Session Five - Bible Study on 1 Corinthians 1:30,31

This study was originally presented over a five day period in July 1997 as a series of radio talks by Pastor Keith Graham. The material will be more profitable if digested in its five separate sessions, of which this is the fifth.

How did Jesus BECOME our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption? How was He MADE to be these things for us, as another translation puts it? First of all, thoroughly! God did a full, rich work in accomplishing the salvation of His elect. No expense was spared, God poured His heart into it, He did it with absolute justice, and it covered every detail. Theologians speak of the "person and work" of Christ. What is Christ's person? That is to ask, Who is Christ? He is the Son of God incarnate, that is His person. What was Christ's work? That is to ask, what did He do? The writer to the Hebrews expresses the mind of Christ like this: when He came into the world, He said, "sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. Then I said, Behold, I have come - in the volume of the book it is written of Me - to do Your will, O God." In love the Son of God came to do the will of the heavenly Father on earth in the power of the Holy Spirit.

So the Lord Jesus BECAME our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and remption by His coming in the flesh and by what He did in the flesh, that is in His human body and soul, on earth. Where we could only spout foolishness, He became the knowledge of real salvation. Where we had only the filthy rags of lawlessness, He became our glorious dress. Where we were unholy and useless, He became our sanctification; in Him we are set apart as God's prize possession. Where we were enslaved to sin and corruption, He became the incalculable cost of ransoming us from the prison house.

Salvation is God's work, there are absolutely no grounds for you and I to boast, if we are sharers in this salvation. And there are absolutely no grounds to blame anyone but yourself for the condemnation you will face if you dare to neglect God's great, costly, loving, and free gift! For Christ is the only wisdom, righteousness, sancification and redemption available! Jesus said "I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father, except by Me."

Unbelievers are inescapably sentenced to eternal torments in hell because in rejecting God's mercy they reject their only hope of escaping His just wrath against their sins. There is no wisdom by which we may know that we are in a right relationship with God, other than Christ. There is no righteousness acceptable to the Father other than His Son's perfect righteousness, which can only be received by faith as God's free gift. There is no way to bear the fruit of holiness, other than by abiding in the true vine, Jesus Christ. The infinitely costly payment for our deliverance could be made by no one except God in the flesh.

So the true knowledge of God, the right standing before His perfect standard of righteousness, sharing in His holiness, and the cost paid to achieve these things are all wrapped up in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Although we have looked at each term separately: wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, they are really all part of the glorious, unified gift of salvation in Christ. They can be distinguished, but they unite to show us that every good thing we have is through the person and work of the Mediator, Jesus Christ.

So our study concludes by asking, "how should this all inclusive pre-eminence of Christ effect my life?" In many ways, but among them this very important one. It is what 1 Corinthians 1 is all about, and that with which the chapter concludes: ALL boasting or vainglorying has absolutely no place in the life of a Christian! Pride, haughtiness, boasting, arrogance - these things are well rooted in our natural, sinful hearts, but utterly opposed to the renewed nature, to the walk of a real Christianity.

The account of the Lord Jesus raising his friend Lazarus from the dead is found in John 11. Picture this bizarre follow up to that great miracle: after being raised by Jesus, Lazarus roams through the graveyard, boasting over the dead because he is alive and they are not. Meanwhile, he reasons that he is alive because he raised Himself. What could be more absurd than this picture? Which is more ridiculous, a man boasting over corpses, or a man who was a corpse and is now alive again by the almighty power of God attributing the restoration of his life to himself? Yet, this is exactly what a person who imagines he is wise, righteous, or holy according to the flesh is doing. When he despises those who are not Christians, he is boasting over the spiritually dead, and reasoning that he gave himself the newness of life which there is in Christ.

Jesus gave us another example of this in His parable of the tax gatherer and the Pharisee in Luke 18, verse 9 and following. Luke writes that Jesus told it to certain ones who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt. As the parable goes, both men, the Pharisee and the tax gatherer, went up to the Temple in Jerusalem to pray. Jesus first shows that the Pharisee was not really praying to the God who had given every blessing he possessed, but in his heart he was really praying to himself. The Pharisee stood and was praying like this to himself: "God, I thank Thee, that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax gatherer."

Now Jesus' parable doesn't say whether the tax gatherer heard that last statement by the Pharisee. If he did, the Pharisee's claim is an assault on his neighbor. Even if the tax gatherer did not hear the Pharisee's prayer to himself, the arrogance of the Pharisee's attitude is breath-taking! So was the size of his ego. The Pharisee's prayer to self continues: "I fast twice a week, I pay tithes of all that I get." This man boasted in his flesh, it was the dynamo of his religion.

In Acts 12 we find the account of what happened to a vainglorying man, Herod. Herod the king had become angry with the people of two cities. Through a servant of Herod, these people began to win the king over. It appears that Herod's love of human adoration was his undoing. On a certain day he put on his kingly garments, took a seat on a throne, and began to speak to the people. The subjects cried out "the voice of a god, and not a man!" Herod did not give God the glory. He accepted this worship and gloried in himself - and as a result God struck him down. The Bible says he was "eaten by worms, and died".

Contrary to such sad foolishness and despicable wickedness, Paul begins and concludes his teaching in our passage by declaring that it is written that no one has ANY grounds to boast, except in the Lord. Where is this written? Let's hear the fuller context from the prophet Jeremiah -

"Thus says the LORD: let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might; let not a rich man boast of his riches: but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD Who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things, declares the LORD." Jeremiah 9:23,24

Paul again repeats this important truth in Romans, "...where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith", Romans 3:27. Yes, all forms of boasting are ruled out where true faith exists. Anything we have has been received. Vainglorying is foolish and despicable. It was the condemning sin of Satan himself, 1 Timothy 3:6.

A little Pharisee like the one in Jesus' parable lives in each of us. For instance, what if I were to begin to boast in having a grasp on the truth that I shouldn't boast? I would be doing the very thing I condemn. For this reason, our only boast can be in the Lord. The tax gatherer in the parable was willing to do nothing except call out to God for mercy. Those who know that Christ is all their wisdom, righteousness, holiness, and deliverance are those who have done likewise - and most importantly, who continue to do likewise.

If you are a Christian, don't tell the world about yourself, but about your great Redeemer. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so! Talk of all His wondrous works, declare them among the nations, tell them to the next generation. Speak of them when you lie down, when you get up, when you sit down, and when you walk in the way. Are you a chatterbox? Chatter about the Lord, not about foolishness. If you have a problem with gossip and you know it, repent and now tell every one the good news. Are you a preacher? Feed His lambs with His word, not your own like Herod did. Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.

Go to Session One - Bible Study on 1 Corinthians 1:30, 31
Go to 2 Timothy 2:15 Dept.
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