“God sacrificed Himself to Himself to save us from Himself.” Many unbelievers say this in mocking, but it is quite accurate besides conflating God with His Word. According to the Bible, the perfectly just God, Creator of the universe, and Source of all goodness came by the Word in the flesh, died, and resurrected to save humanity from the death and eternal condemnation that everyone earned by rebelling against the perfectly just God (Rom 3:19–26). As the apostle Paul observed, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8 ESV).
Everyone’s perception of the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross is shaped by that person’s view of God especially His justice and love. One cannot understand God by assuming with a negative, distorted and, or agnostic view of God. The world does not know God through its own wisdom (1 Cor 1:21). A person cannot soundly justify one’s reasoning by choosing the reasoning of others that supports their reasoning.
God has made foolish the wisdom of the world and He did this by Jesus of Nazareth. The wisdom of Christ crucified bypasses all axioms of philosophy that humanity has discovered. That is why the preaching of the gospel is so powerful and often frustrating for its enemies. The truth of Jesus is separate the wisdom of the world. Jesus points directly to God. What is the wisdom of the world as compared to God’s wisdom? No scholar or debater can stand before God (1 Cor 1:20). The Scriptures teach that all wisdom and knowledge are in Jesus Christ (Col 2:3). Christians need to know the wisdom of God in Christ so as not to be deluded by persuasive arguments (Col 2:4, 8). Today as in the first century, Christ being crucified is a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to the rest of the world (1 Cor 1:22–23). Paul noted, “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor 1:18).
Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God for those who are called by God (1 Cor 1:24). The gospel of Christ is wisdom from God’s Spirit and the power of God for salvation (1 Cor 2:4; cf. Rom 1:16). Those rejecting Christ have hardened their hearts to refuse to consider reality by the wisdom of God. If they would look through the lens of Jesus’s teaching of God, they could then start to see God. If they would look at reality by the message of Jesus, then they could see the power of Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection. By seeing the power of the gospel, then they could perceive the love and justness of God fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
Faith comes by hearing the gospel (1 Cor 1:21; cf. Rom 10:14–17). Romans 3 and 5 explains how Jesus’s sacrificial death and resurrection worked peace between rebellious humanity and brought life without death to the faithful. The apostle Paul taught Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection as the gospel, the good message of Christ. By the gospel, believers can unite with Christ in death by repentance, burial by baptism, and resurrection by a new life and hope of life without death (Rom 6:1–7).
The faithful teach the wisdom of God to many who do not understand Christ’s sacrifice and the Creator of the universe (1 Cor 2:14). People deceive themselves when they deny the wisdom of God (1 Cor 3:18). They are agnostic of God and dismissive of Jesus. Those who reject God do so by suppressing the truth about God in unrighteousness (Rom 1:18). However, there is no excuse because God has plainly revealed Himself to everyone in His creation (Rom 1:19–20). For this reason, Paul proclaimed a correct, positive, and reasonable view of God to the philosophers of Athens (Acts 17:14–31). God is not far from anyone, so all can seek and find God (Acts 17:26–27; cf. Matt 7:7). For this reason, the faithful warn everyone that the nations will be judged by the gospel (Rom 2:16; cf. 6:23; 2 Cor 5:11). Thank God for He has given His wisdom in the powerful message of Christ crucified and resurrected.