Summary: In today's less we are told that the gospel is a very special kind of wisdom that can only be discerned by those who are spiritually mature, that is, by Christians.
“That’s not fair! Why can’t I do it?”
If you are a parent, you recall hearing these words at one point or another from one or more of your children.
You try to explain your decision to your child.
“It’s for your own good,” you say.
“No, it’s not! It’s just not fair!” comes the reply.
And then you present your crowning point, “One day you will understand why I am making this decision for you.”
And even as you make that statement you know that it is still completely unsatisfying to your child.
It may take years, and perhaps even decades, before our children see the wisdom of a decision that we made for them in their childhood. Often it is not because they are rebellious. No. It is simply that they are too immature to grasp the decision we are making for them. In that sense, wisdom is only for the mature.
Maturity has its downsides—aches and pains, bills and pressures—but one of the great benefits of maturity is that it often opens our eyes to wisdom. We are able to see things more clearly than we could have seen in our youth.
What is true about maturity in the natural realm is also true in the spiritual realm.
The apostle Paul points out in today’s text that there is a wisdom that is available only to the spiritually mature. It is a wisdom that comes from God and opposes the foolishness of a sinful world. Sadly, it is a wisdom that many in the church in Corinth lacked, and a wisdom that many in the modern church still lack.
Today we continue our study in a series I am calling Challenges Christians Face. One of the challenges that Christians face is understanding what wisdom from the Spirit of God is.
Let’s read 1 Corinthians 2:6-16:
6 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But, as it is written,
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—
10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:6–16)
One of the first classes I attended at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School was a class on Systematic Theology. I remember the professor raising the question about whether or not a non-Christian could understand spiritual truth. Some said, “No.” Others said, “Yes.” We talked about theologians who did not even profess faith in Christ, yet wrote on theological issues, and argued about whether or not they could understand spiritual truth.
This is really the question that the apostle Paul is dealing with in our text. He is answering the question, “Who can understand spiritual truth?”
But before we examine that question, let me briefly review what we have covered so far in The First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians.
After the introductory salutation (1:1-3) and thanksgiving (1:4-9) of the letter, Paul immediately addressed the issue of divisions in the church in Corinth (1:10-17). Paul urged the Christians in Corinth to heal the divisions in the church because they are contrary to the unity that exists in Christ’s body.
The reason for the division in the church at Corinth was due to a misunderstanding of human wisdom versus the wisdom from the Spirit.
Paul came down hard on human wisdom because he argued against a Corinthian attitude toward wisdom that placed him and his gospel in a less than favorable light. Human wisdom about salvation that is purely philosophical, rhetorical, and speculative is wrong. Instead, there is a wisdom about salvation that has been revealed by God that is right.