A Simple Message Focusing On Messiah Crucified; God’s Wisdom Versus The World’s Wisdom; The Spirit Gives Us God’s Wisdom; The World Can’t Understand God’s Wisdom.
People are impressed by the rich and famous and powerful; by those with extra-ordinary beauty or strength or intelligence or talent. The ancient Greeks were impressed by the beauty and strength of the human body, and by wisdom and the ability to speak eloquently. Before he started his ministry in Corinth, Rabbi Paul did not take a survey of the Corinthians to find out what things appealed to them so he could tailor his message or the way he presented his message to the things that appealed to them. And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Messiah Yeshua and him crucified.
Knowing the Corinthians love for wisdom and eloquence, Paul purposely did the opposite. He came to them with a simple message – that Yeshua is the Messiah who was crucified to reconcile us to God – which is our greatest need. He did not use eloquent words or sophisticated arguments with them. Paul came with a simple, Messiah-was-crucified-centered message. And you know what? So should we.
And Paul did not come full of confidence and self-assuredness. Paul admits to Messiah’s followers in Corinth that when he came to them, he was afraid – very afraid. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. Paul had repeatedly suffered when bringing the Good News to new places. Corinth was a new place. Paul admits that he was not feeling strong and confident. He was feeling weak. He was trembling with fear.
When confronted by a dangerous situation, it’s natural to experience fear. It’s not having fear, but how we face our fear that separates the hero from the coward. With God’s grace, Paul faced his fear and did what he needed to do.
The Rabbi came with a simple message. He came with weakness and fear. But, he also came with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. Paul did not use clever arguments and persuasive words. He simply proclaimed the simple truth about Yeshua. And when he did that, the Spirit of God was able to help many of those who heard Paul’s message, so they were able to understand the truth. The Spirit, in a powerful way, convinced many of the reality of Yeshua. And it’s possible that, along with the Spirit of God powerfully bringing conviction of the truth, the Spirit of God may also have enabled Paul to do powerful things – signs and wonders.
If what we believe is based on a clever argument, then our faith can be destroyed by someone with a cleverer argument. But when we understand the simple truth about Yeshua – who He is and what He has done, is doing and will do for us – with the Holy Spirit convincing us of these truths, then our faith rests, not on human wisdom, which can fail us, but on God’s power, which will never fail us.
Now, you might be thinking: How blessed the Corinthians were. They had an apostle with them who was used to demonstrate the power of the Spirit of God. No wonder so many of the Corinthians believed. Even though we have not been privileged to hear Paul preach a simple but powerful message; even though we have not seen Paul do a miracle, our faith, like that of the Corinthians, rests, not on human wisdom, but on the same divine power.
Don’t we have the same simple, powerful message? Don’t we have the same truths about Yeshua’s life and ministry and death and resurrection? Don’t we have the same powerful Spirit at work in us convincing of these truths? Our faith, too, rests, not on clever arguments, but on the power of God.
Paul was one of the greatest evangelists who ever lived. While most of us are not evangelists, each one of us is responsible to proclaim the Good News to those around us. Let’s learn from Paul. Don’t use complicated arguments. Keep the message simple. Use simple language. Simply tell people about Yeshua, that He is the Son of God, and the Messiah, and that His sinless live and His death and resurrection meets our greatest need – reconciliation with God, atonement, forgiveness. We don’t need to be great scholars or brilliant theologians to effectively proclaim the Good News that saves people. We don’t need clever arguments. We simply need to declare the reality of Yeshua, and the Holy Spirit will use our words and bring conviction to those whom He is saving.
Again, Paul lets them know that he did not want to cater to the Corinthian’s desires for wisdom and eloquence. I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Messiah Yeshua and him crucified. The Rabbi’s plan was to focus on Messiah Yeshua, and then specifically emphasize Messiah’s crucifixion.
Why? Because Messiah’s death is the only way our greatest need can be met, which is to be reconciled to the one, true and living God, from whom the world is estranged. And there is another reason why Paul focused on Messiah and His crucifixion. Messiah’s crucifixion not only is the basis for us being reconciled to God, but Messiah’s crucifixion was the end of Messiah’s life in this corrupt world. After He was crucified, Messiah left this world. Now, what happened to Messiah applies to us, since we are now united to Him and He is united to us. Messiah’s crucifixion means that, like Messiah left the corrupt world after He was crucified, we are able to leave a corrupt world. We are able to live for God, and His values, not for a corrupt world and its corrupt values.
The Rabbi wants Messiah’s followers in Corinth to know that although our message is simple, and doesn’t need to be adorned with sophisticated arguments and persuasive words, Christians and Messianic Jews are not devoid of wisdom. We have wisdom, but our wisdom is very different from the world’s wisdom. We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. The wisdom of the greatest minds of the world; the beliefs of the religions of the world, apart from Christianity; the thoughts of the world’s rulers – are not wisdom at all. The wisdom of the smart and powerful will utterly fail them. They, and their wisdom, will come to nothing.
We have wisdom, but our wisdom is different from the wisdom of the world. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. Our wisdom is God’s wisdom. It comes from the Creator, who is far wiser than any human being. The wisdom we have is divine wisdom. And the wisdom we have is a mystery. That doesn’t mean it’s hard to find or impossible to understand. It means that it was there all along, but was hidden, and was only recently revealed. The wisdom that we have originated in the mind of God before time began. Before the first atom came into existence, God had a plan to create beings in His image; and when they rebelled against Him, redeem them by the incarnation of the Son of God; and His perfect life; His atoning death and His resurrection; and ultimately transform them into His eternal friends and companions, His glorious sons and daughters. This is the meaning of life. This is what we and the universe are here for.
This wisdom is only understood by those who have the Spirit of God. No one else, not even the most well-informed and powerful people, are able to understand it. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. Two thousand years ago, when the greatest events were taking place, the most intelligent and powerful people did not understand what was happening.
Paul’s reason for stating this? If they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. If the leaders of the world, represented by the Jewish leaders and the Roman leaders, truly were wise, truly understood the world they lived in, they would not have crucified the glorious Lord – Yeshua. And in spite of Christianity impacting the world for 2,000 years, particularly Western Civilization, the most intelligent and most powerful people in the world today, those who are considered to be the best and the brightest, still don’t understand the world they live in. They are not wise. They are foolish.
And, as he does so often, the Lord’s Representative reinforces his teaching with a quote from the Word of God, in this case, from Isaiah 64. However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” – the things God has prepared for those who love him – these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. Isaiah declared that, from ancient times, humanity has not understood the truth about God; that there is only one God; and the one true God will bless those who are faithful to Him. In ancient times, humanity did not understand the world they lived in. Humanity was not wise. Nor was humanity wise in the time of Isaiah; nor was humanity wise in the time of Paul. And humanity is still not wise today.
But what the eyes of the people of the world have been unable to see, we see. What the ears of the people of the world have been unable to hear, we hear. What no human mind has been able to understand, we understand – the reality of the Three-In-One God; the plan of God, using the Messiah, to make chosen human beings into His glorious and eternal sons and daughters; friends and heirs.
And the way that God is able to help people see and hear these truths and respond with understanding, is by the work of His Spirit – who, first saves them, then transforms them and enlightens them, giving them wisdom and understanding about these things. How is the Spirit of God able to do that? Because He is everywhere, and has access to everyone and everything, including the thoughts of God. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Human beings are made in the image of God. In some ways, we are like God. One way we are like God is that God has thoughts; and God has a Spirit that is able to search His deepest thoughts. We have thoughts and we have spirits, the non-material, non-physical part of us, and that non-physical, non-material part of us is able to search our deepest thoughts.
The Rabbi’s point? The Spirit of God has access to all of God’s thoughts. Then, the Spirit of God, who now lives in Christians and Messianic Jews, and who has access to God’s thoughts, transmits God’s thoughts to us. The Spirit helps us understand the thoughts of God, the deep things of God, the wisdom of God. The Spirit guides us into all truth and teaches us who we are and what God has in store of us.
People who have not been reconciled to God by having faith in Messiah, and therefore do not have the Spirit of God living in them and teaching them, are unable to understand and embrace these truths that come from God. Only we can. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. There are two spirits – the Spirit of God who lives in those who are born-again; and the spirit of the world, who dominates the people of the world. The spirit of the world is real. It is the spirit of the god of this world, the fallen angel who opposes God; who perverts the teachings of God; who is antagonistic to the values of God; who ignores the wisdom of God. That evil spirit influences everyone who is not born-again. They are under his influence. They share his attitudes. They share his values. And they share his doom.
But, those who know the Lord are not under the influence of the spirit of the world. They do not think like him. They do not share his values. They are influenced by the Spirit of God. They accept God’s words, God’s values, God’s wisdom. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. What are the words, the spiritual realities taught by the Spirit?
There is one God. This one God is three, yet one. Not three modes or manifestations, which is heresy, but three distinct Persons who share one divine nature.
Yeshua is the Son of God and the Messiah. A Jewish carpenter turned rabbi who was rejected by most of His people and was crucified is the most important person who ever lived.
The purpose of life is to end your part in the great rebellion against God and become loyal to God the Father and Messiah Yeshua the Son.
Angels are real. Demons are real.
The world is fallen, dark, demonic, corrupt. Human beings are fallen, dark, demonic, corrupt.
The Bible is special. It is the divinely inspired Word of God.
The Gospel is true. It tells us the only way of salvation, the way to be reconciled to God.
Yeshua’s perfect life and death are the only way that human beings, who are far from God, can get close to God and be saved.
Yeshua overcame death. He was resurrected. Those who become loyal to Yeshua will overcome death. They will be resurrected.
Yeshua is alive now. He is seated at the right hand of God the Father, ruling the universe under the authority of His Father, the High King of Heaven.
The Father and the Son send their Spirit to live in everyone who becomes loyal to Yeshua.
The Spirit of God living produces abundant spiritual life in them. They experience a close, personal relationship with the living God that satisfies them. The Spirit teaches, guides, leads, directs, empowers them.
Truth is real. Morality is real. Holiness is real.
We must reject a corrupt world and its corrupt values. We must pick up our cross and follow Yeshua. We must go against the majority.
A worldly life is a failed life. A life devoted to money and materialism is a failed life. What does it profit a man to gain the world and lose his soul?
A life that puts anything before serving the Father and the Son is an idolatrous life.
Life is a mixture of joy and sorrow – often happening at the same time. God uses suffering to improve us. We must accept the suffering that God allows us to experience, with a good attitude.
Yeshua will return and punish the wicked and reward the righteous. He will rule on Earth, from Jerusalem, for one thousand years.
There is a day of judgment. Those who are loyal to Yeshua will not be condemned. All those who are not loyal to Yeshua will be condemned and destroyed in Gehenna, Hell, the Lake of Fire.
Those who are loyal to the Three-In-One God will live forever in the New Heavens, the New Earth, the New Jerusalem.
This is not human wisdom. This is wisdom that comes from God. This is wisdom that the Spirit of God communicates to individuals, so that they are able to understand and believe these realities. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.
However, those without the Spirit of God are unable to understand and believe and embrace these realities. They think these truths are nonsense. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person who has the Spirit living in him, and giving him divine wisdom, is very advantaged; very blessed. He knows the truth. He knows why things are the way they are. He knows where things are headed. He is able to analyze everything. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things. He is able to analyze the worlds ideas, philosophies and religions and know where they are right or they are wrong. He knows what he should believe and shouldn’t believe. He knows what he should do and what he shouldn’t do.
The person with the Spirit can analyze people and situations and know where they are right and where they are wrong, but those who don’t have the Spirit, since what they believe is a mixture of truth and error, are unable to do the same to him. They don’t know where he is right and where he is wrong. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments.
And, as he does so often, the Rabbi reinforces his teaching with a quote from the Word of God, in this case, from Isaiah. For, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” The answer? God is infinite in understanding. He knows all things. No human being can teach Him anything. Since the Spirit of God is living in us, and giving us wisdom, and helping us think like Messiah, just as people can’t instruct the Lord, human beings without the Spirit don’t have the capability to teach those who are spiritually mature the truth, or determine whether their lives are a success or a failure. “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Messiah. Thank God that we can have the mind of Messiah!
Lord, the world is proud. People think they are smart, wise, sophisticated. You want to humble them, and it pleases You to save people with a simple message usually brought by simple people. Lord, that’s us. We are not the rich and famous and powerful. But we do know You and Your message.
Help us to be bold, confident as we bring the simple Gospel message about Yeshua to the world around us.
Help us to be faithful to bring the Good News about Messiah to those around us.
Even if we are afraid to do this, help us face our fear and overcome our fear.
Thank You that we don’t need to be great scholars or brilliant theologians to effectively proclaim the Good News that saves people. We don’t need clever arguments. We simply need to declare the reality of Yeshua, and the Holy Spirit will use our words and bring conviction to those whom He is saving.
Like Rabbi Paul, help us to focus on Messiah, and Him crucified. Help us to think much about Messiah’s crucifixion. Help Messiah’s crucifixion works its way into our minds and hearts – and lives.
Thank You for Your Spirit who lives in us, and teaches us Your thoughts. Thank You for the wisdom You and Your Spirit give us. Thank You that we have the mind of Messiah! What a great thing that is!