Summary: Real wisdom comes from the Spirit, it concentrates on Christ, and it culminates in glory.
Who is the smartest person you know? A teacher who can spit out just about any math formula known to mankind? A mentor at your workplace who consistently makes decisions that benefit the company? A family member whose common sense has gotten you and others out of many tight spots? It is a blessing to know people like that, but it might also be intimidating. After all, no one likes to be thought of as the weak link when it comes to intelligence. That’s why schools like Sturgeon Heights here in town offer a pre-kindergarten class geared towards kids whose IQ is above average. Many parents think that if they can get their child into that program, they’ll have a leg up on all the other kids. Knowledge is power after all.
Well that depends on what kind of knowledge you have. You may know the stats of every Oiler but does that really make you wise? Knowing, for example, that Connor McDavid has scored 18 goals in 55 NHL games isn’t going to help you administer first aid to someone who has stopped breathing. Likewise those pint-sized geniuses at Sturgeon Heights School may learn more history, more science, and more math than the average preschooler. They may even study how to administer CPR. But if that’s all they do, they won’t come close to surpassing our preschoolers here in wisdom. Real wisdom, as we’ll find out today, comes from the Spirit, it concentrates on Christ, and it culminates in glory. Let’s find out more as we continue our sermon series on the church in Corinth, a church that was fully equipped with real wisdom.
Our society is not the only one that pines for wisdom. The ancient Greeks valued it as well. And yet when the Apostle Paul visited the church in the Greek city of Corinth he didn’t put on a dazzling display of intellectual acumen. You heard Paul confess in the Epistle lesson last week: “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words” (1 Corinthians 2:4). But lest the Corinthians not take him seriously Paul went on to say in today’s text: “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. 7 No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom” (1 Corinthians 2:6, 7a).
Do Paul’s words sound a bit like a tabloid headline? “God’s Secrets Revealed!” But Paul isn’t a reporter for the National Enquirer who’s making stuff up to sell newspapers. He really did have a secret wisdom from God revealed to him by the Holy Spirit. Paul explained: “God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God... 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words” (1 Corinthians 2:10, 11, 13).
No one besides God, not even your spouse or a sibling, knows what you’re thinking right now. You would have to enlighten us. In the same way, there is no way for us to know what God is thinking unless he tells us. Thankfully he does that through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit hasn’t spoken directly to us but he did somehow communicate with people like the Apostle Paul who then wrote those words down in what we today call the Bible. Do you want to gain real wisdom? Real wisdom comes from the Spirit. And the Spirit speaks to us through the pages of the Bible. This is why confessional Lutherans treat the Bible with such respect. When we come together to study the Bible we’re not just examining an ancient text; we’re reading God’s mind! Imagine if you could read the mind of a successful investor like Warren Buffett. Wouldn’t that mean that you too could make smart investing choices and earn lots of money? Well we have something even better in the Bible. Reading and studying it leads to an eternally secure future.
That secure future comes to us only by believing the Bible’s main message. What is that message? A number of years ago someone published a cookbook based on healthy recipes from the Bible. Bible recipes? I think you’ve read the Bible enough to know that it’s not a cookbook. Nor does the Bible teach you how to build a successful business. Yes, it does explain what makes for happy homes, but even that isn’t the main purpose of the Bible. Real wisdom, Paul explains, concentrates on Christ. Last week you heard Paul tell the Corinthians, “I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).