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The Christian in God's Wonderland

1 Corinthians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  26:44
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Our first Scripture lesson is taken from 1 Corinthians 1:17-25:
1 Corinthians 1:17–25 ESV
For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the word of the cross is folly 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 the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
Because Paul cites Isaiah 29:14, it is important that we also read this verse in it’s original context:
Isaiah 29:13–16 ESV
And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men, therefore, behold, I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.” Ah, you who hide deep from the Lord your counsel, whose deeds are in the dark, and who say, “Who sees us? Who knows us?” You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”?
May God now add His blessing to this, the reading of His holy and infallible Word.
In Lewis Carroll’s book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, we find this conversation between Alice and the Cheshire Cat as she asks directions:
“In that direction,” the Cat said, waving its right paw round, “lives a Hatter: and in that direction,” waving the other paw, “lives a March Hare. Visit either you like: they’re both mad.”
“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you ca’n’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”
In Isaiah 29:13-16 , which Paul cites, God accuses the religious leaders of Israel of turning everything upside down (Is 29:16). In other words, just like Alice in Lewis Carroll’s novel, they went into...

The Looking Glass of Worldly Wisdom

In a looking glass or mirror, everything is backwards. Right becomes left and left becomes right. Moreover, what you see in the looking glass is not reality itself, but only an approximation, which is dominated by your own image! This is exactly what we read concerning the religions leaders of Isaiah’s day. Let us look at Isaiah 29:16 once again:
Isaiah 29:16 ESV
You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”?
Because these religious leaders relied upon worldly wisdom, they were living in a distopian dream world. The first thing we see them doing is denying that God was their Creator. The world they were living in was dominated by their own image. In essence they made themselves “gods”. Secondly, they denied the authority and infallibility of God’s Word; “He has no understanding” they cried!
Is this not exactly what we see played out in the Garden of Eden, where the Serpent first questions God’s authority saying, “Did God really say?” (Gen 3:1) and then suggesting to Adam and Eve that they could be equal to God saying, “you will be like God” (Gen 3:5).
In his letter to the Romans, Paul says the same thing was going on in his own day; first, people denied the reality of God:
Romans 1:21–23 ESV
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
Then they denied God’s authority and turn everything upside down:
Romans 1:32 ESV
Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
Do you not see this same madness in our world today?
Sadly, we see it not only in the world, but also in the church. Far too many who name themselves Christians are willing to take...

The Deadly Plunge Into the Looking Glass

It has been said that the Highway to Hell is paved with good intentions. In an effort to make God’s Word more palpable to secular society, people have always turned to worldly wisdom. This was the problem Isaiah was addressing. This is why Paul, cites Isaiah, the Corinthians were falling into the same trap. The simple message of Christ crucified was not enough they claimed; “We must dress up the message with the world’s wisdom and eloquence.” The problem with adding worldly wisdom to the pure simple message of the gospel is it empties the cross of it’s power to save (1 Corinthians 1:17). In our text today, Paul is setting up a very clear and stark contrast between those who are being saved and those who are perishing. In verse 18 we read:
1 Corinthians 1:18 ESV
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
In verse 21, we read:
1 Corinthians 1:21 ESV
For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.
Worldly wisdom brings nothing to the table except death! It does not lead people to the Lord, but only away from Him. What happened to the people of Israel when their leaders employed worldly wisdom? Isaiah 29:13 tells us:
Isaiah 29:13 ESV
And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,
Worldly wisdom was sucking the life out of them! Externally they gave all the appearance of piety and love of God, but inside they were filled with rebellion and death! In the last letter Paul wrote before his death, he warns Timothy of those who have “the appearance of godliness, but deny its power.” (2 Timothy 3:5) Sadly, the church today is fulled with such people: Those who teach theistic evolution, those who have bought into the LGBT agenda, those who deny the infallibility, inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture, those who are introducing the ideas of Critical Race Theory in the church. The list could go on, but I did not have time to list all the examples of compromise, but you get the idea. The same problems Paul was addressing in Corinth are before us.
Why is this such a problem you ask? It is because it empties the message of the cross of its power to save. Alice though she was in a Wonderland, but in reality she was in a distopian hell, but the good news of the Gospel is that if we would forsake worldly wisdom and turn instead to God’s wisdom we can dwell in a real Wonderland,...

The Wonderland of God’s Wisdom

Paul only cites the last half of Isaiah 29:14, but he expected his readers to know the other half because it is one of the great Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament:
Isaiah 29:14 ESV
therefore, behold, I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.”
This three-fold wonder is referring to the Messiah. In Isaiah 9:6 we learn the Messiah is to be given the name, “Wonderful Counselor”. In chapter 28, we are told that God’s plan of salvation is to be “wonderful in counsel”:
Isaiah 28:29 ESV
This also comes from the Lord of hosts; he is wonderful in counsel and excellent in wisdom.
Coming back to 1 Corinthians, we see the drama of the Final Judgement being played out before our very eyes! Those that believe the Gospel are “being saved” and those that reject it are “perishing”. The eternal fates of men and women are being played out before our very eyes! Those who are dead in their trespasses and sins are being made alive by the power of the cross! Yes! The power of the cross! The object of derision and shame!
Foolishness! Foolishness, you say!
No, not foolishness, wisdom!
1 Corinthians 1:25 ESV
For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
Why is it wisdom?
It is wisdom because our salvation depends solely upon Jesus. If salvation depended upon human strength and wisdom, even just a little bit, no one would be saved. Think about how many times you have failed God in the past, how many times you promised God you would not sin again, only to break that promise! Do you seriously think you will do better in the future? If your salvation depended upon your merit and your perseverance you are doomed Hell!
The Gospel is a Wonderland, because we are a Wasteland; our wisdom will always mislead us and our strength will always fail us. Paul closes with these words:
1 Corinthians 1:25 ESV
For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
God’s wisdom and strength is about to turn our Wasteland into His Wonderland. In Isaiah 29; the revelation of the wonder of the Messiah’s reign continues:
Isaiah 29:17–19 ESV
Is it not yet a very little while until Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be regarded as a forest? In that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see. The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord, and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.
Turn away from the Looking Glass and gaze upon Jesus and there you shall behold “the glory of the Lord” (2 Cor 4:6).
If you have not made Jesus your Lord and Savior, I invite you to do so today as I pray.
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