Lesson One – The Wisdom of God

The Wisdom of God

Introduction

Parts I and II were dedicated to what was happening in the church in Corinth and what Paul said to their problem of division.  The fact is we do not need to be concerned with a problem that happened two thousand years ago.  So then, why did we do the study in Parts I and II?  We did it because of the way God reveals His will to those who seek Him in each age.  Although the Corinthian’s problem was significant in its own time and place, it is important to us because God imbedded what Christians must know today.

We are concerned with what the scriptures teach us about Christian theology, ethic and practice.  God revealed His will to us in “real time” in the first century.  The studies we did in the first two parts about what the Corinthian letters meant to the church members serves to control how we determine what the same scriptures mean to us.  If we do not know what they meant we cannot be sure what they mean.  Please review the Introduction of Part I, Lesson Three.

This is the first of several lessons about what the first six chapters of I Corinthians mean to us.  We will study the theology of God in this lesson.  The New Testament was written in Greek.  Theos is the Greek word for God.  This study is about God and His wisdom about the life of mankind.  It is revealed to us by the Apostle Paul, “not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.”  I Cor. 2:13.

It will be necessary to review certain parts of our previous lessons in order to understand points Paul merely mentioned, but did not explain.  These were doctrines he expected the recipients knew and understood because he had taught them for eighteen months.

Lesson

In the introduction of both recorded letters God is presented as Father.  These scriptures were addressed to Christians, thus the identity of Father.  Paul was sent by the will of God.  The church was identified as God’s church.  Paul’s prayers were directed to God.  “God, who called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.”  I Cor. 1:9.  Please note the opening remarks in I and II Corinthians.

The discussion in the first chapter is about the wisdom of God versus the wisdom of man (I Cor. 1:20-25).  Jesus Christ is the power and wisdom of God (I Cor. 1:24).  It is God who chose foolish, weak, lowly things and “things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him.”  I Cor. 1:27-29.  It was because of God that the members of the church resided “in Christ.”  I Cor. 1:30.

Paul proclaimed the testimony about God (I Cor. 2:1).  The aim of his message was to produce faith in Christians that is resting “on God’s power.”  I Cor. 2:5.  The message revealed “God’s secret wisdom.”  I Cor. 2:7.  This secret wisdom was about what “God has prepared for those who love Him.”  I Cor. 2:9.  God revealed it by His Spirit.  The Spirit of God gave Paul information about the “deep things of God.”  I Cor. 2:10.

Metaphorically speaking, Christians are God’s field; God’s building (I Cor. 3:9).   Christians walk by faith in Christ, which means we are “Christ’s slaves.”  I Cor. 7:22.  God makes the “deep things” revealed in the scriptures grow in us.  This develops our new “self” by renewing and conforming our minds, hearts and behavior to the “Self” of Jesus Christ (II Cor. 3:2-6).  The result:  “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?”  I Cor. 3:16.  “You are of Christ, and Christ is of God.” I Cor. 3:23.  This is the wisdom and power of God.

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight.  As it is written:  ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness,’ and again, ‘The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.’  I Cor. 3:19, 20   

The author of the Corinthian letters was “entrusted with the secret things of God.”  I Cor. 4:1.  “By His power God raised the Lord from the dead, and He will raise us also.”  I Cor. 6:14.  God will praise preachers, teachers and all Christians who live faithful lives based on the deep secret wisdom of God – when Jesus returns for His and His Father’s kingdom (I Cor. 4:5; I Cor. 15:24).  “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.”  I Cor. 4:20.  Jesus has been given the administration of God’s kingdom to bring “many sons to glory.”  Heb. 2:10.  In this sense, we may identify God’s kingdom as Jesus Christ’s kingdom (I Cor. 15:27; Eph. 5:5).

Redeemed Christians are the only people in the world who can understand the deep secret wisdom of God (I Cor. 1:30; 2:14).  Redeemed Christians are mature people who are being counted righteous by our faith and holy because of our repentant attitude.  We are saved by grace to grow up in our salvation (I Pet. 1:5, 9; 2:2).  A degree from a religious seminary is not required to understand the secret wisdom of God about us.  In other words, an individual Christian, in the wisdom of God, must be spiritual minded enough to be in fellowship with the Holy Spirit; otherwise, we cannot understand the spiritual message Paul received from God (I Cor. 2:14-16; 3:1-3).  He or she does need the “mind of Christ” to make judgment about life in the kingdom of God (I Cor. 2:16).  Christians need to think as Jesus thought in order to make judgment calls about situations in life as He did (I Cor. 5:9, 10).

Paul could not speak to some members of the church with the spiritual words he received from God via the Holy Spirit.  This was not because it was necessary to have the assistance of the Holy Spirit to understand the message.  It was because they were not spiritual enough in their way of thinking and living to appreciate the fellowship of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 2:14).  They had become comfortable with the “wisdom of man” way of thinking.  They were comfortable with division in God’s church by preferring to rally around men – men like Paul and Apollos (I Cor. 3:1-3).  We might think; what would be wrong with rallying around a person like the Apostle Paul?  He thought we would be acting like “mere men.”

There is a very high percentage of “Christian religious” people who have rallied around the “man in the pulpit;” rather than the word of God being presented.  Paul was very careful to present the spiritual message he received from the Holy Spirit, so the hearers did not rally around him (I Cor. 2:4, 5).  If after hearing and believing the gospel about the “secret wisdom” of God “destined for our glory,” Christians rally around a person; we have a clear idea of the depth of the spiritual problem Paul was trying to solve.   We need to hear his solution.  There are two problems in this kind of situation.  Both are forms of mental illness.

One problem is with Christians who succumb to the charisma of another person.  They may suffer from the character disorder of seeking to avoid responsibility.  Some members of the church in Achaia had completely given themselves over to this problem (II Cor. 11:16-21).  Christians are free; however, we cannot escape from the responsibility of our freedom and remain free (I Pet. 2:16).  The other person who has some serious problems is the individual who will allow people to rally around him or her as a spiritual guru.  This person may accept too much responsibility – a neurotic mental illness.  Of course, they could be seeking glory from mankind rather than from God.  Jesus said this is a problem of unbelief (John 5:44).  We do have an inherent need for glory; therefore, we need to be careful to seek the glory of being children of God over above the glory we may receive from our church family

There is no place for clergy, reverends and holy men, or even “the pulpit preacher” concept in God’s church.  This very problem was beginning to develop in the church at Corinth and this is the main reason Paul wrote these letters.  Let all Christians beware!  The Corinthian problem has multiplied like a cancer in the Christian religious world.

In this lesson we have noted scriptures in the first six chapters of I Corinthians that establishes God’s role and His wisdom in things that pertain to mankind.  We talk a lot about Jesus Christ in Christian conversations.  Some groups think of the cross as the proper symbol for the Christian religion.  The scriptures listed in this lesson inform us about God’s position in the eternal scene.  Before God created this world through His Son, He was everything Paul said about Him in this letter.  He is still the same.  The physical world in time is happening simultaneously with the eternal scene where God is on His throne and Jesus is at His right hand (Acts 7:56).  God will be the same when time is no more (Jas. 1:17).  God is alive!  “There is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.”  I Cor. 8:6.  “Through Him you believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and glorified Him, and so your faith and hope are in God.”  I Pet. 1:21.

Although, all power in heaven and earth has been delegated to Jesus Christ, we understand from these scriptures, God did not “go on furlough.”  He took the role of Father and His Son was given the throne of king and high priest.  This is how Deity relates to God’s program for Christians today.  Jesus will serve as Prince and Savior until God makes His enemies His footstool (Acts 5:31).  Please read Hebrews 1:5-14.  At the end of time Jesus will turn the kingdom back to God, but be sure of this, God never placed Himself under the authority of Jesus Christ (I Cor. 15:24-28).

God was very active in Luke’s narrative in Acts, even after God anointed Jesus to serve Him.  See my book “God’s Evangelism by Jesus Christ,” Part II, Lesson Three.  See website, http://www.whydidgodcreateyou.com.  Let us keep God’s position in mind as we continue to study I Corinthians (I Cor. 11:3).   In the next lesson we will study about how the wisdom of God is powerfully activated for mankind in Jesus Christ.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Why are disciples of Jesus Christ interested to understand the problems in the church at Corinth?
  2. What method did God use to reveal Christian theologies, ethics and practices to students of the Bible?
  3. Why did Paul identify God as the Father in the introduction of the Corinthian letters?  Consider II Cor. 6:14-18.
  4. Paul was sent to Corinth by the will of God, as it is recorded in Acts 18:1-18.  Please read I Cor. 7:37 to understand the human endowment of “will.”  Consider the will of Jesus in relation to Paul being sent by the will of God.  See John 5:19, 29; 12:44-50; Matt. 26:39.  How is the term “will of God” used to give meaning to the boundaries of Paul’s mission?
  5. Explain I Corinthians 2:14.  How does Christian’s fellowship with the Holy Spirit relate to our being able to understand the spiritual aspect of the word of God?
  6. God “chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him.”  I Cor. 1:28, 29.  Use your imagination.  How might this be happening today?
  7. Please make a list of all power, possessions and roles attributed to God in this lesson and keep your list for further studies in the Corinthian letters.
  8. How should Christians view God’s role as a Person of Deity, personally today?
  9. Describe the problem Paul is working out in the first six chapters of I Corinthians.
  10. Why did it upset Paul to learn the Corinthians church members would rally around him or Apollos?

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