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The Holy Spirit
or Human Wisdom? Which has God chosen to use?
1 Corinthians chapter 2:1 - 5
And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of
speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God.
For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ
and Him cruciﬁed.
was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.
And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of
human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,
that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power
of God." NKJV
what the Apostle Paul avoided is advocated and normally used to
perform evangelism and edification of the church. Some think
persuasive speech [having the power to induce action or belief]
or intellectual pursuits such as a higher degree of education can
fulfill these needs. Is this true or has God chosen to use other
declares in verse 4 that "my speech and my preaching were not with
persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit
and of power," It is notable that Paul avoided using
language filled with human wisdom what was calculated to persuade his
hearers. Paul avoided the use of such language because Christ
sent him "to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words,
lest the cross of Christ should be made of no eﬀect." 1
Corinthians 1:17 NKJV. Paul was a highly educated man who
possessed great human wisdom and yet he specifically chose not to use
his intellectual prowess but chose to rely solely upon a simple
presentation of the gospel message accompanied by total reliance upon
the Holy Spirit. Yet today the methods Paul rejected are touted
as desirable and necessary to evangelize the lost and edify the
does God used men of high education to perform his work?
Certainly God can use anyone in anyway he desires to perform his will
because he is a sovereign God. God chose to use a dumb donkey to
thwart a mad prophet. "but he was rebuked for his iniquity:
a dumb donkey speaking with a man’s voice restrained the madness of
the prophet." 2 Peter 2:16 NKJV. God used a raven to
feed Elijah in l Kings 17:26. God closed the mouths of lions to
protect in Daniel in Daniel 6:22. God commanded lice to cover
man and beast in Exodus 8:16. Jesus commanded the weather in
Mark 4:39. There is no doubt that God can use anyone or anything
he chooses to use in any way he chooses. The question is not
what God is able to do but what means has God chosen.
since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not
know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the
message preached to save those who believe." 1 Corinthians
1:21 NKJV. This text states plainly that God did not choose
human wisdom to proclaim the gospel of Christ. It is not through
human wisdom that God works but through the foolishness of preaching
without human wisdom.
a reason for not using human wisdom for the preaching of the
gospel. "For you see your calling, brethren, that not
many wise according to the ﬂesh, not many mighty, not many
noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things
of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the
weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are
mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which
are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring
to nothing the things that are, that no ﬂesh should glory
in His presence." 1Corithians 1:26-29 NKJV.
God did not want anyone to use their wisdom or be glorified by those
who hear. Those who boast of their pastor's education instead of
the Christ of the gospel are engaging in glorifying the flesh.
Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not
with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made
of no eﬀect." 1 Corinthians 1:17 NKJV. Using man's
wisdom to evangelize is much worse than boasting. Using wisdom
draws attention away from the cross of Christ and can cause the
message of the cross to lose its effect. Why would any believer
choose human wisdom to evangelize the lost?
Persuasive speech combined with wisdom was not Paul's method because
it is not God's method. Since this is absolutely true then what
is God's way? "For I determined not to know anything among
you except Jesus Christ and Him cruciﬁed. I was with you in
weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech
and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom,
but in demonstration of the Spirit
and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of
men but in the power of God." 1 Corinthians 1:2-5
NKJV. As above we repeat the Paul's preaching was not with
persuasive words of human wisdom. Rather his preaching was a
demonstration of the Spirit and the power of God. Paul chose
this method because this is the manner in which God chose to reveal
Christ in the gospel. The reason God so chose and Paul chose to
obey God was to establish faith in the power of God instead of the
wisdom of men. God did not choose persuasive words of man's
in Christ is not the result of persuasive words of human wisdom but is
the result of the work of the Holy Spirit. "But as it is
written: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the
heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love
Him." But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit.
For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the
deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a
man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one
knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the
Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that
have been freely given to us by God. These things we
also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which
the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things
with spiritual." 1 Corinthians 2:9-13 NKJV.
chapter one of 1 Corinthians Paul repeatedly declares that God's
revelation of Christ to man is not in "persuasive words of man's
wisdom." Now in chapter two Paul repeats that the things
he preaches is "not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which
the Holy Spirit teaches". Paul invokes
the name of God's Spirit five times in the verses quoted above.
it so difficult for some to accept the fact that only God's Holy
Spirit gives understanding and brings salvation to the sinner?
Why do so many preachers decide to use human wisdom clothed in
persuasive speech for evangelism and edification? Why do so many
Bible colleges and theological seminaries teach reliance upon human
wisdom to understand God's word? "But the natural man
does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for
they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they
are spiritually discerned." 1 Corinthians 2:14
NKJV. The natural man who does not have the Spirit of God
considers the simplicity of the gospel as foolishness. The
natural man cannot know the things of the Spirit of God through human
wisdom and persuasive speech because the things of God are spiritual
NOT intellectual. How are preachers introduced today?
Usually by detailing their degrees from prestigious educational
institutions and the prestigious positions they have held and the many
books they have written. These are not qualifications for being
called by God to preach the gospel.
an education is good to have but the preaching of the gospel and the
saving of men's souls is not the work of education. God has used
less educated men to preach the gospel. "Now when they saw
the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were
uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that
they had been with Jesus." Acts 4:13 NKJV. One of
the most powerful preachers since the first century was Charles Haddon
Spurgeon whose formal education was limited to Newmarket
Academy. He had no college education or degree which shows that
God also uses those with less education. One of the most
effective preachers of the 20th century was A.W. Tozer who had only an
8th grade education.
is not education, which is man's wisdom, but the work of the Holy
Spirit of God that enlightens the sinner to the gospel of Christ which
is God's wisdom. It is God's Spirit that gives faith to the
sinner so that he may believe the gospel.
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