Summary: In 1 Corinthians 2, Paul is clear that we’re not to be over-awed by the world and the physical, but to focus on Christ.
Essential of the Church- 1 Cor. 2
December 12, 2004
The Corinthian church was an unusual church, yet not so much different, in many ways, from a church of this century might be. It had grown up in an environment of deep questing for excellence. People sought to know, to understand, to have the wisdom of the ages. They would sit and debate and strive to know. They had outstanding orators, with followings- stars, if you will. All of this is much like today, or much like it could be today, if we’ll allow it to be such.
Last time, we focused on the first essential of the church, as I’m calling this series, for this church, and we allowed God to remind us that we are here because of Him and His divine, and fully unknowable, choices. As we go forward, today, we need to understand how this was played out in Paul’s life and, I hope, how it will play out in our lives. Distractions are all around us. Quality is all around us. In the church, we can bring these elements, and there is nothing wrong with this. However, we have to be certain that we never let go of what is really important in the whole matter.
1 Cor.2.1- Paul came to them. (Acts 18.1ff). He did so without any effort to be in competition with the many orators and sophists of the day. His focus was not on turning of words in just a certain way. It was not in finding the most interesting and colourful illustrations. His approach was to go for the central and most important matter. He chose to bear witness to God’s work in Christ for men’s salvation. This is the testimony of God. He came very focused. There was no uncertainty about what he would speak about.
v.2- here is the central truth he focused on- Christ was the focus. Christ means Messiah, so his message was that Jesus was the promised Messiah- the one promised of God and sent of God. And He- emphatic- was crucified- with all the resulting benefits that spring from that. Jesus Christ as Messiah and as crucified Messiah is from where springs salvation- nowhere else. It doesn’t spring from wise speaking or eloquent speaking or anything of that nature.
v.3- Acts 18.9
v.4- Paul’s focus was complete- he was not an entertainer. He bore God’s message to God’s people, and was willing to depend on the activity of the Holy Spirit to do his amazing work. The most important part of any Christian teaching is not the colourfulness of the presentation or the interest of the illustrations. Those do capture or attract us. But what is most important is what work, if any, the Holy Spirit does in us AFTER the message and through the period of time immediately, and longer, following the hearing. It’s hard to judge any message at the time it’s given.
v.5- faith is not to be in people. For faith to survive in a city like Corinth, or a province like modern Quebec, it requires a supernatural basis. It cannot just be rooted in the human, because the human will always disappoint. The human will always err, even, in explanation or interpretation or application. But the Holy Spirit never makes a mistake. He is divine and perfect.
v.6- it’s important for us to understand that there are various levels of wisdom and understanding. There’s nothing particularly wrong with physical or carnal wisdom- it can be very helpful, and Jesus even applauds some, in their use of it, as they use it well, within their context. However, for spiritual people, there’s a higher wisdom to seek and to expect. As we seek to be spiritually mature people, we don’t want to focus on the wisdom of this age. As we consider any topic, we cannot simply stop at the wisdom of this age. If we talk about marriages, or community relations, or financial management, or raising our children, or any topic, we can glean from the world, without question. But, beyond that, we have to overlay God’s wisdom. It’s not enough to get only the best the world has to offer- Col.2.15- Jesus is higher than any of them, and they are coming to nothing. Remember that Satan has been defeated and will spend eternity in the ‘blackness of darkness’. Remember that ‘hell’, which is real, was not created for people but for angels (Jude 6, 13).
v.7- a mystery is a secret revealed to faith. We get to plumb the depths of God’s wisdom and some of it we get to understand. This understanding is not some afterthought, either, but was something God always intended. There is a progressive unfolding of God’s wisdom and understanding.
v.8- this wisdom makes a difference, when it’s understood. Notice, here, that it would have made a difference in how people treated Jesus, if they had understood. But they did not, so they responded in a particular way. There is deep meaning in that expression ‘lord of glory’- it refers to the one through who comes the glory of God’s children. Those, who treated Jesus so poorly, would not have, had they realized that this was the one through who would come their eventual glory. I’m fully persuaded that most will respond to Jesus when given their opportunity, and those who crucified him will be among those, likely most active and energetic in praise of Him, once they understand.