The Prominence of Truth
The Sonshine by Walter Olsen
February 1, 2019
I Corinthians 2:1-16
All Christians should be possessive of the truth of God, of His word. By possessive, I mean desiring to know the truth of the word and to cling to it. Unfortunately, many are not and are more taken up with man’s ideas of what is spiritual truth than with the Bible. Thus, today [as it has always been] the truth of God’s word gets lost in a myriad of human wisdom. In this article I would like to discuss some of the pertinent truth from I Corinthians 2. It is truth that makes a great difference in all of our lives. We will just go verse by verse through the chapter. We will be hitting some of the highlights, some of the things that should make a difference in all of our lives.
“And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God” v. 1. Men, including preachers many times, tend to get caught up with their own significance and wisdom. God gives to men the talents and gifting needed to proclaim His word, but they are not to be the focus of our attention. The focus is to be the truth of His word.
The testimony of God refers to the truth of the gospel, what God has done through His Son to purchase our salvation. The truth of salvation is not an invention of man but a revelation given by God Himself. Paul wanted to draw attention not to himself, but to the glorious truth of salvation in the Person of Jesus Christ. To seek to add to His accomplished work is really to detract from His work.
“For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified” v. 2. The point is, the gospel is nothing more or less than Jesus Christ and what He did for us when He died on the cross for our sins. Actually, nothing can be added to what Jesus Christ has already done! Yes, men in their own imaginations and for their own purposes have added many things including works, church rites, seclusion and many other things, but they are of no avail! The gospel is condensed to one thing: Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world. Paul emphasizes God’s Person and His work on our behalf. Everything else is excluded! In a similar note, Paul said, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ...” (Gal. 6:14).
The world desperately needs to hear this message today. So many have been led into false systems of belief and practice. The ministry of the church is to share the message of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. The church needs to heed the Biblical mandate, “Preach the word...” (II Tim. 4:2).
“And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling” v. 3. Preaching is not always easy! It is a blessed work, but often accompanied with hindrances. Some are from without. Some people do not like the message preached. Because they resist the message, they will often resist the preacher. This is especially true when the message calls for a change in one’s understanding of truth or in one’s conduct. Many will accept the truth of the Bible as long as they can kind of keep it at arm’s length, so to speak. If, however, the message calls for self examination and repentance, many will be offended. The need of the church today, though, is to hear messages that call for genuine repentance. Apart from repentance from sin, the church will have little if any real ministry except as man determines. Where that is true, the spiritual light of the church is dim. Again, if Jesus Christ is not given His rightful place in the life and ministry of the church, the church really has no need for existence.
Sometimes the hindrance to the cause of preaching comes from within the preacher himself. If his own life is not right with God, he will not have the heart and courage to preach as he ought to. But other things may hinder as well, such as physical weakness and fear. Many men preach with some form of physical disability. It is not unusual for a man to preach with some form of fear and trembling. Even if it looks easy, the act of preaching can be very strenuous. Sometimes the pastor will need to speak truth regarding things people may resist, such as the reality of hell. If a man is to be faithful to preach the word of God, he will need to preach all the word of God! Remember Paul’s message to the Ephesian elders, “For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).
Indeed, we need to pray for those who are called to preach the unsearchable riches of God’s grace.
“And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” v. 4. As noted above, there is sometimes a great temptation for those who preach the word of God to display their talent and to insert their own gems of wisdom. Every preacher is different and God uses all kinds of people to present His truth to others.
Any preaching that is used and blessed of God, however, incorporates the power and ministry of the Holy Spirit. If that is not true, the preaching becomes just an academic exercise. It may be interesting, but it does not necessarily move those who hear to adjust their lives to the truth presented.
Please note that we not speaking of a certain style of preaching. There are many different styles. Some preach loudly and authoritatively, some are more quiet and almost subdued. The Lord can use any man who gets his message from the Bible and who prays for the presence and ministry of the Holy Spirit. Yet, this does not distract from the idea that the truth should be presented to the best of the preachers ability and with zeal for the message.
Of course, the hearers of the message have a responsibility in receiving the word delivered to them. Paul spoke to the Thessalonians saying, “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe” (I Thess. 2:13).
“That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” v. 5. This is indeed the end, the most basic purpose of preaching, that the people’s faith may stand in the power of God and not in the wisdom of men. I think this is a greater problem than many realize or care to think about. Many people have simply embraced for themselves a religion that was passed down to them from generations past with little or no comprehension of spiritual truth. They have embraced a manner of salvation that is not really taught in the Bible, but are satisfied because it is a family tradition. In so many cases their faith stands in the wisdom of men rather than in the power of God. This can be true of about any church.
Even people who grow up in a church where the gospel is preached sometimes simply adopt the form of Christianity without a personal relationship with God. They learn the terminology and outwardly conform to what they hear, but there is no life within because they have not personally come to Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. Until they do personally come to Him, they will have religion without the life and change of heart that only God Himself can bring.
Consider, where people have only an outward conformity to Christ and not a personal identity with Him, there can be no true ministry. They may fill offices in a local church or preach a sermon, but without the witness of God in all their doing! Could local churches be spiritually weak because of this? Could we be deceived into thinking we are serving God when, in reality, we have nothing to serve Hm with.“Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought” v. 6. The word perfect may be somewhat confusing. What Paul is saying is that he speaks true wisdom to those who are spiritually mature. To them he can speak with greater understanding because they are able to receive the truth. Remember, Paul’s message is a revelation from God. Unless one is truly born again, he cannot receive such truth. “The natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him...” (I Cor. 2:14).
What Paul is imparting to them is not the wisdom of this world. The world does not know nor comprehend the truth of God, as said above. They have no heart for it, and rather scoff at it! Unfortunately, this is seen in many of our institutions of “higher learning.”
Note that the thoughts and ideas of this present world system as well as the leaders and rulers of such wisdom come to naught! Only the truth of God and those who identify with it will stand. Man cannot build anything for eternity. Only God can do that.
Perhaps a word of caution is due here. We should be discerning as to what we give our time and attention to. If we ignore the study of God’s word we will remain pretty much ignorant as to who God really is. We will also fail to see His plan for the church and the world. When we see the world crumbling about us, we may think all is lost. Discouragement and despondency will be the order of the day. For the growing believer, however, he sees his hope not in men, programs, or governments, but in God Himself. King David, said, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do” (Psa. 11:3). Thankfully, the foundation of the growing believer is God Himself.
“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden mystery, which God ordained before the world unto our glory” v. 7. What Paul is speaking is the truth of God in a mystery. That is, he is setting forth truth that was once hidden from human understanding and beyond his comprehension. Man on his own could never discover the wisdom of God, but as he [Paul] had received it as a revelation from God, he now reveals it to man.
The truth God reveals to Paul is not truth God makes up as He goes along to meet specific needs, but an eternal truth. God doesn’t have to make up new truth because there are no surprising situations or conditions to Him. God sees everything as at once. There is nothing hidden to Him.
Notice that the truth God reveals is for the believer’s glory, that is, so that we can share in His glory. We could never experience the glory of God apart from a revelation from Him. Such glory is beyond our comprehension now, but one day we will experience the glory of being with Him in heaven in a glorified body! We have so much to look forward to!
“Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” v. 8. The rulers of this world or age have no identity with the truth of God. They are left to their own imaginations and schemes. I don’t mean this to be critical, but rulers without God can in no way enter His wisdom and plans for the world. Even if well educated in this world, it is still an education apart from God. The evidence of such leadership is everywhere apparent.
Thank God for the leaders who do know God and can identify with His glorious plan. The history of the world, though, proves that most rulers have ruled from their own fallen natures. Yes, in our country there have been some truly Christian leaders. Our country could, at least in its origin, be considered a Christian country. This Christian influence has been greatly felt for many years. Today, though!!??
That the rulers of the world do not identify with God’s word and plan is seen that, if they did, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. Jesus Christ could only die once on the cross, but is He not, in some sense, being crucified today in different ways? Are not many of His messengers and believers being persecuted and put to death?
“But as it is written, ‘Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him’” v. 9. This verse seems quite self explanatory. No man is able to comprehend all that God has prepared for them that love Him. Just think of all that God has created in this world that we are able to see! A person who has always been blind cannot comprehend very well the beauty of the mountains, the rivers, the acres of wheat, the animals, the birds, the beauty of the smile of a loved one. In like manner, no believer can very much comprehend all the things God has in store for those who love Him.
When one comes to Christ in believing faith, he begins to see truths he could never understand before. God begins to reveal Himself to Him so that he can see much of what he could not see before. Still, there is so much more! In heaven, our fellowship with Him and all others will be unhindered, the glory of God will be everywhere present, and there will be the eternal light that proceeds from Christ Himself. There will be no death nor anything that mars one’s fellowship and joy.
This is but a very brief look into this chapter. It is good to let the Bible speak for itself. One of the blessings to me is the matter of not only reading, but also of thinking about and meditating upon the word of God. It is then that the Holy Spirit can minister the truth of the Bible to our own hearts and meet specific needs.
Many of you have been inquiring about and praying for BJ following her knee surgery in December. Thank you so much. She is several weeks into the healing process and it is going quite well. The drop foot problem still exists, but we are hoping time will aid the healing. She has several therapists coming to our house to help her with her walking and just readjusting to her new circumstances. They are also very helpful and encouraging.
BJ’s brother Don, brother-in-law Paul, and our son, Tim, have been laboring to install a new walk-in shower. That will be a great improvement for several reasons. We extend our very special thanks to them for their many hours of labor. Thanks, too, to BJ’s sister, Janet for all of her help around the house.
We are in the midst of winter here in northern Wisconsin, but we have mostly cold without snow. Still, there are several weeks of winter left!
The focus of my life has changed a bit in these last few weeks. I have been doing much of my work from my office at home rather than at church. In this way I can be available to meet any immediate needs BJ may have. Lord willing, I will be back in my office at church when BJ is more independent.
BJ wishes to thank everyone who has prayed for her, sent food, cards, and gifts during the time of her recovery from knee surgery. Also, thanks to those who come to visit her. She adds, “Your kindness and thoughtful deeds have been a special blessing to me.” Indeed, ministry to another in time of need is so precious.
Renald Showers has an interesting comment in his book, The New Nature, “Because the Holy Spirit permanently indwells, His power is constantly available to the believer. That power will not operate in the Christian’s life, however, unless he personally appropriates it by faith. Moment by moment he must trust the Holy Spirit rather than himself to empower him for victory over the power of the old nature” p11.
“Faith must be tested because it can be turned into a personal possession only through conflict.” Oswald Chamber.
“This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith” (I Jn. 5:4).
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