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The Bible is the only source of Divine Truth in the world today. Although it is both helpful and informative in many ways, the Bible often doesn't tell us everything we want to know but the Bible does tell us everything we need to know.

My role is to guide you through the Scriptures; to explain what this book says and in some cases what it does not say because this is just as important.

Ultimately, you have a decision to make concerning your salvation - no one can make it for you. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator God, has given everyone the ability to make choices - this is is called "Free Will." I pray you consider your choice wisely.

II Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.


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Friday, January 29, 2016

1 Corinthians Lesson (09)



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This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1Timothy 2:3-4


1 Corinthians                                                                    (Lesson 09)

There's a story about a proud young man who came to Socrates asking for knowledge.

He walked up to the muscular philosopher and said, "O great Socrates, I come to you for knowledge."  Socrates, recognizing a pompous numbskull when he saw one, led the young man through the streets, to the sea, and chest deep into the water where he asked,
"What do you want?"  "Knowledge, O wise Socrates," said the young man with a smile.

Socrates put his strong hands on the man's shoulders and pushed him under.
Thirty seconds later Socrates let him up.  "What do you want?" he asked again.

"Wisdom," the young man sputtered, "O great and wise Socrates."

Socrates pushed him under again.  Thirty seconds passed, thirty-five, then forty…
Socrates let him up.  The young man was gasping.  "What do you want?"

Between heavy, heaving breaths the fellow wheezed, "Knowledge, O wise and wonderful..." Socrates quickly jammed him under the surface again allowing forty seconds to pass… then fifty, before letting him up again.  Socrates asked, "What was it you wanted?"

"Air!" the young man wheezed...  "I need air!"  Socrates replied, "When you desire knowledge as you have just wanted air, then you will have knowledge."

/////

The point of this short story is to illustrate how the Greeks of Paul’s day overemphasized the value of human wisdom.  However, the celebrated philosophers of the day and the people who came to hear them speak weren’t all that interested in the truth.  We know this because they failed to account for or even consider what had been written, (the O.T. Scriptures) or the knowledge of God, so they never knew God.  This pattern has been repeated down through the ages.  Man looks to man as the only source of knowledge to solve their problems and society’s ills instead of the One who created all things seen and unseen and holds the answer to all of man’s concerns.

The Scriptures say the Jews ask for signs before they’ll believe God and the Greeks (Gentiles) search for (human) wisdom; to do likewise.  In the midst of this absurdity comes our Apostle Paul, not following after the patterns or the teachings of men, that is to say speaking complicated rhetoric to the masses, but heralding a simple message from God of Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness.

I attempted to show you last week (by using this book) that both the Jews and the Greeks objections of the cross were an insult to God because the reasons for their unbelief had been met by the Gospel of Jesus Christ itself.  Had either the Jews or the Greeks the faith of a “mustard seed” they would have recognized the cross of Jesus Christ for what it was and is – the revelation of God.

Although the Old Testament does not specifically say that Jesus Christ will die on the cross for the sins of all, it is in accordance with the prophetic word.  If you know your Bible, then you understand from the Old Testament writings that God had it in His mind from Genesis 3:15 on to send the Redeemer to save lost humanity from both their sin and the second death i.e. spiritual death (Numbers 21:8-9; John 3:14).

Once again, the book of Exodus stands as a crucial part of God’s healing strategy for His chosen people and stands as an important memory for biblical faith.  Old Testament writers often report the memory of the LORD God’s deliverance saying, “The LORD hears and delivers, The LORD is my rock and my fortress, I will deliver you, Christ has set you free,” etc.  (2 Samuel 22:2; Psalm 34:17, 50:15, 107:6; Galatians 5:1)

The LORD God of Exodus is not the God of people in authority and power.  The God of Exodus is the God of slaves and He gives life to the lifeless.  The compassionate God hears the cries of those being treated like nobodies – mere tools of labor to increase the king’s wealth and prestige and responds to their greatest need at the right time. (Exodus 12; Romans 5:8; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Galatians 4:4-7)

The Hebrews did not overcome Pharaoh and their slavery by their own strength.
The center of power in this new nation did not rest upon generals, their armies, or with the people themselves, but with the Creator God (Romans 8:2).

********

Please open your Bible at 1 Corinthians 2:6.

1 Corinthians 2

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;

7: but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery (secret), the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; (Romans 8:29)

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;

9: but just as it is written (in the Old Testament @ Isaiah 64:4) “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.”

10: For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.  (John 14:26; Romans 11:33)

11: For who among men knows the thoughts of a man which is in him?  Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.  (Proverbs 20:27)

Beginning with verse 6:

Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are maturesome people in the church think Paul is speaking sarcastically with these words and they base it on the Corinthians love of human wisdom and their personal view of their “maturity.”  However, common sense dictates when dealing with people, especially proud people, a person isn’t going to gain their favor by mocking them.  If we choose to go the route of maintaining Scriptural harmony throughout God’s Word instead, then Paul’s remark relates directly to the infants in Christ Jesus that he’s addressing (1 Corinthians 3:1-4).

In keeping with that thought, we have this to go on.  The Greek word for mature is Teleios (pronounced:  tel’-i-os) and means:  wanting nothing necessary to completeness.  Paul uses this word here and in the book of Ephesians at 4:13 to describe mature Believers in contrast to children, or infants in Christ: …we are no longer to be (what) children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming (Ephesians 4:14).  (See also: Ephesians 14:20, Philippians 3:15; and Hebrews 5:14).

… a wisdom, however, not of this age – Paul is actually referring to two biblical ages here.  One is the current evil age in which he lived in, and everyone of us still do, dominated by fallen humanity (Adam’s sin).  But Paul contrasts it with the righteous age to come, at the glorious returning of the Lord Jesus Christ when He will rule and reign for a thousand years (Isaiah 2:4, 9:6-7, 42:1; Ezekiel 37:26-28, 43:7; Revelation 20:6).

… nor of the rulers of this age – the Greek word for rulers is Archon (pronounced:  ar’-khone) and means authorities, officials, or leaders.  We know Paul is speaking in terms of human wisdom or the logic that drives these leaders thinking, minus the knowledge of God that is.  Because of their fallen human nature, you really can’t dismiss the demonic influence motivating their thought processes and their activities.  Remember what Paul wrote at the beginning of Romans 12:  And do not be conformed to this world (2 Corinthians 4:4), but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2; Galatians 1:14; Ephesians 2:2). 

… who are passing away – Paul uses this phrase 27 times in his writings; it means to “make completely inoperative,” “abolish,” or “to cause to cease.”  (Strong’s Concordance: Greek #2673 Katargeo’).  Paul’s saying no matter how much stock these leaders put in their human wisdom and their social standing they’re going to die one day, but the underlying implication is that one day they’ll stand before the righteous Lord Jesus Christ at the Great White Throne Judgment, along with the countless multitude, to answer for their unbelief and their ungodly lifestyles. 

Let’s go to verse 7.

1 Corinthians 2

7: but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery (secret), the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; (Romans 8:29)

The word but is short for “behold the underlying truth…” the words of wisdom Paul spoke were from the risen and glorified Lord Jesus Christ, and he spoke God’s wisdom in a mystery (secret), the hidden wisdom -  it isn’t hidden any longer; it has been manifested in the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 16:25; Ephesians 3:3-5; Colossians 1:26). 

This hidden secret emphasizes God’s revelation versus human discovery (Romans 16:26; Ephesians 1:9-10, Colossians 2:2-3).  Part of this secret is that now there is no difference between Jew and Gentile they are one in Christ Jesus and in His church which is His body (1 Corinthians 12:12-14; Colossians 1:18).

… which God predestinedpredestined means sometime back in eternity past the Holy Trinity met in counsel (Acts 2:22-24) and predetermined God’s plan of redemption (John 17:24; Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:20; Revelation 13:8), meaning they knew before the foundations of the earth that the man (Adam) would “fumble the ball” so to speak and sin against the LORD God, necessitating the need for mankind to be ransomed from both sin and death. 

The Greek word for predestined is Proorizo (pronounced:  pro-or-id’-zo).  It’s a compound of the preposition “before” and “to set bounds.”  It means – God decreeing from eternity (past), to foreordain, appoint beforehand.   The authoritative passages in Scripture on predestination are Romans 8:28-30, Romans 9, and Ephesians 1:3:14.  These Bible texts stress the sovereignty of God, meaning He is in absolute control of everything; this includes human history. 

I find it utterly amazing that no matter what decision every king, queen, president, prince, prime minister, or general such as Napoleon, Wellington, Eisenhower, Montgomery, or Patton, or your every day working class hero has made during the course of history we’re right where God wants us to be on His time-line. 

You can’t dismiss or ignore the fact that we’re all born with the ability to make choices and the one decision in our life that counts above all others is whether or not to have a right-relationship with the Creator God.  God does not intervene in this personal decision despite what you may have been told or what you might have read.  Scripture is quite clear on this.  So let’s not get bogged down, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming and I’m specifically referring to the known theological conflicts between Augustine versus Pelagius and Calvinism versus Arminianism, but instead heed what God has clearly said in the written word:  if God is for us who can be against us?  (Romans 8:31)

The subject of predestination is not a N.T. doctrine meant to limit God’s grace, love, and mercy.  In other words, it is not meant to exclude some from the gospel and salvation.  God’s love is meant for all mankind (2 Corinthians 5:14-15; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9).  Some people have it backwards.  It’s not God who chooses some to save while dismissing the rest of humanity to their eternal doom.  It is the majority of mankind that chooses to dismiss God and His Son from their lives, in unbelief, which makes them enemies of God, according to the Scriptures.  In effect, they choose hell over God. 

God views all history as present; humans are bound by time; God is not.  In addition, our perspective and mental abilities are limited, to say the least, when compared to the Creator’s.  There is no contradiction between God’s sovereignty and mankind’s free will.  Both exist and therefore both biblical teachings are true.  It’s also important to add here that the goal of salvation (election) is not just to gain access to heaven when one dies, but it is to gain Christlikeness now (2 Corinthians 10;13; Galatians 5:22-26; Ephesians 2:10, 4;22).  God didn’t save us to sit; we’re saved to serve. 

May those who don’t know Jesus Christ see His Light in us!

Let’s go to verse 8.

1 Corinthians 2

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;

In this verse Paul isn’t defending the actions of those who crucified our Savior.  Both the Jewish religious leaders and the Romans (Gentiles) knew they were killing an innocent man.  After His death, and definitely on the morning of the third day, they knew He was the Christ:  And their eyes were opened and they recognized Jesus – and He disappeared from their sight (Luke 24:31; Psalm 2:1-3; Matthew 27:54; John 20:24-29, 20:11-18; 1 Corinthians 15:6).

Please turn with me to Acts 3:17.  This is Peter at the “Portico of Solomon” a few months after Jesus’ resurrection speaking to a group of Jews, saying:  “And now, brethren, I know you acted in ignorance (when you disowned the Prince of life, the Lord of glory), just as your rulers (the Romans and the Jewish religious leaders) did also.  

Had the Jews and the Gentiles seen the hidden wisdom (of God) in His redemptive plan, had they understood the glory of Jesus Christ’s real character, had they respected the truth regarding His incarnate birth, and the fact that the Old Testament Scriptures were centrally all about His coming as their Messiah, they would not have put Him to death. 

But here’s the thing, had they known that Jesus Christ was the Lord of glory, the Son of God, at the time and not crucified Him, the mystery, or God’s eternal purpose kept secret in the crucifixion, could not have been accomplished, much less revealed.  Therefore, God the Father let them crucify His beloved Son without letting them know beforehand His purpose in permitting this.  It’s a bit complex isn’t it? 

Now people will argue this point in order to draw their own conclusions but you have to go by what the book says and the book says that not even the twelve apostles knew Jesus Christ was going to die, even after He told them (Luke 18:31-34); this was in keeping with God’s plan.  This takes us back to one of the absolutes in Scripture - God is Sovereign.  One of the things our Sovereign God does is He keeps secrets unto Himself until He’s ready to reveal them to us: "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law. (Deuteronomy 29:29)

I think we’re ready for verse 9.

1 Corinthians 2

9: but just as it is written (in the Old Testament @ Isaiah 64:4) “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.”

In quoting the prophet Isaiah (64:4), Paul reminds the Corinthian Church that “no mind has conceived” the things of God for He has acted in ways that human beings could not ever have imagined (Isaiah 55:8-9), but now through the gospel and the receiving of the Holy Spirit they can – by faith.  In other words, these Corinthian “infants in Christ” who love their secular wisdom do not have insight into the mind of God.  But God bestows His truths and wisdom upon true Believers so that they may know Him.  This passage isn’t limited to our future glory, which God has prepared for all those who love Him.  It’s likely that Paul is also referring to the immediate blessings we’ve received such as:  being sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise; who is given as a pledge of our inheritance (Ephesians 1:13-14), and the peace of God (Philippians 4:7), etc.

Let’s go to verse 10.

1 Corinthians 2

10: For to us God revealed them (His truths) through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God (John 14:26, 16:13; Romans 11:33).

For to us God revealed them – that is to say the truths of God which have been revealed to those who love Him, through the Holy Spirit.  The flipside of that is everyone else is a stranger to it; outside God’s camp, if you will.   While at Athens, Greece, Paul had an opportunity to speak at one of the great universities in the ancient world.  He did his best to explain in a straight-forward manner to those assembled there about God and about Jesus Christ so that they could understand.  However, most of them did not believe him; some even started to laugh at him (Acts 17:16-34).  What this means is the most intelligent people in the world can’t understand the things that every Believer can know about God and His Son.  God has prepared the most wonderful things for the people who love Him.  But an unsaved person’s mind does not comprehend these things unless God’s Spirit opens their heart to respond to them.    

…for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God – the Greek word for searches is Ereunao (Pronounced:  er-yoo-nah’-o) and means to search, to examine into.  Paul means to say without the indwelt Holy Spirit we could not possibly know the things of God (Romans 8:26-27; 11:33-36).  This is a continuation of Paul’s emphasis of the entire context that human means are unable to #1:  know God and #2:  know the things of God, i.e. His purpose and His plans. 

The term “depths of God is a metaphor which means to express #1:  that God’s wisdom is profound - as opposed to being shallow.  #2:  It’s hidden - beyond mankind’s ability to reach it or discover it without the assistance of God – a relationship between God and the individual is necessary first and on God’s terms.   The Holy Spirit is crucial in convicting one of their sinful nature, in the salvation process, and then in Christ-like living (Ephesians 3:16-19).

Let’s go to verse 11.

1 Corinthians 2

11: For who among men knows the thoughts of a man which is in him?  Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.  (Proverbs 20:27)

Paul’s illustrating what he just said with these words to show that only the Spirit of God knows the mind of God; and he does this by saying that no man can know his own mind, his own plans and thoughts, but himself – his own spirit.  For who among men knows the thoughts of a man which is in him? 

We’ve all had close friends over the years.  Some of us are married to our closest friend.
But as close as these people are none of them know our innermost desires, plans, or thoughts, only our spirit does; unless we choose to “open up” to discuss them that is.

And even so, says Paul, the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.
The gulf between man’s thoughts and God’s is insurmountable but if a man or woman receives the Spirit of God it is a different matter altogether, as we’ll see when we get to verse 12.

(To be continued)

[Published weekly on Friday]

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