Sermon: God’s Wisdom Revealed

1 Corinthians 2:10-13

Levi Durfey




Our culture runs on two basic motives: I can do whatever I want and don’t judge me. This is true among both religious and non-religious people. Religious people apply those motives to their conception of God: God will let them do what they like and he won’t judge them. 


Nowhere in the Bible do you find a conception of God like that, so where would they get an idea of a God like that? It’s because people think that they can discover God’s truth and wisdom on their own. It’s always been interesting to me that they often find a god who is very permissive and accepting of the lifestyle that they’ve chosen to live.


In First Corinthians, we have been learning about God’s wisdom and how different it is from human wisdom. God’s wisdom, Paul wrote, is so far above us that…“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” (1 Corinthians 2:9). 


How can we know the wonderful things of God’s wisdom? The answer to that lies in our passage here:


10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 


12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. (1 Corinthians 2:10–13)


We cannot know God’s wisdom without him showing us what his wisdom is. It cannot be reasoned out by man. We see flashes of his wisdom in nature, in logic, and so forth—but to know God’s wisdom is impossible for us to do on our own. We cannot make a god in our own image and it be the real God. God must give us his wisdom. How did he do so?



1) Who Can Know What Another Is Thinking?


1 Corinthians 2:10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

1 Corinthians 2:11a For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? 


Paul is using a simple comparison. The first part of the comparison is this: nobody really knows what someone else is thinking, we might have good guesses, but it’s impossible for us to know absolutely. 


A husband and wife may know each other so well that they can finish each other sentences. They may know well each other’s desires, dreams, and what not to cook for dinner. But they cannot know each other absolutely.


The only human that can know absolutely what a human is thinking is that particular person. They know in their spirit—their inner being—what they are thinking.


2) Who Can Know What God Is Thinking?


So, Paul says, just as we cannot know what another human is thinking, except for that particular human…


1 Corinthians 2:11b even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 


There’s no way we can know what God thinks unless his Spirit—who knows God’s mind—tells us.


The Lord sometimes uses angels to communicate portions of his will to people. Mary, for example, was visited by the angel who told her that she was going to have a baby that she would name Jesus.


But the one God has entrusted with the task of revealing his truth and wisdom to humanity—is the Holy Spirit. We call this revelation. There are two kinds of revelation: 


i) Natural Revelation


Natural revelation is what is revealed about God in his creation:


20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: (Romans 1:20)


All over creation you can see, if you look, God’s fingerprints. It’s in the way the earth is precisely the right distance from the Sun to sustain life. It’s in way birds and animals seem to know how to do certain things instinctively, like flying to precise locations at certain times of the year.


But natural revelation is limited. For example, there’s no way for us to know about Jesus Christ by looking at creation. Therefore, there is no way to be saved from natural revelation. But there is another kind of revelation for those things, it’s called…


ii) Special Revelation


Special revelation is God, through his Spirit, revealing truths that people could not have figured out by themselves. 


How could we have known that God created everything in six days without Genesis chapter one and two?


How else could we have known what is moral and what is immoral without the Bible? The culture’s morals change as the culture sees fit. Today, things like premarital sex and homosexuality are counted as morally right in our culture, but God still sees them as wrong.


How else could we know that Jesus was the final, once-for-all sacrifice for our sins? We couldn’t know unless, as the song says, the Bible tells me so.


So how does God transmit his revelation—his wisdom—to us?




1) The Apostles Received God’s Revelation


1 Corinthians 2:12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 


The process that God uses to give us his wisdom is called by theologians inspiration. This isn’t the same type of inspiration when we talk about how a friend inspired us to go and do something we normally wouldn’t do. Biblically, inspiration is a work of God. We read:


16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (2 Timothy 3:16)


The word for inspiration literally means “God-breathed.” “Breath,” by the way, is the same word in the Bible as the word “spirit.” So inspiration is the Spirit’s work of giving us God’s revelation.


It is not, however, every Christian that gets God’s revelation given to them. When Paul says, “we have received,” he is referring to the apostles and the other writers of Scripture, not to every Christian.


Every Christian, however, can discover God’s revelation for themselves by reading the Bible. We’ll see that in the next passage. 


But, today, there are no apostles and there is no new inspired revelation from God.


2) The Apostles Wrote God’s Revelation


Peter explained that the human authors of scripture did not write their own thoughts (Peter says, “private interpretations”). Instead they wrote only what the Holy Spirit guided them to write. Peter wrote:


20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (2 Peter 1:20–21)


Here in our passage, Paul agrees—him and the other Biblical writers did not simply speak (and write) their own ideas about God, but only that which the Holy Spirit told them to say and write.


1 Corinthians 2:13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 


Most of that verse is straight-forward, but what does the last part mean, “comparing spiritual things with spiritual”? The word for “comparing” (συγκρίνω) means to “combine, compare, explain, or interpret” (BDAG). I think what he means is that he (and the other Biblical writers) spoke and wrote “spiritual things” as the Spirit explained them.


One of the signs of inspiration that is evident in the Bible is that, while there are stylistic differences between the human authors, the truth of what they say remains as if it where only one person writing it—which, of course, is true—the Holy Spirit is the single author of the Bible.


From Genesis to Revelation, from around 1500 BC to 90 AD, 1,600 years, using forty human authors, the Bible has a consistent single message. That is because the Spirit has revealed God’s wisdom and inspired the human authors to write it exactly the way he wanted written.


So today, we have God’s inspired revelation, given to us in the Bible.




What are the benefits of God’s wisdom being revealed?


1) We Have Wisdom From God 


Folks, this can be so easy to take for granted, but it’s really quite amazing. We have wisdom from God. Everything our Creator wants us to know for how to live and how to be saved and more, it’s all in a book that we can read.


A COUPLE decided that they should do something together to strengthen their marriage. They decided to go hunting together. They’d heard of other people going duck hunting with dogs, so they figured they needed to buy a good hunting dog and buy the dog they did. They got all of their equipment and their dog and took off to go duck hunting for the day. They tried getting some ducks, but they came to the end of the day and hadn’t gotten one. 


The husband looked at the wife and said, “Honey, we’ve got to be doing something wrong here. We haven’t caught a duck yet.”


The wife said, “Well, maybe, if we throw the dog up a little higher, he can catch a duck this time.”[1]


A lot of Christians to live their lives like that—they ignore what God’s wisdom on how to live correctly and end up having about as much success as our duck hunters.


God’s word, for example, clearly says to remain pure until you are married (e.g., 1 Corinthians 7:1-2). But Christians buy into the world’s wisdom, “If we live together before marriage, it will be a good test if we’ll have a good marriage.” But what happens more often than not is that they get hurt.


Is the Bible the first place we go to answer our questions and get our directions? Is the Bible important enough for us to memorize? Or is the Bible, as someone once said, like the Queen of England, in the top position, but not having any real authority in our lives?


2) We Have A Sure Word


God is perfect, right? That means that with the Holy Spirit in charge of the inspiring of God’s revelation to human authors, we have a word from God that is also perfect. It is sure because, Peter said…


16 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty…

19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed…(2 Peter 1:16, 19)


People will, of course, claim that there are errors and contradictions in the Bible. But those claims, when examined carefully, fall apart. When understood correctly, the Bible can be trusted to be true and sure in whatever it says whether it’s in science or salvation.


Can we be sure that Jesus came and died for our sins? You bet…the Bible says so!


Can we be sure that Jesus rose again from the grave on the third day? Absolutely! The Bible tells us so!


Can we be sure that if we place our confidence, our faith in Jesus and his work for us on the cross, that we will gain eternal life? What does the Bible say?

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)


Do you know if you have everlasting life today? You can, if you believe in the Jesus Christ that the Bible tells us about.


3) We Have A Treasure To Prize


Is the Bible your delight, your treasure? Are you like the person in Psalm 1?


1 Blessed is the man That walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor standeth in the way of sinners, Nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; And in his law doth he meditate day and night. 3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, That bringeth forth his fruit in his season; His leaf also shall not wither; And whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. (Psalm 1:1–3)


The wonderful truth is that when we delight in God’s word, blessings come our way. Our spiritual lives prosper. We grow deep roots that are able to withstand the storms of life.


And you know, when you prize the Bible as a treasure, it’s because you prize the one who wrote the Bible—the Lord God. An old Puritan Christian, Stephen Charnock, wrote:


Prize and study the Scripture. We can have no delight in meditation on him unless we know him, and we cannot know him but by the means of his own revelation. 


When the revelation is despised, the revealer will be of little esteem. Men do not throw off God from being their rule till they throw off Scripture from being their guide; and God must needs be cast off from being an end when the Scripture is rejected from being a rule.[2]


What he means is this: you cannot say that you love God if you don’t love the Word—the wisdom—that he has given you. The Word is the heart of God himself—it is his treasure for us. Do we treasure it?


[1] Tony Evans, Tony Evans’ Book of Illustrations: Stories, Quotes, and Anecdotes from More Than 30 Years of Preaching and Public Speaking (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2009), 18.

[2] Elliot Ritzema and Elizabeth Vince, eds., 300 Quotations for Preachers from the Puritans, Pastorum Series (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2013).

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