Are You Experienced?by Ed de la Cour on February 26, 2012
1 Corinthians 2: 6 - 16
"Are You Experienced?"
I don’t know whether God considers me to be a mature follower of Jesus. When I see how so many of my sisters and brothers in many of the world's nations are suffering for His name’s sake, when I see the way they stand tall and brave in the midst of it all, I think they have so much more depth in their hearts than me or anyone I know. But I do know that God has spoken clearly to all of us and we have at least begun to pick up the phone, answer His call, and respond to His invitation. When we did that, when we put our trust in Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life, we discovered He was not calling us just to go to church. He was inviting us to come to know Him deeply and personally and to start relating to people the way Jesus would if Jesus were in this room right now.
Unlike physical beauty, we are coming to understand that maturity is not in the eye of the beholder. Maturity has to do with the way we respond to life as well as the way we receive from God. Paul prayed in Ephesians 3:16 that we would not only receive from God, that we would not only be strengthened in that receiving, but that our inner man would also grow up and we would be emboldened to stand up for truth and to live for truth. Here’s is what Paul wrote: “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.” This is another one of those Bible prayers that God wants to answer, and to bring to pass in your life. God wants us to be strong. He wants your inner being to be empowered. Let me say that I need my inner man built up and strengthened, and so do you. It is in my inner being where more often than I’d like, weakness seems to reign supreme. That’s where I rise or I fall during the course of any given day. That is where temptation rears its ugly head, and that is where I succumb to the desire for revenge or the desire to strike out in anger.
It is by God’s Spirit that we are strengthened, as we open our hearts and minds to Him, and not simply by our study of the Bible, in order to gain a mastery over facts and figures. It is in the
personal and deep study of Scripture that we put ourselves in God’s way, where and when we open ourselves up to be spoken to by God, to hear His voice.
How do you know what you are hearing is God’s voice? When you think God speaks to you out of His Word, how can you tell the difference between the voice of God and that of an imposter? In John 10, Jesus dealt with that problem head-on. In verse 14, Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.” And then, a few minutes later, in verse 27, He continued,“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” Sheep know the voice of their master. Inside us, if we are faithful in listening to the Lord, we can tell the difference between His voice and the voice of a counterfeit.
Many years ago, a friend named Gary who owned several sheep, asked me to watch his sheep for just a little while, while he went to the hardware store. I figured, how hard can this be? But the minute Gary left, the sheep started to wander. They were completely unresponsive to my pleas for them to come back to me. I was upset, thinking my friend would return and all his sheep would have had a great head start to somewhere else. When he did come home, he simply called his sheep, and they came running. The sound of Gary’s voice was all they needed. They listened for and responded to the voice of their shepherd. Mine was the voice of a stranger, not to be trusted or obeyed. I was struck with those words of Jesus. His sheep really do know His voice. His sheep will follow Jesus and not a stranger, because we read His Word, we listen to His voice, and we seek His face. We are not looking for what is trendy, but for what is real. The clue here that will keep us from falling into following anything that sounds good is that we get to know the Lord, and we learn the qualities of His voice. The reason Gary’s sheep didn’t follow me was not the words I used, but the fact that my voice is not Gary’s voice. If stupid sheep could tell the difference between me and Gary, then you can tell the difference between the Word of Jesus and a lie. You can discern between truth and falsehood.
That brings us now to the main passage for this morning from 1 Corinthians 2: 6 - 16. Today, we are thinking further about the relationship between knowledge and wisdom. Some of us are very smart, but we need to be reminded of what the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 8: 1, “We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” That means I am not as smart as I think. It means God has much to teach and I have much to learn. It means that I must approach life with humility, and if I want to receive from the Lord, I need to be in a receiving mode. I need to know God well enough to trust Him.
When Paul spoke of “God’s secret wisdom,” as he did in verse 7, he was not talking about the kind of arcane wisdom that secret societies with mystically secret handshakes claim to possess. This is wisdom that had not been revealed by God until this present age when Jesus revealed the Wisdom of God to man. If this wisdom was so common, so easy to grasp, then those in power, the intelligentsia of the time, would have grasped it, but they disregarded the wisdom of God. They ridiculed Him and they finally crucified Him.
The wisdom of God was not hidden in the sense of being kept from people, but rather, the wisdom of God was hidden in that it was reserved especially for you. God wants you to know Him, and also to receive a revelation of the wisdom of God.
You see, the wisdom of this world and the wisdom of the rulers of this age is contrary to the wisdom of God. Every time someone – and maybe that someone has been you at one time or another – someone will say that doing life God’s way is stupid or foolish. God is often seen as the butt of the joke in this world, but in this amazing Book, in this revealed Word of God He says, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”– and then, Paul moved beyond that song and He declared, “but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.” Have you experienced receiving from God?
When a follower of Jesus states that God is leading him/her to leave the comfort of home to go to an unaccredited Bible school... to step out into a foreign country to serve the Lord... or move into a poor section of the city in order to serve those who live there, what is often the first comment they hear from their friends? “You’re throwing your life away. That’s a foolish and stupid way to live.” Friend, if what God says sounds stupid to you, all that means is that you are still in your sins. One difference between the child of God and a person without the Holy Spirit is the child of God has the ability to discern the voice of God, to receive revelation.
The Word for the Week shows us another example of the way God’s wisdom works. James 3:17 says, “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” When rage begins to overtake us and we become full of anger – and that happens to all of us at one time or another – that’s when we can know we are not operating on God’s wisdom. People who are walking in the wisdom of God do not gossip. They don’t sow seeds of discord or disharmony. God’s wisdom doesn’t pick a fight. God’s wisdom doesn’t hold a grudge. God’s wisdom moves in humility. God wisdom loves peace. God’s wisdom loves to promote the making of peace in relationships.
How do we get this wisdom? It’s not as though we can pluck it from a tree, or mine it from the ground. God’s wisdom is given by revelation. Revelation is God's personal communication about Himself. However, in that revelation, it’s not just information that is given. Instead, it is His presence that is imparted. The presence of God brings insight into His nature, His character, His purpose, His will, and His plans. God wants you to know His presence in your life, to receive Him, Himself. If you are a child of God, if Jesus is your Savior, then God lives in you. The presence of the Living God is in you. That means – and this is probably one of the most stunning truths in the whole Bible, verse 16: “But we have the mind of Christ.”
The mind of Christ! Wrap yourself around that, if you can. When God reveals Himself, He doesn’t settle for drips and drabs – He offers His mind, His heart, His presence to His children. When the Bible says we know God, the Word of God is being completely serious, with not a hint of exaggeration.
The presence of God brings assurance as to Who God is in your life. What God does in our hearts points to the truth of His Word. In John 15: 26, Jesus spoke of what role the Holy Spirit would have when He was given to the disciples. Jesus said, “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me.” The Holy Spirit points to Jesus, not to His gifts, not to Himself, not to any other manifestation, or any other person. The purpose of the Holy Spirit is to reveal God, is to point to Jesus as the revelation of God. Jesus is the One to whom we are to look. Jesus is the One who is to receive our worship and our attention. If we are honoring anything or anyone else, that is an idol and a false god.
Maybe you have you been looking at the gifts of the Holy Spirit instead of to the Giver of the gift. Perhaps you have you been seeking excitement or emotion instead of seeking the clear and level mind of Christ.
Next, the presence of God brings us assurance as to our own relationship with Him. What did Jesus hear His father say when He was baptized? In Mark 1: 11, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” That’s God the Father testifying that Jesus is His Son! Paul wrote in Romans 8: 16, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.” That is God the Holy Spirit testifying about YOU! The privileges of sonship, the inheritance of the saints is yours today because you are a child of God.
Let me say to you that there is no greater antidote to the steady drumbeat of feelings of alienation, anxiety, depression, or rejection, than the sure knowledge that you are a child of God. One trick the enemy of your souls will play on you is to minimize the truth of that verse. I know – he’s done it to me, and he’s done it to you. It is very helpful to allow people to speak into your life and to double the value of the Spirit’s testimony, to take time to seek the Lord in prayer, and then to take your stand on what the Bible says. If you don’t have the time to spend with God in His Word, my suggestion is for you to make the time. Take the time. Do not ignore this. It’s far too important for you to know what it is to receive the presence of God, to possess the mind of Christ, in your life. When God speaks and you receive that word of sonship, of deep and abiding relationship to God, that is a revelation of His presence.
There’s a wonderful interplay between the Spirit of God and the spirit of the believer. We can hardly figure out how to tie our shoes all by ourselves, but the Spirit of Living God, the same Spirit who brooded over the waters at creation, knows how to speak a word of assurance into our hearts. In our extremity, in our despair, in our discouragement, we cry out to God for help. Is God there? Can He hear us? Will He respond in a way that we can receive? Yes! Through His Word and by His Spirit, God speaks and tells us that we are His children. We are related to Him by the blood of His one and only Son, Jesus. We are people who belong, who have a home in God, who have come to Him as our Safe Harbor, our place of rest. We are not cut off from God. We know that is true because God has given us the mind of Christ.
What has been your experience in receiving from God? Do you have the assurance in your heart and life that you belong to Him? Do you have the mind of Christ?
Edmund C. de la Cour, Jr.
First Baptist Church of Pocasset
298 Barlows Landing Road
Post Office Box 1080
Pocasset, MA 02559
Church Office: 508-563-3164