Consider Your Calling (1 Cor. 1:26-31)

For the last few years I have written out a full manuscript of my sermons before I preach them and then have been able to post them here on my blog. However, this Sunday I preached my first sermon in a very long time without a manuscript and just an outline. So, in leu of my manuscript, below I will post my outline in case anyone is wanting more detail to my notes.

Here is a link to the audio of my sermon.

 

“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”” – 1 Cor. 1:26-31

 

Main point: Those who are saved by God alone boast in God alone.

 

Introduction

  1. What do you boast in? Boasting is kind of a word we don’t use much anymore
  2. What are you proud of? What makes you feel like, “I’ve got a good life”?
  3. There is a good, non-sinful way to be proud of something (Take pride in your work, or be proud of your children)
  4. But there is also a sinful way to take pride.
  5. Paul’s entire aim in this passage is to show that boasting in anything other than God alone is utterly foolish.

Our Calling (vs. 26-28)

  1. “Consider your calling” Notice, we are commanded to think about our calling. What does Paul mean by “calling” here?
    1. Effectual Calling (vs. 22-24)
      1. Jews and Greeks find the gospel to be foolishness because it does not meet their criterion for veracity.
      2. BUT, somehow there are Jews and Greeks who do believe – how?
        1. It is the same Jews, same Greeks, and the same message preached.
      3. “those who are called” (vs. 24)
        1. The only difference between those who are saved and not saved is the “calling”.
      4. Example of Lydia in Acts 16:13-14
        1. God opens Lydia’s heart to receive the gospel.
      5. Example of Jesus in John 6:44
      6. Example of Paul in Rom. 8:28-30
      7. Bad example of calling vs. good example of calling
      8. Textbook definition: This calling is a call that comes from the Father to unbelievers through Spirit empowered preaching of the gospel, resulting in conversion.
      9. Real life definition: How did you become a Christian? Why are you a Christian? How did you suddenly become interested in spiritual things, when before they seemed dull and dry?
    2. Look at the active work of God in the text
      1. “God chose…” 3x (vs. 27-28)
      2. “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus” (vs. 30)
      3. Summary: You didn’t save yourself – God saved you. And if God – not your own purity, morality, intellectual prowess, or spiritual intuition, – saved you, then what place do you have to boast?
        1. Why are you a Christian, and your neighbor isn’t?
          1. Because you are smarter?
          2. Because you are better?
  • Because you are more disciplined?
  1. No, everyone who has been truly saved scoffs at that – no, we know that it is sheer grace, and grace alone that saves us.
    1. Lord, I did not choose you,
      That could never be,
      For I would still refuse you,
      Had you not chosen me.
  2. All Christians intuitively know this to be true (regardless of our theological backgrounds),
    1. While we may not think much about it, we evidence that we believe in effectual calling when we just look at how we pray for unbelievers, “God save them…”
  3. but we don’t always live out the implications of it as if it were true(regardless of our theological backgrounds).
    1. When we are around those who resist Christ we can get frustrated, “Why won’t they just see the truth!”
    2. When we are around unbelievers whose sin seems peculiar to us, “I cannot fathom why anyone would do such a thing.”
  • When we feel impressed with ourselves, or like we are indispensible to God’s plan. Sometimes, we really think we are a “big deal”.
  1. 1 Cor. 4:7
    1. Those who are saved by God alone boast in God alone.

Evangelism sidebar

  1. Consider how the effectual calling of God is a boon to your evangelism.
    1. It puts us to work
      1. How will they believe unless they hear, and how will they hear unless someone preaches to them?
    2. It frees us from fear
      1. I am not responsible for changing hearts, just being faithful.
    3. It keeps us focused
      1. Notice in vs. 22 that Jews and Greeks sought signs and wisdom, but rejected the gospel.
      2. Didn’t Jesus perform signs and display wisdom? Didn’t Paul do the same?
      3. Unbelief isn’t primarily an intellectual problem; it is a heart-allegiance problem.
        1. We should answer arguments as best as we can, but always know the intellectual argument is never the main barrier, and continue to call them to repentance and pray for God to give them a heart to believe.
        2. You have never spoken to a person who does not know that God exists, they should be obeying Him, and they know they aren’t (Rom. 1:18-21; 2:14-15).

Our Weakness (vs. 26-28)

  1. I have taught this truth long enough to know that if we understand what it means for God to call us, the first thought that comes to our mind is, “But why would God call me? Why would He choose me? What’s so special about me?”
  2. That is a natural question, but the answer Scripture provides may at first seem frustrating, but ultimately is liberating.
    1. “Not many of you…” (vs. 26)
      1. At first glance, it looks like the condition for God choosing those He calls is that they are those the world considers weak and low.
      2. But that can’t be true because Paul says, “not many of you…”, therefore implying that there were some who were wise and powerful in the world’s eyes amidst the congregation.
      3. Why does God love us? Because He loves us. Deut. 7:7-8
        1. Why do you love your children? You just love them because of who they are, not what they do.
      4. So why does Paul talk about God choosing the weak?
        1. God hates pride, and pride tends to congregate towards those who are at the top of society – so God loves to bring the proud down low, and exalt those who are humble.
        2. But ultimately, and most importantly, everyone is weak. Everyone is a sinner.
          1. John 9:39-41, if the Pharisees would admit that they were blind, they would see – but because they keep saying, “I can see”, their blindness remains.
          2. The only path to freedom is to admit that you are weak. The way up, is down.
        3. Do you see why this is liberating? What does it take to be included in God’s family: be weak! Is there anyone who can’t be weak?
          1. If the condition to be chosen by God was “be strong!” then there would be reason to be stressed, to be anxious about looking impressive, feeling accomplished, and getting arrogant when we are on top.
          2. But if the condition is “weakness”, then everything is flipped on its head. You don’t have to impress God, you can rest, relax, and be honest.
          3. The only people who can’t be weak are those who think they must be strong and impressive – but when God comes to you and says, “My love for you is unconditional – there is nothing that will make me love you more, and there is nothing that could make me love you less,” we suddenly can stop puffing out our chests and sucking in our guts.
        4. Think about this, if you were a member of the Corinthian church, would it have gotten under your skin that Paul describes you as, “Not many of you were wise, or strong, or powerful – in fact, most of you guys are the lowest of the low!”
          1. Why is Paul free to press this point without fear that he is sinning against the Corinthians by insulting them or offending them?
          2. Because the whole point here is to show that God’s love for them is unconditionally given to them, so they are free to be honest about their flaws and shortcomings.
          3. Are you free to talk about your flaws?
  • The world has no category for this.
    1. The world has “winners” and “losers”.
      1. If you are a strong, you may have reason to feel happy, but you can’t be honest about your flaws.
      2. If you are a weak, you have reason to be honest about your flaws, but no reason to be happy.
    2. But God comes and says, “You’re all weak! And if you just come and admit your weakness I’ll give you an eternal joy!”
  1. “Therefore let us arm our hearts with these and similar statements of Scripture so that, when the devil accuses us by saying: You are a sinner; therefore you are damned, we can reply: The very fact that you say I am a sinner makes me want to be just and saved. Nay, you will be damned, says the devil. Indeed not, I reply, for I take refuge in Christ, who gave Himself for my sins. Therefore you will accomplish nothing, Satan, by trying to frighten me by setting the greatness of my sins before me and thus seducing me to sadness, doubt, despair, hatred, contempt, and blasphemy of God. Indeed, by calling me a sinner you are supplying me with weapons against yourself so that I can slay and destroy you with your own sword; for Christ died for sinners.” – Luther, ‘Commentary on the book of Galatians’ 
    1. Do you see how powerful this is?
      1. My experience, Before the Throne, “My soul is purchased by His blood.”
        1. Why would God purchase me? Doesn’t He know how terrible of an investment that is? Of all the things He could spend His Son’s precious blood on, why me? Doesn’t He know how flawed I am? Doesn’t He know how broken I am?
          1. YES! That’s the whole point! He knows that I am weak! He knows that I don’t measure up! He knows that I am foolish and lowly! And He loves me still. And He loves you.

Our Boasting (vs. 29-31)

  1. Is it not unmistakably plain and clear that the only place boasting has in our life is to boast in the Lord?
    1. What did you contribute to your salvation? Nothing.
    2. What requirement did you meet for God’s calling you? Weakness
  • How did you become a Christian? God alone.
  1. Boasting in ourselves makes as much sense as a man standing in a bucket, trying to pull himself upwards.
    1. We have no ground to boast – everything good we have comes from God.
  2. Those who are saved by God alone boast in God alone. And that is good news.

 

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