Who is Wise?
Wisdom is more than knowledge. Yes, it is full of truth, but wisdom knows how to apply truth in such a way that God's purposes are fulfilled and people are blessed by Him. So wisdom must start with God. God is the only person who is always wise and never foolish (Romans 16:27), and so we must listen to Him.
By contrast, the church in Corinth was listening to different voices. Travelling philosophers made a living by sharing their opinions. Pagan temples spread their cultic (and often immoral) teaching about lifestyle. The thriving sea-port was a magnet for worldly-wise people who created wealth through corrupt business practice. So 'wisdom' was considered to be proved when it resulted in pleasure, riches, honour or power. But Jesus achieved none of those things (Philippians 2:6-8), nor did His chosen apostles: so the Corinthian church was attracted to 'gospels' which claimed to give prosperity and popularity (1 Corinthians 3:1).
Paul reminded them that God's wisdom is very different: it leads to heaven and not hell. Although Christ's death on the cross was foolishness to Corinthian culture, it is the only way for sinners to be forgiven and have peace with God. No philosophy could work that out. It was revealed by preaching the gospel (Titus 1:3). When people believed the gospel they were saved and found that only through God's wisdom could they know Him personally, and have eternal life.
False gospels still plague the church. Seeking the world's approval has encouraged 'gospel-modification' to appeal to people who thrive on pleasure, wealth, popularity and power. It is a temptation for some church leaders who believe that they have to say what people want to hear. But the reward of knowing God, and leading others to know Him, far outshines the temporary glitter of powerful money and prestige (1 Peter 1:3-9). Choose God's wisdom. Leaders: preach the cross of Christ, repentance, forgiveness and costly discipleship. Believers: trust that the Lord has given you all that you need in Christ and be content with what you have (Hebrews 13:5). Most of all, honour the Lord Jesus Christ who died to save you.
© Dr Paul Adams