In our study of 1 Corinthians chapter two, we look at how we can know the things of God. In chapter 1, we saw that, from the world's view, the things of God are "foolishness". Now, we will see how God can turn "foolishness" into wisdom and understanding.
"When I came to you brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God." NIV translation
Paul was a man of earthly wisdom as he had studied Judaism under one of the top teachers (Gamaliel) of his day. But, when he came to Christ, it was not by earthly wisdom but by the direct intervention and power of God. (see Acts 9) Therefore, when he proclaimed the gospel it was not based on his own wisdom but on what God had done in him. In our world today, that may seem strange as we place such a high value on our college degrees and it seems like the more degrees you have the more you are worth in society. That same spirit has penetrated the ranks of our "churches" and "pastors" and many who proclaim the Word are attempting to do so in their own strength and wisdom.
"For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." NIV translation
This highly educated man decided to know nothing except the gospel of Jesus Christ. He could have debated with the best of them but instead trusted in the power of God to do the same thing to others that it had done to him. Today, we see way too much personality creeping into the presentation of the gospel instead of simply proclaiming the gospel. There are pastors and evangelists that will spend weeks, months or even years developing a clever sermon that they think is going to save the world but, as we shall see, none of us have the power to save with our words.
I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling." NIV translation
This well educated man went about his ministry in a humble manner. He understood in his own heart that, when it comes to the things of God, it is serious business that cannot be handled in our own strength. There are some very great and humble preachers and teachers of God's Word but there are also many who have a "rockstar" mentality and love the spotlight. We would all do well to follow the method of Paul that we see in this chapter.
"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 men's wisdom, but on God's power." NIV translation
We have probably all heard the expression "Talk is cheap." and it is even true when sharing God's word. Paul's ministry was effective because it was backed up by action and specifically by the action of God through the power of the Spirit. An example of this is found in Acts 19 where people were healed with a handkerchief that Paul had used.
"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. No, we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began." NIV translation
The wisdom that this passage speaks of is the knowledge of Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Messiah. God knew, from the beginning of creation, that His Son would have to come to save us from sin and death. That did not make much sense to many people in Paul's day and it doesn't make sense to many today. To us that are called, it makes perfect sense.
"None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written: 'No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him -'" NIV translation
The leaders of God's people at the time of Jesus' first coming were not ignorant men. They had all of the "book learning" that was available yet they could not see Jesus as the Messiah. Paul quotes from the book of Isaiah and we see that God had even foretold that they would not understand what was to come. Many have used that passage to say that we cannot see or understand what God has prepared for us in eternity but that it not what it is referring to. (We can see what God has prepared for us in Revelation 21)
"but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God." NIV translation
If you want to know the truth about something or someone, then you need to go to the source and it is the same with the things of God. Who better to learn about God than God Himself? We can read and study His word but only God can reveal it to our hearts and that can only happen through the Holy Spirit.
"We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us." NIV translation
The world and the spirit of self that controls it cannot help us to understand the things of God. The Spirit of God helps us to understand the salvation that He has given us and just what it means. Our knowledge does not save us but it helps us to understand the nature of God and to appreciate what has been given to us. This leads to worship in truth and in spirit.
"This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned." NIV translation
The Holy Spirit was sent to guide our every action and even our every thought. Those that do not have the Spirit cannot understand the things of God because they listen in the flesh.
"The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment: 'For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?' But we have the mind of Christ." NIV translation
All people make decisions (judgments) every day about all kinds of things. We (the spiritual man) make these decisions based on listening to the Holy Spirit. Paul quotes from the prophet Isaiah to remind us that wisdom in all situations comes from the Lord. We have that "mind of Christ" through the power of the Spirit and are able to make decisions that are pleasing to God.