The foolishness of preaching
When reading or studying the Scripture, it is vital to notice repetition. God is a fan of using repetition in His teaching, especially when He is trying to make a point.
In 1 Corinthians 1:18-27, God uses the words “foolish” or “foolishness” six times in the ten verses. God is trying to make a point.
The first two uses of the word “foolishness” talk about people’s opinions of preaching and the power of salvation.
I have known a lot of good people who have no desire to listen to a sermon. I know of churches that will have services lasting nearly two hours, but the sermon is only ten minutes long. It is like the thought is, “Yeah, it is a church, so we know we should have a sermon, but let’s give it the least amount of time possible. We want to be entertained by other things and not have to have a preacher droning on and on.”
So, what does the Bible say about the foolishness of preaching?
1 Corinthians 1:18, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”
We can see this today. Many people think preaching is foolish. They will say things like, “I don’t like a preacher telling me what to do and not do.”
“Whatever that preacher says is his opinion, and that’s fine, but I have my own beliefs.”
Well, God seems to take the pulpit much more seriously. Notice the word “perish” in the verse above.
I cannot help but think of Noah. Everyone knows the story of Noah and the ark, all the animals and things. However, few remember that Noah was “a preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5). Those that rejected Noah’s message perished in the floodwaters.
The passage in 1 Corinthians goes on to explain that worldly wisdom does not know God. 1 Corinthians 1:21, “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”
Take note that salvation comes to those that have faith (“believe”), but those that do not believe the preaching of the cross “perish” (from verse 18) and from this verse do not know God. Those are harsh words considering they come from God Himself. Preaching and its role in salvation occur throughout the Scripture; it is God’s plan for things, as seen in Romans 10:17, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
Preaching does not have to come from a stage. Noah never had a pulpit; he preached while doing a lot of woodworking. Paul preached in synagogues and churches, but also by the riverside and countless other places. Jesus’ most famous sermon came from the top of a hill overlooking the Sea of Galilee. Preaching can happen across the kitchen table or the backyard fence, a street corner, in the living room, inside the car, or any number of other places. The preaching of the gospel can happen anyplace.
The world sees God and wisdom on opposite ends of the spectrum. If the American educational system thought God had anything to do with intelligence or knowledge, then the Bible and prayer would not have been removed from schools.
In our colleges and universities, Jewish and Christian speakers are booed off stage, or have their speeches canceled because of the fuss caused by the expected conservative or Christian message. These situations would not be the case if the University or the students thought that learning something about God, or a godly principle would increase their wisdom.
There are five, yes five, Bible passages that explain that the fear (respect) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, knowledge, and instruction (Job 28:28; Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 9:10; Proverbs 15:33).
To show how far we have run away from God, seven of the eight Ivy League schools started as Seminaries – training preachers. Cornell is the only exception.
I will leave you with three verses we have already seen, but thought of together makes a point.
1 Corinthians 1:21, “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”
Romans 10:17, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
Job 28:28, “And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.”
Preacher Johnson is Pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in northern Parke County Indiana. Webpage: www.preacherspoint.wordprss.com; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; address: 410 S. Jefferson St. Rockville IN 47872; all Bible references KJV.