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The Wisdom of God

The Voice of Sovereign Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
October 18, 2021 2:00 am

The Wisdom of God

The Voice of Sovereign Grace / Doug Agnew

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October 18, 2021 2:00 am

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Please turn with me if you want to first Corinthians chapter 2 we look at verses six through 16. As we continue our way through this New Testament letter first Corinthians chapter 2 beginning at verse six. Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age were doomed to pass away, but we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God which God decreed before the ages for our glory.

None of the rulers of this age understood this.

For if they had they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, or the heart of man imagined what God has prepared for those who love him these things God has revealed to us through the spirit, the spirit searches everything, even the depths of 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 that we have received not the spirit of the world, the spirit was from God that we might understand the things freely given us by God, and we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom, but taught by the Spirit interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual 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. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one or who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him, but we have the mind of Christ.

Spray Holy Spirit, we ask you to do what we have just finished reading in Scripture, we ask you to reveal to us what can only be seen and understood with the spirit and by the spirit. Would you illuminate our minds. Would you give us the discernment we need to grasp the wisdom of the word of God, a wisdom that is intended for our glory you have said or this text was inspired and preserved in order to address the specifics and tendency in fallen hearts of helpless night to to see if and where that tenancy resides in our own hearts and were necessary. Lord, you grant us the grace to repent and return to you. Thank you for your word nourishes now through it. I pray in Jesus name, amen. Be seated before we jump into tonight's text, let's zoom out just a little bit and remind ourselves of the larger context is been a couple of weeks since we been in first Corinthians. You remember that Paul is addressing a particular problem among the Corinthian church. The problem manifested itself in a in a divisive schismatic attitude.

It was permeating the congregation as they declared their allegiance to various leaders.

Some said I am of Paul others that I'm of a policy I must seek the sign of Christ and this disunity this party spirit was evidently springing up from a love for lofty words, lofty speech plausible words.

They love the wisdom of man and it was tearing the Corinthian church apart. What makes a person love these things. What what makes things like persuasive argumentation and well articulated rationale so appealing to us. One large barley.

We love these things because they're good things that they're part of God's image and man God himself is rational.

He is well spoken, his truth is persuasive because it's true.

And because he reveals it so well. I think our love for well reasoned, well communicated ideas is not inherently evil or idolatrous. It is simply a part of who we are as image bearers of our creator where the Corinthians messed up, however, was not in loving wisdom, but in loving human wisdom. It wasn't an appreciating speech, but in appreciating lofty speech. Their love of words wasn't wicked. It was their love of possibility and credibility that made their love of words suspect their sinew season adjectives not in the nouns. Wisdom is the problem.

It's human wisdom when it is pitted against heavenly wisdom that is problematic. So in our text tonight.

Paul wants to make sure the Corinthians. Understand that there is a heavenly godly wisdom that ought to be desired ought to be pursued just because the world considers the preaching of the cross a bunch of foolishness doesn't mean that it is a bunch of foolishness. The preaching of the cross, the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The truth of God's word is wisdom. But it is wisdom of another sort. It's a wisdom that the world cannot see the world cannot appreciate, but it is wisdom. Nonetheless, the thing about idols is they not only cause us to transfer something more than we ought. Idols cause us to treasure something less than we are idols, cause us to miss the true treasure idolatry makes us so preoccupied with the little G gods that we forget about the big G God apologist spent the better part of chapter 1 in the beginning of chapter 2 making the point that God chooses the foolish things to confound the wise and so here in chapter 2 he wants to balance the scales and make sure everyone understands that just because the world with its little G gods thinks the gospel is foolish.

It isn't foolish. God's wisdom is wisdom of another sort from another place with a different purpose and because of these differences.

The world simply cannot grasp it. If this wisdom from above is to be grasped, it must be revealed by the Holy Spirit, and it must be received spiritually. So this consider for a few moments tonight. The wisdom of God in light of its distinction from the wisdom of the world. First, we see that God's wisdom is hidden God's wisdom is hidden in a fallen world. It's easy to miss. In fact, Paul's point in chapter 1 is that the wisest people in the world are often the most likely to miss God's wisdom. How can that be, well, it's hidden because it's of a different sort in the world's wisdom the questions that God's wisdom answers are the questions that smart sinners are asking or dumb sinners, for that matter also is in verse six.

Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age is of a different sort. It doesn't answer the questions that world things are asking isn't played by their rules. Like when you're expecting sweet tea or Coke in your cop and you take a big coal gulp and discover that it's water it's jolting because it is what you expected. It isn't what your mouth was ready for. And so you cringe with shock. Perhaps disappointment is not that there's anything wrong with water. It's just that's not what you were expecting is that we were looking for. World isn't looking for the nourishment of God's wisdom in looking for the gratification of human wisdom, and so they miss it. They see the word of life as mere foolishness because they are looking for wisdom of a different sort.

Not only is God's wisdom hidden because it's of a different sort than the world's wisdom it's hidden because it's from a different source than the world's wisdom also is in verse six is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age who are doomed to pass away, but we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God which God decreed before the agents we see from verse eight that when Paul mentions the rulers of this age he has in mind, those who crucified Jesus Christ the religious and political leaders are responsible for releasing Barabbas and executing Christ to them. This same like a wise thing to do.

It was expedient. It was pragmatic it was wisdom of this age and of the rulers of this age but notice the contrast Paul makes the hidden wisdom of the gospel comes from God, not the rulers of this age, the different source.

Furthermore, God decreed his wisdom before the ages, which implies that God is eternal. He has no beginning and has no and while the rulers of this age are not eternal. Also is there doomed to pass away, so human wisdom comes from a source that has an expiration date. While God's wisdom comes from an eternal soul eternal source that will never pass away in which in fact has always been God's wisdom was decreed to be wise before the ages ever began. It predates expediency and pragmatism. It predates the necessity of a historical context because it comes from another source and eternal source a divine source and so the temporal little our rulers can't grasp heaven's wisdom because that wisdom comes from the eternal ruler with the R to different source.

Finally, God's wisdom is hidden because it's for a different purpose than the world's wisdom while the rulers of this age, make expedient decisions in order to solve immediate problems.

God's wisdom. Verse seven is for our glory. These eternal decrees that God has made our intended to lift sinners out of the muck of sin put them securely in a right standing with a holy God. It isn't aimed at fixing immediate temporal problems, but rather with fixing eternal spiritual problems. God's wisdom is in seeking to maintain peace for tomorrow and seeking to maintain peace forever also has a verse eight. Have the rulers of this age understood this would never have crucified the Lord of glory wisdom of the gospel is wisdom of a different sort than the world's because it comes from a different source on eternal source because it is in pursuit of a different purpose, spiritual purpose. Because of this it is lost on those whose influence and interests are limited to the here and now God's wisdom is hidden to them. This brings us then to the second point.

If God's wisdom is hidden in God's wisdom must be revealed if it is ever to be known it must be revealed it. It can be discovered because it's not something that simple man is naturally inclined to even look for. It's not as if we can just figure it out. If we try hard enough.

Our natural state is such that were looking in all the wrong places for all the wrong things. If we are to discover the wisdom of God the, the word of truth that makes an eternal and spiritual difference in our lives that it must be revealed to us from something or someone outside of us got good news. Turns out that wisdom is revealed to us.

Verse nine 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.

In other words, that that hidden wisdom that is lost on simple man these things God has revealed to us through the spirit something from outside of us has broken through to us and revealed to us what we could never have known on our own. Now before we look at what exactly has been revealed to us from the outside. Notice who it is that's doing the revealing it's none other than the very spirit of God himself, and that is incredible folks because there is no more authoritative source of knowledge and truth about a person than the spirit of a person since since I started preaching just a few minutes ago. I've had dozens of fleeting thoughts that have gone through my mind, and you have no idea what those thoughts are, you've had dozens of thoughts go through your mind, and I don't have a clue what you're thinking or feeling. Why, because I'm not in your mind you're not in my minds only the spirit of the person that hidden inner part of the self knows the thoughts of that person and if we can't even know each other's thoughts. We were visibly in the same room with each other.

How can we even begin to know the thoughts in the mind and the will of God who is invisible and transcendent and omniscient and all wise. We can only comprehend the thoughts of God. If his spirit reveals them to its and indeed he has verse 12 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's Spirit of God has revealed the mind of God to us and to what purpose so that we might understand the things freely given to us by God. Now there are any number of things that have been given to us by God he's given us existence. He's given us his image. He's made us cognizant creatures who can think and speak and feel and make decisions he's given us a capacity for joy and sorrow for pleasure and pain he's put us in families give us food to even close to where he's given us our senses the ability to see inherent taste and smell and touch the Paul has in mind a specific free gift from God.

He alludes to it in verse eight, when he mentions the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, eluded to the back.

In verse two of chapter 2 when he mentioned Jesus Christ and him crucified this knowledge. This understanding that is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit is none other than the good news that in Jesus Christ we have been freely given a right standing before God is transcendent wisdom outside of us that is given to us that it cannot be known.

Apart from it being revealed is the knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul says it has been revealed so that we can understand. Furthermore, it is the spirit of God himself who has done the revealing. So not only can we understand folks we can trust that this revelation is true and accurate God's thoughts. God's truth. God's wisdom has been revealed to us by the Holy Spirit for our understanding of the notice, the means by which this revelation occurs God's wisdom is revealed through words verse 13 and we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom, but taught by the Spirit interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual now wants to just park here for a moment or two and think about what Paul is saying in verse 13 is a is very important that we get this truth is this is a truth that needs to be acknowledged and insisted upon Metro truth is that God's spirit reveals God's wisdom by using words we say it again, God's spirit reveals God's wisdom by using words as I study this passage. This last week I really struggled with trying to understand what is the objective of this text for us today in 2021, and I think the reason this was such a struggle for me as I studied is it that the tendency that the imbalance that Paul was addressing at Corinth isn't necessarily our tendency in. In this postmodern cultural context in which we find ourselves. Frankly, I don't know of too many people who are enamored with lofty speech and well reasoned rhetoric that's not our bent culturally are ours is a culture.

It seems of anti-intellectualism and not not hyper intellectualism seems that the evangelical waters in which we swim are more akin to the sign loving Jews that we thought about last time then the, the wisdom loving Greeks. But I realize that what this means is that while our natural inclination may be the exact opposite of the Corinthians inclinations. We share the same temptation that I idolize our own version of wisdom and pitted against God's wisdom is what we have in common with Corinth, we share the same tendency to put what we think make something valid or credible or true over and above what God says is valid and credible and true. The Corinthians that may have been a very heady academic articulate rationalism for us. It may be more experiential emotive sensationalism.

Either way, the tendency of putting my measuring stick of truth and reality above God's measuring stick of truth and reality is always dangerously misleading and destructive. The question is how we know truth.

How do we know that what we know is, as Francis Schaeffer put it, true truth. The Corinthian would answer that question by saying will we know truth because that's what Mr. so-and-so says in Mr. so-and-so certainly knows what he is talking about. He's famous. He's smart. He's peer-reviewed. The modern-day evangelical might answer the question like this. I know what is true, deep down inside of me. I can feel that it is true. Might my life.

My experience all verify that my truth is real and truth be told everyone of us in this room probably would fall in a different place on that continuum from from Corinthian rationalism over here took modern-day empiricism over here and all points in between and how do we know truth that asked the question on Paul's terms. How does the Holy Spirit reveal the mind of God to us church.

He reveals the truth to us in words. Could God have picked a more lackluster means of imparting his heavenly wisdom, his truth to us. He could've required us to embark on a journey to the other side of the world and climb an impossible mountain to find a Guru who would speak to us.

He could've spoken to us mystically and subjectively in dreams and visions that no one else could see or know about or verify the could've hidden his truth in the deep recesses of human intellect manning that we master the arts and sciences and become scholars before we can know anything about God's truth, but instead, God chose to reveal the eternal life changing truth of the gospel through the words of 12 obscure men in the world.

It first overlooked and then despised and then killed those words, the apostles, along with the words of Moses and the prophets, God preserved in written form so that every generation that would come after, including our own could read and understand the things freely given to us by God. That's the wisdom of God. And it's a wisdom that stands above every process of proof every measure of credibility. Every attempt at verification that man in his spiritual blindness can come up only had one more thought very briefly before we move on. If God has chosen to reveal his wisdom and words and he has and if God is the creator of words and language which which means that language just like the laws of physics works according to God's design because he's the inventor he's the creator of it and and they do, then we can expect that God's inspired words work the same way that ordinary words work.

I'm not saying that Scripture is ordinary. I'm saying that the sentences and paragraphs in the Bible function like ordinary sentences and paragraphs function. God's wisdom is not hidden in the Bible beneath some sort of secret code or esoteric knowledge it's hidden.

This is due to the fact that man doesn't want it to be true, not because the words themselves are somehow complicated or because the meaning is as mystical or allegorical. If you bypass the ordinary rules of language you can make the Bible say just about anything you wanted to say.

But God uses ordinary words to convey an extraordinary message so extraordinary. In fact, that apart from the Holy Spirit, enabling sinners will not and cannot accept it as true, it must be revealed as brings us to the third and final point is this God's wisdom must be received.

We see this in verses 14 through 16. First, we notice that the natural person will not and cannot receive God's wisdom. Verse 14 says the natural person does not accept or receive the things of the spirit of God for their folly to him and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. So the natural person here is the person who pursues knowledge and truth by merely rational or empirical means. Again, there's nothing wrong with intellectual reasoning or or sense experience. But if those are your only sources of knowledge, there are certain truths you will never know because they cannot be known through natural means.

Truths that are unobservable with the naked eye experiences that are unverifiable with the senses, and so the natural man very rationally rejects transcendent truths not because his reasoning is necessarily flawed, but because his reasoning is incomplete. He believes in the ocean from the coast to the horizon, but he will not accept the existence of the Mariana trench because he can't see it and can't swim in it then contrasted to the natural person is the spiritual person is the person who has been given eyes to see transcendent truth has been revealed to him, not by rationalistic or empirical means, but by the Holy Spirit, and so the spiritual person does receive God's wisdom because he has been given the mind of Christ. Verse 15 the spiritual person judges or discerns, examines all things, but is himself to be judged by no one who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him, but we have the mind of Christ. Paul says that the spiritual person, or we could say that the person who has received the Holy Spirit is able to do something that in the natural person of verse 14 cannot do the spiritual person is able to judge all things and that word judge is often translated in Scripture as discerned or examined, that the spiritual person has a capacity to know the truth about certain things at them natural man doesn't have a because the spiritual man is smarter or better educated vans have her old country preacher said you don't have to be in Who's Who to know what's what is in an intellectual quality that Paul is describing know it's a spiritual capacity of a receptivity that has been awakened by the Holy Spirit, and it enables the spiritually awake in person to understand the gospel and to accept its truth. Folks, this is true. Woke this because it's an awakening that is given by the spirit of God, not the spirit of this age. It's an awakening that is informed by the word of God not by the passing fads of culture and it's an awakening that leads to a godly discerning of all things Paul says both natural and spiritual things, not a dis-missing of transcendent things.

In fact so radical is this awakening that the natural person. Paul says in verse 15 cannot judge cannot discern the wisdom that the spiritual person is exhibiting it's it's foreign to them so foreign fact that it appears to him to be mere foolishness when in actuality it's the very mind of Christ on display brothers and sisters, we have been given an incredible treasure to us has been given the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. There coupled implications that we can infer from this. First of all, if we have the mind of Christ. It means that God has befriended us you have the mind of Christ. God has befriended you mean that to sound trite or simplistic, but God has made us his friends. He didn't have to do that nothing obligated him to do that. In fact, there are countless souls that he never befriends the fact that we have been given this incredible treasure.

This revealed wisdom from heaven means that Jesus Christ counts us among his friends. Jesus said as much in John 1515 he said, no longer do I call you servants for the servant does not know what his master is doing, but I have called you friends and what is the proof of that friendship for all that I have heard from my father I have made known, revealed to you very fact that this hidden wisdom has been revealed to us and that we have been enabled by the Holy Spirit to receive it means that God is for us.

He causes his friends. But there's another implication. If we have the mind of Christ.

Not only do we have the incredible privilege of being counted among the friends of God.

We also bear an incredible responsibility to wall. According to that wisdom. We are privileged people. Jesus said to whom much is given, and we have been given the mind of Christ, to whom much is given, much will be required. James said whoever knows the right thing to do and we have been given that knowledge. Whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it for him it is sin church to us has been given the wisdom of God. So we have a heightened responsibility before God, to receive and believe and obey that wisdom, no warning that our text tonight is giving us is that there resides in us a constant temptation to dismiss or downplay or devalue that wisdom from God in order to maintain some semblance of respectability or say face or to appear credible to all the intellectuals and experts and and PhD's of the world who deny what they cannot see. We need to be on guard against the tendency to value their wisdom more than we value God's was a real danger in Corinth.

It's a real danger in Harrisburg as we close tonight, how we do that how do we give the wisdom of God its proper due. While it's not really complicated is it God's wisdom is delivered to us in words we need to read those words we need to study those words we need to understand what they mean and if we can only understand what they mean, the Holy Spirit, teaching us what they mean. And as we read as we study as we meditate on those words, we need to be praying that God's Spirit would give us the understanding we lack JI Packer gave a wise clarification of this doctrine we call the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit.

He said the work of the Spirit in imparting this knowledge is not a giving of new revelation, but I work with in us that enables us to grasp and to love the revelation that is there before us in the biblical text as it is heard and read what someone we pray for the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to see wonderful things from God's word were not praying for some mystical understanding of the text to be granted to us were praying that God would enable us to know what Scripture means to understand how Scripture applies to our lives and to have a heart that wants to believe and obey what it says.

That's what were praying for were asking for the Holy Spirit to illuminate the word of God. So I think the final step to this process of hearing the word and praying for understanding of the word must be a commitment to believe and obey what the word says will see in the next several verses in first Corinthians at the church at Corinth was failing miserably at obeying the word of God. We ought not be like we don't hear the word of God in order to become more theologically astute we hear the word of God in order to be transformed by the retooled and and recalibrated by this means we subject every facet of our lives to what Scripture says we are to do that begrudgingly, but eagerly and earnestly and gladly are you hearing the word of God, are you listening to what Scripture says, are you prayerfully hearing the word of God.

Are you prayerfully hearing the word of God and then believing and obeying what it says because that's how we avail ourselves of the wisdom that only God can give. That's how we avoid the world's foolishness and begin to walk according to the mind of Christ (Holy Spirit thank you that that you are real, we confess our confidence in you and our confidence in your ability to break through our fix goals and overcome our stubborn wills and guide us into all truth was. You make us wise unto salvation was you inoculate us against that Adamic tendency in us to to love credibility before man more than we love obedience before our God or Jesus you have sent the Holy Spirit to help us walk alongside of us as we await your return.

We we thank you for the gift of your spirit tremendously overlooked treasure we have in him would you fill us with that spirit that we might think. According to your thoughts and walk according to your ways. We prayed all in Jesus name a man

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