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The Mystery Of The Wisdom Of God (1 Corinthians 2.7).

(Mystery, in the Scriptures, denotes that which is only known through revelation to those taught of the Holy Spirit).

We wish the guidance of the Holy Spirit in considering together the mystery of the wisdom of God, "even the wisdom that hath been hidden, which God foreordained before the worlds unto our glory". Men who have never known the regenerating power of the new birth may acknowledge and admire the wisdom of God such as is expressed in the marvels of creation, but in 1 Corinthians 2.7 we are introduced to a deeper manifestation of a divine wisdom. It is the expression of that wisdom in God's spiritual dealings with men for their salvation and blessing through Christ. This mystery of the wisdom of God was foreordained before the worlds unto our glory. Treasured up in the counsels of God before the world was, it remained unrevealed until after the incarnation of the Lord Jesus. While the prophets searched what time or manner of time the Spirit of Christ in them did point unto, it was the apostles who first were favoured to understand the wonders of this mystery hence, unto our glory, we who live in this dispensation.

ITS EXPRESSION THROUGH CHRIST.

"Christ Jesus, who was made unto us wisdom from God". It is in Him that this mystery (?f God's wisdom is centred, through Him that it has found such matchless expression. For He, who is truly "Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God ", chose in incarnation to accept the narrow confines of human life. He, who upheld all things by the word of His power, accepted the dependence of human infancy. He, who was served by all, took the form of a Bondservant. Living in meanest earthly circumstances He nevertheless glorified God perfectly. He drew near in understanding ministry to sinful men without ever compromising God's righteousness. " In Him was life", but He humbled Himself even unto the death of the cross. From one viewpoint the earthly experiences of the Lord combined to demonstrate true spiritual values as nothing else ever had done. The very degree of His self-renunciation enhanced the glory of the truth, humility and love which characterized Him. Those spiritual qualities so valued in heaven, qualities of eternal value, were seen outworking amidst all the sinful squalor of this world; the Light shining in the darkness, and the darkness apprehending it not.

WORLDY WISDOM AT VARIANCE

This wisdom of God, so perfectly expressed in Christ, was incomprehensible to the world. There is a wisdom of this world, but it is different in principle from the "wisdom that is from above." None of the rulers of this world knew the wisdom of God, "for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory"; the Jews would not for envy have delivered Him up, neither would justice have been compromised by Pontius Pilate for the sake of political expediency. So to understand something of the mystery of the wisdom of God we do well to linger at the Cross, where a great gulf is seen to be fixed between God's wisdom and the wisdom of this world. By the Cross God challenges the wise and the scribe and the disputer of this world. Through it He makes foolish the wisdom of the world. In Christ crucified the foolishness and weakness of God are demonstrated to be wiser than men and stronger than men. For through the shameful death of His Son at Golgotha, God's wisdom has opened wide the gates of salvation. "It was God's good pleasure through the foolishness of the thing preached to save them that believe " (1 Corinthians 1.21, R.V.M.).

REVELATION BY THE SPIRIT.

It is with the revelation of Christ as his Saviour that the believer first understands something of the mystery of the wisdom of God. Then it is that he appreciates, in some simple way at least, that unto them that are called, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. From that point, the Holy Spirit is prepared to lead on in ever fuller exploration. For these things which God's wisdom has devised were beyond the range of the human mind to conceive; they are on an infinitely higher plane; they are among the deep things of God; they are

"Things which eye saw not, and ear heard not, and which entered not into the heart of man" (1 Corinthians 2.9). Little wonder then that the believer whose eyes are opened to consider them finds his heart enthralled with their glory. For "unto us God revealed them through the Spirit." Searching all things, yea, the deep things of God, the Holy Spirit wonderfully makes known to disciple hearts " the things that are freely given to us by God." Apart from the Holy Spirit's revealing power they could not be apprehended, for as none "knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of the man, which is in him, even so the things of God none knoweth, save the Spirit of God "(1 Corinthians 2.11).

As progress is made, under the Holy Spirit's teaching, the disciple is quickly impressed by the reaction of the " mind of the flesh " within him. There were similar reactions with the apostles, as the Lord Jesus led them forward in their understanding of God's will. Take for example Peter's protest when the Lord spoke of His approaching sufferings and death:

"Be it far from Thee, Lord: this shall never be unto Thee."

Peter was sternly rebuked :

"Get thee behind Me, Satan : thou art a stumbling block unto Me: for thou mindest not the things of God, but the things of men." (See Matthew

16.21-23).

It seemed so strange to the natural mind! So did the imparting of these divine purposes to only a few; as Judas (not Iscariot) put it,

"Lord, what is come to pass that Thou wilt manifest Thyself unto us, and not unto the world?" (John 14.22).

Like the apostles, we also need to learn that "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually judged" (1 Corinthians 2.14). Progress in our appreciation of the mystery of the wisdom of God may be hindered unless we are alert to recognize and renounce the arguments of the mind of the flesh. As our own thoughts are subjected to what the word of God reveals, the Spirit will lead us to the delightful assurance reflected in such words as,

"We speak wisdom among the perfect" (1 Corinthians 2.6),

and again,

"We have the mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2.16).

This is not a presumptuous boast, but the grateful conviction of a man initiated into the mystery of God's wisdom in Christ.

DIVINE WISDOM OR NATURAL REASON?

By way of illustration let us think of, a line of truth which is prominent from the beginning of the Acts, right on through the Epistles, to the third chapter of Revelation. We refer to the wisdom of God in ordaining that those who respond to the claims of the Lord should be gathered together into churches of God. The divine plan is clearly revealed. There is a straightforward constitutional background. Those receiving the gospel in a locality should be baptized by immersion in water, added together to form a church of God, and continue to give effect to the revealed will of God. This involves steadfast obedience to the apostles' teaching, including the breaking of bread, the prayers, and the unity of all the churches of God in one Fellowship. When this is seen to be the will of God for the Lord's people, it brings to those who respond a very real assurance regarding their ecclesiastical position and service. They can thankfully say in regard to it, "We have the mind of Christ." It is an assurance given through divine revelation. It is seen to be part of the wisdom of God for His people that they should in this way be bound together in practical unity. It is complementary to God's separating call from the world that He should gather the separated ones together after a divine pattern.

The "mind of the flesh" tends to resent this conception of one way of service for the people of God. It dislikes being tied down to the simplicity and discipline which God's wisdom has shown to be needful. It argues in favour of latitude in doctrine arid looser forms of association. But the "lampstands all of gold," symbolic of the seven churches in Asia, were the objects of the Lord's deep interest and concern, as we see from Revelation chapters 2 and 3. Among the "things which the Spirit teacheth" is the value to the Lord of such golden lampstands-the churches of God in which His people are associated for worship and testimony in accordance with God's revealed will. To enter into this aspect of God's wisdom toward us has great practical value when it comes to giving effect to the truth of God in our time. For the wisdom of the world all too readily judges by wrong criteria. It is unduly impressed with numerical progress; it sets great store by human personalities; it is prone to mistake emotional ardour for spiritual power. The word of God will guide us by spiritual standards of an entirely different order.

Nor need we feel discomfited if as a result we find ourselves associated with a small minority, perhaps with limited gift. For,

"Behold your calling, brethren, how that not many wise after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God chose the foolish things of the world ... the weak things ... the base things ... that no flesh should glory before God ... that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 1.26-31).

This also is part of the mystery of the wisdom of God. It is a paradox to the worldly-minded, to whom it would seem that such a choice would put the work of God at a hopeless disadvantage. But to the informed disciple it dovetails perfectly into God's revealed way for this dispensation. For is it not the dispensation of the grace of God, during which the character and testimony of the disciple must be in harmony with that of the Master during the days of His flesh?

"O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! ... Who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been His counsellor? ... To Him be the glory for ever. Amen" (Romans 11.33-36).