Lawson’s Address

This is actually Lawson’s second address. His first address was a description of the contents of the new book on Spurgeon that Reformation Trust is publishing. That was an excellent address, but I did not write a summary of it. This lecture is entitled “Foolishness to the Greeks.”

The text is 1 Corinthians 1:18ff. Greek philosophy was very much a going concern. It came to Corinth from Athens. there were many differing philosophies on offer in the first century. The gospel Paul preached was in direct conflict with all the philosophies of the day. It was regarded as foolish. Furthermore, the messengers were also considered foolish. It is also a foolish method. In these three ways, Paul’s message is foolish to the Greeks.

The message was regarded as foolish. We are not just dogmatic about the cross: we are bulldogmatic about the cross! But it is nonsense to those who are perishing. Notice the present tense: they are currently dying from the inside out. We preach what seems like a contradiction: a crucified Christ. That’s like saying “freezer burn.” Or “Central Intelligence Agency” (LK) We preach a crucified conqueror, a slaughtered savior. This is foolishness to the world. But it is the only way. Why? Because God will have all the glory for Himself. We should therefore never try to make the foolishness of the cross appear to be brilliant to the world.

The messengers were also regarded as foolish. In verse 26 he shifts to the messenger, although this is not a shift of main subject. He is still plumbing the depths of why the world considers the message foolish. It is nott only because they think the message is foolish, but they also reject the messengers. God wanted to make sure that it was not because we were to have faith in the messenger. So God chose the foolish ones of the earth. Notice that God’s choice stands behind and before the calling. This is so encouraging, though. How could God use us? We didn’t make Who’s Who? We didn’t even make Who’s Not. God intentionally reached down to the bottom of the barrel. The only possible explanation left is that there has to be a God. We are all nobodies telling everybody about Somebody. If someone is intellectually elite, God will have to work quite a bit harder.

Lastly, the method God chooses is also regarded as foolish (chapter 2:1ff. “Lofty speech” refers to the style, and “wisdom” refers to the substance. We cannot come at this by saying that the method never changes the substance. Paul says that the method is important. It has be a cross-centered method. It has to be a straight-forward approach. This is in contrast to all the rhetoric that was so much loved in Athens and Corinth. Preaching is foolishness to the world. Everyone who tries to change the method God has established is trying to rely on man’s wisdom. Hence the vital importance of preaching in the church today.

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