Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 4 * BOOK 26
I CORINTHIANS 1:1 – 2:7 – PART 2
Now let’s get right back into I Corinthians, and hopefully we can finish Chapter 2 today. We left off in Chapter 1, and verse 27 where Moses had to come to the place as a lowly sheep herder, before God could use him.
I Corinthians 1:27
“But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;”
Do you get that? In other words, when Paul came to Mars Hill he was just a weak vessel in the eyes of those philosophers. He was a babbler, yet Paul shook them up, and Paul is remembered to this very day. When you get over there, they don’t refer to those philosophers, but rather Paul. And so God was the winner once again. Now verse 28, and we’re continuing on with that same thought. God uses for His glory the base things of the world, and things which are even despised, and ridiculed.
I Corinthians 1:28
“And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:”
Now I think the average reader just reads that without getting the impact of it. What does Paul mean when he says that God will use the things that are not, to confound the things that are? Well it’s that same line of thought. The very things that the world isn’t even aware of, and they’re nothing so far as the world is concerned, they’re nothing in the eyes of the successful world, but yet those are the very things that God uses then to confound the high and the mighty. That’s just His way of doing it. Now verse 29 is the reason for all which seems contrary to life’s logic. Why shouldn’t God use someone who has all the talent in the world? Why shouldn’t God use someone who has a tremendous IQ? Why shouldn’t God use someone who has a whole background of wealth? Why didn’t God use Moses when he was second in command in Egypt? Well this verse 29 gives it all.
I Corinthians 1:29
“That no flesh should glory in his presence.”
No human being will ever glory or brag in God’s sight, because God won’t have it. So consequently, he will not use people with seemingly all the right credentials. Because then when they’re successful, what would they be prone to do? “Oh look what I did.”
I always have to remember the first time Iris and I were in Israel in 1975, and Israel had just come out of the six-day war which was in 1967. In that seven or eight-year period of time they had already made tremendous headway. They didn’t have the super highways that you see there today, but nevertheless they had a lot of blacktop roads, new hotels, and the nation was prospering. We came out of the hotel dining room one evening, and a gentleman approached us, and said, “You’re Americans aren’t you?” He spoke perfect English, and so come to find out he had been raised, and educated in Boston, but had immigrated to Israel. So he said, “What do you think of our little country?” And I said that it was unbelievable, and amazing what God has done. Do you know what his answer to that was? “God didn’t have a thing to do with all our accomplishments. We did it.”
Well you see that’s typical, they may think God didn’t have anything to do with it, but He did. They may think even today that they’ve accomplished it, but without the Sovereign God they never would, and it’s the same way with America. America wouldn’t be where we are without the Grace and blessing of God, but the point here is, God seldom uses gifted, intelligent, wealthy, human beings because they would be prone to brag. Come back to Romans Chapter 4, and we find even Abraham, the great man of faith who waited years and years for the promises to come to fruition, yet it was faith + nothing. It wasn’t that Abraham had accomplished so much, it wasn’t that Abraham was a great individual, but look what Romans 4 says:
“For if Abraham were justified by works (by what he could accomplish), he hath whereof to glory (or brag); but not before God.”
No one is ever going to brag to God, “Look what I’ve done.” God will never have it, not even with a man like Abraham would He allow him to come to the place where he could brag, “God, do you realize all that I’ve done for you? God do you realize that I was patient, and waited, and waited until you finally gave me that son?” No Abraham couldn’t do that. In fact while he was waiting he failed miserably, he fell flat on his face. So Paul in the same way, even though he had accomplished a lot in Judaism, yet by the time God is ready to send him out to the Gentiles three years after his conversion, do you know what he is? He’s a nobody. He’s no longer high up in Judaism, he’s no longer held in high esteem by the Jews as the student of Gamaliel. Paul is just a nobody who is has been brought down to nothing. Now let’s look at another one in II Corinthians Chapter 12. Here’s Paul own account, and we know in various other verses he describes his speech as being contemptible. He wasn’t an orator like Apollos. Evidently he was not a big tall handsome fellow that simply drew people.
I remember one of the men that had a lot to do with my own learning experience, he was a tremendous preacher, about six-foot-four, as handsome as handsome could be. He always dressed just perfectly, and he had a tremendous voice and delivery, and on top of all that, had a tremendous knowledge of the Scriptures. He was the first one to give to me what I’ve passed on to you over and over, Whenever you read something in the Scriptures always ask yourself first, “To whom was this addressed?” He was a great servant, and I’ve always held the man in high esteem, but he’s one of the very few. Now look what Paul had to put up with? Paul had an experience, and wasn’t quite sure it had all happened, but he knows it happened.
II Corinthians 12:4
“How that he (Paul) was caught up into paradise (the heaven of the heavens), and heard unspeakable words, which is not lawful for a man to utter.” In other words, he had actually heard the angelic conversations, he actually saw the very throne room of heaven.
II Corinthians 12:5,6
“Of such an one will I glory (it was such a thrilling experience that it was all he could do to keep from bragging about it, because Paul was human.): yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. For though I would desire to glory (It was all Paul could do to suppress that feeling of wanting to share with others what he had seen and heard, but he knew he dare not because God told him not to. On top of that God had to do something physically to Paul so he would never forget he was not to share.), I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.
In other words, it’s just like many other things concerning the Scriptures. If Noah’s ark could be discovered, and laid out there for public scrutiny, and there wasn’t any doubt that it was Noah’s ark, what would mankind do with it? They would make it a shrine, and worship the silly thing. See? And here Paul is saying the same thing. If I were permitted to share what I saw and heard in that experience people would be falling at my feet trying to worship me. So he says, “I dare not,” and in order to keep Paul humble, what does God do?
I Corinthians 12:7a
“And lest I should be exalted above measure (in other word unless I should come to the place where people would try to worship me, because of what I’ve seen and heard) through the abundance of the revelations (do you see that?), there was given to me a thorn in the flesh,…”
Now I imagine that everyone of you at one time or other has had a thorn, and they just pester you, until you can finally get rid of it. Paul was given a constant pestering thorn in the flesh as a constant reminder, “Paul don’t you repeat these things that you’ve heard and seen, don’t you get puffed up, don’t you try to reveal to the world all that I’ve shown you.”
II Corinthians 12:7b
“…the messenger of Satan to buffet me,…”
Does God ever inflict discomfort or pain Himself? I don’t think so, but who does God permit to do it for him? The Devil himself. Do you remember Job? God didn’t afflict Job, but who did? Satan did, and God limited him. God said, “You can touch him, but you can’t take his life, you can do this, but you can’t do that.” Well it’s the same way here. God didn’t put the thorn in Paul’s flesh, but he did permit a messenger of Satan, and here again is the reason.
II Corinthians 12:7b
“….lest I should be exalted above measure.”
In other words Paul is saying, “This was all done to me to remind me that I’m not who I’d like to think I am. I’m still just a nobody.” And you see that’s what every one of us are. In ourselves we are a nobody, but the flip-side is, “In Christ we become somebody, absolutely we do.” Okay, now back to I Corinthians.
I Corinthians 1:30
“But (Paul says) of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
What more could any man or woman ever hope for? Now here again the world thinks this is foolishness, the world thinks to have the assurance of redemption is just so much foolishness. The world certainly doesn’t want any part of sanctification and holiness, that’s just not their bag. I think of a dear lady who started asking her neighbors to come to a Bible study, and their reply was, “Hey, wait a minute, we’re not into that stuff.” Well that’s typical, and I told her not to be shocked. But now verse 31:
I Corinthians 1:31
“That, according as it is written (Old Testament), `He that glorieth (or brags, or boasts, then let him glorieth in one area), let him glory in the Lord.'”
Because without Him we’re nothing, absolutely nothing, none of us are. But in Him and His power none of us have any idea what we can accomplish. We can shake this old world to its boot straps if we would just step out by faith, and do it. Now let’s move on into Chapter 2, and here we come to this concept that one commentator mentioned concerning the Corinthians, that it was based on the various wisdoms. The wisdom of this world set up against the wisdom of God. Now Paul again is using himself as an example, because he is the prime example.
I Corinthians 2:1,2
“And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”
In other words, Paul didn’t come to Corinth to the Bema Seat, which in Corinth was sort of like the town square, and where all the philosophers would get up on the stage and extol their philosophy. Paul didn’t come with all the knowledge of the Greek classics: Homer, Plato, and all these. No, that didn’t count any thing to Paul, he didn’t even rehearse all of his knowledge of the Old Testament even though he could have, but I don’t think that in Corinth, this wild, wicked, Gentile city, God even let Paul use his Jewish background. But Paul comes with only one message, and it’s the message that’s almost forgotten today. Very seldom do you hear it plain and simple that the Gospel is: “Christ died for the sins of the world, that He died for me and He died for you, (Ref. I Corinthians 15:1-4) Oh it’s circumvented, they come close.
I remember years ago I went to a funeral of a neighbor lady, and the only reason I wanted to go was I’d heard this particular church had a tremendous preacher, and I wanted to hear for myself. He had a tremendous sermon that he brought to that whole huge church full of people, many of whom I’m sure had never heard the Gospel. He had a tremendous opportunity of letting hundreds of people hear the simple message of Salvation after that great eloquent sermon. But just as he came to the threshold of the plan of Salvation, what do you suppose he did? He dropped the ball, he just simply dropped it. I came away crestfallen, and thought how in the world could a man such as this, known to be a great preacher, and all he had to do was preach Christ crucified, and he blew it. And listen, that’s happening all too often. I don’t say all, but all too often.
I’ll never forget years ago when a gentlemen that I was instrumental in bringing out of almost the same kind of background, came up one day and said, “Les, if you could just heal people you’d have thousands coming to your meeting.” Now I know that, but you see that’s not what the Apostle Paul did. Paul didn’t come announcing a great healing meeting. Paul didn’t come saying, “Hey, we’re going to philosophize, we’re going to deal in the classics today.” But rather what did Paul do? He just pointed the finger at them, and said, “You’re sinners. Christ died for you, He loves you. Believe it. And what happened? Hey, he had an assembly of believers! Oh, they were carnal, they had a long way to go, but Paul calls them brethren, and as we saw in the first lesson, when you get to verses 7 & 8, if the Lord would have come that day they would have all gone to be with Him. Now verse 3.
I Corinthians 2:3
“And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.”
Remember I was telling you about a little lady awhile ago? She said, “I would go to the door and knock, and my knees would be shaking, and I was shaking with fear.” But you see that was normal, so was the Apostle Paul. He lived in constant fear of how he would be received. What will they do with my preaching? What are they going to do with me? And Paul lived to find out what they did to him in lots of instances. They beat him, they threw him in prison, they stoned him, and left him for dead. But Paul never quit preaching that simple Gospel. Now verse 4.
I Corinthians 2:4
“And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:”
There is another place that tells us that his speech was contemptible.
II Corinthians 10:10
“For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.
In other words, Paul didn’t use the most perfect Greek grammar. I don’t know, but there was something about it. He was not a polished orator like Apollos, or like some of the other Greek philosophers. And Paul had to overcome that. Paul didn’t but the Spirit of God did, and it’s the same way with every one of you. You may drop a word to someone, and may think that it will never amount to anything, but all we have to do is plant a seed once in awhile, and it will accomplish something. Oh you might not know about it in this life, but you will in the life to come. Now verse 5:
I Corinthians 2:5a
“That your faith…”
Paul wasn’t too proud of the Corinthians’ works yet, but he was proud of their faith. And you know I can identify with that. I meet people now that have heard our program, they’ve become believers, and I don’t know how far they’ve advanced in their Christian walk, but just to hear them give their testimony. I got this second-hand, but there was a dear lady not too long ago that told a friend that she had watched our program 15 minutes, and the Lord spoke to her heart and saved her out of a life that was anything but good. But you see this is what God will do if we’ll just what? Stick our neck out? Some time you just have to put your neck out on the old chopping block, and that’s what the Apostle Paul is referring to here.
I Corinthians 2:5a
“That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men,…”
Why am I emphasizing that? Because this is where too much of it is today. People are willing to listen to someone who seemingly has all the answers to the world’s problems, or maybe they have all the answers to science and religion, but listen that’s not where we put our faith. We put our faith in the Gospel, in the Word of God, and from that God will begin to expand our knowledge. Now finishing the verse.
I Corinthians 2:5b
“…but in the power of God.”
Now again going back to our opening remarks in this Book of Corinthians. When these grossly immoral people were saved out of that wicked lifestyle, they were given all the Grace of God that they will ever have, but what was still ahead of them? Growth. They began as fledglings, but they were under the Grace of God, and in that Grace they’re going to grow. And I’m sure that Paul finally saw the day when the Corinthian Church had a grown a long way. But at this point and time they’re still down there embryonic, they are still just fledglings.
I Corinthians 2:6a,7
“Howbeit we speak wisdom…” Remember what this one commentator said? This Book of Corinthians is all hung up on wisdom. The wisdom of men versus the wisdom of God. I hope you’re beginning to see that now.
“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:”