After his ministry in Athens, Paul journeyed west and south to Corinth, where he spent 18 months (Acts 18:1-11). Notoriously immoral, this city was also obsessed with the “wisdom” of the Greeks, though the Athenians would probably have viewed them as being on a lower level than themselves in this respect.
Now let us see Paul’s strategy in reaching people for Christ in this city. Did he confront the Corinthians with spectacular and undeniable “design” arguments to win them to the Savior? No.
And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God (1 Cor. 2:1-5, KJV).
Why did he do this? Because “not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in His presence” (1 Cor. 1:26-29).
Why is this so? Because “the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness…For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent” (Isa. 29:14). Paul then asks, “Where is the wise?…hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 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. For the Jews require a sign [cf. Matt. 12:38-42], and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men” (1 Cor. 1:18-25).
In Lystra (Acts 14:15-17) and even in Athens (Acts 17:22-29) it was appropriate for Paul to introduce his gospel presentation with design arguments.
But Corinth—like the western world today—was so deeply poisoned by philosophical pride and moral perversion that a direct confrontation with the work of the Savior was essential and urgent.
There are so many powerful design arguments available today, in the providence of God, that very impressive books can be written against atheism (e.g., John Blanchard, Does God Believe in Atheists? [Auburn, MA: Evangelical Press, 2000]; Norman Geisler and Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist [Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2004]; and now Antony Flew, There Is A God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind [New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2008]).
But my deep and abiding concern about the Intelligent Design Movement is that even when its most undeniable evidences are brilliantly presented, genuine spiritual revival does not follow. Hearts and lives are not being transformed. Eternal salvation comes to people exclusively through the Bible. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). Intelligent design is essential to biblical Christianity, but it is not sufficient.
As Paul explained to the Christians in Rome: “The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart [cf. Deut. 30:14]: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation…For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom. 10:8-10, 13).
May it be our goal in life as Christians to tell people everywhere that Jesus Christ the LORD is our Intelligent Designer, and that by humble acceptance of His gracious gift of eternal life, based upon the price He paid upon the cross, confirmed by His bodily resurrection, we may know that our sins have been forgiven and that we will spend all eternity with Him.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
Dr. John C. Whitcomb has been a professor of Old Testament and theology for more than 50 years and is widely recognized as a leading biblical scholar. He taught at Grace Theological Seminary (Winona Lake, IN) from 1951-1990 and gained much recognition for his work on (Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company), which he co-authored with Dr. Henry Morris in 1961. That book has been credited as one of the major catalysts for the modern Biblical creationism movement. His ministry homepage is Whitcomb Ministries, and his sermons are available at SermonAudio.com.