God is pleased with the foolishness of preaching but not with the foolishness of preachers!
There are way too many examples of how preachers are foolish to cover them all in this blog but I do want to focus on some of them.
There is not a lot of evidence in the Scripture explaining the phrase “foolishness of preaching” so I will not be spending much time trying to detail how that plays out.
Preaching styles vary for many reasons and may create the sense of it being foolish.
A preacher’s style may be staid, or animated. Preaching may come through a monotone preacher or one whose voice fluctuates between the extremes of shouting and a whisper.
Some preachers use notes and never vary from their notes, and others may never use notes. Some use notes as launching platforms where the wind of the Holy Spirit takes off through them and they end up “preaching prophetically”. Some stand stationary behind the pulpit and others roam all over the place.
The phrase “foolishness of preaching” may simply mean that the idea of someone presuming to speak for God is considered foolish by certain people who have no value for the verbal communication of the Word of God, or for those who say they speak for God.
I mean, “You actually believe you hear from God?” That is totally foolish to some people!
Here is what Paul said in Romans 1:18 KJV – “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”
Paul would later say that he “preached Christ and Him crucified.” The cross, the crucifixion, and everything purchased on it should always be central and the core value of any message taught. I do not mean that every message should specifically mention the cross. But the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus is the message of the gospel we teach.
The cross and the “foolish” preaching of it is foolishness to those who are perishing because they refuse to accept and embrace the power of the cross.
The message of the cross is so much broader than a get out of hell message. It is a get out of hell and a get hell out of you message. That is the power of the cross!
1 Corinthians 1:21 KJV
“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.”
This verse reveals a lot and one main aspect of the revelation is that God only saves those who believe.
There are foolish preachers preaching that everyone is saved by God because God in Christ is not counting people’s sins against them. They provide the verse of Scripture to prove their point.
2 Corinthians 5:19 NKJ [In Part]
“God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them.”
There are key phrases in Scripture that foolish preachers miss, misuse, mistake, and mis-represent. Some of them are “in Christ”, “through Christ”, “with Christ”, “by Christ”, etc.
Everyone is not saved unless they are “in Christ”. Jesus is the Savior of all mankind but only those who believe are saved.
1 Timothy 4:10 NKJ
“For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.”
Foolish preachers rarely if ever suffer for their labor, much less suffer reproach. To be reproached means to be criticized for your refusal to compromise your experiences in God for the pleasure of man, the popularity with men, or for a position or paycheck from men.
It means to have people be disappointed in you and disapprove of you because of your stand for God and not with them or for them in their unwillingness to grow up in Christ. Immaturity and irresponsibility seems to be chic in certain Christian circles.
I am long over the people who think the mission of the church is to “have fun” and everyone just “get along”.
There is only One Savior and that is Jesus Christ. Jesus came to save everyone but only those who “believe” will be saved.
How can we know we or someone else is really saved, or that we are a believer in Jesus?
Persuaded To The Point Of Persecution!
Does our preaching attract God? Does Jesus come to work with us? Or is the work we are doing for Him devoid of Him? Are we are relying completely on our own prowess to convince the people we are teaching that God is real?
Are We New Or Are We The Same Old Person?
2 Corinthians 5:17-20 NAS
“17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
There must be a reconciliation with God that results in a radically new life in Christ. This is implying there has been a breach in the relationship and a new connection must be made between the one who disconnected and God who waits for the wayward one to come to Him.
This new connection to God results in the person becoming new in every aspect. That person may not perfectly live out their “newness” but the change is such that those that know them the best know they are “new.”
You may be able to fool members of a church you hide in but you cannot fool the ones you live life with.
Our “being new” and “living new” should cause consternation in the people we used to live life with. If it doesn’t how new are we?
1 Peter 4:1-4 NKJ
“1 Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. 3 For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles–when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. 4 In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you.”
Do we even believe we can cease sinning? Not if we are sitting under the ministry of foolish preachers who teach we cannot overcome temptation and sin.
We have wasted too much time already and there is not enough time to keep wasting time.
Here again, is our new lifestyle attracting persecution, reproach, and or criticism?
If not, why not?
What is the problem?
Paul, in our 1 Corinthians 1:21 text, states that the world did not know God because of the limitations of the wisdom of the world. God, in His wisdom chose to make Himself known through the foolishness [by man’s standards] of [the] preaching of His gospel, so that the world could be saved by God, in Christ.
How do preachers become foolish?
Paul reveals one way in verse 17 of 1 Corinthians chapter 1 [KJV] – “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.”
Here are some other translations of this very important verse:
God’s Word Translation
“Christ didn’t send me to baptize. Instead, he sent me to spread the Good News. I didn’t use intellectual arguments. That would have made the cross of Christ lose its meaning.”
“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel–and not with clever speech, so that the cross of Christ would not become useless.”
International Standard Version
“For the Messiah did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, not with eloquent wisdom, so the cross of the Messiah won’t be emptied of its power.”
Aramaic Bible In Plain English
“For The Messiah sent me not to baptize, but to preach The Good News, not in wisdom of words, lest the crucifixion of The Messiah would be rejected.”
Weymouth New Testament
“Christ did not send me to baptize, but to proclaim the Good News; and not in merely wise words–lest the Cross of Christ should be deprived of its power.”
“For Christ didn’t send me to baptize, and even if my preaching sounds poor, for I do not fill my sermons with profound words and high sounding ideas, for fear of diluting the mighty power there is in the simple message of the cross of Christ.”
Preachers become foolish by preaching their own wisdom founded on their own ways and word, and not the wisdom of God which is centered on the Cross of Christ.
The Cross of Christ involves so much more than Jesus hanging on it for 6 hours until He gave up His life for the world.
The Cross of Christ is the place of payment for all that Christ purchased for the world. Jesus demonstrated all that He would purchase prior to His purchasing it all on the Cross. He did it by teaching [using words] and by demonstrating [not using words but using God’s authority and power] to intervene in the helplessness and hopelessness of mankind’s condition.
Friends, the message of the Cross can be watered down [Living Bible] and made of “none effect” [King James].
The preaching of the Cross of Christ must be accompanied by demonstrations of the Spirit and power or it is watered down to the wisdom and natural abilities of men.
The preachers who preach without demonstrations of the Spirit and power are foolish.
Jesus was known as a preacher [teacher] who moved past just talking about God’s message to man. He proved what He taught by performing signs and wonders and miracles.
“1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; 2 this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” [John 3 NAS]
The proof that God was with Jesus in His teaching [preaching, proclaiming and explaining God’s message to man] ministry was the “signs” that He did in conjunction with His teaching.
Even the foolish preacher Nicodemus had enough character to acknowledge God set Jesus apart from the traditional teachers in Israel.
Did you notice Nicodemus did not say the proof God was with Christ was the way Jesus used words to teach the people? That is not to say Jesus did not have a way with words as we will see later.
It is interesting to me how a teacher in Israel recognized a teacher sent by God. Signs always point to the greater reality the sign represents.
Where are the present day foolish preachers who will acknowledge there is a lack of completeness in their personal teaching ministry if there is no “signs” accompanying their messages. Where are their messages pointing the people they are teaching?
Look at what Luke says in Acts 1:1 NKJ – “The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach.”
Luke confirms the teaching ministry of Jesus was broader than a vocal ministry. There was a “doing” and a “teaching”. This is real kingdom ministry.
Why Are People Attracted To Our Ministry?
Luke 5:15 NAS
“But the news about Him was spreading even farther, and large crowds were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses.”
There are a lot of preachers and teachers who through their motivational speaking abilities, their natural charisma, or their business acumen attract a lot of people to their meetings. But how many of the people who come to hear also come to be healed?
Foolish preachers create church cultures that “believe in the miraculous” but never give people an opportunity to be healed proving they do not truly believe. If there is not corresponding activity of our “belief” then what we “believe” is useless.
Some say, “Well, we don’t want anyone to be disappointed if they do not get healed so we don’t “focus” on healing or other miraculous activity.”
My God folks! Do they not realize they are disappointing the very people who need God’s miraculous intervention, whether it be physical, emotional or spiritual?
Do The People We Teach Recognize God’s Authority On Our Teaching?
Matthew 7:28,29 NKJ
“28And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, 29for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”
Foolish preachers can say all the right things but if what they are saying is not releasing God’s authority then they are wasting their time and the time of those who came to hear them.
Is Our Teaching Tickling Ears Or Transforming Lives?
2 Timothy 4:1-4
“1 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.”
Paul is speaking to his spiritual son Timothy and former world traveler on his apostolic missionary team. He gives Timothy a solemn [serious] charge where God the Father and Christ Jesus are witnesses and the Ones who will be the ultimate judges of the living and the dead.
Folks, teaching for God is a serious calling. Paul tells Timothy to preach the word; be ready when you feel ready or not. Then he raises the bar for those who are not settling for being a foolish preacher.
Preach the word of God – With gravity and authority which must be listened to and obeyed.
Reprove – With conviction in order to convict by exposing the fallacy of false beliefs, to reprehend severely, to reprehend and call people to give an account of their behavior.
Rebuke – To censure severely to reveal the true value of those being taught. To honor by not allowing people to live below the price Jesus paid and the standard that price provides them.
Exhort -To call people up to their rightful place in Christ.
How? With great patience [endurance] and instruction [foundational and revelational teaching that creates an inner structure within those being taught that will be able to support everything God want to release to and though them]!
Why? For the time will come when they will NOT endure sound doctrine but will constantly want their ears tickled.
The result will be those who sit under the teachings of foolish preachers will only seek out those teachers who affirm their immaturity based on what they desire, not what God desires for them.
These fools will turn their ears away from the truth [what they need to hear and what God wants them to hear] and those preachers of foolishness who proclaim the truth to them, and ultimately they will turn toward myths [false fables].
What a sad commentary of the culture of compromise that began with a foolish preacher who compromised his or her personal call.
Paul differentiates between the foolishness of foolish preaching and God’s definition of the foolishness of preaching in 1 Corinthians chapter two verses 1-5 KJV –
“1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”
When preachers reduce their preaching to what they can do through their own enticing words their preaching has become man’s wisdom and not God’s. God’s wisdom is revealed in the manifestation of the demonstration of the Holy Spirit and [His] power.
Paul came in “weakness”! This means he recognized his human limitations and allowed for God’s strength to manifest.
Paul came in “fear”! Paul had a holy reverence for God and the responsibility the call of God to represent Him posed for him!
Paul came in “much trembling”! Paul knew the work of God must be executed in the power of the Spirit of God and he dealt with the anxiety that his responsibility at times was overwhelming!
The result of that kind of teaching ministry is “your faith should not stand on the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”
This is startling to me. The goal of preaching [teaching] is that people’s faith would be in the power of God and in the God who possesses all power. Teaching ministry should be not be in the wisdom of the natural intellectual or oratorical abilities of the one teaching for God.
Going back to the original text in 1 Corinthians 1:21 we see how God chooses to save people and His choice is through the foolishness of preaching.
One last text I want to share with you in this blog to test the theology of Biblical preaching of foolishness is found in Romans chapter 15:
“15 But I have written very boldly to you on some points so as to remind you again, because of the grace that was given me from God, 16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, ministering as a priest the gospel of God, so that my offering of the Gentiles may become acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. 17 Therefore in Christ Jesus I have found reason for boasting in things pertaining to God. 18 For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed, 19 in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. 20 And thus I aspired to preach the gospel, not where Christ was already named, so that I would not build on another man’s foundation.”
Foolish preachers rarely if ever write or teach boldly, much less very boldly!
Paul is emphasizing how daring he was in his writing to the believers in Rome. He was boldly courageous, not worrying about how people may “feel” about the way he communicated truths to them.
Foolish preachers couch their communication in non-confrontational ways so as not to “hurt” the feelings of the people they are teaching.
Paul is saying he wrote to them as if he would never have the opportunity to “speak” to them again. This created a sense of urgency in what he said and how he said it. What he communicated needed to have maximum impact, especially if he never spoke to them again.
He goes on to say many things in this text.
Paul tells them that it is God’s grace that gives him the boldness. Foolish preachers and foolish people think God’s grace gives them license to be immature and irresponsible.
Paul says that he is a servant [minister] and priest [representative of the people to God and a representative of God to the people] to the Gentiles. He continues by stating his ministry is an offering that he wants to be acceptable to and sanctified by the Holy Spirit. This is so much different than the man pleasing ministry of the foolish preacher.
Paul says that his boasting in Christ pertains to the things pertaining to God, not man. Foolish preachers boast in the things that pertain to themselves, or other people. Primarily they complement the people they surround themselves with who facilitate their foolishness. Their primary subject is themselves and what they have accomplished.
To Paul presumption is not a good plan. He does not dare to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through him. In other words, he upholds the standard of His many experiences in Christ uncompromisingly, and the evidence of his commitment is the obedience of the Gentiles to God in how they live and in what they say. Their lifestyle does not contradict or betray their lips.
Once again Paul speaks of the importance of signs, wonders and miracles in the ministry of teaching in every place he traveled for Christ. Paul said he “fully preached the gospel”. The gospel is never fully preached where signs, wonders and miracles are absent.
Paul did not want to minister on another man’s foundation. Foundations are vitally important to the overall success of what is being built. In order to endure the tests of time Paul made sure his ministry was built on the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, the One who authored Christian ministry.
If all gospel teachers followed Jesus and Paul’s methodology of ministry there would not be any foolish preachers.
Lord, help us to raise up a massive army of preachers of foolishness, and fire all the ones who are just foolish preachers.
This is a huge subject that I have only scratched the surface in this blog! As always in my writing and speaking ministry I hope, pray and expect you will do your own research to verify that what I am saying is Biblically correct.
My reason in writing and teaching is so that your life and ministry will be as effective as the Holy Spirit who calls you to minister for Him desires it to be!
Keep HIS Faith! Keep HIS Passion!
Dr. Kevin M. Drury
One Of HIS Hisstorymakers