Faithlife Sermons

A Foolish Messenger - 1:26-31

1 Corinthians   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  46:13
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God has chosen the weak and foolish things of this world to bear the gospel message. As we faithfully proclaim Christ and people are drawn to Him, He gets the glory.



Two statements and two questions to contemplate as we look at the Word.
By right of purchase, I belong to Christ.
I have value and worth because I am His.
Are there lies I am believing about myself?
Am I serving Christ, or making excuses?
Paul has just argued in vv. 18-25 that the message of the Cross, the preaching of the gospel, and the crucified Christ, are foolishness to those who do not believe. Here Paul is saying that not only is the message we preach foolish, the instruments that preach it are as well. Because of the nature of the messengers, God receives greater glory.
What if you were given $10 million dollars?
That would be pretty awesome, right?
Now, what if the person delivering the news was your worst enemy?
Would that change the gift?
Put on various outfits to drive home the point that the appearance of the messenger doesn’t affect the message.
What I have on.
King outfit.
Trench coat and mask.
Does what I am wearing affect the message I bring?
Of course not! Why? Because it is good news!
How much does the messenger impact the message?
In this context, Paul’s whole point is that the message is actually strengthened by the messengers lack of qualification!
Why? Because the messenger isn’t important. The message is.
You’re not worried about how I look, how I act, or even what kind of person I am.
You want to know the content of the message.
The content of the message is more important than the messenger.
The foolishness of the messenger does not change the message.
God’s power is most clearly seen when it fills an entirely ordinary vessel.
As foolish messengers and ordinary vessels, we are perfect instruments for the glory of God.
Today we will be prepared for God’s use by learning three truths.
Truth #1…

1. You Have Been Called v. 26

Have you ever had a moment where someone you knew and respected called you to participate in something?
I will never forget as a young pastor being asked to give input at a meeting of all these guys who had been in ministry over 25 years.
One of them turned to me in this meeting and asked my opinion. This was incredibly encouraging and uplifting.
When this kinds of moments happen, it creates within us a sense of value, worth, and desire to achieve.
Being called to be a part of something gives us purpose and meaning!
Already as Paul has begun this letter to the Corinthians church he has mentioned their calling.
Paul deals here with our calling from God.
There are two ways in which we are called by god.
First we are…

a. Called to salvation v. 26a

READ v. 26
1 Corinthians 1:26 NKJV
26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.
I want us to think for a minute about these first thing Paul says. You see your calling, brethren.
“See” is the idea of consider, this connects the passage.
Because God has chosen the foolishness of preaching to save those who believe, because the Cross of Christ is the power of God; consider your calling.
We preach Christ crucified!
A stumbling block to the Jews, foolishness to the Greeks, but Christ the power and wisdom of God to those who are saved!
Because of the message entrusted to us, consider your calling.
Calling – κλῆσις (klēsis) an authoritative summons to participate or take part in something; especially a summons to the hope of salvation in Jesus.
Calling – κλῆσις (klēsis)
Paul wants the body of Christ in Corinth to stop and consider the authoritative summons to salvation and the ministry that results from that call.
Every single believer has been called by God.
The first part of that calling was to salvation.
We have been summoned into a relationship with Him!
Paul is going to get into the reality that our world views us as foolish, weak, and despised.
This is something we all will face.
When your child comes to you in tears because someone made fun of them for being a Christian, this is what you are going to tell them.
You have been called by God.
You can’t tell your child that until you have made it personal in your own life.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, you have been called by God.
He has summoned you to participate in the most important event in the universe.
You have been called into battle, and you are carrying the message that will cause enemy soldiers to switch sides.
Beloved, we must consider our calling.
Paul is going to explain that calling in the end of this verse.
Here’s the thing.
The calling of God on your life encompasses everything.
In our personal lives, we have been called by God to live for the glory of Jesus Christ.
You have been called to be a friend to others, for the glory of Christ.
You have been called to be a parent, to the glory of Christ,
You have been called to be a husband or wife for the glory of Jesus Christ!
Our calling from God requires a response.
How will we respond to Him?
I am called to have a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Our relationship with Christ requires that we spend time with Him.
A relationship cannot be maintained if there is no fellowship.
Our call to salvation demands that we spend time with Christ.
The first way we are called by God is into salvation.
Secondly, we have been…

b. Called to service v. 26b

READ v. 26
1 Corinthians 1:26 NKJV
26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.
By stating that not many with worldly qualifications are called, Paul brings into focus the reality that service for Christ is not a game of personality and talent.
This idea connects vitally to the controversy in Corinth. Remember, they are arguing and fighting about which teacher is better.
In light of this controversy, Paul wants them to think about who has been called.
So, who has been called? Not many wise, mighty, and noble.
The majority of those who come to Christ are not wise, mighty, or noble. They are ordinary people.
There are some who are called having great physical gifts or worldly endowments, but they are the exception, not the rule.
Let’s break these words down.
Wise – σοφός (sophos) having accumulated knowledge or discernment.
Wise – σοφός (sophos)
This is qualified by the phrase. “According to the flesh.”
Flesh – σάρξ (sarx) humanity especially understood according to their physical nature (which is often understood as the seat of sin and rebellion to God).
Flesh – σάρξ (sarx)
Those the world would view as wise are not chosen.
Why not? Because the world cannot understand true wisdom.
Proverbs 9:10 puts it this way.
Proverbs 9:10
Proverbs 9:10 NKJV
10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord.
Until we come to Christ, we cannot be wise.
Those who are considered wise by the world often face many obstacles to belief.
And so, there are not many wise whom God calls.
Mighty – δυνατός (dynatos) strong; powerful. A person characterized by having some degree of authority or influence. Predicate adjective, nominative, plural, masculine.
Mighty – δυνατός (dynatos)
This is not talking about physical power so much as authority or influence.
Not very many people with authority or influence are called by God.
Noble – εὐγενής (eugenēs) noble; well born. It is used of someone belonging to or constituting the hereditary or social aristocracy. Predicate adjective, nominative, plural, masculine.
Noble – εὐγενής (eugenēs)
Those God calls into salvation and equips to be preachers of the gospel are not often those others listen to because of reputation, position, or birth.
Paul is saying that while God does occasionally work that way, the normal way God has chosen to spread the message of the gospel is through ordinary people like you and me.
And we glory in that!
What an incredible blessing that an all-powerful God would chose to work through ordinary people!
This means that He not only can use you and me, He wants to use us!
Contemplating things like this makes me think of Paul’s words in Romans 11:33.
Romans 11:33
Romans 11:33 NKJV
33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
The fact that God would use ordinary people goes against everything we would think in our limited human understanding.
To our way of thinking the best thing God could do would be to call those with reputation, position, or birth.
But if He did that, they would get the glory.
He has called us to serve Him.
When He accomplishes incredible things through ordinary people, He gets the glory.
However, don’t lose sight of the fact that our God uses ordinary people like you and me to do incredible things!
The most incredible thing He does through us is make us faithful servants.
You have been called by God.
If your friends are believers, they too have been called.
Your believing spouse, your believing children have all been called by God!
While we may all want to think that our children or grandchildren are the smartest ever, we must remember that God most often and most mightily uses the ordinary.
I have been called to ordinary faithful service.
Wisdom, might, and influence are not necessary to do what God has called us to do.
When life is difficult and trials arise we need to understand that we are called.
Difficulty doesn’t change our calling.
We have been called to salvation and called to service.
As we faithfully serve the Lord He uses us for His glory.
That was our first truth that prepares us for use.
You have been called.
Truth #2…

2. You have Been Chosen vv. 27-29

Why has God not called many wise, mighty, or noble?
This is the natural question.
There is a verse in Proverbs that talks about how ants are not strong individually, but then, there is never just one ant.
The building of an ant hill or the ant invasion of your house is not done by an individual, it is done by a team.
As the saying goes, there is strength in numbers.
The body of Christ is like that.
On our own, we are often not very effective. But when we have our brothers and sisters working alongside us, we can accomplish much more.
God has not called the wise and mighty because He has chosen to work differently.
As we understand His choosing, we glorify Him.
This passage reveals that the child of God has been chosen to accomplish two goals.

a. Chosen to dishonor vv. 27-28

READ v. 27
1 Corinthians 1:27 NKJV
27 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;
Like in every other instance, when the words “but God” appear, they introduce a huge blessing.
God could have called those who were wise, mighty, and noble, but instead He chose us!
"Chosen” is a really cool word.
It’s the idea that we have been handpicked for a specific purpose.
Why are we chosen?
Is it because we are awesome or super-spiritual? No.
God chose “Foolish things.”
Here’s the unflattering truth.
Foolish things – μωρός (mōros) foolish; stupid. Someone who is Devoid of wisdom, good sense, or sound judgment. Substantival adjective, accusative, plural, neuter.
Foolish things – μωρός (mōros)
What English word do you think we get from the Greek word Moros? That’s right, Moron.
Once again, there is a qualifier. “Of the world.”
This is how the world views those God has called.
Just as the gospel message is viewed as stupid by the world, so are those who preach it.
Evangelical, Bible-believing, Christians do not have the reputation of being scholarly and smart.
Not that some aren’t, but that the world sees us as foolish.
Feel unqualified? Good! Feel like you don’t know much? Excellent! Feel like people think you are stupid for believing what you do? Awesome!
That means you are right where God wants you!
These foolish instruments of God put the wise to shame.
“Put to shame” is the idea of humiliate or dishonor.
Wise here is the same as above but in this context it is wise according to the world.
When God uses the foolish to preach the gospel it humiliates those who are wise in the world.
We are again reminded that God has chosen us!
We are not gospel message bearers by accident!
We have been selected by God for His glory and purpose!
And here that purpose is to bring dishonor to those who think themselves honorable.
What’s important to recognize is that every believer is chosen for this.
Your child who has just come to Christ can be used by God to put the worldly wise to shame.
God has chosen us, foolish though we are, to shame the wise.
This is despite the fact that we are weak.
Part of the idea of this word is those who lack courage.
This always makes me think of Gideon.
When he tears down his father’s idols, he does it at night because he us afraid. When he prepares to go to battle as God commanded, he sets out the fleece because he is afraid.
Here’s the important thing to remember about Gideon. Yes, he was afraid, but after the assurance God provided, he acted in obedience and did what God commanded.
It is not wrong to be afraid, it is wrong to disobey.
Gideon lacked courage until he finally understood that God was going to fight for him!
When God fought for Him and brought deliverance through a few men, He got the glory.
The other element of this word is that we are perceived as weak by the world.
Tell me if you have heard these phrases before.
Religion is a crutch.
Church is for dummies.
Only the brainwashed believe in God.
How many times have we heard that Jesus, or God, or the Church is a crutch?
The idea is that belief in something outside of ourselves is for weak people.
That is how the we are viewed by the world!
But then God uses us!
We are foolish and weak, yet God uses us to shame the wise and mighty.
God wants to use you.
Parents. God wants to use you.
Young people. God wants to use you.
I want you to have a sense of purpose.
We are not just filling your heads with knowledge.
We are inviting you into a battle. We are training you to be soldiers.
We are equipping you to enter a life of meaning and purpose bigger than any of us.
God has chosen you and me to put to shame the wise and the mighty.
READ v. 28
1 Corinthians 1:28 NKJV
28 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,
“Base” is the opposite of noble.
Base – ἀγενής (agenēs) insignificant; lowborn – of humble birth or origins especially on contrast to nobility.
Base – ἀγενής (agenēs)
Rather than calling the noble; the Lord calls the lowborn and uses them to bring the noble to nothing.
Again the qualification is “of the world”.
Paul wants us to understand that this is not the way God views us but the way the world system that is in rebellion to God views us.
To them we are “Despised.”
Despised” – ἐξουθενέω (exoutheneō) To be utterly disdained – to be or become treated contemptuously as if completely worthless or despicable.
Despised” – ἐξουθενέω (exoutheneō)
This is often the world’s view of Christ followers.
We are worthless and despicable to them.
Christians are viewed as the problem.
This shift can be seen really clearly through everything going on in our world today.
We are being told that church is not essential.
In some places it is classified as entertainment.
This is our own fault! Because churches have sought to entertain instead of change lives through the teaching of God’s Word!
This is what happens when we lose sight of our mission.
We are not supposed to seek popularity.
Now, that doesn’t mean we are deliberately offensive. It simply means that our first priority is to please Christ through the proclamation of the gospel message.
Sometimes, the best way we can proclaim the gospel is through first meeting practical needs.
For the third time we are reminded of God’s choosing.
Paul wants us to understand that even Though we are viewed negatively by the world, we are the chosen of God.
We are His special, called out instruments to spread the good news of Christ!
Yes, that means all of us. There is no age limit on this.
The moment you come to Christ, you are called and chosen to spread the gospel. No matter your age.
“The things that are not” is a way of saying the things that are so disdained it’s like they don’t exist.
In Paul’s day Christians were considered non-persons!
They were something disdained.
God chooses those viewed as worthless to bring to nothing those who view themselves as important.
Bring to nothing – καταργέω (katargeō) wipe out; set aside; abolish. To inactivate – to cause something to become idle, inactive, inoperative, or useless. Finite verb, aorist, active, subjunctive, third person, singular.
Bring to nothing – καταργέω (katargeō)
God uses us to set aside or abolish those who think they are something.
This is the power of the gospel!
When I am yielded to Christ my social status doesn’t matter.
We may not be wise or mighty or noble or well known, but we have been chosen by God as His instruments to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to a world who desperately needs Him!
You have been chosen by God!
Why would God do all of this?
That question brings us to the second goal we have been chosen to accomplish.
Goal #1. Chosen to dishonor.
Goal #2…

b. Chosen to display v. 29

READ v. 29
1 Corinthians 1:29 NKJV
29 that no flesh should glory in His presence.
This is the purpose statement.
Why does God choose mostly those who are foolish and weak?
So that He gets the glory.
This verse reflects what we call the doxological purpose of God.
His purpose is His glory.
When we fulfill that purpose, we are most fulfilled and experience true meaning and purpose.
The Greek word “pas” appears in in this verse but is not translated because it is somewhat redundant and it makes it difficult to read, but it is still important.
Literally it would read “that no all flesh should glory in his presence.”
Paul’s desire is to communicate that when God works through the foolish, weak, base, despised, and not, there is no one in all of flesh who can glory because it is all of God!
We cannot boast.
Here’s the idea. Boasting in what God has done would be like me bragging about having blue eyes. I did nothing to give myself blue eyes.
It’s not like I earned them or made them myself.
It was the combination of genes from my parents.
None of us would think of boasting in our eye color as if it was some sort of achievement.
In the same way, when it comes to Spiritual things.
There is nothing in and of ourselves in which to glory.
So we glory in the Lord.
Glory – καυχάομαι (kauchaomai) To boast (exult) – to display or proclaim publicly (and ostentatiously) a satisfied contentment with one’s own or another’s achievements. To show off verbally.
Glory – καυχάομαι (kauchaomai)
We are unable to glory in our flesh.
There is nothing to boast about!
God has accomplished it all!
The blessings we have are all in Christ!
Though we are considered foolish, weak, base, despised, and non-existent, God has chosen us to bear the message of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ!
And because of His grace at work in us we give Him all the glory!
This is all of God!
No flesh will glory in His presence.
God has chosen me for His glory.
That means that as I serve Him, God is glorified in me.
Not because I am so great!
God is glorified in me because I am an ordinary vessel, filled with His power, and it is obvious to everyone that my accomplishments are really His.
You have been chosen for the glory of God.
Serve Him faithfully.
Three truths to prepare us to be used by God.
Truth #1. You have been called.
Truth #2. You have been chosen.
Truth #3…

3. You Have Been Equipped vv. 30-31

One of the things that becomes glaringly obvious the longer we know Christ is how insufficient we are.
As sinful human beings we are not able to be what we need to be.
This is where the grace of God and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit come in.
What Paul is about to reveal to us is that we have everything we need in Christ.
Through Him we have been equipped to do what is necessary.
There is a tip I will never forget. That tip is the power of leverage.
There was this time where I was working on our car and I couldn’t get a bolt loose.
So I call Leo Sutton, one of our elders here at the time.
He drives 10 minutes to get here. Grabs my wrench, puts a pipe I had on the end of it, and loosens the bolt in about 3 seconds.
I had everything necessary to do the job, I just wasn’t using it.
We have everything necessary to begin serving the Lord. We just need to do it.
Paul deals here with how we have been equipped and what we have been equipped to do.
First, how we have been equipped.
We have been…

a. Equipped by Christ v. 30

READ v. 30
God has chosen these weak and foolish things so that no one can glory.
These two verses seem to present additional reasons why we cannot glory.
We cannot glory in ourselves because we are in Christ Jesus.
Are – ἐστέ (este) be. To have the quality of being. Finite verb, present, active, indicative, second person, plural.
Are – ἐστέ (este)
Because of God and His choosing, we have our being in Christ!
And Christ is our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.
This is fascinating because it is something that Christ became.
Before His death on the Cross for sin He was not these things for us!
While it was true that these things were planned before the foundation of the world and that in the divine mind of God He was slain from the foundation of the world, it is also true that the crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ took place at a moment in time.
At that moment, Christ became these things for us.
First He became wisdom.
Again we note that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
Christ became wisdom for us and this comes from God.
This contrasts with the wise of this world.
True wisdom can only come from God!
Wisdom came to us in the person and work of Jesus Christ. He is wisdom from God.
He also became Righteousness.
Righteousness – δικαιοσύνη (dikaiosynē) A status of legal rectitude that satisfies the moral requirements of God’s character.
Righteousness – δικαιοσύνη (dikaiosynē)
On our own it is impossible for us to satisfy the moral requirements of God’s character!
This is only found in Christ!
He is our righteousness!
Christ is our righteousness and it comes to us through faith in Him.
Go to Romans 4:19-25. Paul is talking here about Abraham receiving the promise of God that He would have descendents from his own body through Sarah.
Romans 4:19-25
Romans 4:19–25 NKJV
19 And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. 20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. 22 And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.” 23 Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, 24 but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.
Abraham’s faith in God, faith in the ability of God to fulfill His promises, was counted as righteousness.
Paul reveals here that this wasn’t just about Abraham, it was about us. When we place our faith in Christ, that faith is credited as righteousness.
He is also our sanctification.
Sanctification – ἁγιασμός (hagiasmos) holiness; sanctification. It’s the act of becoming more personally dedicated to God; especially by becoming more distinct, devoted, or morally pure.
Sanctification – ἁγιασμός (hagiasmos)
There is no sanctification apart from Christ!
We can try to be holy, try to be devoted to Him, but unless He is in us, we have no hope of holiness.
Christ is our holiness!
Lastly, He is our redemption.
Christ is our ransom.
He has purchased us and liberated us from sin.
There is no freedom apart from Christ!
Without Him we are in bondage to sin.
The precious blood of Christ has purchased us, we are no longer slaves to sin.
We have been equipped by Christ.
Through Him we have wisdom, we have His righteousness, we are sanctified, and we have been redeemed.
With these things in place, we are to serve the Lord.
Is there further equipping that can be done through the local church? Absolutely.
But these are the basics and we need to be active for the Lord now.
Everything I need to serve the Lord has been given to me in Christ.
Now what I need is to start serving while being plugged in to a local church so that I can receive training and feedback as necessary.
We have (past tense) been equipped by Christ.
What have we been equipped to do?
We have been…

b. Equipped to glorify v. 31

1 Corinthians 1:31 NKJV
31 that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”
This is what you have been equipped to do.
This is the purpose of every believer.
Glory in the Lord.
Christ did all this that we might glory in Him alone.
We glory in the Lord because all the things that we lack are found in Him!
Because these things are true we cannot glory in ourselves.
Listen to what Paul says in Colossians 2:10.
Colossians 2:10
Colossians 2:10 NKJV
10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.
We are complete in Christ!
We don’t boast in ourselves because we are not complete in ourselves. We boast in Christ!
Because Christ is all in all, we cannot boast or exult.
Paul quotes a part of Jeremiah 9:24 to exhort us to glory in the Lord.
Listen to what that whole verses says,
Jeremiah 9:24
Jeremiah 9:24 NKJV
24 But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the Lord.
This is what we glory in.
We glory in the Lord!
We glory in the ability to know and understand Him.
We glory in His lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness.
We glory in the Lord.
If we are going to boast, it is going to be in Christ!
We boast in Who He is and what He has done for us!
We boast that He is our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption!
We boast that apart from Him we have nothing!
We boast in Christ that He might be glorified in us!
We boast in Christ because of what He has become for us.
We boast in Christ alone.
I have been equipped by Christ for the glory of Christ.
Therefore, I serve Him.


By right of purchase, I belong to Christ.
I have value and worth because I am His.
Are there lies I am believing about myself?
Am I serving Christ, or making excuses?
You need to know who you are!
It’s commitment time, here’s what I want us to think about.
Personal: You have been called, chosen, and equipped. Don’t listen the lies of Satan telling you that you can’t do things for Christ! Start doing them. There could be a couple of commitments here. Search God’s Word to know who God says you are. Ask about ways you can be serving in the local church.
Friendships: Your validation is not going to come from peers. True validation can only come from Christ. With that thought in mind we must consider why we have the relationships we do. Commit to seeking gospel opportunities. Show friends the character of Christ without seeking approval.
Parenting: Our goal is to raise Christ followers. This means we model it as well as teach it. Look now for how God is calling your children. Look for how He is gifting and equipping them. Help them use their gifts and talents for Christ.
Marriage: Do we have gospel centered marriages? Meaning, am I seeking to be the best representative of Christ in my marriage regardless of what my spouse does? That is what I have been called to. I am not called to fix my spouse. I am called to be Christ to my spouse. Maybe pick one area in which to show your spouse the love of Christ.
COMMITMENT: ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
We have an incredible message and we have been wondrously prepared to take that message to the World.
What a blessed position is ours!
We have the privilege of being chosen and used by God though we are nothing.
Though we are weak, foolish, and undeserving; we are vessels of His glory.
There is no greater blessing than to be used by God to spread the good news of Christ.
Usefulness to God does not depend on position or ability; it depends on faithfulness.
Boast in the power of God that uses us flawed vessels to bring Christ glory!
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