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Understanding the Wisdom of God B

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
April 27, 2022 4:00 am

Understanding the Wisdom of God B

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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April 27, 2022 4:00 am

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We are speaking wisdom. It may not be the world's wisdom. And you may think it is foolish. And you may say it is simple and simplistic. But we are speaking wisdom. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur.

I'm your host, Phil Johnson. George Santayana famously said, Almost every wise saying has an opposite one, no less wise, to balance it. That's the world's philosophy for you. Every thought has value, and no idea is better or worse than any other.

But what do you think? Could that sort of philosophy find a home in today's churches? Are we ever tempted to put human wisdom on par with God's Word?

The fact is, that does happen. In many churches, human wisdom is diluting the simple gospel and displacing the biblical approach to running a church. Learn how to spot human wisdom. Make sure you know why God's wisdom is the only wisdom with life-changing power both now and for eternity.

John's current study will help you do just that. It's called The Foolishness of God. Turn to 1 Corinthians chapter 2 and here's John. Paul illustrates the fact that he doesn't believe in the necessity of human wisdom by chapter 2 verses 1 to 5.

He says, Do you remember how it was when I came to you? I didn't come with excellency of speech, verse 1, or wisdom. Verse 4, My speech and my preaching were not with enticing words of man's wisdom. Verse 5, I didn't want your faith to stand in the wisdom of men. In other words, Paul says, You can see that I didn't put any stock in human philosophy. I didn't put any stock in human wisdom by the very way that I came to you.

That's obvious. Verse 2, I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I didn't come to you with some sophisticated words or sophisticated philosophy. I came to you with simplicity. You see, the gospel does not need the addition of human philosophy. God does not need man's reason, man's innovation. Everything the gospel comes in really is very simple.

The preacher comes along in Corinth like Paul did and presents Christ and Him crucified. It's very simple. In fact, they said it's so simple it's foolish.

Remember that? The preaching of the cross was to them that perish what? Foolishness. They said this is stupid. This is nonsense. You mean you expect us intellectuals with all the wisdom that we've gained and all the education and all the sophisticated philosophies?

You mean that you expect us to believe that somewhere, sometime one guy dies on a cross and that's the whole crux of human destiny? I've heard people say the same thing today. They say, for little kids and old ladies, right? No intelligent man would believe that. I can't buy it. I've had many people say that to me. When Paul comes along and when you come along and say, we don't preach human wisdom, they say, you're sure right. What you've got is foolishness. Now watch verse 6. However, we are speaking wisdom.

Stop right there. It may not be the world's wisdom, and you may think it is foolish, and you may say it is simple and simplistic, but we are speaking wisdom. You may not see it as such, but it is. And so he says, we are speaking wisdom.

Watch this. Among them that are perfect. The problem is that only the saved know it. Perfect teleios here refers to full-grown or mature, and in this context, incidentally, the word teleios or teleos, wherever it's used to speak of perfect ones, it has to be interpreted in the context because it can mean a Christian who's very mature or it can just mean a Christian period. A Christian is one who has come to the place of knowledge, of being complete in Christ. And so here it is referring to a Christian, not a super Christian, just a Christian, because he's not contrasting mature Christians with infantile ones. He's contrasting Christians with unbelievers. We are speaking wisdom among those that are believers.

The only people who know this as wisdom are the Christians. Now from there, Paul divides the rest of the text into two points. I'm just going to give these two points to you.

Very simple. And yet I want you to get this because you'll find that this can be very, very helpful, not only in giving you the understanding of the passage that God's given us, but in helping you to relate this to somebody else. Two points. Number one, true wisdom is not humanly discovered. Number two, true wisdom is divinely revealed.

That's pretty simple. Number one, true wisdom is not humanly discovered. Paul says we realize that this ultimate truth is outside the boundaries of the wisdom of this particular era and the philosophers of this era, all of whom come to nothing. But, verse 7, and here's the strongest adversity in the Greek language, Allah, but on the other hand, we speak or are speaking the wisdom of God.

Stop right there. We are not speaking something from this system or from this world, from these philosophers, rather it is from whom? From God. He is talking about a divine, supernatural wisdom. Yes, we are speaking wisdom. They said, ah, foolishness.

Nonsense. No, we are speaking wisdom. And the believers understand that it's wisdom. It is not the wisdom from your system, it is the wisdom of God. And the reason you don't understand it, verse 7, is we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom.

The reason you don't know it is it isn't knowable to you. Man doesn't know the wisdom of God because God has not given it to man to know. He has put it outside the boundaries of man's capacity. Now, he says, it is written, I hath not seen nor hear heard, neither has entered into the heart of man the things that God has prepared for them that love him.

Now, God from the ages past prepared some fantastic things for the people that love him. But the people that don't love him can't know what those things are. You see, the world with all of its quest for truth can't figure out what's going on. There are only two ways you can come to the truth from a human viewpoint. Only two ways that a human can make a conclusion about truth. Number one is objective. Number two is subjective. Number one is by the external, empirical, experiential method. The second one is by reason or logic.

That's all. It's either empiricism or rationalism. Here comes the first one. As it is written, I hath not seen nor hear heard. Now, if you're going to look at objective truth, there's only two ways you can assimilate objective truth. Through the eye or the ear, right? This is how you gain truth. Well, remember folks, through the human eye and through the human ear, ultimate truth cannot pass.

Let's go internal. The other way that men draw conclusions is by their own reason. Rationalism. Neither have entered into the mind of man.

Heart simply means mind. You can't know it externally from an objective fact. You can't know it internally from a subjective thought process. You can't come to God by observation or by rationalism.

That's pretty hopeless, isn't it? God's got a great plan for those that love him. God has hidden it. It's not known to the philosophers of this era. That's proven by the fact that if they had known it, they wouldn't have executed Jesus. And incidentally, everybody that goes on rejecting Jesus proves continually, continually, continually that they can't know the truth.

Doesn't it? And they can try by experiment to find it, and they can try by logic to find it, and they won't, because it is not known to them by that. That's the first point, and I think Paul makes it well. The wisdom of God is not discoverable by the human mind.

Point number two, and this we'll see quickly. True wisdom is revealed by the Holy Spirit. You see, if you can't get out and find God, he's got to come in with his information. Anything that comes to him, somebody brings from the outside in.

He isn't going anywhere, and that's Paul's point. The Holy Spirit has invaded man's locked box with the truth. True wisdom is revealed by the Holy Spirit.

Now notice, people, there are three steps in the process. Revelation, inspiration, and illumination. Three great Christian truths. First of all, revelation, this is great, watch now, you're going to really be excited to know this. Verse 10, God has revealed them unto us by his what? Spirit. What we would never be able to know on our own, God has come into our little locked box and said, here, God has invaded our iron lung and deposited the information.

Wow. Revealed apocalypto means to disclose something that has been previously hidden, to unveil something that has been veiled. The Holy Spirit does that? That's revelation, to reveal the Holy Spirit's up there in heaven. God says, I got a few facts, I want those people down there on earth to know. The Holy Spirit, who is the agent of transmission for the Trinity, grabs the revelation, all right, got the revelation, and off he goes to bring it to us. That's revelation.

He's got the body of truth ready to deposit. You say, well, why does the Spirit do that? Look at verse 10. For the Spirit searches all things, yea, the deep things of God. He's the one who knows the deep recesses of the mind of God. What better one to reveal God, right? It doesn't mean that he's ignorant of some things and he has to search around to find them out. He's God, too, and he knows everything. It simply means he is the one who penetrates the inner being of God, God's own Spirit. Aren't you glad that the Bible wasn't written by a second-hand angel? You know who wrote the Bible? God's Holy Spirit.

I'm happy about that, aren't you? Because, you know, I don't know if I can trust all the angels. Some of them really messed up, didn't they?

Satan used to be one of them. Listen, God didn't entrust the transmission of his scriptures to anybody outside the Trinity. The Holy Spirit was dispatched with the information because he's the one that knew the depths of the inner recesses of God's nature. Now he illustrates it.

For example, verse 11, what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of a man that is in him? Let me show you what that means. I may come up to you and say, hi, friend, I know you. You have hair like this and ears like this and nose like this and that. I know you. When certain things happen, you react like this and your personality is, uh-huh, and I know you. You've got a temper and you like this and I know you.

You know what? But I don't know him like he knows him, right? Me and you don't know me like me and me do. Is that right? Me and me know things about me that me and you aren't ever going to know.

Right? And you and you know things about you that you and me aren't ever going to know. It's just that the only one who really knows the depth of myself is my own spirit.

Isn't that right? And, you know, even in a marriage, as close as it gets after years and years and years, there are still some things that only I know about me. And we talk about honesty, but even our honesty is somewhat veiled, isn't it? Selective honesty.

That's just human nature. The one who knows me best is my own spirit. That's all he's saying.

That's just an illustration. Look at the end of verse 11. Even so, the things of God knows no man but the Spirit of God. You see, the Spirit knows the deep recesses of God just as a man's spirit knows the deep recesses of that man like no one else does.

So God didn't send a secondary messenger. He sent the Holy Spirit who knew the most, who knew everything. Now, we find to begin with then that that is revelation. Christianity has revealed truth.

The Holy Spirit grabs up all the deep things of God and comes off with them. He's on his way to earth. And now he arrives at the door and he says, open up, I've got something from God. And you say, well, what kind of package is it in? He's going to deliver the revelation.

What's it wrapped in? You can't just have it all floating. You could have God standing on a mountain shouting it all out. How would it come? Well, let's find out because that takes us to the second step of the Spirit's transmission of God's truth and that is inspiration. Here is the method by which the Spirit delivered revelation. Verse 12. Oh, this is good. Now we have, what's the next word?

Received. Now, friends, underline that word in your Bible or draw a circle around. That is a tremendously important word. Somebody says to me, you know, the Bible was just the opinion of man. I say, look, 1 Corinthians 2, Paul said, we have received this. That means it was given to us. Look at the end of verse 12. That we might know the things that are freely, what's the next word? Given to us of God. Where did the Bible come from? It was given by God. And what did the apostles do? They what?

Received it. Now, this is so important. This is the vehicle for carrying the revelation. The Spirit of God brings it and they receive it.

Now, I want you to notice something. The word we in verse 12 is used a couple times. And then again in verse 13.

We received that we might know which things we speak. Please notice, the word we there does not refer generally to Christians. It refers to the apostles and the scripture writers. You and I have received these truths only from them as they recorded them.

But here Paul is experiencing and writing of his own experience. We received them from the Spirit. We, that we might know what graciously was given to us, which things we now speak. This is apostolic. Remember in John 14, 26, the Lord said, Now when I go, the Comforter will come and He will teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever I have said. That is not primarily for all believers.

That is not a promise for us. That was spoken to those who would write the New Testament. It was to them that He gave the recall of all that Jesus said. Have you ever wondered how John could sit down and write all the whole gospel of John, 21 chapters, and all through that entire thing record exactly the words of Christ? He could do it because the Holy Spirit brought him to his remembrance. That's that promise there.

Same here. We who have received it, we apostles, we writers, God has given it to us. You remember how?

What was the vehicle? Inspiration. Timothy 3, 16 says that all Scripture is inspired by God, theopneustos, one word, God breathed. God breathed it out into our minds.

We received it. The Bible was not made up by men. It is not the opinion of man. It is not the view of man. It is not the comment of man on certain acts of God. It was received from God a gift brought by the Holy Spirit.

So important. And notice, a freely given or a graciously given one, not earned, just graciously given. Verse 13 follows the thought, which things now we are speaking, not in the words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches.

Stop right there. And Paul says, now when I pass this information on to you, it is not with my words but whose words? The Holy Spirit's words.

Now listen to me, people. I believe that this verse clearly teaches that the very words of the Scripture were given by the Holy Spirit. You get that? That is basic. That is what we call verbal inspiration. Some people say, well, God inspired the general thoughts and they put it in their own words.

That's ridiculous. That denies this verse. And secondly, how could you have a thought without words? We speak not, he says this emphatically, in the words which man's wisdom teaches.

We're not speaking to you in our own words. But words which the Spirit has graciously given us in the revelation of God. You know when those Bible writers sat down, when Paul sat down to write 1 Corinthians, the Spirit of God took control of that man. The Spirit of God went into that guy's brain, pulled out of his brain the words that were in his own vocabulary and out of his own experience and arranged them in the order that he wanted them written, the very words selected by the Holy Spirit but selected from the life and personality of Paul so that they reflected him, nonetheless the words of the Spirit. This is God's word and these are God's words.

Somebody says, why do you get so detailed? You study every verse, every word. Every word came from the mouth of God. You know when Satan was tempting Jesus, he didn't quote Deuteronomy and say, Thou shalt not live by bread alone, but by the general principles of God.

What did he say? Thou shalt not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. God gives words and they wrote words.

That is inspiration. God breathed into their minds the words. All scripture, you know what scripture is, you know what the word means? Writing. All writing is inspired.

Not all the apostles, not all their thoughts, all their writing was inspired. God chose the words. So the revelation comes down, it can't be just a big glob floating out of heaven like Campbell's alphabet soup, it's got to be put together. And so it comes down and it goes into the minds, out the pens, and there it is written in God's words. You say that's it. The Spirit's done. Really?

You think he's done? You know there are lots of people who have a Bible and don't know what's in it? There are all kinds of people who have a Bible and you know what they discover in the Bible? Jesus isn't God.

Have you ever met any of them? Sometimes they knock on your door. There are people who study this Bible and come up with every kind of screwball thing there is. They don't understand what's going on.

You know why? There's a third step the Holy Spirit's got to do, illumination. That's verses 14 to 16. And here the Holy Spirit has to make this thing personal. As you can own a Bible and not understand it. Verse 14 tells us that, the natural man, sukkah kos, the fleshly man, the man who is just human, all he's got is human, he lives in the physical material world, can't know God, can't sense God, can't get out of his little box, receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God. You can hand him a Bible, stick it under his nose, and it doesn't make any difference. Doesn't understand it.

Doesn't know what's going on. To him it's all foolish. He can't know it because it is spiritually evaluated, spiritually appraised, spiritually judged, spiritually discerned. And he is spiritually dead. Psalm 119 18, the psalmist prayed a beautiful prayer, he said, open thou mine eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law. It isn't just that God gave the law, God also has to open the eyes of our understanding. The Spirit has to illuminate the mind. Truth is available, but only those who are illumined will understand that truth.

The natural man, he can't handle it. He's without the Holy Spirit. He may have it in his hand, he's got the revelation, the inspiration, but without illumination it doesn't make any sense. He doesn't have the Holy Spirit. Just like a blind man can't see the sun, he can't see the sun of righteousness. Just like a deaf man can't hear sweet music, he can't appreciate the sweet song of salvation. Martin Luther said, man is like a pillar of salt, like Lot's wife.

He's like a log in a stone. He's like a lifeless statue which uses neither eyes nor mouth, neither senses nor heart unless he is enlightened, converted and regenerated by the Holy Spirit, end quote. He can't know anything, even if he hasn't. The Holy Spirit's got to open it to him.

That's verse 15. But he that is spiritual, he can evaluate all things. He that possesses the Spirit. He that has the resident truth teacher within him. He that has the point of reference in himself. He that has the anointing of 1 John 2, 27 and 28. You have no need for human teachers, you have an anointing in you and he teaches you all things. If you have the Holy Spirit, there is the resident truth teacher and there is the evaluator. And by the Holy Spirit we take the Word of God and he makes it alive and he makes it meaningful.

And this is for all Christians, yes, all Christians. The world doesn't know the truth, the world can't know the truth, you know the truth because the Spirit of God dwells in you and teaches you the truth and makes this book alive. We can't appraise it. We can't evaluate it.

The point of reference is in us. And then he adds a little shot there at the end of verse 15. Yet he himself is judged of no man. We can appraise because we're spiritual but nobody can appraise us.

Have you ever noticed how difficult it is for the world to evaluate Christians? They don't know what we are. Well how can you, who do you think you are?

You think you know everything. Yet there's no way that a natural man can evaluate a spiritual one. He can't know us, hang on, he can't know us any better than he knew Christ. What did they do to Christ? Crucified him. What are they going to do to us?

Much the same. Laugh at us, mock us, call us fools, some places kill us. And the reason, he quotes Isaiah 40, 13 to support his point, verse 16, for who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him, but we have the mind of Christ. Listen, nobody can judge a spiritual man, for to do that would be to judge the Lord himself. Do you see it in that verse?

Fantastic. Who knows the mind of the Lord? We have that mind. They can't figure us out because they couldn't figure him out. Hey, isn't it nice to know that the reason you're confusing is because you have the mind of Christ? Wow, I'm as big a mystery to the world as he was.

That's kind of nice company. I'm glad for that. And what it means, I love this. Who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him? You know what a guy does who comes along and denies the claims of Jesus? He's saying, now God, let me tell you a few things about what I've learned. I want to correct a few misconceptions you've got.

When somebody says to me, you know, you need to understand something. I don't buy that stuff about Christ. I'm going to tell you my opinion. My answer is, oh, well, you're going to tell God now what he should believe.

What do you mean by that? Well, you see, the Lord dwells within me and he's my teacher. So if you want to instruct me, remember, you're instructing the mind of the Lord because I have the mind of Christ.

But they get mad at that. Who do you think you are? Ha ha, hot stuff. You got all the answers. Well, you got to do it lovingly.

But do it. What is he saying here? The whole thing wraps up very beautifully, doesn't it? He's simply saying human reason can't know God. God has to reveal Himself. God has revealed Himself in three steps, by the Holy Spirit, revealed it, inspired it and illuminates it so we can understand it.

And then the point of reference is in us and we know the truth because the Spirit of God is our teacher and dwells within us. Is that exciting? You know, I tell you people, I read an article one time that said the drive to know in the human being is equal to the sex drive and the hunger drive. Isn't that interesting? The drive to know.

Listen, if you want to know that bad, here it is. If you'll commit your life to Jesus Christ, He'll plant within you the resident truth teacher and you'll know the truth and the truth shall make you free. Let's pray. Father, thank You for our time, for the goodness of God that bring us salvation, for the grace that has brought us into relationship with You and given us the truth. We're grateful for the Holy Spirit who lives in us, teaching us.

We thank You. God, we know that even though He is our truth teacher, we can quench that teaching and that instruction. We can grieve that Spirit.

May it not be. May we be submissive, filled, walking in the Spirit, that indeed we might be able to discern all things. We thank You for the privilege of sharing together in Your Word. We ask You to draw to Yourself this hour those who need You so much.

In Christ's name, amen. That's John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary, showing you how to find true and lasting wisdom, the foolishness of God. That's his study here on Grace to You. Well, John, for the past couple of weeks, you've urged listeners to reject the world's wisdom and embrace God's.

And so as we bring this series to a close, talk about how that happens. How do we practically pursue the wisdom of God rather than the wisdom of this world? Yeah, practically pursuing the wisdom of God means that you accept and understand the truth of Scripture.

Wisdom is the application of truth, and the Bible is true. We know that because God is the God of truth. Jesus said He is the truth. He said His Word is truth.

God cannot lie. Everything that God says is true. And if we understand the Word of God accurately, we understand the truth. And the truth is the foundation of all wisdom. Again, wisdom is the application of the truth. The world has no wisdom, because the world that rejects the Word of God is left without the revealed truth that is the foundational answer to everything in life.

So it's hopeless to try to find the truth and apply wisdom in any other than a very superficial way without the Word of God. So I would encourage you, if this series has been helpful to you on the foolishness of God, you might want to get a copy of it that you could listen to again and go over it and share with others. If you would like, The Foolishness of God is available in a four-CD album. Or as with all of our messages and all of our series, you can download them on the Grace to You app,, and you can get those four MP3 files. Now let me encourage you, if you do want the CDs, they are available and you can order a copy today.

That's right. And as you raise your children or serve in your local church or interact with friends and neighbors and co-workers, how do you make sure you're applying God's wisdom to everything that you do and say? This study can help you do that. So download The Foolishness of God or order the CDs today. Every message in John's series, The Foolishness of God, is free to own in audio or transcript format.

Just go to And in fact, all of John's sermons and series are free at our website, including popular studies like The Fulfilled Family or The Believer's Armor and If God's Will is So Important, Why Can't I Find It? Again, to start downloading sermons or to purchase them on CD, go to our website,, or you can call us at 800-55-GRACE. And when you get in touch, make sure to let us know how you're listening, whether it's on your local radio station or online or through the Grace to You app. Of course, we'd also love to hear how John's verse-by-verse teaching has encouraged you. Perhaps you're better equipped to explain the truth of salvation to friends and neighbors after listening to biblical preaching like you heard today. If you have a story like that, email us at letters at, or you can drop a letter in the mailbox to Grace to You, Box 4000, Panorama City, California, 91412. Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson, encouraging you to watch Grace to You television this Sunday, and be here tomorrow for another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace to You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-26 12:36:03 / 2023-04-26 12:48:10 / 12

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