I Corinthians 2:
In last week’s lesson , Paul in his letter to the church at Corinth and to us, stated this important truth: “ For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the Gospel- not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power (NIV) (be made of no effect, NKJ)
Paul said the message of the Gospel was not given to him by man, but revealed to him by Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1: 12) Gospel means ‘good news’. The Gospel is a truth with a specific message. Paul tells us what the message is in I Cor. 15. Paul tells us: ‘that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scripture and that He was seen by Cephas(Peter) , then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep.” Paul then goes on to tell us Jesus was seen by James and also finally by Paul.
This is the message of the Gospel. Pure and simple. Paul says this message is the power of God to salvation to all who believe. No wonder the devil wants the Gospel banned. A watered down version is okay- a compromised version with man’s wisdom added will cause it not to have an impact, empty it of its power. It is the death, burial and resurrection. Never leave any part of this Gospel out. For if Christ be not risen, our faith is in vain. Never leave out the resurrection!
Paul, aka as Saul of Tarsus, stated his accomplishments: ‘a Hebrew of Hebrews, in regard to the law, a Pharisee, as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.’ He said he counted all those accomplishments as rubbish compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. (Phil 3) But God never waste anything does He? He used Paul’s knowledge of scripture and his keen analytic mind to reveal the Gospel to him and allow him to form our Christian doctrine based on the inspired Word of God.
The same is true of me, an alcoholic for 14 years, a period defined by wasted opportunities, just like the parable of the prodigal son. But God has used my story and the stories of millions of alcoholics who have shared their testimony of how God delivered them out of darkness into His marvelous light. It was by sharing their stories with me, I came to discover the power of the Lord, My Higher Power and thereby achieve sobriety. That is power of the Gospel. This the proclaiming the praises of Him who delivered us out of darkness. It is why Jesus called us the ‘light of the world.’
*When God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things, it gets people’s attention, just like Peter and John got the attention of the Sanhedrin. Two ordinary men, unschooled, certainly not part of the ‘in-crowd’, they were have- nots and yet they had impressed these powerful group of men and guess what? “They took note they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4) If we could go ask FDR and Harry S Truman, speak to Winston Churchill and General Douglas MacArthur or General Eisenhower and ask them what was it that had won World War II for American, England and its allies. I know what they would say to a man- especially the Generals: they would all conclude with certainty it was the extraordinary efforts of the most ordinary men and women, and many of those young men were not much more than boys. Gina’s father was one of them- volunteered at age 17. Would fly 33 missions in a B-24 Bomber; 17 of which were so dangerous they counted them as double missions. Which led me to say of him when I did his eulogy: William Houston Sipes was an ordinary man who did extraordinary things.
This is why God chose the foolish and the weak. Because when ordinary men and women of God do extraordinary things- God gets the glory and the attention of others.
WISDOM AND ITS SOURCE
Paul then writes: “We do however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age, or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”
So Paul tells us this wisdom, hidden wisdom, was not something man could invent. Nor could it be understood, it was a mystery. This is why Paul quotes from Isaiah 64 to tell us: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived (nor has it entered the heart of man, KJV) what God has prepared for those who love Him.” Natural man in his natural wisdom could not understand this. So the rulers of the Roman government and the Sanhedrin, Chief Priest, the ruler of the Jewish religion, did not know who Jesus was. In fact we must conclude the devil although he knew who Jesus was, did not know God’s eternal plan of salvation or they would never have engineered the death of Christ. Once again we see, God is in control of all things, not the devil, nor those in positions of power.
Paul then reveals the source of this wisdom and how it is obtained: “…But God has revealed it to us (believers) by His Spirit.
So here are the foundational truths of the Gospel:
- The plan centers in the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
- It is part of God the Father’s plan from before time began.
- It is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to reveal it to us.
So our salvation involves all three persons of the Godhead: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Paul writes in Ephesians, God chose me in Christ before the foundation of the world. I do not understand this, but I do not know how it works. But I believe it.
THE WORK OF THE SPIRIT.
The moment you were saved, the Holy Spirit indwells you. The Spirit of God entered your body and made it His temple. (Ephesians 6: 19, 20)
The Spirit baptized you into the body of Christ. This means you are identified by what you have been baptized into. Baptize means to immerse something into something else, like cloth into dye. The white cloth immersed into red dye is now identified the color of the dye into which it was immersed. It has become something new, which did not exist before. When we got saved we became new creatures.
The Spirit seals you and will remain with you and never leave you. He is God’s gift to you. He is the Spirit of Liberty. We are no longer under the authority of the devil and his world system.
We have not received a Spirit of bondage again to fear. (Romans 8:15)
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. (I Cor. 2: 10, 11) Only the spirit of man knows what is going on in a man. I cannot know the deep things of God, but by His Spirit, God has entered into my life and personality. Through the Holy Spirit each believer becomes a sharer of the very life of God. Think about that- meditate on that phenomenal truth: God’s very life and personality has entered into my very life and personality. I am a new creature. The deep things of God mentioned here are the things which God has prepared for those of us who love Him. God wants you to know this very day, all the blessings of His Grace that He has planned for us from the beginning of time. This is why Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, said: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will be given; knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives, and everyone who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish will give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him.” (Matthew 7) Notice the Father gives good things, not things which could harm you or take your eyes off of him. He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him, not what they can get from Him. He is the giver of all good gifts, the Father of lights in whom there is no shadow or turning.
The Bible says, ‘this is the day, the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.’ Paul says rejoice always. For those who love the Lord, every day is a good day. Why? Because Jesus told us His Father is always at work. And Paul writes in Romans 8, the Father is working all things together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His Purpose. This is why we must keep our eyes on things above, because the enemy wants to distract us and take our eyes off of Him. It may not feel like a good day, it may not look like a good day; it may in fact look like a disastrous day. But when God is working out His plan, we can be sure of the best. And He has promised to never put more on us than we can bear.
The Spirit teaches us. Jesus promised the Spirit would come to teach us and guide us in the truth in John 14 and John 16. The Spirit taught Paul from the Word and Paul then taught believers. The truth is found in God’s Word. Jesus tells us this very important truth in John 17:8: “I gave them the words you (God the Father) gave me.” This is why we must study to show ourselves approved; a workman who needs not to be ashamed who correctly divides the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)
You have a teacher, the Holy Spirit, But you must do your part and study. When you do, the Spirit will guide you to understand what God has freely given you. Understand the words of salvation, just like a workman understands the language and vocabulary of his particular field of work and career. We must know the meaning of justification, sanctification, propitiation, inspiration, etc. In understanding God’s words, we will understand God’s will for our lives. You will discover the thrill of having the Spirit teach you the deep things of God. All of a sudden you will find spiritual truths in new ways and how to apply it to your life.
THE CONTRAST BETWEEN THE LOST, NATURAL MAN, AND THE SPIRITUAL MAN.
Paul uses the term, “natural man” in the KJV to describe the man who is without the Spirit of God. We were all once “natural man” This simply means we were without the Spirit and knew only the thing of our unredeemed nature. When we trusted the Savior, the Spirit came into our lives and we were able to live on the spiritual plane. There are only three types of men and women in the world: saved or spiritual, natural, lost without the Spirit, and carnal, which we will see is the condition of the immature Christian.
Now I would remind you, God has given all of mankind two witnesses to Himself.
- The external witness of creation. God has given this general revelation to all of mankind everywhere. Romans 1 tells us of this and Psalm 19 speaks of the language of creation which is understood in every language.
- The internal witness of the conscience. Paul says ‘when the Gentile who does not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these , although they do not have the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness ..’ This is why Paul says they are without excuse because God has clearly revealed to them, who He is. His judgment is always righteous.
So the natural man does not accept the things that come from the spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
One of the marks of maturity is discernment- the ability to penetrate beneath the surface of life and see things as they really are. This is why Paul will later write: “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” This is why the natural man, the unsaved man walks by sight. They are spiritually blind.
The maturing Christian is growing in his or her spiritual discernment and develops with the Spirit’s help the ability to see more and more of the will and mind of God and thus walk by faith and not by sight.
Paul says of this growing Christian: “But we have the mind of Christ.” This does not mean we are infallible. It means our minds are being transformed by His Word as the Spirit guides us and teaches us to think God’s thoughts and not think as the world and our old nature thinks.
The battle is always within, between our old nature and our new. The world is ruled at this time by the prince of this world. So we have a threefold enemy- the world, the devil and the flesh. Who want to conform us into thinking the way they want us to think. But we have a threefold God (Father, Son and Spirit) who will protect us. He is our strength, our strong tower. He is our armor our shield and protector. Greater is He who is in us than he who is in this world. Our threefold God has given us things to help us overcome the spirit of fear. “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of a sound mind.” (2Timothy 1) God has enabled us with His power. God has enriched us with His Love. God has enlightened our minds with His word.
The brain is the most sophisticated, super computer ever developed. We now know the brain consists of over 100 billion neurons which can each make up to 10,000 connections. Thus giving us a computer with over 1 quadrillion connections (that number has 15 zeroes after the 1). We are truly fearfully and wonderfully made. The brain is the hardware of the computer. The mind is the software or operating system. We now know as science tells us, neurons lapse without use and new ones can be formed with new information. In other words, what was written 2000 years ago was scientifically true and accurate. The mind can be literally transformed physically. Proving also ‘as a man thinketh, so is he.’
Do our beliefs matter? Can they really affect us? Does our ‘software’ really make a difference? Can we, by changing what we think or the way we think, affect our physical and mental health?
Do our spiritual beliefs alter our thinking and our mental health? Yes! Now let me say I am not against counseling, medication and those things which can be ministered to help a person. But I know God is a God of order. God is our Creator. This why Tozer’s statement is so important when he says: ‘What comes to a person’s mind when they think about God is the most important thing about them.’ What do you think about God?
I believe in and trust the God of the Bible. His word has transformed my mind and is transforming it. It is an ongoing process of progressive sanctification. I believe God is all powerful- His creation witnesses to this fact. I believe He is a loving God, the cross points to this. I believe Jesus came to set me free. He said if I continue in His Word, I will know the truth and the truth will set me free. And if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed. (John 8) His word has been re-programming my thinking for the last 39 years. Paul says: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds. Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy- meditate on these things.” (Phil.4)
“BUT WE HAVE THE MIND OF CHRIST.” This is what God wants us to possess and His word taught to us by the Spirit of God can transform our minds!! This is the ongoing good news of the Gospel!
The Gospel, the good news, is not only salvation from sin, but a process of restoration. His Word not only saves us, it transforms our minds so we may ‘prove what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.’ (Romans 12:2)
And your Teacher is waiting each morning to spend time with you to provide you this very day and every single day: “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light upon my path.” ( Psalm 119: 105 Which tells me- when you neglect to do this each and every day- you are risking walking in the darkness. God wants to shed light upon our path each and every day.
Walking with Him each day begins with time spent with Him each and every morning. It must be a priority in our life.