None of Us – 1 Corinthians 2:1-3:4

The third message in the 1 Corinthians Study.
(Find the other messages from this series here)

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Have you ever jumped into a project thinking that you can handle it no problem only to get into the middle of it and realize, “wow I am in way over my head!” Sometimes, we think we are qualified or experienced enough to handle something, build something, fix something, or organize something only to realize later, this is way out of my league- I need some help!

Paul’s point in the passages that we will read today is that while the Corinthians felt that they were qualified to determine the best best perspective on the Christian life and ministry, they were vastly unqualified. Paul’s point was that no one is qualified for that but God. But, we often try to do God’s work don’t we? Instead of calling for His help we attempt to do His job for Him or at least help him out.

For example, we try to fix the people in our lives when only God can do that. We attempt to fix our hearts and mend our souls when only God is capable of restoring us. We try to control and even manipulate our circumstances and situation when only God can do that…

You are under-qualified for the job of God. – Tim Keller

In the first message we saw that Paul was thankful that God would sanctify the Corinthians, that He would save even them and we rejoiced that God would save Even Us.

God will save Even Us.

In last week’s message we saw that Paul wanted all of the people to come together and leave behind their divisions and separations by recognizing that God was to lead all of them toward that destination he had in mind for them.


God desires to work through All of Us.

Today we’ll see that for God to save Even Us and work through all of us, He needs help from None of Us.

God needs help from None of Us.

We are going to read this passage in chunks, let’s tackle the first chunk. I want us to have in mind the context leading up to chapter 2 so we are going to read the last 3 verses of Chapter 1. Let’s read 1:28-2:5

Someone has told the story of a Elephant and Sparrow crossing a bridge. The Sparrow sat perched on the back of the Elephant as he made his way across the bridge. The bridge strained and swayed under the weight. The other animals watched with wide eyes, unsure if they would make it across without causing the bridge to collapse. When they did finally make it to the other side, the sparrow said to the elephant- “Boy we really made it sway didn’t we!?”

Just as the elephant was the one with all of the weight and the sparrow was just along for the ride, Paul knew that any work that he had done among the Corinth had really been the impact of God and that he was just along for the ride.

  1. None of us save souls from sin.

Paul knew that the Corinthians had been saved even though he hadn’t used lofty speech, he had actually been weak and fearful when he was with them, BUT he had told them about Jesus crucified and that made ALL of the difference.

  • Paul did not use lofty speech. (v.1)

Paul didn’t preach like someone who hadn’t study when he was in Corinth and he was not ignorant, but he wasn’t in Corinth to develop a philosopher’s following he was there to preach the gospel. He didn’t come to debate the most recent ideas or to intellectually wrestle with the great thinkers of the city. He came to proclaim the gospel.

Paul was no fool, but he was focused on the gospel.

The reason that I do not delve into politics is that I do not believe that I was called into politics. I believe that I was called to proclaim the gospel. I’m focused on outcomes that will last longer than 4 years. I’m focused on outcomes that will even last longer than our great nation.

Honestly, I can’t wait for November to hurry up and get here so many of my colleagues will be able to rest from their political activities and return their focus on the truly important work of gospel ministry.

  • Paul was weak and fearful. (v.3)

In 2nd Corinthians Paul would talk about a “thorn in the flesh.” It was some weakness, ailment, or heartache that Paul had to bear. It may have been that Paul had this thorn in the flesh while he was there in Corinth originally or it may be that Paul was weak and fearful because the numerous trials that he had been through.

Today we are given this portrait of Spiritual Leaders who are powerful and impressive men. Men who everyone wants to follow. People that are natural born leaders. However, Paul gives us glimpse of his time in Corinth and it’s clear that

The work that God did in Corinth was through a weak and unimpressive man.

It was clearly a work of God.

  • Paul was resolved to focus on Christ Crucified. (v. 2)

Last week I told you that idea of Christ- the Messiah and promised one of this new belief system- was crucified was scandalous to the greeks. For people to put their faith in a deity that had been executed by men was laughable to many greeks, but to those that believe it was the power of God unto salvation. It MUST have been God that had changed their lives- not Paul!

The work that God did in Corinth was through a culturally scorned message.

Do you remember the Shamwow guy? The Shamwow guy was a great salesman and those commercials were memorable because of his salesmanship. Those commercials are gone and while that guy was memorable, my life was not transformed by the sham wow. You would think, having watched that commercial that it would revolutionize the modern world.

Paul’s point was that he was not a pitchman. He was not a high pressure salesman. He merely shared a very simple unimpressive message and people’s lives were changed. Whenever you have doubt, look at the dramatic difference that God has made. No man could do that, only God. Pauls says, “only God could have saved you.”

Let’s read 2:6-16.

2. None of us know the mind of God.

Paul had been hard on the wisdom and philosophy of the Greeks that the Corinthians were apparently in love with. However, Paul was not against knowledge, through, or wisdom. Paul wasn’t anti-learning or anti-intellectual. Paul was warning the Corinthians not to worship wisdom and his point in this passage is that true wisdom is found in the worship of God.

He says in verse 6, the wisdom of this age is already coming to nothing. It’s already being unraveled. Now in this culture of the different philosophers and thinkers, they would have constantly disagreed and constantly been tearing down one another’s theories to promote their own. Paul says, the Wisdom that we want is wisdom that has no expiration date.

In our day and age things are changing so rapidly that information becomes dated so quickly. You can read a newspaper before heading into work and the guy who read the updated story online is going to know details you don’t by break time. However, the wisdom of God is doesn’t pass away or expire, it is longstanding. So longstanding that Paul says God declared it before the ages.

Now Paul makes a very important point that we need to understand because it will shape our perspective on the knowledge of this world. Paul gives a little analogy, he says who knows what a person is thinking except for that person.I don’t know what you are thinking and you don’t know what I am thinking. Some of you aren’t even sure what you are thinking. When your wife asks you, what are you thinking about you say “oh, nothing.”

Paul’s point is that you can’t know my mind unless I share it with you. Then he points out that none of us can know the mind of God unless he shares it with us. None of us have an inside track on the wisdom of God.

  • The wisdom of God is known through the Spirit. (v.10-13)

Paul says, the wisdom of God is revealed to us through the Spirit. So if the wisdom of God is revealed to us by the Spirit, if you don’t have access to the Spirit, you don’t have access to the wisdom of God because it is through him that this wisdom is revealed.

  • The wisdom of God is foolishness to the world (v14-16)

Paul says that the wisdom of God is foolishness to the world because it is spiritually discerned or revealed to us through the Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is our key to the wisdom of God.

Without the Spirit we have no access to God’s wisdom. Without the guidance of the Spirit, we are unable to navigate the depths of God’s truth and wisdom. There are often times that I find myself saying, I just don’t understand how a person could think like that. I just don’t understand how a person could make that kind of decision. I just don’t understand how a person could support that. I just don’t understand how a person as smart as he is could get wrapped up in that….

Without a proper understanding of this we can fall into 2 errors.

1.Non Christians are foolish.

I’ve heard well meaning people speak of unbelievers who think or do something that is contrary to God’s Word as morons, fools, or idiots. There are many brilliant non-believers.

Many smart people lack appreciation for the Wisdom of God because they lack access through the Spirit of God.

2. Christianity is foolish.

The other error is that people look at those who are smart, intellectual, and well educated and think that if they don’t believe or do not appreciate the Wisdom of God, it must not be true or it must not be wise. They do not lack an appreciation because it is unworthy, they lack appreciation because they have no access.

If I handed you a Chinese New Testament and asked you to read it, I doubt any of us could. I wouldn’t call you foolish or think that you were illiterate, I would think, he doesn’t speak or read Chinese. I bet if you knew Chinese, you’d be able to read it and understand it no problem…It’s not a matter of intelligence, it’s a matter of a language barrier. The true wisdom of God is accessible through the Sprit.

Now stick with me for a few more verses because here’s the application and this is important, so please catch it… Let’s read 3:1-4

  1. None of us control Spiritual Growth.

Do you feel the irony of verse 1? He says, I can’t even talk to you like mature people because you are babies. I’ve got to feed you with milk because you aren’t even ready for solid food you bunch of babies! The people who were so in love with philosophy and the people who thought they were so advanced that they didn’t need Paul anymore, the people who had gotten too big for their own britches, Paul calls them a bunch of babies.

Paul says you love wisdom but I can’t even talk of the wisdom of God with you because you aren’t ready for it-These truths are spiritually discerned and you aren’t being spiritual, you are being carnal and human…How could you not be it you are saying, I’m of Paul, I’m of Apollos.

You are clearly spiritually immature because you are acting like children. You are acting like spoiled children. It doesn’t matter how much Bible you know, if you are acting like a child, you are a child.

The judgement seat of Christ is not a Bible Bowl competition. We don’t get into heaven after taking a Bible knowledge final exam.

You could simultaneously have the most Bible knowledge and the least spiritual maturity in the room this morning.

Spiritual maturity is not measured by amounts of knowledge and it’s not measured by lengths of time. Notice what Paul says in verse 2, I have fed you with milk because you were not able to bear meat, and yet you are still unable. We’ve been through this phase already, and still you aren’t ready because you are being unspiritual.

Spiritual maturity is not measured in amounts of information or in lengths of duration but in depths of transformation.

Do you remember what Paul said to them in the beginning. God is faithful who has sanctified you and will make you blameless. God had a place that he desired to take the Corinthians. None of them were capable of getting there without the leading and guidance of the spirit.

You can learn Bible info on your own,  you can not experience transformation on your own.