Bragging is always about what I have done.

I don’t know what girls brag about when they get together, but I do know about men.

If they are outdoorsmen, then they brag about their latest catch or kill.

Or they lie about the size of the one that got away.

If they are athletically inclined, then they brag about their glory days—a fact made famous by the singer Bruce Springsteen in 1984.

I haven’t attended a high school class reunion yet where the football players, myself included, did not get together to relive their glory days.

Bragging, or boasting about our abilities and accomplishments seems to be a natural thing for humans.

We love our stories—and the more we tell them, it seems the more embellished they become.

Bragging is always about what I have done.

Even when parents brag about their kids there is the element of basking in the glory of having had some kind of influence in their success.

There is an aspect of being a Christian that lends itself to bragging when understood incorrectly—and that is the fact of being a Christian.

The most popular form of belief about becoming a Christian naturally lends itself to bragging, though that is not what we would call it.

No one truly brags about being a follower of Christ, but that is essentially what happens when we stand in judgment over those who have not yet made the right decision.

This is what Paul was addressing in his letter to the Corinthians.

so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
1Co 1:29

As I have mentioned before, the Lord has brought me through the ranks of Christianity from Catholicism into most of the realms of Protestantism.

Among what is ordinarily termed “Protestant” I have been among the Baptists, the Pentecostals and the Charismatics.

My understanding of the process and means of salvation has gone through much sifting and shaking as the Holy Spirit has brought me through the different schools of theology.

As a Catholic, I learned that only those who were Catholic could be saved—except possibly for some special miracle which might make someone else eligible.

In the Protestant realms which I mentioned, getting saved was a process which required a decision to accept Jesus as Savior.

A pivotal event in my journey set me off in a completely new and different direction.

After a little more than 10 years of pleading with the Lord, I was finally able to study NT Greek.

Having the ability to access aspects of the original language of the NT opened new realms of understanding for me, which brought about more changes in my theology.

As I began to see more deeply into the written word we call the Bible, I had to let go of my evangelistic orientation to being born again, as I adopted more of what is called Reformed theology.

I have no desire to take you into all the nuances of the differences in the theologies, but I do need to bring up one major distinction which goes to the heart of the passage in 1 Corinthians.

The Baptist, Nazarene, and Pentecostal varieties mostly believe that it is up to the individual sinner to choose Christ in order to be saved.

Reformed theology places its focus on the concept of election by a Sovereign God as to who is saved.

In terms of the major school of theology between the two, you have the Arminian and the Calvinist—which are named after two theological giants of the Reformation.

Both schools have their strong points and both have their problematic areas

However, that is enough history and theology for one day.

What does any of this have to do with bragging?

Why did Paul write that no one should brag before God?

Paul wasn’t the only one who thought this way. Jeremiah comes across strongly with the same thought.

Thus says the LORD:
Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom,
let not the mighty man boast in his might,
let not the rich man boast in his riches,
Jer 9:23

Jeremiah is talking about the things humans ordinarily like to brag about—how smart I am, how strong I am, how much money I’ve made.

He is contrasting these things with what we all know is much more important to our life.

but let him who boasts boast in this,
that he understands and knows me,
that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love,
justice, and righteousness in the earth.
For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.
Jer 9:24

If you really want something to brag about, then brag about the Lord and who He is and what He does.

He says to brag about the fact that you know and understand the Lord and His ways.

It is in HOW we come to know the Lord and His ways to which Paul addresses the concept of bragging.

Most of the evangelical church believes that we must follow something similar to the Four Spiritual Laws in order to be saved.

The four laws went something like this.

  1. God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life
  2. Man is sinful and separated from God, so he cannot know this plan
  3. Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for man’s sin
  4. We must individually receive Jesus as our savior to enjoy God’s plan

These principles were put into a little booklet and were used quite extensively to help people share the gospel and lead people to Jesus.

Notice how the whole thing depends on an appeal to man’s logic.

If a person does not accept the logical progression of the thoughts presented, they are left without hope of being saved and told they are going to hell.

This concept worked for a season, but has since lost its appeal for various reasons—none of which are necessary to go over here.

However, let’s look at the entire passage before us and maybe we can see something different from the four spiritual laws.

God chose what is low and despised in the world,
even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,
so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
And because of him you are in Christ Jesus,
who became to us wisdom from God,
righteousness and sanctification and redemption,
so that, as it is written,
“Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
1Co 1:28-31

I have highlighted two important phrases—God chose and because of him

Our salvation, our being in Christ as it says here, has nothing to do with our applying logical reasoning towards a conclusion, but has everything to do with God’s sovereign choice.

And this fact is what makes it impossible for us to brag.

We cannot brag about having been smart enough to take God’s offer to escape hell.

Now, I am well aware that most people don’t go around bragging about these things in the way that I am implying.

However, I do know this is something that lurks just beneath the surface for almost everyone—especially when we see others whom we know to reject what we believe is the gospel.

There is a subtle form of bragging within our denomination and others like it.

For instance, I am not allowed to put Reverend before my name, because I didn’t graduate from a cemetery.

Please don’t misunderstand me—even if it were allowed I wouldn’t do it.

I loathe the titles of hierarchy which separate us one from another.

Paul speaks to this later on in his letter to the Corinthians.

I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers,
that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written,
that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.
For who sees anything different in you?
What do you have that you did not receive?
If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?
1Co 4:6-7

Oh, no, Paul. You don’t understand. I got where I am today through long hard study and effort.

I did it.
Me, myself and I.

There is nothing winsome in that kind of an attitude.

In the third chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans, he is writing about God’s plan of salvation.

In v. 23 he has the famous line that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Rom 3:23

Then, in v. 24 he tells us that everyone has been justified by God’s grace.

and are justified by his grace as a gift,
through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
Rom 3:24

He is drawn to the obvious conclusion in v. 27

Then what becomes of our boasting?
It is excluded.
By what kind of law?
By a law of works?
No, but by the law of faith.
Rom. 3:27

When everything you have has been given by God, what is there for you to brag about?

Our salvation has nothing to do with us and everything to with God.

Even the faith it took for you to believe the gospel was a gift.

For by grace you have been saved through faith.
And this is not your own doing;
it is the gift of God,
not a result of works,
so that no one may boast.
Eph 2:8-9

We knew a pastor in South Alabama who would reply to any compliment with, “Thank you. All the glory goes to the Lord.”

He understood the reality of what our passage tells us today.

Christ Jesus,
who became to us wisdom from God,
righteousness and sanctification and redemption,
so that, as it is written,
“Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Any wisdom we may have; any good actions we may have; any morality we may have—anything we think is a part of who we are has all come from God.

Therefore, let us learn to give all thanks, honor and praise to the Lord.

Now unto the King eternal,
immortal, invisible,
the only wise God,
be honor and glory for ever and ever.
1Ti 1:17

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