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"Access to God's Wisdom"
1 Corinthians 2:9-16

Wednesday AM Bible Study
April 4, 2007

In the first four chapters of his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul is seeking to combat the sinful tendency in the church toward "boasting in men" (1 Corinthians 3:21). He has sought to deal with the growing sectarianism within the church by showing the believers their sufficiency in Christ (1:4-9), and by demonstrating the fundamental unity of Christ Himself (1:10-17). He then deals with the message of the gospel; showing that it is wrong for the believers to identify themselves by specific gospel preachers after the pattern of worldly philosophic "wisdom"; because the wisdom of God (i.e., the gospel) is "foolishness" to this world (1:18-25). What's more, God deliberately chooses as the beneficiaries of His saving gospel the people that this world considers "foolish" (1:26-31). Then Paul turns to the preaching of the message itself. He shows that the means he deliberately chose of proclaiming the gospel was not impressive in human terms; so that the power for salvation may be of the message, and not of the human qualities of the speaker (2:1-8).

In this morning's section, Paul deals with the way by which the wisdom of God through the gospel is accessed by people; and how this too demonstrates the inappropriateness of dividing the church up under teachers based on human standards. Here, he demonstrates that the wisdom of God humbles the boastful pride of the "wise" of this world in terms of . . .

I. HOW IT IS KNOWN (vv. 9-11).

A. Paul here cites an Old Testament passage (v. 9). It's unclear which passage he is quoting from; but it is probably a loose rendering of Isaiah 64:4 or 65:17. The idea of this quote is not meant to express the wonders of heaven; but of the absolute inaccessibility of God's wisdom through normal, natural human means. It is not known through what is seen, or what is heard, or even what is reasoned in the mind (the "heart"). No mere human can grasp, by human resources, what God has prepared for those who love Him (see Romans 8:28-30).

B. Rather, God has "revealed" these things (v. 10a). They can only be known by God's gracious act of "unveiling" them or "disclosing" them to men. The agency through which He does this is the Holy Spirit—the third Person of the triune Godhead. This, of course, takes away any cause for men to boast; because the access to God's wisdom is only as a result of His grace, and never a result of human wisdom.

C. That it is through the Holy Spirit that this happens is plain; because only the Spirit can search all things—particularly "the deep things of God" (v. 10b). Paul explains this by the use of an analogy (v. 11): just as only the spirit that is within a man can really know what is in that man, so also no one can know the things of God except the Spirit of God Himself. It is thus only by the Holy Spirit that true wisdom can be accessed.


It is impossible to understand the things of God by mere human resources; which again humbles the pride of man. But we are told that we, as believers, have not been given "the spirit of the world". Rather, we have been endowed with a divine Person—the Spirit of God. This is so that we might know the things that are freely given to us by God. It is the Holy Spirit's gracious ministry in us to teach us and guide us in all spiritual truth (John 14:15-18; 25-26; 1 John 2:24-27).


Furthermore, it is not in human words, devised by human wisdom, that these truths are communicated to us. Man doesn't first receive wisdom from God, and then devise his own means of expressing those truths. Rather, the Holy Spirit Himself is also involved through the process of "inspiration". He guided human writers to record the truths that He wanted expressed; "comparing" or "combining" spiritual things with spiritual (See 2 Peter 1:21-22).


The natural (that is, unspiritual or unregenerate) man cannot even receive (or "welcome") the truths of God's wisdom. They are foolishness to him. In fact, he doesn't even have the mechanism internally to know them because they are spiritually "discerned" or "appraised" or "judged". He looks upon them as foolish because he doesn't have the capability of receiving God's revelation of truth for what it is.

V. HOW IT IS ASSESSED (vv. 15-16).

Rather, the truth of God's wisdom is only rightly assessed by a spiritually regenerated man. Because of the indwelling Holy Spirit, he has the inner enablement to rightly assess spiritual truth. He himself is not rightly assessed by the man of this world; because such men cannot know the mind of the Lord (See Isaiah 40:13; see also John 15:18-25). But because he has the mind of Christ (through the indwelling Holy Spirit), the regenerated man can assess rightly all things.

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