Faith Versus Intellect

1 Corinthians 1:18-25 18 Preaching about the cross sounds foolish to those who are dying in sin. But it is the power of God to those of us who are being saved from the punishment of sin. 19 The Holy Writings say, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise people. I will put aside the learning of those who think they know a lot.” 20 Where is the man who is wise? Where is the man who thinks he knows a lot? Where is the man who thinks he has all the answers? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. 21 In His wisdom, He did not allow man to come to know Him through the wisdom of this world. It pleased God to save men from the punishment of their sins through preaching the Good News. This preaching sounds foolish. 22 The Jews are looking for something special to see. The Greek people are looking for the answer in wisdom. 23 But we preach that Christ died on a cross to save them from their sins. These words are hard for the Jews to listen to. The Greek people think it is foolish. 24 Christ is the power and wisdom of God to those who are chosen to be saved from the punishment of sin for both Jews and Greeks. 25 God’s plan looked foolish to men, but it is wiser than the best plans of men. God’s plan which may look weak is stronger than the strongest plans of men.

In Paul’s day, unbelievers rejected the gospel of Jesus Christ as foolishness and tried to approach God purely through their intellect. Today many people still propose views of God and salvation that are contrary to what Scripture teaches. Their ideas sometimes sound so reasonable that they lead many astray. According to human logic, the man with the highest education, the most degrees, and the greatest intelligence should have the wisest plan to reach God. But, as the apostle explained, the “wisdom” of mankind is folly.

The Lord promised to destroy the false wisdom of the world (So see, I will once again do great things with these people, great and wonderful things. And the wisdom of their wise men will be gone. The understanding of their wise men will be hidden.” Isa. 29:14; 1 Cor. 1:19 above), and for good reason: Human wisdom is used to glorify man. Those who dismiss faith in favor of a strictly intellectual approach to God attempt to gain His approval by means of reasoning, rationalizing, or working. For instance, every religion other than Christianity has a plan or ritual by which one supposedly gains acceptance with that belief system’s god. Such plans all boil down to this: “If I do better, I will be better. If I am better, then I will be more acceptable to my god.” A person does the work and thereby earns the glory for being a good member of his or her religion. The end result of all that work, however, is death—eternal separation from the one true God.

Christianity, on the other hand, glorifies God and His work. We are considered faithful believers when we trust in Him alone and believe that Jesus gave His life so we could be free from the chains of sin. Only He has made a way for believers to be reconciled to the Father and righteous in His eyes.

~ Andy Stanley

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