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The Church, Culture & Wisdom 1 Corinthians 2:6-16

Have you ever had the opportunity to get some kind of inside knowledge about something ….. OR ….. had some kind of inside experience?

One of the deepest human desires is the desire to be on the inside—the desire to be in the know, to know something that other people don’t know.

C.S. Lewis called this “The Inner Ring.” In reference to this “inner ring,” Lewis said:

Unless you take measures to prevent it, this desire is going to be one of the chief motives of your life … - C.S. Lewis

This is, in a sense, where the Corinthians Christians find themselves. This is one of the chief motives of their lives. They’re living in a culture that is obsessed with new, current, special, insider knowledge about everything under the sun. They’re always looking for the newest thing, on all kinds of things— including spiritual things.

Paul has just reminded them that they have the most important inside spiritual knowledge they could ever have through their knowledge of the cross and what God did there to reconcile people to Himself.

And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption … (1 Corinthians 1:30)

  • They have the insides scoop on: how we are made right with God (Righteousness).
  • They have the insides scoop on: how to live lives pleasing to God (Sanctification).
  • They have the insides scoop on: how we are saved by God from our sin (Redemption).

These are the most important things to have inside knowledge about. But ….. they are looking for some kind of spiritual wisdom beyond the cross or outside of the cross.

We see similar things happening today with professing Christians.

Now Paul is, in Lewis’s words, “taking measures to prevent them” from making a desire for some kind of newer spiritual knowledge beyond or outside of the cross from continuing to be one of the chief motives of their lives.

Paul takes three measures in this section to do just that. Through these three measures, Paul is going to help us understand our Good News for this morning:

Good News: God has made us wise about the things of Him, by His Spirit, so we can have His mind about all things

Measure #1 – Remind Them WHAT True Wisdom Is

WHAT True Wisdom IS NOT

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. (1 Corinthians 2:6)

True wisdom is NOT the wisdom of this age about the spiritual life.

What is the wisdom of this age about the spiritual life?

  • God doesn’t exist. Spirituality is simply a “crutch” for people who are week emotionally.
  • God exists, but you can’t know him. Spirituality is mostly just something that makes you feel better about yourself, not something that helps you know God.
  • God exists, and there are many ways to know him and get to him. You pick your way, I’ll pick my way, and we’ll all get there our own way. (Coexist) (4,200)
  • God exists, and since there are many ways to know him and get to him, you can take a little bit from any or all of these ways and make your own personal spirituality

What does Paul say true spiritual wisdom is?

And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption … (1 Corinthians 1:30)

Paul says that true spiritual wisdom is found in Jesus Christ, what He has done for us and who He is to us.

  • The Bible says that GOD DOES EXIST, eternally and relationally.
  • The Bible says that God not only exists, BUT THAT GOD IS KNOWABLE. God has revealed Himself through creation, through His prophets, through Scripture, and ultimately through His Son, Jesus Christ. God wanted us to know Him so much, that He came as the God-man, in the Person of Jesus Christ, so that we could see clearly who He is, what He’s like, and what He wants from us in a relationship with Himself. The cross is the place where God dealt with the one thing that makes Him unknowable to us, our sin, and gifted us with the ability to know Him, by faith.
  • The Bible says that there are not many ways for us to know God, but ONE WAY for us to know the one true God. Jesus Himself said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through me.”
  • The Bible says that our attempts to form our own spirituality is idolatry.

How does popular culture respond this spiritual wisdom?

None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (1 Corinthians 2:8)

They act out in ways that are rash & reactive.

  • They falsely accused Jesus.
  • They bribed Judas to betray Jesus with 30 pieces of silver.
  • They planted people in the crowd in front of Pilate to yell “crucify him.”
  • They set up a corrupt, back room trial for Jesus in the middle of the night.
  • They blackmailed Pilate into ordering the crucifixion of Jesus – a punishment that was unjust for His crime.
  • They crucified God in human flesh.

And yet, the irony is this—God used all of their rash decisions and treatment to accomplish what He wanted.

WHAT True Wisdom IS - Paul goes on to say more.

But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. (1 Corinthians 2:7)

True Wisdom is Mystery: in His wisdom, God made His wisdom a mystery, through a crucified messiah. God saw fit to make His wisdom mysterious to those who think they’re sufficient in themselves to figure out every mystery—especially the mystery of God Himself.

True Wisdom is Hidden: in His wisdom, God made His wisdom hidden from human understanding, but now revealed it at the perfect time in human history through Jesus, and made understandable by His Spirit.

True Wisdom is Determined: in His wisdom, God determined that some would know Him from eternity past, because none of us would know Him if it was not first determined by Him.

True Wisdom is Loving: in His wisdom, God has prepared more for us in our life with God, both in the here and now, and the there and then, than we could ever imagine—because He loves us.

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” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

This wisdom is God’s foreordained secret and mysterious wisdom, which was not know in history until Christ appeared. No human being ever thought of it; even the most clever Sophist or world leader never dreamed it up. Further, not even an inspired prophet like Moses or Isaiah ever disclosed it. But now God has revealed this wisdom in the Gospel of the crucified God-man. – Alan F. Johnson

Do you know this true spiritual wisdom? Do you need to be reminded about this true spiritual wisdom?

Measure # 2 – Remind Them HOW True Wisdom is Found

True Wisdom Is Not Found, It Finds Us

…these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. (1 Corinthians 2:10)

It’s a miracle that anyone finds true wisdom about God.

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. 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. (1 Corinthians 2:11-12)

The only reason we know the things of God is that, by His grace, we have received the Spirit of God. All of this is His work, not ours (this is regeneration).

Has true spiritual wisdom found you? Is true spiritual wisdom looking for you? Do you need to be reminded about how true spiritual wisdom found you?

Measure #3 – Remind Them WHO True Wisdom Makes Them

They don’t have to continue to try to find their identity in some new, trendy kind of spiritual wisdom. Their identity is in Jesus Christ.

WHO They Are NOT

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. (1 Corinthians 2:14)

  • The Natural Person does not accept, BUT rejects the things of God
  • The Natural Person thinks the things of God are foolish
  • The Natural Person can’t see the wisdom in the things of God

Paul says, they are not these kinds of people, so why are they acting like it.

WHO They Are

The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:15-16)

  • They can discern the ways of God. Not necessarily all things, of course, but all things that pertain to the work of salvation.
  • They can think like Jesus (Mind of Christ). People who think like Jesus, and can see everything in life in light of the cross of Jesus Christ.

CAUTION: this spiritual wisdom about the ways of God and the mind of Christ should not lead to some kind of spiritual elitism or arrogance.

Good News: God has made us wise about the things of Him, by His Spirit, so we can have His mind about all things

(4) Close

This idea ultimately leads us to thankfulness and wonder and worship and mission.

Paul talked about similar ideas with the Roman church. As he did, he ends his discussion with the following doxology:

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

(Romans 11:33-36)