Revelation Comes Only by the Holy Spirit
Parkdale Grace Fellowship
Sunday AM, February 24, 2008
1 Corinthians 2:10-14
Revelation Comes Only by the Holy Spirit
In verses 6-9 the emphasis we saw in our study last Sunday was on the fact that there is no natural means by which mankind can ever come to discover or to know the hidden mystery of the gospel message of the cross. The message of the cross, though it is the wisdom of God, is incomprehensible to the natural mind. The wisest of men utilizing the greatest capacity of their natural human wisdom can examine nature, philosophy, and even the scriptures but will never comprehend or believe the mystery of the cross unto salvation and life unless the Holy Spirit gives insight. Therefore in our evangelism we must be absolutely dependent upon the Spirit of God to give revelation and to remove spiritual blindness otherwise no one could ever possibly come to saving faith in Christ. And in all of our teaching ministries we must be just as dependent upon the Spirit of God to give revelation to believers otherwise no one would ever come to understand the message of the cross leading to maturity, victory and abundant life.
The verses we are looking at today continue with that same message but the emphasis in verses 10-16 is on the work of the Holy Spirit in bringing insight and understanding. Up to this point in First Corinthians the Holy Spirit has been mentioned only once, that was in verse four of chapter two. But now in these next five verses the Holy Spirit is mentioned six times as the Bible emphasizes the absolutely essential role of the Spirit of God in the proclamation and reception of the message of the cross.
Who are those referred to as “us” in verse ten? “Us” refers to those who are called by God, in 1:24; it refers to those described in verses 26-28 of chapter one. In a word, “us” refers to Christians and more specifically it refers to mature Christians (2:6), those who have come to maturity by trusting God through the trials and tribulations of life. Compared to unbelievers all believers are mature. However, not all believers are at the same level of maturity and understanding, as 3:1-3 makes clear.
What is it that God has revealed to Christians and especially to mature Christians? The earlier verses of chapter one and two leading up to this point make it clear that the message of the gospel, of Jesus Christ and the work of the cross are incomprehensible, to the unbeliever. Other examples of how the wisdom of God is incomprehensible to the natural mind and seems foolish include this very subject we are studying. If God is sovereign and He chooses and He calls unto salvation and no one can believe unless God calls him, then how can man be free to choose? Is God in sovereign control and does He predestine us to believe or do we all have a free will to choose God? The Bible teaches both with equal emphasis. The wisdom of the mystery of God but foolishness to the natural man.
Another example is the nature of God. Is God three separate beings or is He one? He is both at the same time. Another example is the crucified life. Look at Galatians 2:20 (KJV) “I am crucified with Christ: [so I am dead] nevertheless I live [oh, so I am alive]; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me [so I am dead]: and the life which I now live in the flesh [so I am alive] I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me”.
This whole concept is incomprehensible foolishness to the natural mind but one of the most glorious truths when revealed to a child of God. It is not to the learned philosophers and intellects of the world that God has revealed His greatest truths to but to humble Christians.
Verse ten goes on to say, “The Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.” Notice that this is referring to Spirit with a capital “S” which means the Holy Spirit of God searches all things. This does not mean that the Holy Spirit is searching to discover or to find or to learn something. Rather it means that the Spirit penetrates all things, that nothing is hidden from the Holy Spirit, everything is exposed and known by the Holy Spirit. (Morris, p. 56) “Yes, even the deep things of God.” Romans 11:33 says, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” It is impossible for human beings to comprehend the depths of God’s wisdom, but the Holy Spirit knows everything, even the deep things of God. For the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, He is fully God.
Paul illustrates this truth using an analogy.
No one can possibly know your deep inner thoughts and feelings except your own spirit. Only you know what you are thinking; only you can know what you are feeling, unless you reveal your thoughts and feelings to others. In a similar way, no one can possibly know the deep things of God except God and those to whom God reveals Himself to. Now they say it takes a woman to understand a woman and only a man can really understand the ways of another man. How much greater then is the gulf between God and fallen man? Only God can understand God.
Therefore the key to knowing the wisdom of God is to have that wisdom supernaturally revealed to us by the Spirit of God. Merely speaking the wisdom of God will not work, nor writing the wisdom of God in a book, nor demonstrating the wisdom of God, because as we saw in our last study, it is impossible for the natural eye, the natural ear and the natural mind of man to rationally grasp the hidden mystery of the wisdom of God. Therefore you can’t just give someone a good book that will explain it; you can’t even simply give them the Bible and expect them to ever come to an understanding of the truth of the cross. It can only be grasped by a miraculous work of the Spirit of God bringing revelation into our spirit. Whenever you give a tract or a book or a Bible or whenever you share spiritual truths with another there must be that prayerful dependence upon the Lord to open their eyes and to give them insight.
Humans do not on our own possess the quality that would make it possible to know the wisdom of God. Only God can know God. Therefore only the Spirit of God in us can make it possible for us to truly know God. Left to ourselves, no man, woman or child can possibly know God by simply applying our human reason or our natural intuition. “No one knows the things of God except [by revelation of] the Spirit of God.” For God’s ways are past finding out by natural means. (See verse 14).
This is consistent with what Jesus taught in the gospels. Look at what He taught in John 14. John 14:16-17 “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” John 14:25-26 “These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. 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 things that I said to you.”
Then look at what Jesus said and did to His disciples on resurrection Sunday: John 20:22 “And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” And what happened when Jesus breathed on them and spoke these words? John’s gospel doesn’t tell us but Luke’s Gospel does: Luke 24:45 “And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.” Jesus opened their understanding that they might comprehend the Scriptures by breathing on them and saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
The gracious working of the Holy Spirit upon our lives is the key to understanding the message of the cross and every other deep truth of God. To God alone be the glory for all that has been accomplished in my life. He truly is the author, the founder, the source and the perfecter of our faith.(Heb. 12:2)
We Christians, in contrast to the worldly wise, have received a Spirit, it is not the spirit of the world, but He is the Holy Spirit of God. The Corinthian believers, and ourselves, are again reminded that we are fundamentally and radically different in nature from those of the world. Never think nor imply that a believer is really no different than an unbeliever except that one is forgiven and the other is not. We are radically different by nature; we are as different from unbelievers as light is different from darkness. Romans 5, 6 and 8 make this very clear. And the greatest difference of all between us and the world is that the very Spirit of God Himself lives inside of us and has united Himself with our spirit so that we are now one with God.
And again notice carefully in verse twelve, what was one of God’s reasons for giving us His Spirit? And what was one of the benefits we gain from receiving His Spirit? “That we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.” These things that have been freely given to us are the same ones referred to back in verse 9: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit.”
Here we are given further insight into the ministry of the Holy Spirit through the lives of His people. The Bible clearly states here that the Holy Spirit provides Paul and the other teachers not only insight and understanding but He also provides them the very words to speak. Not just general ideas but the exact words to say. The NLT says it like this, “When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths.”
This is consistent with what Jesus said in Mark 13:11 “But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.”
So according to 1 Corinthians 2:13, not only can we trust the Holy Spirit to speak through us in times of crisis but in every occasion of gospel ministry, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths. Therefore just as we have all received the Spirit to understand the gift of salvation and to understand the ministry of the cross, so also the Holy Spirit is available to speak through us the message of the cross in words taught by the Spirit. (Fee, p. 114) Therefore we see that the Holy Spirit is the key to everything – He’s the key to effective preaching, the key to sinners understanding and receiving the gospel unto salvation and the Holy Spirit is the key to believers understanding the wisdom of God. (Ibid.)
Here we see this important truth reiterated again with even greater clarity, the natural man does not, indeed he cannot, receive the things of the Spirit of God. The natural man or natural woman is simply one who does not have the Spirit of God. One who lives purely on the material plane without being touched by the Spirit of God. (BAGD) One who has the Spirit of God is referred to as being spiritual.
The natural man without the Spirit of God is described in three ways: First they do not receive or accept the things that come from the Spirit of God. The word “receive” in the Greek is the word for the reception of a guest. The natural man does not welcome the things of the Spirit; he refuses them, he rejects them. (Morris, p. 59)
Secondly to the natural man the things of God seem like utter foolishness, they make no sense to him at all. (1:18, 23) Because they do not receive or welcome the Holy Spirit they cannot understand the things of God. God’s wisdom seems distorted and twisted and upside down to the way things should be according to their natural wisdom which has been corrupted by the fall. However, the way that seems right to the natural mind and to worldly wisdom is the way that in the end leads to death.
Thirdly the natural man is incapable of knowing the things of God, without the Holy Spirit every one of us lacks the means of knowing God and His ways. Just as a man without eyes lacks the ability to see, and a man without ears lacks the ability to hear, so the man without the Spirit of God lacks the ability to know the things of God, because they are spiritually discerned.
Copyright © 2008 by Parkdale Grace Fellowship
Permission: You are permitted to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction.