The Word of the Week – Boast in the Lord
5.3.16 The Word of the Week – Boast In the Lord
For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 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, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 NASB
In an earlier edition of the Word of the Week (Click to read that article), we looked at Paul’s denunciation of the foolishness of worldly wisdom in 1 Corinthians 1:18-25. We learned that within the church of Corinth there were some that were desiring to abandon the simplicity of the message of the cross for the so-called wisdom and power of the world. Now, in verses 26-31, the apostle seeks to remind such of their humble beginnings, the reality of God’s sovereign grace, and to exhort them not to move away from the simplicity of the cross.
He writes, “For consider your calling brethren,” a reference to the irresistible call of God in the salvation of His elect. What were they to consider about their calling? They were to consider the low estate from which they were – foolish, weak, base, despised, and nothing. Coming from this low estate, who did they now think that they were? They were not people of great intellect, power, or nobility in the sight of the world – yet, in their pride, they had begun to desire and seek after these things.
Further, Paul seeks to remind them that their salvation was not because of anything in them – rather it was entirely a sovereign gift from God. Notice that the phrase, “God has chosen,” is used three times in verses 27-28. The clear force of Paul’s argumentation in these verses is the reminder that salvation is foundationally based upon the doctrine of God’s sovereign election.
- Ephesians 1:4-5 – …He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself… Ephesians 1:4-5 NASB
- Romans 9:10-13 – …Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, “THE OLDER WILL SERVE THE YOUNGER.” Just as it is written, “JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED.” Romans 9:10-13 NASB
- Ephesians 2:8 – For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God… Ephesians 2:8 NASB
For the Christian, the humbling reality is that his or her salvation is entirely of God’s grace. However, many in Corinth had neglected this great truth and as a consequence began to take great pride in themselves. Yet, the very purpose in God calling those of low estate to be His people was to put to shame the so-called wisdom and power of the world!
The fact that our salvation is all of God and not of man means that men have no ground on which to boast in themselves – particularly in regard to their salvation. As a witness to this truth, Paul quotes the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah – “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24)
The reality is this that we are sinners who are, “dead in [our] trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1), and are consequently in need of spiritual life. That life can only come to us by the grace of God according to the elective decree of the Father, the atoning work of the Son upon the cross, and the application of the Son’s work to those chosen by the Father through the agency of the Holy Spirit. What does this application look like? A living faith in the Lord Jesus Christ! Yet, because faith is a gracious gift of God, no man can boast of himself. Therefore let us be content in Christ who is our all in all!
Ye chosen seed of Israel’s race,
Ye ransomed from the fall,
Hail Him who saves you by His grace,
And crown Him Lord of all.
All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name
Oliver Holden, 1765-1844
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