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The Sunday Sermon – 1st Corinthians 1:25-31 God’s Chosen Tools


God’s Chosen Tools!
1st Corinthians 1:25-31

In 1982 my wife and I bought a house in Bangor, Co. Down. We knew that it was an old house (this had become apparent when we noticed the busts of Queen Victoria carved into the ceiling of the entrance hall!) but we didn’t really appreciate just how much disrepair the house was in! We soon found out. The floorboards were rotten, woodworms had taken up residence throughout, and rising damp was attacking the walls. To add to our woes, the roof slates fell off at the slightest hint of a storm. A lot of work needed done to bring the house into a reasonably habitable condition, but we decided, for economic reasons that we should attempt as many of these jobs as possible ourselves. Therein lay the first problem, because we didn’t have the right tools for the job. The tools needed to be appropriate, and they needed to be in the right condition. A hammer with a loose head or a blunt chisel is of little use to anyone. So a complete tool chest had to be purchased, before we could start the work.

God has a ‘job’ do be done in this world. This is His work place and we are his tools! We must be the right tools, and we must be well-prepared tools.

Let’s just remind ourselves of the situation here at Corinth. This church was suffering from a lack of effectiveness in their Christian lives and in their witness! They were a worldly church and their members enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle. They had been greatly blessed by God, for they lacked no gift, but they were so divided among themselves that they ruined their testimony. They took each other before the secular magistrate’s court for very little reason, they fought over the Lord’s Supper and spoiled it, they committed sins of lust, they disputed some of the basic doctrines of the church, and they were puffed up in their own pride.

Yet if any group of believers needed to be an effective witness for the Lord it was the church at Corinth. Corinth was at one time the hub of the pleasure-seeking world. The Romans ran package holidays to the Temple of Aphrodite at Corinth, where over a thousand temple prostitutes plied their trade. The temple was so awful that it was destroyed and rebuilt by Julius Caesar.
Corinth was also a great centre of trade. It was situated on a narrow strip of land. The Peloponnesian Isthmus was a narrow strip of land separating the south of Greece from the North. Ships from Rome etc would not risk taking the route around the southern shores of Greece. To the ancient mariner, that was a dangerous and perilous journey. Instead they would sail to this isthmus, and then beach their boats. Slave labour would carry the loads across the narrow strip of land, and then the boat itself would be rolled across on logs! Corinth was the stopping place for traders and seamen from all over the world. It was cosmopolitan city, and it was a prosperous city, and that in itself encouraged even more vice and depravity. So Corinth was a city renowned for its carnality.

Against this background, the Corinthian Christians needed to be really strong, really pure and truly effective. Instead they were worthless to God! For that very reason, Paul now turns his attention to the subject of ‘being an effective tool in God’s hand,’ and he describes for us just exactly the kind of people that God would use!

The Humble People Whom God Uses!
1 Cor. 1:26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, ….. are called:
God uses the Foolish Things! The Greeks had been recognised as the great thinkers of this world for years. Plato had spoken of his ‘Republic,’ Socrates and philosophised on religion and the meaning of life and death. Pythagoras had postulated his great mathematical formula! At school, I was forced to learn maths! I say forced, because it was my worst subject. I was hopeless at it, and never could really understand why I had to exercise my brain in the pursuit of the solution to equations, algebra, trigonometry and other forms of what I had decided was actually a form of mental torture, which probably should be banned under some UN resolution or other! However, there was one maths lesson I never forgot. The regular teacher was off sick, and a young supply teacher arrived to take the class. She was determined to teach us the principles of Pythagoras’ Theorem. There was no chance! Then she did something really strange. She brought out a guitar! There was a popular song at the time, which talked of ‘Little Boxes, Little Boxes, and they’re all made out of ticky-tacky, Little Boxes, Little Boxes, and they all look just the same….” Using the tune of that song, she began to sing… “Now the square on the hypotenuse of any right angled triangle, is equal to the sum of the squares on the other two sides…” To this very day, I have been able to remember what Pythagoras taught! Yet despite all their great learning, the Greeks were not chosen by God to be the vessel through which His salvation would come into this world. He chose a way of salvation that went against all of their great theories and principles! Jesus died that we might live! Jesus condemned that we might be justified The Gospel message is simple! But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise;

God uses Weak Things! 1 Cor. 1:27 and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; Our Testimonies are often weak! Parents and children and friends see our mistakes and our failings! They see our temper tantrums and our moods. We often give reason for their criticisms!
Our faith is often weak! Sometimes it seems as if God is very far away from us! The important thing is that God sees beyond these weaknesses and sees our potential for Him! In fact…
We need to be weak! In order for God to use us we need to be aware that we have no strength, apart from the strength we have in Him! The world around us is self assertive, self assured, self centred! We are often seen as weak and dependent! Yet God can take the weak things of this world, and use them as his instruments to overcome the strength of this world!

God uses Despised Things! 1 Cor. 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. We should never despise small things! God can take small beginnings, and can use them to achieve great and mighty things in his kingdom!

C.H.Spurgeon, the great preacher tells of how, when the hot-air balloon was first discovered, a matter-of- fact gentleman contemptuously asked Dr. Franklin what the use of it was. The doctor answered this question by asking another: “What is the use of a new-born infant? It may become a man!” Spurgeon then remarked, “This anticipation of great things springing from small beginnings should induce us to put into practice those holy promptings which at certain seasons move our souls. What if we ourselves and our work should be little in Zion?” Can’t the Lord cause the grandest issues to proceed from insignificant beginnings? Don’t despise the small things.

So, you see, God sees men differently than we see them! We admire earthly knowledge, and influence and nobility. Such things do not make a person acceptable to God! Men are saved only by God’s grace, and man’s efforts cannot avail! Galatians 6:3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.

The Holy Preparation They Undergo!
1 Cor. 1:30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.
These tools were not used of the Lord until they were prepared for service! They were IN CHRIST! In Christ, we have everything that we need to serve God! He is become:-

Our Wisdom from God! In contrast to the wisdom of this world we have the wisdom of Christ! It is contrary to the wisdom of this world! The great illustration of this is Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus teaches His disciples to live in total opposition to the world around! Here are some startling examples of that teaching:- Matthew 5:3-12 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
Matthew 5:21-22 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
Matthew 5:27-28 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
Matthew 5:38-42. Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. In the Book of Colossians, Paul is dealing with men who claim that they have a special knowledge that has been revealed to no-one else. He argues that in Christ is all wisdom and all knowledge, for He is the embodiment of the very wisdom of God! Col. 2:3 In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Col. 2:9 For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

Our Righteousness! Righteousness means ‘a right relationship with God.’ We cannot do that by our own efforts. Our righteousness does not consist in what we as sinners can do for God, but rather, what God has done for us as sinners! 2 Cor. 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. 1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

Our Sanctification! We walk in holiness and consecration before the Lord, living each day aware of his presence with us! We come out from the world, and live the Christian life, walk the Christian walk! 1 Peter 1:15-16 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

Our Redemption! He is our deliverance. Only Jesus can deliver a man or a woman from past sin, from the helplessness of our present situation, and from fear of what the future will bring. He died as the PENAL REPRESENTATIVE for those who would come to Him for salvation. He took our punishment, and He died our death, that we might live in Him! 1 Peter 1:18-19 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
“Jesus Christ is made to me, all I need, all I need, He alone is all my plea, He is all I need! Wisdom, righteousness and power, Holiness for evermore: my redemption full and sure, He is all I need.”

So in Christ we are fully equipped for the Christian life. Our talents, abilities, our wisdom and our knowledge, all come from Him, and they must therefore be used in serving him! So, observe:-

The Human Pride that God Forbids!
1 Cor. 1:29. That no flesh should glory in his presence. 1 Cor. 1:31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
The word GLORY here is an interesting word. The usual Greek root is the word δοκα (doka) from which we get our word doxology. It signifies the honour that is due to a person, particularly to God. But the word here is different καυχαομαι (kauchaomai), and it means to BOAST. Literally, the text reads, “Let him who boasts and proudly rejoices and glories, boast and proudly rejoice and glory in the Lord.” (The Amplified Bible)
If we have anything to boast about, it is Christ! We cannot boast about our efforts, our church, our numbers, our beautiful sanctuary etc! There is but one boast, and that is what the Lord has done for us! Here is why:-

Firstly, that NO FLESH should glory in His presence! What right do we have to boast about anything! Is it not true that everything that mankind turns his hand too is tainted by sin? We cannot control our own behaviour, never mind the behaviour of others! We cannot consider ourselves to be wise, when everything we ever learn and discover is constantly being changed and discarded when new discoveries are made! We cannot consider ourselves to be powerful, when little microscopic viruses can destroy our bodies! We cannot consider ourselves to be dignified, or better than others, when we are nothing but flesh and bone, the very dust of the earth! In the presence of God we are as Isaiah in the Temple! Isaiah 6.

Secondly, that he who Glories should glory in the Lord! The very purpose of Creation and redemption is to bring praise and glory to God. We have nothing with Him. We are nothing without Him. Let us make our boast in the Lord! On a holiday in Bonn, a young American student visited the Beethoven museum and became spellbound by the piano on which Beethoven had written some of his greatest works. She asked the museum attendant if she could play a few bars on it! Since she had accompanied the request with a generous tip, the attendant agreed. The girl went to the piano and played the opening bars of the one of Beethoven’s Sonatas. As she was leaving she said to the attendant, “I suppose all the great pianists who come here want to play on that piano.” The attendant shook his head. “Padarewski, the great Polish musician was here a while ago and he said he wasn’t worthy to lay a hand on it.”

So, God uses us, ordinary Christians, as His tools, to reach out to this world. But his tools are specialised. They are specially chosen by him and designed for his purpose. Their chief characteristic is that they are HUMBLE. (That does not mean that we are to abandon our own human intellect when we become Christians, but it does mean that whatever talents we have are to given over to him, and to be in subjection to his will!) They are willing to be used by the Master, in such a way that the honour and glory for their labours are attributed not to themselves, but to the Lord. Matthew 18:4. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

From → Sermon Notes

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