Lesson Two – The Wisdom of God Worked Out in Christ Jesus

The Wisdom of God Worked Out In Christ

Introduction

Lesson Aim:  To understand the awesome significance of the term “in Christ.”

In this lesson we want to understand how all the great things we learned about God in the previous lesson relates to each member of the church of God “in Christ.”  We want a clear view of what the following scriptures mean for Christians:

I Cor. 1:2.      “Sanctified in Christ Jesus.”

I Cor. 1:24.    “Christ the power and wisdom of God.”

I Cor. 3:23.    “And you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.”

I Cor. 4:17.    “He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.”

I Cor. 6:15.    “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ Himself?”

The following is an excerpt from my book entitled, The Kingdom of God, Part I, Lesson One, “The Truth about God.”

God is the almighty power.  This is one truth about God.  There are many powers, but God is the power over all powers.  There are those who proclaim there is no God; yet they recognize an almighty power.  The message of the Bible declares God is that power.  By His power and through Jesus Christ, this world and all that pertains to it came into being (John 1:10; I Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2).  The Creator introduced Himself to Abraham as God Almighty (Gen. 17:1).  Later He asked Abraham, “Is there anything too difficult for the Lord?”  Gen. 18:14.  Jesus told the disciples that “with God all things are possible.”  Matt. 19:26.  These scriptures teach us God our creator is omnipotent, that is, all powerful.

The Psalmist declared God is omniscient, or all knowing.  He said, “Great is our Lord, and abundant in strength, His understanding is infinite.” Psalms 147:5.  God said to Samuel, “…for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  I Sam. 16:7.  John proclaimed God knows all things (I John 3:20).

Also, God is omnipresent, or everywhere (Jer. 23:23, 24).  The Apostle Paul told the Greek philosophers they should seek God, “…if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us…”  Acts 17:27.

Moses witnessed to the eternalness of God.  He said, “Before the mountains were born, or Thou didst give birth to the earth and the world even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God.”  Psa. 90:2.  However, John added love to the list of the attributes of God in his letters to the churches (I John 4:7, 8).  Love is an attribute of a person.  According to the following scripture Jesus came to enlighten us about God’s person.

No man has seen God at any time:  the only begotten God (Son), who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.  John 1:18

Many people have recognized God as a power; however, because they suppress the truth about the nature of this almighty power, they serve Him only from a heart of fear.  Jesus came into the world with a message from heaven for mankind (John 3:31-34).  He came from God and went back to God.  Jesus had many works to accomplish and all were done according to the Father’s will (John 4:34).  As He saw God working, in like manner He worked.  He could do nothing by Himself; therefore, we can study about Jesus to learn about God (John 5:19).    End of excerpt.

Lesson

A summary thought from the previous lesson:

The secret wisdom of God for those who love Him was in His mind before the creation of the world.  It is His will and He is faithful to His will.  The Apostle Paul preached the will of God to the people in the “world realm” in Corinth.  Those who accepted God’s will in faith, repentance and obedience became the church of God.  A church is a congregation of individuals who have been called out of Satan’s world kingdom and transferred to God’s kingdom “in Christ.”  (I Cor. 4:20; 6:9-11; 12:12, 13).  This church became God’s kingdom in each individual’s “self.”  See Luke 17:20, 21.  This happened because each member personally let Jesus rule and write His laws on their hearts and minds.  They, as a church, became the temple of God.  This happened in time and on earth in Corinth.  It happened because God, the Father, was in fellowship with their spirits by the Holy Spirit (II Cor. 6:16; 13:14).

Question:  How could all this happen between God “in which there is no darkness” and these Corinthian pagans?  We want to hear the answer to this question because it will inform us how it can happen in our present time and place.  It is happening in God’s church throughout the world today.  The following scripture holds the answer. 

For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many  “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us 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. 8:5, 6

Please take note from the foregoing scripture how all things come to Christians from God, the Father, through Jesus Christ.  The following is for our spiritual enlightenment about how the words “from” and “through” function for us.

  1. In the introduction of both recorded Corinthian letters God is presented as Father.  Christians become sons and daughters of God when we “come out from them.”  II Cor. 6:17, 18.  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone, the new has come!  All of this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”  II Cor. 5:17, 18.  Reconciliation means a change of relationship (Gal. 4:7).  People, who are slaves to the wisdom of man and their own sins, can become children of God by a new birth (I Cor. 6:20; 7:21, 22).
  2. The scriptures reveal “God’s secret wisdom.”  I Cor. 2:7.  The foregoing was God’s wisdom before He created mankind and the world.  God did not fully implement this program for mankind for a long period of time after Adam and Eve broke covenant.  “But when the fullness of time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive full rights as sons.”  Gal. 4:4, 5.  God “raised the Lord from the dead, and He will raise us also.”  I Cor. 6:14.  Paul wrote, “None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”  I Cor. 2:8.  He may have had reference to himself.  He was one of the rulers who did not understand (I Tim. 1:12-14).  Jesus introduced Himself to Saul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:4-6).  Saul, the Hebrew speaking Israelite, became the Apostle Paul to the Gentiles (II Cor. 11:22; Acts 26:27, 28).  It is at this point in history Paul could describe the condition of all mature human beings in one simple sentence: “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ will all be made alive.”  I Cor. 15:22.
  3. Paul introduced himself to the Corinthians as an apostle of Jesus Christ.  He was sent by Jesus; however, the will of God was the guiding force for the activity of both Jesus and Paul.  Jesus had one overriding aim in His life on earth.  It was to do God’s will (John 4:34).   God and Jesus have a will.  People have a will. The will of God and the will of mankind function between what is decided in the mind and the act to move (I Cor. 7:37).  Decisions made in the mind can take control of the will to carry out the thing decided.  What is decided about a certain issue in a person’s mind becomes their “will to act,” if they are able to control their will with their mind.  God is able.  Jesus proved He is able.  God made decisions in His mind before Creation.  They became His will.  Jesus came to earth with God’s will in His mind and He controlled His will to put God’s will in action.
  4. The “will to act” is a human endowment.  Faithful Christians have the “mind of Christ” as our goal for our new creation (I Cor. 2:16).  Consequently, God’s will became our will.  We made the decision to accept His will in our repentance before baptism.  In our spiritual growth God’s will is continually replacing our will.  Our sanctification is the channel by which the power of the kingdom of God is in us (I Cor. 4:20; Matt. 6:10; Luke 17:20, 21).  Paul told the Corinthians, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered, but God made it grow.”
  5. Our question is, “How does God make it grow?”  This required the “wisdom and power of God.”
    a.  The will of God was revealed to Paul by the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 2:12, 13).  This was “God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom destined for our glory.”  I Cor. 2:7.  Paul expressed these “spiritual truths in spiritual words” to people in Corinth.  This is God’s new covenant in Jesus blood (Matt. 26:27-29; Heb. 8:7-9).
    b.  Some people in Corinth believed this good news, then placed their faith in it and became obedient to their faith.  They were willing to accept the will of God, but they would not be able to control their will to do God’s will in all instances.  They would not be able to make it their behavior righteous.  All their actions would not be righteous.  They required God’s grace for which He raised Jesus from death to give them – and us (I Cor. 6:14).  Christians make right-eousness our practice.  It is our faith.  For this and faith in the blood of the new covenant, we are counted as righteous as Jesus is righteous (I John 1:7; 3:7; Rom. 3:21-26; 4:25-5:1).
  6.  The cross is the power and wisdom of God to implement and maintain a realm in time identified as “in Christ.”  God is holy and righteous.  “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”  I John 1:5.  When Paul learned a sinful member of the church was being included in the fellowship he wrote; “Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast – as you really are.  For Christ, our Passover lamb has been sacrificed.”  I Cor. 5:7.
    It is because of Him (God) that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is our righteousness, holiness and redemption.   I Cor. 1:30
    But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.  I Cor. 6:11 
  7. The preaching of the cross was “a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”  I Cor. 1:24.  In God’s wisdom He established a priesthood on the order of Melchizedek with Jesus as high priest.  He offers the new covenant in Jesus’ blood (Heb. 4:14-16).  He also ordained that Jesus would sit at His right hand as Lord over His people “until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”  Heb. 1:13.  He developed a sphere identified as “in Christ.” In this sphere, the church functions as the body of Christ (I Cor. 12:12-27).
  8. The church in Corinth was identified as God’s church in both recorded letters.  Paul used the identifying term “church of God” for the membership in general in I Cor. 10:32; 11:22; 15:9.  His intention was not to create a proper name to be placed on a sign board in front of a meeting place of the church.  In Romans 16:16, Paul identified the church with Christ: “All the churches of Christ send greetings.”  NIV.  They were not a different church.  We can understand these terms in context with the lines in I Cor. 8:5, 6.  “For whom we live” refers to God, the Father.  “Through whom we live” relates to Jesus Christ.  When Jesus said, “I will build My church,” as always, He had God’s will in mind (Matt. 16:18).  Jesus built His church for God, the Father.  The church of God was purchased with the blood of Jesus; however, He shed His blood because it was God’s will, not His own (Matt. 26:39; Acts 20:28; II Cor. 5:21).  Jesus’ death on the cross was God’s faithfulness to His own righteousness (Rom. 3:21-26; 5:8; I Cor. 15:3, 4; I Pet. 1:17-21).
  9. The concept of the all new “in Christ” realm is the spiritual door Jesus’ death on the cross opened for faithful Jews and Gentiles (Acts 14:27; I Cor. 1:22-24).  His atoning sacrifice was God’s preparation for the reign of Jesus Christ as king and priest to develop children for God in His eternal kingdom.  Jesus’ atoning sacrifice became Christians’ mercy seat when: “At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.”  Matt. 27:51.   “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.  It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf.  He became a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”  Heb. 6:19, 20.  The place behind the curtain was “the Most Holy Place” in the temple.  Please read Heb. 9:1-5.  The “mercy seat” (KJV) or “atonement cover” (NIV) in Heb. 9:5 has been translated from the Greek word, hilasterion.  It is the same word used by Paul when he was explaining how the grace doctrine of justification by faith works for Christians in Rom. 3:25.  The “in Christ” spiritual reality is the wisdom of God.  It is defined by its relationship to the mercy seat.  Christians live on the mercy seat.  The “in Christ” realm is the sphere in which the “man-dimension” of God’s kingdom now exists (John 18:36; Acts 2:32-36; Col. 1:10-14).        

The mature people in the world are neither holy nor righteous.  The same can be said about the people who have been called out, the church; however, God’s will is that we grow in both attributes.  Christians are “God’s field, God’s building.”  I Cor. 3:9.  The “in Christ” spiritual realm is the wisdom of God prepared for Christians today (I Cor. 1:30).  It is a powerful spiritual environment for faithful Christians.  This environment is perfect for our development as children of God.  Our spiritual growth is “from glory to glory.”  II Cor. 3:18.  The mental/spiritual environment in Christ has been developed by the same features God arranged for Adam and Eve before they broke covenant.  They had no fear of death, no guilt and God was in fellowship with them.  Christians’ faith in the theologies, ethics and practices set forth in the following chart will result in no fear, no guilt and fellowship with God 24/7.  We are obedient to the faith we possess (Rom. 1:5).  Our growth in faith will determine the quality of our righteous obedience – our habits.

 

(1)  I Cor. 1:2; 8:6   (2)  I Cor. 12:12, 13; Eph. 1:3-14   (3)  II Cor. 3:3-6    (4)  I Cor. 6:1-3   (5)  II Cor. 5:16-21   (6)  I Cor. 2:12, 13   (7)  I Cor. 1:30; 6:11   (8)  I Cor. 6:9; 9:25; 15:42-44, 49-54   (9)  I Cor. 10:31-33; 12:25-27

Please review the lesson entitled, “The in Christ Realm,” in my book entitled “The Kingdom of God,” Part V, Lesson One.  The other lessons in Part V of this book are about the Divine Persons and other blessings “in Christ.”  See website, http://www.whydidgodcreateyou.com. When Christians understand how these blessings relate to our daily lives and decide to have faith in them they create a perfectly healthy mental environment.  The purpose for this “set apart” environment is so Christians can develop like Jesus Christ in mind, heart and behavior (I Cor. 2:16; II Cor. 3:3, 18; 5:21).

The foregoing drawing is offered as a suggestive spiritual scene that we can develop in our minds as a result our personal faith in what we understand from the chart.  We learn scriptures and understand the content in our minds.  This is cognitive learning.   If we decide to believe and have faith in what is in our minds as a result of our Bible study, the things we learned are redeveloped in our hearts as our faith.  We have hope they will satisfy the innate needs God created in each of us.  “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  Heb. 11:1 (KJV).  This is affective learning – heart learning.  The things we have learned and internalized in our minds and hearts will form our behavioral habits – our righteousness.

Questions for Discussion

  1. What was God’s “secret wisdom” before He created the world?
  2. What is a church?
  3. In what manner does a church become the kingdom of God?
  4. Explain what is “new” in the phrase, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.”
  5. Explain how the will of a person functions.
  6. How does the “will of God” affect the spiritual growth of a Christian?
  7. What are some tools God uses for Christians’ spiritual growth?
  8. How did God make arrangements for the fellowship of mankind after Adam broke covenant?
  9. How important is a study of the Hebrew epistle to our under-standing of the term “in Christ?”
  10. Explain how it was proper for Paul to identify Christians in Corinth as God’s church and then refer to some of the same Christians as the “churches of Christ” when he wrote to the saints in Rome.
  11. Explain how the concept of the church being the body of Christ fits into your answer to number ten.
  12. Paul used the analogies of a church member being a field and a building.  What might each analogy suggest?

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