(By Pastor Tim Redfield)
1 Corinthians 2:6-13 – We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”— 10 but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.
As I was thinking about this text from 1 Corinthians, I thought about the account of Job. The reason I thought of Job is because Job is a good illustration of many different perspectives on wisdom. You get to see the viewpoint of the believer and the unbeliever. These viewpoints are interesting to explore and to compare to God’s viewpoint. Even when we get to God’s viewpoint, it still leaves us scratching our head a bit. We don’t get to know why God does what he does. We still have questions that he leaves unanswered? It is just a further reminder that God’s wisdom is so far above our wisdom that we can barely begin to grasp it.
The beginning of Job gives us interesting insight by providing a conversation between God and Satan. Satan claims that the only reason that Job is faithful to God is because of all the earthly blessings that Job has. God then allows a test of Job’s faith. God allows Satan to inflict evil upon Job. Job lost his great wealth in a day. He lost his servants and his livestock. He even lost all of his sons and daughters. He experienced more pain and anguish than many of us experience in a lifetime. And yet he remained faithful. After Job passed that test, God allowed Satan to also take Job’s health. Job was afflicted with painful sores all over his body. Even after that, Job remained faithful to God.
We don’t know what level of education Job had. But we do know that he had true wisdom. He trusted in God’s plan. He didn’t always understand God’s plan but he was faithful. Those who trust God’s plan are wiser than many people in this world. That’s what Paul says in verses 6-8, “We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”
God’s wisdom is often hidden from the elite of this world. God’s wisdom and plan were even hidden from Job. The conversations between God and Satan are never revealed to Job. God doesn’t tell Job that it was just a test. Job’s mental abilities couldn’t reveal to him the plan behind what was happening. Paul quotes from Isaiah and says, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” When it comes to discovering true wisdom, we don’t rely on our own senses or oven our own intellectual abilities. We have limitations. Even if we were one of the smartest people in history, our knowledge pales in comparison to God’s.
Think about how Job’s friends analyze the situation. They look at the evidence and come to a conclusion that is wrong. They look at the misery and the suffering of Job and they think that Job is being punished for some sin that he has committed. One of them said, “Who, being innocent, has ever perished? Where were the upright ever destroyed? As I have observed, those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it” (Job 4:7-8). What they are saying is essentially this, “Because we have observed others being punished for sin, such as criminals, we conclude that you must have sinned too and that is why you are suffering.” But that is not what was going on.
Job did have his moments when he sinned by complaining against God but we know from several passages that he did not completely fall away. We will come back to his faith later. Now we will look at how God rebukes Job for his complaints. God chastises Job severely for questioning God’s ways. Here are just a few statements. God says, “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? … Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand… Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?” (Job 38:2, 4; 40:8). Basically God says that since Job doesn’t understand how God created the world or even how God’s justice works, Job has no right to question God.
There is so much in those statements from Job which show how sinful human beings try to interpret the world around us. It is sinful for us to trust our wisdom over God’s wisdom. The friends looked at what they observed in this world and trusted that rather than trusting in God’s plan. Based off the fact that many sinners are punished they thought that Job had sinned. But what about those sinners who prosper in this life? What about the impenitent abortion doctor who is wealthy? Sometimes believers suffer greatly as a test of our faith. What we observe doesn’t always reveal to us the true wisdom of God.
Sinful human beings can observe the world around us and come to conclusions about evolution which clearly contradict God’s account of creation and his plan of salvation. God would give them the same words he gave to Job. Who is it that darkens the counsel of God with words without knowledge? Where were they when God laid the earth’s foundations? And yet, do even we Christians give a hearing to these scientists because they seem to be so smart? Do we think that we know better than God, even when it comes to matters of right and wrong? We live in a world that wants to say that sin is actually a good thing. Think about how many people actually speak well of others who commit sexual sins. Do we succumb to the supposed wisdom of this world?
Don’t give in to that temptation to think that the wisdom of this world is superior to the wisdom of God’s Word. Our sinful minds cannot grasp the wisdom of God. We need to have his wisdom revealed to us.
The only reason that Job could remain faithful was because of the power of the Holy Spirit working in him. The Holy Spirit has revealed to him the truth. Paul said in verses 10 and 12, “God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God…We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.” The ability to understand true wisdom does not come from anything in us. We can’t figure out God’s plan of salvation on our own. We can’t even determine just how sinful we truly are without the Holy Spirit working in us.
There are so many things about the plan of salvation that do not make sense to our human reason. How can the true God who fills the entire universe take on human flesh and be born of a virgin? How can anyone live a perfectly sinless life and yet that is what Jesus did? How did Jesus perform all those miracles? We never see those kinds of things happening today. How did the death of one person really pay the price that was necessary for all the sins that have ever been or will ever be committed? How can a dead body rise back to life? And yet, through the Holy Spirit working in us, we believe all of these things which don’t make sense to human reason.
Look at Job again. In the midst of his suffering, he confessed his hope in the Lord. He gave us one of the most fantastic confessions ever recorded. He said, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27). Many years before Jesus came to this earth, Job trusted in his Redeemer and he knew that he would be raised from the dead. Job didn’t understand how he would be raised but through the Holy Spirit’s working, Job trusted that it would happen.
One of Job’s friends actually gave him good advice. A man named Elihu pointed out that God can do no wrong and that God is beyond our understanding. He pointed out that we don’t even understand the number of God’s years. We don’t understand God’s eternal nature. How is it that God has no beginning and no end? He goes on and on forever. Try to wrap your mind around that. After God came and rebuked Job, Job repented of his sin. He admitted that he had spoken without understanding. Job never got to know why he suffered. But through the Spirit, Job trusted in God his Savior and he praised God
Think about how we need the Holy Spirit for real understanding and true wisdom. In our sinful human understanding, we would view the suffering of Christ as foolishness. We would think that we need to be nice to others and tolerant of others in order to be a good enough person to enter heaven. We would think that we know better than God’s Word and we would make excuses saying that we can’t trust a book that was written by human beings who could have made mistakes. But that is not the way it is for us who believe. The Holy Spirit has led us to trust the truths of our God.
The Holy Spirit has led us to understand the importance of the law and gospel message of the Bible. The Holy Spirit has led us to see the truths of Biblical creation. The Holy Spirit has led us to see that all of God’s Word is true and beneficial for our lives here on earth. The Holy Spirit leads us to worship God as a community of believers. We dig into our Bibles. We study the truths we find there. When we get to portions of that word that are difficult to understand, we continue to search the Word because God’s Word clarifies itself. And we understand that our sinful human minds are going to have trouble with the truths of our All-knowing God.