Dale Spencer - The Foolish Things of This World - South Africa Convention

My thoughts for this afternoon’s meeting are found in 1 Corinthians 1. It says in the 27th verse, “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 mighty, the base things of the world, things which are despised hath God chosen and yea things which are not to bring to naught the things that are.”  We had this for a study not so long ago and at first I wondered what I could say about this chapter, then I noticed that this is what God hath chosen. So I thought to myself that I would like to know what God has chosen. You would like to know what God has chosen, wouldn’t you? What HAS god chosen and what is God interested in and how does God choose? So I went to work and made a little outline of the four categories here that are spoken about.  I put down a few things that I could think of just off the top of my head, that would be under those four categories and since then I have given a bit more thought to that, about the things that God has chosen. Maybe now we could take a little look at those four categories and see what God has chosen. We’d like to have a part in that which God has chosen. We’ve heard so much about choosing our own way and taking our own way that would be leading to destruction but if we could just choose as God chooses and make the will of God the whole purpose of our life, what a glorious future we’ll have. Now that’s what I’ve been hearing in the meetings so far in this place.

 

So now looking at the first category, it says:  “God has chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise.” So the first thing I took note of was some foolish things. There’s a verse in this very chapter where it says in the 25th verse, “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” Then it says in verse 23, “But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block and unto the Greeks, foolishness.” I thought a lot about foolishness but the verse that really stood out to me was that 21st verse, “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.” In trying to give a bit of my testimony the other evening, I was talking about my search for God and then when I finally found Him, I saw that He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life and He even was the Way for the preacher.


That is something that concerned me all my young life. From age 12, I wanted to be a preacher like Jesus but how do you go about it? Then I recognised that Jesus is the pattern for the preacher. Well, it says here that it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. Now maybe you can imagine how I felt a few weeks after I professed and I read that verse. It has pleased God by the foolishness of preaching - why is preaching foolish? I thought that must be a misprint because surely preaching is not foolishness, but I didn’t understand what that meant at that first reading. It’s not talking about foolishness to God, it says it is the power of God unto salvation, but it is foolishness to men. When I told my dad I want to go sell my car and preach like Jesus, do you know what he said? “Where are you going to get your donkey, son? Where are you going to get your donkey?” He thought that if I went like Jesus I would have to get a donkey. Well it is true that Jesus rode on a donkey but I am sure He rode other ways too but it sounded so foolish to my dad. I said I want to sell my car and go like Jesus and he said, “You will surely travel a  lot and you’ll need your car.” I said, “Dad I want to go like Jesus. I want to sell all and go like Jesus.” Well, he said, “Son, it is foolish to sell your car.” Well, I’d have a hard time getting over here in a car from the United States! I still don’t need a car but selling my car looked foolish to dad but it was wisdom in the sight of God. I had to sell all I had and give it away. Now I was proud of that little car, a brand new car. I was only 24 and it was my first car and I hated to tell it goodbye. Well, it was alright, I was selling all. So I sold my car and away I went, happy as a lark and I have been that way ever since. I really have, in this great work of God. Well, this foolishness of preaching is foolishness in the eyes of the world friends and anything about this ministry doesn’t just add up but it is the power of God unto salvation unto them that believe.

 

Now God has chosen some other foolish things. I was thinking about the preaching of the cross that is mentioned in this chapter. In verse 17, “Christ sent me not to baptise but to preach the Gospel. Not with wisdom of words lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect for the preaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness but to those which are saved it is the power of God.” The preaching of the cross is foolishness to the world but it is the power of God, God’s power is through the Gospel and that is how men are saved. Well, that is another thing that is so foolish, the preaching of the cross.


Another one I thought of was self denial. My friends said you don’t need to give up EVERYTHING to go out and preach. So often we have heard that. You don’t need to give up this and you don’t need to give up that. Well we as God’s servants are just happy that we can give it all up and we have no worries about the natural things. That is the way God sent His Son and it is the perfect way. He sent His Son to preach the Gospel and He sent us in like manner, to preach the Gospel. Well, this is all foolishness to the world and God has chosen some of these foolish things.


Another thing that I have thought of that is quite foolish in the eyes of the world is separation. You know how young folks feel - I used to think it was strange and I didn’t see why we had to separate ourselves unto God and I don’t see why we can’t go with the crowd and be like the rest of the world and do what the rest of the world does, but what is the point? God believes in separation and God wants to separate the pure from the impure, the good from the evil, and the righteous from the unrighteous. God wants a people not tainted by the things of the world that would not be good but He wants us to have the marks of the children of God. It is a separate people that God is calling into His Kingdom. It is foolishness in the eyes of the world to be different or to separate ourselves unto God but it is the power of God, friends. God has chosen these things that may appear foolish in the eyes of the world, He has chosen them as the hallmark of His Kingdom.

 

Now we go to the second category and that was the weak ones. It says there that God has chosen the weak things of this world to confound the things that are mighty. I didn’t have much trouble making a list of quite a few things that God chose that were weak. We heard about the weakness of that little child today and  when they wanted to know who was going to be the greatest in the Kingdom and Jesus called a little child and set him in their midst and He said, “He that becometh like this little child, the same shall be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” Now that is what God has chosen. God has chosen weakness to manifest His mighty power. Now the little child is the key of the Kingdom. When the Lord sent forth His servants, He said, “I am going to send you forth as lambs among wolves.”


One of these places we visited here in South Africa, we saw some wolves and some of these wild dogs. Well, I didn’t want to get too close to them. Anyway, I thought of a lamb and I have seen lambs born and you know those tiny little legs and when they are first born, they are wobbling around trying to find their mother and they are just so weak and wobbly. If you think about a little weak thing that is but anyway, God chose to send His servants out into the world as little lambs into the midst of wolves and the wolves can’t hurt those little lambs because the Lord is with them. The little lambs don’t fear the wolves and they don’t even fear the big wolves and it doesn’t matter because the Lord is with them. The Lord chose a lamb, little children, and even a little donkey colt, too. Well, my dad thought I would have to have a donkey, too, if I was going to go like Jesus but that donkey colt that Jesus rode must have looked terribly weak to the Pharisees. If He had to come riding along on a big white horse like a king, you know … well, here is the King of Israel and all His disciples loudly praising and singing glory to God because here comes thy King meek and lowly sitting on a colt, the foal of an ass. Now if you can think of anything weaker than that, the King coming to His nation and riding into Jerusalem, the capital and coming before the people of God riding on a donkey colt, what a weak looking thing and that is how people look on this truth of God. It looks so weak and so helpless but God has chosen the weak things of this world to confound the mighty.


I have enjoyed this little study and I was thinking about another thing, the death on the cross. Do you think that looked very great? Could you imagine the weakness of the thing when the One who had declared to be the King, the Son of God and the Saviour of mankind, all the great things that Jesus came to be and there He was dying, hanging between two thieves and hanging on the cross. They said, “You have saved others, now save yourself. Come down from the cross.” It looked so terribly weak in the eyes of those Pharisees and those soldiers who had hung Him on the cross. Here He was, this man who had declared that He was the Son of God and He couldn’t save Himself.  Well it was a weak thing in the eyes of men but that was the power and strength of God, Jesus giving His life when He could easily have come down and wiped them all out. Here in lowliness and meekness, Jesus manifested the power of God. God had chosen the weak things of the world to confound the mighty.

 

All right, now I just want to tell you two stories. One was of an old worker and he was in his 90s and he pioneered the work in Mexico, one of the first to go to Mexico. A dear old man and he was in the State of Colorado where I was preaching and where he was raised. Anyway we saw him in Mexico just near the end of his life and I am going to give you a little literal demonstration of him when he was on the platform. He stood at a 90 degree angle. I don’t know if I quite made it to 90 degrees but anyway, he was so bent over that they had a terrible time getting the mike down to where he could speak. They did have the mike on the platform and they put it on the floor and set it as low as the could but I thought they would have to dig a hole for it. It was way down. It took two men to get him on the platform but they did get him on the platform all bent over and he opened his mouth and he spoke to us and I do have to confess that I don’t remember what he said, this was a few years ago now, but you know I was in the field around that convention for a little while and there wasn’t a house that we went into that the first thing they said to us, “Did you hear what Louis told us?” That whole convention was taken up and fed by what Louis had told us. You talk about weakness. Why, he should have been pensioned off 20 years before this. Any church would have had him pensioned off long ago but God uses the weakest and here was Louis pouring out the last drops of his life. All bent over, yet he got on the platform and he fed that convention like no one else that was on the program. God blesses the weakness because He has chosen weakness to confound the mighty.


There was one other thing at about that very same time and out of that very same convention. The lists came out and we are always excited to see the list. We had on the Texas list two young really beautiful (no kidding), beautiful young sisters. You’d almost have thought that they should be at home with their mothers but they were out in the work, these two beautiful young sisters. One was in a high up position in the bank and the other was a graduate nurse. They were making it all right in the world, very choice young women, but they were the youngest ones on the staff and somehow, I didn’t make the list because I wouldn’t have made it this way but somehow those two young sisters ended up together and guess where they went.  They went out to west Texas amongst all those cowboys! I know you’ve seen pictures and I know you’ve read books about cowboys and west Texas and if you think that is a paradise with all those rattlesnakes and what have you in west Texas, you’ve got another think coming. That’s a rough country and rough people. They are civilised but some of them are pretty rough out on some of those great ranches in west Texas and you know what, I said to myself, “That looks like the weakest thing I have ever seen - those two young sisters going out to preach in west Texas.” Well do you know what happened? The end of the year when they came to convention those two sisters brought more little lambs than all the brothers put together. Weakness, mighty, mighty weak but God chose the weak things to confound the mighty. I just enjoyed these thoughts and you could add to this list and you could add a number of things that God chose and that God uses weak things to manifest His mighty power

 

Now the third one was things that are base and despised and it is not hard to make a list on that category either, is it? What does it say about Nazareth, the town where Jesus was brought up? Remember it? It said, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" They thought He was a Nazarene. Well, I tell you that God chose Nazareth, the despised, base little town to bring up His Son and Jesus grew up as a Nazarene - in Nazareth, yes something good came out of Nazareth.


Now another thing I was thinking about was, “Do you like blood? What about your own blood?” I tore a hole in my finger the first day I got here and had to go find Debbie to get a Band Aid and she patched me up but the blood was just running all over. You know, I don’t like blood, especially my own. You know that God chose blood and blood is not a very nice thing. God chose the precious blood of the Lamb and that is the price of our redemption. The value of His death on Calvary was the blood that was shed and it is a precious thing. The world likes to trample it under foot but God’s people count His blood and sacrifice the greatest thing of all because it is the price of our redemption. - despised and base but God has chosen blood as the price of our redemption  - the precious blood of Jesus.


Well, you could think of other things, like suffering. I was thinking about that verse that says they that suffer with Him shall reign with Him. That’s a nice verse but I like the last part but not the first part. How about yourself? You don’t mind reigning with Him but how about the price? Those that suffer with Him shall reign with Him. You know that there is a bit of suffering and we have heard a few testimonies of some who have had to suffer. I can’t say that I have had to suffer a great deal even in the ministry but we have known a measure of reproach and misunderstanding and we have been kicked about a little bit in this work of the Gospel. Those that suffer with Him shall reign with Him so don’t shrink from the suffering if it is the will of God. Sometimes we just have to go through it, as we have heard in some testimonies in this meeting - losing loved ones and such things.


We were coming down the road and here there was an accident and a little child was run over and killed just right ahead of us. We saw the mother leaving the scene and you should have seen her. The little children were scattering to go tell their mothers that some little child had been killed. Well, there is lots of suffering in this world but suffering leads to reigning in the house of God. God allows some suffering for our good, as we have heard. Another thing that the world doesn’t like too well is humility. Honestly, humility is one of the greatest things in the Kingdom of God, it really must be because God loves the humble and He exalts the humble and He is going to abase the proud. We’ve been hearing about that but God has chosen the humble in His Kingdom to manifest His power and glory. We’ve talked about those three. We talked about foolishness that God has chosen and many things could be added to that list.

 

We have talked about the weak things that God has chosen and we have talked about the base and the despised things like the blood and the sacrifice and the suffering and in these categories, one could add many things but it is the last one that I wanted to stress and speak about in closing and that one we can read together. In verse 28, it says, “Yea and the things which are not to bring to naught the things that are.” Same pronunciation, in our English. God has chosen that and I thought to myself, ”What in the world is this?” Do you understand that verse? God has chosen the things that are not to bring to nothing the things that are. What’s that all about? It is a tricky verse isn’t it?


I will tell of a little experience that I think answers it in the best way I could ever imagine. My young companion and I were preaching in a little town. We were staying about five miles away in another town and this little town had a sugar beet factory and everybody in this town worked in the sugar beet factory and we thought that it would be a good thing to try that little town with some Gospel meetings. So we asked the Mayor if he would mind us using the City Hall. They had a nice little City Hall there that was open and available. He said, “Well I wouldn’t mind at all if you boys use that but we would have to have a board meeting and put it to the board.” We asked him how many on the board and he said there were seven and they were all working in the sugar factory and it happened that they were working 8 hour shifts all through the day and night and it was pretty hard to catch any of them. They were either going to bed or getting up to go to work all through the day and night and it was pretty hard to catch any of them so we asked him, “Mr Mayor, if we went over and talked to them would it be okay with you?” He said, “Yes, as far as I am concerned you can use the hall.” So it took us the whole week to get those seven men and when we couldn’t see one, we saw another and we made a date and saw the next one. But they said, “Well, if the mayor said it is all right, it is okay with me.” So this is what happened as we went to the next man and then the next man also, until we‘d seen all the seven men. Maybe it was a mistake but every day we would go into this town and we’d have a different car from the friends as we were staying with different friends and would just borrow their car to run in to this town and try and see one of the men. So we came in with a blue Ford one day and a black Chevvy the next day and a red Plymouth one day and one day we came in with the school bus, on the Saturday. So what happened was that they sent out a warrant to have us investigated as suspicious looking characters. I’d hardly blame them. We’d gone around and knocked on doors and invited the people and this was a few days after we had started. Word came to us that the Sheriff had been looking for us for three days. My young companion had just started in the work and he got that word so he went over to one of our friends as he’d left a shirt with the lady who had said she would wash it for him. I was looking out the window and I saw my young companion coming up the street and he was really coming. He had that shirt on a hanger and it was sticking straight our behind him. He was running so fast and he came dashing into the house where we were staying and between panting said that the sheriff’s been looking for us for three days. I said, “What have you done now?” “I didn’t do nothing. I didn’t do nothing.” Bless his heart, I knew he hadn’t done anything but he said, "The sheriff’s been looking for us for three days." So I said, “Well I wonder what we aught to do. Maybe we should go see him.” “Oh no, no, no.” He sure didn’t want to go see the sheriff. Well I said, “We’d  better go see the sheriff.” So we did and we went in to the sheriff’s office and the girl said, “Oh, are you those two preachers? We’ve been looking for you for three days.“ I says, “Well, here we are," and she says, “Well, sit down right there.” She sat us down on the bench and got on the phone and it was hardly three minutes and in walked the sheriff. I wish you could have seen the sheriff. I am just going to describe him to you briefly. He was a man about six feet six tall, half a foot taller than I am and he was immaculately dressed, you should have seen the man. Immaculately dressed in a tan western suit. I think you all know what a western suit is. A beautiful western suit and he had those cowboy boots on and that gave him another two inches at least and then he had this big white hat. Plus the biggest silver star I ever saw, a big, big thing. Well, he comes walking in and he says, “Are you those two preachers?” He looked at me because I was the oldest and I said, “Yes sir, we are preachers.” “Come into my office,” he says and he gets out his clip board and he gets out his report sheet. He sets down in his swivel chair and he sets us one here and one there. He says, “I have got to investigate you men because you have been reported as suspicious looking characters and we want to know what you’re up to.” So he says, “Your names, please,” and he got our names down and then he started asking us questions. He asked us certain questions and they won’t sound so strange to you when I tell you what they were. He says, “What’s the name of your church?” and he looks straight at me and I says, “Well sir, we don’t have a name to our church.” “No name?”  “No, sir.”  “Where’s your church building?” “Well, sir, we don’t have a church building.” “No church building?” “ No, sir.” “Well, where’s your seminary? Where do you fellows learn how to preach?” I said, “Well, sir, we don’t have any seminary. We just learn in the school of experience.” So he says, “Well, where’s your home?”  “Sheriff, we don’t have any home as we just live with our friends and move around amongst our friends. We’ve been preaching around here but we don’t have any home.” Well, he says, “Where is your headquarters?” I could have told him it is in Heaven but thought that probably didn’t fit too good. So I said, “We don’t have any earthly headquarters, sir.” “Don’t have any headquarters? Well, then, who pays your salary?” I said, “We don’t have any salary.” I was just trying to be honest and he says, “Where’s your car right now?” The town in last place where we were we had raised up two or three little churches there and we quite excited about that part for a while. There they had a good name for us, they said, "We’re the three C’s," so we were wondering for a while what the three C’s were but after a while we found out. Cattle thieves, there was quite a bit of rustling going on. Car thieves, they figured we were stealing these cars and also Communists because communists weren’t very popular right then. We were supposed to be teaching communism. Anyway, that is what they called us and the mail carrier said, this is a bit ridiculous, but I’ll tell you what the mail carrier said. He come by this place where we were having our meetings and pick up the mail that we’d left in the little country store there and then he’d read all the addresses. We weren’t too smart, my young companion and I, we were writing to the sister workers all over the world. We had a bit of free time there so we were writing letters to the sister workers all over the world. We were having a good interesting mission but had a bit of free time. Well, he’d come by and see this so he’d go up and down the mail route and he said, “Those two preachers belong to the Lonely Hearts Club.” Anyway, we weren’t doing too good but anyway the sheriff asked us those questions and all of a sudden, he’d come unwound out of that swivel chair and he came over to me that great big man, came marching over to where I was sitting there and he stuck out that great big hand and took my little hand and he shook it and he said, “Boys, I am sorry about this. I want you to accept my apologies. There has been a terrible mistake here.” I says, “Hey?” I didn’t know what the mistake was but he said, “I have embarrassed you young men and caused all this embarrassment.” Then he says, “I believe you are the true Servants of God,” and he says, “Will you pardon me, and will God forgive me?” That big old sheriff you know, and he says, “Boys, that’s all. You can go now, you are excused, but listen, can I tell you one thing? If anybody in this county ever bothers you again, will you come right straight to me?” I says, “Yes sir, we sure will.” So we all had a good smile and we shook hands and we left. Doesn’t that kind of answer the question of the things that God has chosen are the things that are not? The world thinks we are the biggest “Have nots” in all the world, they think we don’t have anything. Really, from their point of view, as far as the churches are concerned, we DON’T have anything. None of these thing that the sheriff asked, and he asked every question I could think of and I could see the back of his neck was getting kind of red and he was running out of questions and he couldn’t think of any more that he could ask us. So, finally, I did say this that I forgot to mention, I did say, “Sheriff, maybe if I could just have five minutes or so of your time, I could tell you about our work and you’d understand what we’re doing.” He said, “Go ahead young man, go ahead.” So I just told him that we both had nice cars once and we sold our cars. We had parents and nice homes, we were living at home and we left our homes. I went with an older man years ago and this young man has just recently gone with me and we have learned in the school of experience what little we know about preaching and I said, ”All last summer we had meetings in Harmony Hall, two blocks up the street.” He said, “I knew something was going on up there and I wondered what it was.” We’d had meetings there in Harmony Hall for the whole summer. Two blocks up from his police station and had a great mission there. Well, he said, “I knew there was something going on up there,” but that is as close as he ever got. Anyway that’s when he jumped up and said, “There has been a big mistake here and I want you boys to accept my apologies. We had this warrant sworn out and we had to investigate it but you boys go right on with your work,” and he says, “God bless you and you pray for me.” Well, Sheriff Rolander wasn’t as bad as he looked. He near scared us to death when he came walking in there. I just thought I would tell you this little story because that illustrates to me that we are like the "have nots" and the things the world thinks we need to have, we don’t have any of it and we are just glad we don’t but we have the Lord and we have everything. This is what God has chosen and I really believe that could be the meaning of that verse… God has chosen the things that are not… all these things that they think are important, the choir, the church board, the Sunday school teachers and the ladies aid, the church building and the headquarters, the seminary. The whole thing and they have to have it all - the salary for the preacher and the house for the preacher. We don’t have anything so I think that very well explains that God has chosen the things that are not to bring to nought the things that are. God has chosen the weak things, God has chosen the foolish things, God has chosen the base and despised things.  We want to choose what God has chosen. We are so glad that we can read ourselves into the Bible and understanding this kind of scripture. I have just enjoyed thinking about this today and passing it on to you.