What is beauty?
Have you ever witnessed something so incredibly beautiful that you found it impossible to describe it to others later? You simply couldn’t find the words? Sunset as the sun goes down over the Rocky Mountains as the clouds of a thunderstorm start to dwindle.
Or the love you feel for someone — ask any grandmother what it feels like to see her grandkids. The feeling in the pit of your stomach, like it’s tied in a pleasant knot.
Describe the color of a bright sky to a person born blind. Or the peaceful, soothing sound of a babbling brook to a person born deaf. Words simply cannot convey the impression properly. It cannot convey the feelings left within us.
These things are indescribable. The best we might come up with is “spectacular” or “breathtaking” — that little quick intake of a breath when you see something extraordinary.
And yet…there are things in which one person may find its beauty, while another just doesn’t see it. Types of music, for instance. Certain art. I mean, c’mon — I just don’t get Picasso.
There are a great many things that are simply beyond the capacity of human wisdom— the human intellect — to explain or comprehend. We just don’t get it. Human wisdom is based on what we can observe, visually or otherwise, using our senses.
It is then worked out through our intellect, logic, and reason. And even though there are many who don’t choose to admit it, there is much beyond the ability of human wisdom to describe or explain adequately.
Such is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Human wisdom needs help. Before it happened, it simply could never have been understood. After it occurred, human wisdom had help.
God’s wisdom, like beauty, is indescribable and difficult for the human intellect to understand.
Limitations of Human Intellect
The problem with human wisdom is it is so limited — and limiting. Reason and knowledge, while admirable, only go so far. And yet, in our pride, we rely on our human senses and often simply do not allow, or cannot see, anything beyond those senses.
Often, we are driven by the need to know. The need to be able to “figure it out.” And if it can’t be proven to our intellect using science, reason, and knowledge, then it is dismissed as…well, as folly.
This is the challenge faced by many atheists. The existence of God cannot be proven through the human intellect; thus, they choose to not believe. While, of course, there are a great many other reasons for atheism as well, herein is their challenge:
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18).
This is also the challenge facing Paul in his letter to the believers in Corinth. They seemed to be relying on human wisdom to deal with issues facing the church — valuing worldly intelligence, knowledge, and philosophy above the message of the gospel.
Ultimately, the problem with human wisdom is that it is incapable of accessing God’s wisdom on its own. God’s wisdom in the Bible is shrouded in mystery and must be revealed before it can be believed (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Upon hearing the verse from Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth, many Christians believe it to be a message about God’s promise of eternal blessings in heaven and what joy awaits us in eternity.
While that sentiment is certainly true, there is so much more for us to learn here and now. Our heavenly future was not the only, nor immediate, intent of Paul’s message here, nor was it the intent of the prophet Isaiah, whom Paul quoted.
God’s Holy Mysteries
The primary thrust of 1 Corinthians 2:9 points to the incredible mystery that is the gospel and all that it entails. A mystery, which the human mind cannot fully comprehend because God’s spirit alone reveals it.
What no ordinary human eye has ever seen or imagined, nor ordinary human ear has heard. The revelation of God in the person of Jesus Christ.
The true wisdom through which we can see and hear these mysteries is beyond human thinking, beyond human wisdom — and can be seen and heard only through revelation from the Holy Spirit of God, through Christ.
Paul then references the prophet Isaiah (64:4), which refers to God’s deeds and the depth of God’s mysteries (1 Corinthians 2:9-10).
Even the deep things of God.
There is greater beauty and worth in the Gospel than anyone can grasp or comprehend apart from the Holy Spirit — the unseen wonders, the true richness, and the depth of God’s plan of salvation for us.
This wisdom lets us experience the holy mysteries of God. His plan of salvation, which had been previously hidden, despite being part of God’s plan since the beginning of all creation.
The incredible mystery of the gospel could not have been fathomed or in any way imagined, without the gift of the Holy Spirit, given to us through Christ (1 Corinthians 2:6-8).
Paul referenced the mystery of the gospel in many verses throughout his letters:
Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past… (Romans 16:25).
…the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints (Colossians 1:26, ESV).
The Power of the Holy Spirit
The incredible mysteries of God are like an iceberg — what we see on the surface, amazing in and of itself, is only a fraction of what lies unseen beneath the surface.
Non-believers have no idea of the incredible blessing they are missing. However, there are a great many — dare I say, most — believers who stand on the threshold of God’s mysteries but never step into the room.
They do not seek or find that which lies below the surface. There are unseen wonders that even mature believers have yet to try to comprehend and capture. Such is the depth of God’s plan of salvation.
There is so much more God wants to do for us if we would only let him. We still struggle to grasp what God will do for us, in us, and through us, if we would only surrender all to him and let him have his way with us:
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen (Ephesians 3:20).
According to his power that is at work within us. We still cannot fathom all that is available to us through his power at work within us. His Holy Spirit.
Yes, God has indeed revealed some of his glory to us (1 Corinthians 13:12).
But our human minds simply cannot grasp what awaits us. Whatever beauty we have seen, whatever peace and joy we have felt, whatever love we have experienced here on earth, heaven is guaranteed to surpass it all.
Even our most incredible imaginings fade when compared to the realities God has planned for those who love and follow him. It will be a most phenomenal experience; of that, we can be certain.
For now, we can only imagine what that will be like. In the meantime, there is so much of God himself for us to experience. So much love; so much grace; so much…power, as found in the Holy Spirit.
The power that is at work within us, who is able to do more than we can possibly ask, think or even imagine. Right now. In this life.
Courtesy; Greg Grandchamp