Commentary by Walter Albritton


June 11, 2006


True Wisdom Comes Through Christ and the Cross


1 Corinthians 2:1, 6-16


Key Verse: We speak of these things in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual. – 1 Corinthians 2:13


Eloquence makes any speaker more appealing to the audience but without the power of God even the most persuasive speech will fall on deaf ears. Early in his ministry the apostle Paul learned that his considerable credentials meant nothing. Paul was a wise and learned man but what got results was the power God released in him when he proclaimed Jesus Christ and his crucifixion on the Cross.

That is why Paul called the gospel “the power of God.” He realized that when he preached the basic truths of the gospel, without embellishment, that the Holy Spirit stirred the hearts of people with great power. There is a principle here that every preacher must learn, and the sooner the better. Old preachers forget it at their peril.

Recently I preached a sermon in which I tried to appear wiser than I really am. I explained the meaning of more than one Greek word, thinking my listeners would be impressed with my great learning. The sermon fell flat, stirring no one. Not a soul was moved to do anything more than glance wistfully at wrists watches that seemed to have stopped running.

Later at lunch my wife broke her silence. When I have preached well she tells me on the way home. When my preaching has been weak, she waits awhile. That Sunday she was merciful. Her appraisal was no stinging rebuke. She simply said, “You know, that was a good talk you gave today, but it was not what you do best. You are at your best when you just haul off and preach the gospel.” I knew she was right. The next Sunday I preached the gospel and felt the power of the Holy Spirit at work in our midst.

My wife knows the difference between “a good talk” and preaching with power, power that comes from God. My good friend Deanie Thompson is a gifted artist. She does beautiful Calligraphy. On my desk sits a small frame with a phrase from one verse Deanie penned for me: First John 2:20. These are the words: “Ye have an unction from the Holy One.” Modern versions help us understand that John meant, “You have an anointing from the Holy One,” or as the NLT puts it, “the Holy Spirit has come upon you.”

As I reflect on these words I am remembering a night in a revival in Kingswood United Methodist Church in Mobile. My dear brother George Mathison was the pastor. I was the evangelist and Brother Si Mathison was leading the singing. As we prepared to leave George’s study and go out to begin the service one night, George said “Dad, lead us in prayer.”

Brother Si prayed simply as always, asking for the grace we needed to present Christ to the people in song and in word. Then he prayed for me, saying, “Unctionize Walter tonight, Lord, unctionize him.” I was deeply moved by his words, and trembled as I felt the Holy Spirit coming upon me. Now that Brother Si has gone to heaven I can hear him leaning over the banisters of heaven as I stand to preach and saying to the Father, “Unctionize him Father, unctionize him.” And I know that without that unction from the Holy One I might as well be reading out of the old Sears Catalog.

 Paul freely admits to the Corinthians that he had not come to them preaching with a silver tongue or wisdom of his own. Instead, he explained, “It was my deliberate decision to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him upon His Cross.” Indeed Paul remembered that he came to them “in weakness – timid and trembling. And my message and my preaching were very plain” (NLT). Paul wanted them to understand why – so that the faith of the Corinthians “might trust the power of God rather than human wisdom” (NLT).

Paul goes on to explain to the Corinthians the difference between human wisdom and spiritual wisdom. Those who hear and respond to the gospel with repentance and faith then begin to comprehend spiritual wisdom. They have much to learn for they are “babes in Christ.” They learn first at the kindergarten level. As they mature, they learn to grasp more of the truth, though never all of it completely for in this world we see “through a glass darkly.”

Human wisdom is wisdom minus God. There is nothing eternal about it. It goes nowhere and amounts to nothing – except the pleasures and treasures of the secular world. Christians, who have the Spirit within them, are the only people who can understand spiritual wisdom. It is utter foolishness to unbelievers who trust human wisdom rather than God. Believers are able to comprehend spiritual wisdom because they have “the mind of Christ.”

The humanist or worldly man has no appetite for things of the spirit. His desires can be satisfied by sex, money and power. His world is one hundred per cent material. Things matter. Everything else is foolishness. Talk to him about your desire for the anointing of the Holy One and he has no clue what you are talking about.

His great danger is that he may stifle the hunger of his soul for God so long that when God calls his name, he will not hear. He will have lost his capacity to hear the unspoken, to feel the invisible, and to see the unseen. It should be the concern of every believer to continue hungering and thirsting after God lest our hearts become hardened toward the treasures of the spiritual world where Christ is King. 

Perhaps, just now, it would be a good time to pray, to really pray. We might cry out to God and say,

“Father, please deliver me from lusting after material things. Save me from worshiping at the altars of human wisdom and power. Fill me with your Spirit so that your power may be fully at work within me.

“Above all things, give me the mind of Christ. Cause me to remember every day that Christ loved me enough to die on the cross for my sins. Help me to live every moment in the shadow of the Cross. Touch me so that I may hear, see, and feel what others ignore.

“And finally Father, please do such a work of grace in me that I may trust in your power alone and never again my own cleverness. Forgive me Father for trying to impress you with all these fancy words; just unctionize me and that will be enough. In the powerful Name of your Son Jesus, Amen.”

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