Smartest man in the World
Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost
The Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.
When I was in college, I had three roommates. We all shared a house on the north side of Missoula near the stockyards. Two of the men were brothers and the third was a young man named David, Oklahoma.
At the age of 20, David was the smartest man in the world. How did I know this? Because he told me so. His logic was this: ‘I am the smartest man in the world because I have not met anyone smarter.’ This reasoning made perfect sense to him and if you were ever bored and had nothing to do, asking him about his intelligence could give you hours of entertainment. For the smartest man in the world, he did some pretty dumb things sometimes, but he did invent the scrambled egg topped pizza.
I have my doubts about the smartest man in the world coming from Oklahoma, but I do know the smartest man in America comes from Bozeman, Montana. His name is Christopher Langan and he has an IQ estimated to be between 195 and 210. To put that into perspective, Albert Einstein had an IQ of 150, and Stephen Hawking had an IQ of 170.
Mr. Langan believes in God and he also believes he can prove God and heaven exist through mathematics. He calls his theory “Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe (CTMU)"
Thankfully, we do not have to rely on the wisdom of men to know that God and heaven exist because the smartest man in the universe, Jesus Christ, told us himself.
In the Gospel of John, he says, “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.” [John 3:13] In the Gospel according to Mark, God the Father testified about His Son when He said, “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” [Mark 1:11] We do not have to have to be geniuses to know that Jesus Christ is Lord, as he said in a prayer to Our Father in heaven:
“I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children;yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. [Matthew 11:25-27]
What has been revealed to us about heaven is very little. We do not really know exactly how heaven will look or feel. Compared to God’s infinite wisdom and holiness, our little minds are like the mind of a newborn infant. Because of our sinful nature, we put ourselves before God and believe we know what He is thinking, or how he created life from nothing. Like my college roommate, we say to God, “I’m the smartest person in the world!”
We say this long and loud so many times that we actually fool ourselves into believing that we are smarter than God. We start making the decisions on what is right and good. We decide what part of God’s word is to be followed. We twist God’s word to fit our way of thinking in order to cover up our transgressions against Him.
It is easy to become full of oneself, especially if those around you affirm and encourage your faulty thinking. “Let no one deceive you in any way.” [2 Thessalonians 2:3a] the Apostle Paul tells us. Be wary, he continues, of anyone who, “…exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.” [2 Thessalonians 2:4]
We may deceive others into believing our human logic and thus lead them away from God’s word. This is why it is important to listen, to read and to apply the Word of God every chance you get so that your wisdom comes from the Holy Spirit and not from your own mind.
An example of worldly wisdom is given to us in today’s Gospel. Some Sadducees came to Jesus with a question. They thought they were pretty clever. They thought they were smarter than God. They took the word of God from the writing of Moses, the lawgiver, and twisted it to fit their devious purposes.
I do not know what Jesus was thinking when he was asked this question, but I do know what has been revealed to us by what he answered. Firstly, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is not dead but alive. Moreover, he is not the God of the dead, but the living. [Luke 20:38]
If it were not for Jesus Christ, descending from heaven to be born as a human being, taking on the sins of the world, bearing that sin unto death on the cross, rising from the grave and from death, we would still be under the Law. We would not be able to meet the level of true righteousness and holiness to stand before God. Under the Law alone, we die an eternal death.
But God is not the God of the dead, but the living. [Luke 20:38b] He sent His only Son into our lives so that those who believe in him will not die but have eternal life. [John 3:16] When we are baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, we become children of the resurrection; we become children of God.
Like small children in this world, we are not as smart as our father but we do know who our father is. We do no spend our lives trying to prove our father exists or that he provides for us. It is true that some children may deny their father as one with authority over them, but that does not make the father cease to be.
Likewise, we do not need to twist the Word and Sacraments to our will. We do not need to prove God has authority in heaven and on earth. God has already shown His love through His Son’s sacrifice. He has given his body and blood for you and for me. Through this body and blood in, with and under the bread and wine, we become one in the body of Christ.
Jesus tells us that, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage…” [Luke 20:34b] This age is our life here on earth. In this life we marry, we have families and homes and vocations. Also, we curse, we murder and we covet. None of these things will exist in heaven. Under God’s roof, there will never be sin.
We look forward to the day when our Lord returns in all his glory. Just as we cannot fully know heaven in this age, we cannot fully know when that day will come. Yet we do not despair because when he does return, all the work of the lawless one, Satan, will be snuffed out like a candle by the breath of Christ.
At that time, all our sin and earthly wisdom will also disappear. We will see God as he really is with the new eyes of our newly resurrected bodies. Then we will know God truly. Then we will understand heaven. As sons and daughters of the resurrection, we will all be one family under God our Father. We shall dwell in His house and serve Him forever.
I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, and I may reason like a child, but I do know this – I know that my Redeemer lives! I know that the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, and my God, is a God of the living and not the dead.
How do I know all of this? I know this because the smartest man in the universe told me. He continues to tell me every day of my life through Scripture. He continues to bless me and forgive me through his body and blood in Holy Communion. He continues to guide me and keep me through his Holy Spirit imparted to me through baptism.
Through his word and sacrament, we are being killed and made alive again in his image. Through his word and sacrament, we all become a little bit wiser because instead of being dragged down by our sin, we are lifted up in his glory. In his glory, we see him as he is and how we are meant to be.
The Apostle Paul was a smart man, but he knew who was the greatest. He speaks to us through his letter to the church in Rome.
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has become His counselor?”
“Or who has first given to Him
And it shall be repaid to him?” [Romans 11:33-35]
Yes, my brothers and sisters, the smartest man in the world will never be smarter than the God of all creation; and that is why we turn to Him for our salvation through His son.
For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. [Romans 11:33-36]