Summary: The "inside secret" about our witness and His wisdom.
November 11, 2001
Paul talked about inside secrets; he called it the wisdom of God in a mystery. There are all kinds of mysteries. In the western world, when you say mystery you¡¦re talking about a who-done-it, or a puzzle to solve.
Solved puzzles can have surprise endings, or open up even greater puzzles. At the end of World War II the power of the atom was unleashed at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We had no idea the size of tiger we held by the tail.
Today, with the help of computers, we are beginning to scratch the surface of many puzzles. In this scientific age we assume any unknown can be solved. Yet the depth of the mysteries of the universe are far from our understanding.
The meaning of Paul¡¦s word mystery, however, is not your typical puzzle. It is not an intricate labyrinth to be navigated. It is not unlocking the complexity of DNA structure.
The Greek word is musterion. It comes from the idea of silence imposed by initiation into religious rites It is an inside secret. It is not difficult to figure out once someone explains it from an inside perspective.
Take the picture shown on this page. The fellow is puzzled ¡V the marks he is looking at are nothing but gibberish to him. He couldn¡¦t figure it out in a million years. However, an 11 year-old Jewish boy happens along. He is just coming home from Hebrew instruction at the synagogue in preparation for his bar mitzvah. He looks at the gibberish and says, Awb ¡V father¡KFather Abraham!
Now, if an 11 year-old can understand something about which this erudite and enlightened congregation had no clue ¡V what¡¦s up with that? Simple ¡V it was an inside secret. The boy had been trained in the Hebrew language ¡V you haven¡¦t! That is Paul¡¦s kind of mystery.
Inside secrets can drive those on the outside to drink! Paul held that opinion. He said that people who are not spiritually motivated can¡¦t even understand things of the Spirit (1 Co 2.14).
I was raised in a community that included many people of Italian heritage. There were many inside secrets, especially when I started dating this one particular Italian gal. Her family gatherings were a swarm of inside secrets to me¡K
„Y They talked really fast and loudly; I mumbled six or seven words a minute when I could get them out above the roar.
„Y They mixed syntax, verbs, metaphors and even languages like a dyslexic alien on speed; I had my grammar corrected all the time at home. Thou must refrain from using split infinitives and colloquial idioms like ¡§ain¡¦t¡¨ dear boy!
„Y They were passionate about everything ¡V I was cold by nature, shy and insecure.
„Y They could pick up a few words or a phrase that sounded like just the middle phrase of a sentence in a long story ¡V and they understood each other; I was totally lost to the flow of the story. This was a family with inside secrets of communication.
I often felt like that new commercial. The kids have text pagers. They are all communicating in code.
SYT-OHN means, See Ya Tuesday, Outa Here Now.
SITMFM means She Is Too Mouthy For Me.
If you don¡¦t speak the language, you don¡¦t understand the communication.
The last one is POSGG.
Translation: Parents Over Shoulder Gotta Go.
This morning we want to explore the inside secrets Paul shared with the congregation he founded in Corinth. In doing so I want to unveil two truths contained therein ¡V about our witness for Christ, and the wisdom Christ wants to give to us.
I. Our Witness
Our witness for Christ ought to follow Paul¡¦s example. Why? Paul had learned what was necessary for a good witness. Before he came to Corinth he had been to Athens.
If the apostle ever had a failure, it was at Mars Hill. Paul had tried to share the gospel witnesses with a bunch of Athenian intellectuals who spent all their free time listening to each new thing the intellectualizing philosophizers passed along.
His mistake, and the resulting failure in Athens, was that Paul tried to out-philosophize the philosophers, instead of telling the gospel. We can make the same mistake if we try to intellectualize Jesus. Two lessons about our witness:
Our Witness for Christ Should Not Be Complicated
2.1-3 1And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. 2For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
There are two kinds of witness; and we need to distinguish between kerugma and didache. Kerugma is the Greek word that describes the announcement of an angel. That¡¦s the pure and simple Good News ¡V Jesus came, died, was buried and resurrected¡Kare you going to receive Him and have eternal life?