- Sermon Notes
1 Corinthians 2:1-16
Paul is writing to the church in Corinth, a church that he founded on his second missionary journey. At this point, the church is only about five years
old or so and therefore all of them are young in their faith. There’s a lot of spiritual immaturity.
Paul is writing to strengthen their faith and help them grow in their maturity so they are no longer babes in Christ. As we said before, one of the ways
that is seen is that when people come to faith in Christ, they come out of the world and in their immaturity bring a lot of the world with them.
The culture at the time in Corinth and in Greece in general was that they loved to debate the latest philosophy and they celebrated those who were skilled
in oratory, in smooth and flowery speech. Many people became amateur philosophers and loved to debate other amateur philosophers.
This mentality found its way into the church at Corinth. One group claimed to be of Paul, another group claimed to be of Apollos, still another group claimed
to be of Peter, others took the ultimate righteous high hill and claimed to be of Christ. No doubt, they held the trump card.
Paul confronts the inconsistency; the wisdom of the world stands in direct contrast to the wisdom of God. The philosophers of the day were debating from
a worldly perspective without any view of eternity, indeed, they didn’t even believe in eternal life. Therefore, Paul is saying, you can’t discern
spiritual things from a worldly perspective, so don’t use worldly wisdom and the world’s methods of debating in the church.
There was an interesting example of this in fairly recent church history. It wasn’t that long ago that pastors would debate with other pastors from their
pulpits over theological differences. As a result, churches became divided over theological debates and the watching world became convinced that there
was something wrong in the church. Praise God that there is little of that today and churches and pastors are working together more than ever. In fact,
there’s a group of pastors that meet here regularly to pray together for revival.
Paul is speaking of spiritual things here in these chapters. There are certainly aspects of the world’s wisdom that we can appreciate. We’re all benefited
by advancements in medicine and technology, for example. And some of the world’s natural wisdom can be very practical.
We can even gain words of wisdom from the mouth of babes. Here are some classic and humorous examples…
- -Michael, age 12, said, “When your dad is mad at you and says, ‘Do I look stupid?’ Don’t answer that.”
- -Michael, wise man that he is, also said, “Never tell your mom that her diet’s not working.”
- -Lauren, age 9, said, “Permanent markers are not good to use as lipstick.”
- -Eileen, age 8, said, “Never baptize a cat.”
- -Naomi, age 15 said, “If you want a kitten, start out by asking for a horse.”
- -That reminds me of something Aviah said, “Can I start dating when I’m 16? Or, when I’m 16 I could just get a dog.” “You can have a dog,” I said, “I’ll
pay for everything.”
Paul contrasts worldly wisdom to spiritual wisdom that God reveals to us through His Spirit, a wisdom that is eternal in nature; his point – spiritual
wisdom makes spiritual men.
I. Faith must Rest on the Power of God
- In the first verses Paul said that he did not proclaim the testimony of God with superiority of speech or in persuasive words of wisdom.
- In other words, they did not come to faith because of smooth and persuasive oratory. Rather, Paul said, his message and his preaching was in the
demonstration of the Spirit and of power.
A. God demonstrates His love
- The word ‘testimony of God’ in verse 1 is important. It means that God gives testimony or witness of Himself in the demonstration of His love and
of His power.
Illus – God sent His Son as a witness and testimony of His love. “God loved the world so much that He sent His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.
Jesus then demonstrated that He was sent by God through the demonstration of God’s power in Him. In Luke 5 He touched a leper and healed him of his leprosy, but then said…
Luke 5:14, “Show yourself to the priest and make an offering for your cleansing, just as Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
- Talk about a testimony, later ten lepers were healed and were told to go show themselves to the priest! Can you imagine the shock the priest had
when 10 lepers showed up?
- The greatest demonstration of God’s love and power, however, is what Paul calls the word of the cross.
Romans 5:8, 10, God demonstrates His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us… While we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son.
- As we mentioned last week, the ultimate proof of God’s power is when He raised Jesus from the dead.
Acts 17:30-31, “Having overlooked times of ignorance, God is now declaring to all men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”
1 Corinthians 15:14, 17, If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is worthless… and you are still in your sins.
B. Faith is reasonable
- Paul says in these chapters that what the world calls foolishness is actually a wisdom of God far beyond their capacity to understand. “Has not
God made foolish the wisdom of the world?”
- Therefore, we can also understand that God’s wisdom is reasonable. Verse 6 – “We do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away.”
- For example, it’s reasonable to believe that God made the world by the word of His power…
Hebrews 11:3, By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.
- In another place, Paul wrote that we walk by faith; it’s very reasonable to walk by faith.
2 Corinthians 5:7, For we walk by faith, not by sight…
John 20:25-31 “Blessed are those who did not see, and yet believed.”
- We are amongst those who did not see and yet believe; is that reasonable? Absolutely. It’s reasonable to believe eyewitnesses.
1 Corinthians 15:4-6, He was raised on the third day according to the scriptures and He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve, after that, He appeared to more than 500 brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now…
C. We speak God’s wisdom
- The word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God and the wisdom of God.
- Therefore, Paul said, we speak God’s wisdom, a wisdom, not of this age, nor of the rulers of this age; a wisdom which none of the rulers of this
age has understood; if they did, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. That’s a powerful statement.
- On the cross Jesus said…
John 23:34, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
- However, it’s important to understand that they could have known… and should have known.
Romans 1:18, 20, The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness… For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen… so that they are without excuse.
- Some Jews gathered around Jesus and asked Him to say it plainly if He is the Messiah…
John 10:24-27, “How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe? The work that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me. But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep.”
- When Paul says that God’s wisdom is a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory, he means that God has been
pointing to the cross throughout the entire Old Testament, but now plainly revealed through Jesus.
- After the resurrection, Jesus appeared to two men walking on the road to Emmaus…
Luke 24:25-27, He said to them, “O foolish man and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets of spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the scriptures.
II. God Reveals the Wonder of His Love
- The things which were formerly hidden, God has now revealed “to our glory” for those who love Him.
- There is a powerful quote here from Isaiah in verse 9 and some believe Paul is referring to the unimaginable and wonderful things God has in store
for us in heaven.
- But verse 10 says that he’s speaking of things God has already revealed to us through the Spirit.
A. The Spirit reveals the thoughts of God
- What great wisdom, what great truths, what great promises God has revealed for those who love Him.
- God has revealed them through the Spirit, who knows the depths of God; the same Spirit we have received when we opened our hearts to Christ.
- Through the Spirit, God gives us spiritual thoughts and spiritual words to strengthen our faith and to give us a depth of maturity.
- A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, they are foolishness to him. They care nothing about faith or spiritual maturity.
- If you have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, you’re no longer a natural man, you are now spiritual and God wants you to grow in spiritual
depth; be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
James 3:17-18, The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. The seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
- Verse 14 – A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God because they are spiritually appraised.
- But he who is spiritual appraises all things, Paul wrote.
- In other words, when you have God’s thoughts and God’s words, you have God’s perspective and from God’s perspective you must appraise all things.
- The word ‘appraise’ is important. It means to judge a thing’s value, to estimate the worth of something. In other words, what is its spiritual
Illus – My wife, Jordi, met several times with the wife of one of our favorite pastors, Ron Mehl. One time she said, “Sometimes Ron and I have disagreed, but we have never had a fight; our relationship is too valuable.”
- If we only understood the eternal value of our soul from God’s perspective, we would be forever changed.
Luke 9:24-25, “Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits his soul?”
Illus – It’s common to miss the value of something while others find it. Rick Norsigian paid $45 for two boxes of glass plates. They turned out to be photographic negatives captured by the famous Ansell Adams worth close to $200M.
- Understand the value of your faith and your soul.
1 Corinthians 2:1-16 NASB
1 And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined
to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, 4 and my message
and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith would not rest on
the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.
6 Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; 7 but
we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; 8 the wisdom which none of the rulers
of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory;
of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received,
not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 13 which things we also
speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.
are spiritually appraised. 15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. 16 For who has known the mind
of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.