Sunday, August 30, 2015

Ship of Fools

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  1 Corinthians 1:18  NKJV

Have you ever had the occasion to see someone’s response when they are called a fool?  I find it interesting that most people can laugh off quite a few derogatory names and not be greatly offended, but call them a fool and you get quite a reaction.  This past week I read this passage from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians and somehow could not help but think about the times we are living in and wonder just how many people today could accurately be characterized as fools.  Unfortunately it would seem all too many would qualify, especially if you consider what the Biblical definition of a fool is.

In the Bible, a fool is defined as someone who “despises” wisdom.  If you look up the word despise in the dictionary you will find that it says it means to regard with contempt.  As I thought about that this week, it occurred to me that in order to regard something with contempt, I would first have to at least consider something’s merits in order to make the decision to accept or reject.  If this is true, then someone who chooses to despise, or regard with contempt the gospel of Christ, would first have to listen and consider before making that decision.  In other words, a fool is someone who hears the truth of the gospel and rejects it.

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But he who heeds counsel is wise.    Proverbs 12:15  NKJV

Some might disagree, but if you were to ask me what the largest, most obvious sign that we have arrived at the end of the Church age, it would be the growing popularity of the emergent/seeker friendly church which fulfils the prophecy of the apostasy which occurs just before the rapture of the true Church.  This movement, which has abandoned the true Gospel of Jesus Christ and replaced it with a form of worship which ignores any talk of sin and the need to be born again.   Instead the emphasis is on worship, doing good deeds, and becoming a “follower” of Jesus.

A fool has no delight in understanding, But in expressing his own heart.    Proverbs 18:2  NKJV

In his letter to the Romans, Paul speaks of the rapture of the Church in a rather interesting way.  He tells his readers that Israel will suffer from a temporary partial blindness until the full number of Gentile believers has “come in”. 

For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.    Romans 11:25  NKJV

The interesting thing about this statement is that it is a nautical term used to describe the full number of crew and passengers aboard a ship.  When the full number comes in, the ship then sails to its destination.  As I thought about the true Church filling up, and the apostate church also filling, I couldn’t help but remember the old saying; ship of fools. Wikipedia defines it this way; “The ship of fools is an allegory, originating from Plato that has long been a fixture in Western literature and art. The allegory depicts a vessel without a pilot, populated by human inhabitants who are deranged, frivolous, or oblivious, and seemingly ignorant of their course.”

The great God who formed everything gives the fool his hire and the transgressor his wages.                           Proverbs 26:10  NKJV

While we might hesitate to call someone a fool, the God of this universe has no such qualms.  The Word of God is full of passages which contrast the foolish and the wise, and also make it very clear what the destiny of each will be.  Yet even though God has made the way of salvation so simple to understand and so easy to attain, man in his “wisdom” rejects the Gospel for a different way.  Does this sound like a harsh indictment?  Consider that in order to identify the most influential churches in America today, a recent survey found more than half of the respondents chose Saddleback first and Willow Creek second.  If you are not familiar with these names, these are two of the largest “seeker friendly” churches in America today.

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.    Romans 1:20-21  NKJV

What the leaders of these churches seem unable to admit is that although the way of salvation is made plain in the Gospel of Christ, when they choose to lead their congregations down a different path they are, in essence, arguing with the God who created everything out of nothing and implying that He doesn’t know what He is talking about!  It also goes without saying that they are also somehow believe they are smarter than God because they possess a wisdom which shows an easier, better way to salvation than the one ordained by God.

Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?    1 Corinthians 1:20  NKJV

Anyone who would choose to ignore the simplicity and clarity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a fool.  Unfortunately, the ship of fools is not only large; it’s getting larger at an incredible pace.  Yet the ship of the wise, with Jesus as it’s captain, is the one which will reach its destination at the rapture of the Church.  Do you want to know if you are on the right ship?  According to Paul, simply check the direction your ship is sailing.

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,                 1 Corinthians 15:1-4  NKJV

The word “hold fast” is the Greek word katechō which is also used as a nautical term meaning “to check a ship's headway i.e. to hold or head the ship”.  Our compass is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and it is this Gospel which we use to check our course.  Does your church preach this gospel or another “seeker friendly” one?  Be careful not to sail on the ship of fools.

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.               Romans 10:8-9  NKJV

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