When you seek the Lord for wisdom, you are asking for the throne room’s perspective. Can you handle it?!
What do you need to see from his standpoint, in full view of the age to come?
Grasping the “secret and hidden wisdom … which God decreed before the ages” is “for our glory” (1 Cor 2:7). Learning to live in the presence of the future changes us—ultimatley, for our glorification. “Wisdom from above” is designed to transcend time, to transform us now, and prepare us for the great life that awaits us in the age to come.
Take a moment to quietly embrace God’s kingdom drawing near to you. Be mindful that “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” (2 Cor 2:9).
Now get ready to “impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual” (1 Cor 2:13). What I think Paul means here is: be ready to plug the King’s perspective into every circumstance and every relationship. Yes, the wisdom intended for your glorification is meant to impact your work, family, friends—yes, everything.
ALWAYS pretend that there are no chapter divisions when reading your Bible. Why? Two reasons: 1) the idea of “chapters” did not exist when the Bible was written (along with numbering verses, chapters were created centuries later for convenience); and 2) you will be able to thread the themes from the previous chapter into the next one. Ready to thread?
In 1 Corinthians 2, we found out that when we seek the Lord for wisdom, we are asking for the King’s throne room perspective–which is in full view of the age to come. Paul ends the chapter exhorting us to plug the King’s perspective into every circumstance and every relationship. Now thread it into chapter three! Wee!
1. How is the throne room perspective threaded into 1 Corinthians 3:1-7? Remember to pretend that the chapter break is not there.
2. What makes you “not ready” to receive the “solid food” from Jesus’s throne room? In other words, what “milk-like” perspective ends up on your plate?
3. Instead of living “of the flesh and behaving only in a human way,” what one thing would change if you started taking in heaven’s perspective into your daily diet?
What a Day! What day? The Day that Jesus Christ is revealed as Lord and King (1 Cor 1:7-8). You may be thinking, “I’m just trying to get through this day!” Well, what if you started to live this day in light of the Day?
Entrepreneurs often dream big by imagining what their ideas will look like in 10 or 20 years. They then work back to the present with steps that will lead them into that future. What if you began to see your life from a new earth perspective? Paul did! He says that God will not only “sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 1:8), he’s even “confident that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6). Why is he so sure? He saw every day through the lens of the Day!
How might your character be formed by the Day? Notice how transformation into Christ’s likeness is shaped by God’s promised future:
- When you know that you will be “pure and blameless for the day of Christ,” love will abound “more and more, with knowledge and all discernment,” and you will “approve what is excellent … filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:9-11).
- When you see “the day of Christ” in each day, you will “hold fast to the word of life,” knowing that “your labor will not be in vain” (Phil 2:16).
- When you see the “praise and glory and honor” that will occur “at the revelation of Jesus Christ” because of the trials that test the “genuineness of your faith,” you will “love him” and “believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (1 Pet 1:6-8).
- When you “set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ,” you will prepare “your minds for action” and be “sober-minded” (1 Pet 1:13).
- When you know that “the Day will disclose” everything (1 Cor 3:13), you will “not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God” (1 Cor 3:13; 4:5).
Scripture often uses vivid imagery to describe realities that are beyond the limits of language. Think about Ezekiel trying to capture God’s chariot-like throne on paper (Ezekiel 1)! Or Daniel trying to describe sci-fi-looking beasts (Daniel 7)! Or John trying to put words to heaven’s worship (Revelation 4, 7, 19)! How can we engage in such fabulous imagery? Through Visio Scriptura!
In 1 Corinthians 3:10-17, Paul uses architectural imagery to describe the Church as a temple. We know that a temple is basically a “house of God,” a space for God to dwell with his people. But of course, God cannot be “contained” in any building either! So now what?
- Examine one part of the imagery: how does a carpenter’s son lay the foundation? What happens when you try to insert your own foundation into his church (e.g., your political ideology, your social cause, your needs, etc.)? It may work well for a time, but Paul gets pretty blunt here: if your foundation becomes the foundation, it will topple the entire building (1 Cor 3:12, 17; cf. Luke 6:48-69).
- Meditate on the entire imagery: how does a carpenter’s son build a community? With Jesus as the foundation, what happens when you try to build the church with “shoddy materials” (e.g., with “less-than-your-best” effort, with “if-I-have-time” involvement)? Again, it may be “good enough” for a while, but it will inevitably implode everything (1 Cor 3:12, 17; Luke 14:29).
- Look at two other passages that use the same imagery: 1 Peter 2:5-6 and Ephesians 2:20-22.
What stirs in you when you think of yourself as “a dead stone” turned into “a living stone” because of Jesus’s resurrection? What impact do “living stones” have on temple imagery?
Did you know that one out of every 22 verses in the New Testament is a quotation from the Old Testament? What do you do with that? You look them up and study their context, that’s what!
For example, Paul ends 1 Corinthians 5 pairing a question (“Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?”) with a quotation of Deuteronomy 17:7 and 12 (“Purge the evil person from among you”). What seems obvious may not be all that obvious. If you take a moment to look carefully at this OT quote in its context, you will find two timeless truth-principles:
- In cases that were “too difficult,” the Israelites should consult the priests to gain wisdom (Deut 17:8-9). This helps you interpret the Corinthian passage: Paul is addressing a very difficult case that threatens to tear apart an entire church.
- When Israel’s priests made their judgments, they were to “stand and minister before the Lord” (Deut 17:12). This helps you to apply the Corinthian passage: with difficult cases inside the church, Paul wants leaders to stand before the Lord (pray) and minister (act). Thus, to “judge” doesn’t mean condemnation; it is an attempt “to set things right”—and in this case, by setting safe relational boundaries for people who are harmed by those with no boundaries.
Paul’s OT quotation is alerting us to something. In an attempt to set things right, “evil” may surface. If it does, are you willing to seek council from church leaders? Are you willing to set clear, safe boundaries in troubled relationships? Ask the Lord to give you wisdom and strength.