1 Corinthians 1:26 - 2:5 - Righteousness, Humility, and Redemption

1. Doesnít the message of Christís dying 2000 years ago for the sins of all humans from the beginning to the end of time sound a bit foolish today?

A: To a believer who God has called, this is the absolute truth. We believe that Jesus died for us, that he rose from the dead, and that he will save us and give us eternal life to those who have faith, not to those who try to do good deeds to earn his gift.

However, to a non-believer, this seems ridiculous. It sounds too simple. (Leader: Give a personal example if you can.) Our society worships power, influence and wealth.

Even some believers have a tough time with this concept. I know several people in our church that truly believe that the way to heaven is by being good and following Godís laws.

2. Verse 27 seems to say that Christianity is against rational thinking. Is it?

A: A lot of non-believers would certainly agree that Christianity is totally irrational, not at all logical. On the other hand, Paul is not saying that Christians should not use their minds to weigh the evidence and make wise choices. What he is saying is that no amount of human knowledge can replace or bypass Christís work on the cross.

3. The end of this chapter (vs 26-31) has two interwoven messages. They are closely related but significantly different and it is important that we understand both of them:
      A) the source of our righteousness, i.e., being right with God and
      B) the key Christian quality of humility.
What do these mean to you personally?

A: The way to receive salvation is so simple that any person who wants to can understand it. Skill and wisdom do not get a person into Godís kingdomósimple faith doesóso no one can boast that his or her achievements helped him or her secure eternal life. Salvation is totally through God through the death of Jesus. There is nothing we can do to earn our salvation; we need only accept what Jesus has already done for us.

In verses 29 and 31, Paul talks about boasting not for yourself, but for the Lord. Much of the hostility between the various factions in the Corinthian church stemmed from attitudes of pride and boasting. Paul challenged them to put away their pride and arrogance and live in humility. He countered their pride in worldly wisdom with the simple, life-changing message of Christ crucified. Knowing that some were proud of their spiritual gifts, Paul urged them to build up the church in humility and boast only in the Lord. The church still struggles today with the sin of pride and its unity still depends upon each memberís commitment to humility.

4. Paul uses four terms to describe what it means to be in Christ Jesus (verse 30). What are they? In your own words, what do they mean to you? (See 2 Corinthians 5:17, Colossians 2:2-3, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Romans 3:22, 1 Thessolonians 4:3-7, Mark 10:45, 1 Peter 1:18-19)

A: Note in verse 30, Paul finally admits that wisdom is not a bad thing to have, but he says that our belief and union with Jesus results in our having Godís wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3), having a right standing (righteousness) with God (2 Corinthinas 5:21), being holy (1 Thess 4:3-7), and having the penalty for our sins paid by Jesus (redemption, Mark 10:45).

2 Cor 5:17. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Wisdom and knowledge
Col 2:2-3. My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

2 Cor 5:21. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Romans 3:22. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.

1 Thess 4:3-7. It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.

Mark 10:45. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

1 Peter 1:18-19. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

5. In verse 30, Paul refers to Christ as ďOur Righteousness.Ē What Old Testament prophet predicted that the coming King would be called ďThe Lord Our Righteousness?Ē

A: Jeremiah. Jer 23:6. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety.
This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness.

Jer 33:16. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness.'

6. Why does Paul emphasize in 2:1-5 that he did not speak to the Corinthians before with eloquence or persuasiveness but he came in weakness and trepidation? (Romans 1:16-17) What is the message here for us today?

A: Part of the answer is found in Verse 5 when he says he did not want their faith to be as a result of manís wisdom and persuasive speaking but on the gospel and Godís power.

Romans 1:16-17. I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith." (Refers to Habakkuk 2:4)

Remember, Paul was a brilliant scholar and could have overwhelmed his listeners with intellectual arguments. Instead, he shared the simple message of Jesus Christ allowing the Holy Spirit to guide his words. In sharing the gospel with others, we should follow Paulís example and keep our message simple and basic. The Holy Spirit will give power to your words.

On the other hand, Paul was not saying that it was not important to study and prepare for preaching. The Holy Spirit will definitely assist you when you speak, but donít use Paulís statement as an excuse not to study or be prepared when you speak.

7. Humility is a central concept in these verses. What else does the Bible say about humility and being humble? (2 Chr 7:14, Ps 18:27, 25:9, 149:4, Prv 3:34, 11:2, 15:33, Is 26:5, Zep 2:3, Mt 11:29, 18:4, Eph 4:2, Phil 2:3, Titus 3:2, James 3:13, 4:6, 4:10, 1 Pet 5:5-6)

2 Chr 7:14. if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Ps 18:27. You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.

Ps 25:9. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.

Ps 149:4. For the LORD takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with salvation.

Prv 3:34. He mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble.

Prv 11:2. When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

Prv 15:33. The fear of the LORD teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor.

Is 26:5. He humbles those who dwell on high, he lays the lofty city low; he levels it to the ground and casts it down to the dust.

Zep 2:3. Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the LORD's anger.

Mt 11:29. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Mt 18:4. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Eph 4:2. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Phil 2:3. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

Titus 3:2. to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.

James 3:13. Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.

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