We’ve seen in the last few weeks
That Corinth was a really important town
It was strategically placed
Between the northern and southern sections
And was also a main artery
For much of the world’s trade
Corinth was important economically
Because of its location
And it was important militarily
For the same reason
It had a really bad
And well deserved reputation
For being a city where anything goes
Corinth was the first century’s version
Of “sin city”
(elaborate on Corinth)
All this stuff is going on in Corinth
So, naturally, Paul decided to plant a church there
The church was growing
But it had some problems
Most of its’ problems came from
Allowing the culture
to influence the church
the culture valued oration and style
over content and truth
the culture valued tolerance
over obedience to God’s Word
the culture valued personal freedom
over structure and authority
the culture valued celebrity
over integrity and honesty
and all this…
this liberalism, tolerance, entitlement and partisanship
began to influence the church
and it was having devastating impact
on how the church functioned
so Paul was compelled to write this letter
it’s not the first time he wrote the Corinthians
but it’s the first one inspired and breathed by God
so we have it 2,000 yeas down the road
So far, in chapter one, we have seen;
.The church has been gifted mightily
That it may reach out to the people
In the city around it
. Those gifts came from God
And are for His glory
.The church had begun to experience division
Based on who was thought to be
The best teacher
Paul told them
All the good teaching
Came from Christ and that
It wasn’t the messenger
That was important
It was the message
. the message was simple
(gospel message here)
that’s the message we’re to tell people
we’ve also seen that….
.God has given us all we need
To be able to do that
But we have to remember
That’s all we need
. Two weeks ago, we heard
How God uses the simple things in this world
To do really marvelous stuff
And He does it this way
So that it is He
That will get the credit
He that will get the honor
He that will get the glory
In establishing this point…
Paul summed it up
With the last two verses of Chapter 1
30 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,
31 so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”.
So that brings us to our text today
In it, we’re going to see
How important it is
That we receive the wisdom of God
Instead of the wisdom of man
But we’re also going to look at
The worldly pressure we’re under
To embrace man’s wisdom
And how we can avoid that pitfall….
This sermon is called “God’s Wisdom”
Let’s take a look
2:1 And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.
2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.
Now, we’ve already seen, in vs 30…
That the gospel in its fullness…
Including righteousness, sanctification and redemption
And the realization of all that
Comes through God’s wisdom
Man can’t figure it out
And without the presence
Of the Holy Spirit to reveal
It seems foolish
And in these two verses
Paul demonstrates that the gospel
should be shared that way…
In the power of the Holy Spirit
And Paul shows the Corinthians
What he means by this
He has a practical application
Of what he’s telling them..
Paul could have come under his own power
He could have gone toe to toe
With Corinth’s finest philosophers
In order to understand the full impact
Of Paul’s statement here,
You have to know this about Paul…
He was brilliant!
he had it all!
He was a star of the Sanhedrin!
He was highly educated and accustomed to
Speaking to large audiences
And he was ruthless!
He was a bad guy!
Look at Acts 7…
Stephen has just finished
Preaching the gospel
And the scribes and the Pharisees
Have taken great exception to what he said
And they began to chase him…
58 When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul.
Now, this is a defining moment for Saul
Who would later become Paul
A moment like this will usually have
On of two effects on a young man
It can be appalling and humbling…
Or it can light a fire of hate
How did it affect young Saul?
Look what happens next…
59 They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!”
60 Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” Having said this, he fell asleep.
So, Saul witnesses the grace
And mercy and forgiveness
That can only come from God
And how does he react?....
8:1 Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death.
And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.
2 Some devout men buried Stephen, and made loud lamentation over him.
3 But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison.
He was Saul, the killing machine, the jailer
A feared and dangerous man…
But then a change came over him
And he had an encounter with the Lord
(recount road to Emmaus incident)
And he began to demonstrate
A heart change
He started to become….
(Elaborate on God changing Paul so radically…
Can’t he change us?)
Now here’s the beauty of how God changes us
And still let’s us be ourselves
Look what He did to Paul….
God changed Paul’s heart
But He didn’t take away all the equipment
He had given Paul
Even when Paul was at his worst
God was getting him ready to minister
Ready to be what God wanted him to be
God was educating him
And training him for a day
When he would use his gifts
For God instead of himself
So Paul had the talent
And the capability to wow the crowds
With his style
He would have fit right in with
What the Corinthians would have expected
From a speaker and a leader
But look a this…
He chose not to!
He determined not to!
He made a conscious commitment
To set aside his own talents and abilities
And to allow God to work his miracle
Of changing hearts and lives
Through the power of the message
Not the messenger
And look at this
The message he delivers
Is the testimony of God
The word for testimony here means witness
Paul was a witness of God’s message
Almost like legal terms
Terms you would use in a courtroom…
A person can only testify
to what he himself has seen or heard or experienced.
A witness in a courtroom is to report
only what he knows objectively,
factually, and personally.
He is not to speculate, guess, or deduce.
Paul was a testifier only to God’s revelation,
not to his own human understanding
or reason or inclinations.
God’s revelation was everything;
human wisdom was nothing.
Paul was after God’s wisdom….
We need to embrace this concept…
Because it applies to us on Sunday morning
And any other time we hear the Word….
What am I talking about?
We should not come to church to hear
the pastor’s opinions about politics, psychology,
economics, or even religion.
We should come to hear
a word from the Lord through the pastor.
God’s Word edifies and unifies;
human opinions confuse and divide.
Here, Paul assures the Corinthians
that he had not come to them
with a lot of human verbiage and opinion.
He presented them with the testimony of God
and nothing else.
He presented them with God’s wisdom
This was something that was dear to Paul’s heart
And it keeps popping up in his writings
Many years later Paul will say this to his protégé, Timothy
That his primary task
The only task of the ministry
Is to present… to manifest
The truth of God
Paul taught this to Timothy
Because he knew how people are
And how they react to the teaching of the truth
Some embrace it…
And some don’t…
Paul warned Timothy, in 1 Tim 4
“The Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron”
He tells timothy not to pay attention to these folks
He told Timothy to…
“give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching” (v.13).
That was Timothy’s job.
That is every preacher’s job.
To bring you God’s Wisdom
Any other approach defiles the pulpit.
In his second letter to Timothy, in ch 4:1-2
Paul solemnly charged him
“in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus” to
“preach the word”
and be ready to do it “in season and out of season”
Oddly enough, these days
Many people do not want their pastors
to preach only the Word.
They will not,
as it says in the same passage,
“…endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires”.
Some folks want to form their own pastor…
And they have a pretty good idea
Of what he should look like
Of what he should sound like
These are people with good input…
Well meaning people
But the suggestions are along these lines…
“you should do more movie clips, people like those…
You’re using too much scripture, give us more of you…
Why don’t we do more dramas, they’re very entertaining…
Keep your sermons short, we have short attention spans…
Don’t offend anyone with a lot of theology or preaching about sin…we want to bring the world in and share with them…
Some folks get upset when these things don’t happen
That’s exactly what happened when
We made the decision to go to expository preaching
So some folks left…
Some people will go from church to church
looking for the “right preacher”.
Unfortunately their idea of “right” preaching
is not sound biblical exposition
but interesting observations and stories
based on the preacher’s personal philosophy.
They are not looking
for a word from God to believe
but for a word from man to consider.
Paul addresses that here,
“I’m not interested in discussing
Any man’s opinion, even my own…
I don’t want to preach about
The latest political issue
Or the coolest movie
Or the most popular celebrity
I don’t want to give you great
I want to give you
Truth is gong to get you through the darkness!
Truth is something permanent you can hold on to!
Truth can pull you out of the mire!
Truth is what will save you!
And that truth comes in Jesus Christ!
All I want to do, is share Jesus Christ
And Him crucified….
The truth of God!”
These very things were see here
are some of the things we discussed
On our Elders retreat
Who we are
Where we’re going
Style of preaching
Changes in order to affect
More personal ministry
Dress on Sunday morning
I think Paul would agree with all these things,
You know, in Paul, we probably have
The greatest preacher of all time
Apart from Jesus
Yet he probably would have been rejected
By most pastoral candidating committees
Looking for a pastor today
Look at him….
3 I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling,
4 and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,
5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.
Now, fear and trembling
Are not, I believe, Paul shaking and quaking
Paul was capable…
Paul lived boldly
And encouraged other believers
To be bold…
So I think he’s telling us
something else here…
He use the phrase, “fear and trembling” several times
2 Cor. 7:15; Eph. 6:5; Phil. 2:12
Each time Paul uses this phrase
He’s talking of a very deep
And urgent issue,
something he takes very seriously
I think he’s trying to say
“I come to you with a deep reverence
And an awe at what I have to share
It is the Word of God!
And I don’t want to
Mess it up!”
You can just see this in Paul,
He was not a large guy…
Standing in the temple or synagogue
Or walking into the house…
The gravity of what he is about to teach
All over him…
He’s serious, but not dark…
He’s, maybe a little intimidated
By what he’s been given to share
But most of all…
Not at all what people
And there again is the extent of the transformation….
He’s gone from this berserk guy,
Trying to get all the Christians he can find…
To a humble and reserved character…
Depending totally upon God
To get him through…
And doing it in a way that
The people who listen to him,
Will give the glory to God
And not to him…
Doing it in a way
That put the focus
Jonathan Edwards was like that…
Great preacher from the 18th Century
His preaching ushered in the Great Awakening
A spiritual revival that started in 1739
Authored some of the most famous
Sermons of all time
And probably the single most
Famous sermon ever…
Apart from those in the Bible….
“Sinners in the Hands
Of an Angry God”
Spoke in a monotone…
Biography by George Marsden “Jonathan Edwards, A Life”
I’m not Jonathan Edwards
Probably will not hear a monotone
Come out of me for a while
But I sympathize with Paul’s perspective here
I want to approach God’s Word
With serious reverence
And an awe at what God is doing…
Paul tells them he’s not being dynamic
On purpose… so as not to
Obscure the message he brings…
(Bob Dylan….bad voice…so folks will listen
To the words.)
So, Bob Dylan wasn’t being original …
He cribbed this approach from Paul…
Paul never wanted his personality
Or his style to get in the way
Of what he had to say
Paul never wanted his wisdom
To cloud God’s wisdom
And Paul knew the Corinthians
Valued style over almost everything else
So he removed that factor
From his teaching while he was there
So that people would zoom in
On the message
Not the messenger
Corinth had plenty of great speakers
There we plenty of celebrity personalities around
And there was more than enough
Debate and discussion over
The extent and magnitude of
Paul came to give them
A new wisdom
A new personality
And eternal one
So it was pretty radical
When Paul told them this…
6 Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away;
Paul says the things we teach are wise…
Wise to those who are mature in their spirituality…
Not wise like your celebrities,
or even your kings and queens
They’re all going to die…
Their wisdom isn’t
7 but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory;
8 the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory;
He says, I’m talking about God’s wisdom
A wisdom that has been hidden from man
Man has been seeking after it for a long time…
(elaborate on seeking wisdom)
Now we know God has this kind of wisdom
And that He has known
From before the beginning of time
That He would give it to us
And that it would lead
To our glorification….
Our being made holy and righteous
And in His presence forever
Paul says that wisdom is elusive
And remains a mystery
Because that’s God’s plan
if men really understood it
they would never have crucified Christ!
But God is not going to keep it hidden!
Look what he says next….
9 but just as it is written,
“Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard,
And which have not entered the heart of man,
All that God has prepared for those who love Him.”
These quotes come form the book of Isaiah
I want to look at them
So we have a full understanding
Of what Paul is saying here…
Isaiah 52: 15 Thus He will sprinkle many nations,
Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him;
For what had not been told them they will see,
And what they had not heard they will understand.
So God will reign over many nations
And bless them
And what they thought was wisdom…
As a matter of fact,
When God shows them true wisdom
They’re not going to know
What to say!
They’ll see things in a new way!
They’ll understand things they could never understand otherwise!
The Holy Spirit is going to bring
And their search for wisdom
Is going to have a miraculous end!
Why is this so?
Isaiah 64: 4 For from days of old they have not heard or perceived by ear,
Nor has the eye seen a God besides You,
Who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him.
It is so…
Because God acts on behalf
Of those who wait for Him!
Think about that for a moment!
if we’re willing to wait upon the Lord…
He will act in our behalf!
How do we wait upon the Lord?
2. we have to know who He is
3. we have to be willing to accept His timing
4. We have to receive His actions
As being on our behalf
How do we know all this?....
10 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.
We know it because God has revealed it to us
And His revelation comes in a lot
Of different ways
All of them supernatural…
He can revel Himself by
Speaking through a brother or sister
In our reading
In our living in His creation
In our prayer
There are a lot of ways for God to reveal Himself
How do we know when it’s Him?
It will align itself with his Word!
It will not contradict scripture…
It will not add to it (no new revelation)
It will not subtract from it
How can we trust this test?
Because it is God’s breathed Word
And it will not contradict itself
It is not incomplete
And it is sufficient…
God does this for us…
Not because we are so smart
Not because we are better
Not because we’ve thought it through
And arrived at a logical conclusion
Not because we love more
Not because we are more spiritual
Not because we are less sinful
Not because we’re
Know more scripture
Have more money
Have less money
Not because of anything else
Do you see how this is a direct result
Of God’s grace?
How, without His grace…
There’s no revelation…
Without the revelation…
There’s no knowledge of Him
Without knowledge of Him
There’s no salvation
There’s only doom!
He knows everything!
And He wants to share that wisdom
With each of us!
11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.
12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God,
13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.
14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.
15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one.
16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.
We should see two things in these verses
Two concepts that should further demonstrate
1. True wisdom is not humanly discovered
We don’t have the capability to discern it
We can try
And we can look good while we try
But we don’t get it…
Just look at our history…
Whenever we make any progress..
Technologically, medically, philosophically or culturally
A hundred years later,
Someone proves us wrong…
And we look naïve
And in each age…
For thousands of years…
We think we’ve got it!
The first thing we should see
It that man is incapable of discovering true wisdom
And the second thing is this;
True wisdom is divinely revealed…
It comes from God…
Do you get it?
Does it sink in?
True wisdom is divinely revealed!
That’s why all these things we have discussed
It’s why it’s important we hear God’s Word
When we get together in Sunday morning
It’s why we pay more attention to the content
Than the style
It’s why we approach it with reverence
And a serious attitude
It’s why we have an understanding of God’s grace…
It is why we should,
With all our hearts
Pursue God’s wisdom
And not man’s
When we do…
God will reveal Himself to us
We won’t discover Him
We won’t find Him
He will reveal Himself
Because He loves us!