Saturday, February 04, 2023

2023.02.04 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Corinthians 2

Read 1 Corinthians 2

Questions from the Scripture text: How did Paul not come to them (1 Corinthians 2:1)? What did he come declaring instead? What was he determined not know (1 Corinthians 2:2)? What, alone, was he determined to know? What about Christ did he emphasize? How did Paul present himself before them in 1 Corinthians 2:3? What did his preaching appear to be missing, to some (1 Corinthians 2:4)? But with what did that preaching come? What did this keep them from putting their faith in (1 Corinthians 2:5a)? What did it ensure that they would put their faith in (verse 5b)? What kind of wisdom do Paul and his partners not speak (1 Corinthians 2:6)? To what are the rulers of this age coming? Whose wisdom does Paul speak (1 Corinthians 2:7)? When had God ordained it? For what purpose? How many of the rulers of that age knew that wisdom (1 Corinthians 2:8)? What wouldn’t they have done if they had known it? What hadn’t man’s eye seen, ear heard, or heart considered (1 Corinthians 2:9)? Through what (Whom!) has God revealed them (1 Corinthians 2:10)? From where, alone, can come the knowledge of the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:11)? So, whom must believers receive if they are to know the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:12)? So, what wisdom does Paul speak (1 Corinthians 2:13)? For what kind of people? What kind of person cannot receive them (1 Corinthians 2:14)? Why not? How are they discerned? But who has the resources to judge all things (1 Corinthians 2:15)? What is the expected answer to the question, “who has known the mind of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 2:16)? What is the surprising actual answer at the end of that verse? 

With what did the apostle come to the Corinthians? 1 Corinthians 2 looks forward to the morning sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these sixteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that what the apostle brought to Corinth was not the wisdom of men but the power and wisdom of God brought by the life of God Himself. 

(1 Corinthians 2:1-5). What do we put our faith in, and what do we lead others to put faith in? Praise God for faithful churches, and praise God for faithful ministers. But, our passage leaves us with the clear message that if people come away from us thinking, “what a great church!” or “what a great minister!” then we have not truly achieved our aim. Rather, we should desire that they come away thinking, “What a great God!” and “What a great Savior!” and “What a great salvation!”

Paul is still encouraging them to embrace their ordinariness—to embrace their unimpressiveness. Not only does this ensure that all the glory goes to God (as we learned in the previous passage), but it also redirects people’s faith.

How we present ourselves to those to whom we minister is, in the economy of God’s providence, a significant factor in determining upon what they come to depend. Will they end up with faith in the wisdom (or, perhaps thoughtfulness or goodness or togetherness, or ?) of men? Or will they end up with faith in the power of God?

Paul didn’t preach cleverly assembled sermons full of catchy turns of phrase. He preached plain doctrine about how God became man to save, and did so not by being impressive but rather by being executed. 

In fact, he preached such sermons that one would say, “Come on Paul… it would take a miracle from God for that sermon to bring someone to faith!” 

And that is exactly the point, isn’t it? Paul came and preached plainly about Jesus so that when the people believed, all would know for sure, “This can be a demonstration only of the Spirit and power of God!”

Isn’t this what we want most, when we witness, or when we have others preach and teach to us: not that there would be a great presentation that gives us a memorable encounter with men, but instead that there would be a plain gospel presentation, that Christ would be clearly seen, and that there would be a glorious encounter with God. Let us so act and so speak as to have this as our great aim!

(1 Corinthians 2:6-16). Here is the most glorious thing that we can know, and about the only way that we can know it. Sometimes, I have heard people take 1 Corinthians 2:9 to mean something like when 1 John 3:2 says, “It has not been revealed what we shall be”—that is, about some future glory. But that most certainly is not the case here. Rather, the Holy Spirit is saying here that what the rulers of this age did not know is that God had prepared to give Himself, the Lord of glory, for those who love Him.

This is the extraordinary that eye hadn’t seen, ear heard, nor heart considered. No, God had kept the details of this glorious gospel gift hidden from the eyes and ears and minds of men.

This is the most glorious thing that we can know. The Lord of glory has given Himself for sinners! Even with the access and instruction that we have, we do not really wrap our minds around this: the Lord of glory was crucified for me! For this, we must have the active working of the Holy Spirit.

When we say that “the only way we can know” this amazing gospel truth is by the work of the Spirit, we mean more than just that the Spirit has to come up with the words. 

Certainly that is true, which is what 1 Corinthians 2:10-12 are all about. ONLY the Spirit knows the things of God. ONLY THROUGH the Spirit has God revealed the truth to us. And the greatest part of that truth, the heart of that truth, is “the things that have been freely given to us by God.” Behold how good and generous is our God that the height of the revelation of His glory would be how He has given Himself for us!

But just as the work of the Spirit is the only way that we could have had the Scriptures, so also the work of the Spirit is the only way that we can come to believe them. The natural man does not receive them. Rather, the Scriptures are spiritual for spiritual (how 1 Corinthians 2:13 literally ends): Holy-Spirit-given words for Holy-Spirit-helped people.

And how does the Holy Spirit help us? By giving to us that which is Christ’s. Not only Christ’s words, as promised in John 16, but also even Christ’s mind, as we see here in 1 Corinthians 2:16! The Lord gave Himself for us once for all at Calvary, and He continually gives Himself to us by the working of His Holy Spirit. Praise the Lord!

How can you be presenting Jesus more plainly and yourself less impressively to others? How does your habit/practice of Bible reading reflect the necessity of the Spirit’s work in it?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for giving Yourself to us in the Son, to Whom You have united us, and the Spirit, by Whom You have indwelt us. Give us to know Your mind, that we may glorify You and enjoy You as Your children, we ask through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP24 “The Earth and the Riches” or TPH297 “Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates”

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