Why human wisdom never leads us to Christ

Human wisdom is insufficient for ever leading us to know God. I was reminded of that the other day when talking to an atheist who is very sure he’s a lot smarter than me. Perhaps he is, but no matter how smart people are, they will always believe what they want to believe and justify it with their chosen set of “facts.” And God has made it so you and I will never find Him this way.

Scoffers will incessantly ask for the evidence that’s as plain as the nose on their face, but they will never see it. They will even cut off that nose to spite their face because they don’t want to see it. They will only accept reasoning that comes from the echo of their own thoughts. All of this, in spite of the fact that it takes just as much faith for them to believe that there’s nothing more to this reality than the natural world, as it does for me to believe that the world we see is framed by a world we don’t see (Heb.11:3). Science certainly cannot address that question, either way. Yet the stubborn fact is, here we are now even talking about these things.

Why is this so?

Because what we believe or don’t believe is a heart issue, not a head issue. And knowing God is a very different kind of knowledge, unavailable to those with closed hearts.

Here’s what Paul says about our searching for God inside our own heads:

21 For in his wisdom, God designed that all the world’s wisdom would be insufficient to lead people to the discovery of himself. He took great delight in baffling the wisdom of the world by using the simplicity of preaching the story of the cross in order to save those who believe it. (1 Cor.1:21 TPT*)

Did you catch that? All of the world’s wisdom is insufficient to bring us to the knowledge of God. Not only that, He designed it that way. Why? One reason is that we have no natural mental grid for comprehending the reality that holds us together at this moment.

Human philosophy can help us logically deduce there must be a Source (Prime Mover, etc.) in order for us to exist. It keeps us from saying foolish things, like the cosmos can bring itself into existence, or even continue to exist without any non-contingent source of power. That would be like thinking plugging power strips together can give us power. Even if you plugged an infinite number of them together, you’ll have no power at all until you plug one of them into the wall outlet.

But philosophy or human reasoning cannot lead us to Christ, or into the life of God. In fact, it may actually hinder fully experiencing His life. And God made it so, according to what Paul is telling us.

Our intellectual pride actually turns us into fools.

The fool has said in his heart,
There is no God.” (Prov.14:1a NKJV)

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

Pride is always a show-stopper. But here’s the ultimate hubris—thinking we even know the least possible thing about what ultimately holds it all together. It’s profoundly ironic that our intellectual arrogance makes us reject the most simple thing—the most empirical evidence of all—that we continue to exist.

This is why reasoning our way to God will always lead us to a dead-end. For we will not “see” beyond our possible knowing until we believe.

How then does a man gain the essence of wisdom?
We cross the threshold of true knowledge
when we live in obedient devotion to God.
Stubborn know-it-alls will never stop to do this,
for they scorn true wisdom and knowledge. (Prov.1:7 TPT)

And since we cannot see the simplest thing, we won’t comprehend the unsearchable wisdom of the Cross either.

23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. (1 Cor.1:23-25 NIV*)

The Cross proves what humankind does to pure other-centered, self-giving Love—we kill it and hide the body. The trouble is, this Body didn’t stay hidden! The crucifixion cuts to the very heart of the human condition. It exposes our entire history of fear-based blame-shifting, arrogant pride, and lust for power. It lays bear the sins of humanity for all to see what can no longer be unseen.

But the most significant thing about the Cross is something infinitely more wonderful than we could’ve possibly anticipated or even imagined! For it’s not just what Christ did for us, or even what He did as us on the Cross, but what He did to us on the Cross. When He died, we died, when He was buried, our old nature was buried, and when He rose from the dead He brought us with Him so that we can be where He is, seated in heavenly places with Him right now and forever, having full access to what He has by faith. That, my dear reader, is the good news that brings great joy! It’s the simple gospel that eludes those wise in their own minds, yet even a child can understand it. This was His doing and it’s glorious! Amen.

* All emphasis added.

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 39 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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18 Responses to Why human wisdom never leads us to Christ

  1. It’s like an amazing filter or screen that only people who are willing to humble themselves become small enough to fit through. Anyone who’s ego is too big is locked outside, yelling at the door that everyone inside is crazy.

    “You must get down to this height to ride this ride. For child like hearts only.”

    • Mel Wild says:

      A “filter” is a great way to look at it. I didn’t put this in the post because it was getting too long but, later, Paul says this:

      28 He chose the lowly, the laughable in the world’s eyes—nobodies—so that he would shame the somebodies. For he chose what is regarded as insignificant in order to supersede what is regarded as prominent, 29 so that there would be no place for prideful boasting in God’s presence. 30 For it is not from man that we draw our life but from God as we are being joined to Jesus, the Anointed One. And now he is our God-given wisdom, our virtue, our holiness, and our redemption. (1 Cor.1:28-30 TPT)

      What Paul is saying here is that God levels the playing field so that our natural gifts and abilities won’t allow us any status with Him (He gave them to us anyway!). We cannot use our intelligence and talents to put ourselves above others or to manipulate others. Our problem is, we always use our power to put ourselves over others in some way. It’s very subtle and systemic. But if we are going to benefit from God’s superior and endless life, we must learn how to draw on His strength and wisdom, not our own. This is why arrogant people will never see the Kingdom. The fruit of our humility is that we will learn how to be gracious and kind to those who are not as gifted as us. We will never look down on them because we may have greater intelligence or gifting. We become grateful to God for all that He gives us. This is the very essence of other-centered, self-giving love. And God is absolutely brilliant in setting it up this way!

  2. You have brought many biblical verses together well in this reflection … True wisdom does not lead to Christ … it is a stumbling block!

  3. Amen, Mel! Getting to know God is much like falling in love, you just can’t do a cost effectiveness study based on facts and research and plot it out on a graph. It’s always good to keep your head, to use some reason and good sense, but that’s not sacrificial love, that’s not a relationship, that’s not intimacy.

    When my kids became teens I finally had to explain to them that I actually had a choice about loving them, that it really wasn’t cost effective or rational, and it surely wasn’t based on my own intelligence. Laughing here, but that’s what “being so smart you think you know everything” reminds me of, being a teen ager. That’s a pretty normal phase of human development, but as a cosmic worldview? LOL, no so smart. 🙂

    • Mel Wild says:

      “Laughing here, but that’s what “being so smart you think you know everything” reminds me of, being a teen ager. That’s a pretty normal phase of human development, but as a cosmic worldview? LOL, no so smart.”

      Ha! Exactly. One of the fruits of maturing as a human being is being satisfied with living in the mystery. We grow child-like, but thinking we know everything is being childish!

      Falling in love is just one of the many things that science cannot explain to us. Of course, they try! Neuroscientists point to the chemical reactions in the brain that happen when we fall in love, but that tells us absolutely nothing about what love actually is, and we know it in the deepest part of us.

      I’m totally for using science in the realm it’s designed for, the physical world, but trying to use it to explain God’s realm, or even realms like love and beauty, and sense of purpose, is like grasping at the wind, the ultimate exercise in futility.

  4. AfroLatino says:

    Amen!

    With all our human wisdom, skills, intelligence & technological advancement, who would have predicted that we will be living in such a time as this when the world shuts down? Well, the bible tells of these times. Despite the signs and warnings, we still ignore him and think we have intellectual answers to every situation. Oh the love of the Father!

    • Mel Wild says:

      Very true, and the wonderful thing is, God never practices social-distancing! He’s always as intimate with us as we will let Him be. Nothing can ever separate us from His love, certainly not Covid-19. We are never isolated from Him!

  5. free will is a lie, man get real. repent of making a god in your own mind and imagination and change your mind on yourself and your boasting in your righteous free will and hate it and come to christ alone by his doing, and repent of hating the one and true god. amen.

  6. correct. it takes god grantig us repentance and faith in the his sovereign regeneration will. please read ephesians 1 romans 9 2 timothy 2 25 and philippians 1 29 ephesians 2 8 9 jeremiah 13 23

    • Mel Wild says:

      I totally agree that God does the saving, but that’s not the same thing as determinism. For instance, if I were drowning in the ocean and a passing ship threw me a life preserver and I took hold of it and they pulled me to safety, I wouldn’t say I saved myself. The passing ship did all the work of my salvation, yet it was my choice to take the life preserver.

      And if we want to have the proper interpretation of your selective prooftexts, we have to also consider the fact that God wants ALL people come to repentance, yet all people don’t.

      9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (2 Pet.3:9)

  7. the call of repentance goes out to all but whom god intended the atonement for, his sheep john 17 1 2 will only hear his voice john 10 and be given ears to hear the gospel.

    • Mel Wild says:

      You seem to be responding to a different post (“How we see God’s sovereignty matters.”) But, either way, again, you are not making an argument against free will. Understand that your deterministic view of salvation did not come from Scripture, it came from a particular interpretation of Scripture that finds its roots in Stoicism and Gnostic determinism. For instance, Calvin got his doctrine from Augustine, Augustine got his determinism from Manichean doctrine (late in his life). Dr. Ken Wilson wrote a great book on this titled, “The Foundation of Augustinian-Calvinism.” He is an authority on the history of this doctrine. You can watch an interview by Dr. Leighton Flowers here:

      I don’t wish to debate you further on these things. You can go to Dr. Flowers’s channel (“Soteriology 101”) for a more authoritative responses to all your questions here. He deals with all your proof-texts in great detail. Be blessed.

      • your a devil and a liar along with your another gospel of dr who cares flowers, i got a flower for you and its a tulip and i shoved down your throat, were drowning were dead in sins and trespasses. YOUR REBUKED AND I AM NOT TALKING TO You. ITS NOT A DEBATE ITS BETWEEN ME AND TRUTH AND YOU AND YOUR DEVILISH LIES THAT SENDS YOU DESTRUCTION> BYE NOW DEVIL DO NOT RESPOND, GOD HAS HIS LAST WORDS YO U DONT

        • Mel Wild says:

          Okay, now you’re just being churlish and violent-tempered. It’s hardly Christlike. So, good-bye. I wish you the best and God bless you.

  8. Becky says:

    Hi, Mel, what do you feel leads Christian people to respond in this way either to other Christian believers who disagree with them or even worse in discussion with people outside the faith?

    It is totally contrary to everything Christ taught and wants us to be about? I feel it is this need to win an argument, to control, rather than to primarily reflect God’s love. Or, maybe it has it’s roots in an insecurity within our own view, and then feeling threatened.

    None of us are immune, I have to admit that. We can all blow it at times, myself included.

    But, christ is lifted up has presented one of the most violent responses that I’ve ever seen.

    It makes little sense.

    The peace of our Lord be with you, and with this commentator.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Hi Becky. You are pretty much spot on here. Anger can mask a lot of underlying issues but one thing is for certain, the wrath or anger of man never produces the righteousness of God (James 1:20). In fact, it does the opposite. It drives people away from Christ and makes Him a mockery. It gives the scoffers cannon fodder for their attacks against Christianity. This is why when atheists point out what’s wrong with Christianity I usually have to agree with them.

      Jesus calls us all to follow Him and mature as human beings. We do that by allowing Him to deal with our inner issues and brokenness, like anger, insecurities, fears, etc. If we don’t allow Him to heal us, we will be that proverbial loose cannon. We will project our issues on to God and justify our behavior accordingly.

      But we can know how much actual work has been done in us by our response to these kinds of things (or to any other kind of pressure). Do we demonstrate the work of the flesh (Gal.5:19-21), which includes outbursts of wrath, or the fruit of the Spirit (Gal.5:22-23), which includes patience and self-control?

      Of course, none of us are perfect at this and, as you said, we have bad days. But we should never deceive ourselves into thinking we’re representing Christ when we do have that bad day, and we should take responsibility for the mess we made.

      Anyway, thanks for your comments. Blessing to you as well.

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