The Church at Corinth and Wisdom: Part 5 of 7 (series: Lessons on 1 Co.)
by John Lowe
30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
But of him are ye in Christ Jesus,
Even the good that is in you comes from God, because Jesus Christ and all the blessings of the Gospel dispensation come from and through him. There is salvation in Christ alone; and in Christ the saved enjoy all things. Consider this: Being in Christ is the only true ground for justification in the eyes of God. Jesus is perfect, holy, undefiled, and righteous in the highest degree. Christians, who are in Christ and like Christ are holy and righteous. But it is not their righteousness, of course, in the sense that they achieved it on their own; but it is theirs in the sense that Christ achieved it and they "are Christ," seeing that they are members of his spiritual body. Satan, death and hell have no claim on the one who is "in Christ." Why? Because what is true of the head is true of the entire body; and our head, which is Christ, has paid the penalty of death for the sin of mankind; therefore the whole spiritual body (the church) has also paid it in the person of Christ. That is what is meant by being dead to sin by the body of Christ: “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:11). “Reckon” doesn’t mean I “reckon” or “suppose,” as some of us South Carolinians use it. Rather, we are to count on the fact that we are dead unto sin and alive unto God. We are to reckon (count on it) that our old nature lay in Joseph’s tomb over two thousand years ago, but when Christ came back from the dead, we came back from the dead in Him. This is something to count on.
These words, “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus,” are meant to direct them to the proper object for glorying, the Lord Jesus Christ, so they give them an awareness of the high honor that the called ones are brought into through Christ: “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever” (Romans 11:36; KJV). They are a new creation of God the Father, of his own rich free grace and goodness, without any regard to any motive, merit, or worthiness of theirs: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Eph 2:8: KJV)—put into Christ by electing grace, in whom they are preserved and blessed by regenerating grace: and in consequence of their being in Christ, as their head and representative, he becomes everything to them, which is what is expressed here.
Now, let’s break this clause down, and look closely at what the apostle is saying.
But of him. That is, by his energy and power. It is not by philosophy; not from ourselves; but by his mercy. The apostle keeps it prominently in view, that they had not been given these privileges because of their philosophy, wealth, or rank; but it was entirely due to the grace and resolve of God.
Are ye. You are what you are by the mercy of God: “But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace” (1 Cor 15:10; NLT). You owe your hopes to him. The emphasis in this verse is to be placed on this expression, "are ye." You are Christians, not by the manipulations of any man, but by the will of God and the influence of the Holy Spirit.
In Christ Jesus. There are four things mentioned by Paul in this verse which belong to the Christian by virtue of his being "in Christ”; wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. Oh, my friend, He is everything that we need. I wish I could get that over to you. He has been made to us wisdom. He is our righteousness. He is our sanctification and our redemption. Whatever it is that you need today, you will find it in Him.
who of God is made unto us wisdom,
“Who of God” is another way of saying From God. Christ is given to us by God, and He appointed Him to be our wisdom. God originated the system, and God gave Christ for this purpose. Is made unto us Wisdom means that he is our Source of wisdom; He is the One that will make us wise. This cannot mean that His wisdom becomes ours; that it is given
to us; because that is not true. But it must mean simply, that Christians have become truly wise by the power, the teaching, and the work of Christ. Philosophers had attempted to become wise by their own research and study. But Christians had become wise by the work of Christ; that is, it had been by his instructions that they had become acquainted with the true character of God, with his law, with their own condition, and with the great truth that there was a glorious immortality beyond the grave. None of these truths had been obtained by the investigations of philosophers, but by the instructions of Christ. In a similar manner they had been made wise unto salvation: "In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). All that we need is in Christ. If only we could learn that! He is the reservoir of all knowledge. There is a saying I like; it says, “Next to knowing, is knowing where to find out.” I love that. I willingly admit that I don’t know everything—I’m sure you have found that out by now. But I know where to find out, because I know Somebody who does know. Christ has been made unto us wisdom. We need to rest in that. All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Him—how wonderful this is!
Christ may be said to be made wisdom to us, or to communicate wisdom,
(1.) Because he has by his own ministry instructed us in the true knowledge of God, and of those great truths which pertain to our salvation.
(2.) Because he has by his word and Spirit led us to see our true situation, and made us "wise unto salvation." He has turned us from the foolish ways, and prompted us to walk in the path of true wisdom.
(3.) Because he is the Source of wisdom to his people. He enlightens their minds in the time of confusion; guides them to the truth; and leads them down the path of real knowledge. It often happens that little known and ignorant men, who have been taught in the school of Christ, have more true and real knowledge of that which concerns their welfare, and possess more real, practical wisdom, than can be learned in all the schools of philosophy and learning on the earth. It is wise for a sinful and dying man or woman to prepare for eternity. But only those who are instructed by the Son of God are wise enough to do so. He teaches above all things, that the Gospel ought to be believed, seeing that it contains the principal things that are to be desired, that is, true wisdom, the true way to obtain righteousness, the true way to live honestly and godly, and the true deliverance from all miseries and calamities. "Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God" ( verse 24 ), is wisdom to us, who were, before He called us, utterly foolish and ignorant.
Christ is the "author" of righteousness; he has the ultimate righteousness, and he has brought in a righteousness, for those who belong to him, which is highly pleasing to God, while satisfying his justice; which justifies from all sin, and liberates from all condemnation, is everlasting, and will answer for them when they must appear before the Judge. He has brought all this about by the holiness of his nature, the obedience of his life, and by his sufferings and death: and none of it is in them naturally, and it cannot be produced in them, or done by them. But, since they are in him, and He is their head and representative, who by "imputation" is made righteousness to them; and they are in the same way made the righteousness of God in him; or in other words, this righteousness, by an act of the Father's grace, is imputed, reckoned, and accounted to them as their justifying righteousness. That is, we who were once under the wrath and curse of God, receive His righteousness; the only ground for our justification—“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS” (Jer 23.5, 6; KJV). Have you ever heard of this as a plank in a political platform? I have never heard a candidate claim that he is righteous and that he will follow God’s plan and program for government. I’ve heard politicians make almost every other claim under the sun but that one! They wouldn’t dare make it. But righteousness will characterize the Kingdom when the Lord Jesus Christ reigns.