Friday, February 24, 2006

"My Religious beliefs teach me to feel as safe in battle as in bed.
God has fixed the time of my death. I do not concern myself with that, but
to be always ready whenever it may overtake me. That is the way all
men should live, and all men would be equally brave."

Stonewall Jackson (1824-1863)
The February 6 issue of Modern Healthcare contains an article about the recent ranking of integrated health care networks for 2006. Verispan ranked JPS Health Network as 69th out of 581, which puts it in the top 12%.

Number 1 was ProMedica of Toledo, Ohio.

And, since there is a rivalry of sorts, I’ll just note that Texas Health Resources came it at number 91.
Since TAX TIME is coming, you might be thinking, should I file on paper or “e-file”? The IRS says the error rate for electronically filed returns is less than one percent, compared to 20 percent on paper returns.

Another factor is the refund. If you file electronically, you will get your refund in half the time. You can get it in as little as 10 days if you have it deposited directly into your bank account.

That’s all the tax advice I have for you except: be sure you file. The IRS hates it when you don’t file.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

"That's our God. Now that's what you call foreordination. Tat is what you call predestination. That's Calvinism. And I am a Calvinist. That's good Bible doctrine. And I believe the Bible. These things are in God's hands. And ultimately, and finally, He purposed it and executeth all of it. W. A. Criswell, "Doctrine of Predestination", sermon delivered on November 20, 1955 on Isaiah 46:9-11.
The money just continues to roll in. Here is another email I received.


Dear Respectful,

Greetings,I hope all is well with you. I am Mrs.Alice. Konan from Ivory Coast. I am a widow being that I lost my husband a couple of months ago. My husband was a serving director of the Cocoa exporting board until his death . He was assassinated last match by the rebels following the political uprising.

Before his death he has give to us documents he used to deposit the consignment with the security company here. The $27.million dollar is kept in one trunk boxe and was registered as (africa Art work) thus there is nobody that knows that it is money that is in the box. All the documents with which the money was deposited is with us (my son and I) I am looking for somebody that is capable and willing to assist us to receive the trunk box of money in his country on behalf of my son and I from the security company.

I want you to do me a favour to receive this funds to a safe account in your country or any safer place as the beneficiary. I have plans to do investment in your country, like real estate and industrial production. We shall be compensating you with 20% of total sum after conclusion of this project, while the rest shall be for us. Your share stays with you while the rest shall be for us for investment purposes in your country. This is my reason for writing to you. Please if you are willing to assist me and my only son Michell, indicate your interest in replying soonest in this address( your private phone number for more details and will like you to call me (0022508740854).

Maybe if you contact her, she will have some extra money for you.

Just remember the first part of John 10:10: the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy...

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

All strains of influenza virus started originally from birds. The strains mutate slightly each year. That is why we need new vaccines. Lots of people die from various flu strains every year. Around one million people per year die around the world and 36,000 per year in the U.S.

What everyone is calling Avian Flu right now is a strain that originated in Vietnam in 1997. It is called “H5N1”. It moved west in migrating bird populations. It has moved in the “flyways”, the migratory populations of birds. It has, therefore, gone from Vietnam to the following countries that have reported human infections: China, Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, to Russia and now beyond. It has been found in humans in Turkey and Iraq. The wild birds sometimes pass the virus to domesticated birds, such as chickens. There a many more countries who have reported cases in birds, such as Nigeria and Ukraine.

130 humans worldwide have been infected with this virus since 1997. Half of them have died. That is what is causing concern. The death rate is normally very low. In fact, the Spanish flu that killed half a million people in the U.S. and 50 million people worldwide in 1918 had only a two percent mortality rate. One reason this strain is more deadly is that it strikes deep in the lungs. Treatment is more difficult.

The problem will come, if at all, if the Avian flu mutates so that it spreads from human to human. Then the number of cases will rise quickly and dramatically and cause a crisis.

Tamiflu and other existing medications will cure the Avian flu. However, there is a limited supply. This is because the FDA standards for safety screening are costly and time consuming. The number of companies making vaccines for flu has dropped from 26 fifty years ago, including 10 in the U.S. alone, to two world wide, one in the U.S. and one in France. The other problem is lawsuits which have driven up the cost.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Read an interesting biography of William Tyndale by John Piper.
OK, Josh, just to show how important you are to me, I have modified my blog to archive monthly and have figured out,with your coaching and after only 3 tries, how to do a link. I have linked to Protestant Pub, where you post on occasion. Ta Da!

I didn't put you first. Sorry. But, David Heddle, at He Lives, gets first, because he is great, I learned a lot from him, he links to me, and he is a real, live physicist.

If Protestant Pub will link to me, I'll have two blogs linking. That sounds like the 12 days of Christmas, doesn't it? Two blogs linking and a partridge in a pear tree.

I didn't change the template, however. I haven't figured out yet what I want.
Maybe the widow Coker already gave me the money! I just got this email from Barclay's Bank in London:

Dear Barclays® Member:

It has come to our attention that your Barclays® account information needs to be
updated as part of our continuing commitment to protect your account and to
reduce the instance of fraud on our website. If you could please take 5-10 minutes
out of your online experience and update your billing records you will not run into
any future problems with the online service.

However, failure to update your records will result in account suspension.
Please update your records on or before Febuary 07, 2006.

Once you have updated your account records, your Barclays® session will not be
interrupted and will continue as normal.

This email was sent by the Barclays server to verify your e-mail address. You must complete this process by clicking on the link below and entering your account information . This is done for your protection , because some of our members are no longer have access to their online access and we must verify it. To verify your e- mail address and access your bank account,

click on the link below:

Security Advisor

Barclays Bank PLC
2 Victoria Street
Live Support: (08457) 555 555

And I didn't even know I had an account at their bank!

It's good to be rich!

But, I promise to stay humble.
I guess this is my chance to be rich. I received this email:

Greeting in the name of our lord Jesus Christ.
I am Mrs.Julian Coker. A widow to late John Coker. I am 61 years old, I am now a new Christian convert, suffering from long time cancer of the breast, from all indication my conditions is really deteriorating and it is quite obvious that I will not live more than six months, according to my doctors, this is because the cancer stage has gotten To a very bad stage. My late husband killed during the U.S. raid against terrorism in Afghanistan, and during the period of our marriage we could not Produce any child. My late husband was very wealthy and after his death, I inherited all His business and wealth. The doctors has advised me that I may not Live for more than six months, so I now decided to divide the part of This wealth, to contribute to the development of the church in Africa, America Asia, and Europe. I prayed over it, I am a willing to donate the sum of $5,000.000.00 us dollars, to the less privileged. Please I want you to note that fund is lying in a security company and upon my Instruction, my attorney, who presently is in Africa distributing Relief materials to of bombast in slerra-leone, will file in an application for the transfer of the money in your name. Lastly, I honestly pray that this money when transferred will be used for the said purpose, because I have come to find out that wealth acquisition and without Christ is vanity. May the grace of our Lord Jesus the love of god and the fellowship of god be with you and Your family. I await urgent reply. Yours in Christ. Mrs. Julian Coker. reply to or

You will notice that the English is not very good for someone named Coker. I wonder if many Nigerians are named "Coker"? You will also notice that "God" is always spelled with a lower case "g". As if it were a little hard for you to refer to someone other than Allah as God.

I've decided to pass, but if you want to send "Ms. Coker" your regards, you now have her email address.
Christianity Today reports that, Mark noll is leaving Wheaton College for Notre Dame in the fall. Noll wrote America's God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln. Atlantic magazine called it the most significant work of American historical scholarship in 2002. He also wrote, in 1994, an influenctial book called The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, that has become a classic work on evangelical anti-intellectualism. His next book will be called The Civil War as a Theological Crisis. Time named him one of America's 25 most influential evangelicals in 2005. This is quite a loss for Wheaton. It may also be a loss for evangelicalism and protestantism as well. You have to wonder if a conversion to Catholicism is coming. Noll actively pursues communications between Catholics and Protestants. I would suggest that Wheaton is a better platform from which to lead protestants to talk to Catholics, if you are interested in that.

It would be a shame for Evangelicalism to lose one of its brighter intellects to prove the point of his book.

Friday, February 10, 2006

"Smoking kills. If you're killed, you've lost a very
important part of your life."
--Brooke Shields, during an interview to become spokesperson for federal anti-smoking campaign.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Whether or not you stay married may have an affect on your financial stability and that of your children.

How does it affect your financial stability? Married couples retire with average, assets worth two and a half times as much as their single people.”

For children, it is also dramatic.

The majority of children born into single-parent households are born to low-income “twenty-somethings”.

They are 33% of the children born into the total population.

They are 70% of black children.

Only 20% of children whose families make $15,000 live with both parents. In contrast, 92% of children whose families make over $75,000 live with both parents.

Only 10% of the students the top 50 universities came from divorced families.

Stable families build more stable, higher achieving children. Stable families earn more and keep more.
I cannot help but mention that I think the speakers at the funeral of Coretta Scott King, who took the opportunity to criticize President Bush, who was on the platform, was tasteless, crass and mean. The remarks were about the war, wiretapping and Hurricane Katrina. The remarks had nothing to do with the funeral and, frankly, dishonor the memory of Mrs. King.

Shame also on the crowd for its boisterous applause. You cannot expect the President to attend your events if you are going to act this way. He took a higher ground than you. He went to honor her. You dishonored him, and, therefore, her, but turning the attention away from Mrs. King and onto the current political scene. It was really very tacky.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

This may give Al Gore a new theme song. A Russian astronomer is predicting global cooling rather than global warming. He believes we will even experience a "mini Ice Age" between 2035 and 2045. The astronomer is Khabibullo Abdusamatov. He works at the Pulkovo Astronomic Observatory in St. Petersburg.

Abdusamatov says that changes in the earth's surface temperatures are a regular phenomenon. He says that the current global warming is due to increased solar activity. As the sun’s energy output and ultraviolet radiation increase, temperatures increase on earth. However, he says that activity will reach its peak, then decline within six or seven years. Temperatures will then begin to fall. The coldest period will occur 15 to 20 years after a major decline in solar activity, hence the prediction of a mini ice age between 2035 and 2045. I guess Al Gore’s children can blame George Bush’s children for global cooling at that time.

This has happened before in the Northern Hemisphere. Between 1645 and 1705, the temperatures dropped. Canals in the Netherlands froze solid. People in Greenland abandoned their houses because of Glaciers. They called it The Little Ice Age. It was caused by low solar activity. You might want to consider getting rid of your vacation home in Greenland now and investing in someplace warm.
If you want to have some fun, go to Google and search for French Military Victories. When the list comes up, click on the first one.

Thanks to Levi for the heads up.

Sunday, February 05, 2006


2:1-5 Practicing What He Preached

Paul practiced what he preached. He not approach the Corinthians with a message of human wisdom, as he puts it “eloquence or superior wisdom” and “wise and persuasive words”. He did not rely on verbal pyrotechnics or rhetoric. This must have been a conscious choice, because he said “I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified”.

What did he preach?
-the testimony about God
-Jesus Christ and him crucified

Acts 18:5 says he devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. He must have used the same basic message for the Gentiles, preaching the message of the cross.

In Galatians 6:14, Paul said “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”

Paul had confidence in God’s word. He was surely aware of Isaiah 55:11 where God said “so is my word that goes out of my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

He also knew Jeremiah 23:28-29, where God said “let the one who has my word speak it faithfully…is not my word like fire…and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?”

Paul also had a humble attitude: he came in weakness, fear and trembling.
-He did not have physical attractiveness on which to rely.
-He had a burden to carry the message to them. He relied on God, rather than his own strength and power.
-He might also have been a little afraid of what he had found. He had already been attacked by a mob in Philippi, then beaten by the authorities and thrown in prison. They had left Thessalonica when a mob was formed there. The Corinthian Jews had beaten Sosthenes. Acts 18:9 records the Lord speaking to Paul in a vision or dream, telling him not to be afraid because the Lord had many people in that city and no one would attack or harm him.

Paul’s gospel preaching and humble attitude were accompanied by something special: a demonstration of the Spirit’s power. The Bible does not tell us what that was, but it was so that their faith would rest on God’s power rather than man’s wisdom. I think it was that, through Paul’s plain preaching, the Holy Spirit moved and brought the Corinthians to repentance and faith.

If our faith rests on men, two things can happen. One is that another man may come along with superior arguments and destroy your faith. Someone is trying this every day. The second is that the man you built your faith upon may fall or be removed, resulting in the loss of your faith or damage to it.

2:6-10 Spiritual Wisdom

Paul rejected human wisdom, but he preached the wisdom of God to the mature. He means the spiritually mature. See Hebrews 5:11-6:3. Ephesians 4:13 calls it attaining the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Paul called it “God’s secret wisdom”. Only the spiritually mature\complete could understand it. It was secret in that it was hidden until the time of the apostles and is still hidden from those who do not believe (because it is revealed by the Spirit). Although it was hidden for a long time, Paul tells us God had destined it for our glory before time began. Then, he began to reveal it through the Holy Spirit.

Romans 16:25-26 says the proclamation of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known.…”

In Ephesians 3:4, Paul said “In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.

So, God planned from eternity to bring salvation through Christ and to include the Gentiles in salvation and into his people, but did not fully reveal his plan until the time of the apostles. He referred to Isaiah 64:4 to make his point. Humanity did not through its wisdom and knowledge conceive what God had prepared. (I always like God’s explanation of our inability to discern his thoughts in Isaiah 55:8: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord, as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”) But God revealed it to the apostles, who taught it to the church, and we have it today.

In contrast, Verse 8 tells us that none of the rulers of that age understood God’s wisdom. The proof is that they crucified Christ, the Lord of glory. Had they understood, they would have realized Christ offered his followers a greater glory than any ruler could obtain on earth.

2:10b-13 The Work of the Spirit

We are given a glimpse here of the work of the Spirit.


-searches all things, even the deep things of God
-he knows the thoughts of God
-He is received by Believers so that they may understand what God has freely given us
-He is from God
-He taught Paul spiritual truth in spiritual words

This passage portrays the Spirit as God, a full part of the Trinity, knowing the Father and helping us to understand Him.

2:14 The Natural Man

The man who has not believed in Christ and received the Holy Spirit cannot accept or discern spiritual things. They are foolishness to him. John 1:5 says “the light shines in the darkness, but the darkness did not understand it.” There is no need to teach or debate spiritual truths with the lost person, he or she cannot understand them. They need the message of the gospel. Jesus said “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw our pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.” (See Matthew 7:6.)

2:15-16 The Spiritual Man

In contrast to the Natural Man, the Spiritual Man can judge in all things. He has the mind of Christ. By having the mind of Christ, and being indwelt with the Holy Spirit, he has the proper discernment. The Natural Man cannot judge him, for he does not have the proper mind with which to do it.

1:1-3 Paul’s Greeting

Paul identified himself as the author in the first word of this letter. I like the fact that he identified himself in relationship to God. He identified himself as an apostle. He was the guy Christ jerked up off the road and put into service for him. He was Christ’s servant and representative. He had a great stability in knowing he was called to do what he was doing. You can have that, too, I think. You can be Bob, called to do whatever it is you are doing. Then you live and work with confidence. You are God’s Bob living as God wants Bob to live.

What is an apostle? One who is sent. He is a representative or an envoy for Christ. He goes out with the message of salvation from Christ. There seem to be 5 traits of the apostles in the New Testament: (1) they were foundational to the church; (2) eyewitnesses of Christ; (3) directly called by Christ (Matthias?) (4) authenticated by signs (5) having unique authority.

Paul also identified the method by which he came to be an apostle. He was called by God. In the movie “The Apostle” the main character decides he will be an apostle and baptizes himself in recognition of that. Paul, however, constantly claimed that he was called by God and equal in stature to the apostles who knew Jesus during his time on earth.

Paul’s call is recorded in Acts 9. Let’s read verses 1 through 6 first. The Lord revealed himself to Saul. Saul was not looking for the Lord. The Lord called him to do something, he told him “you will be told what you are to do”.

Then read the Lord’s words to Ananias in verse 15. Paul was the Lord’s chosen instrument to carry his name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. The Lord chose Paul for the work, not the other way around, and defined the work: to carry his name. He was also chosen to suffer for the name of Christ. That is quite a calling.

The Holy Spirit reaffirmed the call of Christ according to Acts 13:2 in the church in Antioch.

In Romans 1:1, he said he was called to be a apostle and set apart for the gospel of God.

Paul also described his call in Galatians 1:15 when he said God set him apart before he was born and called him by his grace.

We know the other apostles were chosen and called by Christ. In John 15:16, Jesus even told them “You did not choose me, but I chose you…”

We still work on this model today, as we expect our ministers not to simply choose to be ministers, but to be called. Calvin said “For as no man can lawfully assume the designation and rank of a minister, unless he be called…”

Paul is joined by Sosthenes, who is a fellow believer, which is why he is called his brother, and probably his secretary for writing this letter. There is a Sosthenes mentioned in Acts 18:17 that is probably him. He was a former ruler of the synagogue in Corinth who believed in the Lord. He was beaten by the Jews for his association with Paul and with Christ. He would be well thought of by the church, being a charter member who suffered for his faith.


In verse 2, Paul addresses the letter to the church in Corinth. Corinth was one of the biggest cities in the Roman Empire at this time. It was prosperous, but it was pagan. On a hill in the city, called the Acrocorinth, there was a big temple dedicated to Aphrodite, the goddess of love. There were many other pagan religions practiced in the city, as it was a metropolis made of people from all over the empire.

Acts 18 tells us the story of the founding of the church. Paul went to Corinth from Athens and hooked up with Aquila and Priscilla, converted Jews who fled Rome for Corinth when the emperor Claudius banished Jews from Rome. They were also tentmakers, so they stayed and worked together. God is a God of details, is he not? He provided companions for Paul that had much in common with him. They were Jews, they were believers and they were tentmakers. Silas and Timothy then joined him from Macedonia.

Paul preached every Saturday in the synagogue. He told the Jews that Jesus was the Christ, or Messiah. He was run out of the synagogue, but preached in a house next door. Many believed and were baptized. Eventually, Paul left for Syria with Priscilla and Aquila.

About 3 years after Paul left Corinth, he received a report from the household of Chloe about improper conduct in the church and wrote this letter from Ephesus.

Paul says 3 things about those who are part of the church:
1. they are sanctified in Christ Jesus;
2. called to be holy (or saints, ESV & NASB), as are all believers; and
3. are part of those who call on the name of the Lord.

When Paul speaks of their being sanctified in the past tense here, I think he is speaking of being called out and set apart from the rest of the world. Christ calls us into fellowship with him and into holiness, breaking our allegiance to the world for allegiance to him. He calls us to be his saints in fellowship with Christ and we call on him for help and guidance in life and abandon our allegiance to worldly systems and standards.
1:4-7 Paul’s Thanksgiving
As he often did in his letters, Paul expressed thanksgiving for the Corinthians and the work that God had done in them. By his grace, God had enriched them in their speaking and their knowledge. These 2 areas will come up repeatedly in the letter. In addition, he had given them every spiritual gift, they did not lack any of them. The area of spiritual gifts will come up later in the letter also, which is interesting given our church’s new program. God gives the gifts, not for our personal glory, but to serve the church.
He also described them as eagerly waiting for Jesus to be revealed. Chapter 15 will deal with this. Why do you think he said “revealed”?
So, while they eagerly await the return of Christ, they serve the church with every spiritual gift.
1:8-9 God Is Faithful To The End
God will keep believers strong to the end. The ESV uses the word “sustain”. The NKJV uses “confirm”. He does not save us to let us go, he keeps us. So, not only does he preserve our salvation, he continues to work out our sanctification. He promised the disciples he would be with them to the end of the age in Matthew 28:20. In Philippians 1:6, Paul said he was confident that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. 1 Peter 1:5 says we are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
He will do that for a purpose, that they, and we, will be blameless on the Day of the Lord. Ephesians 1:4 tells us God chose us in Christ before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. Colossians 1:22 says “But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation…”
You see, Christ did not just die to give you as an individual a ticket to heaven. Rather, God was continuing about his business of creating a people devoted to himself that would be holy. 1 Peter 2:9 says “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God…”
This people of God is also known as the church. Christ wants to present this entire body of people to himself, pure and blameless. Ephesians 5:25-27 tells us that Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 1 Thessalonians 3:13 says “may he strengthen your hearts that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.
This principle is also illustrated for us in Revelation 21:2 when it says “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.” God in the Old Testament and Christ in the New Testament are always portrayed as the husband and the church as the bride.
Paul understood that Christ wanted this for the church: to be blameless and holy at his return. Because he understood this, Paul wanted the Corinthian church to be blameless and holy. As their founder and as an apostle, he feels a duty to help them be what Christ wanted them to be. He has told them now that God wants this and will work to accomplish it in their lives. He will continue through the letter to tell them what the holy and blameless church should look like and what it should not look like. He will condemn divisions, immorality, legal disputes, causing the weak to stumble, idolatry, and disorder. He will encourage unity, spiritual wisdom, purity, spiritual growth, responsibility, devotion, service, humility and love.
Verse 9 tells us God called us into this fellowship with Christ, both individually and as the church, and he will be faithful to keep us there. Romans 11:29 says his call is irrevocable.
1:10-16 The Call For Unity
The first problem Paul addressed with the Corinthians was their lack of unity. In verse 11, he referred to the report from Chloe’s household that probably occasioned this letter. The church at Corinth has lost its unity and divided into groups. Verse 11 and 12 tell us some claimed to follow different teachers, Paul, Apollos and Cephas. Some claimed to follow only Christ. These groups quarreled with each other.
So, Paul appealed to them in the name of Christ to agree with each other and not divide. The holy and blameless church does not have divisions. Rather, the members have the same mind and same judgment. The divided church turns inward and loses its mission. It also robs Christ of his role as head of the church. Paul pointed this out when he said “was Paul crucified for you?” and “were you baptized into the name of Paul?” Of course, neither is true. Christ died for the church. Ephesians 5:25 says that Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Likewise, we were baptized into Christ and he is the head of the church, the only head.

How do we obtain unity in the church? It requires living for the glory of God to be the first priority and it takes humility. Later in the letter, Paul will say there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. Calvin said “The first step towards serving Christ is to lose sight of ourselves, and think only of the Lord's glory and the salvation of men.”
Divisions are often a result of pride and status seeking. We want to be better than others, even by our associations. We want to say, I belong to Paul and that is better than belonging to Apollos, like you. Paul urges them to let go of these divisions and unite. The Greek word for “unite” is the same word for “mend” or “prepare” in Matthew 4:21, used of repairing torn nets after fishing. Paul wants them to mend their divisions. Ephesians 4:3 says “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Keeping the unity means being humble towards others, forgiving wrongs, apologizing for wrongs, intervening in torn relationships and working for unity.
1:17-19 Spiritual Wisdom v. Human Wisdom
Paul said the he was sent to preach the gospel. He was not sent to develop his own following. He was sent to preach the gospel, the message of the cross.
He was not to preach human wisdom, or in wisdom of speech. The ESV says “with words of eloquent wisdom”. The Greeks, including the Corinthians, were used to eloquent speakers and judged those they heard by how well they spoke. If you grew up in church, you may have a little of this tendency to judge the preachers by their speaking ability.
Paul said he did not come to do that. To preach with human wisdom is to empty the cross of its power. Preaching is the means God ordained as the vehicle to spread the gospel. That preaching is to be about Christ and the cross. It is not to be about human wisdom. It is not to be done in such a manner that the message of the cross is lost in the eloquence of the speaker.
The irony is that the cross is offensive to humanity. The cross says you cannot save yourself and your sin is so bad that your Heavenly Father had to sacrifice his Son, who was perfectly sinless, to pay the penalty of your sin so you could be reconciled to the Father. The cross says you are not good enough on your own, you are not powerful enough, and you are not God.
Human wisdom says that cannot be true or finds a way to mitigate its impact. Human wisdom says “doesn’t God want you to be happy?” Human wisdom says a loving God would not create hell (he would make people be with him for eternity that do not want to be with him at all). Human wisdom says “look at me” rather than “look at Christ”. Human wisdom says let’s do what sells, let’s do what works, rather than let’s talk about the gospel.
God knew in advance that preachers would be tempted to preach human wisdom. It is less offensive and more popular to the world. Paul already experienced this. The prophets had experienced this. Today there are plenty of popular preachers who preach in human wisdom and eloquence. They are fun to listen to, good looking and But they are not talking about the cross.
But that is not what God wanted to do. He wanted to confound human wisdom so we would confront Him. Paul quoted Isaiah 29:14 here to show God planned this all along. He does not want us to appear wise in human terms or well spoken at the expense of the method. He does not want us to sell with what is culturally popular. He wants us to embrace spiritual wisdom, to embrace the cross.
Paul said, for the people of the world, the preaching of the cross is foolishness. I read an interview last week with Richard Dawkins, who has become the attack dog for evolution. He said the fact that people believe in God is a failure of education. He wants us all to get over it. He sees faith as foolishness.
But Paul said the preaching of the cross has power. It creates a division. Those who are perishing reject it and ridicule it. Those who are being saved accept it. In fact, for us who are being saved, the believers, it is the power of God.
1:19-21 God Confounds Human Wisdom
God confounded and defeated human wisdom with his own. The world could not find God through human wisdom. It is corrupted by sin. It is blinded by pride and rebelliousness. We have a sin nature, inherited through Adam. Romans 5:12 says sin entered into the world through one man. That has lead to the corruption of the human mind and rebellion against God. Romans 1:21-22 described this for us when Paul said “…but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.” Romans 3:11 says no one understands and no one seeks God.
When he said where is the wise man, scholar and philosopher, Paul means they are not found as those who are leading men and women to God. God has chosen others to bring his message of spiritual truth and has bypassed human wisdom and eloquence. (This may be an allusion to Isaiah 19:12, “where are your wise men now? Let them show you and make known what the Lord Almighty has planned…”

So God acted contrary to human wisdom. He would not honor it or be bound by it. Instead, he demonstrated his wisdom and made the wisdom of the world look foolish. God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of what was preached. What was preached was the gospel, or the word of the cross. In Matthew 11:25-26, Jesus said “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.”
The temptation of the church will be to preach human wisdom. The temptation is to look wise or smart or cool in the eyes of the world. God, however, intends to confront the world and its wisdom with the message of the cross. We must do the same.
1:22-25 Christ Crucified
Paul described the approach of the Jews and of the Greeks to salvation. First, he said the Jews looked for miraculous signs. They wanted to decided how God must show them his power. We see this in Matthew 12:38. The Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him “Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you.” At this point, Jesus had healed many and many followed him. Jesus refused to give them a sign, although he told them in an allusion to Jonah that his resurrection would be the only sign they would get.
In John 6:30, Jesus had just feed the 5,000 when people said “What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do?”
This type of person exists today. We see them on television every day, manufacturing signs to look as if God’s power is at work. They are not content to hear the gospel, they demand strange happenings and miracles.
Paul also described the Greek. He said the Greeks look for wisdom. They were sophisticated and intellectual. They did not want to wallow in the emotion of religion, but wanted new and challenging ideas. This type of person exists today. Many even call themselves theologians. They constantly change the gospel message in favor of intellectual arguments.
Paul did not cater to either group. He just preached Christ crucified. I looked back at the sermon Peter gave at Pentecost, the first Christian sermon. In Acts 2:23, Peter said “This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him on the cross.” There was not sophisticated presentation or smooth talking, just the message of the cross.
Stephen preached while being stoned and said “They [the Jews] even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him…” See Acts 7:52.
Phillip preached to the Ethiopian about a passage in Isaiah foretelling the death of Christ.
Paul constantly went to the synagogue and preached the message. How dare we do anything different today.
Verse 23 shows us that Paul knew the message would not be universally received. The Jews would find it a stumbling block. “Stumbling block” keeps you from reaching the place you need to. Isaiah prophesied this about Christ in Isaiah 8:14, saying “but for both houses of Israel he will be a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” Paul referred to it in Romans 9:32-33, when he said Israel did not attain righteousness because “they pursued it not by faith buy as if it were by works. They stumbled over the ‘stumbling stone’ and went on to quote the verse in Isaiah.
The Jews wanted a Messiah who was the conquering king, someone who would drive out the Romans and re-establish the Davidic kingdom. You see this in Acts 1 when Jesus appeared to the disciples post resurrection and they asked in verse 6, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
But the Messiah they got was the one who those very Romans killed by crucifying him. He was a stumbling block because he did not fit their concept of the Messiah and they rejected Him.
For the Greeks, the message of the crucifixion was foolishness. It was a message about a guy who came and got himself killed, not of a powerful or wise teacher. That kind of person also exists today. Some claim Jesus was not the person portrayed in scripture, some call it foolish to believe in this deity and in his resurrection. My witnessing mentor used to tell me you could not argue anyone into heaven. Apologetics has its place, but it cannot replace the preaching of the gospel as the vehicle by which men are saved.
But there is a class of people, both Jew and Greek, that believe. Verse 24 tells us it is those whom God has called. To them, the message is Christ as the power and wisdom of God. We now look to the cross in awe. We know through Romans 3 that God could only satisfy his justice by the death of his perfect son and Jesus submitted to that death for our sake. So, we do not look on it with disdain, as did the Jews and the Greeks, but in worship. And we understand the power of God at work for our salvation. So we see a stark contrast between the lost who see Christ’s death as foolishness and the saved who see God’s power and wisdom in it.
1:26-31 Living Proof
In an ironic twist, Paul said that the Corinthians were living proof of the truth of his words. It is ironic, because they had become proud. But Paul said, look what you were when God called you into salvation. Then, he told them what they were not. They were not: wise, influential, or of noble birth. Most of them were just plain people. Verse 27 indicates that some would have thought of them as foolish and weak.
But God chose the foolish, the weak, the despised, to shame the world and to demonstrate his own glory. He chose fishermen and tax collectors to be his disciples. He preached to the poor. In fact, he sent a message to John the Baptist, in Matthew 11:4-5 that the signs of his being the Messiah were that the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the good news is preached to the poor. He befriended women. He ate with tax collectors and sinners. He never sought out the wealthy or the influential. It is similar to his choosing of Israel in the Old Testament. In Deuteronomy 7:7, he told them he did not choose them because they were a large nation, for they were the smallest.
Why did God do this? Verse 29 tells us it is so that no one may boast before him. This is in contrast to their situation as set out in verse 11, where they were boasting of belonging to one preacher or another. Paul said they had nothing to boast about. Similarly, we are nothing but sinners whom God saved and we did nothing to earn our salvation. Verse 30 says if it is because of him, your Heavenly Father, that you are in Christ Jesus. There is nothing about which you have the right to boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 says “For it is y grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast.”
We do not boast in ourselves. We give glory to God for our salvation and our life. Verse 31 is a reference to Jeremiah 9:24. Our glory is in knowing the Lord and understanding him.

The church that is blameless is one that is not prideful, but gives glory to God and recognizes what God has done to bring it into salvation.