Epiphany 6a

Preached: February 16, 2014

God’s Wisdom Has Planned Glory for You Who Love Him
1 Corinthians 2:6-13

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Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. The word of God through which the Holy Spirit reveals the mind of God to us is 1 Corinthians 2.

Now we do speak wisdom among those who have reached the goal [believers], but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are proving themselves nothing. Rather we speak God’s wisdom, which has been hidden in mystery. God predetermined this wisdom before eternity to bring us to glory. None of the rulers of this age recognized this wisdom. For if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. Rather [they acted] as it stands written: “No eye has seen it. No ear has heard it. And it has not entered a human heart—namely, what God has prepared for those who love him.”

But to us, God has reveled it through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among people knows the things of a person except the spirit of that person, the spirit that is in him? So also, no one has known the things of God except the Spirit of God.

Now as for us, we did not receive the spirit of this world but the spirit that comes from God, so that we may know the things God has graciously given us. What we speak is not in words taught by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, bringing together spiritual things with spiritual words. (1 Corinthians 2:6-13).

This is the word of our Lord.

Dear friends in Christ, fellow saints washed clean in the blood of our risen Savior:

“What is God’s plan for me?” Have you wrestled with that question? It confronts us when we face major life-decisions: school, career, spouse, family, retirement, medical treatment. It creeps into our minds when we struggle through difficult times: “Why is this happening? Does God still have a purpose for me?” And sometimes looking back, we might even ask, “Did I mess up God’s plan?”

“What is God’s plan for me?” That question is asked from many different angles. Often false ideas and misconceptions underlie that question. Even good-hearted attempts to answer can lead down paths that seem to make sense but actually lead away from God. For you see, not even the greatest insights of the human mind can understand what God’s wisdom has planned. Only the Holy Spirit through the Word of God reveals it. And what do the Spirit’s words tell us? God’s wisdom has planned glory for you who love him. That’s the theme today.

A. Human thought cannot begin to understand

“But that’s not what I mean when I ask about God’s plan for me,” someone might object. “I already know God’s plan of salvation. I’ve learned it from little on up. I nned to know his plan for me day to day.”

I know that kind of thinking. I’ve felt that way too. But there’s something fundamentally wrong with it. It’s an example of how human thought cannot begin to understand God’s wisdom.

You see, that kind of thinking segregates God’s plan of salvation. It imagines, “I’ve already learned how God saved me. Now I can move on to deeper mysteries and discover more wisdom. Yes, I’ll need to come back and review his saving plan from time to time, but that part’s basically done. Now I can focus on his other plans for me.”

But how well do you or I know God’s saving plan? I’m not simply asking whether you can tell me about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. I’m not asking whether you can explain how Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophesies. I’m not even asking how well you can put this all together to explain God’s plan of forgiveness, life, and salvation.

Rather, how well do we know God’s saving plan? How well are our eyes focused on it and our ears tuned in to it? How much does it dwell in our hearts and minds? How much a part of our bones and inner being is it? How thoroughly does it control our words and actions? How well do we ponder it, treasure it, cherish it?

You see, God’s saving plan by itself is more wisdom than we can assimilate in many life times. Human thought cannot begin to understand it. That’s why Paul kept on speaking this wisdom among the believers whether they were new to the faith or mature. This is the wisdom that even the best and brightest of this world could never discover. In fact, even when the world is told God’s saving plan, they evaluate it as foolishness. Remember how religious leaders of Jesus’ day rejected him.

Listen to how the Apostle puts it. “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 your 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” (1 Corinthians 2:6-8 NIV84).

This secret wisdom, this hidden wisdom that the world does not know, is God’s saving plan. His wisdom has planned glory for you who love him. Human thought cannot begin to understand. “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9 NIV84).

What a mystery! What secret wisdom hides even in the simply words “they … crucified the Lord of glory.” How could that be? How could the Lord of glory, the Almighty God, the everlasting Son of the Father—how could he be crucified, forsaken by God, dead, and buried? Why would he do that? Why would he want to bring sinners, like you and me, into glory, though it cost him so dearly? How could this be God’s predestined, determined plan from before time began?

We could never have known any of this. But the Holy Spirit has revealed it through God’s Word.

B. Only the Spirit’s words reveal it

The Apostle writes, “But God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 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” (1 Corinthians 2:10, 11 NIV84).

The Holy Spirit uses a human illustration. None of us really knows what goes on inside another person. Only that person’s own spirit truly knows. If we can’t even know what goes on inside other people, how can we know God’s wisdom or plan?

Here’s the answer. Referring to himself and the other apostles, Paul writes, “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. 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” (1 Corinthians 2:12, 13 NIV84).

We get an idea of what’s going on inside another person when they talk or write to us. Their words reveal their heart. That’s how the Holy Spirit reveals God’s heart and mind. He does it through the words he freely gave the prophets and apostles to write. Only the Spirit’s words, recorded in the Scriptures, reveal God’s wisdom that planned glory for you who love him.

So dear friends, if we imagine we’ve already spent enough time with God’s plan of salvation and now need to move on to deeper spiritual wisdom, how that convicts us as sinners! The Holy Spirit has chosen not to reveal many things to us, but he has chosen to reveal God’s saving plan. How dare we think that we need other so-called deeper, spiritual wisdom!

If we imagine that some feeling deep inside of us shows us some sort of divine plan for ourselves, how we deceive ourselves! The Holy Spirit has chosen to reveal God’s wisdom through the words he gave the prophets and apostles to write. The Bible is from God. Who knows where those deep feelings inside of us come from?

And if we imagine that we know God’s saving plan well enough so that we can busy ourselves with other things, how foolish we are! Even the angels continually marvel at God’s saving plan, how much more so you and I! In fact, the better we know the wisdom of his salvation, the more deeply that draws us into his word.

What sinners you and I are, even when we think we are spiritual! How much we need God’s secret wisdom, his plan of salvation! The Lord of glory was crucified for you. On the cross he suffered the shame of your sins to prepare you for the glory of heaven. His saving plan, revealed in his Word, draws you and me to love him. What wisdom that’s planned glory for you who love him.

In the late 1800’s a woman in Great Britain and a man in Missouri began exchanging letters. They had never met, but as they wrote they got to know each other. Through their written words they shared more of what was deep inside of them than many couples who see each other every day. In fact, they grew to love each other deeply, cherishing each word the other wrote, reading and rereading the letters in order to be close, though an ocean separated them.

The Bible reveals God’s heart to you. It’s words are the Spirit’s love letter to you, beyond all human thought. Cherish God’s wisdom that has planned glory for you who love him. Amen.

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Catechism Student Questions:

  1. Why might we ask “What’s God’s plan for me?”
  2. Do we ever know God’s saving plan well enough to set it aside and move on to other things?
  3. What is God’s secret wisdom that no human investigation could ever figure out?
  4. How does the Holy Spirit make God’s saving wisdom known to us?
  5. Why do we need God’s saving wisdom?
  6. How does he draw us sinners to love him?

Pastor Gregg Bitter

St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
859 5th Street
Hancock, MN 56244
(320) 392-5313