Have you ever considered the amount of Christian resources that are readily available to us today? There has never been a time in history quite like this one: we no longer have to depend solely upon the books and resources that are available in the city library, we don’t have to learn a new language in order to read material that was written in a language other than our own, and we don’t even have to spend money to obtain solid Christian resources because there are many available online at no charge (see ccel.org and monergism.com). Indeed, we have access to more Bible translations, books, commentaries, and sermons than at any time in history.
Amazingly, we can study the Bible alongside godly men and women of church history who left us their notes and comments on the Scriptures, while at the same time we can explore the modern books and sermons of our contemporaries. As a result of the vast amount of resources at our fingertips, we live in a day in which many professing Christians possess more theological insight than did Christians in centuries past; however, an advancement in theological knowledge does not guarantee a warm and zealous heart for God. In fact, there are numerous people who have great knowledge of God and His Word but whose hearts often settle for things that don’t satisfy, leading to a dry, dull, boring, and lifeless Christian faith, which is made up of a lot of head knowledge but a cold heart. Those who fall into this category may even say the right things, but we should all take heed when Jesus says, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” (Matthew 15:8).
So wherein does the problem lie? It doesn’t stem from the multitude of resources at our disposal nor from the knowledge that we possess. Rather, the problem is rooted in pride.
Stuart Scott defines pride as “the focus on self and the service of self, a pursuit of self-recognition and self-exaltation and a desire to control and use all things for self.” Simply put, pride is becoming consumed with ourselves. Often we don’t even recognize our pride. We say we need God, yet we live as if we don’t. Relying solely upon ourselves and the things of this world, we begin to lose sight of who we are and of who God is. While we might know a lot about God we are no longer captivated by God. And while we might grow in our knowledge of God, we begin to lean upon our own knowledge and understanding. And to make matters worse, we even start looking down upon others who don’t possess the same knowledge we do. Ouch.
This is particularly the case for those of us who hold to the Doctrines of Grace, which is a set of beliefs about God and humanity that ought to cause us to drop to our knees in divine reverence and awe before the Holy One! But rather than clinging desperately to the Lord we so often begin looking down upon others who do not come to the same biblical conclusions as us. We may even begin thinking that we have arrived, because in our minds we have discovered the “right” doctrine. And, sadly, we become so confident and dependent upon what we know that we begin seeing ourselves as the standard of theological correctness.
Oftentimes, this pride that sneaks in unnoticed leads us to stop searching to know God more, and our growth ceases altogether. Though we might not ever admit to it, we live as if we have God figured out. We so easily forget that we are finite, that God is infinite, and that it will take all of eternity to know Him. We become dependent upon what we know rather than the One we know; and we focus upon our knowledge of God, rather than the God who knows us.
Thankfully, we are not without hope; there is grace for our pride: there is saving grace, there is convicting grace, and there is restorative grace. Jesus died on the cross for our pride, and His grace is sufficient.
Let’s break down 1 Corinthians 1:30-31 in order to better understand this great truth:
“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.”
“And because of him you are in Christ Jesus…”
Did you catch that? Because of God we are in Christ Jesus! Right at the outset of this passage, we learn that the solution is not in us. We aren’t saved by our intelligence and wisdom, nor are we saved because of theological superiority. The solution is not in our knowledge or intellect. The solution is God. God is the reason that any of us is in Christ Jesus. It is because of God that you are being saved, for He is the author of your salvation.
“…who became to us wisdom from God…”
Salvation comes from Christ alone who is the wisdom of God. John MacArthur explains it this way: “The person of the world cannot see or receive God’s wisdom, the wisdom that could show him God Himself, His plan for the world and for His people, and the future eternity that He gives through His Son…Yet the simplest, most uneducated person who humbly places his life in Christ’s hands is given the truth about all these things. He knows what all the sages and philosophers of all time have never been able to discover or will ever be able to discover. He has God’s wisdom as one of His Savior’s precious gifts.”
Since there is nothing in us that is righteous before God (Isaiah 64:6, Romans 3:10-12) we are in need of a righteousness outside ourselves, one that can become ours, one that we do not merit. That righteousness is only found in Jesus Christ. God made Him who knew no sin to be sin so that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).
In Christ we are sanctified, we are being made holy, and we are being conformed to His image because the Holy Spirit of God is working within us. Since we are not a finished product, His sanctifying grace is still molding and shaping us into the likeness of Christ, convicting us through the preaching, teaching, and reading of His Word.
Christ has bought us with a price. He poured out His blood for the proud, arrogant, foolish, and blind and has redeemed us from a life of sin and death, from a life of foolishness and insignificance. Praise God He has now brought us to Himself.
“… Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord…”
Because of all this, there is no room for boasting within ourselves, for we possess nothing in ourselves that we did not receive as a gift from God (1 Corinthians 4:7); therefore, let us repent of our pride and let us boast in the Lord. For it is Christ alone who is our salvation; it is Christ alone who is our hope.
This great and humbling truth should warm our hearts and bring us to our knees, stirring within us a desire to grow in our knowledge and understanding of God’s great love for His people. Therefore, let us take full advantage of the God-given resources we have at our fingertips, consistently learning more and more of the tremendous lengths God went to by sending Jesus to die for all those who would believe, a beautiful truth that should cause our boast to be in nothing else but the Lord.
Stuart Scott, From Pride to Humility. Focus Publishing: 2002.
The Doctrines of Grace are typically summarized by the following five points: radical corruption, unconditional election, particular redemption, irresistible grace, perseverance of the saints.
John F. MacArthur Jr., 1 Corinthians MacArthur New Testament Commentary. Moody Press, Chicago: 1984.