Series on I Corinthians, II The Message of the Gospel, C Faith, Text: 2:6-16, Title: Wisdom's Secret


There was a sign on a school bulletin board that said "Free, wisdom-Monday through Friday. Bring your own container." That represents a misunderstanding. What they were giving away was learning, information, knowledge, but it wasn't wisdom. Wisdom comes from revelation. The ungodly take pride in how much they know rather than wisdom. Someone has estimated that, if all of man's accumulated knowledge from the beginning of history to 1845 were represented by one inch, what he learned from 1845 until 1945 would amount to three inches and what he learned from 1945 until 1975 would represent the height of the Washington monument!  Since then it has probably tripled.  This incredible leap in information and knowledge has not been paralleled by a corresponding leap in wisdom. If anything, man is less able to cope with his problems. And now we have the legislature in Florida telling students to learn only facts, prompting a letter of the day in the Tampa Tribune that said, “God forbid learning how to think.” Many times we associate wisdom with older people. Life's experiences tend to produce common sense wisdom. Success in life depends on making the right decisions. The only way you can learn how to do this is by making the wrong decisions. By the time you're my age you've made enough wrong decisions to have learned something. But this common sense is not the wisdom in view in our text. True wisdom comes from above and this is what Paul is talking about here. Remember he has pointed out that human wisdom always falls short of knowing God. God has made foolish the wisdom of this world by providing an answer to all of our personal and social problems that cannot be found below. It is found only in the Bible. As the hymn writer William Cowper said, “God never meant that man should scale the heavens by strides of human wisdom.” We ignore this at our own peril. Winston Churchill best described the blindness of the wisdom of the world,  “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last” Worldly wisdom appeases evil and is ultimately consumed by its foolishness. In this study we see the three characteristics of true wisdom: It’s secret, spiritual, and scriptural.

I Wisdom Is Secret

The wisdom of God is revealed in the gospel of Christ. Paul calls it a secret. First, because it had to be revealed from above. No one would discover it on his own. in fact, according to verses 6-10, it is a wisdom not generally known,  because it is revealed to those to whom god chooses to reveal it in his mercy, 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. 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”-but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. In the second place it was hidden in the time before Christ’s incarnation, although prior to that time it was partially understood by types and shadows, promises and prophecies, sacrifices and ordinances all of which signified what was to come. The point of the quotation from Isaiah 64 is precisely this. We often quote these words as applying to our future in heaven, but when Isaiah wrote them he was speaking of the glories of the new covenant in which we presently stand. This is the glory God prepared for us. It has been revealed. Christianity is above all a revealed religion and something that cannot be discovered by us. This is why Paul says in verse 10, But God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who wrote the gospel and who enables us to accept its truth. So consider secondly, the wisdom is spiritual.

II Wisdom Is Spiritual

Only God can make himself known. That's what revelation means. It is the special office of the third person of the trinity, the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son to do this in the Bible and in our hearts, and we read about it in verses 11-16, 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. 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. 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. 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. The Holy Spirit, being God, has the same thoughts as the Father and the Son, and because he is the one who dwells in our hearts he can reveal that mind to us through an understanding of the Word. I would like you to notice verses 14 and 15 where Paul says that this is an all or nothing at all proposition. Either you understand it all or you are shut out. The man who understands is not subject to any man's judgment. Not that i can never be wrong but that no one who doesn't have this light can possibly instruct me. In other words, either you understand nothing or you understand everything. David wrote psalm 119 about the Word of God. In it he says, I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. This does not mean we all have the same wisdom. It does mean that you are either in the dark or in the light and if you are in the light then how much you learn depends on you. Remember Jesus said to Nicodemus Unless a man is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. We are born again when the Holy Spirit sovereignly takes up residence in our heart, and we can say as we realize this, my heart is Christ's home through the spirit. We can recognize that we've been born again by our repentance and faith, by the love of God in our hearts, and by the understanding we have of God's Word. If you are not born again you are in the dark. If you have been born again the potential is beyond anything you've realized. It is said we only use a small portion of our brainpower. It is certainly true we only use a small portion of our spiritual power to understand, mostly because we neglect using the means of grace. We fail to study to show ourselves approved unto God correctly handling God's word. Our third point therefore is, wisdom is scriptural.

III Wisdom Is Scriptural

Verse 13 focuses on the verbal nature of God’s revelation and  of God’s wisdom, 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. Wisdom is spoken, taught, and preached in the gospel. Notice Paul's heavy emphasis on words. Wisdom is not feeling, it is not emotion, it is not intuition, it is not mystical. It is black and white and it is found between the covers of your Bibles. Spiritual truths expressed in spiritual words says Paul. In other words God's truth in God's words. Now if you open this book, the Bible, you will see paper and ink and everything you see in other books, but if that is all you see then you see nothing. What is written here is the self-proclaimed Word of the Creator. It is the instruction book for salvation, for life, for this world, and many choose to either ignore it or qualify it. Actually the expression “spiritual truths expressed in spiritual words” is somewhat expanded by the translators of the New International Version. Literally the text says “comparing the spiritual with the spiritual”. What we have here is a rule for interpretation, the ultimate hermeneutic of the Bible. If you want to understand Scripture, you have to compare it to other Scripture and not to anything else. If you want to know what a word means you consult its usage in Scripture, not in Webster or the Oxford English Dictionary. The more you know, the more you will understand! Chuck Swindoll writes, “Don't expect wisdom to come into your life like great chunks of rock on a conveyor belt. It isn't like that. It's not splashy and bold . . . nor is it dispensed like a prescription across a counter. Wisdom comes privately from God as a by-product of right decisions, godly reactions, and the application of spiritual principles to daily circumstances. Wisdom comes . . . not from trying to do great things for God . . . but more from being faithful to the small, obscure tasks few people ever see.” This includes the study of Scripture and the seeking of God’s wisdom. James says, If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God that giveth to all liberally, and upbraideth not and it shall be given him. This is the secret of wisdom.  Who were the Wise Men in the long ago?  Not Herod, fearful lest he lose his throne;  Not Pharisees, too proud to claim their own;  Not priests and scribes whose province was to know;  Not money changers running too and fro;  But three who traveled, weary and alone,  With dauntless faith, because before them shone  The star that led them to a manger low.  Who are the Wise Men now, when all is told?  Not men of science; not the great and strong; Not those who wear a kingly diadem;  Not those whose eager hands pile high the gold;  But those amid the tumult and the throng  Who follow still the star of Bethlehem.