This Christian Pities The Fool On April Fool's Day

Today is April Fool's Day or Atheist's Day as I've heard it called before.

As a Christian, I pity the fool who "says in his heart, 'There is no God'" (Psalm 14:1).



pit·y [pit-ee]
noun, plural pit·ies.

1.
sympathetic or kindly sorrow evoked by the suffering, distress, or misfortune of another, often leading one to give relief or aid or to show mercy: to feel pity for a starving child.

2. a cause or reason for pity, sorrow, or regret: What a pity you could not go!

verb (used with object), pit·ied, pit·y·ing.

3. to feel pity or compassion for; be sorry for; commiserate with.

verb (used without object), pit·ied, pit·y·ing.


4. to have compassion; feel pity.

Idioms

5.
have / take pity, to show mercy or compassion.


In honor of this non-believer's holiday, I thought we could take a closer look at some of the many places in God's Word where we find the word "fool" or "foolishness" to see what we might learn today.

Probably the best place to start is the quintessential text about the fool -- Psalm 14.


Psalm 14:1-3 (ESV) 1 To the choirmaster. Of David. The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good. 2 The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. 3 They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.


Cuts right to the chase, doesn't it? And those are just the first three verses!

In Psalm 14, we are presented with a continual warning against unbelief and a vivid picture of what the righteous ought always to avoid.

"There is no God"
is such a rebellious statement! Atheism, while increasingly common, is nothing new though. The fool described here (Psalm 14:1) denies God "in his heart." There are people whose actions deny God's existence, even though they do not profess atheism.

The word "abominable" gives us an idea about the behaviors that betray a particularly profound darkness of the heart and soul, and, as Proverbs 14:4 says, abominable deeds usually involve the abuse of others.

The words "there is none who does good" (Psalm 14:1; Psalm 14:3) and "if there are any who understand, who seek after God" (Psalm 14:2) are also very interesting since St. Paul quotes them from this Psalm as a blanket condemnation of all people in Romans 3:11-12. In fact, St. Paul quotes the Old Testament six times in Romans 3:10-18 to demonstrate human sinfulness and how the cause of this unrepentant sin is that no one has faith or the "fear of God."


Through Adam's fall is all corrupt, Nature and essence human

*- Formula of Concord Ep I 8


Our works, even "good works" done by the atheist and non-Christian, cannot make us righteous before God. Apart from Christ, we cannot please God.

Though atheism and irreligion are increasingly accepted, indeed even fashionable in modern societies, they are destructive beliefs that finally lead to moral abandon and eternal death.

Because Psalm 14 clarifies the depth of human sinfulness, it also illumines the greatness in Jesus' redemption. He atoned for all the sins of all the people and graciously calls all, even the most perverse, to forgiveness and eternal life!


Lord Jesus, when we despair because of the world's increasing hostility or indifference to You, help us also to see the greatness of Your love and grace. Amen.


What's next?

Well, the Book of Proverbs even starts out with some words about the fool.


Proverbs 1:22 (ESV) How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge?


"Simple...scoffers...fools" is a cry against those content in their immaturity, those who delight in scoffing, and those who resist the way of the Lord.

It's important to note how we're told that wisdom does not simply compel us to "get an education" so-to-speak, but to repent and trust in the Lord (Proverbs 1:23; Proverbs 1:29).

When we continue reading Proverbs 1 to its natural end, we discover the pitiful truth for atheists and non-Christians alike. Those who deny and reject God so they may continue in unbelief (continue in sin) have plotted their own destruction (Proverbs 1:32).

The Hebrew word translated "storm" in Proverbs 1:27 signifies a crashing storm that results in great devastation and Proverbs 1:26 expresses words of righteous recognition of the true consequences for failing to listen to wisdom's call.

God comes to us; we cannot come to Him. Those who consistently reject God and His grace finally shut out the Holy Spirit entirely and this is the unforgivable sin (Proverbs 1:28; Matthew 12:31-32).

Yet, don't miss the glorious proclamation of the truth in all of this! God's will is freely proclaimed and may be universally received. His Law and His grace are for all people -- "all" means all -- for He desires all to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). That doesn't mean that some people will accept His free gift of grace and salvation though.

Those who turn their backs on God and His will are those who ultimately face condemnation. Sorry Rob Bell and Rob Bell fans, but love doesn't win in the way you would have us to believe it does. There is a Hell and these types of people will be there, according to God's Word.

Thankfully, those who believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior can rest assured and remain secure, now and forever, in His love and care!


Lord, keep us steadfast in Your Word and faith. Amen.


Another key verse about the fool is found in Ecclesiastes.


Ecclesiastes 2:16 (ESV) For of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. How the wise dies just like the fool!


For the first time, we find a stark contrast between the "wise" and the "fool" in Ecclesiastes 2, but notice how it's referring to the "wise" as those who possess "wisdom" in a worldly sense.

"There is no enduring remembrance"
is pretty definitive. Those who are wise (and foolish) by the world's standards share the same end -- they will have their names written in the dust of the earth (1 Corinthians 1:20). On the other hand, the believer's name is written in Heaven (Luke 10:20)!

Yes, pleasure of wisdom, though not enough to make people happy, is better than folly, because folly eclipses and clouds the mind (Ecclesiastes 2:13). But the same dangers can overcome both the wise and the foolish, and death, the great equalizer, ultimately devours both.

Only faith in the Lord saves!


Wisdom is beneficial, then, if I do what I know is pleasing to God and commit to Him what he wishes to be accomplished through me. If we did this, then at last we would be truly wise.

*- Martin Luther [AE 15:42]


In the end, life is vanity apart from faith in the Lord.

The end is the same for the wise and the foolish. All that is done in the absence of faith will become chaff thrown into the devouring fire.

That's why Christ bids us to come to Him and be yoked to His light burden. Those who are burdened are invited to come to the Lord for rest (Matthew 11:28). Seek first His kingdom and His gifts, and all other things shall be given!


Heavenly Father, everlasting God, where would we be if You were to forsake us? How quickly the educated become infants; the prudent simple; the wise, fools! Keep us in the fervor of faith and daily increase it through Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. Amen.


That verse from Ecclesiastes 2 is a great verse to end today's study with because it will help us to transition into the main truths that need to be emphasized before we wrap things up.

Clearly, the Lord has some powerful things to say about the "fool" and He says them in no uncertain terms too. However, as a Christian who's called to love his neighbor (including the atheist and other non-Christians), I don't take any pleasure in those verses, otherwise, I'd be no better than the Pharisee who is grateful that he's not like the Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14).

Instead, I pity the fool, but that also means I have compassion for them still.

At the same time, there are some "fool" related passages that I do like a lot simply because they glorify Jesus and confess Christ crucified for the sins of all mankind.


1 Corinthians 1:18-31 (ESV) 18 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. 19 For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart." 20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."


1 Corinthians 2:14 (ESV)
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

1 Corinthians 3:18-20 (ESV) 18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, "He catches the wise in their craftiness," 20 and again, "The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile."


There's so much we could say about the above passages, but I'll try to hone in on the most salient points since we've looked at so much already.

Human wisdom cannot lead to God, who reveals Himself in the message of the cross (1 Corinthians 1:21). Those who see only foolishness in the cross deny its power to save them from eternal destruction even though it's the cross that is the instrument of God's salvation.


The forgiveness of sins...cannot come to us in any other way than through the Word. How would we know about it otherwise?

*- Large Catechism V 31


The Gospel...preaches righteousness and gives the Spirit

*- Solid Declaration of The Formula of Concord V 22


God's ways appear foolish to those who do not understand them (1 Corinthians 1:25; Isaiah 55:8). At the same time, even the outwardly "holy" and "righteous" and "wise" need to be careful that they don't become fools themselves through their own sinful arrogance and pride.

Case in point, 1 Corinthians 1:19 speaks against people who "draw near with their mouth and honor Me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me" (Isaiah 29:13).

The foolish, weak, and despised bring down and prohibit the boasting of the wise, strong, and esteemed. Though Jesus' death appears foolish and shameful, it is the only basis of our salvation!


We cannot boast of many merits and works, if they are viewed apart from grace and mercy

*- Smalcald Articles III XIII 3


We should avoid pride and boasting about anything we do for God or for others.

A "natural person" (1 Corinthians 2:14) is one without God's Spirit and we're told that spiritual things "are folly to him" because they are accessible only through faith and not worldly wisdom or unbelief.


They still do not know what His mind toward them is and cannot expect any love or blessing from Him. Therefore, they abide in eternal wrath and damnation. For they do not have the Lord Christ, and, besides, are not illumined and favored by any gifts of the Holy Spirit.

*- Large Catechism II 66


The message of the cross is simple, but the spiritual wisdom that comes with it touches every area of life and faith. In view of this, we see unbelievers with new compassion, as people with no true spiritual comprehension (or, at least we should). The Holy Spirit grants such understanding only through the Gospel.

Coming full circle then, we arrive at 1 Corinthians 3:18-20.

In 1 Corinthians 3:18, the words "wise in this age" describes someone who thinks they are "wise" by worldly standards (1 Corinthians 1:20). How incredibly interesting that we are instructed to "become a fool" in the sense that we need to put off that worldly wisdom and simply trust God's way.

In closing, I'd like to return to Psalm 14 and share something else I found during my research. A Pastor from a WELS Church in Texas wrote a hymn based on Psalm 14 for April Fool's Day last year that I thought was pretty good (it's both creative and doctrinally sound, IMHO) and worth mentioning.


In the early years of the Reformation, one Roman Catholic critic of the fledgling Lutheran church declared that Lutherans were singing themselves to hell. As so often happens, a derisive statement became a badge of honor.

From the Roman Catholic point of view, Lutheran hymns were damnable, because the hymns taught Lutheran doctrine. From a Lutheran point of view, it was proudly noted that Lutheran hymnody was a great catechetical tool — Lutheran hymns taught Lutheran doctrine.

So should it always be! As it has been said, Lex orandi, Lex credendi! “The law of prayer is the law of belief.” In other words, what you sing and say in worship is determined by what you believe, and what you believe can be determined by what you sing and say in worship.

In that spirit, below are some hymns written by the pastor of St. Mark offered for the use of the Church. Welcome are comments for improvements (artistic and doctrinal).

Anyone who desires is free to use these hymns, but please refrain from making changes without permission of the author and please give proper citation to the author and to the composer. The tunes of these hymns are in the public domain and free to use.

Comments and suggestions can be sent to Pr. Benjamin Tomczak at catokafka[at]yahoo[dot]com

*******************************************************

Only the fool says, “There’s no God,”
Psalm 14


Only the fool says, “There’s no God,”
thus his corruption shows.
With these daft words he spreads abroad
Old Adam’s dread ego.
Corrupt and vile these foolish words,
denies what nature knows.

Down from the skies the Lord does look
to see if any know,
to see not one has yet forsook,
not one sin does forego.
Not him, not her, not them, not me,
Not him, not her, not me.

This vice infects the newborn child
and drags us to our grave.
By this beguiled, for this reviled,
thus He sent Christ to save.
Though in us nothing good is found,
thus He sent Christ to save.

Salvation comes from Zion’s womb,
God sent His Son to save.
The fortunes of God’s people bloom –
God sent His Son to save!
By faith this fortune comes to us,
not fools, no longer gnaves!

Rejoice, cry out, be glad and sing,
this is our wedding song!
On fingers poor He plants the ring,
in Christ sees nothing wrong!
This God who is, He is the King,
He stands here midst His throng.

No more corrupt, nor fool bankrupt,
by faith we are His child.
In future to be incorrupt
for on us He has smiled.
At wedding supper we will sup,
for on us He has smiled!

Text: Benjamin Tomczak, b. 1980 (April 1, 2011)
Tune: Oliver Holden, 1765-1844
86 86 86 – Coronation


Remember, ironically, a fool is someone who actually disdains knowledge (Proverbs 1:22).

Wisdom reveres God; foolishness does not.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, I pity the fool on April Fool's Day, which is why I will confess Christ crucified for me and for them through my various vocations as the Lord allows me to.

NOTE: As you know, I am a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is not consistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category since I was a Lutheran-In-Name-Only at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a "Book of Concord" containing our Confessions even existed. In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by common Evangelical concerns/criticisms that perhaps wouldn't be too big a deal for us Lutherans. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because we now have this disclaimer and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Finally, please know that any time we engage in interpreting a specific portion of Scripture exegetically, it will always follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible unless otherwise noted. Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!

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Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with...Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all mature spiritually (myself included) then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!