By Harry Bultema

“For the preaching of the Cross is to them that perish foolishness; But unto us which are saved it is the power of God … For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”    (1 Corinthians 1:18, 21-25)


     In this text we have 3 remarkable phrases of foolishness: 1) the foolishness of them that perish; 2) the foolishness of preaching; and 3) the foolishness of God.

     The expression “the foolishness of God” is unique and wonderful. An American Evangelist, holding meetings in Canada, advertised one of his speaking subjects on a poster. It was “The Foolishness of God.” He was immediately brought before the magistrates and they asked him, “Do you not know that we have an ordinance against blasphemy? I replied, “No..” “You get out of the city at once; we do not want atheistic blasphemy in our city.” I replied that I would speak that night on this text from the Bible. The Magistrates did not realize or know of such a Biblical text. Preachers, as a rule, know practically nothing about politics, but the politicians know like amount about the Bible.

     The “foolishness of preaching” has often been misunderstood. Some have understood it to mean foolish preaching and they have often preached the folly of a social gospel with not enough gospel in it to save a cat. Some preach a mere humanitarian gospel and there are no glad tidings in it. A political gospel cannot save, nor can a philosophical gospel. Neither can a sentimental gospel of silly death-bed stories, or flitting like a butterfly from flower to flower. The Apostle Paul does not refer to foolish preachers BUT to the foolishness of true preaching: the proclamation of the crucified Christ.

     The Cross was the gallows of the ancient world; this most contemptible form of execution applied only to the runaway slaves and the worst types of criminals. Christ died such a death. As the center One on the Cross, He hung there as the worst of the three, derided and laughed to scorn by the learned and pious men of Israel. Was it any wonder that this was an offence to the Greeks and a stumbling block to the Jews? But the Cross, the Christ of the Cross is, nevertheless, God’s remedy against sin and Satan. This was God’s settlement, solution of sin, and the salvation of man and of the world. It is not of man and not after man’s taste, but it is God’s perfect remedy for man and it is the ONLY remedy. God applied this remedy after He had fully tested  out the world, not only in Paradise, but in the history of 2,000 years of legalism of the most pure-blooded race of the earth and a 1,000 years of wisdom as brought out by the Greek nation.

     The Cross of Christ, however, showed up both Jewish legalism and Greek worldly wisdom in their hollowness and worthlessness before God. The former chose a murderer to the spotless Lamb of God and the latter with all its philosophy, oratory, poetry, art, culture, heroism, and sense of beauty, chose the creature above the Creator Who had come down to earth to seek and to save the lost.

     It was by wisdom that the world knew not God. This was shown in Greece, the wisest nation in antiquity, and today it is the same sad story. The world is over-civilized, and we clearly see the truth of this Word verified: “The world by wisdom knows not God” (1 Cor. 1:21). Wonder of wonders, man’s wisdom fails to see God’s wise way to Heaven, the way of the Cross, the way of the Crucified Christ. God does not moralize, philosophize or educate by way of the Cross, but He saves by way of the Cross for all those that believe. All those that received this Christ by faith and have had their sins cleansed by His blood always glory in that Cross of Christ and can sing with our dear friend,  William R. Newell:


(1) “Years I spent in vanity and pride,

Caring not my Lord was crucified,

Knowing not it was for me He died on Calvary.

(2) Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan!

Oh, the grace that brought it down to man!

O, the mighty gulf that God did span at Calvary.

(3) By God’s Word at last my sin I learned;

Then I trembled at the Law I’d spurned;

Till my guilty soul imploring turned to Calvary.

Chorus: Mercy there was great and grace was free;

Pardon there was multiplied to me;

There my burdened soul found liberty, at Calvary!


     Our text tells us that the Jews seek after a sign. Many think that it is dreadfully wrong of the Jews to require a sign or miracle, but God Himself had taught the Jews to do this. What is wrong is that they did not recognize the signs of their times: the sign of all signs—the resurrection of Christ. Miracles, critics say, never happened and they never will happen for they are impossible while they fail to see that God confined the miracles to the wonder nation: Israel. There were practically no miracles in the age before the Flood. There were no miracles after the deluge until God came down to work and judge. There were no miracles during the Babylonian captivity, nor in the four centuries before Malachi and the coming of Christ.

     Since the setting aside of Israel in Acts 28, there have been no special miracles, except the daily miracles of nature: the snow, grass, birds, and the many “miracles of grace.” If Christ performed miracles out of pity, where is His pity now? If He performed miracles to influence unbelievers, why doesn’t He do so today to convince the infidels? To say that there are no miracles today because of a lack of faith is absurd. This is the most awful indictment that could be brought against the Church that there have been o miracles for the past 2,000 years. It is crushingly self-condemnatory.

     The Jews of old did not ask for the manna in faith. The dead Lazarus did not arise from the dead because he prayed in faith. The guests at the wedding in Cana did not ask for wine in faith. The hungry multitudes were not fed because of their faith. The signs were there when Israel was in the land. When that nation was blinded and set aside, the signs ceased. That the Jews sought a sign then is not evil; however, they did not seek after Christ, the greatest miracle of God.

     Many folks today are hankering after miracles. They would love to see a general healing of all the sick and afflicted! Such healing would not save one individual. The miracle mongers of Christ’s day knew not God. Neither does the wisdom of the Greeks or the legalism of the Jews save. God is but pleased to save by the preaching of the Cross.

     What is folly to the ancient and modern Greeks is wisdom to us who are called from death to life. The crucified Christ is God’s highest power and wisdom. The Cross is the foolishness of God but it is wiser than men. The Cross is also the weakness of God. See Him hanging there and hear the pious men of Israel crying, “Come down from the Cross and we will believe on you.” How weak, yet in that weakness, He is able to save. The New Testament speaks of three unspeakable things: 1) The unspeakable gift, 2 Corinthians 9:15; 2) unspeakable words, 2 Corinthians 12:1-3; and 3) Unspeakable joy, 1 Peter 1:8.

     The word “unspeakable” means, not yet fully expounded. The half has never been told us of the crucifixion of Christ. The Syrians of old said, “Jehovah is the God of the hills, and not the God of the valleys,” BUT Jesus is the God of the valleys of sin, sickness, sorrow and of suffering. He is with us even through the valley of death. We can safely entrust ourselves to Him: body and soul, for time and eternity.

     We are going to Heaven by way of the Cross. But how do you expect to get there, sinner friend? Will you not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ that you might be assured of Heaven? It may be too late tomorrow. Now is the accepted time (2 Cor. 6:2)!