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How Does the Gospel Grade You

A historian who held a Ph.D, spent a few days in a small town. The elderly postmaster, curious about the visitor's background, asked what kind of doctor she was. "I'm a doctor of philosophy," she answered. "Hmmm," he grunted, scratching his head, "I don't recall that we've had a case of that around here." In 1st Corinthians 1:18-31 the apostle Paul is addressing a church that is in danger of coming down with a bad case of philosophy —the world's philosophy, that is! The simplest definition of philosophy is that it is the love of wisdom. Acts 17:18 records that at Athens, the philosophical headquarters of the ancient world, Paul was encountered by Greek "philosophers." According to Strong's Concordance the Greek word here is philosophos (pronounced "fil-os'-of-os") which means "fond of wise things, i.e. a philosopher." The problem with the philosophers at Athens and Corinth was not that they loved and promoted wisdom, but whose wisdom they loved and promoted! The text of lst Corinthians 1:18-31 mentions the words "wise" and "wisdom" at least 12 times, but Paul forcefully and clearly makes a distinction between two different kinds of wisdom. In verse 20 he mentions "the wisdom of this world," and later again in chapter 3:19. But he is not complimentary. In both passages he asserts by inspiration that the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God," indeed, that God has purposely made it so! God is not impressed with people who become so smart they see no need to include God in their formula for life. The other kind of wisdom is the wisdom of God" as revealed in the gospel message (1:21, 24).

Paul's beef with the sophisticated intellectuals and the big-brained people of his day was not that they were intellectual or had big-brains. The problem is what they think of the gospel! They graded the gospel an "F" — for foolishness, that is! First Corinthians 1:18-31 is full of words and phrases which graphically describe the world's analysis of the cross and the message it announces to mankind: fooIishness. . .0 stumbling block...weak....base...despised." But it isn't just the gospel that is graded by people —people are graded by the gospel by means of their response to it! "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (1:18). The cross of Christ is foolish to people who believe every human problem, including sin, can be solved by means of human brain power and effort, unaided by God. But we must be careful how we grade the gospel. Of a truth, how you grade the gospel is how the gospel grades you.

Dan Gulley
church of Christ
Smithville, Tennessee