Christ Becoming Wisdom to the Believers from God, Life-Study of 1 Corinthians, Message Nine, pp. 82-86
III. CHRIST BECOMING WISDOM
TO THE BELIEVERS FROM GOD
Scripture Reading: 1 Cor. 1:30
In 1:30 Paul says that Christ Jesus "became wisdom to us from God: both righteousness and sanctification and redemption." Paul does not say that Christ is wisdom to us; he says that Christ became wisdom to us. This indicates that at one time Christ was not wisdom to us, but that He later became wisdom to us. For example, to say that I am your friend is somewhat different from saying that I became your friend. To say that I became your friend implies that once I was not your friend, but now I have become a friend to you. Christ could not become wisdom to us before we were in Him. But when we believed in Christ, God put us into Him. Then Christ became wisdom to us.
Suppose that a certain young lady is in poverty. One day she marries a millionaire. On that very day she becomes rich. Formerly she was poor, but now she has become rich. In a similar way, formerly, because we were not yet in Him, Christ was not wisdom to us. But once we believed into Christ and God put us in Him, He became wisdom to us.
Notice that in verse 30 Paul does not say that Christ became our wisdom; he says that Christ became wisdom to us. For Christ to become wisdom to us is different from His becoming our wisdom. Day by day, we need Christ to be wisdom to us. We may again use electricity as an illustration. To speak of our electricity is different from speaking of electricity being to us. When electricity is to you, you receive an electrical charge. For electricity to be your electricity means that it belongs to you, but for electricity to be to you means that it is transmitted to you and that you experience it. Likewise, to say that Christ is our wisdom is rather general, not experiential. But when Christ becomes wisdom to us, we experience Him.
Paul had not only knowledge but also a great deal of spiritual experience. Furthermore, he knew the situation among the believers. As Christians, we may say, "We have Christ as our wisdom." However, this does not mean very much in experience. It is similar to saying, "We have electricity as our power." We may say this and actually not have light or heat, because electricity is not yet to us. We may also have Christ as our wisdom without having Christ being wisdom to us. We need Christ to become wisdom to us.
In verse 30 I appreciate the two phrases "to us" and "from God." Christ became wisdom to us from God. The expression "to us from God" indicates something present, practical, and experiential in the way of transmission. Continually, Christ must become wisdom to us from God. This indicates a living, ongoing transmission. The words "to" and "from" indicate that a present, living, and practical transmission is taking place from God to us.
Paul composed verse 30 in the way he did in order to indicate to the believers in Corinth that Christ should continually become wisdom to them from God. Christ as wisdom should unceasingly flow from God to them. However, their actual situation was contrary to this. Christ may have been their wisdom, but He was not presently flowing to them from God. Once again I wish to point out that Paul does not say, "Christ is God's wisdom," or "Christ is your wisdom." He says, "Christ became wisdom to us from God." This indicates that Christ should continually flow from God to us and be our present and practical wisdom in our experience.
It is important for us to learn to apply the Bible to our experience. The Bible is not primarily a book of doctrine; it is a book of life, and life is a matter of experience. What is revealed in the Bible must be living to us and applicable to us in our experience.
In verse 30 both the punctuation and the grammar are significant. After the phrase "from God" there is a colon. This indicates that wisdom includes the three items which follow the colon, that is, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. According to Greek grammar, the word "both" is used with respect not to two items but to three. Although this is awkward in our language, the translation is accurate according to the Greek. In verse 30 Paul definitely says Christ "became wisdom to us from God: both righteousness and sanctification and redemption." This wisdom implies righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.
Christ was made wisdom to us from God as three vital things in God's salvation: righteousness (for our past), by which we have been justified by God, that we might be reborn in our spirit to receive the divine life (Rom. 5:18); sanctification (for the present), by which we are being sanctified in our soul, that is, transformed in our mind, emotion, and will, with the divine life (Rom. 6:19, 22); and redemption (for the future), that is, the redemption of our body (Rom. 8:23), by which we will be transfigured in our body with His divine life to have His glorious likeness (Phil. 3:21). It is of God that we participate in such a complete and perfect salvation, making our entire being—spirit, soul, and body—organically one with Christ, and making Christ everything to us. It is altogether of God, not of ourselves, that we may boast and glory in Him, not in ourselves.
It is certainly correct to say that Christ is righteousness for our past, sanctification for our present, and redemption for our future. After we believe in the Lord Jesus and are justified, we need to live a holy life, a sanctified life. The subjective experience of sanctification implies transformation, a process which takes place in our soul. The redemption of our body will occur in the future. Thus, we were regenerated in our spirit when we believed in the Lord, we are in the process of being transformed, sanctified, in our soul, and, in the future, our body will be redeemed, transfigured.
Although this understanding is correct, we must point out that this is an interpretation of verse 30. Because it is an interpretation, we should not allow Paul's meaning here to be limited by it. Yes, for a sinner to be fully saved, he must pass through three steps: regeneration in the spirit, sanctification in the soul, and transfiguration, redemption, in the body. When this process is complete, we shall be the same as the Lord Jesus. According to 1 John 3:2, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Today we are not like the Lord in our body. But when our body is transfigured, fully redeemed, we shall be wholly like Him.
Righteousness, sanctification, and redemption are not only related to our past, present, and future. Daily we need Christ as righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. Every day we need to be righteous, we need to be sanctified, and we need to be redeemed, not only in one matter, but in all matters. For example, in dealing with their children, some parents may still behave in an old way. Thus, these parents need to be righteous, holy, and redeemed in relation to their children...