GOD’S WISDOM 1 CORINTHIANS 2 July 22, 2012 FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI, USA1 Corinthians 2:1-16 (HCSB)1“When I came to you, brothers, announcing the testimony of God to you, I did notcome with brilliance of speech or (human) wisdom.2 For I didn’t think it was a good idea to know anything among you except JesusChrist and Him crucified.3 I came to you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.4 My speech and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom butwith a powerful demonstration by the Spirit,5 so that your faith might not be based on men’s wisdom but on God’s power.Spiritual Wisdom6 However, we do speak a wisdom among the mature, but not a wisdom of this age,or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.7 On the contrary, we speak God’s hidden wisdom in a mystery, a wisdom Godpredestined before the ages for our glory.8 None of the rulers of this age knew this wisdom, for if they had known it, they wouldnot have crucified the Lord of glory.9 But as it is written:‘What eye did not see and ear did not hear, and what never entered the humanmind—God prepared this for those who love Him.’ (Isa 64:4)10 Now God has revealed these things to us by the Spirit, for the Spirit searcheseverything, even the depths of God.11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the manthat is in him? In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit ofGod.12 Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit Who comes fromGod, so that we may understand what has been freely given to us by God.13 We also speak these things, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in thosetaught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people.14 But the unbeliever does not welcome what comes from God’s Spirit, because it isfoolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually.15 The spiritual person, however, can evaluate everything, yet he himself cannot beevaluated by anyone.16 For who has known the Lord’s mind, that he may instruct Him?’ (Isa 40:13) But wehave the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:1-16 (HCSB)
Chronology of Apostle Paul’s Journeys and Epistles Matthew McGeeHere’s how Paul got to Corinth: The crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ occurred in the spring of 32 AD. Five years later, in about 37 AD, Jesus Christ speaks to Saul (Paul) on the road to Damascus. Paul’s first missionary journey took place 45-47 AD. The second journey begins, possibly in the spring of 51 AD. Paul takes Silas through Syria and Cilicia (now southeastern Turkey). They came to Derbe and Lystra, where they find Timothy. They are forbidden by the Spirit to go into Asia so they then went to Macedonia (now northern Greece). At Philippi, God opens the heart of Lydia and the Philippian jailer. They then came to Thessalonica, where Paul taught for 3 weeks. After teaching some in Berea, Paul departed by himself southward to Athens. Paul then makes his first visit to Corinth where he stays a year and a half (Acts 18:1, 5, 11). In Corinth, Paul met and made tents with Aquila and Priscilla, who had just come from Rome, from which Claudius Caesar had banished all Jews. First & Second Thessalonians were written from Corinth. Paul left by boat from Corinth with Aquila and Priscilla to go across the Aegean Sea to Ephesus. Paul then goes up to Antioch in Syria, where the second journey ends.
The third journey begins with Galatia (central region of Turkey) in the spring of 54 AD. Paul arrives at Ephesus where he stayed for 3 years. He wrote 1 Corinthians near the end of this stay in Ephesus probably in 57 AD. Ray Stedman Copyright (C) 1995 Discovery Publishing, a ministry of Peninsula Bible Church.Corinth was the most American city in the New Testament, a resort city of palms andbeautiful buildings, the capital of pleasure for the whole Roman Empire.The citizens of Corinth were devoted to two things: 1) the pursuit of pleasure 2) the pursuit of wisdom.That is why it is so like modern conditions today. It was a Greek city so its inhabitantsloved to philosophize. They were given to “the wisdom of words”.In the city of Corinth there was a temple that was dedicated to Aphrodite, the Greekgoddess of love, and part of their worship involved 10,000 temple prostitutes.The city was openly given over to the practices of licentiousness; it was regarded as anormal, proper part of life and no one ever thought twice about it.
If we think we are living under conditions where sensualism is rampant and worship ofsex is widespread, our conditions do not yet approach those of the Christians whohad to live in Corinth. Furthermore, they were continually assaulted by the doctrines,dogmas and ideas of men following the great philosophers.This city was the heir of the great thinkers of the Golden Age of Greece---Socrates,Plato, and Aristotle all had their followers within the city of Corinth.And as in every Greek city, they loved to gather in the public plazas and debate thepresent issues. They were people given over to the love of human wisdom.Paul stayed with Aquila and Priscilla in Corinth and led them to Christ.He formed a church in their home and gradually the Gospel spread throughout thecity and many of the Corinthians on hearing it, believed, were baptized and becamemembers of this church. That was the church to which Paul wrote this letter, and asyou read it, you see that it was a church in trouble; it was the biggest problem churchin the New Testament.The letter falls into two major divisions; there is first of all a great section dealing withwhat we might call "the carnalities," that takes you from chapters 1 through 11. Thenthere is a closing section from chapter 12 through chapter 16 that deals with whatPaul calls "the spiritualities"---the carnalities versus the spiritualities.The carnalities included everything that was wrong with this church; the spiritualitieswere what they needed to correct it.As you read this letter through, you will see that we suffer today from all the carnalitiesand that what we desperately need to set our lives right are the spiritualities.
Therefore, this letter is especially written to those who live in a sex-saturated, wisdom-loving atmosphere and are trying to live as Christians in the midst of all the pressuresthat constantly come from these two areas.The godless spirit of the city had come into the church.There are those who are telling us that the need in the church today is to captureagain the spirit of the age in which we live. There could be absolutely nothing furtherfrom the truth than that! The one thing the church must never do is to capture thespirit of the age. The job of the church is to correct the spirit of the age becausewhen a church begins to reflect the spirit of the age in which it lives, it immediatelyloses its power, and that is what had happened to the church at Corinth."The world," Paul says, “by its wisdom does not know God" (1 Cor. 1:21), and they willnever get to the heart of their problems by trying to pursue the insights of currentpopularity or secular philosophers. That is still true today.The church will never solve its problems as long as it constantly pursues theknowledge of men looking for the insights it needs to understand its problems.The apostle says it is impossible that we can ever arrive at a solution to our needs onthis level, because there is something vitally missing.That missing element is the life of the Spirit in man, and without this, he can neversolve all the riddles of life. So the apostle answers these problems by confronting themwith the word of the cross---the word that presents the cross of Christ as thatinstrument by which God cuts off all human wisdom as being useless in solving themajor problems of man.When we come to appreciate the word of the cross, we understand that in the crossof Jesus Christ, God took His own Son, now become man like us, identified with us inevery way, and nailed Him up to die.The world sees that as being useless as far as solving any of the problems of mankindis concerned.
That is the word of the cross; that is why it looks so foolish to the natural man; that iswhy it proceeds on a totally different principle than the wisdom of the world. Andwhen we accept that, the apostle says, we begin to discover that true, secret,hidden wisdom that unfolds, little by little, the answers to the problems of life. Webegin to understand ourselves and to see why this world is what it is, and where it isheading, and why all the confusion and the difficulties and the problems exist, as thedeep things of God, the wisdom which God has hidden in Christ, is unfolded to usthrough the teaching of the Spirit by the word of God.And Paul says, "Im not going to waste any time at all arguing with you about thewisdom of men: when it comes to solving the deep-seated problems of humannature, there is only one wisdom that can touch it, and that is the word of the cross."This becomes, then, one of the mightiest answers of all time to the intellectualism thatconstantly hounds the Christian church and attempts to undermine it---a falseintellectualism.The word of God never attempts to set aside or call worthless the pursuit ofknowledge. God intends men to learn things, he designed us that way, but it must beknowledge based upon a right beginning and we are called back to the principle setforth in the Old Testament, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Prov.9:10); and that is where we begin.“The fear of the Lord” can be defined as: reverential awe and also as realizing thatGod is watching every thought, action, attitude and deed that I have and do.Wisdom can be defined as: seeing things from God’s point of view.“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” is telling us that to start learning tohave godly wisdom, be aware that God is watching every thought, action, attitudeand deed that you have and that you do. When you do, you start seeing things fromGod’s point of view, you start thinking like God thinks and you begin to have thewisdom of God in your life.
Now, Paul goes on here to show that the true reason for their division was not whatthey thought it to be---differences of human points of view---but rather, it wascarnality, the love of the flesh for being puffed up, and for finding itself idolized andfollowed. This was their problem. Paul says that while that principle is at work, theywould remain babes, they would never grow.The word of the cross must come in and cut off the flesh before you will ever begin togrow.As long as this keeps on, you will find yourselves constantly involved in little squabblesand bickerings and divisions, and you can live your whole Christian life on that basis,Paul says. But one of these days you are going to come to the end, and the testing,the analysis of what your life has been worth, and in that Day you will see that if youhave been living in the flesh, it is all wood, hay, and stubble.It is burned up, completely worthless, and your life---except for the fact that you havereceived Jesus Christ as your Savior---is a wasted enterprise.It is possible, even in the religious realm, to gain the approval of men and to beaccepted as quite a figure in the church, and to enjoy the favor of others and theprestige that comes from position, and to come to the end, only to discover that theabsolutely relentless judgment of God has not been impressed in the least degree bythat which originates from anything else but the work of the Spirit of God in you---ithas to be the Spirit and not the flesh.“Old too soon, Smart too late!”“Just one life, will soon be past,Only what’s done for Christ will last.”Actually it is not what’s done for Christ but only what we allow Him to do through usthat lasts. We don’t work for God, He works through us.Ephesians 2:1010 “For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which Godprepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.”
1 Corinthians 2:1a-21“I did not come with brilliance of speech…2 For I didn’t think it was a good idea to know anything among you except JesusChrist and Him crucified.”Paul decided not to talk to them with the wisdom of men – lofty words, floweryphrases – to impress them with the beauty of the Christian life.The wisdom of the world always sounds impressive and with attractive goals fromcelebrities wearing lots of bling-bling.There is usually a suggestion as to how to obtain the good life – just buy our product!It is doubtful that changing deodorants is going to drastically improve your life.The cross of Christ is a judgment on the wisdom of man.The “smart” people in Jerusalem crucified Jesus and the intellectuals of our day dothe same.They killed Him, not because they thought He was crazy but because they wereafraid that He was right.They saw Him as dangerous!
He threatens people and their human wisdom.The cross is the result of confronting the world with the ways of God.The only thing that they could think to do was to nail Him to the cross.Dorothy Sayers said that, “He was too dynamic to be safe. The Jews saw Him asdangerous. He was tender to the poor but He insulted the clergy by calling themhypocrits. He called King Herod “that fox”. He was a Friend of sinners and One Whothrew tradesmen out of the Temple.He destroyed their regulations and cured diseases with a shocking casualness at theexpense of other people’s pigs and property. He showed no deference to thewealthy or those with high social standing. When faced with a trap, He made fun ofthose who were trying to trick Him. He asked questions that could not be answeredand He had a daily beauty in His life that made them feel ugly. The leaders felt liketheir world would be more secure without Him. They did away with God in the nameof peace and quietness.” Dorothy SayersMan tries to handle life apart from the redemptive process of Jesus Christ.In the death of Jesus, God wiped out all other approaches to life as Paul refers to inverse 7: “God’s hidden wisdom in a mystery”.
In verse 1 Paul calls it “the mystery of God”in verse 10, “the deep things of God”in verse 11, “the thoughts of God”in verse 12, “the gifts of God”in verse 13, “spiritual truths” andin verse 16, “the mind of Christ”.This mystery of God is the missing link of human understanding.The wisdom of God holds the secrets of how to live and how to get rid of guilt andfear and how to love God.These truths are intended for our glorification – developing the real you.They are not discoverable by natural processes or through philosophy.The natural man cannot understand this body of truth: “What eye did not see and eardid not hear, and what never entered the human mind—God prepared this for thosewho love Him.”The natural man cannot learn this from history.God reveals this body of Truth only to those who posses His Spirit (Christians).The Spirit of God takes the Word of God and teaches the people of God these truths.These truths are never found in secular thinking.These are seen only from God’s point of view, from His perspective.The Holy Spirit is God’s Teacher that He has placed inside of us.
Jesus Himself spoke with such authority that others knew nothing about.Matthew 7:28-29“28 When Jesus had finished this sermon, the crowds were astonished at His teaching,29 because He was teaching them like One Who had authority, and not like theirscribes.” Matthew 7:28-29Jesus read people’s minds and answered questions before they were even asked, Hediscerned people’s motives and He spoke of unseen things with a familiarity asthough He had seen them Himself. He described what God is like and what happensafter death. He knew a body of Truth others had no access to.In the Upper Room, when the disciples feared the loss of His wisdom, He said,“18 I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you.” John 14:18Then He said,26 “The Counselor, the Holy Spirit—the Father will send Him in My name—will teachyou all things and remind you of everything I have told you.” John 14:26Jesus told them that the Holy Spirit would say many things to them that He did not saybecause they couldn’t handle them yet.As we already stated, the wisdom of God is intended for our glorification. Goddesigned it to complete human beings, to bring us to fulfillment, to make us into themen and women that He designed us to be: beautiful people both outwardly andinwardly, loving, compassionate, strong, tender-hearted, merciful people filled withgrace and strength. That is glorified humanity! That’s what this body of Truth will do.Without this body of Truth homes break up and societies fall apart.It is the most vital line of Truth that anyone can know anything about.It is available only through God’s Holy Spirit. He is the mighty Teacher of God come toinstruct us in the Word of God and expose us to the hidden secret wisdom of God. Hesets us free to become who He designed us to be.
You are not defined by your past but by who you are becoming.You are being conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29).You are now who you have been becoming!We cannot know God except He disclose Himself to us.You cannot know Him through human wisdom, not by investigation.Only God Himself can open Himself to us and that He has done by means of His HolySpirit.Jesus said, “He will take the things of Mine and show them to you.”He illuminates the pages of Scripture and makes it vivid and real and we areconfronted with the living, breathing Christ Himself.That’s the work of the Spirit.The apostles did not understand Jesus but the Spirit helped them to comprehendwhat He had told them.Jesus puzzled them but when the Spirit came – all that Jesus had said began to makewonderful sense.Unbelievers can read the Bible and it is a totally different book to them but after theybecome Christians and they have the Holy Spirit as their Teacher, it comes alive!The Spirit interprets these truths to those who posses the Spirit.The word interpret means “to fit things together”.He takes the wisdom of God and facts about your personality and your makeup andyour spiritual gifts and fits those all together for each individual, for each spiritualperson.Spiritual person comes from the word pneuma = spirit.Believers can operate their lives from the spiritual level, the highest functioning levelpossible.Only those who have received the Spirit (which occurs for every believer at salvation)can operate from the spiritual level.We are made up of body, soul and spirit.
Our soul is made up of our mind, our will and our emotions.1 Thessalonians 5:2323 “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely. And may your spirit,soul, and body be kept sound and blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23The natural man is spiritually dead so he operates out of the areas of his body and hissoul.Soul comes from the Greek word “psche”.The natural man is shut away from all the things of God, the whole realm of the secretwisdom of God. He does not even know that it exists. He thinks he has all he needs tolive life when in reality he knows nothing of the vast realm of information about whatmakes humans tick, about God, about the world, about the way it operates andfunctions, the purpose of life, about the end towards which all things are heading –he knows nothing of all of this and it limits him. For this reason, he misunderstands somuch about life. He misunderstands marriage – he doesn’t get it. God’s design is totake two totally different types of people (a female and a male) and blend themtogether through a long process involving much struggle and much heartache until awhole new being is formed and that brings much glory to God!The natural man misunderstands adversity that God can use as a training ground. Hesees adversity as an invasion on his rights, as an alien invader that has no right to bethere. He gets angry at God and has resentment towards God when adversity comesinto his life. He is shut away from the secret wisdom of God and is unable tounderstand it. These things don’t make sense to him. It is only as he sees Christianshandle adversity that he is able to even accept the idea at all. The same goes for hisviews on euthanasia, abortion, etc. because these things are spiritually discerned.The message we are to confront the natural man with is “we preach not ourselves butJesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.”
That’s how we help the world.If the natural man does not accept Jesus as Lord, his mind remains darkened andalthough out of peer pressure he accepts the norms and values of the society – he isnever fully convinced that those values are right.Without the equipping by the Spirit, the mind is unable to grasp what God wants.Just as radio and TV waves are passing through the air around us right now, you can’thear or see the messages without the necessary equipment.The natural man lacks the equipment to see the sense in Christian living.It is foolishness to him and it is foolish for us to argue with non-believers beyond acertain point.Believers are equipped to pass moral and ethical judgment on all things.Anything can be used rightly or wrongly; TV, the Internet, in vitro fertilization, etc.It is the task, even the privilege, of the Christian to point out to the world the right wayand the wrong way to use things. The spiritual man is to have thoroughly studied theissue, fully prayed up, diligently researched it and then waits before God for anillumination of his mind before making a pronouncement.
We are to stand up and say “abortion is wrong” no matter how many laws say it islegal.They can pass laws that make some things legal but that will never make those thingsmoral. 1. Social oppression is wrong. 2. Bigotry is wrong. 3. Human trafficking is wrong.We are to stand against these things based on the secret wisdom of God that theworld knows nothing about.We will see anit-Christian laws in the near future and like Martin Luther at the Diet ofWorms as he stood before the assembled authorities including the Emperor of theHoly Roman Empire said, “unless my conscious be corrected by the Word of God, Iwill not recant. Here I stand, I can do no other, God help me.”Possibly the most daring thing ever said in Scripture is: “We have the mind of Christ”.To have the mind of Christ is to have the very way of thinking about life that JesusHimself had. The keen ability to observe what was going on around Him. The ability toevaluate the changing standards of men and to come to the heart of the matter.That’s the mind of Christ. The mark of it is that we will behave as Jesus did. We will becompassionate when others are severe and we’ll be severe when others are tolerant.We will be kind to the ugly and to the obscure and to the people with no ability orpower but we will be frank with the rich and the powerful and the mighty.That’s the mind of Christ.It is the privilege of the spiritual man who can operate in the midst of a crooked andperverse generation among whom we appear as lights in a dark world.It calls men back to reality – away from the confusion and the illusion and thedelusions and the fantasies by which the world lives – to the realities of life as it is inChrist.What a challenge we have!What a privilege we have!