First Corinthians chapter 2 and we’re looking at verses 6 to 16 as our unit of study this morning in our continuing look at 1 Corinthians. Just a preface, if I might, in order to maybe defend myself this morning before we begin in our study.
I suppose that from time to time all of us examine what we do to try to just define a little better the things that we do, especially as Christians; and one of the things that constantly is going through my mind in terms of definition is, “What is it that I’m endeavoring to accomplish as I teach the Word of God week in and week out? Am I attempting to entertain the people?” Well, not really, although I hope parts of it aren’t boring.
“Am I endeavoring to inspire and motivate them?” Yes, but more than that, I hope it’s inspiration and motivational. Basically, what I am endeavoring to do week in and week out as we meet together is to tell you what the Scripture means, and I think it’s important for us to back up to that particular perspective from time to time so we can see what it is we’re supposed to get so we know when we’ve gotten it.
Our objective in studying the Word of God is not to entertain you, that’ll pass fast; not to motivate you and inspire you, that will pass fast; but to explain to you what the Bible means; then you can go back to it as a point of reference with understanding. And so my task as a teacher of the Word of God is just that, to show you what it means, and perhaps along the way to inspire or entertain or whatever happens, to help you to better grasp what it means. And so we want this morning to discover what it means by what it says in 1 Corinthians 2:6 to 16. If you leave this service and you understand what these verses mean, that’s exciting, because this is God’s word to you today.
Now as you remember, one of the many problems that existed in the Corinthian situation was the failure of the Christians to break with human philosophy. The Corinthians were in a very, very immoral and humanly intellectual society, a world that was pretty well based upon the reason and the lusts of men; and when they became Christians they dragged this kind of immorality and this kind of rationalism into the church. And the book of Corinthians is written to try to get them to cut the cords of their former worldly life, both philosophically and in terms of moral behavior.
One of the problems that was existing was the fact that these people, before they became Christians, were aligned with certain philosophers; and when they became believers, they tended to attach continually to that philosopher so that they dragged the human philosophy into the church; and there was a lack of unity because they couldn’t agree on philosophy. And so Paul writes a lengthy section from chapter 1, verse 18 through chapter 2, 3, and even part of 4, telling them to cut off from human philosophy, to sever the connection, that human philosophy is unnecessary, that human wisdom has nothing to offer them. And the purpose then of this section this morning is to continue Paul’s argument against the necessity of human wisdom.
Let me add a footnote, because I don’t want you to misconstrue what we’re saying. We realize that man has really developed some amazing things scientifically and technologically that have been to our benefit. When we say we reject human wisdom, it doesn’t mean that we reject any application of human wisdom to anything at all. It means we object to human philosophy, that is that part of man’s reasoning which attempts to answer ultimate questions.
We don’t have an answer to everything as Christians. For example, if my wife’s washing machine goes wrong, I’m a Christian, but I still can’t fix it, I’ve got to get an unsaved guy to fix it or whatever. I mean there’s some things that human wisdom provides for me that I don’t have, you know. So that isn’t the issue. If I need my car fixed, I’m not so concerned that the guy’s a Christian as that he is a good mechanic. And we’re not disparaging that. Some of the greatest teachers I’ve ever had in my life, some of the people who’ve taught me the most, some of the people who’ve had the greatest influence on my life in terms of framing my personality have been non-Christians who really knew something about their area of education, or technology, or whatever it might be, history, science.
But when the world gets into the area of trying to understand where man came from, why he’s here, where he’s going, what his meaning is; when it tries to define God, when it tries to define morality, when it tries to define real joy, real peace, real happiness, it wiped out. That’s philosophy, the study of wisdom, and it refers to ultimate wisdom.
The world is terrific in other areas. Do you realize that it may be that there will be very soon genetic controls and microsurgery by radiation and laser beams? That the control of the aging process will allow us to live to 100 years? For some people, if life doesn’t get any better that won’t be any blessing. Do you realize that they may be able to eliminate tooth decay by welding enamel on your teeth with laser beams, any color you want? Spot welding of the retina, the extended use of the bloodless knife in surgery, which is a beam that cuts and cauterizes at the same time?
An interesting thing I read is that by 1981 we will have household robots made by FoMoCo do our lawn. Hallelujah, been waiting for that one for a long time. By that time, my son will be old enough, won’t need it. So we’re not saying that man’s technology hasn’t helped us. We’re not saying that medical technology, that scientific technology, that advancement in many areas has not helped – and we do accept that, and we do believe in that, and we do respond to that. But the thing that bothers is all of the philosophy of man that continues to drown us.
Do you realize there are 2,000 new pages printed every second? There are 365,000 hardback books printed every year, and that doesn’t include the paperbacks – different books. There are 60 million pages a year produced, and most of this espouses the philosophy of man. It’s becoming so difficult to store all this information that we have microfilm; but microfilm doesn’t work, it’s too big. They’ve got laser storage. You know how they do that? They store something on a crystal, shoot a laser beam at it, and refract it off onto a screen; and they can store it in the tiniest little part of a crystal.
That’s too bulky. Carry your registration around with a pocket full of crystals. That’s too bulky. They have developed molecular storage. They can put the entire Library of Congress on the object the size of a sugar cube. Of course, nobody could afford the machine to read it. It’s amazing; to the writing of books there is no end. And we’re not denying that man has made great contribution.
In fact, in some areas the world is a lot smarter than Christians are. You say, “Are you kidding?” No, that’s what Jesus said. Luke 16:8, “For the sons of this age are in their generation wiser than the sons of light.” Wow. The world is smarter about some things in their own domain than we are about some things in our domain.
What the principle is saying is this: if the Christian would apply himself to the gaining of the godliness like the worldly man applies himself to the gaining of wealth, it would be a whole different church. That’s the point. They do some things with a great deal more diligence than we do. If we applied ourselves to our souls like they do to their wallets, no telling what God might do. So we’re not denying the place of human wisdom at all. We’re simply saying that when human wisdom is applied toward ultimate truth or toward the things which deal with God, and sin, and man’s destiny, and salvation, and transformation of life, and morality, and ethics and all that, that man’s philosophy is bankrupt, absolutely zilch.
So Paul says to the Corinthians, “Now you don’t need this philosophy. Junk it, it’s unnecessary. As I’ve said before where it’s right, it’s only right because it agreed with the Scripture, so you don’t need it. Where it’s wrong, you really don’t need it. So you don’t need it.”
Now Paul illustrates the fact that he doesn’t believe in the necessity of human wisdom by chapter 2, verses 1-5. He says, “Do you remember how it was when I came to you? I didn’t come with excellency of speech” – verse 1 – “or wisdom.” Verse 4: “My speech and my preaching were not with enticing words of man’s wisdom.” Verse 5: “I didn’t want your faith to stand in the wisdom of men.”
In other words, Paul says, “You can see that I didn’t put any stock in human philosophy. I didn’t put any stock in human wisdom by the very way that I came to you, that’s obvious.” Verse 2: “I determine to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I didn’t come to you with some sophisticated words or a sophisticated philosophy, I came to you with simplicity.”
You see, the gospel does not need the addition of human philosophy. God does not need man’s reason, man’s innovation. Everything the gospel comes in really is very simple. The preacher comes along in Corinth, like Paul did, and presents Christ and Him crucified, it’s very simple. In fact, they said it’s so simple it’s foolish, remember that? The preaching of the cross was to them that perish – what? – foolishness. They said, “This is stupid. This is nonsense. You mean you expect us intellectuals with all the wisdom that we’ve gained, and all the education, and all the sophisticated philosophies; you mean that you expect us to believe that somewhere, some time one guy dies on a cross and that’s the whole crux of human destiny?”
And I’ve heard people say the same thing today. They say, “Ah, for little kids and old ladies, right? No intelligent man would believe that. I can’t buy it.” I’ve had many people say that to me. And when Paul comes along, and when you come along, and say, “Now we don’t preach human wisdom,” they say, “You’re sure right. What you’ve got is foolishness.”
Now watch verse 6: “However, we are speaking wisdom.” Stop right there. “It may not be the world’s wisdom, and you may think it is foolish, and you may say it is simple and simplistic, but we are speaking wisdom. You may not see it as such, but it is. I reject human wisdom, I reject human reason, but we do teach true wisdom.” They object that he doesn’t teach philosophy. He says, “Philosophy can’t save.”
Do you realize that after all the philosophies and philosophers of the ages man is just as bad as he’s ever been, if not worse: more wars, more crime, worse. And so he says, “We are speaking wisdom” – watch this – “among them that are perfect.” The problem is that only the saved know it.
Perfect, teleios here, refers to full grown or mature. And in this context, incidentally, the word teleios or teleios, wherever it’s used to speak of perfect ones, it has to be interpreted in the context, because it can mean a Christian who’s very mature, or it can just mean a Christian period. A Christian is one who has come to the place of knowledge of being complete in Christ. And so here it is referring to a Christian, not a super Christian, just a Christian; because he’s not contrasting mature Christians with infantile ones, he’s contrasting Christians with unbelievers. “We are speaking wisdom among those that are believers, the only people who know this is wisdom are the Christians.”
See if you can illustrate it in your own mind. Some of you can’t remember when you weren’t a Christian. Like the little kid said, you know, “Are you a Christian?” He says, “All my life, you know, I’ve been a Christian. I don’t know anything else.”
And maybe you’re in the same boat. Maybe ever since you were a little kid, that’s all you’ve ever known. You’ve always been a Christian. But if you can think back to the time that you weren’t a Christian and think about your reactions to the gospel, usually your reaction was the gospel was pretty stupid, pretty foolish; and it didn’t really seem very profound, did it? Christ dies on the cross. And when you became a Christian, all of a sudden the whole meaning of the gospel got some depths to it that just were unfathomable, and you began to realize that this stuff was deep.
And the longer you’ve been a Christian, the deeper it all gets – right? – and the more unsearchable, and you feel like the apostle Paul, who in Romans 11:33 says, “O how unsearchable are Thy ways. How past finding out. How deep is Your wisdom and knowledge.” But before you were a believer, it was all very simplistic. And then when you become a believer, and you begin to look at the cross, and you begin to look at the gospel, and you begin to look at the incarnation and what went on at the cross, and you can’t even begin with your human reason to plum the depths of all that is there.
And so the apostle says, “Yes, we are speaking wisdom, but the only people who understand it are the believers. And you don’t understand it because it is human philosophy. It is wisdom, the wisdom of God, only opened to the minds of believers,” – that’s what Ephesians 1:8 says – “that it’s God whose given us the understanding of His wisdom.”
Now from there, Paul divides the rest of the text into two points. I’m just going to give these two points to you, very simple; and yet I want you to get this, because you’ll find that this can be very, very helpful, not only in giving you the understanding of the passage that God’s given us, but in helping you to relate this to somebody else.
Two points. Number one: true wisdom is not humanly discovered. Number two: true wisdom is divinely revealed. That’s pretty simple.
Number one: true wisdom is not humanly discovered. You can’t discover God on your own. You can’t go into a phone booth and take off your clothes. You can do that, but you wouldn’t come out Superman. You can’t transcend the natural. You can’t understand God any more than something lower than you can understand you.
Did you ever hear of two bugs discussing human anatomy? By the time they’ve learned anything about human anatomy, it’s too late. You ever hear a glass of water talking to a loaf of bread? You say, “What kind of stuff is that?” That’s just as ridiculous as hear two men thinking they understand God. It’s totally out of your area.
I was in a meeting the other night of some dear folks, and we had a great time together, and they were telling me their opinion about God. But, you know, I hear that all the time: “Well, I think God. Well, I think God.”
Well, you know something, what you think about God is irrelevant. You couldn’t know God no matter how hard you tried, no matter how many spiritual grunts and groans you went through, because you cannot escape the confines of a natural existence and leap into the supernatural dimension, come back and tell us about God. You can’t leave, you’re here. You’re stuck. You’re in a natural world; you are unable to know God.
True wisdom – that is ultimate truth regarding God, man, destiny, all of that – salvation is not known to man’s mind. Yet all the religions of the world are efforts on the part of man to discover God, to find God. Christianity says you can’t find God, He found you. Luke 19, “The Son of man has come to” – what? – “seek who is lost.”
We always give testimonies: “I found the Lord.” But He wasn’t lost; He found you. If you had to be looking for Him, you’d have had a mess, because you couldn’t find Him. Thank God He came and found us. And so it is that we are not able to transcend our system.
Now notice how he develops this in verse 6: “We are speaking among them that are perfect this wisdom. Yet we realized that it is not the wisdom of this age, nor of the princes of this age that comes to nothing.” It is not a wisdom that is available to either the philosophies or the philosophers of this age, which come to nothing.
We go on preaching wisdom, not the wisdom of the world, aiōn, in the Greek. It’s translated world maybe in your Bible, or maybe age, or maybe era. Aión has the idea of time. “We are not speaking the wisdom of this particular time.”
And for every different time there’s a different philosophy, right? Philosophers just keep coming and going, and coming and going, and all of them have come to nothing. Add up all that philosophy has contributed and you get zero. The wisdom of this age, the wisdom of the next era, the wisdom of the next era, the wisdom of the next era, nothing. It’s all katargeō, rendered ineffective, empty. And whatever age you happen to be living in, we’re not preaching that.
I’m not here to tell you human opinion. I’m not here to tell you what I think. I’m not here to give you some wonderful philosophy for life. I’m here to tell you what the Bible means by what it says, because this is the revelation of God. If I was giving human opinion, it would only take me about two weeks to empty this place. First people to go would be the ones who disagreed with my opinion. The second group to go would be the ones who agreed with my opinion because they don’t need me. I’m not here to give you my opinion, I’m here to tell you what the word says.
And so it is that Paul says that, We realize that this ultimate truth is outside the boundaries of the wisdom of this particular era and the philosophers of this era, all of whom come to nothing. But” – verse 7, and here’s the strongest adversative in the Greek language, alla – “But on the other hand, we speak” – or are speaking – “the wisdom of God.” Stop right there.
“We are not speaking something from this system, or from this world from these philosophers, rather it is” – from whom? – “from God.” He is talking about a divine, supernatural wisdom. “Yes, we are speaking wisdom.”
They said, “Ah, foolishness. Nonsense, no.” “We are speaking wisdom, and the believers understand that it’s wisdom. It is not the wisdom from your system, it is the wisdom of God. And the reason you don’t understand it” – verse 7 “ – is we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom.” The reason you don’t know it is, it isn’t knowable to you. Man doesn’t know the wisdom of God because God has not given it to man to know. He has put it outside the boundaries of man’s capacity.
Now when you see the word “mystery” there you need to get a definition: mustērion in the Greek. It doesn’t mean something that’s occultic, or clandestine, or puzzling, or like a labyrinth or a maze where you’ve got to sort of find your way on the quest for the wisdom of God. It isn’t that at all. The word “mystery” means a secret which is impossible for man to penetrate, but which God has chosen to reveal; something man can’t know, but God has revealed. So the word points to the impossibility of man knowing God’s secret, and the love of God which makes that secret known.
Aren’t you glad we couldn’t know it? Well, you say, “I’m not too glad.” Aren’t you glad we couldn’t know it, but God revealed it? “Yes.” It would be tragic if we couldn’t know it and it got stuck that way. We can’t know it; it’s outside of us. Aren’t you glad it’s outside of us? Aren’t you glad that ultimate truth is outside man? Man hasn’t done much with what he’s got.
So it is a mystery; that is God has hidden it. It is called the hidden: that which is hidden. God has hidden it from before the ages, proorizō. He planned it, foreordained before the ages began. Before time began, God had this marvelous salvation plan; He hid it. And in Christ and the New Testament, the mysteries were all revealed. Paul even calls himself the apostle who is given the dispensation of the mysteries, to open up the mysteries.
And God has opened those mysteries to us, those things which were hidden throughout history; and, why, unto our glory, our blessing, our eternal excellence. Imagine, for all time and before time, God planned our eternal blessing. In the right time, He unfolded His mystery. It’s something that even the Old Testament people didn’t see. They believed in God and they believed in the revelation coming, though they never saw it. God accepted that as saving faith.
But we know the full revelation of the mystery, not because we comprehended in human minds, but because God having hidden it has now revealed it. So Paul says, “Look, it’s wisdom. We know you can’t understand it. It doesn’t come out of your system, for the first place. For the second place, God has hidden it.”
The world will never know God on its own. Men will never find God on their own. The world will never develop a religion that is true. Philosophy will never cut it, because it is outside the realm of man’s world. It can’t come from within his own world, God has hidden it from him.
Verse 8 is a living illustration of this fact, proof. Look: “The true wisdom, none of the princes of this age knew; for had they known they would not have” – what? – “crucified the Lord of glory.” Listen. What’s he referring to? Watch: “None of the princes of this era.”
Now what era was Paul living in? The New Testament period. Who were the princes of that time? They were the Jewish leaders and the Roman leaders. He says, “Let me give you an illustration of the fact that the world doesn’t know God, that the leaders of the world have never known God on their own terms, by their own reason. Take, for example, the princes of this age,” – he says in verse 8, the Roman chiefs and the Jewish ones – “they didn’t know God. They didn’t know the truth. For if they had they never would have crucified the Lord of glory, the very God of excellence.”
And, my friend, if you ever doubt that Jesus is God, you’d better read that verse again. He is called the Lord of glory. Glory is all of the attributes of God. And these are types of all the people of all the ages who have rejected Christ. This is just the apex. This just proves the point. This is just a high point of showing you that man’s wisdom can’t know God. Here were all the brilliant Romans and all the educated erudite – well-known, well-schooled – and the Old Testament Jews, and together they crucified Christ, executing the Lord of glory. That shows you how much they really knew, they didn’t know anything. Great illustration.
The best and the wisest of the world never knew God’s truth or they wouldn’t have crucified the Lord of glory. I love the way he calls Him the Lord of glory in contrast to the humiliation of crucifixion. “They crucified the Lord of glory.” What a misconstruing of the truth. So Paul contrasts the shame of the cross with the glory of the crucified, and shows how far off the truth human wisdom was. All the Romans with all their gods and all their religion didn’t know God, they crucified Him. All the Jews with all their information didn’t know God. They crucified Him.
You say, “But how is it so that they cannot know? How was it so that this is hidden?” Verse 9 gives you the answer: “As it is written,” – and here he quotes from Isaiah 64:4 most likely. He says, “As it is written, ‘Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither have entered into heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.’” Have most of you heard that verse before? That’s the kind of verse you memorize when you’re a kid isn’t it?
And you know, it’s like so many verses we memorize, we memorize it out of context. When I was little, I can remember learning that that verse referred to heaven. Remember that? “Eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard the glow of heaven,” see. That doesn’t have the remotest relationship to heaven primarily.
Do you find anything in this context about heaven? Is he talking about heaven here? He’s talking about ignorance, isn’t he? He’s not talking about Christians not being able to know what heaven’s like, he’s talking about unbelievers not being able to know what salvation is like. That’s his whole point.
Watch it. Now he says, “It is written, ‘Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither has entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for them to love Him.’” Now God from the ages past prepared some fantastic things for the people that love Him. But the people that don’t love Him can’t know what those things are. You see, the world with all of its quest for truth can’t figure out what’s going on.
There are only two ways you can come to the truth from a human viewpoint. Only two ways that a human can make a conclusion about truth. Number one is objective, number two is subjective. Number one is by the external empirical experiential method, the second one is by reason or logic; that’s all. It’s either empiricism or rationalism.
Here comes the first one: “As it is written, ‘Eye hath not see nor ear heard.’” Now, if you’re going to look at objective truth, there’s only two ways you can assimilate objective truth: through the eye or the ear, right? This is how you gain truth. Well, remember folks, through the human eye and to the human ear, all of the truth cannot pass. No. “Eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard that plan of God prepared for those that love Him.”
It’s not observable externally. You cannot discover God. You can’t run around, “Oh, there’s God; now I know.” No. And you’ll never hear a voice out of a big mountain, “Hi, I’m God. Here are a few instructions.” Never happen. You see, it is not observable by human observation, empiricism, experiment.
Second, let’s go internal. The other way that men draw conclusions is by their own reason: rationalism. “Neither have entered into the mind of man.” Heart simply means mind. You can’t know it externally from an objective fact. You can’t no it internally from a subjective thought process. You can’t come to God by observation or by rationalism.
That’s pretty hopeless, isn’t it? God’s got a great plan for those that love Him. God has hidden it. It’s not known to the philosophers of this era. That’s proven by the fact that if they had known it, they wouldn’t have executed Jesus. And incidentally, everybody that goes on rejecting Jesus proves continually, continually, continually that they can’t know the truth, doesn’t it. And they can try by experiment to find it and they can try by logic to find it and they won’t, because it is not known to them by that. That’s the first point; and I think Paul makes it well. The wisdom of God is not discoverable by the human mind.
Point number two – and this we’ll see quickly: true wisdom is revealed by the Holy Spirit. You see, if you can’t get out and find God, He’s got to come in with His information.
I’ll never forget going, when I was in high school, to visit a girl in an iron lung. And it was a terrible thing. And I don’t think it’s as prevalent today as it used to be, but terrible to see somebody in an iron lung. And I couldn’t help but think – of course, I was such a kid, you know, free and able to do and go; and here was this lovely girl in an iron lung all the time. Remember those great big, like a casket thing, and pumping things, you know. Anything that ever came to that person came from the outside in. She didn’t go anywhere, I mean nowhere.
Well, that’s an apt illustration of natural man. He is in the iron lung of his own incapacities. Anything that comes to him, somebody brings from the outside in. He isn’t going anywhere. And that’s Paul’s point. The Holy Spirit has invaded man’s locked box with the truth. True wisdom is revealed by the Holy Spirit.
Now notice, people, there are three steps in the process: revelation, inspiration and illumination – three great Christian truths. First of all revelation, this is great. Watch now, you’re going to really be excited to know this. Verse 10: “God has revealed them unto us by His” – what? – “Spirit.”
What we would never be able to know on our own God has come into our little locked box and said, “Here.” God has invaded our iron lung and deposited the information. Wow. Revealed, apokaluptō, means to disclose something that has been previously hidden, to unveil something that has been veiled.
“The Holy Spirit does that?” That’s revelation. To reveal. The Holy Spirit’s up there in heaven. God says, “I’ve got a few facts I want those people down there on earth to know.” The Holy Spirit who is the agent of transmission for the Trinity grabs the revelation. “All right, got the revelation,” and off He goes to bring it to us. That’s revelation. He’s got the body of truth ready to deposit.
You say, “Well, why does the Spirit do that?” Look at verse 10: “For the Spirit searches all things, ye the deep things of God.” He’s the one who knows the deep recesses of the mind of God. What better one to reveal God. Right? It doesn’t mean that He’s ignorant of some things and he has to search around to find them out; He’s God too and He knows everything. It simply means He is the one who penetrates the inner being of God, God’s own Spirit. Aren’t you glad that the Bible wasn’t written by a secondhand angel?
You know who wrote the Bible? God’s Holy Spirit. I’m happy about that, aren’t you? Because, you know, I don’t know if I can trust all the angels. Some of them really messed up, didn’t they? Satan used to be one of them.
Listen, God didn’t entrust the transmission of His Scriptures to anybody outside the Trinity. The Holy Spirit was dispatched with the information, because He’s the one that knew the depths of the inner recesses of God’s nature. Now he illustrates it. For example, verse 11: “What man knows the things of a man except a Spirit of the man that is in him.”
Let me show you what that means. I may come up to you and say, “Hi, friend, I know you. You have hair like this, and ears like this, and a nose like this, and I know you.” When certain things happen, you react like this, and your personality is, Uh-huh, and I know you. You’ve got a temper, and you like this, and I know you.”
You know what? But I don’t know him like he knows him, right? Me and you don’t know me like me and me do. Is that right? Me and me know things about me that me and you aren’t ever going to know. Right? And you and you know things about you that you and me aren’t ever going to know. It’s just that the only one who really knows the depth of myself is my own spirit. Isn’t that right? And, you know, even in a marriage, as close as it gets after years and years and years, there’s still some things that only I know about me.
And we talk about honesty, but even our honesty is somewhat veiled, isn’t it? Selective honesty. That’s just human nature. “The one who knows me best is my own spirit.” That’s all He’s saying. That’s just an illustration.
Look at the end of verse 11: “Even so, the things of God knows no man but the Spirit of God.” You see, the Spirit knows the deep recesses of God, just as man’s spirit knows the deep recesses of that man like no one else does. So God didn’t send a secondary messenger, He sent the Holy Spirit who knew the most, who knew everything.
Now we find, to begin with, then that is revelation. Christianity is revealed truth. The Holy Spirit grabs up all the deep things of God and comes soft with them. And He’s on his way to earth. And now He arrives at the door, and He says, “Open up, I’ve got something from God.” And you say, “Well, what kind of package is it in? He’s going to deliver the revelation; what’s it wrapped in? You can’t just have it all floating. You could have God standing on a mountain shouting it all out. How would it come?”
Well, let’s find out, because that takes us to the second step of the Spirit’s transmission of God’s truth, and that is inspiration. Here is the method by which the Spirit delivered revelation. Verse 12 – oh, this is good: “Now we have” what’s the next word? – “received.” Now, friends, underline that word in your Bible or draw a circle around it. That is a tremendously important word.
Somebody says to me, “You know, the Bible was just the opinion of man.” I say, “Look, 1 Corinthians 2.” Paul said “We have received this,” – that means it was given to us. Look at the end of verse 12 – “that we might know the things that are freely” – what’s the next word? – “given to us of God.” Where did the Bible come from? It was given by God. And what did the apostles do? They what? Received it.
Now this is so important. This is the vehicle for carrying the revelation. The Spirit of God brings it, and they received it. Now I want you to notice something. The word “we” in verse 12 is used a couple of times, and then again in verse 13. “We received that we might know which things we speak.”
Please notice, the word “we” there does not refer generally to Christians, it refers to the apostles and the Scripture writers. You and I have received these truths only from them as they recorded them. But here Paul is experiencing and writing of his own experience: “We received them from the Spirit, we, that we might know what graciously was given to us which things we now speak.” This is apostolic.
Remember in John 14:26, the Lord said, “Now when I go, the Comforter will come, and He will teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever I have said.” That is not primarily for all believers, that is not a promise for us; that was spoken to those who would write the New Testament. It was to them that He gave the recall of all that Jesus said. Have you ever wondered how John could sit down and write all the whole gospel of John, twenty-one chapters, and all through that entire thing record exactly the words of Christ? He could do it because the Holy Spirit brought him to his remembrance.
That’s that promise there. Same here. “We who have received it, we apostles, we writers. God has given it to us.” You remember how? What was the vehicle? Inspiration. Second Timothy 3:16 says that “all Scripture is inspired by God,” theopneustos, one word, God breathed.
God breathed it out into our minds; we received it. The Bible was not made up by men. It is not the opinion of men. It is not the view of men. It is not the comment of men on certain acts of God. It was received from God, a gift brought by the Holy Spirit. So important. And, notice, a “freely given” or a “graciously given” one. Not earned, just graciously given.
Verse 13 follows the thought, “which things now we are speaking, not in the words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches.” Stop right there. When Paul says, “Now when I pass this information on to you, it is not with my words, but” – whose words? – “the Holy Spirit’s words.”
Now listen to me, people. I believe that this verse clearly teaches that the very words of the Scripture were given by the Holy Spirit. Did you get that? That is basic. That is what we call “verbal inspiration.”
Some people say, “Well, God inspired the general thoughts, and they put it in their own words.” That’s ridiculous. That denies this verse. And, secondly, how can you have a thought without words?
“We speak not” – he says this emphatically – “in the words which man’s wisdom teaches. We’re not speaking to you in our own words, but words which the Spirit has graciously given us and the revelation of God.” Do you know when those Bible writers sat down, when Paul sat down to write 1 Corinthians, the Spirit of God took control of that man. The Spirit of God went into that guy’s brain, pulled out of his brain the words that were in his own vocabulary and out of his own experience, and arranged them in the order that he wanted them written – the very words selected by the Holy Spirit, but selected from the life and personality of Paul so that they reflected him. Nonetheless, the words of the Spirit. This is God’s word, and these God’s words.
Somebody says, “Why do you get so detailed? You study every verse, every word.” Every word came from the mouth of God. You know, when Satan was tempting Jesus, he didn’t quote Deuteronomy and say, “Thou shalt not live by bread alone, but by the general principles of God.” What did he say? “Thou shalt not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”
God gives words, and they wrote words. That is inspiration. God breathed into their minds the words. All Scripture. You know what Scripture is? You know what the word means? Writing. All writing is inspired, not all the apostles. Not all their thoughts, all their writings was inspired. God chose the words.
So when the revelation comes down, it can’t be just a big glob floating out of heaven like Campbell’s Alphabet Soup, it’s got to be put together. And so it comes down, and it goes into the mind, out the pens, and there it is written in God’s words. You say, “That’s it; the Spirit’s done.” Really? You think He’s done?
Do you know there are lots of people who have a Bible and don’t know what’s in it? There are all kinds of people who Bible, and you know what they discover in the Bible? Jesus isn’t God. Have you ever met any of them? Sometimes they knock on your door.
There are people who study this Bible and come up with every kind of screwball thing there is, they don’t understand what’s going on. You know why? There’s a third step the Holy Spirit’s got to do: illumination. That’s verses 14 to 16. And here the Holy Spirit has to make this thing personal, because you can own a Bible and not understand it.
Verse 14 tells us that: “The natural man,” psuchikos, the fleshly man, the man who’s this human. All he’s got is he’s human. He lives in the physical material world; can’t know God, can’t sense God, can’t get out of his little box – “receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God.”
You can hand him a Bible, stick it under his nose, and it doesn’t make any difference. Doesn’t understand it, doesn’t know what’s going on. To him it’s all foolish. He can’t know it, because it is spiritually evaluated, spiritually appraised, spiritually judged, spiritually discerned; and he is spiritually dead.
Psalm 119:18, the psalmist prayed a beautiful prayer. He said, “Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law.” It isn’t just that God gave the law, God also has to open the eyes of our understanding. The Spirit has to illuminate the mind. Truth is available, but only those who are illumined will understand that truth.
The natural man he can’t handle it. He’s without the Holy Spirit. He may have it in his hand. His got the revelation, the inspiration, but without illumination it doesn’t make any sense. He doesn’t have the Holy Spirit. Just like a blind man can’t see the sun, he can’t see the Son of Righteousness. Just like a deaf man can’t hear sweet music, he can’t appreciate the sweet song of salvation.
Martin Luther said, “Man is like a pillar of salt, like Lot’s wife. He’s like a log and a stone. He’s like a lifeless statue which uses neither eyes nor mouth; neither senses nor heart, unless he is enlightened, converted, and regenerated by the Holy Spirit.” End quote.
He can’t know anything, even if he has it. The Holy Spirit’s got to open it to him, that’s verse 15. “But he that is spiritual, he can evaluate all things.” He that possesses the Spirit, he that has the resident true teacher within him, he that has the point of reference in himself, he that has the anointing of 1 John 2:27-28, “You have no need for human teachers, you have an anointing in you, and He teaches you all things.” If you have the Holy Spirit, there is the resident truth teacher, and there is the evaluator. And by the Holy Spirit we take the word of God, and He makes it alive, and He makes meaningful. And this is for all Christians; yes, all Christians.
The world doesn’t know the truth; the world can’t know the truth. You know the truth because the Spirit of God dwells in you and teaches you the truth, and makes this book alive. We can appraise it. We can evaluate it. The point of reference is in us. And then he adds a little shot there at the end of verse 15: “Yet he himself is judged of no man.” We can appraise because we’re spiritual, but nobody can appraise us.
Have you ever noticed how difficult it is for the world to evaluate Christians? They don’t know what we are. “Well, who do you think you are? You think you know everything.” Yeah, there’s no way that a natural man can evaluate a spiritual one. He can’t know us – hang on – he can’t know us any better than he knew Christ.
What did they do to Christ? Crucified Him. What are they going to do to us? Much the same: laugh at us, mock us, call us fools, some places kill us. And the reason? He quotes Isaiah 40:13 to support his point, verse 16: “For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.”
Listen, nobody can judge a spiritual man; for to do that would be to judge the Lord Himself. Do you see it in that verse? Fantastic. Who knows the mind of the Lord? We have that mind. They can’t figure us out, because they couldn’t figure Him out.
Hey, isn’t it nice to know that the reason you’re confusing is because you have the mind of Christ? Wow. I’m as big a mystery to the world as He was; that’s kind of nice company. I’m glad for that. And what it means – I love this: “Who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?”
You know what a guy does who comes along and denies the claims of Jesus? He’s saying, “Now, God, let me tell you a few things about what I’ve learned. I want to correct a few misconceptions You’ve got.” Oh.
When somebody says to me, “You know, you need to understand something. I don’t buy that stuff about Christ. I’m going to tell you my opinion.” My answer is, “Oh, well, you’re going to tell God now what He should believe.” “What do you mean by that?” “Well, you see, the Lord dwells within me and He’s my teacher. So if you want to instruct me, remember you’re instructing the mind of the Lord, because I have the mind of Christ.” But they get mad at that. “Who do you think you are? Ha-ha, hot stuff, you’ve got all the answers.” Well, you’ve got to do it lovingly, but do it.
What is he saying here? The whole thing wraps up very beautifully, doesn’t it? He’s simply saying human reason can’t know God. God has to reveal Himself. God has revealed Himself in three steps: by the Holy Spirit revealed it, inspired it, and illuminates it so we can understand it. And then the point of reference is in us, and we know the truth, because the Spirit of God is our teacher and dwells within us. Isn’t that exciting?
You know, I tell you, people. I read an article one time that said the drive to know in the human being is equal to the sex drive and the hunger drive. Isn’t that interesting? The drive to know. Listen, if you want to know that bad, here it is: if you’ll commit your life to Jesus Christ, He’ll plant within you the resident truth teacher and you’ll the truth and the truth shall make you free. “Free from what?” Free from the quest of the truth. You will have found it’ you’ll be at rest. Let’s pray.
Let me just say this in parting. Our offer of an invitation to you is just that which Paul would have offered were he here. When we say the world doesn’t know the truth, that isn’t because we want to keep it that way, it’s because we want to change it that we say it. We want you to know the truth is in Christ, and we want you to come to Him. If you’ll open your heart, and receive Christ, and believe in His death and resurrection, you shall know the truth.
Father, thank You for our time this morning, for the goodness of God that bringeth salvation, for the grace that has brought us into a relationship with You and given us the truth, we are grateful. For the Holy Spirit who lives in us, teaching us, we thank You. God, we know that even though He’s our truth teacher, we can quench that teaching and that instruction; we can grieve that Spirit.
May it not be. May we be submissive, filled, walking in the Spirit, that indeed we might be able to discern all things. We thank You for the privilege of sharing together in Your word this morning, and we ask You to draw to Yourself this hour those who need You so much, in Christ’s name. Amen.
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