But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Cor 2:16)
As Paul explains how the Corinthian church’s misunderstanding of the Christian message is the source of their dissension, he engages four arguments. First in verses 18-25 of chapter 1, he explains how the message of the cross comes to Jews and Greeks who are looking for signs, power and wisdom, as foolishness. To look for earthly power and wisdom in the Gospel message, could introduce divisions as people place more value on the style and rhetoric of the messenger, rather than the message it self. Then in verses 26-31, Paul argues that the fact that not many wise, influential or noble, by earthly standards are chosen. He does this once again to show that the Christian message does not appeal to those who have something to boast in. If it did, that would be a source of contention, but since it does not, we all come to Christ on equal footing. In chapter 2 verses 1-5, Paul explains that his simple preaching of Christ crucified is what has the power to save, not cunning arguments or great oratory skills. Finally in his fourth argument in verses 6-16 of chapter 2, he discusses how the Holy Spirit is the agent who makes the message of the cross acceptable to human beings; that natural men cannot receive it by natural means, so they should not expect a perfectly crafted sermon to have any power in and of itself. If the Holy Spirit is the agent of regeneration through the message preached, then what does it matter who the person is who delivers that message.
As we come to the last three verses of his fourth argument, we again come to a portion of Scripture that has been misunderstood and misused by some in the church. In his book, The Cross and Christian Ministry, D.A. Carson writes of these verses in 1 Corinthians:
It is more than a little ironic that a passage that should teach us to be humble has been used by some people to justify an astonishing measure of arrogance. … More than once, I have been informed that, by contrast, I am one of the people Paul describes in verse 14: “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God …” In other words, if you agree with such people, you are spiritual; if you disagree, you are not. Press them a little harder, and ask how they know their interpretation is correct and what checks they accept on their own authority, and they may reply, with supreme confidence with the words of verse 15.
The point of the argument in this text is that those “without the Spirit,” are so dead, that unless the Holy Spirit does an antecedent work in their heart, they are completely unable to understand or receive spiritual things, and it is foolish to think that any argument can bring them to faith. How humbling to know that our minds are so incapable of grasping the Gospel, and that the only reason we can and do is because we have been given the mind of Christ!
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