Oct. 15, 2002
All scriptural references are from the New American Standard Bible unless otherwise noted.
1 Corinthians 2:1-10
1. And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.
2. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.
3. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling,
4. and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,
5. so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.
6. Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away;
7. but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory;
8. the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory;
9. but just as it is written, "THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN,† ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM."
10. For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.
During this time of visitation of God to His people, Jesus is doing what He did when He came to Earth as a man, and is in fact doing what He always does when He comes around: Heís separating people.† He said He came to bring a sword of separation, dividing household member from household member.† Remember the scripture says that His "fan is in His hand" to separate?† When Jesus comes, separation comes, and thus, a separation has come to Godís house in this hour.†
I want to tell you a story of a Bible scholar named Nick.† Nick was a renowned Bible teacher of his day and enjoyed a vast following as well as respect among his peers.† Nick had a popular radio program and had authored several books, and had taught in the nationís top seminaries.† Nick was truly a leader of the people, and had the credentials to make him a leader among his peers.† However, his world was about to be rocked, and he was about to be changed forever.†
Nick was struggling deep within.† In spite of his success and position, and in spite of his sanctuary of godly knowledge, Nick was dissatisfied deep within.† He began to see things in his own life as well as in the lives of his fellow Bible teachers that disturbed him, and Nick found less and less fulfillment in his personal spiritual life and in his ministry.† The scriptures that were once so sweet to his mouth, had become bitter, and he felt as though he were dying on the inside.† His colleagues didnít understand him, and in fact were somewhat perturbed at Nickís openness in confessing to them some of his feelings, so he learned to stuff it down deep inside.†
Time went by, and Nick would pursue some of the sources of spiritual refreshing that once filled his empty heart, but to no avail.† The more he pursued the things of God, the more miserable he became.† Thatís what really worried Nick.† In fact, that was the straw that broke the camelís back.† His own misery, discontentment, and complete lack of fulfillment in the things of God were what finally compelled Nick to risk his reputation and position, and motivated him to finally meet and talk with this miracle worker that had caused so much controversy in the religious world.† So, Nicodemus, a Pharisee, journeyed by night to meet this Jesus of Nazareth, and his long night of pursuing Christ would eventually lead him out of his empty and pathetic knowledge of the scripture, and into the glorious knowledge of Christ and of the God of the scripture.† Nicodemus was about to find that for which his empty heart longed.
Nicodemus the Pharisee came to Jesus by cover of night because he was risking his position and influence by coming to Jesus.† In fact, when he spoke with Jesus, he learned that all of his knowledge didnít bring him to the waterís edge of what he really needed to know of God.† To this man whose entire self worth was bound up in what he knew, this encounter with Jesus would truly cause him to lose all in the death of self discovery.† Not only would he lose his position and place of influence, but he would lose his very life, because all for which he had previously lived would prove to be empty and meaningless in the light of his new revelation of Jesus Christ.† And thus, the sword of separation separated Nicodemus from his peers, just as it has separated many throughout history and is separating many today.† Not only did Christís sword of separation separate Nicodemus from the other Pharisees, but it served to completely polarize Christ from the religiously wise.† The more Christ revealed his true nature, the more the religiously wise were polarized from Him, and thus, the more they were separated from those that followed Him.† The same is happening today.
Todayís Christian Pharisee is becoming more and more polarized from Christ as He reveals more and more of His glory and His power in His remnant church today, and because of that, the separation between Christian Pharisees and Christís true followers is becoming more and more pronounced.† Those who once walked together are no longer able to walk together today because of the sword of separation that the presence of Christ brings.† The hatred that the Pharisee has for the man of God is becoming more and more manifest, as is the deception in which the Pharisee lives.†
A few years ago, the Lord spoke to us telling us that He would be bringing choices to His people, and that these choices would cause His people to choose outwardly what their hearts truly desired inwardly.† He said that these choices would bring a separation that would be very decisive and would set the course for ministries, church bodies, and individual lives.† We have seen that very thing occur.† One of the separations that we have witnessed is the separation of the remnant church from the religious church.† One of the ways in which it manifests itself is in what I would describe as a separation between those that desire inwardly to have a God of their concepts from those who truly desire inwardly to know experimentally the God of the scriptures.† He is separating those who want a theoretical God from those who long to find the true and living God.† He is separating those who are content deep within to know the Word of God from those who will never be satisfied until they know the God of the Word.† He is separating those whose Christianity is basically conceptual from those whose Christianity is spiritual yet tangible.† In other words, He is separating the Christian Pharisee from the true Christian.† He is separating the Bible scholar from the Bible liver.† He is separating the one who knows the Bible and believes that to be any end in itself from those who experience the Bible, and have found or will find the God of the Bible.† After all, the Bible is a record of men and womenís encounters with God.† The Christian Pharisee loves Godís word, just as the Pharisees of Jesusí day loved the law.† However, just as they had no desire for Christ, the Christian Pharisee has no hunger or longing deep within to find God.
You see, the issue isnít love for the Word of God.† Both the Pharisees and Nicodemus loved the Word of God.† The difference is that a Nicodemus loves the Word of God because in it he sees the ONE he loves, and as we will see, one can only truly know the Word of God when they first know the God of the Word, and God reveals Himself in a love relationship.† Jesus said, "He that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him" (John 14:21 KJV).
Why canít todayís Christian Pharisees truly know and understand the scriptures?† The same reason the Pharisees of Jesusí day couldnít: they wouldnít come to Jesus.† In John chapter 7 we see Jesus at the feast speaking to the Jews, and there were some there who believed in Him saying, "When the Christ shall come, He will not perform more signs than these which this man has, will He?" (John 7:31).† You see, the unlearned were putting their faith in Christ for the correct reason: they saw the power of God.† Paul said, "My message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God" (1 Cor. 2:4, 5).† Paul also said that "The kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power."† Thereís something about the true people of God: they can feel it when itís God.† The Pharisee canít always feel it, and so, when he canít feel God, he turns to his intellect and runs through his mental data bank of scripture to see if he can pin down what heís seeing.† The Pharisee will almost always be skeptical of the power of God.† The spiritual man will run with all his might after God when he feels God.
In verse 37 of that same chapter, Jesus said, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink."† That is the prerequisite for coming to Christ: Thirst.† If someone isnít thirsty, truly thirsty, they wonít make the effort to come to Him.† The Pharisee will go to a meeting where a man of God is ministering, but itís not because theyíre thirsty, itís so they can "hear what the man has to say."† Theyíre not going desperately longing and expecting to meet with God, theyíre going to find out if the ministerís doctrine is correct, or to hear something to tickle their ears.† Thatís why the Christian Pharisee never finds God at these meetings: because theyíre not thirsty for God.† So, the Pharisee feels nothing that they desire, and theyíre intimidated by the power of God because they are so unaccustomed to the supernatural.† After all, theirs is a conceptual Christianity, the kind thatís void of the supernatural power that affects the tangible.† And to top it all off, they hear the man of God say something that to them is doctrinally incorrect, and BAM!† The gavel of their judgmental heart crushes the Spirit of God that would woo them as they judge the man of God of being "off".;†† The Pharisee looks around at the people crying and worshiping and falling under the power and they repeat in their self-righteous disgust the words of the Pharisees of Jesusí day, "This crowd which does not know the Law is accursed" (John 7:49).†
You see, the Pharisee equates knowing the Word of God with being right with God, but they are not one and the same.† Just because your doctrineís right doesnít make you right.† Just because you know it doesnít mean you are it.† If your doctrine is off, but your heart is right, youíre right with God, and He can straighten out your doctrine.† However, if your doctrine is right but your heart is not, youíre in trouble.† If your doctrine is right but your heart is wrong, youíre wrong!† The Bible clearly teaches that knowledge without love breads pride.† "Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies" (1 Cor. 8:1).† Thatís the Pharisee: puffed up in the pride of knowledge without love, and remember that the scripture says that if you have all knowledge but donít have love, youíre nothing.† Jesus said, "Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God" (Mat. 22:29 KJV).† In order to keep from erring, you have to know both!† Knowledge of the scripture is not enough.† The Pharisee believes that knowing the Bible is any end in itself.† However, Jesus told the religious, "You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life" (John 5:39, 40).† You see, knowledge of the scriptures is no end in itself.† The scriptures point us to Him.† Jesus said, "This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent" (John 17:3).† As Proverbs 2:5 shows us, the purpose of scripture is that we might find the knowledge of God.†††††††††††††††
In John chapter 7 we read further that the people were disagreeing among themselves about Jesus.† Some said that He was the Christ, while others were saying, "Surely the Christ is not going to come from Galilee, is He?" (John 7:41).† Thatís an interesting statement.† You see, the Pharisees picked up on that.† It sounded right to them.† "Yeah, thatís right", they said.† "The Christ isnít going to come from Galilee."† BAM!† The gavel of self righteousness and self confidence fell, writing Jesus off.† The Pharisee will quickly judge someone without investigating or without waiting on God because the more people or movements that they can eliminate as being "off" the more secure they feel in their self-righteous knowledge of the truth.†
A Pharisee isnít at all hesitant to write someone off, but because of their skepticism, theyíre very hesitant to embrace someone who operates or lives in a realm that they donít.† Youíll find Christian Pharisees writing books, hosting radio shows, or posting web sites dedicated to opposing men of God who move in the supernatural realm - that realm that so intimidates the Pharisee.† They will write or say terrible things about a man of God, picking his words apart, simply because the man has said or written something that they feel is doctrinally incorrect.† They donít fear to tread into such deadly territory because they are motivated by the same thing that motivated the Pharisee of Jesusí day.† The Phariseeís of that day said the same thing about Jesus that the Pharisee of today says about the man of God: "He leads the people astray."† The religious pride that so animates the Pharisees causes them to believe they are the bastion of truth and the defender of the poor foolish masses that are being led astray by this "false teacher", this false teacher who, incidentally, does what they can never do: heal the sick, raise the dead, proclaim the good news to the lost, saving sinners that didnít even know they were a sinners until they encountered the Living Christ through the man of God.
The Pharisee, in his or her pride, is not at all reluctant to write someone off.† In fact, itís their first instinct.† A Pharisee will go to a meeting, or listen to a teaching, or even a musician, not to hear something good, but with ears attuned to catch anything that gives reason to write the person off.† Thatís the Phariseeís great hunger and driving passion: to write people or movements off as being "unscriptural" so they can maintain their position.† After all, if Jesus was the messiah, then He came outside of the Phariseeís position, influence, and authority.† That means He came apart from them, showing the poverty of their religion.† Well, the same is true today.† If Jesus is come through this man of God or that movement, and todayís Christian Pharisee is completely removed from the power and presence of Christ manifested through others, then their religious poverty is exposed.† The message they must embrace is that they look good on the outside but inside theyíre filled only with death.† Either the man of God is off, or the Christian Pharisee is an empty tomb, void of any life giving power.† If Jesus was the Christ come in the flesh, then the Pharisees stood to lose their place and position.† If Jesus Christ is present and moving outside of todayís Pharisee, then they stand to lose the same.
Just as the Pharisees of Jesusí day wrote Him off without hesitation and without waiting or investigating (with a hunger for God, not a hidden agenda of finding error), so todayís Pharisee writes Jesus off as well, not recognizing Him when Heís present because they donít know Him.† Jesus said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me" (John 13:20.† By the way, let me note here that the prerequisite for being a Christian Pharisee is not great knowledge, but pride.† Pharisees may not know it all; but they believe they do.†
In verse 50 of this same chapter in which weíve been looking (John chapter 7), we see Nicodemus enter the picture once again.† Nicodemus said to the Pharisees, "Our Law does not judge a man, unless it first hears from him and knows what he is doing, does it?"† They answered and said to him, "You are not also from Galilee, are you?† Search, and see that no prophet arises out of Galilee."† Here we see once again the separation between the two groups.† The Pharisees are telling Nicodemus to search the scriptures because the scriptures show that no prophet is to come from Galilee.† In fact they show that the Christ would come from Bethlehem.† However, Nicodemus is telling the Pharisees what Godís true remnant tells the Christian Pharisee: "You need to hear from Him and find out what He is doing."† In other words, you need to know God in order to know where Heís coming from, and if you know where Heís coming from, youíll see the truth in the scriptures.† You see, Jesus wasnít from Galilee, as we all know, but was born in Bethlehem, the city of the savior.† However, the Pharisees never bothered to find out where He was from.† The Pharisee doesnít know where God is coming from, so they never truly understand the scriptures.† Only those who know the God of the Word can truly know the Word of God.† In verse 43 it says, "So a division occurred in the crowd because of Him."† Christís presence at the feast brought a division within the people, and it brought a further division between Nicodemus and his colleagues.† Today, Christís presence in lives, churches and revival meetings is bringing a division as well.† The religiously wise are being separated from the "foolish" just as the chaff is separated from the grain.† His fan is in His hand!
When Paul wrote to the Corinthians that his preaching was "not with persuasive words of wisdom but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power" that their faith would "not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God", he further said, "Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature" (1 Cor. 2:6).† He described that wisdom as "Godís wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood" (1 Cor 2:7, 8).† Why are these things understood, not by the Pharisees but by the mature?† Itís because this wisdom (the wisdom of the scriptures) is a mystery hidden from the religiously wise but revealed to the mature or the spiritual man " through the Spirit", as it says in verse 10.† The truth of Godís word is a hidden truth revealed only to those who know Him who said, "I am the truth."† Paul wrote to some Christian Pharisees of his day in the Corinthian church.† Those who saw themselves as spiritual, Paul addressed as carnal babes.† Chapters two through four of first Corinthians deal with these Pharisees, and Paul, in warning them, writes, "Now some have become arrogant, as though I were not coming to you.† But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant, but their power" (1 Cor. 4:18, 19).
Jude describes these Christian Pharisees in the following way:
"But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed.†
"Woe to them!† For they have gone the way of Cain [Cainís sacrifice was rejected not because the sacrifice was wrong, but because his heart was full of the hatred and murder for his brother thatís in the heart of those who kill their brother today with pen or tongue], and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam [Balaam wished to profit by cursing those whom God had blessed], and perished in the rebellion of Korah [Korah challenged the authority of the man that God had sent].†
"These men are those who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.†
"And about these also Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, ĎBehold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Himí [because they spoke against those whom He sent].
"These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage" (Jude 10-16).† "These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit" (Jude 19).
You see, the Pharisee will never know the truth because unlike Nicodemus, they arenít hungering and thirsting after God enough to make the effort to find Him.† They wonít search for Him through the long night because they have no compelling hunger or thirst that would spur them on or prevent their sleeping the night away.† The Pharisee will search the scriptures but they wonít drive across town to find God. †The Pharisee can live without the glory of God, and so live without it they will.† In 1 Cor. 2:9 Paul writes, " But just as it is written, THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM."† These are the things that Paul says that God has revealed to us through the Spirit.† He is quoting a passage from Isaiah chapter 64.† You will see from that passage that those things will only be revealed to those that have an all consuming hunger and thirst.† Only those that cannot live without God, without finding God, will have those things revealed to them, those things that ear has not heard, eye has not seen and the heart of man has never grasped.
Look at the cry of those who long to know God!† Look at the cry of those who will never be satisfied with a god of theory, a god of their concepts!† Look at the cry in Isaiah chapter 64!† "Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down" (Is. 64:1).† Thatís the cry from the heart of the truly mature that the learned Bible scholar, the Christian Pharisee will never and can never understand.† You see, the Pharisee can live with or without revival.† If it comes (if He comes), well thatís great!† However, theyíre certainly not going to be distracted by looking for some "thing" in the future that may never come.† If God comes thatís fine, if not thatís fine.† They can just enjoy a little drink here and there and they can enjoy the god of their concepts; a golden calf made in their own image.† However, the truly mature cannot live without Him.† Their cry is forever, "Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down!"† The mature will never be satisfied until the glory of God returns to His house.† They have heard Him say seek ye My face and they have bet their life on the chance that they can actually find Him, for they have long since ceased to live apart from Him.† They cry as David, "O God, Thou art my God; I shall seek Thee earnestly; my soul thirsts for Thee, my flesh yearns for Thee, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.† Thus I have beheld Thee in the sanctuary, to see Thy power and Thy glory" (Ps. 63:1, 2).† "My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me" (Ps. 63:8 KJV).
What makes the difference between a Nicodemus and the rest of the Pharisees?† I only know that itís a hunger for God; a God factor deep within the heart of the person.† Why some have it and some donít, I donít know.† I notice one thing, however.† All the Pharisees pursued Jesus to a certain extent and for a time, but only Nicodemus pursued Him past the cross.† Iíve seen some who at one time had what appeared to be a real heart for God, and appeared to be in hot pursuit of God, yet today are lost in a self-deception of Phariseeism.† They have long since lost the love of God that makes a profitable servant and have exchanged it for the knowledge that puffs up.† They no longer humbly go to meetings or to men of God searching for God, willing to pay any price, unashamed of their great need.† No, they know too much now.† In fact, now they know more than the man of God, and they certainly know more than the ignorant multitudes that grovel at Jesusí feet crying out to be made whole.† You see, a separation has taken place.† Those who once pursued Jesus right along side of Nicodemus have now unknowingly turned against God, and against His true remnant.†
In John 19:39, 40 we read the following: "And Nicodemus came also, who had first come to Him by night; bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight.† And so they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews."
Hereís the difference between Godís mature remnant (those who are truly following Jesus) and those who are lost in a deception of Phariseeism.† The Pharisees knew the scriptures.† They had a god of their concepts, a god of theory, and their doctrine was sound and their knowledge unprecedented.† Yet, we donít find them with Jesus on the other side of the cross.† We find Nicodemus who was once like them.† He once worshipped a God whom he had never touched or seen.† Now, he was holding God become man in his hands.† We find him lifting the limp and lifeless arm of Jesus and wrapping the arm with a cloth. †He looks into His lifeless face, and then down at His lifeless body.† He sees His body move as he wraps the arm.† Itís difficult to wrap the body, and he feels as though heís being too rough as he rolls the body from side to side in order to bring the cloth underneath.† Every movement, every "irreverent" handling of the body of His beautiful Jesus serves to engrave upon his being the image of His Lord and Savior and the body that was torn for his sins.† You see, the difference between Nicodemus and the other Bible teachers of his day is the fact that he could say with John (the disciple that recorded the story of Nicodemus), "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched - this we proclaim concerning the Word of life" (1 John 1:1).
Nick never taught at the seminary again.† In fact, they revoked his license.† He looks back and laughs at all he thought he knew.† In fact, he canít remember a lot of it today.† He doesnít mind though.† Now he knows even as he is known.† He sometimes hears his former colleagues talking about Christian things like the saviorís stripes or the body of Christ, and the empty words of these teachers take him far away to a place near a grave where he discovered the true meaning of the scriptures.†† There near that tomb, he whose name means "victorious among his people" discovered the true hidden wisdom of the life giving Word when his earthly hands actually touched and handled Jesus, the Christ, God incarnate, the Word of life.