If you are a pastor or lay person who wants to use this to preach in church – that is why I posted it. I don’t care about credit, I only care that God’s word is preached and Christ is glorified. I pray He uses this sermon in a mighty way through you. You have my permission to alter it (it’s longer than usual) and use it however God leads you. God bless you in your ministry. You can bookmark this to check out the other free written sermons on my blog.
There’s a quote from CS Lewis in Mere Christianity in which he says that most of the time we don’t need instructed about something, we need reminded.
Paul writes this letter to the Corinthians and begins the letter with a reminder to them about the limits of human wisdom. You’re not going to figure it all out. Faith is a great mystery. Can you imagine that Paul had to remind them nearly 2,000 years ago that they didn’t know everything, didn’t understand everything, and weren’t going to have it all figured out? Look at how much more we know today than they did then! Look at the advances in our technology and understanding. Galileo was imprisoned and later died under house arrest for suggesting the earth rotated around the sun. Everyone thought the sun rotated around the earth. We still say “the sun comes up – the sun goes down” even though most of us know the sun doesn’t move. Everyone thought the earth was flat and that if you sailed far enough out on the ocean that you would fall off the end. In the Bible, they thought rain came from heaven, we know now how rain forms, well, you and I might not, but meteorologists can explain it. And if you fly in a plane, you’ll go above the rain clouds.
Now if aliens saw Facebook, they might wonder about our intelligence, but I digress.
We have become so self-sufficient and smart as a society that many people think that they’ve outgrown God.
The irony is I believe we only know what God allows us to know. CS Lewis had this quote about arguing with God, but I can look at it and make an argument that we can only know as much as God will let us know, and can certainly not be more knowledgeable than God:
There is a difficulty about disagreeing with God. He is the source from which all your reasoning power comes: you could not be right and Him be wrong any more than a stream could rise higher than its own source. When you argue against Him, you are arguing against the very power that makes you able to argue at all. CS Lewis
Some people, knowing they can’t win an argument with God, try to win it with us. And we sometimes find ourselves trying to defend God or defend ourselves believing in God. I remember listening to a sermon from Rondal Browning and he said God doesn’t need us to defend Him. There are some things that we can’t explain and that seems like foolishness to those who have to have proof or who have to see things as reasonable.
Someone told me they had just witnessed a miracle. They lost a piece of jewelry at a certain place, they know where they lost it, yet they found it outside their car when they got out of the car here at church. They told me they’re certain that they lost it somewhere else, yet through a miracle, they get out of their car here at the church and the item is there on the ground. God placed it right there in front of them.
I don’t doubt that they believe that, but I think there’s a logical explanation. You see I think while they truly thought they lost it somewhere else, they didn’t really. Either they lost it in their car and it fell out just when they opened the door here at the church and they saw it, or they lost it before and parked in the same spot and this time saw it. You see, this person is certain of where they lost it and it wasn’t in their car or in the parking lot here. They lost it somewhere else, nowhere close to the parking lot. And through a miracle God put it here in front of them. I’m not going to call this foolishness. Because I am a Christian, because I believe God can do anything, anything, anything, God could have done this. I just happen to believe there’s an explanation in this case. This person doesn’t have to convince me and it doesn’t matter if I believe it or not. If it was a miracle, it was a miracle and it doesn’t matter what anyone else believes.
People who don’t believe in miracles or people who don’t believe in God, they would probably call this foolish. I understand their skepticism. I usually look for a logical explanation first, and maybe that’s a fault in me. I do believe God works in miraculous ways, but sometimes I believe we call things a miracle that have logical explanations, even though God can certainly play a part even in logical explanations.
Someone relayed another miracle story to me. They told me they needed $180. Someone walks up to them and says, “God told me to give you this”, and it was $180. And some might say, explain that, and I can’t. I believe it was a miracle. There’s no explanation. Yet for those who don’t have faith in what God can do, for those who have to find a reasonable explanation, they may call it foolishness to think that someone heard God tell them to give away $180 to a stranger, the exact amount that this person needed. For me, it’s unreasonable to think there’s any other explanation other than God doing something unbelievable or miraculous.
I definitely value reason. John Wesley valued reason. Wesley believed that we primarily experience God through Scripture, Tradition, Experience, and Reason.
To become an Elder in the WV UMC, you must complete a 4 year college degree, then finish seminary obtaining a master’s degree, then go through 3 years of residency. I will soon begin my 3rd year of residency. The UMC values reason, if they didn’t they wouldn’t require so much education.
Yet there are some things that defy logic. There are some things that defy reason. There are some things you just can’t explain. Becoming a Christian is one of those things that you have to be willing to do without being able to prove every minute detail, yet alone some big details.
Paul tells us that there are those who don’t believe, who call those who do believe in the message of the cross, and the salvation and everlasting life that it brings…there are those who call it foolish. Yet in reality, they are the ones who are foolish.
20th century Christian martyr Jim Elliott said, He is no fool who gives up what he can’t keep to gain that which he cannot lose. Reversing his wording, he would say that whoever tries to hold onto what he or she can’t keep, giving up what he or she can’t lose is a fool.
Paul says even though they think the cross is foolishness, we know it saves us.
They don’t even know they are perishing. It’s ironic that while there’s not going to be enough proof for those who insist on reason and require proof to believe the message of the cross, that Christ died on the cross for our sin and that is saving those who believe, there’s also most of the time not enough proof for them to understand they are perishing and going to perish eternally without Jesus death on the cross! There’s not enough proof either way. So without enough proof to prove it or disprove it, they choose not to believe.
Occasionally, I think people do realize they are perishing without Jesus. Sometimes we call that hitting rock-bottom. Sometimes when people hit rock-bottom, all of the sudden the thought of Jesus and the cross and His resurrection, and His offer of eternal life with no more pain, no more tears, the thought of Him being with you always, even in the rock bottoms of life, suddenly doesn’t seem so foolish. It suddenly makes sense, even if the valleys in our life don’t.
Paul says in starting chapter 2, that when he went to spend time with them, it wasn’t Paul’s lofty words or wisdom that he came to them with. It was nothing but the message of Jesus and the message of Him crucified. And he writes, not to give them new information, but to remind them.
That’s all I come to you with today. It’s not eloquent speech, the CS Lewis quote, it’s not whether I believe someone was finding a bracelet or someone giving someone money was a miracle. I simply paint this picture of what Paul is talking about when each side calls the other side foolish. Non-believers think we’re foolish for believing in something that can’t be scientifically proven beyond a doubt, and we think they’re foolish for not accepting Christ’s gift of eternal life available through His life, death, and resurrection.
The debate raged nearly 2,000 years ago and the debate rages today.
The world would have thought it foolish for Paul to risk his status, his wealth, and his life for the sake of the Gospel. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 4:9-10 – We have been made a spectacle to the world…We are fools for Christ’s sake.
The world would have thought it foolish in Acts 2 & 3 for Peter to go to the people who killed Jesus and give them the what for, and tell them they needed to ask for forgiveness and repent. It lands him in jail.
The world would have thought it foolish that Ananias would go restore sight to Saul, the persecutor of Christians, of which Ananias was one. He risked his life by going to Saul.
The world would have thought it was foolish of Jim Elliott – 20th century Christian martyr, who was killed by the spear of the Auca Indians in South America in the 1950’s, a fool because he went to tell these killers who would eat their victims of the Gospel, and a fool because he would die instead of shoot them with the gun he had. Jim Elliott said, “he is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep for that which he cannot lose.”
The world would think Carrie Roush was a fool for literally risking her life in Haiti teaching the Haitian kids to speak English. Learning English is their best hope to get out of poverty.
The world would think you were foolish for taking a week’s vacation to go to New Orleans and work and sweat doing the Lord’s work in giving the people there hope.
People like Jesse Ventura mock us, saying we’re the foolish ones – Ventura, the former wrestler and governor of Minnesota said religion is a crutch.
President Obama – when talking about voters in Pennsylvania, “So it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion…as a way to explain their frustrations.”
The president insinuated that we turn to religion because the government has failed us.
We turn to Jesus because everything else is a failure without Him, there is no hope without the hope of Jesus. There’s no other name by which you can be saved. The government can’t save you, your money can’t save you, a bunker in your basement can’t save you. Only Jesus can save you.
There’s power in the blood, and there’s power in the message of the cross. Listen now….It’s not my preaching that gives the Word of God power, it’s the Word of God that gives my preaching power.
Some of you are listening to this, here in the sanctuary, or on the internet, or on CD,
And you’ve confessed faith in Christ, you’re a Christian, but you’re struggling with some things, maybe even some doubt. Maybe there’s some things you just can’t make sense of. Sometimes, over time, God will give you the answers you seek. He gave Thomas the answer he was seeking when he said, go ahead Thomas, put your fingers where the nails were.
Yet other times, God may just leave you wondering. And you may have to keep believing without getting the proof you want. That’s really where faith comes in. Faith is believing in what is unseen, You may even wonder yourself at times if you’re being foolish. But Paul assures us that believing in what we don’t completely understand when it comes to the message of Jesus and the message of the cross is not foolishness. On the contrary, it’s foolish not to believe. When we live our lives for the glory of God, when we become his followers, when we risk our lives for His sake, there’s no better way to live. So if you’re a Christian today, know that you have gained eternity, and follow Christ with confidence.
And there are others of you who are not a Christian because you just can’t overcome the questions you have. You’re just not convinced. Maybe you don’t feel like you need Him right now. Maybe you’ve got it pretty good. Maybe it just doesn’t make sense that the God who created the universe would care enough about you to send His Son to die on the cross…It doesn’t make sense. While the world would call that foolishness, God calls that love. He loves You that much. For God so loved the world, that He sent His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him will not __________ Say it with me—-perish. You need to say yes because Paul reminds us that without Him we are…and we will….perish.