1 Corinthians 1:17-2:16 - Skip Heitzig
Calvary Church is dedicated to doctrine. And we want you to experience the life change that comes from knowing God's word and applying it to your life. So we explain the Bible verse by verse, every chapter, every book. This is Expound.
Good evening. Howdy. What's up. Hey, before we get started tonight, first of all, welcome. Glad you came. I was thinking while we were worshipping and asking the Lord to touch us. I was thinking of different people in the church, some of which you know about. I bet you can think of somebody right now in your mind who is suffering. Who is dealing with an issue. Who is struggling with something.
And I bet those who are joining online. We know that we have a pretty hefty audience online as well as the radio-- our local radio station. At the same time, you can also think of somebody-- you can identify somebody who's struggling.
So before we begin tonight our study of God's word, I'm going to ask all of us here as well as those who are joining us on any media outlet to just spend a quiet moment in our hearts praying for that person as they come to mind. Just pray for that person now that you know is struggling. Ask the Lord to touch.
Then, before we get started, you pray for somebody who's next to you, maybe on the right or left. Just think of that person that you saw when you sat down. You may or may not know that person, but pray for them.
Amen. Thank you for doing that. In radio or in television, when you have that kind of quiet space, they call that dead air. But that was anything but dead air. That was very much alive and life giving for those that we were thinking about and praying for. So we are-- we thank you for that.
Speaking of those who are joining us outside of this auditorium. I was just in North Carolina for a week and I did two back to back seminars. And what I discovered and I met for the first time many of them-- people from all over the country hundreds of them who listened to the radio broadcast or tune in by YouTube or social media to our weekend and Wednesday night study. So I just thought it'd be nice if we welcome them because I know that they're out there.
And we never see them and I never see them. But I saw some of them this last week and it was great to be a part of that. So welcome. We're glad you're here. And would you turn in your Bibles for our Bible study, the Book of 1 Corinthians chapter 1. I wish I could say 1 Corinthians chapter 2, but I didn't make it through chapter 1 all the way last time we were together.
So thank you for your patience. But I figure it doesn't really matter where we end up because we're just going to pick it up anyway next time, and eventually, make our way through the book. But this way we can really camp on principles, drill down, and study them. And this way, you'll really get a good grasp-- and I along with you-- of this book that we are studying. We are studying the scriptures. We're studying the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. It has been our practice here at this church doing that for decades.
I'm looking at some of you. Longer than some of you have been alive we've been doing that. But I also recognize some of you that have been with us on this journey a little bit longer. And you were back with us from close to the beginning. Maybe not as far back as I go, but maybe. I don't know. Is anybody here at the Lakes Apartments? Raise your hand. I don't think anybody here is from those days. Are there? Wow. You go back you go back that far? You go back as far as I go. That's pretty far. Anybody else? No?
Your wife did. Yeah, that's right. She was in the Lakes Apartments. Chappy's wife. Yeah. OK, well, welcome one and all, the old timers and the new ones as well. So we're in 1 Corinthians chapter 1. We dropped off around verse 18 or 17, right around there. That's where we're going to pick it up.
The Church of Corinth was a relatively new congregation. It was a growing fellowship, new in their faith, but facing some old enemies. Facing the philosophies of Greece. It was a Roman colony, but it was in a Grecian mindset with all of the philosophical background and baggage that came with it.
Not only that, but it also was in competition to many of the worship systems around it. So I've been a couple of times to Corinth and I've seen the ruins of this large and imposing temple to Apollo, one of the chief gods in the Greek pantheon.
And then, just above was the Acrocorinth, that hill that I told you about last time we were together. The Acrocorinth, or that hill on the southern part of l had a temple on top to Aphrodite. Also worshipped. And Aphrodite was-- well, it was a very active worship system that included 1,000 prostitutes. They call themselves priestesses.
But they would come down from that hill every night into the city of Corinth. They would ply their prostitution trade. And thereby, getting money to support the temple of Aphrodite. So there were different competitive belief systems as well as the wisdom of the Greeks that this church was in competition, you might say, ideologically with.
Well, with that, with a growing young church, with all of the worldliness that surrounded it, Paul found it necessary not to write one, not to write two, but at least three letters. In 1 Corinthians, he refers to a form or letter. And elsewhere, he calls it the severe letter.
So Paul wrote some kind of a letter. One that we either don't have or some believe it was actually incorporated into the writing of Corinthians itself. But then he wrote 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians. When he wrote 1 Corinthians, it is because somebody in the congregation named Chloe ratted on the congregation, actually, just informed Paul the-- rightfully so-- the church that he founded.
Letting him know that there were some divisions. That there were groups emerging within the Corinthian church that were at odds with each other. That were rallying around the teaching style of four leaders. Three human leaders and one divine leader, the Lord Jesus Christ.
But then, also the church at Corinth itself, had written to Paul inquiring of some problems, issues, questions. And so Paul writes 1 Corinthians to address some of these issues. It really is a letter-- I love 1 Corinthians because it's so practical. It deals with problems in the church. It deals with the problem of spiritual growth or stunted spiritual growth. It deals with the problems of divisions between groups in the church. It deals with the problem of sexual purity in the church. It deals with the problem of marriage and divorce within the church. It deals with the problem of personal liberty, what I can and can't do as a Christian. Am I allowed to do this, but not that? Certain gray area practices.
It deals with public worship. Problems in public worship. It deals with the abuse and use of spiritual gifts in the body of Christ. And it deals with the doctrinal issues, especially of the Resurrection. So I'm glad, honestly, that Corinth went through the problems it went through and that Paul addressed it because we have by the Spirit of God this incredible book that is so practical on dealing with some of these issues.
So basically, we are dealing with a church, like any church, a church that has problems. Have you ever found a perfect church? No. You can say no and go to this church. No, you'll never find a perfect church. You've heard that before that if you ever find a perfect church, it's too late because you found it and you'll go to it and then you've ruined it. If you ever find a perfect church, you've already ruined it.
Because there's no such thing. And the idea behind that is that-- listen, the gospel attracts sinners. And some people feel, well, there's hypocrisy within the church and that proves that the gospel isn't real. Actually, I think it proves the gospel is real. I think it proves that the gospel attracts the needy sinners of this world. Paul said, I'm the chief of sinners himself.
Every person has failures, foibles. And the gospel takes them in and transforms them. But it doesn't transform us overnight. We are in a the process of sanctification, which means we'll do good one day, bad the next day, we'll shine one day, not so bright the next day, et cetera. As we mosey our way-- make our way toward the eternal kingdom.
So it's imperfect. Anyway, we left off last time where they were dividing between four leaders. Some said, I'm of Paul. Some said, I'm of Apollis, that really eloquent speaker. Some like the blue collar preaching of Peter, he was the fisherman from Galilee. They liked his style. How they heard of Peter exactly I'm not sure.
And then, there were those super hyper spiritual group who said, we don't identify with any earthly leader, bro. We just follow Christ. And Paul said, you're all carnal. You're all you're all dividing. And then, he says, was Paul crucified for you? You weren't baptized in my name. I didn't baptize people when I went to Corinth except for a few people. Christmas, Gaius, the household of Stefanas. Besides that, I don't know if I baptize anybody else.
So it was a problem of division. And that is why the letter was written to Paul to inform him of this problem. And Paul took it upon himself to address all the other problems that I just mentioned. There were divisions. Now, there still are divisions. Again, because we are people. And I get all the time, hey, have you heard the preaching of this guy. And I listen and follow that guy. And we all have our favorite radio people that we like.
But even before there was radio people, there's-- the church has been divided. Some people divide over the doctrine of John Calvin and how he articulated predestination. Others like Jacobus Arminius and many others.
And so they call themselves Arminians or they call themselves Calvinists. With all due respect, to Calvin and Arminius, they're both dead. Who cares? Jesus Christ is alive. Follow him. And I've discovered the more spiritual a person becomes, the less denominational that person becomes. The less divisive that person becomes.
So he has been writing about that. And then, at the end of verse 17, or verse 17 for Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel. Not with the wisdom of words. Now he's going to introduce this idea of wisdom because that was really important to these Greeks.
Not with the wisdom of words lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. For the message of the cross. The word message is-- could be translated for the word of the cross. The Greek word is logos for the logos of the cross. Word of the cross. Message it is translated here.
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. Every now and then, you'll find somebody who goes, oh, this whole concept of Jesus dying in my place is ridiculous. I had a gal that I worked with years ago in the hospital. I was sharing the gospel with her and she just laughed that concept to scorn.
The whole idea, she said, of Jesus dying for me in my place is ridiculous. Well, that was a dead giveaway that she was perishing. When somebody thinks it's nonsense, it's ludicrous, it's an indication that person is a person who is spiritually separated from God and it's not going to bode well for that person. They are perishing.
The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. But to us who are being saved, it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. We in our modern Western mindset find it difficult to understand just how reproachful the idea of a crucified Savior was to the Roman mind, the Greek mind, and for that matter, the Jewish mind of the first century.
The idea that we would follow an unemployed carpenter who grew up in Nazareth and then died a shameful death. It's like, huh? Who would do that? That's a dumb message. They didn't get it. It was nonsense to the Roman mind. It was nonsense to the Greek mind. And it was a stumbling block, people say, to the Jewish mind.
Now why is he bringing this up? Well, one of the things he's just been talking about is unity. How people divide into four different groups. And now, he's going to talk about those who are perishing and the worldly wisdom. So one of the reasons that you and I shouldn't fight each other. One of the reasons that we shouldn't pull out our Bibles and have sword fights with our spiritual sword, the Bible, is because people are perishing.
There's people who need to hear the gospel. And if we're using our words to fight each other and divide into little camps, we're not-- those are less words we're using to share the Gospel with people. So because people are perishing, it's one of the-- should be one of the motivations for our unity. The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. But to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.
Now, today, the cross-- everybody in the world knows the cross represents Christianity. But go back 2,000 years. The idea of a cross. Nobody would wear a cross in those days around their neck. Nobody would do that. Oh, I'm going to get a little piece of jewelry of a cross. Like a little iron cross. Nobody would do that. That would be like somebody wearing a mushroom cloud of an atomic blast in Japan. It would be like somebody decorating their building in a Jewish neighborhood with motif from the concentration camps of World War II.
It was such an offense. It was an offense. Cicero, one of the Roman writers, said to even mention the cross is an offense. This is why Roman citizens-- if they could prove Roman citizenship could not be crucified. Paul didn't get crucified because he could prove Roman citizenship. Instead of leaving him on a cross to suffer in agony for hours or days, did the merciful thing, they beheaded him. They cut off his head. So it was a quick easy death.
Where is the wise? Verse 20. Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.
The Greeks spoke much about wisdom. And they prided themselves in wisdom. They boasted that they had wisdom. That it was passed down through their philosophical constructs. And so they glorified almost wisdom-- sophia is the Greek word for wisdom. And somebody who is a lover of wisdom is a philosophia. Philosophy means lover of wisdom. Somebody who loves wisdom.
The Greeks believed that through human wisdom they could explain the meaning of life. Just through the natural process of human reasoning, we can explain life. Even though there was much of life they could not understand, they believed that they could at least get their minds adequately around an explanation.
And so the Greeks would look at the universe. They looked at life on Earth and the biosphere. They looked at the heavens, what they could see of it. And they noticed that there were patterns of life that existed every day. There were four seasons, that the day was so many hours long, et cetera. They saw that there was a predictable pattern.
And they sought to come up with an answer-- a reason for this predictable pattern. And they called that reason the logos. The word, the message. So it's interesting that Paul says, for the logos, or the message of the cross, the real explanation of salvation through Christ and the meaning of life based on that is foolishness to them.
And this is why John begins his book-- the Gospel of John-- in the beginning was the logos, the word. And the word was with God and the word was God. He was in the beginning with God. Nothing was made that he didn't make. He begins with the mindset of the Greek way of thinking.
But Paul asked, where is the wise? And in the wisdom-- in wisdom-- in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God. And he's going to tell you why it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believed. For the Jews, request a sign. But the Greeks seek after sophia-- wisdom.
The Jews did demand a sign. When Jesus was doing his ministry-- when he was up in Galilee-- up in Capernaum where he headquartered his ministry for 3 and 1/2 years. The Jewish leaders came to him one day and they said, rabbi, we want you to show us a sign that we may believe. They just came right out and say it. We seek a sign.
We want to believe, but we need you to prove that you're the Messiah. Now, here's why. They believed the Messiah was coming. But the Messiah they believed in was a conquering Messiah, a conquering hero. Why? Because they're Old Testament predicted that in the Messianic era, the Earth would be made new. There would be longevity. That the animal kingdom would be tamed, et cetera, et cetera. Just an entire kingdom age is predicted.
But the Old Testament also predicted a suffering aspect to the Messiah. Isaiah 53, Psalm 22. And so what happened? One of two things happened. As Judaism came into being in the New Testament, there was a school of thought in Judaism that either spiritualized the suffering aspect of the Messiah, Isaiah 53, Psalm 22, said it must refer to Israel, not to the Messiah, not to a person.
But there was another school of thought that believed that there would not be one but two Messiahs. There would be a suffering Messiah, but then there would be a glorious Messiah. And so there was a division in Jewish thinking at the time of the New Testament in Judaism as to which this was.
So we, who are New Testament believers, we believe that Jesus will fulfill both in two comings. He came once to deal with sin. He'll come again to rule and reign with those who have been saved and forgiven of sin. That's how we see it. We get that picture.
But the Jews of Jesus's time were expecting a conquering Messiah, so they wanted a sign. Show us a sign. If you're the Messiah, if you're the guy, show us a sign. And it's interesting that Jesus said, a wicked and an adulterous generation seeks after a sign. No sign will be given, except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, the Son of Man will be in the heart of the Earth three days and three nights. That's your sign. Death, burial, and resurrection.
And of course, they didn't understand that at the time. The Jews request a sign. And the Greeks seek after wisdom but we preach Christ crucified. To the Jews, a stumbling block. Stumbling block because they expect a conquering Messiah. A King who will set up a kingdom who will overthrow the yoke of Rome and let the Jews be predominant and preeminent in the world.
And to the Greeks, foolishness. The idea that you would follow a God who came down to die for people. The Greek ideology of the gods is that they were capricious, powerful, threw tantrums, followed the same lust as humans do. And you had to appease them. So the idea that God would humble himself and become a person and die for humans is like they-- was foolishness. They didn't get it.
No wisdom to them in that at all. But to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ, the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For you see your calling, brethren. That not many wise according to the flesh. Not many mighty, not many noble are called.
We're getting into what I call my life verse. I get asked, what is your life verse? I always have difficulty with that one because I base my life on all of the verses or many of them, not one of them. But this comes pretty close. I remember when I first discovered this section it was so freeing to me. First of all, I says, look around, brethren. You see your calling, brethren. Not many wise, not many mighty, not many noble after the flesh are called.
And it's true, the majority of the people who were saved in Corinth, the Christians of Corinth, were probably either slaves or what they call freedmen-- former slaves who had been made free. They were not high born people. They were not of the Roman nobility.
So you see your calling. You can look around your church in Corinth, brethren. Not many mighty, not many wise, not many noble or called. And we look around. Now, some of us are-- some of you are really super smart and advanced. I get all that. But then, there's the rest of us. We're just simple people.
And I think if you look throughout church history, you find there are exceptions to the rule. There are some noble, some mighty, some really brilliant people. I've known a few. Paul the Apostle certainly was of that ilk. But for the most part, people that get saved are plain old Joes. People like us.
Look at the disciples. Fishermen. Blue collar fishermen. A tax collector-- despised tax collector. A Jewish zealot. A Galilean hicks, for the most part. The kind that the people in Jerusalem put their nose up at and regarded them as lowbrow. Looked down on. So you see your calling, brethren. And that's what you see.
But verse 27, God-- and here's the verse that I often cling to-- God has chosen or made a deliberate choice-- God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise. God's ways are so counterintuitive. They defy-- they contradict normal human wisdom.
And that shouldn't surprise you. For God said, through the Prophet Isaiah, Isaiah chapter 55, my thoughts are not your thoughts, says the Lord, nor are my ways your ways. When God, the Father, had his son firstborn into the world, he didn't have them born in Rome but Bethlehem. Bethlehem? That's like a little hick town in Judah. Shepherds hang out there. Farmers hang out there. Bethlehem.
Yeah, he had them born in Bethlehem and then raised in Nazareth. Nazareth had its own reputation. One of the disciples later on will say, can any good thing at all come out of Nazareth? Nazareth, Bethlehem, Nazareth, not Rome, not Athens.
See, God is so often contrary to human wisdom, and yet, it's the wisdom of God. Why does God do this? Why does God choose normal people? Not noble, not mighty, not super brilliant. Again, I'm not saying there aren't exceptions to this, but the general rule-- and I hope you don't feel depreciated or deprecated by that. I place myself along with that. Maybe you are all the exception and I'm the rule. I don't know.
But here's why. Well, let's read it. You'll find out why. I don't know why I'm explaining so much the text will tell you. And verse 28, the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen. And the things which are not to bring nothing to nothing the things that are. Here it is. Here's the reason. That no flesh should glory in his presence. That's why. That nobody can brag.
You see, if God only picked mighty and noble and brilliant and awesome and wow people all the time, then when those people get used by God, some of us would look at them and go, well, no wonder God used them. They're so brilliant. They're so articulate. They're so knowledgeable. They're so amazing and awesome.
But God doesn't do that. God does his work so that when you see his work you go, huh, I don't quite get it, but it must be the Lord. It's like after the Resurrection when Jesus appeared on the shores of Galilee and they let out their nets and the nets were so full that they were breaking and they figured out, that's got to be-- the guy on shore that just gave us the command to put our nets down, that must be Jesus.
And Peter looked up and said, it's the Lord. Why did he say that? Because the nets were breaking. And the only guy that told them to do that earlier a few years before that to fish on one side of the boat and the nets almost broke was Jesus. So it happened again. It's the Lord.
And so God uses normal dudes and dudettes-- average Joes, average people, so that when an amazing thing happens through that life you go, it's the Lord. It's the Lord. And he gets the glory. Otherwise, you go, that person is amazing. That person is awesome. And so God will often bypass certain individuals, especially those who think they're so awesome and great and brilliant and noble and intelligent and go, why didn't God use me?
Well, because you need to get a good grip on who you really are. God has chosen the foolish things of this world. The base things. The things which are not to put to shame those things that are. We just read it, right? We were in 1 Samuel chapter 16. We saw how Samuel went to the House of Jesse to find the next King after Saul had sinned. And he looked at Eliab, the oldest, and he was so tall. And he thought in his mind, man, that's King material.
Tall, good looking, amazingly strong. He's so Schwarzenegger-esque, that's the guy. And the Lord had to say, don't look at his appearance or the height of his stature for I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees. For man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. So God takes humble, broken, simple hearts and he uses us.
That no flesh should glory in his presence. What Paul does here is he opens up God's toolbox and says, OK, look in God's toolbox, church, what do you see? Foolish things, weak things, despised things, base things. Take your pick. Which one are you?
See, so we can never say, well, I don't have much to give to God. I really can't do much for the kingdom. Oh, I beg to differ. There was a little boy who came to Jesus with a few fish and a couple of loaves and Jesus fed thousands of people with the little bit that he had.
It was battered and scarred in the auctioneer thought it hardly worth his while to waste much time on the old violin so we held it up with a smile. What am I bidding good folks, he cried, who'll start the bidding for me? $1. $1. Two. Only two? $2. Who will make it three? $3 once, $3 twice.
But no, from the room far back, a gray haired man stepped forward and picked up the bow and wiping the dust from the old violin tightening up the loose strings, he played a melody pure and sweet as sweet as the angels sing.
When the music ceased, the auctioneer, in a voice that was quiet and low said, now what am I bid for the old violin as he held it up with the bow? $1,000. 2,00. Who will make it three? 3,000 once, 3,000 twice, going, and gone, said he.
And the people cheered, but some of them said, we do not quite understand what changed its worth. Swift came the reply, the touch of the master's hand. And many a man with his life out of tune battered and scarred by sin are auctioned cheap to the old-- to the thoughtless crowd much like the old violin.
A mess of pottage, a glass of wine, a song and he travels on. He's going once, he's going twice, he's going and he's almost gone. But the master comes. And the thoughtless crowd can never quite understand the worth of a soul and the change that is wrought by the touch of the master's hand. That's you and I.
The Old violin beat up. Somebody tries to play a tune. Eh.
The master comes, tunes that baby up, plays his song through you. And he loves to do it. He loves to restore. Instead of getting the new latest model, God likes vintage. He takes the beaten battered model and says, I can work with that and work wonders with that.
And I got to tell you, there's something about a vintage. You take a 1957 Chevy. Restore that baby. I'll take that over any new Chevrolet anything-- modern, cool, Apple Play, whatever. There's just something about that. The no flesh for glory in his presence.
But of him, you are in Christ Jesus who became for us the wisdom from God and righteousness and sanctification and redemption. Jesus Christ, God's wisdom, that one sacrifice did it all. As it is written, he who glories, let him glory in the Lord.
That's one of my favorite texts that he is referencing in Jeremiah chapter 9. Says, let not the wise man glory in his wisdom or the mighty man glory in his might, but let him that glorious glory in this that he knows and understands me, says the Lord. So he is quoting that. Let him that glory glory in the Lord.
Now, again, I just want to tie a few thoughts together. He's talking about unity in the church. You're dividing. You're saying, I'm with this guy and I'm with that guy. So one of the reasons to be unified is because people are perishing. Another reason to be unified is because all of us, including the earthly leaders that you are rallying against, are foolish things. Are frail sinners who are redeemed. So follow Christ instead of those individuals.
Chapter 2, verse 1. And I, brethren, when I came to you did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. Paul came to Corinth after he was in the city of Athens. And when Paul came to Corinth, he came with a very basic, simple message. He came with the gospel.
Now, typically, when people would go to cities like Corinth or Athens, any of the Greek enclaves, speakers would come and typically, in Greek thinking, they were called sofists. Sofists were wisdom tellers. And the sofists would come with a carefully spun story or very clever and articulate ways of talking to attract a crowd to gain a following.
Paul said, when I came to you, I did not-- I deliberately did not do that. I came with a very straightforward simple gospel message. Just to refresh your memory, in Acts 18, when he comes to Corinth, he goes to the Synagogue. And he shares the gospel in the Synagogue. He convinces some of the Jews and many of the non-Jews to believe. It creates a stir.
So he goes into a house next to the Synagogue because he is kicked out of the Synagogue and he begins teaching there. It was pretty straightforward gospel stuff. Not that Paul couldn't speak in high terms. Remember, I said that there's not many mighty, not many wise, not many noble. Paul was an exception. He was pretty wise. And Paul could do philosophy with the best of them. Keep in mind, Paul was in Athens in Acts chapter 17 and he stood on the Areopagus, Mars Hill. And there were the Athenian philosophers who were gathered around him.
And it says that the men of Athens and the visitors came either to hear or to tell of some new thing. And so Paul stood up and he said, I go around the city and I notice you're a religious group. You even have a statue to the unknown God. And so he starts using some in their culture-- a philosophy of their culture, a religious icon, and begins to point to the one true God that they don't know.
But then, he starts quoting secular philosophers in his message. For in him we live and move and have our being. That's a direct quote from Epimenides, who is a Cretan philosopher. And then he says, for we also are his offspring. Another quote from a different philosopher, Aratus of Soli.
So he pulls from the philosophical world. So he was very able to do that. But for the most part, usually, and in Corinth, especially, he didn't come with excellence of speech. He didn't come quoting the philosophers. He just declared, as it says, the blunt, simple testimony of God. For verse 2, I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. The uncluttered message of the cross.
Now, not everyone is ready to believe the simple message of the cross. I understand that. I understand the world in which we lived. I worked for a long time in the secular world and I dealt with people with science backgrounds, doctors, advanced scientific minds, people who had philosophical inclinations. And I understand that there are often roadblocks to just believing in God or believing especially in Christ.
And that those roadblocks have to be removed first. We would call that pre-evangelism to ready the mind and especially the heart-- the core of that person to receive the gospel. And so we use apologetic-- scientific apologetics, philosophical apologetics, I love that.
On the other hand, not everybody is there. Some people are ready. I remember talking to this one person at the Huntington Beach Pier. And I went into all these explanations. And the whole while they were just ready to pray and receive Christ. They didn't need philosophical explanation. They just need someone praying with them. And so, finally, I got around to it. And it's like, man, I just went around the block to get next door.
So some people-- begin with this simple gospel. And then, if there's objections to it, like the veracity of scripture or science versus faith or a number of other roadblocks, then deal with the roadblocks and engage that way. But I determined to not know anything among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
Now, this is interesting. Verse 3, I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. It's quite an admission. And most of us don't picture Paul this way. We picture him as fierce, able, articulate, always ready, brave. But he says, I was with you in weakness and fear and much trembling.
Now, keep something in mind. Before he got to Corinth, when he was at Lystra, they stoned him, drug his body out for dead. He got up, went back in and preached, though I'm sure he went back with a limp. By the time he made it over to the Greco Macedonian part of the world, he went to Philippi, got arrested, got beaten, put in jail, then he left there and he went to Thessalonica and they created a riot and a stir. They had to sneak him out at night.
Then, he went down to Berea and shared there. And the people followed him from Thessalonica and started another riot. Then he comes to Athens. He stands on the Areopagus and preaches. They laugh him to scorn. So by the time he gets to Corinth, he's a little beat up. So with that as a background, we would understand for him to say, I was with you in weakness and fear and much trembling.
But it's not like he's afraid to share the gospel as much as it's a nervous energy not knowing what the response is going to be. And an athlete gets this before they get on the track or they perform their athleticism. An actor feels that before the actor hits the stage. It's that kind of nervous energy.
And so Paul admits it. And he says, verse 4, in my speech, in my preaching, were not worth persuasive words of human sophia wisdom, but in demonstration of the spirit and of power that your faith not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature. Yet, not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age who are coming to nothing. We can speak about deeper subjects and we do speak on deeper items and issues and subjects to those who are believers in Christ and are more mature and can handle it.
Yet, not the wisdom of this age nor of the rulers of this age who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God-- now watch this word-- in a mystery. The hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the ages for our glory. OK, we hear the word mystery and we think of like a murder mystery. We think it's like, oh, it's mysterious and nobody knows the answer to that and we got to discover what the answer is.
That's what it means to our ears. That's not what it meant to the ears of the ones he wrote to. When he says a mystery, he's using a Corinthian buzzword. A mystery-- musterion is the Greek. And a musterion-- the Greeks believed in mystery religions. So they believed that if you were initiated by certain ceremonies into these religions, only those who are initiated and given special wisdom could understand the mystery of the ceremony they were going through and the religious thing they were getting involved in. They called that their mystery. And they prided themselves in that.
When Paul uses the term-- though it is a Corinthian term-- he'll use the term in other places and other letters. And what Paul means is something that used to be hidden in-- it wasn't fully revealed in the Old Testament. But now, there's no mystery. Now, what was hidden is now disclosed and everybody can understand it.
So for example, the idea of the church being comprised of Jew and Gentile. God's chosen people. Not just Jews but Jew and Gentile in one body Paul will say in the book of Ephesians was a mystery kept hidden in the Old Testament. Now, it's revealed.
I suppose that the idea of Jesus being both the crucified Messiah and conquering Messiah was also one of those mysteries. We understand that now. We have the whole Revelation. You won't understand that through human reasoning and human wisdom.
So verse 8, which none of the rulers of this age knew for had they known they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. The rulers of this world, the political rulers and the religious rulers, those are the ones I believe Paul is referring to. Both those in the political realm and the religious realm, they were ignorant as to who Jesus was. They were ignorant. They didn't know for certain he was the Messiah. They could have known, but they didn't.
Jesus asked his disciples in Matthew 16, who do men say that I am? Answer, some say you're John the Baptist. Some say you're Jeremiah one of the prophets, et cetera. They had different ideas as to who this was. They were ignorant of his person. Second thing they were ignorant of is how bad of a sin they were committing in rejecting him and those crucifying him.
Now, their ignorance doesn't equal to innocence. Just because you're ignorant of the law doesn't mean you're innocent when you break the law. You could prove that. I hope you don't. But if you do 75 miles an hour in an area that's posted 35 miles an hour and the officer pulls you over and said, you were doing 75 in a 35. And you said, oh, I didn't know. He's not going to go, oh, well, OK then. God bless you and have a great day.
He's going to write you up and say now you know. And you will forever remember by this $250 ticket you have to pay. So ignorance doesn't mean innocence. When it says none of the rulers knew, they didn't know who Jesus was. They could have, but they didn't. And they knew what they were doing was wrong, but they didn't know how big a sin they were committing in rejecting and crucifying him. Had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory.
But as it is written, I is not seen nor is ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love him. Now, how many times have you heard that quoted by Christians when they talk about heaven? And they use this first. Eye is not seen, nor is ear heard, nor has it entered the heart of man. We just don't know how awesome it's going to be, right?
They should read the next verse. For it says, but God has revealed them to us through the Spirit. First of all, he's not talking about Heaven. He's talking about the wisdom of God in sending Jesus Christ for the sin of mankind. That's the wisdom of God. That's the power of God. And God has prepared salvation. Maybe that does include future glory, but that's not the context of that. He's quoting a text out of Isaiah 64 and 65.
But he says, but God has revealed them to us. So here's the point. People, by natural investigation, will never find God. On their own, a person will not discover God. The only way to discover God is by outside revelation, not personal investigation.
If you personally investigate things, it will point you in that direction but you need a more complete knowledge base. And that only comes through revelation. God has revealed them through his Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things even the deep things of God.
Now, look at the analogy he uses. Verse 11, for one thing knows-- for what man knows the things of a man except the Spirit of the man which is in him. Even so, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.
Look at the person sitting next to you. You don't really know that person. Oh, you go, yes I do. I'm married to that person. I daresay there are some things about that person you don't know. There may be some thoughts you don't know. Really, nobody knows another person. And the only one who really does know the person is the person themself.
So the only one that knows the mind of God, the heart of God, is the Spirit of God. There's Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Spirit searches the deep things of God and reveals them. So we would never know about God or God's way of salvation or what God wants unless God reveals it to us through his Spirit.
Remember, in Psalm 19, David says, the heavens declare the glory of God. The firmament shows his handiwork. Day unto day, they utter their speech. Tonight unto tonight, they reveal knowledge. But you keep going. After he talks about the natural order of things, what we see around us in the natural world, he says this. The law of the Lord is perfect revealing the heart.
So he says, you can look around at the universe and you can learn certain things about God. His power, His order. So we have the big book of the universe. But you need more. It's not a complete revelation. You don't need just the big book of the universe, the big book of creation, you need the little book of the Bible. The Revelation of God, which discloses the love of God, the plan of God, the way to God, salvation. You know that only through Revelation.
So man by human wisdom can never reach God. But God, through Christ, reaches us and the Spirit of God reaches us. Reveals himself to us so that we can know. Nature is incomplete.
So every now and then I meet somebody who goes, yeah, I don't go to church, man. I don't do church. I'm not into organized religion. What they mean is they're into disorganized religion and they go on to describe what that is. Yeah, I just go out in nature, man. I just look at the stars and the clouds and the rocks. And so my church is I go camping.
I'm sorry, you can only get a little bit doing that. It's majestic. It's awesome. You get the power of God. But you need the big whole picture that comes from the Revelation of God. That's why we teach it all the time. That's why we do verse by verse and chapter by chapter and book by book so we get the Revelation of God.
Now, verse 12. Let's finish out the chapter and then we have four minutes and we're almost there. Now, we-- now, that's emphatic in the Greek language-- now we emphasize we have the Spirit. We have received not the Spirit of this world, but the Spirit who is from God. Not that is, but who. It's a Holy Spirit is a person. Spirit who is from God that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak not in words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God for their foolishness unto him nor can he know them because they are spiritually discerned. Go back to verse 13 for just a moment. See where it says, we speak these things not in words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches comparing spiritual things with spiritual. Talking about words here.
I just want to say this. Don't be afraid of spiritual words. Don't think that you need to dumb down the Christian faith by not learning spiritual words. Salvation, justification, propitiation. Those are good doctrinal biblical words. Listen, every profession has its language. If you're in the medical profession, you learn certain medical words. If you're in the legal profession, you learn the parlance of the legal profession.
If you're in anything, there's a language base that goes with it. When it comes to spiritual life, there are certain spiritual concepts that only spiritual words will convey. Don't be afraid of them. Be conversant in them. Learn them because it's a part of who we are. Part of our identity.
So let's finish out this chapter. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God for their foolishness unto him nor can he know them because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one for who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
Who is known the mind of the Lord that we should instruct him? Well, God has given us the mind of Christ, but I don't fully understand the mind of the Lord. And that's why you and I should never instruct him. It says that we should instruct him. Have you noticed how often Christians try to instruct God?
God, I prayed about that. You had a chance to move after I prayed. Why didn't you do it then? Why did you wait and how can you allow? And here we are giving God our advice. Who has known the mind of the Lord that we should instruct or counsel or advise him?
And yet, I found myself doing that in my life. Lord, you had a good opportunity. Oh. As if he doesn't know what he's doing or if he doesn't have it all in control. Just know tonight it's under control. God rules the universe with his feet up. It's OK. It's OK. He's got it covered. Who has known the mind of Lord that we should instruct him?
Now, Paul divides humanity-- usually, I would say into two groups. Into three groups. Three groups. And they're very important groups. But we're going to have to wait until next time to get what those groups are and the understanding and where we fit in. Because they are in the last part of chapter 2 and the first part of chapter 3 where he introduces those groups.
And this is one of those chapter breaks that I'm not in favor of. What I mean by that is chapters and verses are not inspired. The text is inspired. Chapters and verses came later on. And sometimes, they did a good job. Sometimes they did a lousy job. This is of those times I think they did a lousy job in saying this is the end of chapter 2 beginning of chapter 3.
May be an arrogant statement, but I'll show you why next time. And we'll go through those three groups next time, OK? Is that all right? Let's pray.
Father, we bring to you our loaves and fishes. We bring to you the little things, the broken things, the things that we've made a mess of and we know that you love a good project. You love it. And you are up for the task. And so, Lord, take our lives, the old violin, the loose strings, the out of tune life, and make your music through us.
Thank you, Father, for those who hunger and thirst to know the word of God. I pray they would be rewarded. You said you are a rewarder of those who diligently seek you. You said, Lord Jesus, blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. They will be filled. I pray that you would reward and fill these who have gathered here, those who are gathering online.
Father, we pray that that would show up in the way they do life with each other, the grace and mercy they show one another. The forgiveness and love they dispense. The plan of God they walk in. The service of God that they are involved in. Bless our lives and multiply our capacity as your Spirit works in and through us. We ask in Jesus's name and those who agreed said, Amen. Let's all stand.
For more resources from Calvary Church and Skip Heitzig, visit calvarynm.church. Thank you for joining us from this teaching in our series Expound.