Summary: Seeing the Church through grace and peace
This sermon (1 Corinthians 2: 6 -16) was preached at West Ewell Evangelical Church, Surrey, on Sunday 12 July 2015.
Where do you go for wisdom? answers can include e.g. radio, television, internet, snippets from Facebook, Twitter.
In a survey in the UK, involving 1,000 mothers, it was discovered that mothers are the most quizzed people on the planet. On average, from breakfast to afternoon tea time, the average stay-at-home mothers face one question every 2 minutes 36 seconds. That adds up to 105,120 questions per year.
The questions spike during mealtimes. Girls aged 4 years-old are the most curious, asking an incredible 390 questions per day. On the other end of the spectrum, boys aged 9 years-old asked the least amount of questions. According to the survey, the mothers claimed that these were the top five toughest questions (in order):
1. Why is water wet?
2. Where does the sky end?
3. What are shadows made of?
4. Why is the sky blue?
5. How do fish breathe under water?
I am reminded of the following illustration: Donna the computer programmer worked in an office with two other programmers, Tom and Phil. One day she asked Tom to help her implement some new software applications. Tom sat down with Donna to show her how to make the changes to the files then she said, “I’m so glad you’re teaching me instead of Phil.” Surprised, Tom asked why, as Phil was far more experienced than he was. “Yes,” Donna said, “but I feel much more comfortable with you. I get nervous around really smart people.”
As we mature in the Lord through the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, we realise more about the uniqueness of Christianity – God dying for His glory (as we talked about in the previous sermon) – so wisdom of the Holy Spirit not about us.
1. Wisdom for God’s glory
As we learned from last time that ultimate reason for Jesus dying on the cross was for His glory, which we can see in verse 8, where the passage refers to the Lord of glory.
Emil Brunner stated: ‘There are, even today, a great many people who understand that man needs salvation, but there are very few who are convinced that he needs forgiveness.’
This divine wisdom is opposite to human. Colossians 2: 8 says: ‘See to it that no-one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.’
Last time we saw that there are modern versions of Greek and Jewish thought in our society today – thoughts or philosophies that exclude God, or wanting Him to act in their lives without accepting Him as Lord – these attitudes block the activity of the Holy Spirit, so cannot receive from Him and thus cannot act according to His wisdom.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in Ethics about the way people worship success: ‘In a world where success is the measure and justification of all things, the figure of Him who was sentenced and crucified remains a stranger and is at best an object of pity. The world will allow itself to be subdued only by success. It is not ideas or opinions which decide, but deeds. Success alone justifies wrongs done…With a frankness and off-handedness which no other earthly power could permit itself, history appeals in its own cause to the dictum that the end justifies the means…The figure of the Crucified invalidates all thought which takes success for its standard.
‘God was not interested in success, but in obedience. If one obeyed God and was willing to suffer defeat and whatever else comes one’s way, God would show a kind of success that the world couldn’t imagine. But this was the narrow path, and few would take it.’
Jesus calls us to take the narrow path. Malcolm Muggridge reminded us that only the fish that are not swimming against the tide are dead ones. We will not take on commission that Jesus gave by ourselves, otherwise we will fail; but we will achieve it through the mighty help of the Holy Spirit.
Mystery was not inaccessible, but things that had been hidden through the ages although now revealed so it would be understood.
The passage quoted from Isaiah 64: 4 (in verse 9) starts ‘Since ancient times no-one has heard’ – but now it has been revealed in and through Jesus.
This wisdom is not perceptible by the natural (our eyes, ears, hearts) for we cannot know how much or understand what God has in store for us, such is the wideness of the scope scope of salvation and the impact of it.
I am reminded of an old song by the Joystrings (a Salvation Army band):
‘It's an open secret that Jesus is mine,