The Miracle of Salvation | 1 Corinthians 1:18-31

How can we put our faith in a salvation plan that is so counterintuitive, many reject it as foolishness and choose to live in their own self-sufficiency? In the third week of 1 Corinthians, Timothy Ateek shows us four reasons why our salvation is a miracle.

Timothy "TA" AteekMar 13, 2022

In This Series (20)
Standing Firm In A Fallen World | 1 Corinthians 16
David MarvinJul 31, 2022
The Purpose of Spiritual Gifts | 1 Corinthians 14
Oren MartinJul 24, 2022
A Church Marked by Love | 1 Corinthians 13
Timothy "TA" AteekJul 17, 2022
How To Build A Church | 1 Corinthians 12
John ElmoreJul 10, 2022
God's Design for Men and Women | 1 Corinthians 11:1-16
Timothy "TA" AteekJul 3, 2022
Repentance, Allegiance & Deference for the Glory of God | 1 Corinthians 10
John ElmoreJun 26, 2022
Giving, Sharing, and Living for the Gospel | 1 Corinthians 9
John ElmoreJun 19, 2022
Christians and Controversial Topics | 1 Corinthians 8
Jermaine HarrisonJun 12, 2022
Being Single | 1 Corinthians 7:7-40
Timothy "TA" AteekJun 5, 2022
Fighting For Your Marriage | 1 Corinthians 7:1-16
Timothy "TA" AteekMay 22, 2022
Sex and Glorifying God | 1 Corinthians 6:12-20
Timothy "TA" AteekMay 15, 2022
Conflict: An Inevitable Opportunity | 1 Corinthians 6:1-11
Timothy "TA" AteekMay 1, 2022
Church Discipline: Sin, Grace, and Shepherding | 1 Corinthians 5
John ElmoreApr 24, 2022
The Resurrection Is the Remedy to Our Hypocrisy | 1 Corinthians 15
Timothy "TA" AteekApr 17, 2022
The Purpose, Plot Twists, and Power of Christ | 1 Corinthians 4
John ElmoreApr 10, 2022
Being a Healthy Church | 1 Corinthians 3:1-23
Timothy "TA" AteekMar 27, 2022
The Miracle of Spiritual Maturity | 1 Corinthians 2:1-16
Timothy "TA" AteekMar 20, 2022
The Miracle of Salvation | 1 Corinthians 1:18-31
Timothy "TA" AteekMar 13, 2022
Priority, Preference, and Power | 1 Corinthians 1:10-17
John ElmoreMar 6, 2022
Called, Gifted, and Kept by Jesus | 1 Corinthians 1:1-9
John ElmoreFeb 27, 2022

In This Series (21)

Summary

How can we put our faith in a salvation plan that is so counterintuitive, many reject it as foolishness and choose to live in their own self-sufficiency? In the third week of 1 Corinthians, Timothy Ateek shows us four reasons why our salvation is a miracle.

Key Takeaways

  • Salvation is a miracle. When we could do nothing, Jesus Christ did everything.
  • Your salvation is a miracle because the most foolish message has become the most powerful message in your life (1 Corinthians 1:18-19).
  • Our story because of the power of the gospel: We were dead, and now we’re alive.
  • The Holy Spirit’s job is to convict us of sin, illuminate our hearts to the truth, and regenerate (bring our souls to life).
  • Your salvation is a miracle because it is a result of God’s initiation, not man’s inclinations (1 Corinthians 1:20-25).
  • Man is incapable of charting his own path to God.
  • Our tendency is to want God on our own terms, to control God, and to put salvation on our own shoulders.
  • We don’t know Jesus because we sought after Him; we know Jesus because God sought after us and called us to Himself.
  • Your salvation is a miracle because God’s selection was without condition (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).
  • When God calls a person, it says everything about His grace and nothing about their own goodness.
  • Your salvation is a miracle because without Jesus you had nothing, but in Jesus you have everything (1 Corinthians 1:28-30).
  • God chose nobodies like us so that the somebodies would realize that before God they are nobodies.
  • Our salvation exists for His exaltation (1 Corinthians 1:31).

Discussing and Applying the Sermon

  • In what ways do you try to earn your way into God’s favor?
  • When did the gospel message first start to make sense for you? If it doesn’t yet make sense, who can you ask to help bring clarity to it?
  • What does it look like for you to exalt Christ this week?

Resources for Further Discussion

  • Suggested Scripture study: 1 Corinthians 1:18-31; Deuteronomy 21:23

Good morning, Watermark Church. How are we doing? It's good to see you. My name is Timothy Ateek. I'm one of the teaching pastors here, and I'm so glad to get to open up the Word of God with you this morning. I know we just prayed, but I want us to pray again. What I want to ask you to do is to pray for yourself. I really believe that anytime we open up this book it's like we're opening up the mouth of God.

We've gathered here this morning. What a shame it would be to go to all the effort you've gone to to get here and leave here without hearing from God if he wants to speak to you. So, if you will, take a second and just pray for yourself. Say, "God, would you speak to me this morning?" Then if you would take a second and pray for me and ask God to speak through me to you.

Lord, we do want to hear from you. I pray that every single person in this room right now would meet with you and hear from you. We love you. In Jesus' name, amen.

A few years ago, my wife and I went to see a marriage counselor just because we needed to tune some things up in our marriage. The counselor wanted to do this exercise with us where she had us look at each other and try to share with the other person what we believed the problems were in our marriage without using the word you. So, no "you" statements, which is a tough exercise, because if there are problems, you always want to blame the other person for them. Right?

That's a difficult exercise. You have to say things like, "I find myself feeling frustrated when the last piece of dessert disappears, but I've been looking forward to it all day, and it's not there." You're like, "That's what you fight about?" Hey, dessert is a real deal in the Ateek household, and it will divide, no doubt. But I was just thinking about that exercise, and I thought, "You know what? What if we pulled that exercise into the spiritual realm?"

There's the age-old question, "If you were to die tonight, and you were to stand before God and he were to ask you, 'Why should I let you into heaven?' what would you say?" My question is…Could you do the reverse? Could you answer that question only using "you" statements? Like, no "I" statements at all.

Could you answer God without using "I" at all? No "I grew up in a Christian home." No "I prayed and asked Jesus into my heart when I was 8 years old." No "I've tried really hard to be a good person" or "I've been going to church since I was a kid." No "I've been getting my life back together." No "I" statements; only "you" statements. Could you do it?

The reason I even ask you that, the reason I even put that in your mind is, this morning, the one truth I want to be overwhelmingly clear to you is this: Salvation is a miracle. Period. That's it. Your salvation, my salvation, are miracles. So, if you consider yourself a follower of Jesus Christ… We need to daily live in the reality that when we could do nothing, Jesus did everything.

Let me just say this. If I just said, "Salvation is a miracle" and it kind of flew past your heart without settling in… If that's a truth you're kind of over, you need to get back under it, because that is never a truth we should outgrow. My hope is that it would prompt renewed gratitude for your salvation this morning. Salvation is a miracle. If you're here today and you're not a follower of Jesus Christ, if you're not a Christian, then the good news is, for some of you, God is working a miracle in your life right now.

If you have a Bible, I want to invite you to turn with me to 1 Corinthians. That is where we've been, and that's where we will be. A few weeks ago, teaching pastor John Elmore kicked us off in this months-long series we're doing through the book of 1 Corinthians. I texted John this week, and I was like, "Man, your preaching has found a new gear." I found myself so deeply encouraged by how John unpacked for us the first 17 verses of the book.

I hope you're excited about journeying through 1 Corinthians. It's like a reality TV show. It's packed full of drama. The reason we watch reality TV is for the drama. That's the church at Corinth. It's just loads of drama, and we get to eavesdrop on all of it and learn from it. There is something so beautiful and so powerful about just opening up this book, reading it, seeking to understand it, and then applying it.

Watermark Community Church will never be just opinion time with the speaker. This is what we do here. We stake our lives on the truth that is in this book. Every Sunday, you can expect to come, and we will open up this book, and we will just study it. We'll read it, we'll seek to understand it, and then we'll leave and live it out. All right? So, that is what our aim is.

Now, where we're going this morning in 1 Corinthians, chapter 1, starting in verse 18… I need to give you a little context of what was valued in the city of Corinth. What you need to understand is Corinth was a city that prized human wisdom. Orators, philosophers would travel through Corinth. They would come in. They would set up shop, and people would gather around them, pay money to them, and fanboy and fangirl over them. People loved hearing eloquent speakers.

The interesting thing about human wisdom and orators and philosophers in the city of Corinth is it's possible they valued the delivery more than the content. They cared more about how it was said than what was actually said. The more eloquent the speaker, the more powerful and more prestigious and the more famous that person was.

So, people wanted to gather around the most eloquent speakers of the day, because those were the people… In a city that valued things like power, glory, honor, and success, those were the people who were ascribed glory, honor, power, and success. People would gather around these orators and philosophers and listen to them, because by getting around them, they thought they might taste power and success and honor themselves.

So, when you think about human wisdom in the city of Corinth… If the orators or philosophers of the day were going to chart a path to salvation, what would that path look like? In terms of getting right with God, it would be a path that would include things like intelligence, upbringing, education, influence, and success.

If people in the city of Corinth were answering the question, "If you were to stand before God and he were to ask you, 'Why should I let you into heaven?' what would you say?" they might say things like, "Well, have you seen my education? Have you seen the philosophers I've been listening to? Have you seen the family I was born into? Have you seen what I've accomplished and the success I've had?"

What Paul is going to do is he's going to step in, and he is going to dismantle the human wisdom of his day and ours. As we look at what he's going to say in verses 18-31, we're going to see four reasons your salvation is a miracle. Period. Look with me. Let me read you the whole passage.

"For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.' Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.

For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, 'Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.'"

  1. Your salvation is a miracle because the most foolish message has become the most powerful message in your life. Did you see what Paul said in verse 18? "For the word of the cross…" That's a reference to the gospel message. "…the word of the cross is folly [foolishness] to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved [those who have put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins]…" What's the gospel message? It's the power of God.

Paul is drawing a distinction. He's saying there are really two types of people in this world. The main distinction is not Greek and Jew. It's perishing or being saved. That's the main distinction. Are you perishing or are you being saved? It all depends on what you do with the gospel message. He's saying to some people, the gospel is the most foolish message in the world. It's folly. Think about it.

You take a culture that valued prestige and power. What's the message of the gospel? God became a man. God was born in a Podunk village surrounded by farm animals. God was rejected by the very people he came to save. God's own followers deserted him. Did you see Paul's wording? He doesn't say, "For the word of the resurrection…" The resurrection is the best thing our message has going for us, because without the resurrection we have nothing. The resurrection is where victory is found.

Paul doesn't lead with the resurrection; he leads with the cross, the most shameful aspect of the message to those who are outside of the faith. You have to understand that when a Greek would hear that God was crucified, that was a problem, because crucifixion was the most shameful form of death on the planet at the time in the eyes of a Greek citizen or Roman citizen. Crucifixion was reserved only for insurrectionists and slaves. So, what's the gospel message? "God was crucified."

To the Jew, how would they perceive it? Well, Jews actually had in their law… Listen to what it says in Deuteronomy 21. "…his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God." So, to the Jew, the message is, "Not only did God become man, but God hung on a tree. But the Law says anyone who hangs on a tree is cursed by God. So, you're saying our hope and our salvation is found in someone who incurred the most shameful form of punishment and the type of punishment that's actually cursed by God."

One commentator put it this way: "The most powerful God appears to be the most powerless. Victory is won by giving up life, not taking it. Selfish domination of others is discredited. Shame is removed through divine identification with the shamed in a shameful death." To any educated man in the city of Corinth, this would have sounded like madness. The reality is the gospel is still foolishness in our society today.

When I was serving at Breakaway Ministries in College Station, I got to be good friends with the leaders of the Muslim Students Association on the campus of Texas A&M University. I remember sitting with them, and I explained the gospel to them, and although Muslims have a high view of Jesus, what they told me was, "The cross of Jesus Christ was unnecessary. We don't need a mediator. We don't need someone to do business with God on our behalf, because God can just forgive us directly. He can just look at our sins and decide to forgive them."

What are they saying? They're saying the cross of Christ is foolishness. Comedians have an important voice in society because they often articulate what others are too afraid to say. Here's what George Carlin said years ago. Many of you have never heard of him. Others of you know exactly who he is. He was really a pioneer with a certain type of comedy.

Here's what he said about religion: "We created God in our own image and likeness. Religion convinced the world that there's an invisible man in the sky who watches everything you do, and there's 10 things he doesn't want you to do or else you'll go to a burning place with a lake of fire until the end of eternity. But he loves you! And he needs your money. He's all-powerful, but he can't handle money." What's his point? "It's foolish."

Thomas Paine, one of the founding fathers of our nation, said, "The story of the redemption will not stand examination. That man should redeem himself from the sin of eating an apple by committing a murder on Jesus Christ is the strangest system of religion ever set up." What's he saying? "It's foolish." Then, for others today, the gospel is just unnecessary and irrelevant. I'm just going to tell you I see what was playing out in the church in Corinth happening in churches across our nation.

I remember talking to a friend a few years ago, and he said something prophetic. He said there's a shift in the church today from the expositor to the orator. He was saying that people no longer value someone opening up this book, studying it, and unpacking exactly what it says. People value more someone who is eloquent of speech, who can basically lead a pep rally and make you feel good.

There are people going to churches all over the nation who don't know Jesus, but they go to church and leave feeling good about themselves, feeling good with God, and sensing no need to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. That's a problem. People believe the gospel message is foolish, unnecessary, and irrelevant. If you were going to stand before God and he were to ask, "Why should I let you into heaven?" do you know what you'd say? You'd say, "God, I've tried hard to love myself well, and I've tried to love other people well." That's what people boil religion down to today.

For so many, the gospel is absolutely ridiculous, yet for people in this room and people all over this city and all over this world who consider themselves followers of Jesus Christ, the message of the gospel isn't foolish; it's the power of God. We stake our lives on it. It has changed our story. Our story now, as followers of Jesus Christ, is we were dead, and now we're alive.

So, this morning, if you put your faith and trust in Christ, and you leave here and go to lunch and meet a friend who wasn't here, and they are like, "How was church?" you can say, "Well, when I got there I was dead, and when I left I was alive. It was a good morning at church." That's our story. We stake our lives on it. We change our values around it. We get up early on Sunday mornings and gather together because we believe it is worthy of our lives and worthy of our celebration.

So, the question is…Why do we get it? Why do we hear the gospel and not think it's foolish but we think it's actually worthy of our lives? Why is that the case? You might say, "Well, because I listened to this one preacher, and he just speaks in a way that I get." The funny thing is that same preacher speaks to other people who still don't believe, so that can't be it.

You might say, "Well, I made the smart decision. When we had kids, we needed to get back in the church. We started coming to church. It just makes sense." Yeah, but there are people who come to church every week to be responsible, and they don't give a rip about Jesus. No. The reason the most foolish message has become the most powerful message is because a miracle has happened in your life. The Spirit of God has done what the Spirit of God does.

If you want to brush up on your theology of the Holy Spirit, let me tell you the jobs of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin. He illuminates our minds and hearts to truth. He regenerates our souls (meaning, he awakens our souls to life), and he sanctifies us. He takes the Word of God and shows us how it is to be lived out in our lives. A miracle has taken place.

I just want to invite you to think back. When in your life did the gospel message begin to make sense? I know, for me, it was early in life when I was going to a Christian day camp called Camp El Har. Then I was involved in the middle school and high school groups at Northwest Bible Church with some people who were consistently sharing truth with me. When I look back now, what I realize is there was a miracle in the making all along. When was it for you?

  1. Your salvation is a miracle because it is a result of God's initiation, not man's inclinations. Let's just walk through it. Verse 20. Look at what Paul says. "Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?" Now, what Paul isn't doing is extending an invitation. He's not like, "Hey, are there any philosophers who want to talk about it? Any teachers of the law who want to get together?" No. This is a victor taunting the one he has conquered.

This is Brad Pitt in Troy saying, "Is there no one else?" This is Paul. He's saying, "Come at me. Where are the leading experts of the day? Where are the leaders? Where is the philosopher? Where is the teacher of the law? Where's the debater?" What Paul is really asking is, "Hey, where is anyone in society today who can chart a path to salvation without the cross of Jesus Christ?" Paul is saying it doesn't exist.

"Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?" Watch this. Verse 21: "For since, in the wisdom of God…" That's in the sovereign, perfect plan of God. "…the world did not know God through wisdom…" Do you know what he's saying? He's saying there is no path to knowing God and knowing salvation based on your own inclinations.

You won't just wake up one day and find your way to a right relationship with God. It's not possible. It is impossible for you to come to God based on your own inclinations. He says, "For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God…" Watch what does please God. "…through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe." What pleases God is to save people through the death, burial, and resurrection of his Son Jesus.

In verse 22, he says, "For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom…" He's saying, "We always want God to operate on our terms." We want to control God. He says, "Jews seek a sign." What did Jews want? They wanted a ruling, conquering king to come and deliver them out from under the oppression of Rome. He's like, "That's what Jews want. They want a sign. They want God to operate how they want him to operate."

What do Greeks want? They want power. They want status, so they want wisdom that's going to elevate them in society. Paul says, "…but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles…" He's saying, "Look. Everyone wants God to operate on their terms, but God only operates on his terms. Do you know how God saves? Through Christ crucified." That was highly offensive to both Jews and Greeks. "Christ crucified" is an oxymoron. It's like saying "fried ice." It's not a thing.

Think about it. Jews wanted a ruling, conquering king, so they wanted a messiah. Christ means Messiah. Christ carries royalty and power, but then you attach Christ to crucified, the most shameful form of death, and it doesn't make sense. They're like, "Whoa, whoa, whoa. No, no, no. We want the conquering king." Paul is like, "Yeah, yeah. He is a conquering king. Do you know how he conquers? He conquers by being conquered. That's Christ. He has conquered Satan, sin, and death by being conquered on the cross."

So, it's a stumbling block to Jews. It's foolishness to Greeks. What does it look like today? What this looks like is we want God to operate on our terms. We want to believe we can get to God and we can figure out salvation based on our own inclinations. Anytime salvation is left in the hands of man, man will always try to get to God.

I want you to think about it like this. Full disclosure: I hate using maps. If it's a choice between using a map or just hoping for the best, I like to hope for the best and just kind of find my way. Well, that's fine on the streets of Dallas. It might take some time. But it doesn't work in the spiritual realm, because when man is left to himself, here's what we do. We begin to rationalize, and we follow our inclinations.

"Well, you know what? As long as I'm religious…" This is what happens when people get married and have kids. It's like, "You know what? We need to get serious. We need to raise our kids with good values. So, as long as we get to church, as long as we do religious things, that's all that matters." Or "You know what? As long as I'm a good person…" If you look around, you can always find someone doing a worse job than you. You just have to look for them, but when you find them, you latch on to them. You're like, "That's my guy. That's the guy who makes me feel really good about me."

Or "You know what? As long as I believe something…" This is pervasive on college campuses right now. It's like, "You know what? You do you. I'll do me. You believe what you want to believe. I'll believe what I want to believe." It's kind of like a mountain with ski lifts all coming from different directions. Ultimately, they all lead to the top. "You do you. I'll do me. You just need to believe something."

Or "You know what? As long as I ask Jesus into my heart and then live a good life…" We always want to add to something. We always want to make it about us getting to God, because we want to feel in control. We always want the credit. "Salvation is our doing." But your salvation is a miracle because it is the result of God's initiation, not man's inclinations.

Look back at what Paul says. Do you see it? Verse 22: "For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom…" Meaning, we try to do salvation on our terms. "…but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." Do you see it? It's God's initiation. Those who are saved are those whom God has come to and called.

This is the theological concept of election. It's the idea that you don't find God; you are found by God. You're not a Christian because you have pursued God; it's that you have been pursued by God. You can look at some point in your life… If you're a follower of Jesus Christ, you can look back… If you really dial in, you can look back, and there was a time where God just reached into your life and called you by name, and you came.

He called you. That's why you're saved. It's a miracle. God took thought of you, and he initiated with you. Some of you are here this morning, and you're not a follower of Jesus Christ, yet Jesus is whispering into your life and saying, "That's what I'm doing to you now. I am calling you to come and live life with me."

  1. Your salvation is a miracle because God's selection was without condition. Look at verse 26. I'm just going to warn you. Paul can be super awkward. You don't believe me. Watch. He says, "For consider your calling…" It's funny, because he's like, "Let me think of a good example. Well, you guys are a great example."

"For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise…" That's great. "…according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth." It's like, "Paul, we get the point." He's like, "You guys are dumb. You were born poor. You're pretty weak." It's like, "Dude, what did we do to you?"

He's like, "But God chose what is foolish…" He just doubles down. "…in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak…" There you are again. "…in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not…" He's like, "You're not. Like, whatever is, you're not." "…to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God."

What is Paul saying? He's like, "Look. No college is name-dropping your name, because you didn't go to college. None of y'all have initials after your name. None of y'all are on any 30 Under 30 list. None of you all are social media influencers, yet God chose you." Isn't that interesting? He's like, "You people in Corinth are God's people not because of you but because of God."

Let me explain it this way. I want to ask you to think of the most annoying person in your life right now. Don't elbow your spouse. Don't do it. When I say, "The most annoying person in your life," I'm talking about the person in your life who's crushing life to the point that it's annoying. They know everyone, and everyone knows them and likes them. They're super interesting, super adventurous, and super successful. They always have job offers on the table.

Everything they touch seems to turn to gold. They're super good-looking and fit. I'm talking about the type of fit that can only come through exercise and genetics. No matter how hard you try, you're never going to look like that. When they were dating their spouse, people looked at them and said, "Y'all are going to have the most beautiful kids," and it turns out they do have the most beautiful kids. It's super annoying. The worst part of it is that they're incredibly nice. Do you know that person? Maybe you are that person.

What's amazing is there will be plenty of people like that who will spend eternity apart from God while the thief who hung next to Jesus on the cross enjoys him for all of eternity. Sin is the great equalizer. When God calls someone to himself, it says everything about his grace and nothing about that person's goodness. So, just realize… Some of you guys get this. You think about your past, and you think about some choices you make, and every day you're like, "I cannot believe God would choose to love me." You get it, and that's a beautiful thing.

  1. Your salvation is a miracle because without Jesus you have nothing, but in Jesus you have everything. Look back at verse 28. "…God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are…" Do you see what he's doing? Taking culture into account, he's like, "All of these people are listening to these orators, and they value power and prestige and success."

He's saying, "He took those people who were pursuing power and success, thinking that somehow that might make them right with God, and instead he chose you, those who are weak and not very smart." Why did he do it? He did it to show that without him you have nothing. "…God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are…" Why? "…so that no human being might boast in the presence of God."

It goes back to that question. If you were to stand before God and he were to ask you why he should let you into heaven… Some of you think you're going to begin to point to stuff, like, "God, let me direct your attention to my church attendance. It was pretty great. I don't know if you saw my charitable giving statements for my tax records. You're welcome." God is going to be like, "What are you talking about?"

If you put your trust in what you have, what you have will not be much. Do not put your trust in what you have; put your trust in who has you. I just need you to know… I'm a church kid, and I lean toward being a rule follower. Just think about that. Are you more of a rule follower or a rule breaker? That's a good topic for discussion at lunch. I lean toward following the rules.

Growing up, I took pride in the fact that I didn't do some of the things other people were doing outwardly. I found some identity in that. I found some superiority in that. What Paul is saying is that is nothing before God. It's nothing. "…that no human being might boast in the presence of God." That word boast is the idea of putting your trust or your confidence in something.

He's like, "Look. You have nothing before God to put your confidence in that would make God be like, 'Oh my gosh! We've got to get that guy up here. Have you seen what he has been doing? Have you seen how generous he is? Do you see how selfless he is? Man, that's the type of guy we need in heaven.'" No.

Verse 30: "And because of him…" Who gets the credit? Him. "…because of him you are in Christ…" Because he has called you. He has worked a miracle. You are in Christ. "…who became to us wisdom…" Wisdom there is synonymous with salvation. He's saying because of Jesus Christ, who became to us salvation from God, here's what's true of us: righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.

Because of the miracle God has done… Without Jesus you had nothing, but in Jesus you have everything. He says you have righteousness. What's righteousness? It's an analogy. He's putting us into God's courtroom. Even though we are guilty because of our sin, we are declared in right standing because Jesus Christ took our guilt.

It says we have sanctification. We've been made holy. In God's eyes, we are spotless and clean. I just want you to think about that, because so many of us wake up, and we're followers of Christ, but we operate under the cloud of disappointment. If I were to ask you, "How does God feel about you?" you'd say, "Disappointed." Yet because of what Christ has done, we have righteousness, we have sanctification.

There is nothing in your life that God looks at and says, "See, that's the problem with you. That is what is so disappointing about you. That's what makes it so hard to love you. I'll do it, but that's what makes it so…" No. There is none of that. "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." And we have redemption. It's a slavery analogy. Jesus has rescued us from slavery and set us free.

This is what is true of us, not because of what we have, but because of who has us.I'll explain it this way. When my firstborn Noah was about 2 years old, he went to preschool, and he began to bring home artwork. It has been true for my other two kids as well. They go off to preschool, and they begin to bring home what they might call art.

Their artwork at a really young age… It would be like a white piece of paper with one purple crown line drizzled across it. I'm like, "Teachers, really? Are we doing this? You're sending this home?" It makes me sound like a really bad dad. There was nothing praiseworthy about that artwork. Hey, they have to learn at some point.

Then there were other days where 2-year-old Noah would bring home artwork that was, like, glitter and glued on cotton balls, and it was like, "Dude, you did not do this work. Someone did this work on your behalf." I didn't have that conversation with him. I celebrated it. I was like, "Dude, you did this? This is amazing. Look at this. Oh my gosh! The glitter, the cotton balls… Well done. Look at you, Picasso."

I just think about that. You know what? If you were to take all of your best days, like, the days where you crushed it, and you were to pull them all together, all of the days where you lived your best life, and you were to present them to God, you need to know they would be nothing more than a white piece of paper with a purple crown line drizzled across it. There's nothing praiseworthy about the art of your life, yet Jesus Christ went to the cross for you. Jesus Christ conquered death for you.

God the Father celebrates the work Jesus has done on your behalf, so now you experience all of the joy, all of the pleasure, all the satisfaction God has for you, because you are in Christ, and you have the righteousness of Christ, and you have been sanctified by Christ, and you have been set free by Christ. It's Jesus who has done all the work. That's why it's a miracle.

So, what's our response? Here's our response. Our salvation exists for his exaltation. That's it. You find it right there in the last verse. Verse 31: "Let the one who boasts…" Remember, if you put your trust, boast, put your confidence in anything… "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord." That's it. If you are over this truth, I need you to get back under the truth, because we never outgrow the reality that your salvation and my salvation are miracles.

Let me just encourage you. How do we respond? What does it look like for our salvation to exist for his exaltation? Here is a start. Before you even leave here this morning, raise your hands to God. Bend on your knees to God. Sit with him and allow yourself to pour out your gratitude for him for the miracle he has done in your life, and then every day this week…every single day…meditate on the miracle of your salvation until it means something to you.

Don't just rush past it. Every single day, wake up and sit with the Lord. Meditate on the miracle of your salvation until it means something to you, until it moves you, until your heart is overwhelmed with gratitude toward God, and then pray for opportunities to tell others about the miracle God has done in your life.

I'll close by sharing this. Several years ago, I went and saw a movie called 127 Hours. It was a movie about a guy named Aron Ralston (true story) who was hiking in Utah, and as he was hiking, a massive boulder got dislodged and fell into this crack, and it crushed Aron's arm and pinned him inside of this canyon. Aron spent five days alone in this canyon, trapped under this rock. The movie chronicles all of the different things Aron tries to save himself and to move that rock.

In the end, the resolution is that Aron takes his pocketknife and cuts off his arm (this is a true story) and saves himself. I just want you to know that our story is similar to Aron's in the sense that every single one of us was born pinned under the boulder of sin that separates us from God. Every single one of us was born pinned under the weight of our sin, but the story diverges in where the resolution comes, because it doesn't matter what you try; there is nothing you can do to save yourself. Period.

It comes back to that question. If you were to stand before God and he were to ask you, "Why should I let you into heaven?" do you know what your answer should be? "You, Jesus, became a man. You, Jesus, the all-powerful, appeared powerless. You, Jesus, were crucified like a criminal. You, Jesus, endured the punishment my sin deserved. You, Jesus, conquered by being conquered. You, Jesus, overcame the grave.

You, God, initiated with me. You, God, called me. You, Holy Spirit, convicted me of sin and illuminated my mind to the truth so that your gospel wasn't foolish, but power. You, Holy Spirit, brought my soul to life, and through your death, your burial, and your resurrection, you, Jesus, have given me righteousness. You have made me holy, and you, Jesus, have set me free." Your salvation is a miracle. Let's pray together.

Lord, I pray that truth would mean something to us this morning. If there are hearts in the room that know you but are calloused or unmoved by that truth, I pray they wouldn't leave this place without you stripping the calluses off their hearts, that this week would be full of gratitude for our salvation.

Lord, if there's anyone in this room who doesn't know you, may they sense in this moment that you are calling out to them, calling them by name, inviting them to come and to know you as Lord and Savior. May they put their trust in you this morning. We thank you, Jesus, for all you have done for us. When we could do nothing, you did everything. You get all the credit. Our salvation is a miracle, and we say "Thank you" for it. In Jesus' name, amen.