The Spiritual Revelations of God
May 15th, 1955 @ 10:50 AM
1 Corinthians 2:6-16
THE SPIRITUAL REVELATIONS OF GOD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Corinthians 2:9
5-15-55 10:50 a.m.
You are listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in downtown Dallas and this is the pastor bringing the morning message entitled The Spiritual Revelations of God. Now before I start, may I say if you go to sleep, if you go to sleep in a part of it, if you don’t stay actually wide awake, it will mean nothing to you, absolutely nothing. But if you will stay awake, if you will listen, there is a message in this second chapter of the book of Paul to the Corinthians that I pray God will help me deliver my soul of this morning.
Now in the second chapter of the 1 Corinthian letter beginning at the sixth verse, Paul is going to compare the wisdom of God with the wisdom of the world. And he has a thing to say about it that comprises the message of the hour. Beginning at the sixth verse, "We speak wisdom among them that are mature." You can’t be a child and listen to this. You can’t be an infant, immature. You have to be a grown up spiritual man or woman in Christ:
We speak wisdom among them that are mature. Yet not the wisdom of the world nor of the princes of this world that came to naught,
– that are passing away, fading away, transitory, temporal –
But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery. Even the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world unto our glory, which none of the princes of this world knew.
– Not by searching does any man ever find out God Almighty –
Which none of the princes of the world knew,
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.
But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit. For the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
For what man knoweth the things of man save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man but the Spirit of God.
– Not by searching does any man ever find God Almighty –
Even so the things of God knoweth no man but the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God that we might know the things that are freely given us of God which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth; but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
– Saying spiritual things in spiritual language –
But the natural man, the sensory man, receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God. For they are foolishness unto him. Neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned.
[1 Corinthians 2:6-14]
Now, my text is this, "As it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him," which is the heart and the soul of this passage I have just read. Now every time I have ever quoted that verse, and I have quoted it many, many times, and every time I have ever heard that verse quoted, and I have heard it quoted many, many times – without exception the way I have quoted it and the way others have quoted it, they have always made those things "prepared" for them that love Him, they made it refer to heaven.
You know we quote Scripture from one another by kind of a tradition; it is handed down from a father to a son. But we never bother to read in the Bible what the Scripture says or what it means; and I’m just like you, I do the same thing. My forefathers quoted Scriptures a certain way, my fathers did, and I do the same thing. To my amazement, preaching through the Bible, reading through the second chapter of the Book of Corinthians, I came upon a thing I had never heard of or seen before in my life, and among them is this: that passage there refers not to heaven or to a glory that is to come at all. Paul is not even talking about heaven. He’s not even talking about a glory to come. He’s talking about wisdom, he’s talking about God’s wisdom, he’s talking about spiritual fact, spiritual truth, spiritual revelation. And he is saying that carnal man, the natural man, the unspiritual man can never know or never appreciate or never receive a spiritual revelation from God. For an eye can’t see it and an ear can’t hear it and a heart can’t imagine it, "but God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit."
Now, the way we quote that, we say, "there are things to come," there are glorious and incomparably wonderful and beautiful things "that God hath prepared for them that love Him." Now, I’m sure that’s true; I’m sure that’s right and I think it is all right for a man to think of that. There are things in heaven that we never saw, heard, or dreamed of, glorious things. But that’s not what he’s talking about here. "But God has revealed these things unto us by His Spirit," Paul is comparing there, Paul is talking about there, spiritual truths compared to truths that are sensorially appreciable. He is comparing them to the world that you see around you with the spiritual kingdom that can be discerned only by the revelations of Jesus Christ made to one’s spirit. "We speak wisdom," he says:
to them that are mature. Not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world,
But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world – before the world unto our glory. Which none of the princes of this world knew,
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned.
[1 Corinthians 2:6-8, 14]
When Paul preached the gospel at the city of Corinth, his preaching offended many. It was not received by many in cultivated Corinth, some of them said it was too crude. Some of them said it was not wise enough. Some of them said it is not attended by signs and wonders. To the man of wonderful taste and literary appreciation, the preaching of the apostle Paul was an offence. To the Jews who expected signs and wonders to accompany a new dispensation, there was nothing miraculous about it. And to the rhetorician, he missed the great convincing arguments of the schools. But the apostle Paul said to those who were criticizing his ministry and his preaching, he said his judges are not competent judges.
In the same way, he would say the princes of this world are able to judge in matters of politics, the rulers of this world are able to weigh evidence, the critics of literary taste and form and expression are able to speak in matters of literary judgment. But says Paul, the natural man, the unsaved man, the man not spiritual is not able to judge of spiritual teachings because they are spiritually discerned. Paul would say a man who is color blind couldn’t judge between blue and green; he’d say a man who is deaf couldn’t be a fine music critic. He would say a man who judges by sense alone – by the eye, by the ear, by the touch, by the taste – the man who judges by sense alone could never enter into the great reality of the truth that lies back of this universe.
For this world and this universe is not as it appears. For example, to sense, to appearance, to all outward manifestation, the world is stationary. And when you look at it, it is still. When you look at it, it is flat. When you look at it, it doesn’t move. But appearance is not able to judge the hard truths of scientific knowledge. For the scientists says this earth moves at a rapid pace. And the scientists says the entire universe moves through space. But a man looking at it would say that it is stationary. You can’t judge by sense. You can’t judge by appearance. There are great truths that go over and beyond all appearance and all sense.
So it is with the spiritual revelations of God. They are never received by the natural man. They are never known by the use of our senses. They are never discovered by our five senses. But the revelations of God that are spiritual are over and beyond and above whatever a man could ever know or learn by the use of his five senses. Paul would say that in order for a spiritual revelation to be made, there must first be a spiritual truth, a spiritual fact. And second, there must be a spirit to receive it. And the revelation is made from spirit to spirit; comparing spiritual things with spiritual things, and the natural man could never see it. The natural man could never hear it, the natural man could never know it because it is made from God’s Spirit to a man’s spirit, and they are spiritually discerned and never sensorially appreciated. For he takes from the Book of Isaiah, he takes a passage of Scripture and he quotes it:
As it is written, eye has never seen, ear has never heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.
But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit.
[1 Corinthians 2:9, 10]
Now, we’re going to take those things one at a time. Paul says the eye cannot see the great spiritual revelations of God, they are not sensorially discerned; the eye has never seen them, and the eye could never discover them. Now, the pleasures of sense are real, but they are very mundane, they are very human. They are very anatomical, they are very terrestrial; the pleasures of sense are caused by the tingling of muscle or the vibration of a nerve. And when you see and when you are made sensitive to a beautiful, beautiful thing in the world, it is a human anatomical reaction. You see the thing and it brings a sense of pleasure to you. Now the Corinthians could appreciate that. They developed a column or form there in Corinth that is called by their name to this present day, a Corinthian column. They loved form and they loved beauty and they loved symmetry. They were much given to the arts.
Now we are not depreciating, nor would Paul, what the eye is able to see and the beauty of this world as the eye can look upon it. The living Lord clothes Himself with the living garment of the beautiful world that we see around us – the dawn in the morning and the sunset in the evening – the beautiful forest, the flowers, the trees, the verdant meadows, the glory of the firmament above; all that goes into the beautiful and the symmetrical that pleases us today, human form; human actions that are beautifully done. Art in every regard and in every respect, when we look upon it, it pleases us and it makes us happy. They are pleasurable senses.
But Paul says: We are not able to perceive spiritual truth by our sensations, we could never know them by the use of observations. And that is the limitation of science; science proceeds altogether by observation. It subjects everything to the taste, to the touch, to the hearing, to the smelling, to the seeing. And what science cannot subject to sensation, science thereby disproves. But you could never find, you could never find conscience, you could never find spirituality, you could never find resurrection, you could never find immortality, you could never find faith, you could never find beauty, you could never find obedience, you could never find the great purchase of the Christian religion in mass materiality. You could poll them endlessly but you would never find it and you would never discover it. You can take a man and look at his materiality, here his organization, and here his cerebration, and here is the impulses of the nerve; but you will never see thought, never in the world. Here are his brain, here are his nerve cells, and here is the organization of his body; but you’d never find mind. You can probe into a man’s body and you can subject to all of the corollaries and all of the judgments of science, but you will never find those things in a man’s corporeality.
That’s the reason that a physician so many times, a doctor will leave his laboratory and be an infidel. He doesn’t find the soul of a man in the man’s body. He doesn’t find generation in a man’s anatomy. He doesn’t find resurrection in a man’s physical body. So he leaves the laboratory – he says, "I’m an infidel. I don’t believe in God." Paul says you will never find those spiritual realities by sensory appreciable use of our five sensory organs. For the eye cannot see them. You can probe and probe and probe forever, but you will never find them. You will never see them. You will never discover them with your eye.
All right, he makes a second avowal: Ear has never heard them. They are not communicable by language. Now, a man’s language is only appreciable in another man if he already has the revelation, if he already has the understanding, if he already knows what it refers to; but language in itself is nothing, the hearing of the thing by the ear itself is nothing. Language – words – is nothing other than the intellectual coin by which man exchanged ideas and thoughts. But, if you don’t have the idea already with the word, then the word means nothing to you.
For example, if I say to you, en arche en ho logos. kai logos en pros ton theonx en ho logos, that’s one of the great spiritual truths of all time and eternity, but it means nothing to you. You have heard of the hearing of the ear, but your experience doesn’t fit the word, the sound, the language that you heard and it is nothing to you. Ah, let’s take it in our language: suppose I talk to a man in the Belgian Congo and I say, "Ice," ice. He says, "Ice?" And I say, "Yeah, ice," ice.
"What is ice?"
"Well, ice is frozen water."
"Frozen water? What is ‘frozen’?"
"Well, frozen is when a thing congeals."
"Well, what is it when a thing congeals?"
"Well, it gets hard. Gets solid."
"Well, I’ve never seen that."
And we could talk to that Belgian Congolese forever, but he’d never get an idea about ice. He’d never seen it, he’s never experienced it; it doesn’t have any part of his life. So it is with a man who’d be blind. Tell him what blue is, "Blue? Blue?" What would you say blue is? "Blue? Well, blue is blue! The sky is blue."
"But I can’t see it."
"Ah, his suit is blue," but he can’t see that. Unless the blue has the idea already, the hearing of the ear means nothing to him.
So with infinitude, a man who lives, say, all of his life in a little box, all of his life bounded by one, two, three, four, five, six. Six walls. So a man all of his life, living in a little box: talk to him about infinitude, the illimitable reaches of God. It would mean nothing to him, absolutely nothing. You don’t convey the revelation by the hearing of the ear; it doesn’t come that way, it is meaningless to him. It means different things to different people.
One of the sarcastic critics that I read in Greek literature was this: some of those Greek philosophers were talking about gods and making fun of gods. And this is a sentence I remembered they said, up there in Thrace, they said, the Thracians have all of their gods red-headed – they are all red-headed up there in Thrace because the people up there in Thrace were red-headed. But the Greek philosophers said down there in Africa, all of their gods are black-headed, and curly-headed, and Negroid. And they said a man’s God is just a projection, much like himself; he is anthropomorphizing, he is just making God like himself. Well, however you speak metaphorically or metaphysical, there is no idea that means anything to anybody unless you already have the idea. Otherwise the word is absolutely meaningless, or it means different things to different people. Now, if you don’t have the experience, if you don’t have the experience, if the truth of the thing that is said has not already entered into your heart and into your soul, then the hearing of the ear means nothing at all; nothing at all. For the truths of God are spiritually communicated. They are never received by the senses of the man.
Now, you look just by example: here is a minister who says – here is a minister who says, "These great doctrines are true." And then the people parrot them, "Yes, sir, these great doctrines are true, the preacher said so, the priest said so, the minister said so. These great doctrines are true." The minister will say, "You must believe these great doctrines." And the people will say, "You must believe these great doctrines." But they mean nothing to the people at all unless they have experienced those great truths and doctrines themselves. For example, the Pharisees and the Sadducees heard the words of the Lord Jesus Christ by the hearing of the ear. By the hearing of the ear they heard the Lord Jesus Christ preach, but it meant nothing to them whatsoever; they weren’t saved, they weren’t converted. Their lives were not changed. They just heard the words. but the spiritual experience that went along with the revelations of Jesus Christ, never entered into their lives and never changed their souls.
The Greek philosophers heard the apostle Paul preach – they heard his words, they heard his language, they heard his sermons – but they were not changed, they were not made into new men. They were not converted because the experience that lay back of those words was never communicated to their souls. So it is with our people today. You can hear the gospel, and you can hear the gospel, and you can hear the gospel, and then one day you can hear the gospel and be saved.
I heard Sister White say that exact sentence about somebody she knew. Was it you? Talking about yourself? You are talking about yourself? Dr. Kimble, you can listen to a man, and you can listen to a man, and you can listen to a man. And then upon a day, you listen to the man, you hear him – what he says.
Truths are nothing unless they are spiritually discerned; it is a syllable, it is a sentence, it is language. The preacher is up there just preaching his head off; he’s just sweating, and a-puffing, and a-pulling, and a-saying, and a-talking, and a-hollering, and a-carrying on. And it’s just stuff. But one of these days, you might really listen to the preacher; the spiritual truth that lies back has been communicated to your spirit and you see it. And it bursts just like a sunburst, "For the first time I see that thing, for the first time it has entered my soul, for the first time it has got hold of me." These things are spiritually communicated; you don’t see them with the eye. To hear them with the ear is nothing, they have to be spiritually mediated. The Spirit of God must talk to the spirit of a man – the Spirit of the living God must come in contact with the spirit of the man – and those truths are nothing until they are spiritually communicated.
Now, we must hasten. "Neither have they entered into the heart of the man," that is, you don’t find God by imagination. You don’t find God by creative genius, you don’t see God with your naked eye and you don’t see truth with your naked eye. Just like you can’t see a conscience, and you can’t see resurrection, and up can’t see immortality; all you see is a decaying man, a dying man. And you don’t hear the truth of God, you don’t communicate the great truth of God by just language and syllable, for it is just language and syllable to you. You are just listening, you are just sitting there, you are just being nice, you are just being courteous, you are just being gentlemanly. You don’t do it by the hearing of the ear, but it comes by the impact of the convicting power of the Spirit of God in your soul.
Now so it is, Paul says here, with regard to the heart of a man, the imagination of a man. You don’t find spiritual truth, you don’t come into the possession of the knowledge of God by creative genius, by sitting in an arm chair and by all of those things that a man’s heart can imagine. "How do you know that, preacher?" Because, because, when a man sits down and he’s in his arm chair and he philosophizes – and he thinks, and he cogitates, and he ruminates, and he ratiocinates – and all of those things that can pour through a man’s heart and a man’s mind, he is just as likely to come out a blasphemous infidel as he is to come out reverent before the Lord God.
You can take your genius of imagination, you can take your creative abilities, and you can write the most dastardly, blasphemous prose and fiction novels, and you write the most terrible and enscathing and ungodly poetry that any language could ever bear and anybody ever hear. You can even think about the universe as an astronomer, and you can even think about God’s world as a trained scientist. And you can think about anything in the world that comes to a man’s imagination, and come out a blatant infidel. You don’t find God by creative imagination, "Neither have entered into the heart of man the things that God hath prepared for them that love Him," these spiritual revelations.
"Well then, preacher, how is it, how is it that a man could ever know God then? How is it that a man is ever able to fellowship with God? How is he able to walk with God if he is not doing it by the seeing of the eye? If he is not doing it by the hearing of the ear? If he is not doing it by the imagination of the heart? The ingenuity of his own creative genius, then how does a man come to know God? And how does a man fellowship with God? And how does a man ever be saved by the Spirit of God?" Just like Paul says here:
But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit. For the Spirit searcheth the deep things of God.
And we receive not the spirit of the world – which is always sensory – but we receive the Spirit which is of God that we might know the things that are freely given to us by God,
Which things we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth
[1 Corinthians 2:10, 12, 13]
We’re not talking about things that an eye can look at, things that a man’s hearing can hear, things that a man can conjure up for himself. We don’t talk that kind of language, but we talk the language of the Holy Ghost. We talk about things which the "Holy Ghost teacheth, saying spiritual things with spiritual words. For the natural man can’t receive the things of God. Neither does he know them. They are foolishness unto him." [from 1 Corinthians 2:13, 14] To talk to a natural man about conviction, and about conversion, and about regeneration, and about immortality, about what God is and what He is doing – to Him that is idiocy, that’s foolishness. It is a thing he has never known and never experienced because he can’t see it with his eye and he doesn’t hear it as he listens to the sounds of the world, and he doesn’t imagine it in his heart. But to the man who is touched by the Spirit of God, to the man who is in communication with the great truths of the Almighty, to him God reveals the hidden wisdom, the true spiritual wisdom of heaven and of earth.
Now, I think it is it like this, if I could put it in a crude way: I have the sense of touch and so does my dog, he has that sense of touch. I have the sense of smell, so does my dog. He has the sense of smell, only a lot better. I have the sense of hearing, he has the sense of hearing, only still, it is a lot better. I have the sense of tasting, he has the sense of tasting, I have the sense of seeing, he has the sense of seeing. All five senses that I have, my dog has, and your dog has, and all God’s dogs have. All God’s anthropoid apes, all God’s beasts, all God’s living organisms that are up here in our class, they all have those five senses. But I have another one, I have another sense – more correctly, I have another faculty, I have one that my dog doesn’t have. I have one that the beast doesn’t have, I have one that the animal doesn’t have, I have one that the anthropoid ape doesn’t have, and it is this: on the inside of me, there is a faculty that is capable of receiving spiritual revelations. I can talk to that dog forever and ever, and I could train an ape forever and ever, and I could talk to a chimpanzee forever and ever, and I could talk to God’s animal kingdom forever and ever, but they’d never know what I meant when I was talking about immortality. They would never know what I meant when I was talking about God, they would never know what I meant when I talked about prayer and intercession, they would never know what I meant when I was talking about the things that belonged to the kingdom of Jesus.
They know what I talk about when I talk about bones, and eating, and smells, and sights, and sounds; they just live in a sensory world and most people live in a sensory world. They live in the world where they get a kick out of it, where they get a thrill out of it; a world that they can see and hear. A world where the music plays and the rhythm is beautiful; they live in this world, in a world of sense in a material body. But we also have another faculty. We also have a higher ability, and that is the glory of a man. I can listen, I can listen to spiritual things, that are expressed in spiritual words. I can feel the moving of the Lord God upon my soul. And you give me a man that is spiritually minded, and you give me a man who will open God’s Book, and read to me the spiritual words of the Book, and break to me the bread of life in the Book, and my soul will vibrate to the things that a man can’t see. And my soul will listen to music that a human ear can’t hear, and my heart will be filled with the things only imaginable to those who have found a revelation in Jesus Christ.
Up! Up! Away from the beast, away from the cod! Away from the life of materiality and sensualness, up! Up! Into the realm where the spirit of a man walks and talks with the Spirit of God and he’s found the summun bonum, and he’s found life everlasting; he has found the kingdom of heaven. Oh, if I had time, we’d just start out from there and talk about what the one has discovered who has discovered this hidden wisdom, this true wisdom that most physicians never see, that most scientists never know, that the sensual and the material never enter into! Well, we don’t have time, just suffice it to say a word and then we quit.
When the man has opened his heart to the revelations of God – "How does he do that?" Be another sermon.
"How does he do that?"
I determine no to know anything among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
I was with you in weakness, and fear and in trembling
And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power
That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
[1 Corinthians 2:2-5]
When Paul revealed to those Corinthians the secret of that hidden wisdom, they scorned and they laughed, for the secret to the hidden wisdom of God, the spiritual revelations of God, according to Paul, the secret is revealed to the man who bows at the cross. The man who is humble, the man who is contrite, the man who repents, the man who turns, the man who bows, the man who yields.
And the Greek philosophers laughed, "What? This hidden wisdom – nothing to tackle? No sign, no wonder?" No, it comes to the man of a contrite spirit. It comes to a man of a repentant heart, it comes to a man who bows before the Lord God. But the man who will humble himself, who will bow, who will kneel at the cross, to that man God will speak. God will reveal the hidden world, the things prepared for them that love Him. God will reveal them to him, and he’s a new man, and he’s a different man.
"And how is he different?"
Oh, my soul! The man who will opens his heart to the spiritual revelations of God, what a man he is! It’s a new world, it’s a new worth, it’s a new creation, it’s a new life, it’s a new destiny; the human is made divine. In the hue of every little violet you see the color of glory. In the blaze of the forests, in the fall time, in the verdant of the coming to life and the resurrection in the springtime, there’s God everywhere. God speaking, God calling, God revealing Himself – God everywhere! And to the man who has found those great, hidden spiritual truths of God revealed to him, these little old differences in this world are not even to be mentioned, they are not even to be seen. It doesn’t matter at all.
The martyr burned at the stake, or the minister at the helm of the kingdom – what is the difference? A grimy man, toiling at labor, this magnate who presides over an empire, with all luxuries around him; what’s the difference? For you’re not living in the world of sense, you’re not living in a world of materiality; you’re living in a world of heaven, you’re living in the world of the spirit, you’re living in the world of God, and you are walking and you’re talking with the King of Glory. As it is written, "eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man the things that God hath prepared for them that love Him. The great spiritual revelations of the Almighty, but God reveals them to us by His Spirit. These great truths are known and received in the soul, in the heart, in the spirit, from the Spirit of God.
Now we sing our song. And while we sing it, while we sing it, while we sing the song, into the aisle and down here to the front, "Preacher, today we’re giving our hearts to the Lord Jesus, and here we come. Pastor, today we’re putting our lives into the Church and here we come. We are taking the Lord as our Savior, and here’s my hand, I’ve given my heart to God. I’ve opened my heart to the Spirit of God." Or, "We’re putting our lives here in the Church, here is my family. Here’s all of us; and here are my children, here are my sons and my daughters, all of us, here we come."
In that topmost balcony, to the back row up there, anywhere, everywhere around, giving your heart to the Lord or putting your life in the fellowship of the church, come down here by the pastor, give him your hand, "Here I am, preacher, and here I come." While we stand and while we sing.
THE REVELATIONS OF GOD
frequently the verse misquoted
1. The carnal mind
cannot know or appreciate spiritual revelation
The things of God cannot be perceived by eye, ear, imagination; but must be
revealed by the Spirit of God(1 Corinthians
Paul’s preaching offended many at cultivated city of Corinth
1. He said his judges
were incompetent to try the question
a revelation of spiritual facts, two things are necessary
divine truth, a spiritual fact
A spirit to receive it
II. Spiritual truth not perceived by
cannot see spiritual revelation of God
Pleasures of sense are real, but human, terrestrial
of science – it is observation
truth is not reached by hearing
1. Either meaningless,
or means different things to different people
2. Does not touch the
soul, enter experience
a. Hearsay religion
Unless truth comes to you not in word only but in power, no revelation in it(1 Corinthians 2:4-5)
truth not discernable by imagination
come into possession of knowledge of God by creative genius
Can have great creative faculties, still be blatant infidel
III. Revelations of God are spiritually discerned
by the Spirit to the spirit (1 Corinthians
Man has another faculty, the highest – spiritual sensibility
secret is revealed to the man who bows at the cross(1
human is made divine
the soul filled with God, the differences in this life and world don’t even
matter – he is living in the world of heaven, of spirit, of God