By John A. Huffman, Jr.
Saturday, April 01, 2006
Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we speak of these things in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual.
All this week, I've been wrestling with these words of
Initially, what Paul is saying seems so illusive, so erudite, so remote from the practical problems with which we struggle that I was tempted to jump over this passage and move on to chapter 3. However, an expository preacher does not have the luxury of skipping over tough passages. Also, I sensed a still, small, inner voice urging me to keep on, saying, "Dig into that text, John. Don't rob its tremendous truth from your people, when I am so close to giving you an intellectual and spiritual breakthrough of understanding."
The breakthrough came for me when I backed off from these eleven verses, taking a look at them in the context of what had come before and what is to follow. It suddenly dawned on me that Paul is in the process of presenting a progressive argument that would touch the hearts and minds of fellow believers whose attitudes and lifestyles are not living up to the profession of faith which is theirs.
So let's make a quick review.
He opens his letter reminding them of his authority as an apostle called by the will of God. He also reminds them that they are called to be saints "together."
He wishes them grace and peace. His choice of these words as he opens his letter was not designed to carry heavy theological freight. He was simply wishing them what any civilized, socialized person would wish to a group of friends, a gracious and peaceful existence. He knew that they had become divided. He was pained by the elitism with which some prided themselves in being followers of himself or Apollos or Peter or Christ.
Instead of putting them down with his initial comments, he expresses thanks to God for them. He does not rule them out of the Kingdom of God because of their carnal, less than spiritual, sinful activities. He embraces them as brothers and sisters in Christ. He tells them how, even though he's been away from them for many months now in Ephesus, he always gives thanks to God for the generosity with which He had showered upon him: grace; riches; spiritual gifts; blamelessness; and divine faithfulness.
Wouldn't you agree this is an adult way of going about business? He is not manipulating them with shame. He is using affirmation, acknowledging some very positive elements that mark their Christian life and experience.