THE DIVINE INITIATIVE IN ELECTION NULLIFIES MAN’S PRIDE SO THAT GOD GETS ALL THE CREDIT
How does the world evaluate people? On the basis of intelligence, strength, power, economic standing, accomplishment, etc. None of these matter when it comes to salvation. In fact they tend to be a hindrance rather than a help because man needs to come to grips with his spiritual bankruptcy before he can embrace the free gift of salvation offered by God’s grace. The Corinthians had been aligning themselves with various preachers based on their personalities and styles. The Apostle Paul exposes the foolishness of these prideful distinctions by showing that the ground is level at the foot of the cross and there is no room for any boasting in man.
Goins: What Paul is saying to these people is, “You know what sort of people you were when God called you out of sinful darkness into the light of salvation. You know that he didn’t accept you as his child because you were brilliant or wealthy or powerful, because most of you weren’t at all. And those of you whose lives were defined that way were saved in spite of those positions, not because of them. If anything, they were obstacles between you and God’s grace.” The reality is that position and wealth and influence really can be hindrances, keeping people from the sense of need that leads to salvation.
I. (:26-29) THE DIVINE INITIATIVE IN ELECTION TURNS UPSIDE DOWN THE SCALE OF HUMAN MEASUREMENT – SO THAT MAN GETS NO CREDIT FOR SALVATION
A. (:26-28) Whom Did God Choose?
1. (:26) God’s Election Not Based on Man’s Scale of Measurement
a. Call to Reflection
“For consider your calling, brethren,”
Boyer: In this section Paul shows that the gospel is foolish when judged on the basis of the type of people who receive it.
b. Count By Category
1) Not Many Wise
“ that there were not many wise according to the flesh,”
2) Not Many Strong
“not many mighty,”
3) Not Many Significant
“not many noble.”
2. (:27-28) God’s Election Turns Things Upside Down
a. Nullifying Human Wisdom
“but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise,”
Morris: “put to shame”, i.e. by the contrast between the estimate the wise form of themselves and that which God’s choice reveals.
b. Nullifying Human Strength
“and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong”
c. Nullifying Human Significance
“and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are”
Morris: Katargeo, bring to nought, is not easy to translate. It occurs twenty-seven times in the New Testament and is translated in seventeen different ways in AV. . . Basically it means something like “to render idle” or “inoperative”, and all its usages derive from this. Here the meaning is that the things which are not render completely ineffective the things that are.
B. (:29) Why Did He Choose in That Way?
“so that no man may boast before God.”
II. (:30-31) THE DIVINE INITIATIVE IN ELECTION HIGHLIGHTS THE ALL-SUFFICIENT WORK OF GOD – SO THAT GOD GETS ALL THE CREDIT FOR SALVATION
A. (:30) How Did God Accomplish Our Salvation?
1. Summary: Salvation is God’s Work – Not Man’s
“But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus,”
2. List of God’s Spiritual Provisions in Christ Jesus
a. Wisdom – this has been the focus of this passage
“who became to us wisdom from God,”
S. Lewis Johnson: Due to the construction of the Greek sentence, it is clear that wisdom is the dominant word, and that the nouns righteousness, sanctification, and redemption amplify and explain wisdom. Wisdom here, then, is not practical wisdom, but positional wisdom, God’s wise plan for our complete salvation. Righteousness is forensic, the righteousness given in justification, or that which Paul expounds in Rom 1:1-5:21.
d. Redemption – emphasis on future glorification
Stedman: Redemption is the restoration to usefulness of something that has been rendered totally useless. Have you ever pawned anything? I have. You put something in hock and you get some money (never anywhere near what it is worth) from a pawnbroker. That object of value is useless while it is in pawn. It sits there gathering dust on the shelf, or in the shop window, absolutely useless until it is redeemed. But when you go back and pay the redemption price, you restore it to usefulness. Now, that is what redemption is all about, and that is what God is doing with us; he is restoring us to usefulness. We, who in the process of sin have been rendered virtually useless, are gradually being restored. The day will come when it will be complete, body, soul and spirit, and God will open up to us an avenue of service such as we have never dreamed of because at last we have been made useful once more.
B. (:31) Why Did He Save us in That Way? (Jer. 9:23-24 quote)
“so that, just as it is written, ‘Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.’”