1st Cor. 2, against Prevenient Grace

Since I have already went over the first four verses, I’ll pick up after them:

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; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; 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; 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.”

The first thing that sticks out is the idea that none of the rulers of that age knew the wisdom that was not of that age. They must have not received PG. Maybe AT only has PG starting in the NT? How then did anyone get saved before then? Maybe they were especially blinded? But the crowds cried for the crucifixion as well. So either God withholds PG from some people or maybe there just isn’t such a universal thing as PG.

Beyond that, there is two types of wisdom involved here [a continuation from chapter 1 where there was the wisdom of men and the greater wisdom of Jesus as our wisdom from God]. And though the wisdom of men is not directly mentioned in these verses, we know it is in mind due to the context. Or we could ask why they crucified Jesus? It was because, in their own minds, they thought it was the wise thing to do. Thus they did not have the wisdom not of this age but only earthly wisdom.

So what does it mean that Paul, in preaching Jesus crucified, is speaking a hidden wisdom? The words are plain enough. Unbelievers can speak the exact Gospel. Paul, in another place, rejoices when unbelievers speak the Gospel, because he is delighted that the truth is being spoken. Thus it is not the words themselves that make one wise just by hearing them. The hidden wisdom comes from the interaction of the Spirit in the understanding of the hearer, even as we read in 1st Thess. 1:

We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father, knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you; for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction…

We see here the contrast. Implied is that the Gospel comes to some in word only. But to believers it comes also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and with full conviction. Now this word in NASB translated >conviction< is the word plerophoria, Strong’s #G4136 and means: full assurance, most certain confidence. Full assurance and most certain confidence in what or who? Faith in Jesus is a full assurance and a complete confidence in Him. And we also know that earlier in 1st Cor. 1 that those being saved see that Gospel word with >power<! That is because it comes to them in that way. Those still perishing do not see the power in the word of the Gospel, nor do they have a sure assurance and a most certain confidence in Jesus. Rather they hear the word and consider it foolishness.

Continuing on in 1st Cor. 2:

For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.

What we see here is that the Spirit enlightens a person so that the spiritual ideas behind the words is revealed. The one coming to Christ, the one who was blind and formerly thought the Gospel was foolishness, is enlightened and knows the hidden wisdom of God. It is hidden to those who are blind. For though they can hear the words, they can not accept the ideas put forth by those words as truth because they are blind to those truths.

It is the wisdom from above the Spirit brings to the understanding that replaces the worldly wisdom that is blind to the Gospel. So when God reveals His glory in the face of Jesus, it is a salvific event. Every. Time. It is not the creative power of man that decides his own destiny, but the creative power of God that rescues the man from his fallenness and brokenness and his bondage to sin, and translates the person from the dominion of darkness into the Kingdom of light, the everlasting Kingdom of the Son.

For simply giving or enabling a person to choose God does not release them from their bondage to sin, and from their fallen understanding, and from their hardened heart.

Ephesians 4 tells us:

So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.

What the person needs is grace that overcomes all these problems: a futile mind, a darkened understanding, the ignorance [of spiritual wisdom], the hardness of their heart, and the callousness of heart that sees nothing wrong is selfish sinful acts.

But if a grace overcomes these things, it is also a grace that saves the person, for by grace are you saved! But obviously PG does not overcome all of this as many still choose the path of selfishness and darkness with a hardened heart.

The chapter ends:

But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.

Here we link back to the beginning of this section, where Paul tells us in chapter 1:18 that the words of the cross are foolishness to those who are perishing. Now if PG is true, these verses are void of meaning. Paul is not allowing for everyone to be >spiritual<, as if all had some PG that wipes out their worldly thinking, else all would get saved since all get PG, for not all have the mind of Christ. Rather as we have seen the contrasts not only in these chapters but in various places, that there are those who think the things of the Spirit, which includes the words of the cross, that they are but foolishness.

And these, who are blinded by the god of this world, whose understandings are darkened, whose ignorance and hardheartedness is keeping them out of life with God, CANNOT accept the words of the cross as truth for he cannot understand the wisdom from above.

Why not? Because God chooses that which is not to nullify that which is, so that no man can boast before Him. God doesn’t want to share the credit with anyone for the saving of a soul. So the wisdom is hidden and as it is revealed by the Spirit, that person knows what God has done for them and what He has freely given him. The rest consider the Gospel foolishness. And they remain justly condemned for their willful transgressions of what they knew was righteous and good. All are under Law. Only those God saves are under mercy.

I finish with these words:

What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.” So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.

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About parsonsmike

seriously into the Word of God
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