Wisdom, Not of this world.

1 Corinthians 2:6.

E. L. Bevir.

Christian Friend vol. 19, 1892, p. 289.

There are two great lines of truth in the Bible:

1. The fall of Adam and ruin of all his family; and the way Christ has met this ruin.

2. The counsels of God in the last Adam, in Christ, before ever the first Adam was formed out of clay and set in Eden.

Many believers have some understanding of the first of these two subjects, though in many cases it be but imperfect. To enter into the second is more rare, though it be the simple and blessed privilege of every child of God.

We find in the first chapters of the first Epistle to the Corinthians, in the very clearest language, a distinction made between Christians who are described as carnal and as children (1 Cor. 3:1), and those who are walking in the power of the Holy Spirit, no longer children, but perfect (1 Cor. 2:6) in the sense of being grown up, and apprehending the second thing of which I have spoken, with which indeed perfection is always connected in Scripture.

The Corinthians were carnal, and their conduct but too plainly showed it. I believe that we but little enter into the state of things at Corinth - lawsuits, boisterous feasting and impropriety at the Lord's table, not to speak of worse disorders; and should any proof be needed of their childishness, I think that their very way of employing the gifts which God had given so richly to them would prove it. They were using gifts of tongues, prophecy, etc., merely to make a display in the assembly; for it is but too evident that show rather than edification was their object. (1 Cor. 14.)

The apostle, in dealing with all this, could only treat it in one way, and that is expressed in the beginning of the second chapter: he did not judge it well to know anything amongst the Corinthians but Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. This is very emphatic, and signifies the judgment and end of the first man at the cross, so that should any pretension to wisdom or glory be made upon his part, Christ crucified is preached to shew the utter vanity of such boasting. All was ended at the cross.

It is a serious thing to be living at a time when all that man, as a child of Adam, can do, and has done, is made so much of. What the world calls "light" (i.e., the natural powers and intellect of man) God calls "darkness," and if we are to understand God's word we must take His expressions as He uses them. His categories are quite different to man's. We are all eminently Corinthian naturally, and as fond of applause, of the world, and of good living, etc., as were the Greeks of the sensual town of the Isthmus.

But in the sixth verse the apostle is speaking of wisdom, not of this world, nor of its rulers, who come to nought; and he himself speaks it among the perfect. I trust that all who read this understand what perfection means. It is no perfecting of the race of Adam, of which we have just been speaking, but the perfection of the glorified Christ, the centre of all God's glorious and eternal counsels; that is perfection, and there is no other. I saw, about three years ago, a book supposed to be very wise (what the world calls wise God calls foolish), in which it was stated that the human race had made progress to perfection, and, taking unity to represent perfection, supposed that mankind had progressed two-sevenths of the way to it. But the other five-sevenths? Ah! the whole theory is utterly wrong and false, and in keeping with the erroneous and arrogant spirit of the age, which supposes man to be perfectible, instead of hopelessly lost, and away from God.

Perfection then is connected with the glorious Christ, and nothing can be added to His glory; and the wisdom which is preached amongst the perfect is not of this world, but that hidden wisdom which God had predetermined before the ages for our glory. All the combined wisdom of the chiefs of this world is worth nothing before God; and the chiefs themselves, after turning the world upside down, and doing more harm than good, disappear from the scene and come to naught. Napoleon himself regretted that one day his exploits would but fill half a page of general history; and where are Julius Caesar and Alexander now?

But this hidden wisdom of God, no longer hidden to us, to whom He has revealed it by His word, these glorious counsels are now known in the Lord of glory, in whom we are chosen according to God's sovereign will. If there be no more wisdom upon this planet (and indeed the world fully demonstrated the absence of it in crucifying Jesus) we can look up to the third heaven, where He is displayed in all His glory, and humbly thank God that He has made Him unto us wisdom. As God's scheme of glory unrolls itself before our eyes, and we are led by the Spirit to know the thoughts of His heart, so do we see the infinite difference between His wisdom as displayed in the all-glorious Christ, and that which is called wisdom by men upon earth.

The things which are outside of the five senses, and which belong to an entirely different sphere to that which the world calls beautiful, are revealed to us who have received the Holy Ghost, who never tires of leading our souls into the enjoyment and reality of the glory of Christ; and it is here that we learn God's wisdom, as we see the fruit of the divine plan. His counsels are so far accomplished in that Christ is glorified, and we ourselves are in Him; and, as we wait for the glorification of our bodies, enabled by the Holy Ghost to enter in spirit into the glorious heavenly scene, we can be independent of all that the world may call beautiful.

The princes of this age know nothing of the wisdom of God, and never has their folly been so fully displayed as when they crucified Jesus, the only One who could have established the kingdom. I recollect an example of secular folly in the way in which it was proposed to dispose of Palestine in an European council. The wise of the earth make their plans, but the Lord has made His beforehand. "Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion." (Psalm 2.) And this, when the time comes, will not a little disconcert the profound combinations of the worldly wise.

But the wisdom, which is now revealed to us, belongs to a heavenly order of things, and has nothing in common with the present age; and the great desire of the apostle was, that the beloved saints of God should enter into and enjoy that which God has given them in Christ. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. We have received the Spirit which is of God, not the spirit of the world, and we are capacitated to receive and to know the things that are freely given to us of God.

There is nothing of the natural man in all this. It is distinctly said of him that he receiveth not the things of God; there must be a work of God before anything can be received, and then the very words for communicating God's thoughts, the wisdom that is not of this world, are chosen by the Holy Ghost; spiritual things are communicated by spiritual means.

Nothing could be more important at the present moment; for the views on inspiration in Christendom are daily becoming more loose just as man is growing louder in his pretensions as to progress, science, and intelligence. We have received and receive those things which are far beyond the ken of man's mind, and God has been pleased to communicate them to us in His own way, choosing the very words by which to make known His thoughts to us; and it behoves us to give all attention to the language of His inspired word, at this present epoch of the world's history, when man's right to dictate and to explain is so strongly insisted upon.

May we, then, be not only free from the gross evil of the world in a negative way, but so truly happy in the positive enjoyment of the "things of the Spirit of God," where the glorious Christ is all, according to God's wisdom, that we may be formed by the Holy Ghost, spiritual, and thus above the highest pleasures that time and sense can offer.

May the judgment and end of the first man at the cross be, not a mere theory for us, but a blessed 'fact', and may our hearts and minds rest satisfied in that wisdom of God which is not of this world - satisfied with His Christ, and growing in the knowledge of Him! E. L. B.