God's Wisdom Revealed: Behold the Spirit’s Work Part 3
Look at the reception of the preaching of God’s word- those who are saved by God’s grace and those who reject the message of the gospel.
The question had to be answered why? Why do people receive and reject this message of Christ’s good news? The answer is an invisible work of God through His Spirit.
We examined how God reveals himself as spirit, an immaterial essence of his nature and therefore we cannot see God with our physical eyes. But he has revealed himself in the 2nd person of the Trinity so that when we look at Jesus, we see God and can know God.
But Paul focuses on the Holy Spirit, the invisible 3rd person of the Trinity. It is the Holy Spirit who applies the finished work of Christ on the cross to believers in Jesus Christ. He is the applicator of our Christian faith. There are many aspects of the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers, but Paul is focusing on the interaction with Holy Spirit, God’s people and the word of God.
Behold the Spirit’s Work
“The reality of divine communication pervades and undergirds the whole Bible. This fact is all the more important when we remember that the God of the Bible is invisible in essence. Since we cannot see God, we must hear from him if we are to know him. The more than 800 repetitions of “thus saith the Lord” in the Bible gives us great assurance that the invisible God has made himself known. “- Joel Beeke
What we read about God (v. 10-13)
What we read about God (v. 10-13)
10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.
I would say that Paul is speaking more specifically in v 10 and v 12 about his own ministry in the church in regards to God’s word although it is true generally about all believers who have the Holy Spirit.
v 10 could read this way…”these things God has revealed to us(Paul and the apostles) through the spirit. The inspiration of the word of God is how we these writers produce the words of God given to the church and it appears that while generally, the Spirit is the one who works individually in all believers to illuminate the mystery of God’s word, he SPECIFICALLY used Paul and the apostles to communicate the words of God by divine inspiration.
v 12… now we(the apostles like Paul) have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit from God, that we (the church) might understand the gifts given from God. The gifts that Paul is mentioning is the revealed word that was once a mystery but now has been granted clarity for Paul and others to see.
Paul is not saying that only the apostles have received the Spirit from God, and others have not. Instead, he is validating that the mystery that has been revealed has been officially authenticated by the Spirit because only the Spirit mines the deep knowledge and wisdom of God. Who better to know God’s deep recesses than God’s spirit.
God could have chosen many methods to deliver truths about himself to man, but the method chosen was the revealed WORD of God. God spoke to man and God inspired man to write. What God said to man was passed down throughout the generations until it was written down for others to read. God spoke to Moses and he also spoke through Moses as Moses taught the people and eventually recorded the words and events of God’s story. As Moses recorded the events and words, he did so in his own creative writing style and yet he wrote guided by the Holy Spirit. This would be the same for David, Solomon, the Major and Minor prophets and all the OT writers.
Peter writes in 1 Peter
10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.
Jesus is the incarnate word, the word of God made flesh. Jesus is called the word of God because as Wayne Grudem states,
Jesus as God the Son.... “in his person as well as in his words has the role of communicating the character of God to us and of expressing the will of God for us”
(Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology: 47)
Jesus words were the very words of God because Jesus is God, the second person of the trinity. The gospel writers recorded the life and work of Jesus. The apostles as well as wrote the letters to of the NT under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. All of these components of the written revealed word of God come in some form by the power of the Spirit. This is the way in which the special revelation of God is given to man.
For some of you, a diary or journal is an important way for you to engage in thoughtful reflection of life and a recollection of the events of your life. That diary is written with your own hand, using your own words to describe events and communicate thoughts and feelings. Its authenticity is bound by matching your penmanship, vocabulary, and writing style Its content comes from your mind and therefore it communicates intimate details about yourself. To read another person’s diary could reveal mysterious truths about them that were previously undiscovered.
The revealed word of God is the story of God and his great purpose in his creation to display his great glory through the redemption of sinners and the reign of his Son on the throne of his eternal kingdom.
1 Corinthians 2:13 (ESV)
13 And we impart this in words,
not taught by human wisdom
but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
Paul has used the word “impart” or “speak” for the third time now to refer to his communication of God’s word to the Corinthians. Paul not only acknowledges that the Spirit has given him the words of God to understand the mystery of the message of Christ but he is tasked to pass that on. Paul did so preaching that message for God’s word is too glorious and life-saving message to keep to ourselves. I pray it is the greatest passions of our transformed hearts in Christ that we would study the word, do it and teach it to others, as Ezra taught the Jews in his day.
Jesus mandated to his disciples,
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The idea of a disciple is a learner, a student, a recipient of some wisdom passed down from teacher to student. Paul received the word and has passed it on to the church. While the church is NOT receiving new revelation from God, it has unending truths to pass on to the generation to come.
Therefore the Spirit is the inspiring agent of God’s communication to fallen mankind. He inspired the OT and NT writers to write the words of God so that He instructs the God’s people in understanding the plans of God and how humanity can be in relationship with God through His Son. He has revealed those truths about God to the prophets and apostles who were responsible for the preaching of God’s promises and who of the wrote in their own words all that the Spirit gave them to write. These words were divinely inspired so that God’s people might hear them preached, read them, and be saved.
What we understand about God (v.14)
What we understand about God (v.14)
14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
Now Paul moves from specifically about the Spirit working in and through Him and the other apostles, delivering the word of God through inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He moves to why that message is received in such a dramatically different response. It is received because the Spirit also is an illuminating agent.
Paul now addresses why the reception of the mystery of God falls flat for some people . He states that the natural man is a man without the work of the Spirit within them. They are natural or fleshly, because the Holy Spirit is absent within them and therefore they are resigned to just their desires of worldly bent. He does not dwell within and therefore his work of illumination has not reached their faculties.
RC Sproul writes,
Who Is the Holy Spirit? (Searching “The Depths of God”)
The Spirit acts as a searchlight and shines on the text of Scripture when we read it, giving us the capacity to understand the meaning of it. When this happens, we see the truth of God intensely and sharply. Every one of us who is a Christian has had this experience sometime in his or her life. We are reading from the Scriptures, and suddenly a particular truth seems to jump off the page and pierce our souls
This is the work of illumination comes in our initial act of salvation when the word of God becomes clear to us. The Spirit is removing the scales from our eyes and now we can comprehend its message and purpose. Without such aid and assistance from the Spirit, we are still entrapped to darkness of the world and sin where light does not exist.
Jesus told his disciples that the Holy Spirit would come to
8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
Conviction of sin is an illuminating effort of the Holy Spirit as he exposes sin in light of the God’s word. The Spirit works in conjunction with the word to expose that which is in violation against a holy God. Once exposed, the Spirit moves beyond conviction of sin and he applies the message of love and hope found in the work of Jesus Christ.
This illumination works in such a way that we can take the positive from the negative statement of v 14. The spiritual man understands the things of God because the Spirit illuminates them to him.
Paul writes to the Corinthians in 2 Cor. 4:3-6
3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
We can say the work of illumination is the shining of the glory of the knowledge of God in the face of Jesus Christ in our our hearts so that we cherish Jesus, we love him, we submit to him. But the Spirit must empower of facilities so that we might believe. Otherwise, we are helpless and lost, looking at the word of God as foolishness and unable to escape the wrath to come.
You remember the story of the 13 boys trapped in the cave in Thailand in 2018. The boys entered the famous cave, not knowing that heavy rains for that region came early than expected. The waters coming in many different points in this massive cave led to the boys trapped without food, proper clothing for 18 days. It took a massive rescue effort that included over 100 divers retrieving the boys by sedating them one by one and swimming underwater with then until every one survived.
The 13 boys were helpless to escape until trained cave divers from around the world came with diving equipment and a risky plan to save them. By God’s mercy, all were retrieved and returned home. I think their helplessness in a cave is a good picture of the state of the dark abyss that we exist in until the light of the gospel is shined brightly into our lives by the power of the Holy Spirit.
How we are comforted by God (vs.15-16)
How we are comforted by God (vs.15-16)
15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
The Spirit is not only the agent of inspiration and illumination but he is also the agent of identification. Paul faces his critics here in v 15-16 who no doubt questioned his ministry and authority. Paul gives the some of the most comforting verses a Christian can have as they live in a secular world. Paul states that a “spiritual person judges all things” which means that the Spirit gives illumination of God’s wisdom so that followers of Jesus can discern spiritual things in comparison to those without that ability.
In relation to this truth, the Christian cannot be judged by those without the Spirit for their level of discernment is corrupt. They can criticize you and slander you by saying you are unloving but their understanding of love is wordly and not spirit-instructed. They cannot comprehend Jesus and therefore they do not understand true love.
What this means is that the Spirit is our comforter because he gives us assurance through the Scriptures that we belong to God because his presence is evident in his illuminating work.
14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
For a generation of believers who struggle to know if they are saved or lost, let the evidence of the Spirit give you hope or reveal your hopelessness. He illuminates God’s word…Do you understand if friend? He exposes rebel thoughts and intentions of the heart toward God…do you feel the sting of unholiness in you? He opens your heart to savor and love Christ as Lord and King…you you cherish Jesus?
When the Spirit is at work in us, then we know because we can see the fruit of his work rising up. We might not be able to see wind but we can see its effect as it tosses the branches of a tree. Do you see the Spirit’s work in you?
If not, then let me plead with you to be saved, repent of your sin and put your faith in Jesus Christ alone. He will save you if you turn from your rebellion against Him.
But if the Spirit lives within you, then He is instructing you through His word. He has worked to inspire the word of God so that we know the depths of God that have been revealed to us. He has used the word of God to bring about transformative work in saving us and illuminating that word continually to grow us in Christ. This is what Paul concludes with the phrase, “we have the mind of Christ.” We can only have such a mind and way of thinking as the Spirit “renews our mind day by day.