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The wisdom of God: Hidden in the cross, revealed by the Spirit.

1 Corinthians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  44:23
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What is this widsom? Who can receive this wisdom and how? Who can't receive this wisdom and why? What does it look like for those to possess this wisdom?

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Introduction

Paul introduced this sermon series three weeks ago. He gave us some geographical and historical information on Corinth that is helpful to understand the context of the book. If you missed that sermon you should go to our website at crosswayofpembroke.org and scroll the homepage until you see a circle that says “CrossWay Sermons.” Click on it and enjoy.
Paul also began to help us understand purpose of the apostle Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church. In chapter 1, verses 10-13 we read...
1 Corinthians 1:10–13 ESV
1 Corinthians 1:10–13 ESV
I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
There are divisions of allegiance among the church at Corinth. Now although Paul goes out Apollos, Cephas (the apostle Peter), and Jesus. It is unlikely that there was any disagreement between Apollos, Peter, and Paul. And all three are recorded to have been faithful teachers of Jesus’ teachings. So, then it is more likely that Paul was only using these three other gospel teachers as an example of how some Corinthian believers where aligning themselves with different teachers. But his point is, DON’T DO THAT. Let me say it this way. The apostle Paul has no problem with Apollos or Peter’s ability to preach the gospel better than he can. He does have a problem with anyone who says that they can preach a better gospel. Beloved, there is one Lord with one gospel, but there can many preachers who preach the Lord’s gospel.
Two weeks ago, Dennis’ sermon began to dig away the root of these divisions. The wisdom and power of God in Jesus’ gospel, that Paul and Apollos had taught the Corinthians, was now being regarded as folly when compared to the eloquent talkers of the day. These talkers came presenting worldly ideas popular in their day that had distorted gospel of Christ. Listen to this introductory note from the ESV study Bible.
(Corinth) was a place where many cultures and religions mingled. Since it was a Roman colony, Roman law and customs were important, particularly among the upper classes, but “many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords’” found a home in Corinth (8:5). The worship of these gods was fully integrated into governmental affairs, civic festivals, trade guilds, and social clubs, and everyday life in general. Corinth was also a destination for traveling professional orators who charged a fee for attendance at their entertaining rhetorical displays and advised people on how to advance socially.[1]
So, you hear how this worldly wisdom was shaping the Corinthian society and now had crept into the Corinthian church. The church had the pure gospel on one side and world philosophies on the other. And as Dennis pointed out, the gospel cannot be mingled with human wisdom, “lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”
Well our text picks up at verse 6 of chapter 2. But I want us to back up and begin our reading at verse 1 of chapter so that we feel the flow.
1 Corinthians 2:1–5 ESV
1 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
AFTER VERSE 5 IS READ, READ THIS.
At this point in the reading you might think that Paul has not use for wisdom in the proclamation of the gospel. But notice now in verse 6 a change.
1 Corinthians 2:6–16 ESV
6 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— 10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. 14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
The word wisdom is mentioned twenty times in chapters 1 and 2. And in our passage for today it is the single focus of Paul. To answer why that is and what Paul is driving at we are going to answer 4 questions.
1. What is this Wisdom?
2. Who can receive this Wisdom and how?
3. Who can’t receive this Wisdom and why not?
4. What does it look like for one to possess this Wisdom?

What is this Wisdom?

According to verse 6 this wisdom is “not a wisdom of this age” nor does it originate with the rulers of this age. The phrase, “this age,” means the time in history that Paul was writing, which was 1st century Roman Empire, but it is in the sense of a time in history understood according to its values, beliefs, and morals in distinction to God’s (or different from God’s). So then “the rulers of this age” would have been the Roman rulers, philosophers, elites, the leaders among Jews, and in particularly in verse 8, the rulers who crucified the Lord of glory. It would also include anyone in a position of influence and power who had adopted the leading anti-Christian philosophies of that time. And so, in verse 13 Paul says, “we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom…” This wisdom does not come from men.
In the affirmative, in verse 7, Paul says that “we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God.” Other places in the N.T. were God is revealing something that was once hidden point to the death of Christ on the cross. 16 of the 27 verses that include this Greek word that is translated as hidden in verse 7 and mystery in other places, have our redemption by Christ at Calvary as the subject or object. Listen a few of them.
Romans 16:25
Romans 16:25 ESV
Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages
1 Cor. 4:1
1 Corinthians 4:1 ESV
This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.
Eph. 1:9
Ephesians 1:9 ESV
making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ
Eph. 3:3-4
Ephesians 3:3–4 ESV
how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ,
Eph. 6:19
Ephesians 6:19 ESV
and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel,
But before we go to far, lets go back to
1 Cor. 1:21-25.
1 Corinthians 1:21–25 ESV
For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
So, what is the hidden wisdom God, decreed before the ages for our glory? It is everything God ever thought of in eternity past pertaining to the redeeming work of Christ, in his full and complete atonement for the sins of all who have been called by God and who love God. It is every O.T. testament verse, word, or idea that illuminates our great redemption story. My friends the wisdom of God is Christ and Him crucified. Plain and simple it is the Gospel.
No wonder Paul breaks in praise and proclaims…
1 cor. 2.9
1 Corinthians 2:9 ESV
But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—
Man could never fathom this.

Who can receive this Wisdom and how?

To begin with, the mature can receive this wisdom. In verse 6 of 1 Cor. 2 Paul says, “...yet among the mature we do impart wisdom.” Up until this point Paul has been speaking from the perspective of how the ‘sign demanding’ Jews and the ‘wisdom seeking’ Greeks regard the gospel. That is, as foolishness or folly. But here Paul is saying that there is a group of people who receive the message of the cross as wisdom. They are mature people in verse 6 and not infantile as in chapter 3 verse 1. They love God, verse 9. Verse 13 and 15 indicate that they are spiritual people as testified by their ability to have spiritual truths concerning the gospel taught to them and they apply to their lives and live it. In short, only those who are indwelt with the Holy Spirit receive the gospel message and believe it wholly. But how?
Three times in this passage Paul uses the phrase, “…we impart,” indicating the passing own of something that was first received. We know it was the gospel, the wisdom of God, but how was it imparted? Look in verse 10,12 & 13
1 Cor. 2:10;12-13
1 Corinthians 2:10 ESV
these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.
1 Corinthians 2:12–13 ESV
Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
For Paul, since the gospel has been revealed to him through the Spirit, and he has understood the gospel by the Spirit. Then the teaching of these truths will be in the words of the Spirit and in the power of the Spirit.
Here I want to take moment and show you how awesome God is in way our bible is put together and interprets itself.
Turn to
Gen. 1:2
Genesis 1:2 ESV
The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
The Spirit of God or the breath of God (ruach Elohim), active in the creation.
Now turn to
2 Timothy 3:16
2 Timothy 3:16 ESV
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
God-breathed. That is, in this sense, all scripture produced by the Spirit of God; understood as the air that was physically expelled out of the lungs of God. The Spirit of God active in inspiring the Holy Scriptures.
Now, quickly turn to Acts 18:4,11 and you will find there that Paul’s method of imparting the wisdom of God really was to teach the words taught by the Spirit.
Acts 18:4 ESV
And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks.
Acts 18:11 ESV
And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
So, who can receive this wisdom and how do they receive? Those who are born again of the Spirit can hear the wisdom of God and be transformed into the image of Christ.

Who can’t receive this Wisdom and why not?

1. The rulers of this age. Why? Because they were on the wrong side of the crucifixion. In verse 8 Paul says that their treatment of the Lord of glory as a murder proved that they were blind and could not see truth right in front of them.
2. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of God. According to verse 11 only the Spirit of God can comprehend the thoughts of God. So, unless one has the Spirit of God dwelling in them to teach them the Wisdom of God, they will never understand or believe the Gospel.
3. The natural person in verse 14 is so arrogant that he/she will not accept the things of the Spirit of God. He/she is governed only by the human mind and human intuition. The wisdom of God can only be discerned by spiritual people. The natural person is completely out of touch with God and therefore has no clue whatsoever of the glories of Calvary.
Those who can’t receive this Wisdom are like the Jews the apostle Paul speaks of in …
2 Cor. 3:14-15
2 Corinthians 3:14–15 ESV
But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts.

What does it look like for one to possess this Wisdom?

Let’s to verse 16 in our text to answer this question.
1 Cor. 2.16
1 Corinthians 2:16 ESV
“For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
Here Paul reaches back to Isa. 40.13 to come full circle in his challenge to the debaters of this age, to the scribes, and any who profess to have a wisdom that can compare to the wisdom of the cross.
Isaiah 40:13 ESV
13 Who has measured the Spirit of the Lord, or what man shows him his counsel?
In doing this Paul brings together two ideas to help us answer this last question.
1. Possessing the Spirit of the Lord from the Hebrew text of Isaiah.
2. Having the mind of the Lord from the Greek text of Isaiah.
Paul takes the two renderings and closes this his thoughts here with, “But we have the mind of Christ.”
This is how Jesus described the work of the Holy Spirit in…
· John 14:26 (ESV) 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
John 14:26 ESV
26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
· John 16:12–15 (ESV) 12 I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
John 16:12–15 ESV
12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

Application

· The mystery of God’s wisdom in the cross of Christ can only be communicated and believed through the revelation of the Spirit of God.
To the believer:
o Speak forth the wisdom of the cross imparted to you by the Spirit of God. Do not trust the human ideas about our Savior’s work at the cross. Seek to understand the glories of Calvary more and more every day. Do not trust the wisdom of this world to help you understand how to live as a citizen of heaven. And when worldly philosophies or world-views do not find it’s root good in Godly principles, then it cannot even be trusted for how live in this world.
To the unbeliever:
o Do not resist the Spirit of God when He comes to show you the wisdom in the cross. He is showing you that although you are condemned under sin, Christ’s sacrifice is sufficient for your forgiveness. Repent of your folly. See the Lord of Glory for who is and be captivated by Him.
Earlier when I read from 2 Cor. 3 I only gave you the bad news. Allow me to read again, this time including the good news.
2 cor. 3.14-16
2 Corinthians 3:14–16 ESV
14 But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.
To the Church at CrossWay:
Having “the mind of Christ” does not refer to some mystical high or experience, but is related to “sobriety, watchfulness, faith, hope, and life. It refers “to believers having their outlook shaped by an awareness of Christ.”[1]
“Based on how Paul uses this idea of “having the mind of Christ” and the immediate context, then, the appeal ‘to have the mind of Christ’ does not mean to think Christ’s thoughts after him, nor to have ecstatic experiences, nor to knowing proper dogma. The ‘mind of Christ’ is not focused upon special wisdom or experiences, but on community life.” The “mind of Christ” refers to Christ’s obedience, and Paul appeals to it as a pattern for Christians to follow: “And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them” (2 Cor. 5:15).
“To have ‘the mind of Christ’ is to have a cruciform mind.” It requires putting to death selfish ambitions, humbling oneself, and giving oneself for others. Paul particularly appeals to this mind of Christ when a community is split by dissensions (Phil. 2:2–5; 4:2). The Corinthians’ divisions reveal that they are not living the way Christians, taught by the Spirit and endowed with the mind of Christ, should live. They were called into existence by the word of the cross, and they are to embody the word of the cross in all their relationships.
“To be spiritual … is to have apprehended the word of the cross in such a way that it has transformed the entire existence of the believer into its image—to a cruciform life, a life characterized by self-sacrificing love, and where power is manifest through weakness.”[2]

We don’t move on from the cross.

Jesus Christ and Him crucified must forever be the theme of our preaching and the center of our living

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