The Wisdom of God in a Mystery ~ Pastor Mark Evans
The Wisdom of God in a Mystery
1 Corinthians 2
When Paul came to Corinth, he determined not to know anything but Christ and Him crucified. He could have impressed them with his depth of knowledge and understanding, and he could have used “persuasive words of human wisdom.” But to ensure that their faith would rest in the power of God rather than the wisdom of men, he delivered the simple but powerful message of the gospel. Paul had just come from the city of Athens (Acts 17:16-34) where he delivered his famous Mars Hill address. Paul’s speech was relevant to their culture, insightful to the times, and even demonstrated knowledge of their writings as he quoted from one of their poets. Although Paul mentioned the resurrection of “a man” who will judge the world in righteousness, he didn’t say that Jesus had been crucified to atone (pay the price) for sin. In other words, Paul didn’t give them the simple message of Christ and Him crucified. Apparently this message didn’t bear much fruit, “some men joined him…” and it seems that Paul learned something from this as he went on to Corinth with a much simpler and much more direct message. Jesus’ first words when He began to preach were, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” It’s the conviction of sin and knowledge of the Savior that quickens the lost to be saved.
Paul was among them in weakness, fear, and much trembling. This is a picture of someone who is God-dependent rather than self-confident. Great orators have an air of self-confidence about them, and great world leaders have a “can do” attitude. But the ones who affect souls for eternity have a quiet confidence that rests in the One they serve, and an inner strength and power that comes from depending solely on God who sends them. Spiritual power comes from humility and humility comes from hardship and personal failure. Paul failed miserably at his best attempt in his own strength to live a godly life (Romans 7). Moses, who was the meekest but most powerful man on earth in his day, failed in his first attempt to help deliver his people from bondage (Exodus 2:11-15). Even king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to his senses after his humbling encounter with God (Daniel 4).
Paul said that he didn’t speak the wisdom of this age nor of the rulers of this age, but the wisdom of God in a mystery – the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory. Beginning with the Age of Enlightenment, also known as the Age of Reason, in the eighteenth century, faith in the unseen was rejected in favor of the knowledge of things visible. Anything that could be demonstrated or proven by natural reasoning or direct observation was accepted as truth. Anything that was unreasonable according to human understanding or could not be directly observed in the natural world was rejected. God was seen only in terms of natural reasoning. Miracles were rejected because people couldn’t directly observe them whenever they wished. The resurrection of Christ was dismissed because it was beyond the ability of humanity to understand it. Life beyond the grave? Once again, it was rejected because it was beyond the observable in the natural order of things. No wonder Paul said, “The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” The very definition of the faith by which we are saved involves the unseen and relates to things well beyond our carnal understanding. “We walk by faith, not by sight” 2 Corinthians 5:7.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen” Hebrews 11:1. “But now they [those who lived by faith] desire a better, that is a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them” Hebrews 11:16. Abraham waited for this city – a heavenly city he couldn’t see, Hebrews 11:10. Apparently he is seeing it now, because Jesus said, “Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad” John 8:56!
It is my faith in Christ and in His promises that has made my life truly reasonable.I have observed and experienced that I was truly born in sin, with plenty of evidence to support that truth. But now, I have also observed and experienced that I have been born again. The old has passed away and the fresh and new has come! But the evidence for my change of life only came when I exchanged my wisdom for His wisdom and my understanding for His truth and took the step of faith to open up my heart before Him. Then the unseen became visible and the incomprehensible became knowledge through the Holy Spirit. Paul quoted from the Old Testament when he wrote, “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.” Then he went on to say, “But God has revealed them to us through the Holy Spirit.” So what is beyond the natural eye to see, the natural ear to hear, and the natural heart to understand, God has revealed these things to us who have been given supernatural faculties to receive them. “Once I was lost, but now I’m found – was blind, but now I see.” We now see the mystery, the hidden truth, that we are to be glorified with Jesus Christ! And “we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him just as He is. And anyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” 1 John 3:2, 3.