Daily Distinctives January 29, 2015 (Him Crucified)

January 29, 2015

Daily Reading:

[1Co 2:1 NKJV]
And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God.

[1Co 2:2 NKJV]
For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

[1Co 2:3 NKJV]
I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.

[1Co 2:4 NKJV]
And my speech and my preaching [were] not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,

[1Co 2:5 NKJV]
that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

[1Co 2:6 NKJV]
However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.

[1Co 2:7 NKJV]
But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden [wisdom] which God ordained before the ages for our glory,

[1Co 2:8 NKJV]
which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

[1Co 2:9 NKJV]
But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

[1Co 2:10 NKJV]
But God has revealed [them] to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.

[1Co 2:11 NKJV]
For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.

[1Co 2:12 NKJV]
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

[1Co 2:13 NKJV]
These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

[1Co 2:14 NKJV]
But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned.

[1Co 2:15 NKJV]
But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is [rightly] judged by no one.

[1Co 2:16 NKJV]
For “who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

Daily Distinctive:

God is so amazing. I was praying about what I wanted to share in my daily devotion and I felt the LORD telling me 1 Corinthians 2:2. I would say that it was subconsciously implanted into my brain tonight as my wife and I enjoyed some impromptu fellowship with a couple of dear friends of ours who are fellow warriors in the faith, but I know better. God gives us what we need when we need it, and while the conversations of the night did spur us on to love and good works, the LORD confirmed tonights devotional with me with another verse that my friend shared at the end of the evening. He felt the LORD telling him to share 1 Corinthians 2:9 with us. I did not put two and two together, but that verse was amongst those that are a part of my devotional for today! Coincidence, yeah…if you believe in coincidence. I know better.

So let’s dig in and look at these verses together and see what we can glean from them. Paul had just introduced some very important tenets to the Corinthians believers in the first chapter. Paul addresses divisions, he addresses the wisdom of this age in comparison to the wisdom from God, and then he wraps up chapter one with the proper perspective of the believer; giving glory where glory is due. Paul recognized that there is nothing that he brings to the table, and so he starts off the second chapter (keeping in mind that the subdivisions and chapters were added later) continuing the thought from the previous chapter.

[1Co 2:1 NKJV]
And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God.

Paul recognized that he did not have to come with any persuasive speech, for had he used the oratory skills which he obviously possessed, it would have detracted from the message that God had called him to relay. The purpose for his apostleship was not to be tied up in secondary issues, but he was to fulfill a primary directive, to teach the WORD of God and preach Jesus Christ. He points this out in the previous chapter where he says:

[1Co 1:17 NKJV]
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.

There are important things that are in our lives that demand our attention. But everything should take a back seat to the directives that God lays upon us. It doesn’t mean we forsake the other issues, even Paul baptized people, but his first and most important duty was to teach Jesus. And so Paul made up his mind to do exactly that.

[1Co 2:2 NKJV]
For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

It’s not that Paul had amnesia to everything except the message of the cross; however, he put the preeminent message at the forefront of his mind and made that the centrality of all that he did. As I listened to a sermon this evening at the home of our friends, the pastor who spoke was speaking about the end times and more specifically about the emergent church. As he spoke the LORD showed me a valuable lesson that I will carry with me from this day foreword. I think Paul hit the nail on the head. The lesson that I learned is that when I am writing a sermon, or sharing a message, I need to ask myself, “Does this point to the Gospel?” “Have I shared Christ and Him crucified in my delivery?” It doesn’t matter what the subject matter is, if I am teaching the WORD of God. There is a way to weave Jesus Christ and His atoning work, burial, and resurrection from the dead into any message; after all, the whole of Scripture points to Jesus. Those connections should come as naturally as the sun does in the morning. Paul goes on to say:

[1Co 2:3 NKJV]
I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.

The language Paul uses here seems counter to the picture that I have in my mind of the great Apostle Paul. I think about the bravery that he had to stand before kings and magistrates, against critics and antagonists, even in the midst of persecution and physical brutality that he faced for his faithfulness to proclaim Christ. And yet, here, he states that he was with them in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling! Paul recognized that apart from Christ he was hopeless. The humility of Paul is certainly commendable, but the reality of Paul’s statement makes it all the more understandable and relatable. Our dependence on the LORD should be like breathing. We depend on the LORD for every breath. There is nothing in and of ourselves that should produce any confidence at all; still we tend to go forward so arrogantly at times as if, “I got this.” The reality is the only reason we may accomplish any good thing is because God has set it in motion and allowed us to be a part of the mighty work that He is doing.

Still, Paul’s words were powerful. When he spoke, he spoke with the authority of the Holy Spirit.

[1Co 2:4 NKJV]
And my speech and my preaching [were] not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,

Before Paul became a believer he was known in the land as Paul of Tarsis. He was a very educated man, a scholar, and of the sect of Judaism that was renowned for their knowledge of the Law of Moses, and a great zeal to protect it. Paul (formerly Saul) was a student of Gamaliel, one of the most renowned Rabbi’s of the time. We read about Paul’s former accolades, his pedigree, or his resume, if you will, in Philippians 3:4-7. And yet Paul equates all of these attributes, that most would consider pinnacles of success, to be worthless. He essentially says that it is dung to him.

Paul recognized that his speech was eloquent by very definition of the word, yet not from a human perspective. Paul understood that the words he used were a demonstration of the Spirit and of power. Understand that Paul was being used by the Spirit and spoke as the Spirit lead. Paul knew better than anyone else that had he been left to write his own speeches that they would have fallen flat. The only reason Paul is revered today by people like you and I, is because of his faithfulness to speak what the LORD gave him to speak. He was imitating what Christ had done, and later in 1 Corinthians 4:16 he gives us a great, “therefore,” statement. In light of this he says, or “Therefore, be imitators of me.” Paul depended solely on the LORD for wisdom. He did not stray from speaking and preaching the full counsel of the WORD of God. He did not rely on carnal wisdom in his preaching, but rather he focused on the direct revelations of Christ in order….

[1Co 2:5 NKJV]
that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Paul pointed to Jesus, because Jesus is the only way by which man can obtain salvation. It is Christ crucified, nothing more, nothing less.

Now…in verses 6 through 8 Paul starts out by saying, “However….” This term is a term of contrast. In other words, Paul is saying that while he did not come with persuasive words of worldly wisdom it does not mean that his words were void of wisdom. In fact, quite the opposite was true. Paul was lead by the Holy Spirit in his discourse and as he preached, the Spirit showed gave Paul the acumen to address his audience in a fitting manner. To those who needed to hear the milk of the WORD, he gave milk; to those who needed meat, he gave meat. And so Paul points out that his words were quite profound from a spiritual perspective, to those who were capable of receiving his words. The believer in Jesus is “heart of hearing” not “hard of hearing.” In other words, believers are able to discern by the same Spirit that delivers His WORD; whereas, the world is incapable of comprehending spiritual truth.

[1Co 2:6 NKJV]
However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.

[1Co 2:7 NKJV]
But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden [wisdom] which God ordained before the ages for our glory,

[1Co 2:8 NKJV]
which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

The wisest of the worldly wise is ignorant compared to the most simple of all believers when it comes to the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Even and infant in Christ has more godly knowledge than the greatest, wisest, and most intellectual man of the world. Had the rulers of Paul’s age had a shred of godly wisdom, Paul rightly says, “they would have not crucified the LORD of glory.” And so Paul says:

[1Co 2:9 NKJV]
But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

Here Paul is paraphrasing what is found in Isaiah 64:4. This is not a direct quote, but rather Paul is conveying the idea that through the power of the Spirit, believers can grasp the perfect work of Christ on the cross. While it may be true that what awaits us in the afterlife will be amazing, in context, what Paul is saying is that the Mystery of the perfect work of Jesus has been revealed to the believer by the Holy Spirit. This is why he says in the next verse:

[1Co 2:10 NKJV]
But God has revealed [them] to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.

Apart from the interpretation of the Spirit, we cannot know the deep things of God. The things of God are alien to us in the flesh. When we are carnally minded, that is, before we surrender our lives to Jesus and are born again of the Spirit, we are incapable of understanding the things of God. This is why Jesus Himself said,

[Jhn 16:7 NKJV]
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.

[Jhn 16:8 NKJV]
“And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

[Jhn 16:9 NKJV]
“of sin, because they do not believe in Me;

[Jhn 16:10 NKJV]
“of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more;

[Jhn 16:11 NKJV]
“of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

[Jhn 16:12 NKJV]
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear [them] now.

[Jhn 16:13 NKJV]
“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own [authority], but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.

[Jhn 16:14 NKJV]
“He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare [it] to you.

[Jhn 16:15 NKJV]
“All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare [it] to you.

Paul understood how incapable we all are of understanding the fullness of God, even Paul would rightly state that even he was inept at preaching what he did know about God apart from the Spirit of God that gives us understanding. And so he writes:

[1Co 2:11 NKJV]
For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.

The best we could ever hope to attain apart from the Spirit of God is carnal wisdom. I think about brilliant men in our own generations. Great scientific minds that have an understanding of things that are so far beyond the intelligence level of most men. And while they have these brilliant minds by design, they are carnal in their thinking and do not give credit to the One who created them. Instead, they attribute their wisdom to some primordial genetic lottery in which they received, by chance, the lion share of the brain power. This is the best that man can do. And yet the great things mankind has accomplished is child play compared to the incomprehensible knowledge of the I AM! Those that have great wisdom in human terms are genius only to the extent that God has allowed, and yet are deceived by the spirit of this world into believing that they have been endowed with great minds as the result of fate and cosmic happenstance. Not so for the believer. On the contrary, Paul writes:

[1Co 2:12 NKJV]
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

The carnal man does not account for God in his equations and theories. Man’s world-view prohibits him from seeing the truth, the reality of God. It is not that God has not given man enough “proof” of His existence and power, but that man has become futile in his thinking (Romans 1:21-23).

[1Co 2:14 NKJV]
But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned.

To be spiritually discerned is the lot of sinful man, who by their denial of the truth which God makes apparent, forsake the wisdom from above. The believer, on the other hand, is spiritually discerning. The difference is that the believer is indwelled by the Holy Spirit who speaks on the behalf of the Father to men whose hearts are prepared, through salvation, to hear the very WORD of God. And because of this, our wisdom is irrefutable. Paul goes on to say…

[1Co 2:15 NKJV]
But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is [rightly] judged by no one.

The judgement that Paul is speaking of here is does not mean that Christians are above criticism, nor does it mean that our sins and flaws have no bearing on the consequences we face in this life as a result. We can certainly be held accountable; and rightly so. Still, unbelievers and carnal men have no grounds to judge the believer because they are not operating on the same level of understanding. This doesn’t mean that if a Christian sins and breaks the law that they can’t be arrested, judged and incarcerated, even though it would be nice to claim, “Diplomatic Immunity” when we blow it! Instead, what Paul is getting at is that we cannot be judged on spiritual by anyone who is not spiritual.

Interestingly enough, while we who are spiritual can judge all things, we have no business judging the world of the lost. They act the way they act because that is what unbelievers do. As believers, we can and should make judgements; after all, we will be judges in eternity. Paul talks about this later in chapter 6, when he talks about some of the wrong practices of the Corinthian believers, but it is here that he points out an interesting fact…look at verse 3…

[1Co 6:3 NKJV]
Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?

This is not the case for the carnal man. The carnal man will be the judged, and the believers will be the judges. And so while we should expect the world to behave the world behaves, it does not mean we cannot make judgements, but rather we should seek to show those in the world the folly of their ways by pointing them to the law, which convicts, and then showing them the truth of Jesus, which sets them free from the condemnation of the law and the flesh.

Finally, Paul wraps up this chapter with one of the most mind blowing statements in all of his letter to the Corinthians. He says…

[1Co 2:16 NKJV]
For “who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

Amazing! The Creator God who knows the number of dust particles in the universe; the God who was and is and is to come; the I AM; truly who can know His mind and give Him counsel (Isaiah 40:13)? And yet God in His wisdom has chosen to reveal His mind to us through the Spirit and empower us to have the same mind that chose to give His life as a ransom for you and I, to which I say….MIND BLOWN!

 

Daily Muse:

I am so grateful to see the LORD moving in my life today. He is giving me more and more confidence in His calling for me and has even chosen to bless me with encouragement as I wait by way of confirmation. Despite the way it appears on the surface I know that God is moving in and through me to accomplish what He will. I am so grateful for the things that, on the surface, appear to be impossible. I know that nothing is too great for my LORD. I trust that He is moving around the dust in His universe, and causing the elements to bend, hearts to change, minds to conform and things to happen in order that I would be able to fulfill that which He has called me to do. Now, I realize that this statement must sound somewhat narcissistic, but in truth, it is the same for me as it is for any believer. God is arranging things that appear to us to be circumstances. The “butterfly effect,” is just a fancy way of us contemplating the sovereignty of an all powerful, all wise, perfect and holy God! He is moving in the spiritual and physical world on our behalf to accomplish His will. We are just the beneficiaries of His marvelous grace! It makes me…well….giddy to think that He loves me. And not only does He love me, but He has a plan for me. And not only does He have a plan for me, but He is working all things together to see it come to fruition. How can I complain then, if a piece of His puzzle is my suffering? Could it be that I need to be stretched in areas of my life so that I can meet Him at His will? Of course that is the case. Nothing good happens in my life without His hands being upon it. I just want to explode with joy knowing that He is mighty and powerful and loving and gracious and oh so many wonderful adjectives that all the languages in the world combined could not even partially describe how great He is! GLORY BE TO GOD!

Daily Prayer:

LORD, thank You!  -Amen

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