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Deep Things of God

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
July 16, 2021 8:00 am

Deep Things of God

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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July 16, 2021 8:00 am

A church struggles to come to terms with what it means to serve the Lord. But it's not easy. All around are greedy and debauched people. Inevitably some of sinfulness has begun to infiltrate the church. Sound familiar? This scenario is not just our own; the early church of Corinth faced many of the same problems! Dr. Boice's study of 1 Corinthians reveals a striking similarity between own battles and the struggles the early church--today on The Bible Study Hour

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Welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet Ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals featuring the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce for more information please contact us by calling toll-free one 804 88 18 and now the alliance is pleased to present the Bible study our preparing you to think and act biblically number of years ago I did a series of studies on the passages in the Bible where the words but brought her car number very significant passages that use those two words.

Ephesians chapter 2 verse four is one example versus immediately before that talk of our sand in the way we have ruined ourselves by our sin.

Mention the fact that we are under the wrath of God and then in verse four.

Immediately after that word wrath. We read what God God because of the great love he has for us has made us alive in Christ. Other example is in the fifth chapter of Romans there. Paul presents the ultimate of human affection or law fact that for love of a good man someone might even be bold enough to die and then the next verse says but God commands his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us those verses send many others like it. There's a great contrast on one hand you have what is possible to man. And then God. It was the God of the impossible is brought in something like that in first Corinthians 2 world is very proud what it knows what it's able to acquire by way of information and analysis all looks at that his day, but of course his observations apply equally well to our own time and says that for all the acknowledged ability of the human mind to accumulate data so far as spiritual things are concerned there is no true wisdom that flows from it. That's because the things of the spirit have to be spiritually discerned. And because God will not allow land to boast his wisdom. So Paul tells how God has torn down the wisdom of the lives he's made wisdom of this world to be foolishness. Just as he has made the strength of this world to be weakness in the nobility of this world to be nothing, in order that he might glorify that which is nothing.

And Paul speaks of the gospel, which is nothing in the eyes of the world, but which is the wisdom of God and the salvation at that point I was previous verses dealt mostly with the foolishness of this world's wisdom and in using world's terminology, the foolishness of the gospel. Paul wants to show and that's what these next verses knew that back foolishness of the gospel that is foolish in the eyes of the world is actually wisdom. Furthermore, it concerns the deep things of reality which God imparts to us by means of his Holy Spirit.

That's where these words but God command you find them in verse 10 of our passage versus before that verses six through nine speak of human limitations. What we are unable to do so far as the perception of spiritual things is concerned that at that point, verse 10, Paul writes what God has revealed to us by his Spirit.

This portion of first Corinthians is one of the great sections of the word of God and the doctrine of Revelation. This is the word that he uses their God has revealed it and that verse plus the verses that surround it knows no before and show the limitations in those that come after that show the means are great analysis of what God is done to make himself and the gospel known to fallen men and women who, apart from his Revelation would live and die and perish in our ignorance of that which alone would be their life and salvation.

So when we look at that and go through it section by section, we really have what is a theological logical theological presentation of these great doctrines first doctrine is that of general revelation. This is what's involved when Paul is saying that the rulers of this age didn't understand God's secret wisdom.

This means that it was there that they had heard the gospel preached to them that there is a revelation of God in nature, which they didn't perceive because of course if they had they had perceived that they would've been expecting God to reveal himself in a personal way and when the Lord Jesus Christ came, I would've said yes this is the body is in conformity with what God is revealed about himself in nature and they would've followed them. Instead, says Paul.

They crucified the Lord of glory.

When Paul begins to talk along these lines, he is presupposing what he develops at much greater length in the book of Romans, namely, that doctrine of the general revelation of God in nature, which holds all men accountable low. In point of fact, no one, unless he or she is unaided by the Holy Spirit ever comes to God, and that basis now in Romans one, verses 18 through 20.

Paul has a very perceptive analysis of what God has done in nature.

Paul says in those verses that God is revealed his eternal power and God is revealed as Godhead is to say, the fact that there is a God and that is an all-powerful God to terms go together philosophically. That means that there is a supreme being. God is made that known in nature, but says Paul men and women in their sin don't like the fact that a God of that description exists. They'd be glad to have a God if he was a limited.

God, that is not sovereign, not all-powerful, they would be glad to have a God. If God would be given the name God would naturally be God.

That is one who is our creator and who we owe allegiance some popular religions have a God that water down to the level that we can accept the kind of God reveals himself in nature. The kind of God was all-powerful and who is God, and who is our creator and who demands our allegiance is a very kind of God we don't want. Consequently, men and women.

As Paul says in that paragraph of Romans suppress the truth about God hold down deny its existence, because of course if they acknowledged that they would have to recognize that they were creatures of worship.

And that's the one thing they don't want to do because of that, says Paul in Romans one the wrath of God is poured out from heaven against all who act on those principles and that includes all men and women that's the background for what Paul is saying here Paul is talking about general revelation that he's talking about the suppression of that knowledge of God in nature and the result of that is what he says when he quotes from the Old Testament. No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him. Is that because there is nothing there to be seen always there to be saying we have eyes to see. We just don't see it is that because we ask. There is nothing there to be heart is God not spoken although we have ears to hear, but you don't hear that because the gospel is so foolish it can't be understood by the operation of the human mind all the gospel is perfectly rational. It's the great wisdom of God. That's what makes sense of everything. But all that we have minds. We don't put them to that pass so is perfectly true.

As he says that if men and women were left by God to general revelation, no one would be saved because no I would see no ear would hear no mind would conceive. Indeed, they do not conceive this wonderful glorious message of the gospel.

I was speaking last Sunday evening when we were talking about the foolishness of this world's wisdom about that series.

It's been on public television called Cosmos where Carl Sagan looks at the wonders of our creation. All of the glories of the universe.

The distant planets the quasars the deep black holes in all of those things that stands there marveling at the universe but cannot see one I was responsible for this probably no greater contemporary example of what Paul says here in Romans one. What he says also in first Corinthians 1 about the blindness of the human eye where general revelation is concerned, I would say that it's not merely the fact of the immensity of the universe a lot of coyness to a God great enough to create and to whom we owe allegiance bonus even the smallest detail of the universe. A lot of leaders allegiance to such a God that would be enough evidence of the fingerprint enough evidence in the petal of a flower enough evidence in the snowflake delete. Anyone who could think clearly recognize the divine, supreme being who lies behind it and place upon that individual. The obligation to seek that got out yet though we have eyes in our natural state like Carl Sagan. We cannot see or talk that himself.

In the parable. Parable of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man being in hell, said Lord send Lazarus back to my brothers so they'll believe when they see someone who has risen from the dead and Jesus replied by way of the parable speaking through Abraham in the context of the story. No, no, I won't believe, even if one rises from the dead, they have Moses and the prophets, and that they won't believe the word I won't believe even though they see a miracle.

And this is what Paul said. The second thing that God does. Therefore, in this process of making himself known sinful fallen men and women is to reveal himself in special ways. This is why theologians speak not merely in general revelation which means the revelation of God in nature but of special revelation to say they revelation that God gives with in the warp and Wolf of history and the cosmos. JI Packer writes on this in several places and he says the special revelation of God is three parts. First of all, this revelation, history, because God intervenes in history to do certain things.

History is not merely the outworking of human desires and passion. It is not, but it is also at specific points. The direct result of the outworking of God, so God intervenes in history intervenes to call Abraham out of the Chaldeans and establish him as a special person and through him to create a special people through whom God's going to work. God intervenes to protect the Jewish people and delete them out of Egypt at the time of the Exodus and establish some of their land to protect them and keep them and eventually God acts in history to send the Lord Jesus Christ to be our Savior. The lived guide to rise again from the dead and God sends the Holy Spirit in history and he establishes the Christian church and there's a sense in which all of that is special revelation and since Packer, God also reveals himself specially by writing it is by the Scriptures, not merely that God acted in certain historical events you what I would see those events and say my those are unusual events, we wouldn't understand what they're about. So the same time God acts in history, God acts through his holy prophets and apostles as a result they produce what we know as the word of God, the Bible, the Old Testament, the New Testament composed of many parts and through that God explains what it is that he's doing in history. Explain what he was doing when he called Abraham explains what he was doing with the Jewish people and the significance of the Exodus from Egypt explains what the coming of Jesus Christ. What is life what is death. What is resurrection met and what he is doing in establishing the church. Mrs. Packard in the 3rd Pl., God reveals himself in special ways in history and in writing. Also speaks to the individual mind and heart and what you really call in theology illumination so that we begin as we read understand what it is. God is done interesting thing however is that apart from the work of God's Holy Spirit in our heart. None of us understand that writing we look at the revelation of God in nature and we say we can see it. That is true, we camp apart from God's illumination. We look at the written word of God is given we say well we can't understand it and that is true. Apart from God's written revelation.

I suppose that that's what Paul has in mind when he spells it out saying no ISC, no ear is heard no mind and see what God is prepared for those who love them.

Some years ago I received a letter from a pastor out in Western Canada was asking a number of questions about what he perceived to be contradictions in the pages of the word of God. I couldn't tell from his sweater weather this was a genuine question or not, whether he was one of those people already has his mind up was giving in the form of questions. The reason why wouldn't believe that the Bible is the word of God.

I took his question seriously and I answered at some length. I remember he had a number of questions. One of them had to do with the time that elapsed between the resurrection of Jesus Christ and his ascension into heaven as pastor pointed out that two of the Gospels, Matthew and John don't even mention the ascension that's true, they don't. He thought I was a problem but I can see why there's lots of things they don't mention in any pointed out that didn't his opinion there was a contradiction between Mark and Luke on the one hand, the book of acts. On the other, because as he said Mark and Luke seem to imply that Jesus ascended to heaven immediately after his resurrection. The most after one or two days and access quite clearly that it was 40 days later that Jesus ascended into heaven, he said there's a great contradiction. You can get around that no matter what you do. I looked at the passages studied them a little bit back to him I sent you know if you just read these passages with the assumption that the writers really didn't know what they were talking about and read them carefully, you will find that there's no real contradiction there, I said, for example, at the end of Mark's gospel we doesn't spell out days the same way that the author of acts does but there are three indications of air in the very last chapter that there's a certain passage of time, three times over. Mark says after these things after this. After a little while three times just that one chapter that's obviously a greater passing of time in three days. Why should we assume that Mark knows what he's talking about is just not being as detailed in his presentation as Lucas in the book of acts. I said moreover, it would be a very strange thing. Would it not Luke, who wrote the gospel of Luke wrote the act being the same person contradicted himself from one book to the other. We would read in human author and we would given the benefit of the doubt situation like that.

I said you have to do the same sort of thing here so I gave a very careful answer another question he had had to do with the thieves that were crucified along with the Lord Jesus Christ. One of the Gospels says that there were two thieves. They were both cursing them in one of the other Gospels says one thief was cursing and the other thief goes on to tell how that other thief believed call out on Christ to save them. I said well I really isn't terribly difficult understand most of the commentators down through the whole history of the Christian church. So my suppose, quite rightly, that both thieves began by cursing one. During the time of the crucifixion was won over by the patient endurance of Jesus Christ converted on the spot had a change of nature and turn to Jesus and said, Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom and seem to be any kind of difficulty to me at all any rate, I wrote that.

He wrote back and said he found that unacceptable. So I just put it down as an exercise in futility and went on answer.

I suppose several hundred other letters of that same nature the government over the past six years. Well reason I tell this story is not to give all that detail that you need it in order to understand the story but to say this past fall months of September and October. I was doing a series on Scripture what it is how we received it. I we understand such things, and I was on one of these Fridays to give an address on dealing with Bible difficulties. Now I've given that another place and send one of the illustrations I had dealing with Bible difficulties is to quote this man from out in Western Canada and say you say it's not really a question of overwhelming difficulties is really a question of how you approach the word of God, will you give it the benefit of the doubt we try to understand it, or will you come to a first of all, of the frame of mind. This is very difficult I was to give that particular address beginning with epic particular illustration on this Friday afternoon at the luncheon at 12 o'clock and just before I went down there. I came out of my office and I went down the front of the church and I looked in my mailbox to find what mail arrived that morning and when I look through it on the wall there was a letter from this man out in Western Canada. I recognize his writing. I'd recognize it anywhere and I'm I thought is uninteresting, talk about this man and there's a letter from him. I wonder what he said make a good illustration of the man's been converted at this time so I I am I I opened the letter and it out of my surprise when I found in that letter was an objection to the doctrine of inspiration. Raising precisely the same questions in the same words that I have answered five or six before I was very tempted to take the two letters and put them over one another and hold them up to the light to see if the manager treats them a forgotten but even asked me the questions those years before because he answers made so little impression on and they simply drifted in and drifted out so we have a doctrine of general revelation here which no one sees.

We have a doctrine of special revelation which no ear hears her mind conceives what is the problem of the problem you say is that we lack the Holy Spirit by which such things are understood when you begin to talk about God's process of revelation. What you come to next steps of God's dealings with fallen human beings is regeneration by which God takes one who is spiritually dead by means of the Holy Spirit makes them spiritually alive on the basis of which, when the word is preached, he now hears and understands that when the revelation of God is spread out in nature. He now sees and comprehends the God is the author of it all. You say that point. Well that's perhaps all we need.

And of course that's a very important thing when Nicodemus came to Jesus by night, wanted to discuss things beginning with an analysis of who we perceive Christ to be in his miracles, and the fact that authenticated Jesus as it teacher come from God. The first thing Jesus said to him was bought, as we might well Nicodemus that's pretty good to come a long way certainly have a keen mind that's a good point at which we can begin our conversation would start there and go on Jesus and nothing of the sort. Any McGinley that he said instead. Anything you must be born again. All of the wisdom that Nicodemus had any was undoubtedly a very wise man, humanly speaking, all the knowledge that Nicodemus added he was undoubtedly a very knowledgeable man whom, instantly speaking certainly do the Scriptures. All that was of no avail.

Unless he was born again. Of course when were born again. Then the spirit was inspired. The word originally down speaks to us as we study the word personally gives us one in theology is called illumination.

We begin to see the great things that God has prepared for those 11.

I want you to see about this passage. However, is how Paul stresses throughout that the basis of all that communication, the basis on which regeneration takes place and the point at which we have illumination by the Spirit is nevertheless the word of God Scriptures of the old and new Testaments. This is the way you have to understand that plural pronoun we as it occurs throughout the passing when Paul says in verse six we do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the majority speaking as an apostle of Jesus Christ is one of the prophets and the apostles. It's not we, meaning you and me who speak it is we the apostles received the revelation. This is emphasized again and again in verse seven. Note we speak God's secret wisdom, the wisdom that has been hidden, but now God is made known to us.

You see, firsthand, God is revealed to us by his Spirit, and so on. You find that the whole way through becomes very clear. Incidentally, when we get to chapter 4 because here the apostle Paul spells this out in detail so that men ought to regard us as servants of Jesus Christ and his those entrusted with the secret things of God. He speaking about the apostles at that point, and it's the same reference that he has here in chapter 3 when you understand that you understand that this is a great claimed inspiration is probably the greatest claimant of the word of God revelation, except for the phrase that you find throughout Scripture, thus saith the Lord, thus saith the Lord somebody said you find that perhaps 2000 time.

Verse 13 you say this is what we speak. Now we the apostles. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom, but in words taught by spirit expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words mean spiritual truths in spiritual words is it mean mystical frozen mystical words as a reference to the Holy Spirit truths that the Holy Spirit teaches, expressed in words given by the Holy Spirit. And that's a great claimed you see inspiration. I find it interesting that when the Lord Jesus Christ was with his disciples following the resurrection they were unbelieving, as they all were. He began to teach them from the Scriptures concerning himself. Great example of that is Christ's appearance to the Emmaus disciples says they were going home following the resurrection you find the 24th chapter of Luke. These disciples a bit in Jerusalem. They had followed all of the details of that final week in Christ's earthly life is a restless crucifixion then then because they were still in Jerusalem due to the Sabbath. They were there on the morning of the resurrection and the even heard the report of the women came back from the truly told him that when he asked why they were non-Catholics claimed all these things I said while this morning over these women were part of our number they been to the tomb and they came back they said the body wasn't. There were angels, and angels that he was risen from the dead, but they did understand they didn't believe that all you see an unregenerate state, all I see is no ear hears mine doesn't conceives spiritual things. Even though the evidence is right there in front of them and so they just packed up their things when and that was when they were in that state of mind oppressed of course happy about it there very sad, but unbelieving Jesus near to them along the way. Now if you were writing the story you say that point, I think I was writing the story, I'd say hey guys, I have been a man and his wife.

I don't know but hi there, I might say luck, it's me, makes a go and he say why be Jesus, they'd say you're kidding he'd say no. It's me look my hands as the holes were. I was crucified. Look my side is where the spirit was thrust in deed, overcome them with the evidence of his physical presence with me.

What better evidence that there may not send Lazarus back to convince the brothers that they might not end up in the place of torment hears Jesus in the flesh, risen from the dead. Jesus into anything of the sort. When we read in the story Jesus went to the Scriptures, beginning with Moses all the prophets, he explains to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself and you know what happened. That's what gave them understanding. That's what convinced him and that's what made them witnesses for him throughout all the remainder of their lives afterwards. I talked about it.

They said all when he was with us what he did all it was just a marvelous thing. First of all, he opened the Scriptures and then as he opened the Scriptures to as our eyes were open. Seriously, Paul says, eyes don't say but I said our eyes were opened we saw when he opened the Scriptures and finally as it says later on in the same chapter with their eyes opened in the open book before them, studying it, he began to open their minds so they could understand all the things that were written there.

Concerning himself is he first Corinthians was written to a group of people who were still very much a part of the culture in which they lived in the Greeks valued wisdom, and they wanted to be wise, they were seeking wisdom in the wrong way and the wrong way was producing all kinds of problems, including divisions which is going to talk about later on in the book Paul would say to these people that he would say to us today.

You want to be wise you want to be wise sets of very good ambition. How are you going to be wise going to find wisdom in the world's why all you seek it that way, you'll be thought wise by the world you be spiritually foolish. Are you going to seek wisdom in God's way you want to seek wisdom and God's way and this is where you find it in this book is God, the Holy Spirit takes it and explains it to you and shows you how all these things relate to Jesus Christ, and who is hidden all the fullness of the knowledge of God by God gives grace to study this book and grow wise spiritually. Let us pray our father, we confess that even when we look at this book we feel foolish and of course we are. We don't have the ability to understand we read it didn't. It's with DMI's we listen, and it's with ears hard of hearing. When you are here on earth you were the one who open the eyes of the blind and he holds the death and gave understanding to the ignorance and that's what we would have you do with us. Father, we don't want to seek wisdom in the world's way. Though we would know what there is to be known that we would seek wisdom from this book to speak to us to open our eyes to give us ears can hear and teach us lead us in the way that we should go for Jesus. You are listening to Bible study hour with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview.

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