Foolishness of the Wise (1 Corinthians 1:18-25)

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. . . Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Corinthians 1:18-25, AV)

In the world today there are many very wise people. One of these is named Richard Dawkins, a British evolutionary biologist. Dawkins served as a professor at Oxford from 1995 to 2008. He is an atheist who contends that God does not exist. He vehemently contends for atheism and criticizes the idea of intelligent design. Such is the way of many of the so-called intelligent beings of this world. It is the way of worldly wisdom.

This is not a new thing. In biblical days there were also wise people. People who missed the mark. In Ephesians, Paul wrote of those outside the body of faith, “That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12, AV). Here, the word translated “without God,” is atheos, which combines a negative particle a with the noun theos. The word speaks of being without God, godless (Strong G112). There were many in those days who denied the existence of the one true God. There were also some philosophers who denied the outright existence of any god or gods.

Paul indicated that all who did not believe in Christ denied the existence of the one true triune God. These were the atheoi of their age. These were the foolish ones who thought they were wise, of whom Paul wrote. These were the ones who were perishing in their foolishness. John wrote that the wrath of God abides on them (John 3:36) and unless they come to true faith they will perish in their foolishness. On the other hand, those who experience true faith enter in to the wisdom of God and His power to save them from sin and its penalty.

The atheist, in denying God, believes that man is the highest intelligence. He cannot fathom anyone brainier. Yet, if we consider it, all who are perishing also have a knowledge that is inferior. They are all considered foolish. Paul wrote hypothetically that “the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” It is not that there is any foolishness or weakness in God at all. For God is omniscient and omnipotent. Paul presents this hypothetical to show how far short of knowledge and power the most intelligent and powerful of the world fall from God’s infinite being.

Thus, the wise of this world are foolish and the strong of this world are weak. Moreover, these apart from faith will remain as such and perishing.

Unfortunately, in this world there are people like Dawkins. Influential people who are considered wise. They are in positions of leadership and teaching. They lead many astray. There is a day of reckoning coming when the wise will recognize their folly along with those whom they have persuaded. Jesus said that it will be a bad day for those teachers who lead others astray. “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones” (Luke 17:2, AV).

However, we who believe have a golden opportunity. It is to take God’s words of wisdom, the message of the cross, to those who are perishing. God uses the truth of the gospel to rescue the perishing and he chooses believers to spread this lifesaving message.

Published by Steve Hankins, Th.D.

Steve has had extensive military, business and ministry experience. He has served for over 16 years in full time vocational ministry and many years of part time ministry in churches. He has led churches through start-up and recasting of vision. Now He resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is working to help smaller churches and believers to renew their hearts and regain the joy of the Lord.

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