everyone who believes! But, how does someone who has been walking this foolish way turn from it? And, for our sakes, perhaps, how are we to avoid being April fools?
Would you go with me to the epitome of Old Testament wisdom books, the book of Proverbs.
Proverbs 4:14-27, “Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away. For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall. For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence. But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble. My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.”
I don't want to be an April fool. So, what am I to do to carry that out in my life?
Number one, I must avoid the path of the wicked. Those who food and drink, and even sleep, is all about wickedness, those who could influence me to join them in that foolish way, I must avoid, I must turn away from their path!
Secondly, I must attend to wisdom's instruction! Using a military metaphor, when it comes to this Book's instruction, when it comes to God teaching you His wisdom, you don't want to be A-W-O-L! Pay attention, be in ATTENDANCE, when God calls His 'class' to order!
By the way, that 'class room' of Divine instruction is located anywhere God is and anywhere you are, and this Book is the 'curriculum'.
Thirdly, aim – take careful aim – at another path, a different path to which the Lord is pointing you, the path of the righteous, that path, verse 18 tells us, that is like the shining sun, growing brighter, brighter BRIGHTER, unto the perfect day! Yes, be careful of your eyes (verse 25), your ears (verse 20), your feet (verse 26) and most of all, your heart (verse 23) – why?
Number four, so that you can keep away - I mean, far, far away - from your mouth and your lips the deceitful things, the perverse things, the evil things that are on the lips and in the mouths of April fools!
Yes, wisdom – God's wisdom – and His power to give you light, and health and LIFE – real, eternal life – is to be found here, in His Book, and there, in His Son!
I don't want to be an April fool! And thank God, by His infinite mercy and grace in Christ, I won't be! Instead, my prayer, my aim, is higher ground. “The path of the righteous that is like the shining sun; shining ever brighter unto the perfect day”, that day when I see my Savior face-to-face...
Shall we pray?
“Father in heaven, I thank You that You made a way for April fools to be rescued. You have set forth another path for them to walk; a path to which Jesus has called all who belong to Him; the path of taking up our own crosses, humbling ourselves before Him, denying ourselves and following Him. O Father, I pray, that beginning today, there will be many more, because of this hour of worship, and this series of messages, that will choose to walk in the path of the righteous. And that they will know – that we will know - that increasing brightness of the S-O-N of God in our lives. And God, I pray, that as a result, then who see His light giving light and life to us, that they would be called to turn away from the April fool pathway, to Jesus Who gave His life for them. Father we ask that You would answer this prayer, in a mighty way, even in our midst, beginning today. In Jesus' name, Amen.”