The Direct Activity Of The Holy Spirit In Revelation
1 Corinthians 2
"And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,
‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him’—
these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
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. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself
to be judged by no one. "For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ." (1 Cor. 2, ESV)
Beginning with what we know.We know, from many passages, that the Holy Spirit was active in the revelation of God’s Word. First in the oral delivery, then as the message was written. Let’s review:
First,Jno. 16:13 – The Holy Spirit is called "the Spirit of truth," and when He came to the apostles – Jesus said, He guided them "into all the truth." In Eph. 6:17, the Word is called "the sword of the Spirit." And in 1 Pet. 1:12, perhaps one of the clearest statements of this – that those who preached the gospel in the apostolic age, were delivering the good news "by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven." (See also Rom. 16:25.26 and Eph. 3:1-5).
The Holy Spirit was directly active in the revelation of God’s Word.In whatever other ways we may think of the Holy Spirit – and regardless of the wide variety of subjective impressions about His work, this is certain. The Bible affirms this, in definitive, objective statements – the role of the Holy Spirit is giving us God’s Word in permanent written form.
It is the belief of everyone who respects Bible authority that "Men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit," (2 Pet. 1:21). It is not that the Holy Spirit watched the men write and helped them a little. He gave them what to write!
When the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write to the Corinthians –it was essential for the Corinthians to understand this, that the gospel came from God, through the Holy Spirit. Paul was not free-lancing in what He spoke and wrote.
Context is this: one of the problems in the church at Corinth was that they were impressed and fascinated byhuman wisdom.
It reminds me of young people, who enroll in college, and they are so impressed by all the new information and professorial wisdom –they fall in love with all this new information; they are infatuated by the high academics and sometimes develop such an exaggerated passion for everything they hear – THEY LOSE THEIR BALANCE, and become easy prey to indoctrination from men and women who are absorbed in the world and perhaps without any acknowledgment of God.
Something like that was the atmosphere in Corinth. Making it necessary for Paul to write words like these:
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,
"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart."
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach[b] to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord." – 1 Cor. 1:18-31
Do you see, there were some in the church at Corinth who were spellbound by human wisdom. SO – in response to that atmosphere in Corinth, it was necessary for them to understand – PAUL’S MESSAGE DIDN’T COME FROM PAUL, IT CAMETHROUGH PAUL – BY THE HOLY SPIRIT. That’s the subject in chapter two!
Paul was not just another professor; another preacher or teacher who offered to audiences his opinion, his spin, his worldview. Paul was moved by the Holy Spirit to preach and write what came from the mind of the Lord. This was important to stress Paul was moved by the Holy Spirit to preach and write what came from the mind of the Lord.
"The Testimony of God," (v.1)
The important thing about Paul’s preaching when he came to Corinth was not lofty speech, talent, oratorical skills or impressive vocabulary. The importance was not in how Paul delivered the message – but in the origin of that message, and the main point of it –Christ and Him crucified.
Paul was moved by the Holy Spirit to preach and write what came from the mind of the Lord, delivered directly to Paul by the Holy Spirit. Paul, in these opening verses, wants to distance himself from the emphasis on human talent, human wisdom and all the boasting about what men claimed they had figured out.
His purpose was always to deliver the testimony of God the Spirit gave him –so that people would be able to have faith that didn’t rest in men, but in God.
"We," (Vss. 6-10).
Given the context, I take the collective pronoun "we" to be a reference to Paul and the others who were inspired by the Spirit. The Holy Spirit moved those select men to impart wisdom, "although not a wisdom of this age," but rather – THE WISDOM OF GOD.
This wisdom, imparted by the Holy Spirit through the apostles,had been hidden for ages – but – VERSE 10 – was now "revealed" through the Spirit.
This agrees in full measure with the other passages I brought up earlier – leaving no doubt, of the Holy Spirit’s perfect work, in revealing through the apostles what the Lord had in mind for us from before the world began! Paul – the natural man – did not know what was in the mind of God.
"…he Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God," (v.10).
This was important to stress Paul was moved by the Holy Spirit to preach and write what came from the mind of the Lord. See, man cannot just access the mind of God.
You cannot go into some sort of trance, and at some point of quiet –just know what’s in the mind of God. You cannot get with your peers and have a religious conference or sit around a camp fire and at some point – get into the mind of God.
"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him," (Isa. 64:4, quoted by Paul here).
"For who knows a person’s thoughts, except the spirit of that person, which is in him?" (Verse 11)"No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit!" (NLT).
So, if I said to you:What am I thinking right now. I’m writing this in mid-October, but it doesn’t matter. You cannot figure out what I’m thinking unless my spirit makes the choice to reveal it. Otherwise, you are just guessing.
Paul, and the other apostles and the inspired men like Barnabas and Philip – did not just guess what God wanted people to know! The Holy Spirit, who alone knows the mind of Deity, revealed those things through these select people – RESULTING IN THIS DOCUMENT WE HAVE! When you think of the Holy Spirit – never forget, this passage says - The Holy Spirit has given to us, in this book, truth from the mind of God!
If I want to know what God has in mind for me; If I need wisdom and guidance and authority; If I need to know what is right,I CAN’T JUST ACCESS THAT DIRECTLY; ONLY THE HOLY SPIRIT HAS ACCESS TO THE MIND OF GOD – this says, He has revealed what we need to know. The revelation He gave must be opened and read and studied and obeyed!
Paul – speaking on behalf of the apostles and their gifted companions, including inspired evangelists and prophets – says this:
Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
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. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. "For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ." (1 Cor. 2:12-16, ESV)
Paul did not just naturally know the gospel; it wasn’t an automatic function of his intellect, to know and tell people what to do to be saved. What Paul wrote and what Paul preached – was spiritually discerned – and that means (in this context), THE HOLY SPIRIT GAVE HIM WHAT HE DELIVERED, and it was from the mind of God.
I can know what the Lord has in mind, by relying on the words revealed by the Holy Spirit.
What we take away - -
ONE- If, in your emotions and thoughts, it ever occurs to you, that the Holy Spirit is telling you to do something in conflict with the written Word –it will be for your good to reject that thought, because Deity is never self-contradictory! What if I wrote you a letter, and told you something to do. Then later, in person, I told you to do the opposite. You would quickly conclude I’ve contradicted myself and cannot be trusted. That never happens with Deity – with the Father, the Son or the Holy Spirit. So, if you read the Bible and discover what the Holy Spirit has said – don’t expect a latter day revelation that contradicts that.
TWO- What we are talking about here, from the text in 1 Cor. 2, is not a secret or hidden or a mystery ANYMORE. Read back through this chapter. I think you will see – the terms, the images and flow of this passage take us to THIS SUBJECT – God revealing His will by the Holy Spirit, to men who spoke it and wrote it.
For instance – in verse 7 – it is no longer a secret or mystery or hidden. God’s plan before the ages for our glory has been once and for all revealed –notin plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of Power.
We are curious and captivated and emotional about mystery; about impressions and movings and stirrings. We have God’s Word, in permanent written form and we can be sure, when we read what the Holy Spirit has revealed –it is truth from the mind of God.
Don’t let anyone take you down that path toward the mysterious, subjective, the impressionistic or the speculative. The mind of Christ has been revealed through the apostles. The greatest emotions you will ever encounter in life – come after you have absorbed the Word of God.
THREE-What the Lord has in mind for you – that calls for your daily response, is written by the Holy Spirit in this book. I’ve thought about this for a while. Sometimes I think – we get caught up in a desire for the extraordinary, the radical, the sensational. We want numbers, 14 different ministries, dynamic music, conventions, over-achievement, massive celebration and extraordinary emotion and gifts and talents and THE NEXT BEST THING. Being a faithful child of God is not always accompanied by all the fanfare we may covet.
I’ve said many times – it is about getting up every day and doing what is right; resisting what is wrong; reading your Bible; praying; involved with a sound church; talking to others about the Lord. Our delightful duty is -Responding daily to what the Holy Spirit has revealed, that we have in this marvelous book.
The sensational, LEFT-BEHIND RAPTURE excitement; the obsession with human performance and entertainment and making things attractive to people of the world - let’s not let ourselves be intoxicated by the hype, the artificial, the competition; that will soon wear out and get old.
Let’s get up every day and be slowly transformed into the image of Christ – by partaking of and participating in what the Holy Spirit has revealed.
"Men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." Please see also, Eph. 3:1-5 & Rom. 16:25-27.
Editor’s Note – This is a more extensive study of this passage that was previously the subject of another article; see at: http://www.bible.ca/ef/expository-1-corinthians-2-1-16.htm
Warren E. Berkley
From Expository Files 21.11; November 2014