The Book of 1 CORINTHIANS
James J. Barker
WISDOM OF GOD REVEALED THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT
- My message is entitled, “The wisdom of God is revealed to us through the Holy Spirit.”
- There are several important doctrinal words here in our text.
- “Perfect” (2:6) does not mean "sinless." The Bible does not teach sinless perfection.
- What the Bible does teach is that we have a perfect Saviour who provides us with a perfect salvation, and this perfect salvation includes deliverance from the power of sin.
- The Scriptures command perfection. Jesus said in Matthew 5:48, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."
- The Scriptures command perfection, and the Scriptures promise perfection.
- James 1:4 says, "But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing..."
- Samuel Chadwick said, "Christian perfection does not indicate finality but fitness." By "fitness," Samuel Chadwick is giving a good Biblical definition of "perfect." God is making us fit to do His will.
- Strong's Concordance says "perfect" means, "to make fit, to complete, to mend (what has been broken or rent), to repair, to arrange, to adjust, to equip, to put in order."
- Barnes says the word “perfect” is used here “to denote those who were advanced in Christian knowledge; who were qualified to understand the subject; who had made progress in the knowledge of the mysteries of the gospel; and who thus saw its excellence. It does not mean here that they were sinless…but that they were qualified to understand the gospel, in contradistinction from the gross, the sensual, and the carnally-minded, who rejected it as foolishness.”
- Another important doctrinal word is “mystery” (2:7). The word “mystery” is found 22 times in the New Testament. The Scofield Bible says, “A ‘mystery’ in Scripture is a previously hidden truth, now divinely revealed; but in which a supernatural element still remains despite the revelation.”
- These truths are revealed to us through the Holy Spirit (cf. I Cor. 2:10-14). The word “mystery” is often used by the apostle Paul to the refer to God’s plan for the salvation of men by the Lord Jesus Christ (2:7, 8). This “was foreordained before the ages” (Scofield margin).
THE HOLY SPIRIT ALONE KNOWS THE THINGS OF GOD.
- The things of God cannot be learned the same way one learns science or history or mathematics. The things of God are revealed in Scripture to be utterly unknowable by mere human study, industry, or research.
- In addition to such normal processes as education, application, and mental ability, there must be the teaching of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 2:10-14). We call this “illumination,” that is, “the ministry of the Holy Spirit helping the believer to understand and apply the truth of the Bible” (Charles Ryrie).
- If a man is to know the mind of God, then his mind has to be illuminated by the Spirit of God (2:10, 16).
- And he cannot be illuminated by the Spirit of God until he is first born again (cf. John 3:6-8).
- And when a person is born again, he is indwelt by the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom. 8:9).
- Furthermore, for a person to understand spiritual truth, he must be yielded to the will of God, and this is where many Christians miss out.
- To be taught by the Holy Spirit, a Christian must be in such a state of obedience to truth already revealed by the Bible, and walking with the Lord in such a way that the Holy Spirit might not be hindered in teaching him and directing him.
- When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
- "The spirit of man" (I Cor. 2:11) refers to man’s God-given ability to study and reason and analyze and research, etc.
- The spirit of man allows a man to learn "the things of man" (2:11), i.e. the arts, sciences, and any knowledge on a purely human and natural plane.
- But it is only by the Spirit of God that a person may understand what the Bible calls "the things of God" (2:9-11).
- That is why there are men and women with Ph.D’s and other advanced degrees who cannot understand the things of God. Worldly scholars cannot approach the Bible as they would other books – "because they are spiritually discerned" (2:14).
- The unregenerate man is unqualified and unable to understand the things of God, no matter how well-educated he may be.
- Robert Cecil, the Earl of Salisbury, was a devout Christian. He was speaking on the things of God one day at a meeting in London. William Wilberforce, the famous politician who led the abolitionist movement in England, was also a Christian and at this meeting.
- Wilberforce sat next to his good friend William Pitt the Younger, who was not a saved man. Afterwards, Wilberforce asked Pitt, "What is your opinion of the message?" William Pitt replied, "to tell the truth, I gave that man my most careful attention, but I was wholly unable to understand what he was talking about!" (2:14).
- So my first point is the Holy Spirit alone knows the things of God. My second is that the Holy Spirit alone can teach the things of God.
THE HOLY SPIRIT ALONE CAN TEACH THE THINGS OF GOD (2:13).
- R.A. Torrey said, “We shall never truly know the truth until we are thus taught directly by the Holy Spirit. No amount of mere human teaching, no matter who our teachers may be, will ever give us a correct and exact and full apprehension of the truth. Not even a diligent study of the Word either in the English or in the original languages will give us a real understanding of the truth. We must be taught directly by the Holy Spirit and we may be thus taught, each one of us. The one who is thus taught will understand the truth of God better even if he does not know one word of Greek or Hebrew, than the one who knows Greek and Hebrew thoroughly and all the cognate languages as well, but who is not taught of the Spirit” (The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit).
- Our Lord said in John 16 that the Holy Spirit will guide us "into all truth" (John 16:13). But this promise is only for those who know the Lord as their Saviour.
- For the unconverted our Lord said that the Holy Spirit would "reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment" (John 16:8-10).
- The Scofield Bible explains I Corinthians 2:9-13:
- "The unseen things of God are undiscovereable by the natural (unsaved) man (vs. 9)."
- "These unseen things God has revealed to chosen (saved) men (vss. 10-12)" – note particularly 2:12.
- "The revealed things are communicated in Spirit-taught words (vs. 13). This implies neither mechanical dictation nor the effacement of the writer’s personality, but only that the Spirit infallibly guides in the choice of words from the writer’s own vocabulary (vs. 13)."
- "These Spirit-taught words, in which the revelation has been expressed, are discerned, as to their true spiritual content, only by the spiritual among believers (I Cor.2:15,16)."
- The Bible makes a distinction between the unsaved man ("the natural man" – I Cor. 2:14), the saved man who is spiritual (2:15, 16), and the saved man who is "carnal" (I Cor. 3:1-4).
- Those that are carnal can only drink milk – they are "babes in Christ" (3:1, 2). How sad that some of these spiritual babies have been saved a long time!
- Those that are mature – that are spiritual – can eat "meat" (3:2). This means they can clearly understand the things of God. They do not squirm during the preaching and keep looking at their watch. They do not get up and go to the bathroom during the preaching, or start daydreaming, etc.
- The Holy Spirit alone can teach the things of God, and the Holy Spirit does not teach in words of human wisdom (2:13). Paul is speaking now of inspiration. Revelation is presented in verse 10, illumination in verse 12, and inspiration in verse 13.
- There is a dangerous trend today to replace the words of Scripture with psychological and philosophical terms. But Paul says – "not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth…" (2:13).
- And there is a dangerous trend today to replace the words of Scripture with what the modern translators consider to be the basic thoughts or concepts. In other words, some of these new Bible translations are not accurate word for word translations like the Authorized King James Bible, but are basically paraphrases (like the NIV).
- The Bible is verbally inspired. In other words, the very words of the Bible are inspired, not just the concepts or the general ideas!
- Jesus said, said, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4).
- In his second epistle to Timothy, the apostle Paul writes, "Hold fast the form of sound words…" (II Tim. 1:13). Many of these sound words, like atonement and justification and redemption, have been removed from the modern Bible translations. If you are using one of these inaccurate Bibles, you’d be wise to get rid of it and get a good King James Bible!
THE HOLY SPIRIT CAN ONLY TEACH THE THINGS OF GOD TO THOSE WHO ARE SPIRITUAL.
- No one can understand God unless He reveals Himself, and He has revealed Himself to us in His Word (2:11-14).
- Even in our fundamental churches there are some who are worldly-minded. Paul says they have "the spirit of the world" (I Cor. 2:12).
- If you are enamored with the things of this world you will never understand the things of God.
- The old hymn goes like this: “I am resolved no longer to linger, charmed by the world’s delight; Things that are higher, things that are nobler – These have allured my sight.”
- Are you still being charmed by the world’s delight? (cf. Col. 3:1, 2).
- When Paul uses the word "spiritual" (2:15), he means being led by the Holy Spirit, and being taught by the Holy Spirit, and being controlled by the Holy Spirit.
- The spiritual man "is judged of no man" (2:15), meaning no natural man can judge him. How can he? He cannot understand the spiritual man for the same reason he cannot understand the Bible – "they are spiritually discerned" (2:14b).
- And if the natural man cannot understand the spiritual man – if the spiritual man is an enigma to him – how can he can judge him? Or “discern” him – see Scofield margin for verse 15.
- The spiritual man has "the mind of Christ" (2:16). Do you have the mind of Christ?
- The ministry of the Holy Spirit is to point men to Christ, and to magnify Christ. Do you know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour?
- You cannot understand the things of God until you are saved by believing in the Son of God!
- Gherman Titov was the Russian cosmonaut was the second man to orbit the Earth, and the first person to spend more than a day in orbit.
- Titov visited the USA, and he said that when he was up in space he could not see God or any of His angels.
- It is too bad that this atheistic communist did not take time to read the Bible. Had he read the Bible he would have known that God is a Spirit, and that God is invisible.
- Jesus said, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).
- First Timothy 1:17 says, “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
- Hebrews 1:14 says angels are “ministering spirits.”
- And since God and angels are not material beings, they cannot be seen by astronauts in outer space.
- God is a Spirit and He cannot be apprehended by physical means.
- God is known by revelation (I Cor. 2:10). And the natural (unregenerate) man cannot understand this (2:14-16).
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