One: God's Power and God's Wisdom

“But we preach Christ crucified…Christ the Power of God and the Wisdom of God.”  1 Corinthians 1:23-24


“Since we now, brothers, having boldness to enter the sanctuary in union with the blood of Jesus, a way, which He initiates ‘relationally with us’ towards-slaughter, yet continually living…and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart.”  Hebrews 10:19-22


Key text for this chapter: 1 Corinthians 1. 


If we read it carefully, the center of this chapter is Christ crucified (v. 23). This crucified one is a nuisance to the Jews who are looking for signs, and foolishness to the Greeks who seek wisdom (vv. 22 and 23). However, to those called, HE, Himself, is God’s power and God’s wisdom (v. 24). That HE, Himself, is made unto us wisdom from God, the Father as v. 30 explicitly says, at which we shall stop and place a colon.


“…Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God: righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” (1 Corinthians 1:23-24)


We place a colon after the word “wisdom,” because justice or justification, sanctification, and redemption are the contents of the wisdom of God, or shall we say “belonging to” the way that HE has strikingly gone about to bring people back to God.


In addition, Christ allowed Himself to be crucified, so that He might make a way for the lost, those sold under sin, the devil, and death, to re-enter into their calling and election, which took place before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4). In the course of our contemplation of the Scriptures, we will understand by the grace of the Lord how HE has become wisdom unto us, and what it takes on our part to enter into it.


Christ crucified is the epitome of all wisdom; however, the world sees nothing but folly in the Cross of Christ and in the preaching of this gospel. How could it be otherwise? This divine folly stands in sharpest contrast to everything that prides itself on being learned and the achievement of scientific research and wisdom. We know from the divine word that everything high and everything fleshly will have to bow once more to this wisdom from God: Christ crucified (Php. 2:10-11). And whoever bows down to Him now, that person would also be the lowest and most foolish. Nevertheless, that person is wiser than the wise men of this world, because that person’s heart and eyes are opened to the things that no eye has seen, no ear heard and has not entered into the heart, which God has prepared for those who love him (1Co. 2:9). That love refers to those people who have allowed themselves to be put to shame along with what they have previously considered to be their right and their wisdom. We see this in the Apostle Paul, who wrote down these eternal truths for us. Even with all the wisdom learned at Gamaliel’s feet, he allowed himself to be broken on the way to Damascus. Thus, like a worm he sank at the feet of the Crucified One, Who appeared to him as risen. The Lord can use such people. Furthermore, from such people He can prepare members of His bride for Himself. But what is not born from above, that is what is still wise, mighty, and noble according to the flesh, must break, so that no flesh can boast before Him (vv. 26-29). Everything out from “lostness” and out from self-glory are rescued into the wisdom of God and can boast in the Lord alone (v. 31).


Before we go into the wisdom of God in its threefold form and appearance as righteousness, sanctification and redemption, let us take a look back at the basis of this wisdom. Psalm 111:10 describes it thusly: “The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom.” In contrast, “there is no fear of the Lord,” where a person remains in their dishonesty and darkness (Psa. 36:1). Whoever has never trembled before his God (Isa. 65:2) and whoever now does not want to tremble before Him, i.e. will not admit that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, then the fullness of salvation in the New Covenant cannot be opened up to that person. When Jacob slept in Haran while fleeing from his brother Esau, the Lord appeared to him in a vivid dream. Jacob was afraid and said: Truly, Jehovah is in this place and I did not know it … how terrible is this place! (Gen. 28:16)


Become aware of the Lord’s presence today, even in the sanctuary, even in gatherings, where the song may still be sung, “God is present.” Over the years, a person can have become so accustomed to hearing the word without bowing to it, without worshiping in Spirit and in truth, that one then casually enters such meetings unbroken – with one’s whole being, with all one’s worldliness intact. Furthermore, that person does not even remotely consider that the free movement of the Spirit is so hindered. If you are looking for an encounter with your God on these evenings, prepare yourself for it, i.e. go into the silence and let the Lord talk to that person, and let that person reflect how he stands relationally with Him. Oh, how important it is that the children of God in such times join forces and stand together, so that the Lord open the heavens and essential blessings come down, that the “daydreaming faces” come to an end and learn to each “tremble” before the Holy Present, Living God.


How did John, the one whom the Lord loved and who had lain on His bosom in John 13:23, develop courage when, in a completely different way than Jacob, the heaven opened before him in the book of Revelation? How did John handle this when he saw the figure of his beloved Master in glory? Answer: He fell like a dead man at his feet. John lay there like a worm on the ground. And the Lord had to lay His right hand upon him and strengthen him so that he could hear what He had to say to him and to the seven churches (Rev 1:17). We read something similar about Daniel in chapter 10 of his book.


We do not have to wait for such special divine revelations like Daniel’s or John’s, but we should keep quiet and not shy away when the LORD wants to meet us and talk to us, even when His Holy Presence throws us to the ground and everything that belongs to us collapses into ruins. O how long does it often go before a soul realizes that the fear of God is really the beginning of wisdom? What deep pain one can often read in the gaze of a dying man who is already looking over into the other world for which he has not prepared himself! Today’s generation (of 1895) no longer wants to know anything about the fear of God and the invisible world. They want to know about it even less than those in paganism, and even less than a Nebuchadnezzar with his councilors and officials at that time. People build happiness without fear of God. “Let us tear their bonds and throw away their ropes from us” (Psa 2:3). When obedience to God and to authorities, family bonds and mutual submission, become disregarded, everything wobbles and collapses. In this spirit, which now fills the world, children of God are also drawn into a whirlpool, if they have not cleaned up the old mess and have not become ashamed of their default selves. Superficiality is the weakness of our time and opens doors and gates to the influence of that antichrist spirit. It is the mission of the evangelists to lead those to the Cross of Christ who have become ashamed of their own self-life, so that they can find freedom and rest there. On the Cross, He made our shame His, so that His honor and glory might become ours.


“Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows… He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities…on Him the iniquity of us all… by His knowledge shall the righteous one, My Servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and He shall bear their iniquities.” (Isaiah 53:4-6, 11)


For a person who has come to the end of his own righteousness, the way is not far to Him Who is made unto us Righteousness. The Holy Spirit lifts the veil to such a person, the veil that beclouded the “He-our” reality of Isa. 53, and in the dawn of the New Day they now understand it to mean what Rom. 6:5-6 means: “Crucified together, cursed together!” By such an unveiling a co-crucified person no longer makes any claims, neither on the world nor on his family, nor does he expect anything from himself. When such a person has stripped off the rags of their own righteousness; they find no value in self, nor any type of self-beauty any longer. God cannot spare any of us from this revelation about what flesh is. With that revelation, all other revelations are related and connected, how through all the centuries since Pentecost all those who were co-judged on the Cross have found shelter and healing within the Crucified One.


Indeed, He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows…we all went astray like sheep… (we made our own way, our own version of godliness, and our own style of community), but the Lord cast all our sins on Him (Isa 53). All the things from your past, from your childhood or from yesterday and the day before yesterday that tormented you, that you could never permanently forget, that stood in front of you armed again and again, everything that you are afraid of having to take with you into eternity –  that is what God cast on Him! Christ carried all this to the Cross (1Pe. 2:24). When God has found you and when you are ready to confess everything to Him, where necessary confess in front of people. However, do not think that there is something meritorious in confessing before other people. But when you are ready like that, then He shows you that you, within the Person of your Positional Representative, are nailed to the Cross. And then He cleanses your conscience from every dark stain. And then He erases your sin and washes you clean in His blood and makes you healed in his wounds.


In Revelation 1:5, instead of “being washed from our sins,” we can just as well read “detached or divorced from our sins;” i.e. things are detached and divorced from us as a dead body is buried and put out of sight. Furthermore, what we could not undo drowns in the sea of unfathomable grace. Grace does not just create new things; it also destroys the old. It throws an entire past back into nothingness. He has called things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are (1Co. 1:28; Isa. 44:22).


Those who have not experienced this are still living in the realm of sin according to their own personal desires. That person can certainly make an effort to polish up, ennoble, and adorn the old person like a knight in shining armor with gifts and talents. And perhaps they can also succeed in bringing about something that satisfies themselves personally, and of which he or she believes they can boast. But woe to such a person! Jesus Christ is made righteous only unto and for those who have none of their own! They have stopped punishing themselves for every little thing they do or wrestle with. Rather, they see themselves within Him Who is made to be sin for us (2Co. 5:21). We are all too often sinners before Him, “for all have sinned and do not attain the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). “No flesh is righteous before Him” (Rom. 3:20). Even if God’s grace totally saved us from so-called gross sins and vice since childhood, we would still need the Crucified One just as much as any sex offender or drunkard. Christ died for the godless, and if we see ourselves in Divine Light, then we also place ourselves with everything we are under the condemnation of the wicked. In this way the Lord triumphs over us, and we may then ourselves boast of Him.


Furthermore, because of His triumph over our self-life, the world will also be overcome for us. Those who are not cleared of their sins and their past have no way of getting through being undefeated down here, whether in their home or family, in business or society. We cannot overcome until everything in us has been overcome and we are at the feet of the Crucified One. “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). This word of Jesus tells you that your world, in which you have to move around, is overcome as long as you stand in faith because the same Apostle John also says: “Our Faith is the victory that has conquered the world” (1Jo. 5:4). Your faith keeps you in the position in which Christ, the Crucified One, has brought you, and there it is only important that the Lord can carry out His victory more and more deeply in you, conquer you more and more completely, so that the world may be conquered for you.


The story of Namaan the Syrian in 2 Kings 5 illustrates what has just been said. Those whom the Lord has met and whom He has washed cannot serve any other god, but the devil wants to spook them as if there were no way around serving other gods. Addressing this in Naaman’s request for pardon in advance, (vv. 17-19) Elisha answers with the royal word: “Go in peace.” The Lord says to His disciples: “You believe in God, believe in Me too.” “I have overcome the world.” He is our way, our guide, our light. Therefore do not be frightened by the adversary if he wants to make it seem that you still must go to a false god’s temple like Rimmon’s shrine. While you are in there, do you still not see a way to serve your God? Certainly you must, otherwise it would not be the way of faith.


The widow in 2 Kings 4 got, when she believed, not only enough oil to pay her debtor, but enough from which to make a living. If Jesus is our Shepherd, we don’t need to help ourselves any further. The more clumsy we are in ourselves, and thus more dependent on Him, then the more surely He can guide us. No matter how complicated your circumstances may be, if you only rely on Him and His word, then you will experience it, how He has overcome the world, your world, by being known and revealed before angels and people. In this way, you don’t need to make any concessions to the world.


You do not need to stay one hour more under the whip of the driver as if you were a beast of burden forced to keep going. There is a sanctuary and a place of rest for you, Jesus, The Crucified One. Everyone is allowed to come. He can still make something of everyone to the praise of His glorious grace, in that He builds His own Life upon the ruins of our building and reveals the power of His servitude, sanctification and redemption at the place of our death.