Today I present to you another great devotional from CountrySlicker. Enjoy – JMc
And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 1 Corinthians 2:1-10
In the first 10 verses of 1 Corinthians 2, Paul discusses what we could call five fundamentals of the gospel.
- The gospel is centered on the death of Christ.
Instead of a philosopher or thinker (which the Greeks viewed as having excellent speech and wisdom), Paul was able to offer himself as a witness. Paul had experienced the power of God and His work first hand. Recall Paul’s encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus that lead to a new dedication of his life to serving God.
Paul made a conscious decision on how to present himself…I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Paul presents himself as an ambassador. Ambassador can be defined as an authorized messenger or representative or as a diplomatic official of the highest rank sent by a government to represent it on a temporary mission, as for negotiating a treaty. Some of the roles of an ambassador include: deliver messages from another individual, accomplish the agenda of another individual (have no personal agenda), represent another individual (typically of greater power or importance), and to operate under the authority of another person (not one’s own authority).
Paul knew the Jews desired a sign, and Greeks sought after wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:22), but Paul’s not writing to appease them. Instead of giving them what they wanted… Paul will give them what they need. He will preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Paul will keep the focus on Christ and His work on the cross. That is the only message with the power to save.
- Man’s position (position of weakness)…
According to Paul’s own words, he was not brimming with self-confidence… in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. When we recognize the needs of others (salvation or healing or revelation or spiritual growth)… we often also become aware of our own weakness and limitations… ”How can I help someone else when I am so messed up?”
Knowing the needs of the Corinthians and recognizing his own limitations made Paul weak and afraid. Paul knew that he could not meet the needs of the Corinthians. Guzik comments… Yet it kept him from the poison of self-reliance, and let God’s strength flow. Paul had to depend on the power of another. Being aware of our own weakness isn’t a bad thing when it drives us to find a real source of strength.
The strength of a Christian comes through the Holy Spirit. In John chapter 14, Jesus said… I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. (John 14:16-17) Later in John chapter 16, Jesus said… when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. (John 16:13-14)
Instead of using persuasive words of human wisdom, Paul allowed the Spirit to work in the simplicity of the message of the gospel. In doing so, the power of the Spirit is revealed. G. Campbell Morgan comments… “So great was his sense of weakness and fear, and so profound his lack of trust in himself that he quaked, he trembled. Those are the secrets of strength in all preaching.”
Which leads to the third fundamental of the gospel…
- Faith in the power of God… that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
The power of the cross is not dependent on man’s persuasive words. Paul doesn’t put his faith in his own power of persuasion… instead, he puts his faith in God to do an eternal work in hearts and minds. In his letter to the Romans, Paul writes… For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17)
Paul declares that through the gospel of Christ we see the power of God to save sinners. The Spirit is able to use the truth of the message of the cross to convict and teach man and woman. Paul compared the wisdom of man to the wisdom of God in the previous chapter. In this verse, Paul is pointing the reader back to that discussion. For there to be a true work in a person’s heart, they have to look to God’s ability to do a work. Only by placing our faith in the power of God can we experience true strength.
Man’s pride often stands between himself and God, preventing that faith from taking root. Our pride leads us to believe that we have to accomplish something. We believe that it all rests on our shoulders. We carry the burden of solving problems. What we need to do… is look to God for solutions. We must lose faith in our own abilities and develop faith in God.
- The gospel is part of God’s eternal plan… we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory.
Why did the rulers of this age fail to recognize God’s wisdom? Because it came in a mystery; a “sacred secret” that could only be known by revelation. It is the hidden wisdom that is now revealed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which Paul preaches. To gain understanding, we must spend time with the word and in fellowship with God. It is an apprenticeship of sorts. God grows us one lesson at a time. He reveals His truths to us one at a time and teaches us to walk in them as we navigate this sinful world.
In our human wisdom, we cannot comprehend the entirety of the plan of God. His plan transcends our concept of time, space, and understanding of the complexity of the world (physical and spiritual).
Paul writes… But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” This is not a strict quotation from the Scriptures. Paul is paraphrasing Isaiah 64:4 to remind us that God’s wisdom and plan is past our finding out on our own. Clarke commented… “These words have been applied to the state of glory in a future world; but certainly they belong to the present state, and express merely the wondrous light, life, and liberty which the Gospel communicates to them that believe in the Lord Jesus Christ in that way which the Gospel itself requires.”
Before the life and ministry of Jesus, God’s people had a vague understanding of the glory of His work and what it would do for His people. But they really did not and could not fully understand it ahead of time. The old testament lays the ground work for the message of the gospel. In studying the old testament we can see the need that we have for a savior. It’s evident in the writing in Isaiah and it’s evident in much of David’s writing in the Psalms. In verse 9, Paul is paraphrasing Isaiah 64:4. Let’s also take a look at verse 5: You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness, Who remembers You in Your ways. You are indeed angry, for we have sinned— In these ways we continue; And we need to be saved.
The need for a savior is evident in the old testament writings. What was unknown, was exactly how and when the savior would accomplish the task. This work of God is a mystery that Paul is explaining to the Corinthians. It’s not a mystery because it is hidden. It is a mystery in that it must be explained in order to be understood. The plan was in place since the beginning of time. However, the mystery is unraveling and becoming evident as we spend time with God allowing Him to instill His wisdom into us.
We need help to understand the mystery and grow in God’s wisdom. This is where the Holy Spirit comes into the picture.
- Our salvation is the work of God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit)… But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.
Only the Holy Spirit can tell us about God and His wisdom. This knowledge is unattainable by human wisdom or investigation. We could guess what God is thinking, and about His wisdom, but we would never know unless He told us.
Our salvation involves all three persons in the Godhead. You cannot be saved apart from the Father’s choosing to pour out His grace upon you. God chose you long before the creation of the world ever happened. It was part of His plan from the beginning.
Only through the loving sacrifice Christ made on the cross is the debt for our sins paid. Christ paid the price for your sins long before you sinned. Jesus was able to declare “It is finished” there on the cross because the debt had been paid.
Through the conviction of the Holy Spirit, we come to the realization of our need for salvation and allow God to work in our lives. God chose you and Christ paid the price for your sins before you ever knew either of them or recognized that you needed to be saved. Once you realized that you needed a savior, the Holy Spirit began to transform you and place a desire in you for a relationship with God (your heavenly Father).
This work was all a mystery to us… until God began to reveal it to us. It is still being revealed today. Man often spends a lot of time trying to figure out God’s plans. This is often not necessary…For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.
Due to their love of human wisdom, the Corinthians thought that Paul was still speaking of “the basics” like the gospel and that there were more intricate and complex details that they needed to hear. But according to Paul, the gospel message is the revelation of the deep things of God. Our pride often leads us to develop complicated strategies where simple truths are more than sufficient. Many problems today can be solved by simple biblical principles. Complicated plans of men are not necessary. The solutions to today’s most challenging problems are contained in the ancient writings that God has provided to us.
One excellent example of this is recorded in the founding of our own country…
About five weeks into the Constitutional Convention of 1787, when the delegates were attempting to draft the U. S. Constitution, their efforts were a signal failure. As things were beginning to break up and delegates return home to their states, Benjamin Franklin challenged them and called them to prayer. He addressed the delegation with the following words:
In this situation of this Assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of Lights to illuminate our understanding? In the beginning of the contest with Great Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayer in this room for the Divine protection. Our prayers, sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending Providence in our favor. . . . And have we now forgotten that powerful Friend? Or do we imagine we no longer need His assistance? I have lived, sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth – that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured, sir, in the Sacred Writings, that “except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it.” I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel. . . . I therefore beg leave to move that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business.
Franklin believed their prayers over the Convention had been answered. After five weeks of failure, following the recess and time of prayer, they reconvened and in only ten weeks produced the document that has become the longest on-going constitution in the history of the world. Franklin definitely saw a difference after the recess and prayer. He again addressed the congregation with the following:
[I] beg I may not be understood to infer that our general Convention was Divinely inspired when it formed the new federal Constitution . . . [yet] I can hardly conceive a transaction of such momentous importance to the welfare of millions now existing (and to exist in the posterity of a great nation) should be suffered to pass without being in some degree influenced, guided, and governed by that omnipotent, omnipresent, and beneficent Ruler in Whom all inferior spirits “live and move and have their being”.
Many other delegates were in agreement with Franklin. One of which was Alexander Hamilton who declared: For my own part, I sincerely esteem it a system which without the finger of God never could have been suggested and agreed upon by such a diversity of interests.
The delegates recognized a need bigger than themselves. They followed the simple biblical principle from James 1:5… If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
According to their own testimony, the delegates were rewarded with divine guidance in the task at hand.
God doesn’t make things difficult or complicated. He develops plans that are so simple that anyone can understand and follow them. Our salvation, in its entirety (conception, execution, and revelation) is the work of God. The gospel message is that simple and that powerful. Peter declared… “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) Our salvation is based solely on a relationship with the savior… Jesus Christ.
What overwhelming problem are you struggling with today? What obstacle stands in the way of you fulfilling God’s call in your life? Turn it over to God. Put your pride aside, lose faith in yourself, and put your faith in the One that was able to conquer death. Don’t limit yourself to the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. God has greater plans for you… But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” Develop your relationship with Jesus. Everything else will be revealed to you.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5