A gospel vision
In this study we will focus on a small section of text that talks about having a clear vision. Share some stories or illustrations of what it means to have a clear view of something.
We are several chapters into the book of 1 Corinthians but this week we take a pause and reflect on what is at the heart of the solution for the people in the church of God in Corinth. We have read how they were divided and quarrelling over who is the best teacher, and they have been rebuked for thinking and behaving just like people outside the church do. What they needed was a stern letter from someone who can turn their heads and hearts back to the foundation of their faith: Jesus Christ and him crucified. The letter began with a description of who the church in Corinth is, not because of what they have done but because of who they are in Christ. They are called the church of God, sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be his holy people, who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, receivers of the grace of God in Christ, enriched in every way in Christ, lacking no spiritual gift, eagerly waiting for Christ to be revealed, being kept firm till the end in order that they will be blameless because of their fellowship with Jesus Christ our Lord. And all that in just the first 9 verses!
So, the antidote to the problems in the church is to stay focused on the truth about Christ. We will look at 1 Corinthians 2:6-8 to encourage one another to do just that.
Read 1 Corinthians 2:6-8
6 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. 7 No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
What did you see?
- Question 1: What can we say about the meaning of maturity from this passage?
“We do […] speak a message of wisdom (God’s wisdom) among the mature” The ‘we’ in this sentence could be Paul and Sosthenes or to all those who know the gospel and speak it in truth. The latter is a smoother understanding because Paul is talking to the Corinthians about not being divided but united in their devotion to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. We do not listen to the wisdom of the world but we do listen to the message from God. The mature here are all who receive the message of wisdom from God. This is a beautiful insight into the concept of maturity. Anyone who grows up ignorant of the message of wisdom from God is not maturing in truth. They lack a vision for why we are here. A plant cannot mature unless it feeds on the very things that it was made to live off. A person cannot mature unless they give attention to the wisdom of God – namely Christ.
- Question 2: Paul says that we speak and that we declare something. What is it that we declare?
“…a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.” This mystery is described here as firstly hidden for a time but secondly was always provided for us since before time began. So, God had a plan, and he laid the plan before Genesis 1:1, and his ultimate plan was kept a mystery even though it was meant for our glory! The word “glory” has a sense of revealing something that is real. Just as we mature because we are designed to grow up into something, our glory is that thing that we are destined to grow into. Like a painting that has been kept hidden from view while the artist is at work but on the day that it is revealed, we see it in all its glory! So, the thing hidden, the mystery, was conceived before time began and is purposed for our own goal and fulfillment.
- Question 3: How does this passage describe those who are not maturing?
“…not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing…” A fundamental reality to maturing in Christ is to listen to the word of God and critique the world that we live in from that and not the other way around. Sin has distorted our understanding and our relationships and we do well to keep in close connection to the word of God. “this age” refers to all human history as we await the return of Christ. “The rulers” could refer to some kind of spiritual forces (as in Ephesians 6:12) but is best read as all those influential in this world since they operate under the wisdom that this world understands.
- Question 4: What is the ultimate illustration of why this world has it so wrong?
“…None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” Imagine that the governing bodies of Jerusalem in Jesus’ day looked on him and understood that he was the glorious eternal Son of God and simply worshipped him! No crucifixion that day! Instead, they looked him in the eyes and spat on him.
This world is divided neatly between those who understand the wisdom of God, who is Christ, and desire to learn more about him and their future; and those who do not understand the significance of Christ. The difference is not about simply knowing the name of Jesus, but about matching him up as the key to really understanding life. Maturing is about knowing Christ, who is the secret revealed to those who are being matured and brought to glory as destined and designed by God. Therefore, a life apart from Christ is a life that is coming to nothing.
Topic A: Explore Colossians 2:1-4 and compare it with what we’ve discussed in 1 Corinthians 2:6-8.
I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. 2 My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.
Topic B: Explore Ephesians 1:3-10 and compare with what we’ve discussed in 1 Corinthians 2:6-8.
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
Topic C: In what practical ways do we declare God’s wisdom? Brainstorm how we teach one another the wisdom of God which is Christ. Are there any endeavours we put energy into (as a church or as individual Christians) which do not promote or support the ongoing work of preaching the gospel and making Christ known?