27.05. – 1Cor 2.9-16 – Understand the Spirit spiritual

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Nobody understands what Jesus said unless the Spirit of God makes you understand.

Nobody feels the grace of our Lord, unless the Spirit of the Lord makes you live in this grace.

Nobody can have faith in Jesus, unless the Spirit of God bestow you the faith.

Nothing in our selves is able to deal with God – that is our basic problem. But God comes down from heaven; Jesus shared our life, to prepare us internally, to make us ready that his spirit can take the lead.

However this sound theoretical – the opposite is true! Let us take a test:

Do you believe that Jesus Christ is your saviour – who saves your life from sin and makes you ready to serve him with your whole life? – Then answer: Yes, I believe!


You can only answer, “Yes, I believe!”, if the Holy Spirit lays this faith into you.
If you are answering, you can be sure, you have the Holy Spirit.

But there is a big problem with the Holy Spirit.
We have two big groups of congregations in Christianity:

One group always shouts Halleluiah and is sure they actually have the spirit and can decree about it!
– And the other group: They are so shy about the Spirit, they don’t believe that they can be in contact with him.

I think as old traditional Lutherans we belong more or less to the shy group! – We have to get out of this shyness!

I read out of Paul’s letter to the congregation in Corinth, 2.9-15

9 However, as it is written:

“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”—
[Isaiah 64.4]

the things God has prepared for those who love him— 10
these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit:

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11

For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them?

In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12

What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13

This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but
in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.

14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 15 The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, 16 for,

“Who has known the mind of the Lord
so as to instruct him?”— [Isaiah 40.13]

But we have the mind of Christ.

Just three aspects I want to take from this text:

1. Why is the Spirit necessary for us to become and to remain a Christ?

2. A distinction between the Spirit and spirits.  And last:

3. Verse 13

1. Why is the Spirit necessary?

Paul gives a really philosophical answer:

For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them?
In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.

This argument is very common: “Only a mother knows their child.” Only that what is in a way the same like you, can be understood by you. Therefor God is only understood by his own Spirit.

Modern Neurophysiology would completely agree and underline, it is for a human very difficult to understand a thing which is completely different to all things we know and we had learnt before.

If we go to a foreign country and foreign culture, the first sentence you will hear is: “Oh, I recognize this and that; it is the same as at home!” – And it takes a lot of time to realize those things that are completely new and different!

The old Greek had a multicultural society; they knew this human problem through their own experience.

Paul uses this experience to underline that God can only be understood by God. For us humans it is still true what is said in Isaiah 55.8:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.

The only problem in this situation is that we will never understand the Lord, if his thoughts are not our thoughts!

In the tradition of Ezekiel Paul answers:

The only way we can understand the Lord is:
The Lord himself fills us with his Spirit.
His Spirit in our mind, soul, heart and spirit makes us understand what the Lord is saying.

That is the first aspect of Corinthian 1:

It is absolutely necessary we get the Spirit of the Lord; otherwise we cannot come together with the Lord.

And this reason is true in the other way round too:

If you are here this morning
you can be sure: It has been the Spirit of God which made you come to church. You yourself, your flesh and body, would have preferred to stay in Bed. Now you can say: “Wow, this morning I was touched by the Spirit of God!”

The Holy Spirit is necessary for our Christian life. You can be sure it is him in yourself who makes you to be a Christian.

2. The Spirit and the spirits – a distinction

One reason which makes it sometimes not comfortable to relate with the Holy Spirit:

There are a lot more spirits on the run than just the Holy Spirit. And you have to feel, to listen and to distinguish carefully to listen within all that noise which really is the Holy Spirit.

Paul’s example in 1 Corinthian 1 some verses earlier: Nobody can believe God sent his only son to die on the cross. People said, “That’s rubbish, why shall God die on the cross.” Or even worse: “Why do you want to have faith in a god whose son has to die lonesome on the cross? Look for another, a friendlier god!”
– And Paul answers: Yeah! In your patterns of understanding, following your human spirit, it is really a scandal! Therefor you have to be taught by God’s Spirit to understand that the evil death on the cross is to rescue us from the power of sin.

But how to distinguish what is said by the Holy Spirit and what is just a rubbish religious phantasy? An example:

If somebody tells you: “Give your money to church, pray and you will become rich. The more you give, the more you will get!”

Is this spoken by the Holy Spirit or not?

One part of the problem, Jesus said, Luke 6.38:

“Give, and it will be given to you.” – This quotation seems to support that message.

Hmmm! But to whom shall we give? Did Jesus say something about this? – First Jesus did not say: Give to the church! No! Luke 6 this is Jesus Sermon on the mountain. Jesus crucial point is the living together and supporting the weak. But church is neither weak nor your helpless neighbour.

Holy Spirit or not? – That message is not by the Holy Spirit but by the spirit of money, just another spirit of the spirits around us.

And how did we judge? We took the Holy Scripture to distinguish and to recognize where the Holy Spirit is speaking in difference to all the other spirits!

That is the work we have to do – dealing with God’s Spirit – to proof him by the Holy Scripture!

And last:

3. The special Verse 13:

I gave it to you in Greek too for two reasons:

It is only in Greek that you can repeat one word three times – just to stress the importance of the meaning.
And you have two possibilities to translate this sentence.

Paul must really have enjoyed it. He was probably dancing on one foot, so proud to have got this idea:

Pneumatos, pneupatikois, pneumatika!

And he is right! That is the best sentence you can speak on Pentecost. But to translate it – First possibility:

“… not in words which taught us the human spirit, but
in words taught by the Spirit (of God) to explain things, which are done by the Spirit in a spiritual way.”

You cannot explain spiritual things like cross and resurrection like you explain how to cook pap. Things which are done by the Spirit of God, can only be explained in a spiritual manner: You have to give the Spirit of God place to explain it.

There remains the problem to differentiate between the spirit of man and the Spirit of God. And there remains the second problem, we are however not sure, the Spirit of God will fill our mind and our spirit to make us understand what is spiritually done by God. – But the essence of this translation is clear: What is done by God’s Spirit has to be explained by him. That’s easy for us: We give the problem of explanation back to God – “It’s yours, explain it by your Spirit!”

The second possible translation just changes the translation of the last pneumatik, pneumatika. This pneumatika can be “in a spiritual way” – but as well, and this is now very important for us, it can be translated: “those men who are gifted with the Spirit of God.”

The whole sentence:

“… not in words which taught us the human spirit, but
in words
taught by the Spirit (of God) to explain things which are done by the Spirit to those who are
filled with the Spirit (of God).”

You feel this rhythm which is near to the Greek way of repeating the same word three times.

And in this translation it is clear: We will only understand those things which are done by the Spirit of God, if we are filled with the Spirit of God.

And Paul is quiet clear, speaking to this congregation in Corinth:

Of course, those congregants are filled with the Holy Spirit, and he can talk to them about spiritual things.

If you are in church, this is spoken to you

“… not in words which taught us the human spirit, but
in words
taught by the Spirit (of God) to explain things which are done by the Spirit to those who are
filled with the Spirit (of God).”

You are those “who are filled with the Spirit of God”.

Forget your feeling of inferiority regarding the Holy Spirit.

Go home and be sure, you got it.

Listen within yourself to find traces of the Spirit in you.

Learn to trust the Spirit of God in your life!

That is the Pentecostal message for you!

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

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