Knowing The Unknowable

Hope for Today (English)
Hope for Today (English)
Knowing The Unknowable
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1 Corinthians 2:11-16

Our minds are somewhat like an unfathomable lake. No one has yet been able to measure the depth of the human mind.

Philosophers have reasoned without conclusions. They have tried to determine how we think, but no one seems to know. Scientists have researched the relationship of the brain to thought processes. They also have no conclusions. Intelligence and reason set us completely apart from the animal world. We are in a class by ourselves.

The human mind is the powerhouse of all cultures. By the interaction of many minds, reason and thought construct the pillars of culture. We can say our minds provide the necessary base to communicate with God. That’s awesome. God is in the world outside of our ability to discern. Yet we can communicate with Him by way of our minds. At the same time, the distance between God and us is unbridgeable, unless God makes the initial move. Many a philosopher has run into a dead-end street because he depended entirely upon his own system of logic. In I Corinthians 2:11-16, the apostle explains the possibility of KNOWING THE UNKNOWABLE.

Now that may sound like a contradiction. But stay with me because I’m going to discuss for you how you can know the unknowable. Let’s read I Corinthians 2:11-16:

11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.

12 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 to us of God.

13 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.

14 But the natural 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.

15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.

16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

Here, then, Paul shows us how we can know the unknowable by discussing the several essential STAGES we must pass through.

The first stage is:

CATEGORIZE THE DEMARCATION OF KNOWING

11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.

12 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 to us of God.

Paul sets off two areas, only two. In his Demarcation of Knowing, he categorizes the spirit of man and the spirit of God. The things of man, the whole area of human learning, is one area. It’s continually expanding. We are pushing back the whole horizon of human understanding and knowledge.

Sometimes when two people meet, they say to each other, “Well, what do you know?” The answer is, “What I don’t know will fill a bigger book.”

The more you know, friend, the more you know there is to know. So the natural things are constantly evading us. The spiritual things are incomprehensible.

The things of God are outside the realm of the things of man. Please observe the closing of verse 12: “We know the things that are freely given to us of God.” The things of God are not discovered. The things of God are given. We learn them by the gracious act of God. God is ready to give what we are capable to receive. I want you to understand clearly the demarcation of knowing. The two areas are human knowledge and spiritual knowledge.

The second stage is:

RECOGNIZE THE LIMITATIONS OF THE NATURAL MAN

13 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.

14 But the natural 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.

The apostle is speaking to us, but not in the words of man’s wisdom. Spiritual truth is not spoken in man’s wisdom. Oh, we may use the same language. We may use somewhat the same words, but spiritual truth is not conveyed that way. Man’s wisdom genders pride, and, as I was saying, there seems to be constant opportunity to learn more, more, and more. But in what area? You see, as I was saying in the outstart, the mind of man is capable of great expansion.

Scientists and philosophers have puzzled over the brain for generations. How does it function? What is its major role? Well, its major role is to control the rest of the body. But we are being told here that Paul’s teaching was based on what the Holy Ghost teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. In other words, the natural man is unable to comprehend spiritual matters because he is spiritually brain dead. Christianity answers every question that requires an answer. The marvelous plan of salvation exhibits the most awe-inspiring wisdom. God is glorified and man is rescued from sin.

Now I quote from another:

When Paul expounded the doctrines of Christianity, He was not speaking folly, but set forth the truest and highest wisdom the world had ever listened to; and those who truly embraced Christianity became “wise,” seeing that they then possessed true views of God and of human life, and moreover yielded themselves to the control of an influence which would make them practically wise in everyday conduct. . . . Christianity contains the profoundest wisdom. Men laugh at Christianity not because it is foolish, but because they are.

The natural man does not have the will to receive spiritual truth. Reception of the unknowable is controlled by the will and requires a humility that man is not willing to express. The natural man is dead, in trespasses and sins. I referred to him as being spiritually brain dead. Until born again, the spirit of truth leaves man puzzled. Therefore, the second stage is to recognize the limitations of the natural man.

The third stage is:

UTILIZE THE ESCALATION OF THE SPIRITUAL MAN

14 But the natural 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.

15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.

16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

The spiritual man has an entirely new approach. The apostle in II Corinthians 5:17 said, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.” All things become new. The spiritual man, I say, has an entirely new approach. The natural man reasons in circles. He never finds his way out of the maze he has created for himself. The spiritual man reasons in a straight line. Realities are properly related. He is able to see them in the light of the divine revelation of God, and, as the apostle Paul teaches in verse 16, God needs no instructor! Paul raises a rhetorical question: “Who has instructed the Lord?” The answer is “No one.”

No one knows the complete mind of God. It is impossible. Our human minds have limitations. Therefore, we are dependent upon the gift of divine revelation. We, the apostle said, have the mind of Christ! We are lifted out of the fruitless surmising of the natural man. The natural man rests in the instability of his own human reasoning.

I quote another who said:

The spiritual man is exalted and sees clearly what to the man beneath appears blurred, unsightly, puzzling, and undesirable. The carnal man has a valley view, and gazes through thick and distorting mists; the spiritual man has a mountain top view, and the more spiritual he is the clearer is the atmosphere through which he looks. Many men who quarrel with Christianity should rather quarrel with themselves; the fault is not in it, but in them. We need alteration, not God’s revelation. We must not think lightly of Christianity because many reject it; an imbecile throws away banknotes. Honesty is good, but a thief will have none of it. A blind man has a poor opinion of pictures. When the mouth is out of condition, the sweetest meats are unsavory. When God revealed the true wisdom in Christianity, he announced that it would be unappreciated by many.

I continue:

Words are a great power; they hinder or help according to their suitability. How many sermons of noble and useful thought have been thrown away because of unsuitable diction! How much truth has been suffocated under masses of verbiage! How much reproof, exhortation, and incitement, has been made pointless by being expressed in carefully rounded periods! The edge has been taken off; the sword has been blunted. How often eloquence has hidden Christ! And further, how often false doctrine has been fostered by carelessness of expression! We need a “wisdom of words”; though not that false wisdom of words which Paul so vigorously condemned. The modern church requires a “gift of tongues,” and must look for it whence the ancient gift came. The ministers of Christ should speak as the “Spirit gives them utterance.”

Thus the third stage is to utilize the escalation of the spiritual man. My friend, as a born-again believer I am admitted to the rare realm of knowing the unknowable. To attain that realm it was necessary for me to pass through the three stages Paul set forth.

THE DEMARCATION OF KNOWING

Two areas are natural and spiritual

THE LIMITATION OF THE NATURAL MAN

Bound by natural reasoning and going in circles

THE ESCALATION OF THE SPIRITUAL MAN

Escalated to the rare realm of the mind of Christ

If you want to be able to tap into the wisdom of God and rise above the limitations of human wisdom, you must decide to do something about your present condition.

The first step is to humbly confess to God where you are, away from Him. Invite Jesus, God’s Son, to be your personal Saviour, and to come into your life. Then your whole reasoning process will be totally altered. You will be in a position to know the unknowable by the gift and impartation of the Spirit of God.