“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.’ Who 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.”
1 Corinthians 1:18-21
I love to go to local bookstores and watch what people look at in the religious and inspirational sections. Many times religiously-minded folks will pick out a religious book written by someone, sit down next to me and begin to read it and discuss it with their friends. Usually they don’t mind if I join in on the conversation. That’s how I’ve had a lot of Bible studies over the years.
While conversing with many in this way, I’ve noticed how much knowledge they have about the views and writings of various authors whose religious material they’ve been collecting. I’ve also noticed how little knowledge there is about what God’s Word says about some of the subjects under discussion. This seems to be a problem with a lot of people who go to church these days. Over my lifetime it seems that more and more religious folks’ reading material consists more of the latest from Joel Osteen, Max Lucado and Franklin Graham and less from God’s Word.
Paul told Corinth that God made foolish the so-called “wisdom” of the wise men and well-educated scribes and debaters, and chose to save man through the message of His Word which many of those scholarly philosophers thought foolish (1 Corinthians 1:18-31). It reminds me about all the varying viewpoints about Christian doctrine and morality which so many among the various denominations and sects of Christendom have. It also reminded me of why they have them.
Some say baptism saves (Mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21). Others say it doesn’t and cite what their pastor or some religious philosopher said. Some say women should not preach in church when men are present (1 Timothy 2:11-12; 1 Corinthians 14:34-35). Others say it’s okay because they feel in their heart that Christianity must keep up with modern-day feminism. Some say same-sex marriage is okay because their church and the Supreme Court of this country recently ruled that it was. Others say it is a sin (Romans 1:26-28; 1 Timothy 1:9-10). Some say divorce is okay for any reason and cite the best-selling author and television evangelist to back them up. Others say divorce and remarriage are only permitted if fornication has occurred (Matthew 19:9).
The list goes on…but do you see a pattern here? Jesus said, “The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day” (John 12:48). Why do so many trust in and prefer to know the opinions and so-called wisdom of their fellow men when their eternal destiny will be judged by whether or not they follow what God’s Word says? The Bible gives one reason. “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
Friends, who do you listen to? Don’t let it be Jon Mitchell, your pastor or your favorite religious author. Instead, be like the Bereans who “were more noble” than others because “they received the Word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11). Take what you read in my column or in any inspirational book or article, take what you hear in any sermon or Bible class, and compare it to the totality of Scripture. If God’s Word says it, let that be enough. Let us trust and obey.