Ephesians– overview of 3:1-9; tapping into the power of God, part 16.

Class Outline:

Thursday November 14, 2019


Charles Murray an American political scientist, sociologist and writer, comments on his book Coming Apart, that the problem of a 35-year-old man sitting at home unemployed, when there are plenty of jobs around him to be had, is explained differently by the right and the left. The right may blame feminism or government programs, the left may blame a decline in labor unions, but Mr. Murray says, whatever the reason, the man is still not getting a job. What does the explanation matter when the man does not physically look for and get a job? The problem is industriousness.


A Christian may find some satisfying explanation for why he is not living his life in a Christ-like manner, but all explanations mean nothing. All Christians are equally blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies. All are equally equipped to run the race that is set before them - either we run or we don’t; either we devote ourselves to Christ’s life or we don’t. When we are commanded to run the race set before us, we are not told to work out some problems or reasons first. We are told to run.


And in Corinth, rather than appealing to what he knew of their culture, he tells them, “I determined to know nothing among you except Christ crucified.”


1CO 2:1 And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.


The gospel does not make its appeal to wisdom. The gospel also doesn’t offer a superficial persuasion. The gospel is the very power of God to save.


1CO 2:2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.


1CO 2:3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling.


1CO 2:4 And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,


1CO 2:5 that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.


It was not enough that God be manifested in the flesh and men be allowed to draw such inferences as they could from that manifestation; but, in addition to this, God gave His Spirit that they might see the full significance of that manifestation.


It was quite possible for men to be witnesses of the objective revelation of Christ without understanding it. Revelation would be made subjective within each believer, meaning personal, through the work of the HS within.


1CO 2:6 Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away;


1CO 2:7 but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, which God predestined before the ages to our glory;


1CO 2:8 the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory;


1CO 2:9 but just as it is written,


"Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard,

And which have not entered the heart of man,

All that God has prepared for those who love Him."


1CO 2:10 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.


The fact that God’s incarnate glory was crucified is a demonstration of the insufficiency of all previous teachings about God. If the wisdom of the ages had understood, they would not have crucified Him. And as we know, the disciples did not understand it until after His resurrection. The three great sources of human knowledge - seeing, hearing, and thought - all alike fail. Hitherto it has been a mystery, a thing hidden; but now God Himself has revealed it.


In the Greek world that Paul had been ministering to for months, his efforts made a deep impression on him. He himself saw so clearly the foolishness of the cross; he quickly came to know very well that a field of mockery was presented to the Greek mind by preaching of a salvation through a crucified Person. Even Paul’s appearance he knew, to them who venerated their young strong men in the games, was weak and contemptable. Yet, all things considered, Paul made up his mind to trust his success to the simple statement, “Christ and Him crucified.”


There is power in weakness, not sinful weakness, but in abandonment of the fallen world’s perceived secular power. The cross is the epitome of this.  


And this message met with great success.


1CO 1:18 For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.


He could easily have written “the word of God,” or, “the word of truth,” but he is specific to call it “the word of the cross,” for the truth is nothing to us without the cross of Christ. All of the written word points to it. There is no wisdom without it. The cross where Christ died for us spiritually, taking all of our sins upon Himself, securing our entrance into His life, is the ultimate truth.


To the believer the word of the cross is the power of God, but to the wise in this world, which to Paul were the educated Greeks, the word of the cross was foolishness, meaning that there might be some things in the word of God that the Greek might consider noble, as in the omnipotence of God and the judgment of God, but the cross was pure foolishness. Yet, without it, we have no introduction to know anything about God.


1CO 1:19 For it is written,


"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,

And the cleverness of the clever I will set aside."


It will be edifying to each of us to explore this quoted passage in Isa 29. When wonders when this passage came to Paul’s mind. Did he recall it when he was in the midst of despondency over failure in Athens?


First is the beautiful imagery of a man who has the true message in his hands but he cannot read it.


ISA 29:11 And the entire vision [the great warning of coming judgment] shall be to you like the words of a sealed book, which when they give it to the one who is literate, saying, "Please read this," he will say, "I cannot, for it is sealed."


ISA 29:12 Then the book will be given to the one who is illiterate, saying, "Please read this." And he will say, "I cannot read."


The first man is literate, but he won’t break the seal: he is knowing but proud. The second man is illiterate: he is proud and unknowing.


ISA 29:13 Then the Lord said,

"Because this people draw near with their words And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote,


ISA 29:14 Therefore behold, I will once again deal marvelously with this people, wondrously marvelous; And the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, And the discernment of their discerning men shall be concealed."


Paul slightly modifies vs. 14 quoted from the Septuagint.


"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,

And the cleverness of the clever I will set aside."


Notice then how the context continues:


ISA 29:15 Woe to those who deeply hide their plans from the Lord, And whose deeds are done in a dark place, And they say, "Who sees us?" or "Who knows us?"


This is the “form of godliness” of 2TI 3:5 in which they “denied its power.” They had an outward form and thought they could hide their plans from God as successfully as they did from men. This is human power.


ISA 29:16 You turn things around! [you put yourself above the Creator] Shall the potter be considered as equal with the clay, That what is made should say to its maker, "He did not make me"; Or what is formed say to him who formed it, "He has no understanding"?


Shall the clay say to the Potter that the cross is foolishness? Shall the clay resort to its own plans and consider the great plans of the Father, the Potter, to be a foolish inconvenience?