When I stop to think that our heavenly Father loved us so much that He sent His son to die to sin for us — and that He chose us to be His children, I am in awe of how much He loves us. For me, it is incomprehensible. And then I wonder – why me?
What sort of people does God look for when He gets ready to populate heaven? God’s thoughts are not like our thoughts, nor are His ways like our ways (Isa 55:8). What types of people does God choose for His family? God chooses those that have nothing to brag about. In 1 Cor 1:26-31, Paul is going to pull the rug out from underneath us and turn our thinking upside down. First, he is going to tell us that…
1. God’s choice eliminates self-esteem (1:26-29). In 1:26 Paul writes, “Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.” Paul begins by taking the Corinthians back to their spiritual roots. He reminds them of who they weren’t when God saved them and to to consider or contemplate their calling (their position in the world when they first believed in Christ). They weren’t academically elite or wise according to a worldly standard. They weren’t political movers and shakers (“mighty”). And they weren’t from well-to-do families (“noble”). By and large, most of them were from the lower ranks of society, including the slave class. In a sense, Paul holds up a mirror and says, “Take a good look. What do you see?” If the Corinthians were honest, they saw ordinary men and women from unimpressive backgrounds whose lives had been utterly transformed by Jesus Christ.
There is an important message here if we care to receive it. When God calls people to His family, He intentionally chooses those whom the world rejects. He prefers the weak over the strong, the forgotten over the famous, and the nobodies over the somebodies. He starts with the people the world chooses last. He prefers to choose the weak instead of the strong. He loves to save the uneducated, the foolish, the addicted, the broken, the downcast, and the imprisoned. In short, He specializes in saving those whom the world counts as nothing.
In 1:27-29, Paul transitions with a strong contrast. “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him.” Three times in 1:27-28, Paul writes that “God chose.” This is the doctrine of sovereign choice—the biblical doctrine of election. These words mean exactly what they seem to mean. In Romans 9:18 it says, “Therefore God has mercy on whom He wants to have mercy, and He hardens whom He wants to harden.” There are no naturally born children of God; all are adopted, and we are children by choice. As we discussed yesterday, the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin. “And when He comes, He will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:” (John 16:8)
2. God’s choice demands Christ-esteem. Paul closes chapter one with these words: “It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.’” (1:30-31). It is “by His doing” that you are “in Christ Jesus.” He is both the source and the cause of the Corinthians being in Christ. The believer is described here very simply as one who is “in Christ.” You know, you can’t be any closer to something than “in it.” That’s our position as born again believers. God the Father sees you and me as a part of His Son. This is just one of many reasons a believer can’t lose his or her salvation—the believer is one with Christ.
This phrase (“But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus”) explains the previous verses: “If things that were not have now become something, it is due to God alone.” The crucified Christ becomes the manifestation of God’s wisdom, which here refers to God’s long-established plan for the world’s salvation. “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,” (Eph 3:10). In Him, believers receive true wisdom: the wisdom of the cross and all its benefits—right standing before God (“righteousness”), moral cleansing (“holiness”), and rescue from slavery to sin (“redemption”). These three words describe the fruit of God’s wisdom in Christ.
We’ve been given God’s righteousness. God is perfectly righteous because He is totally as He should be. He can’t vary from His rightness. And when we trust His Son, He shares His Son’s righteousness with us. He makes us right with Him, right within ourselves, and right with other people.
We’ve received God’s sanctification. We’ve been set apart and made holy, both positionally and practically. This is the daily manifestation of the Christ-like character that has been placed into us. The character of Christ is gradually revealed in us more and more the longer we’re in relationship with Him, as we learn how to handle life according to God’s wisdom. We’ll become more patient, more loving, more insightful, and more courageous. It’s a wonderful lifelong process.
We’ve received God’s redemption. To redeem means to buy something back. God, through Christ, has purchased us from the power of sin. It’s because of Christ’s redeeming work on the cross that we have eternal life. God chooses those that have nothing to brag about. Paul is saying, “We can boast but we must boast in Christ.” May our boast be not in what we do for Christ but in what Christ does for us.
- NIV Study Bible
- Humbled by Choice