Thursday, September 26, 2013

Human wisdom vs. The Wisdom From Above

1Co 2:9  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"-- 1Co 2:10  these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.

One of the many profitable things about studying the Bible verse by verse in its context is that we sometimes realize that verses we have heard preached all our lives and have quoted ourselves, have been done so out of context which many times results in a misunderstanding.  Verse 9 above is a good example.  It is generally taken to mean that Heaven is so wonderful that we can’t even imagine its glories. 

To be sure this is a truism.  There is no way we can fathom what it will be like to stand before the triune, eternal, omnipotent, holy God.  Paul hints at this in Rom. 8:18 when he tells us that this life cannot compare to the next and in 2 Cor. 12:4 when he is not permitted to relate what he saw while in Heaven.  It is a “no brainer” that we have no real idea what lies ahead, but this verse in 1 Cor. 2 is not referring to that.

The context of chapter 2 is pitting the natural wisdom of man against the wisdom of God that can only be known by special revelation.  Vs. 7 says that while saints have this wisdom, the lost do not; it is hidden from them.  Vs. 8 is a case in point.  Had Herod, Pilot and the Jewish leaders had this wisdom, this revelation and  believed it they would have never have crucified Jesus. 

In this context Paul quotes Isa. 64:4, not verbatim but in spirit.  If you study out Isa. 4 you see that this is used to relate the idea of how wonderful it is for God to reveal himself and have a relationship with man.  Vs. 4 suggests that as a rule no one really understood the glory of God until he comes down and reveals himself to them in some way and this is why Paul uses it in 1 Cor.  The natural man has no interest in the plan of God in saving sinners and bringing them to glory.  The Jews didn’t even see themselves as sinners so they had no interest in a savior who was going to hang on a tree, become cursed by God all for the forgiveness of their sins.

Vs. 10 proves that vs. 9 is speaking of those lost who are in darkness because it says that whatever is hid in vs. 9 from them has been (present tense) revealed to us.  That is why I highlighted it.  Whatever vs. 9 is speaking of we already know it!

So what is the meaning and why make it a point to explain what this verse really means?  First of all, because it is never good to misquote a verse if we change its meaning.  God put it here for a reason which is more important than any point we might want to make by misapplying it.

Secondly, this is showing that the natural man is unable to believe the gospel until God reveals it to him by changing his heart and mind.  To me, this is a decidedly Calvinistic verse in a decidedly Calvinistic couple of chapters.  All of us are born into this life in the darkness of sin in which we love ourselves and hate God and we care nothing for why he made this earth and the salvation he has provided and what is more we are quite happy to remain in the dark.  This is the worldly wisdom of this age that is taught in the universities and promoted in the media.  And if it is held to it will lead us merrily to God’s Judgment. 

What this passage is saying is that unless God comes and reveals himself to us and changes our hearts to believe on him there is no way we can come to the knowledge of salvation on our own.  In other words, this passage is teaching the effects of total depravity and the necessity of the sovereign intervention of God to save without which we are all lost because our darkness won’t allow us to see and love and believe who God is and what he is doing.  If you read through these first two chapters with this in mind I think it will be clear.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Dating Christ But Unwilling to be Married to Him

Hag 1:4  "Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Hag 1:5  Now, therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. Hag 1:6  You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes. Hag 1:7  "Thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. Hag 1:8  Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the LORD. Hag 1:9  You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the LORD of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house.

Every so often I meet someone who denies what Haggai says in the above text.  Of course, if the truth be admitted it is something we all struggle with but some have seemed to have given up the fight entirely.  Haggai tells the people that their lives are not turning out the way they should, that they are not fulfilled because they are living for themselves instead of for God.  They have failed to realize that life can only be fulfilled and meaningful if God is center of it and not just getting along in the flesh.

I have seen this is a couple of obvious ways in people’s lives.  One man told me that his priorities are God, family, church.  My response is that the church is the body of Christ through which God speaks to us and builds us up in the faith.  It is then the place in which your family is fed spiritually and come to learn of God’s will for them. Therefore I would see it more of God, church, family. Of course what he was telling me was that while he has to acknowledge God as the most important thing in his life, after that his next biggest obligation was to take care of and enjoy his family and then attending church comes after that.  More specifically, feeding and protecting his family took precedence over having his family under the ministry of the Word of God. 

Apparently the fallacy of this type of thinking is not as obvious as I might suppose.  My primary response to him is that making sure your family knows God’s will and has the proper relationship with Christ (their spiritual food) is more important than their physical needs.  Of course caring physically for your family is a top priority for any father and husband, but when these two things get mixed up bad things happen just like in the above text.  How many parents will sell their souls so to speak to provide for their families and usually way beyond what they actually need by working during church or being too tired to make it to church and being too busy to train them in the Word of God and their children grow up to follow their example by putting material concerns over spiritual? 

Secondly, this was illustrated oddly enough but not surprisingly by this man’s grown son.  Like so many “Christian” parents, he assumed that the children being involved in all sorts of activities including sports teams was more important than anything else including church services.  Since his son was a gifted baseball player he was involved in all the city and school teams which, of course, means playing on Sundays.  And this in turn meant that the whole family had to support him by being at the games even if it meant missing church. 

When I asked what about having his family in church, his response was that since his boy had committed himself to the team it would be wrong if he didn’t attend all the practices and games.  Now, it is hard for me to take such a response seriously but actually it was quite serious in more ways than one.  My immediate question is what about your supposed commitment to Christ and his body?  What about the souls of your children?  Is it more important to be a good athlete or a good Bible student? 

Yet this is the norm today, not the exception.  Clearly few have any concept of the glory of God and the seriousness of serving him.  I recently heard someone put it like this: “A lot of people are dating the church but are not married to the church.”   Think of it like this, what woman with an ounce of brains and self-respect would agree to have a relationship with a man who just wanted to date her but not commit to marriage with her?  What if he said, “I would like to get together once or twice a week and spend a little time with you but the rest of the week is “me time”.  She would know right off that she wasn’t very high on his list of loves.

And yet many think God will accept this from his creatures.  “God, I have a lot of things I want to do every week, make money, have fun, rest, spend time with others, etc., so when I can I will spend an hour with you and your family but then I have to get back to living my life.  Oh, and sometimes I just won’t have time to get there at all, and I definitely won’t be able to get there more than briefly Sunday morning.”  We are willing to date Christ, but we are not willing to be his bride!  Hearing what he has to say and learning how to serve him is far from the top of our priority list and we wonder why our “faith” doesn’t seem very satisfying, why we don’t get anything out of the messages, why we don’t have much in common with his body, etc. 

Like God said through Haggai, “Consider you ways”.  Busying yourself with your own house while ignoring his house will not end well for you or your family that you say you love.  If we love our families and our own souls we will make sure he has first place in our lives and that our children see that he does.