“But God because of the great love he has for us has made us alive in Christ.” Those are Paul’s words as they are written in the second chapter of Ephesians (v. 4). In this verse, and in many others like it, there is a great contrast highlighted in the words “but God.” Those two words also occur in the fifth chapter of Romans. There, Paul says that for the love of a good man, someone might be bold enough to die. Then in the next verse we read, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). On one hand, you have what is possible with man. Then the God of the impossible is brought in.
We have something like that in 1 Corinthians 2, the focus of this week’s lesson. This world is very proud of what it knows. Paul looks at that and says that for all the ability of the human mind to accumulate data, there is no true spiritual wisdom that flows from it. That is because the things of the Spirit have to be spiritually discerned. Paul tells how God has made the wisdom of this world to be foolishness in order that he might glorify that which is nothing. It is at that point that Paul speaks of the Gospel, which is nothing in the eyes of the world, but which is the wisdom of God unto salvation. Furthermore, this wisdom of God concerns the deep things of reality, which he imparts to us by the means of his Holy Spirit.
That is where these words, “but God,” come in. You find them in verse 10. The verses before that speak of what we are unable to do so far as the perception of spiritual things is concerned. Then in verse 10, Paul writes, “But God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.” That verse and the verses that surround it are a great analysis of what God has done to make himself and the Gospel known to fallen men and women who, apart from his revelation, would live and die and perish in utter ignorance of that which alone would be their life and salvation. So when we look at that, we really have what is a logical, theological presentation of these great doctrines.
The first doctrine is that of general revelation. This is what is involved when Paul is saying that the rulers of this age did not understand God’s secret wisdom. This means that, although they had not heard the Gospel preached to them, there is a revelation of God in nature which they did not perceive. If they had perceived it, they would have been expecting God to reveal himself in a personal way. When the Lord Jesus Christ came they would have followed him. “Instead,” says Paul, “they crucified the Lord of Glory.”
So, Paul is presupposing that a general revelation of God in nature holds all men accountable, though no one, unless he or she is aided by the Holy Spirit, ever comes to God on that basis. In Romans 1 Paul says that God has revealed his eternal power and his godhead. God reveals in nature that there is a Supreme Being. But Paul says men and women, in their sin, do not like the fact that a God of that description exists. Consequently, men and women suppress that truth about God because, if they acknowledged it, they would have to recognize that they are creatures and would have to worship him. That is the one thing they do not want to do. Because of that, says Paul, in Romans 1, the wrath of God is poured out from heaven against all who act on those principles. That includes all men and women.