The wisdom of this world, as Derek well knows, will never take the place of the hidden wisdom of God, which will only come when one becomes a new creation in Christ Jesus. Then the door will open up for us to search out this hidden wisdom.
It’s good to be with you again, as we draw near to the close of another week. Our theme throughout this Easter season has been: Identification. We’ve been studying our identification with Jesus in all the successive experiences that followed His death: that is burial, resurrection and ascension. We’ve seen how the way has been opened for us through the death of Jesus to share with Jesus both in His resurrection ministry on earth and also in His ascension ministry in heaven.
With regard to our sharing in the continuing ministry of Jesus on earth, our key scripture was that in John 20:21:
“Again Jesus said, [to His disciples] ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’” (NIV)
In other words, on earth we are Jesus’ personal representatives just as He, during His ministry on earth, was the personal representative of the Father.
With regard to our sharing in the ascension ministry of Jesus in heave, our key scripture was Revelation 1:5-6:
“To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father, to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.” (NIV)
So you see there, through being released from our sins by the blood of Jesus, we have become in God’s sight a kingdom and priests, or a kingdom of priests. We have the right to enter into the two great ascension ministries of Jesus, where He rules as King and intercedes as Priest. We have the right through His death to move all the way up into heavens glory with Him and share the kingly ministry and the priestly ministry.
Today I’m going to share with you what I call God’s secret hidden wisdom, through which alone we can comprehend all that has been made ours through our identification with Jesus. This is really one of my favorite themes in the New Testament, because before God revealed Himself to me I was a professional philosopher and I was seeking after the very thing that Paul speaks about here, the wisdom of this world. In fact, it was identical because my special field of study was Greek philosophy. For seven years I immersed myself in Greek philosophy. That’s exactly what Paul in the New Testament refers to as wisdom or the wisdom of this world. It is precisely that, philosophy. So out of my own background and experience, I think that I can appreciate better than most exactly how true these words of Paul are about the hidden wisdom of God. You see, I was searching for wisdom but I never found that hidden wisdom of God, until God completely changed me; until I became a new creation in Jesus Christ. Then the door was opened up for me to search out this hidden wisdom.
This is what Paul says now in 1 Corinthians chapter 2, verses 4-10:
“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with the demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.”
Oh, how well I appreciate that. Paul didn’t use long complicated, sophisticated intellectual phrases that only a few people could claim to understand. I remember reading once in the German philosopher, Emmanuel Kant, there was one sentence of his that extended for more than two pages without a period. How many of you would like to study that? Aren’t you glad that God didn’t put His wisdom in that form? However, Paul goes on to say in verse 6:
“We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.”
It’s a different kind of wisdom that relates to ruling, that’s the theme of this wisdom, but it’s not understood by the rulers of this present age. Then Paul describes this wisdom:
“No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.”
Notice, it’s a secret wisdom, it’s a hidden wisdom, but there’s a special purpose to this wisdom. God destined it for our glory. That’s a breathtaking phrase. Paul goes on:
“None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”
In other words, they didn’t have the wisdom to see through the external and recognize who Jesus really was. Through the lack of that secret hidden wisdom, they missed the Lord of glory. They actually crucified the ruler of the universe. Vs. 9:
“However, as it is written: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”, but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.’”
The natural senses of man cannot appreciate this wisdom; his natural reasoning cannot attain to this wisdom; all that is excluded. But there is another way to attain to this wisdom, God has revealed it to us by His Holy Spirit. And then Paul concludes:
“The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.” (NIV)
Now let’s look back at phrase, “God... destined this wisdom for our glory.” What does that mean? I tell you, frankly, I read those words many, many times before I really began to see what was meant as I believed. I believe that the whole purpose of this wisdom was to bring us into this glory with God, to lift us above the earthly realm and into the heavenly realm. To place us there on the throne together with Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. It staggers my mind to think that God devised this secret wisdom time began, that He had you and me in view when He devised this wisdom. But you see, there’s only one door to this wisdom. You can search and you can grope, you can theorize and you can speculate, you can philosophize as long as you please, but you will never attain to this hidden wisdom until you find the door. Do you know what the door is? It’s the cross of Jesus. And when you come to the cross, when you see the purpose of the death of Jesus, when you see yourself identified with Jesus in His death and then follow on to be identified with Him in burial by baptism, then that’s the door that leads to this secret wisdom. You find that you’re made alive with Him. You’re resurrected with Him, and you’re enthroned with Him. But until you’ve found the door which is the cross, that is all shut off from you.
There’s another passage in the writing of Paul that speaks about this secret hidden wisdom that’s ordained for our glory. It’s Romans chapter 8, verses 28-32:
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (NIV)
Notice there that key phrase again, “with Him, with Jesus.” It’s when we are identified with Jesus in His death, then we enter into the inheritance with Jesus. God graciously bestows upon us all things. We become heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.
But there’s a process and there are five stages outlined by Paul in this process here in Romans chapter 8. He says first, God foreknew us. Second, He predestined us. Third, He called us. Fourth, He justified, and fifth, He glorified. And all those are in the past tense.
Now those first two steps in the process took place in eternity before time ever began. Before time began God foreknew us, God predestined us, He arranged the circumstances of our lives, then in time God intervened, He called us through the preaching of the gospel. He invited us to accept our identification with Jesus. When we responded to the call, He justified us. He acquitted us of all guilt. He set us free from our sins. But when He had justified us, He didn’t stop there. So many Christians have never seen this, He glorified us. He brought us up to share glory with Jesus in heaven as kings and priests. Not in the future. Notice, it’s “He glorified us” past tense. Just like everyone of the others is past tense, so is that, “He glorified us together with Jesus.” This is again beautifully expressed by Paul in Colossians chapter 3, verses 1-4:
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. [Notice, it’s the identification with the seated Christ on the throne.] Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, [that’s your identification with Jesus in the historical past when Jesus died, you died. That’s finished.] For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. [That’s the secret hidden wisdom. Our life is hidden with Christ in God. The world can’t see it, but for you and me that have experienced it, it’s the most real thing there is.] For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (NIV)
When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. We already share His glory, but it can’t be seen. It’s in the unseen invisible world. But when Christ appears in visible glory, then our glory too will be manifested. But already, we share it. We died, our life is hid with Christ in God. Where Jesus is, we are.
Our time is up for today. I’ll be back with you again next week at this same time, Monday through Friday. Next week I’ll continue with this theme of Our Identification with Jesus and I’ll show you, in plain, simple terms, just how you can make it work in your own daily life.