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Lowell Brueckner

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1 Corinthians 2


Chapter 2

Paul’s personal way of speaking

1.      And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom.

2.      For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

3.      And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling,

4.      and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,

5.      so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

In these first verses, Paul better describes his way of presenting the message of the cross. He began in chapter 1, verse 17 saying, “Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” The manner of presenting the gospel must match the message. It is about a Man, bloody and beaten, dying on a rugged cross. To preach that with eloquent wisdom is a contradiction to the message and, in fact, subtracts from its power; worse yet, it takes away from the glory that should only go to God (1:31).  The power of the message comes from God and the human power of an eloquent orator is far less than adequate in portraying the message.

I quote verse 21 of chapter 1 from the Amplified Bible: “When the world with all its earthly wisdom failed to perceive and recognize and know God by means of its own philosophy, God in His wisdom was pleased through the foolishness of preaching to save those who believed.” The church makes a mistake by appealing to human desire for entertainment or by catering to man’s ego in its presentation of the gospel. The design of God’s plan for salvation from the onset is to make the individual uncomfortable. The message must be blunt, straightforward, plain and without psychological manipulation. It is a simple declaration. In Paul’s words it is without “lofty speech or wisdom.” Again in verse 4, he affirms, “My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom” (KJV).

In Romans 1:1, Paul said that he was “set apart for the gospel of God”. It was exclusively his reason for existence, dedicating himself wholely to that purpose. What is this gospel? In verse two, we have the answer that it is “Jesus Christ and him crucified”. Notice the word nothing. Paul determined to know nothing else. The gospel consists exclusively in presenting the person of Jesus Christ and His work on the cross. 

Several years ago in Romania, I went to a youth camp that was to be over a week in length and I would be speaking at least twice a day. In the opening session I made this statement: “I believe, if the Apostle Paul were standing in my place today, these would likely be his words – ‘I have determined not to know anything among you young people this week at camp, except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.’ It is God’s word in every place and it is relative to every situation.” 

With the backing of a small band of spiritually-hungry teenagers, who came prepared to pray, I began my lessons. Soon, it was reported that a boy had shut himself in his room and even refused to come out for the meetings. He was under powerful conviction of sin. In one of the next morning meetings, I frequently had to pause, because the translator’s voice cracked under emotion. Finally, she wept freely and could translate no longer, so my message came to an end. The camp director stood to pray and did so through mighty weeping. In the last session a 14-year-old boy, who had been a bit of a problem during camp, asked the director, if he could say a word and the director consented. He simply said, “I want to receive the Lord Jesus…” and that was as far as he got. He broke into tears. Two hours later, his sobs were still to be heard in the dormitory. An invitation was given to those, whose hearts were being stirred by the Holy Spirit. Unconverted youth responded.

Young souls, just as much as the old, want the truth of God’s word more than they want advice on how to cope with petty dilemmas. You will find Christian young people these days, who can see through the smokescreen of human reasoning and “rebel” against it. They want the word and they want it straight and true! They respond to Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

Let me briefly state what verse two means: It is a message that begins, as the apostle John saw it, before the foundation of the world. There exists a personal Word, Who was with God and was God. He is God, the Son, and He was sent from God the Father to this earth to die. He is a sinless lamb, who did not need to die for his own sins, as every human being must, but took upon Himself the sins of the world. Because God is perfectly righteous, He declared against sinners a just sentence for breaking His law. Because God loved the world of sinners, He sent His Son to lay down His own life, as an infinite sacrifice in their place, that “whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn.3:16). This all is due to the abundant mercy of God, a gift of His grace, that no one can gain or merit, but must simply trust in the person and the work of Christ. That is the gospel.

Paul is a brother talking to fellow brothers (1), who wants all eyes taken off the messenger and placed on the message. He mentions his weakness and confesses his fear; he doesn’t want to be the Corinthians’ hero (3). He was afraid, when in Corinth! Jesus spoke to him in the night: “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you” (Ac.18:9-10).  

Here is the reason why he so strongly insists on emphasizing the point. He did not want the Corinthians to place their trust in him or any other man. He did not want them to lean upon human wisdom, ability or courage. He wanted them to trust solely in the power of God (4). Any preacher, motivated by self-interest and a desire to have loyal followers, is compromised and unworthy of the calling.

The surpassing wisdom and power of God

6.      Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away.

7.      But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.

8.      None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

9.      But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”-

10.  These things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything,

11.  For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.

12.  Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.

13.  And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

14.  The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

15.  The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one.

16.  “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.    

Paul does impart wisdom to the mature Christian… a surpassing wisdom, the wisdom of God. He is writing about the wisdom of the cross, which requires spiritual discernment to appreciate. It might surprise us to learn that there are Christians… even prominent Christians… who do not spend much time, speaking about the cross. They might see it as something necessary up until the time of an individual’s salvation, but then they leave it behind to go on to “deeper things”. The ways and thoughts of God are not the ways of human kind, therefore, I maintain that this perception of the cross, to which I have just referred, is a carnal conclusion, with insufficient instruction from the Holy Spirit.  

The wisdom of God is not the wisdom, which is learned and practiced in the world by its experts (6). Paul shows that godly wisdom is a hidden, secret thing to the eyes of the world. Jesus said, “Truly, truly (amen, amen), I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God… unless one is born of… the Spirit” (Jn.3:3,5). Outside of the new birth and the work of the Holy Spirit, the wisdom of God is a secret mystery. Before He created the world, God designed a time scheduled, which reached into the age of the New Testament. It reaches beyond this world to the eternal glory, in which the saints will participate (7).

The religious Sanhedrin, with the Scriptures in their possession, did not understand these things. Pontius Pilate, educated in Rome, did not understand them, nor did Caesar or any of the Greek philosophers. The world united as one to crucify the Lord of glory, which God predicted through David, long before their hatred developed (8): “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed” (Ps.2:1). Peter knew the secret wisdom of the cross and revealed to the Jews on Pentecost the sovereign plan of God over the vicious acts of men: “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Ac.2:23). They could not see that, in crucifying Him, they actually brought Him to glory. According to Warren Wiersbe, the spiritual ruler of darkness did not see this secret plan: “Satan thought that Calvary was God’s great defeat; but it turned out to be God’s greatest victory and Satan’s defeat!”

God’s wisdom is beyond that, which the human eye can see, even with the help of the telescopes, which he has invented; its decibels cannot be captured by the human ear, nor by sonar instruments. The thoughts of man and the imaginations of his heart stretch beyond what he can see or hear, but it cannot pick up the secrets of the vast wisdom of God (9). Paul shows again, God’s foreknowledge in devising a plan, in which, in love, He prepared unspeakable and unfathomable blessings for those who have come to love Him. These are not things left to be discovered in the future, except in their fullest sense, but now, they are revealed to Christian understand through the teaching of the Spirit. There is no telling how deep one can reach, when he gives his heart to meditating upon the secrets of God, and opens his mind to the instruction of the Holy Spirit (10), even as there is no limit to the depths to which the Spirit reaches is order to help the lover of God discover eternal truth.

The law of nature teaches that only creatures of like nature can understand each other. Above all that like creatures can understand about one another, the individual understands himself and his own thoughts best. According to the same law, only the Spirit of God can comprehend the thoughts of God (11). In amazing condescension and love, God imparts His Spirit to His own people, and He comes to dwell in the life of each and every Christian. Jesus taught His disciples, while we was still with them “The Spirit of truth… You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you… He will teach you all things” (Jn.14:17,26). He is the one, who reveals the secret wisdom of God to His people. It is in its entirety a work of grace that is given without cost to the believers, except for the cost of taking time to listen, as the Holy Spirit teaches (12). It is free, at the disposal of any one, who hungers and thirsts to know God.

The human teacher must also share these words of divine truth, not according to his own capabilities, no matter how talented he may be, for they will fall far short. He must be anointed from above in order to receive for himself the wisdom of God, and then, as he teaches, these truths can only be imparted as unction brings the truth home to the hearts of the listeners. Oh, how we need to grasp these Scriptures and insist that Christian teaching must be delivered through the fullness of the Holy Spirit! The speaker must be empowered by Him and so the listener must be, as well. The law of nature applies again… only the spiritual mouth can impart and the listener must have spiritual ears (13).

Man without the Spirit, the natural man, born of Adamic nature, cannot by any natural means attain divine understanding. The sinner man by himself cannot receive godly instruction; he will reject it, because it sounds foolish to him. It is contrary to his nature. There is not one man in the world, who does not have the Spirit of God, who can understand the things of God. This is the teaching of Paul, as well as that, which is clearly taught in all Scripture: “No one understands; no one seeks for God” (Ro.3:11). An intelligent orthodontist, told an employee of my acquaintance, “I read the Bible, but it doesn’t make any sense to me.” This truth must be clearly taught and accepted among Christians, or we will try to reach them through human wisdom and reasoning. It is all for nothing!

The popular teaching that Christians are not to judge at all is not according to Scripture. Jesus commanded, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment” (Jn.7:24). He is teaching the same principle exactly that the apostle gives us. The spiritual person does not judge according to his eye-witness, meaning that which he sees, but he judges all things, according to the Spirit of God, who gives him discernment. He cannot be rightly understood by the average citizen of this world, who cannot perceive the divine presence in his inner being (15). The worldly-minded person will get it wrong every time.

We are all students; none of us should ever consider himself capable in the school of the Spirit. Paul quotes Isaiah 40:13, showing that the New Testament is built upon the principles established in the Old Testament: “Who has measured the Spirit of the Lord, or what man shows him his counsel.” What he has shown us in verse 11 and 12, is based on the teaching of the old prophet. “No one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God” and “We have received the Spirit who is from God.” We have dwelling within us the Spirit of God, who takes the things of Christ and shows them to us. The apostle John says this: “God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life… We know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding” (1 Jn.5:11, 12, 20). Through the working within us of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit we have understanding of divine wisdom. It is personally imparted within us: “We have the mind of Christ.”


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