“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.” 1Cor.2:12,13
To know “the things freely given”, is talking about knowing the gospel. The Gospel is the good news of what has been freely given; the grace of God. But we are told in v13, that to speak about this gospel, we are not to use words which are the product of human/earthly wisdom, but those taught by the Spirit. Can you see the importance being attached here, not just to declaring the gospel…. but to HOW it is to be declared! It is not to be declared out of earthly wisdom, but out of minds thinking the high thoughts of God, thoughts as far from earthly wisdom as the heavens are from the earth. (Isaiah 55:9)
What Paul is saying here, in effect, is that earthly minded believers cannot proclaim the gospel as it should be proclaimed, with authority, because as a man thinks so he is. So how can such an earthly minded man, who is not thinking from God’s high perspective (his union with God, the mind of Christ), a believer who still thinks that his sin separates him from God, how can he proclaim with authority, heavens perspective? Because heaven’s perspective is that, far from his sin separating him from God, God has in reality, separated him from his sin and he is now dead to sin and alive to God (Rom.6:11).
Imagine you live on top of a hill and out of your window one day you watch a man walk all the way up that hill to get to your front door. When you open the door, he claims that he has discovered how to fly. Are you not entitled to ask him, “Why then did you walk to my front door?”
It’s hard to share a gospel that says we can fly, when we are seen to walk everywhere! It’s hard to proclaim the gospel from the heights of your union with Christ, when your thoughts don’t live there. This is what v13 is saying. We cannot proclaim the gospel from heaven’s perspective, the mind of Christ, in words taught by human wisdom. The gospel is to be proclaimed only in words taught by the Spirit, “combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words”. The more earthly-minded we are, the more we can’t help but speak the gospel from an earthly perspective and the man who lives from an earthly perspective, always speaks in terms of what man must do, for ‘the spirit of the world’ has faith in man’s strength to clean himself up. But ‘The Spirit that comes from God’ has no faith at all in man’s ability to lift Himself up. He does not come to give man advice on how he can lift himself up, (how he can clean himself up to be more like God). He does not come to speak (as every earthly institution does) of the price that man must pay to clean himself up. The Spirit comes to speak of the things that have been freely given to us by God (v12).
Our true testimony and the message of the gospel, from heavens perspective, is not that we lifted ourselves and need to continue to lift ourselves up, to live at a level pleasing to God. The Gospel from heavens perspective, is that we were no more capable of lifting ourselves up into the life of God than a dead man, for we were dead in our sins when God raised us up to life.” (Col.2:13, Eph.2:1). From heaven’s perspective, the only way to present the Gospel, is as people “alive from the dead!” (Rom.6:13)
QUESTION: Why is this so important, that the gospel is preached from our New Covenant position, from the heights of our union with Christ, in the Spirit?
ANSWER: Because if the gospel is to be proclaimed in authority, in the power of the Spirit, it must be proclaimed as more than a message. It must be proclaimed as the very life, the very reality, we are living from today!
Now at first glance, all this talk about living from a heavenly perspective, would seem to be a recipe for disconnection from the realities of life. We have all heard it said that someone can be so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good. In practice however, this ‘heavenly mindedness’ the Spirit brings, is the very effectiveness of the Church. This is because the Gospel of heaven is so infinitely better news than the religion of earth that when the Holy Spirit opens the eyes of believers to see the magnitude of the news of what God has done for men, then a great strength rises in the Church and that strength causes the Church to stand out as different from every earthly institution.
What is this strength that the Holy Spirit brings upon the Church, the strength to preach the gospel in, the strength that sets the Church’s message apart from every earthly institution? It is the pure, unadulterated joy of living in the Spirit, of living from our union, our marriage to Christ, living free from the condemnation of earthly minded religion. It is that joy that marks the Church out as not of this earth, for Good news always brings a joy that no amount of good advice ever can.
In every generation where the Church loses her heavenly perspective and allows the good news to be diluted down to good advice, then she always ends up looking to the world like just another earthly institution, offering men one more option on how to lift yourself into a better life. Such earthly institutions are not marked by joy.
The word Gospel itself was originally, by definition, a proclamation of something great that had already happened; the good news of a great victory. What we have been saying is that for that news to go out in power and authority, it must be carried by people who themselves are coming from, living from that victory, living from the resurrected and ascended life of Christ, FROM THERE. When the Gospel is preached in the power of the risen life, in the power of the Spirit, in the reality of our union with Christ, then it becomes more than Good News, it’s proclamation becomes the very manifestation of the presence and power of God breaking into this realm.
The Gospel preached from the heavenly realm, is nothing short of the Kingdom of God at hand. Jesus never intended preaching to be divorced from the reality of living in the Kingdom of God now. That’s why, even in Matt 10, long before the disciples had a revelation of these things, Jesus sent out the 12 with this instruction “as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.”
Signs of the reality of heaven begin to manifest, when the shout of victory of the gospel comes from heaven. Under the Old Covenant, God was with His people and when they gave a mighty shout, the walls of Jericho came down. There are walls, strong walls of unbelief, built up in the hearts and minds of this generation. Those walls have taken years to build, but those walls can come down in one moment, when the Gospel is proclaimed as a shout of victory from the heavenly realm.
The Holy Spirit is saying to the Church….“You have been proclaiming the gospel from an earthly perspective, in words of human wisdom, thinking of yourselves as mere men. Church you have been examining yourself for sin. How has that been working for you? But I have given you my Spirit that you may examine yourselves for Christ! I want you now, to proclaim the Gospel from the heavenly reality of your union with Christ, not as people separated from me, but as people living in me. See how that works for you!”
The apostle Paul, when confronted with so much immoral behaviour in the Corinthian church, didn’t say to them, “Why are you behaving like immoral men?” He said, “Why are you behaving like mere men?” (1Cor.3:3) To the Colossians he declared “Why are you living as if in this world?” (Col.2:20). Throughout his letters he challenged believers as to why they were living as if separate from God (1Cor.6:19). Were they not born from above, that they may live from above? (Gal.3:3, Col.2:6). Did their old separated from God life not end at the Cross? (Col.3:1-4).
Any gospel that does not show you how God now sees you, has no power, for as a man thinks so he is. If your gospel lets you think of yourself as a mere man, then that is how you will continue to live. When the gospel is preached in words of human wisdom, it becomes a man-centred message offering good advice, rather than a Christ-centred message proclaiming good news. It is our communities that suffer, for they don’t need to see more mere men giving good advice. They are groaning to see the Sons of God, men and women who are the living demonstration of the good news they are proclaiming, their very language and lives ushering in the Kingdom of God on the earth today, for when the Gospel is proclaimed from heaven’s perspective……walls of unbelief fall!