Is the Gospel foolish? – 1 Corinthians 2:6-16

Good morning church. Hope you’re well. Wanted to welcome you all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. If you’ve been tracking with us, you’re probably aware that we began a new series this year titled “The Church : God’s Dwelling Place” from the letter of 1st Corinthians. And what we’ve already seen is that when the Bible uses the term “church”, it doesn’t mean a building but rather the rescued people of God in whom God dwells – it’s His chosen residence!

The background of this passage is where Paul is telling us that the Message, people who receive the message and and the Messenger are considered foolish in the eyes of the world. It’s contrary to what we expect from an inspirational Ted talk. It’s radically different from what we would normally expect from a successful influencer on a podcast.

In fact in the passage that we read a couple of weeks back, Paul tells us that he makes a conscious effort to not sound extra smart or clever in his preaching so that people’s faith might not rest on his human wisdom but on God’s wisdom. He did not want to stand in the way of people getting to know and be saved by Jesus.

So that brings us to this question – In reality, is the Gospel foolish?  Is the Gospel only meant for small children which we outgrow when we become adults? Is the Gospel meant for those who only go through a hard season in life? Is the Gospel something that doesn’t stimulate your mind and affections?

Well, it all depends if you’ve put on your spiritual glasses. I remember I was in grade 6 when I got my first pair of glasses. Watching too much television took a toll on my eyes and

I was having a hard time reading what my teacher’s wrote on the blackboard. I tried squinting to make sense of the words but it finally reached a point where I told my parents and they took me to an optician to get some glasses. While the optician did the eye examination to find out my power, I remember the first time he put a lens according to my power. It was such an amazing feeling because I could finally see objects and letters clearly.

And I wonder if the apostle Paul is trying to tell us a similar thing through this passage. He’s telling us that if we’ve put on our spiritual glasses, then we’d be able to see that the Gospel is not foolish but truly wise and filled with wisdom. Not just that, but we’d be able to see how much we need it every single day.

1. The Gospel can’t be understood by worldly wisdom (v6-8)

[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.

Paul begins v6 by telling us that “among the mature they impart wisdom”. In other words, the Gospel contains wisdom not just meant for children or new believers but also for the spiritually mature. It’s telling us that we don’t ever outgrow our need for the Gospel irrespective of how many years or how mature we are in the faith.

And then he goes on to see that this wisdom is radically different from the wisdom of the world. And he is saying that both the wisdom of this world and the rulers of this age are doomed to pass away. In other words, the wisdom of the world and worldly leaders keeps on changing. It’s temporary wisdom that is tailor made for the culture and the desires of that era. Just to give an example – some of the songs or movies or references that we used to make in the 1990’s or 2000s would be considered culturally inappropriate or culturally insensitive today. 10-20 years down the line, some of the things that we enjoy today would be culturally inappropriate and insensitive tomorrow. And so this is the worldly wisdom which keeps changing and will eventually pass away.

In contrast, v7 tells us of a wisdom which is eternal and permanent in nature. It is a secret and hidden wisdom which God decreed before the ages for our glory. In eternity past, God had already ordained this wisdom – this Gospel for our glory.

‭‭Ephesians 1:4 tells us that God chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.

God’s desire and intention to save us and make us His holy children was not an afterthought. It was not a stop gap arrangement. It was not God’s Plan B. It was God’s Plan A. It was planned all along. That’s the beauty of the Gospel message – God didn’t send Jesus to die for us because it was culturally relevant and appropriate for the time. God had planned that all along because He loves you and me.

And then in V8, Paul says that none of the rulers of Jesus’ time understood the Gospel or if they had they wouldn’t have crucified Jesus. Just take a minute to think through all the great rulers who were involved in Jesus’ crucifixion.

Pontius Pilate representing the Roman authority. King Herod who was the proxy king on behalf of Romans. The Jewish High Priest and council representing the religious Jewish community. And all of them with all their education, skills, qualifications and even their understanding of Scripture didn’t know why Jesus came and thought it was the best solution to kill him.

But here’s the thing – God used what they meant for evil, for our good and His glory. God used the terrible injustice on the cross to save helpless sinners like you and me. 2000 years back Jesus didn’t die because He sinned. Jesus died because you and I sinned. He paid the price. He took the punishment. He was made the scapegoat for you and me.

He died and was buried and then on that Resurrection Sunday morning rose again victoriously so that whoever may turn away from their sins and put their full trust on Jesus’ work on the cross would be saved and converted into God’s Holy children. And this is not God’s last minute plan. No, this was God’s plan right throughout which He planned in eternity past and has been patiently waiting for helpless sinners like you and I to come home like the Father in the parable of the Lost Son.

And this Gospel can’t be understood by worldly wisdom. This can’t be understood by simply being educated, skilled or qualified or by listening to multiple podcasts or Ted Talks (nothing wrong with. It’s good). None of that will bring you to understanding and receiving the Gospel. In order to understand the Gospel, we need help which brings us to the next point.

2. The Gospel can only be understood with the help of God’s Spirit (v9-14)

[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, even the depths of God. [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.

Firstly, these verses tell us that we need God’s Spirit to help us understand God’s heart and plans for us.

V9 tells us that things that we have not seen with our spiritual eyes, things that we have not heard with our spiritual ears, things that we have not even imagined, that’s what God plans and desires to reveal to us through His Spirit.

And then in v10-12, Paul uses an illustration to explain how big a deal this is. He asks the question – Who knows the deepest thoughts inside a person? His own spirit. And so who knows the deepest thoughts and plans of God? His own Spirit and that’s the very One who He has sent to come and dwell in all His children so that we could understand God’s great plans and purposes for us.

One of the lines from the song “Speak O Lord” that always moves me as I sing goes this way

Speak, O Lord, and renew our minds

Help us grasp the heights of Your plans for us

Not just that, V12 says that the Spirit is given to help us understand all things freely given to us! Our God is a loving Father who wants to share all His thoughts and His plans with us.

  • All the spiritual blessings and blood-bought promises we have access to
  • How He wants us to live as His Holy children in a broken world and
  • Also what the beautiful future looks like for us as His children

He doesn’t want to keep any secrets from His children and so He has graciously given us His own Spirit to help us understand and respond to His plans and purposes for us through the Gospel.

And then in V13, Paul says that he needs God’s Spirit to teach and explain Gospel truths to those who are spiritual. Some versions put it this way – Spirit taught truths to spiritual people.

And then in v14, Paul takes it one step further by saying that we need God’s Spirit to understand Gospel truths. In other words, if we don’t have God’s Spirit within us, we won’t be able to understand the Gospel! Which is why we could be coming to church for many years and may have heard repeated presentations of the Gospel, but still does nothing to us. Our hearts could still be hardened toward God. Our response to the Gospel could still be “I’ve heard this many times already, what’s new in this?”

The problem according to this verse is not just that we have hazy and blurry eyesight which needs to be corrected by putting on spiritual glasses. According to this verse, people are totally blind spiritually which is why we need God’s Spirit to open our eyes. It’s humbling to actually acknowledge that’s our condition and our state which is why we need to pray and ask for God’s Spirit to move over every Sunday Gathering, every Gospel Community meeting, every DNA group and also over every spiritual conversation that we have with our family, friends and coworkers who don’t yet know Jesus because unless God’s Spirit moves and melts their heart, they can’t even understand the Gospel. It will be like Greek to the hearers.

But not only is the Gospel not understood by worldly wisdom, not only can the Gospel be understood by God’s Spirit but also

3. The Gospel helps us understand ourselves and the world around us (v15-16)

[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.

If we read this verse without a context, we can easily misinterpret it. Paul is not saying that believers should think of themselves as more superior than others and not be subject to any correction or examination. In this context, Paul is saying that because believers have their spiritual eyes open, they can more accurately see and understand themselves and the world around them. Believers are able to have a spiritual eternity perspective to everything that happens in the world which won’t make sense to unbelievers.

Like when we see corruption and politics of the world, as believers we acknowledge that the problem is not that we don’t have a strong enough justice system but is that the human heart is corrupted and needs to be redeemed with the Gospel. When we see sexual abuse in society, as believers we don’t see illiteracy or lack of awareness as the problem, we acknowledge that the human heart is corrupted with lust and pride and needs to be redeemed with the Gospel. When we see our coworker at work do whatever needs to be done to get that promotion, we acknowledge that the problem is a heart that is looking for something in their job which only God through the Gospel can provide.

But do we get it right all the time? Are we able to view ourselves and the world accurately everytime? No, there are many times even the the last week where we’ve put pn our fleshy glasses but the encouragement is in v16.

The passage says “But we have the mind of Christ”. Which means that we have been given the capacity to think like Jesus Christ. Are all our thoughts and desires aligned to Jesus? Not yet, but it’s progressively being changed and transformed into the mind of our Lord Jesus. And so with the help of the Spirit based on the word ot God, our hearts and minds are being changed to think and see ourselves and the world around us just as Jesus see and thinks. And one day we will be able to do that perfectly – when our Savior Jesus returns. What a wonderful hope for people like us – who were once totally blind but now through the message of the Gospel and the work of the Spirit are able to see with clarity!

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