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Wisdom and nonsense

Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never find him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save all who believe. — 1 Corinthians 1:21

When man needs insight into life’s mysteries, it is understandable that he often turns to great minds in the search for answers. Occasionally he gets help, but more often than not his confusion is compounded and his dismay deepened.

One of the great minds of the 20th century belonged to Lord Bertrand Russell, a philosopher. He wrote,

Man is the product of causes which had no prevision [foresight] of the end they were achieving… His origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms… No fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave… All these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain that no philosophy that rejects them can hope to stand.

How could the brilliant Lord Russell be so sure that no individual life can be preserved beyond the grave? He did not explain. Of course not—he could not!

Such information does not belong to the philosopher. It belongs to the one who inhabits eternity and who reveals His truth to man in Christ. In fact, philosophers who ignore the gospel need to heed the Word of the Lord, which actually reveals what they cannot know on the basis of unaided human reason. As Paul wrote, “God has made them all look foolish and has shown their wisdom to be useless nonsense” (1 Corinthians 1:20).

It was kind of God to determine “that the world would never find him through human reason” (1:21), because that would have given the genius an advantage and put the ordinary man in an unfair position. A heaven populated exclusively by the brilliant was not part of the divine plan. On the contrary, in order that all might be blessed, God determined to use “foolish preaching to save all who believe” (1:21). Everybody, whether brilliant or backward, is capable of believing.

Of course, it is not simply believing that brings salvation. A man can fervently believe lies and sincerely trust error. Salvation comes through believing the message “that Christ was crucified” (1:23) and that “he is the one who made us acceptable to God,” who can make us “pure and holy” and is able through His death and resurrection to “purchase our freedom” (1:30). It is faith in Christ and His work that introduces us into the eternal blessings that God has in store.

Bertrand Russell offers this tidbit of advice: “Only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.”

Christ offers the assurance of eternal salvation. Who do you believe? Think about it!

For further study: 1 Corinthians 1:18-31

Content taken from The One Year Book of Devotions for Men by Stuart Briscoe. Copyright ©2000. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.