Where does truth come from? 1 Corinthians Chapters 1-4
When discussing with an intelligent individual a while back regarding the word of God as ultimate truth and the final authority, this person could not tolerate the idea of such arrogance. If we were talking about any other document or author, I would agree. But not about the Bible. Such individuals cannot bring themselves to allow for such a claim. In today’s world with so much individual truth, there is no room for the doctrines of the inerrency and inspiration of the Bible. In their minds, to allow for this would deny our human dignity and sovereignty.
As I study the above mentioned chapters, I find it sad to think that the intelligence of the world cannot bend the knee to God. Unfortunately for them, their pride and intelligence will land them in the fire when they face God, the only truth that ultimately matters is what the word of God has told us all along. “Every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of the Father”(whether they like it or not). God’s Testimony is true in creation – Rom 1:20, “so men are without excuse”; and in the written word -Rom 3:2 “So that you may be proved right when you speak, and prevail when you judge.” There will be no excuses such as “How was I to know…” as you stand before his judgment throne. God is not guilty of non-disclosure.
I gladly acknowledge that there are many gifted intelligent individuals who by the proper use of their smarts have discovered the truth of God’s word and are using their gifts to reach out to the academic world. Praise God! I am referring to the ones who are depending upon their own reasoning independent to the Word of God by attempting to find truth within their own existence. These are the ones who I believe are being talked about in the following verses. They place their own intelligence and powers of discovery over revealed truth. Don’t get me wrong, you definitely need to be able to understand with your mind, the secrets of God, but only when you let God direct your mind and depend upon his guidance into the realm of truth. No angels or spiritual guides can help you in this endeavor. Only God’s Holy Spirit using the Bible can guide you into all truth.
1 Corinthians Chapters 1-4
1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. (Human wisdom and philosophy can do more harm than good).
18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” (we all know how the unsaved despises the word of God, but we see that the Lord frustrates these people’s thoughts as well so that they will not find truth anywhere but from him)
20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. (the fool says in his heart No God. Real wisdom is found by those who say yes to God. God is saying that by worldly wisdom you cannot find God. Only by believing the word of God will you find him)
22 Greeks look for wisdom (of course their wisdom is anything that does not include God as the final say in truth, this is why they sat around discussing the latest philosophies)
24 Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. (God is neither foolish or weak. But the evolutionists and atheists will never give him credit for anything that might reveal that they could be wrong in their “scientific” assumptions)
27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; (this shame will be on the day of reckoning when they must give account of their supposed wisdom before his throne to their demise. All the wisdom of the world will not save you from hell. What a shame.)
28 He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. (“the things that are not” It is not with empirical science that you will find the answers to life and eternity, but with taking God at his word literally even though it doesn’t make a bit of sense scientifically)
2:1 When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom (you don’t need to be intelligent to be God’s mouthpiece. You only need to know what God said and repeat it)
2:4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on man’s wisdom, but on God’s power. (God’s word is all that will last through eternity. All the thoughts of humanity, all the wisdom of the ages, all the philosophies of the world will be like the chaff and blow away, compared to His word. Where are the ancient scholars with their philosophies? Most of them are long gone.)
7 No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, 9“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”— 10 but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. ( God’s word is only received by those who believe that God exists and rewards those who diligently seek him. Without God’s opening your eyes, without your desiring to know God personally and intimately, there is no hope of knowing real life changing truth)
11no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 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. 13 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. 14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they (the spiritual truth of God) are spiritually discerned (only received by your spirit not just your mind. This is not rocket science, quite the contrary. If you approach it as such you will miss the point entirely. Even children can understand. You don’t need vast amounts of education but you do need to listen to God’s voice through his word. This is why he says that you must be like a little child)
16 “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
3:18 Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a “fool” so that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; 20 and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile. (Become a fool to the philosophies of the world for God before it is too late and you pay dearly for it).
4:20 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. (God’s word brought this world into being, his word is our salvation which became flesh and died for our sins, His word will last for eternity. What can mere philosophy of this world do? it’s just talk, and talk is cheap. Your soul is not. Knowledge puffs up the individual who has it, knowledge of the Holy one puts you in your place to where you can do some real good)
So what did I finally write to my intelligent friend?
We are promised that when we seek diligently, we will find truth. We are told to ask, seek, and knock and we will be given the answers we are looking for. However, the apostle Paul says when he quotes the Psalm, that “there are none that seek after God” and elsewhere he says that the secular mind cannot receive the things of God. How then are people supposed to find truth in this world?
Because of Adam, we are condemned to try to find truth for ourselves. Creation gives evidence of God, so it is “out there somewhere to discover”, but the book of Acts says that men around the globe have been “groping in the dark” for the that truth.
The Pharisees thought that they were the protectors of the truth of God. Yet Jesus rebuked them as” having eyes but being blind” just as Isaiah scolded them way back in the Old Testament. The book of Revelation says “those who have ears to hear, let him hear what the spirit has to say to the churches”.
God expects us to use our faculties to study, but we have to listen to God’s voice in order for him to illuminate his written word to our lives and hearts. Just as in Acts it says that “the Holy Spirit would guide us into all truth”.
How do you balance God’s illuminating with personal seeking? It is imperative that faith and personal responsibility coexist. Responsibility to use our minds, and yet faith to receive illumination about those things which human experience cannot attain from within by itself.
Throughout scripture, time and again, we are given examples of God dealing with people based on genuine faith. The book of Hebrews says that we must believe that He exists and rewards those who diligently seek him. There are things that we as humans can do because God has given us the capability to do them; studying to find out truth is just one of them. However, just as in all the stories in the Old and New Testaments, we are expected to come to God with genuine faith in order to receive truth from God. the book of James says that when we ask we must take God at his word, like a guarantee that He will give wisdom, or else we are not to expect anything from him.
But God is also not a servant who is on call to be demanded upon to explain himself. Finding God is also not a formula to follow, or a Genie to conjure up at your beck and call. Any time you deal with Him, it must be genuine from a heart which wants to be changed. The Apostle Paul met the Lord on the road to Damascus in a blaze of light. When he was on his face in the dirt, and realized who he was talking to, his two questions were, “Who are you Lord, and what would you have me to do.” Paul was an antagonist, but God usually reveals himself quicker, to those who have a genuine desire for change.
It boils down to this: If God desires to reveal truth to us, how then does that work? How do we know the truth and how do we discover that truth? First we have to answer a question about our motives. What is the motive for finding truth? Scripture warns us that knowledge puffs us up. Are we trying to cram more data in our heads to say we know the answers to life? Or are trying to learn more truth in order to minister to others in their time of need or to exercise wisdom to improve our own lives ?
Second, what are we depending upon to gain that truth? Since Jesus claims to be the truth, then his spirit can give it to who he wants to. Like what the book of James says “He freely gives it” to whoever asks by faith. In other words, we receive truth from God. All of the stories of the bible point to this one simple requirement; that we cannot depend upon our own wisdom, but that we use our wisdom to listen and receive truth into our hearts from God. Epiphanies come to those who listen for His still small voice and then use their powers of observation and discovery to flesh them out in life. Our dependence must be on his grace to reveal his truth to us, and not on our ability to reason, or our intellect to figure things out for ourselves.
Third, is that we must quiet our hearts in the hustle and bustle of life to allow God time to speak. We must come to him with expectation that our communication is a two way road. We must give him time and acknowledge his sovereignty in our life. All too often we are in such a busy pace chasing the idols that we have fashioned that we leave no time for God, we don’t listen when he desires to speak to us, and discount what he has to tell us when he does speak. We are like the people Paul mentions in Romans 1:18-24 where he says that when we fail to glorify God in our lives, even though we know the truth, we suppress it, then we exchange it for a lie, and finally we propagate the lie. Then God gives us over to the garbage we replaced Him in our lives with.
But as a warning: when listening to voices in our heads, remember that God is not the only spirit out there who wants to fill our minds with thoughts. Satan appears as an angel of light. He will send deceiving spirits to whisper things in your ears to tickle them. We must compare everything we hear to God’s word and throw out anything contrary that would lead us away from God.
Humanism is thinking in such a way as to eliminate the need of God in our lives. It is anything that will distract us from what God’s desires to keep us near to his heart. These things can be “good and noble things” but just as the saying goes, they can be the enemy of the “best things”, that of staying near to the heart of God. Christianity is that communion with God, which is “the becoming one of two hearts –yours and God’s”. And Satan will use whatever he can to destroy that in your life, and fabricated the circumstances so that it is your choice to forsake God’s fellowship.
Anyway, this is one more reason to ask Who are you Lord? To tune our hearts to his. And one more way why Christianity is impossible, because even knowing God is an act on his behalf drawing our hearts to ask this fundamental question of him.
Keep seeking Him,