1 Corinthians 2:9
However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love Him—
I have always leaped for joy when I read this passage. My imagination affords a wide range of the possibilities for heaven. I think about the vivid descriptions of the Apostle John recorded in the Book of The Revelation … the emerald majesty of God’s throne … the illuminate Holy City of New Jerusalem … the foundations of precious gem stones and streets of gold as pure as transparent glass…. Heaven really is inconceivable even with the panoramic view we have been given.
But then I looked at the passage in its immediate context, and I thought there is more to what Paul is trying to convey here. I began to see this verse from a different perspective … one that I had not considered before. So I have reprinted the entire chapter for us to examine, because I think there is some broader truth to observe in this regard.
1 Corinthians 2 (NIV)
1 And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. 6 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
9 However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” (Cf. Isaiah 64:4) — the things God has prepared for those who love Him— 10 these are the things God has revealed to us by His Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.
11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. 14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 15 The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, 16 for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct Him?” (Cf. Isaiah 40:13) But we have the mind of Christ.
Contemplating this passage within the context has shifted my focus from the eternal to the present. The Lord Jesus shared that He was would go to prepare a place for us in heaven and return to take us to be with Him there. (Cf. John 14:2-3) And I believe John has given us a vivid description of that place. But to me, in the context, this passage appears to be addressing the mystery of the Gospel itself … the wisdom of God and His plan of salvation to be accomplished through His Son … Jesus, the Messiah. Indeed, no human mind could have conceived that God the Father, the Creator of the Universe, would in essence sacrifice Himself for His own creation as an act of atonement for the sin and corruption that had entered into it. For God sent His Son, Jesus, to be the Lamb of God … who was slain from the creation of the world. (Cf. Revelation 13:8) Indeed, our salvation is truly unimaginable; and yet, this is the eternal life that God has prepared for those who love Him. And this great salvation has been revealed to us by His Spirit. Yes, The Spirit has revealed even the deep things of God … so that we might know them!
We do not have to look beyond the Word of God … written by the Holy Spirit upon the minds and hearts of holy men of God (2 Peter 1:21) … to see and understand what God has revealed regarding His plan of salvation. Until the revelation of the Old Testament was fulfilled in Christ Jesus, no eye had truly seen … no ear had truly heard … no human mind had ever conceived the plan of salvation that God had prepared for those who love Him. As Hebrews 1:1-3 explains, “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom also He made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word.” Wow! Just think about that a moment! How incredible is it – that the Creator of the universe would have the care or concern to afford His creation insight into the thoughts of His own mind … the love of His own heart … His deep desire to make Himself known to us! It was accomplished through the Messiah … the Son of God … Jesus! He brought complete reality to all that had been spoken … to all that had been revealed! The thoughts of God … the deep things of God … were revealed by His Spirit and witnessed in His Son.
And this is the message: God loves us … His children … so deeply that He died for us! God sacrificed of Himself as a testimony of His indescribable, inconceivable, inseparable love! Paul would describe His passionate love with these words: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Cf. Romans 8:38-39) Indeed, the Word of God is HIS testimony which He has given about His Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made Him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about His Son. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. (Cf. 1 John 5:9-11)
Luke 24:44 (NIV)
Jesus said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
1 Peter 1:10-12 (NIV)
10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when He predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.
So, I hope this discussion has stirred your own thoughts about the Gospel … its hidden wisdom that has been revealed to those who love God through the Spirit. As the Apostle John affirmed for us: “12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (Cf. 1 John 5:12-13) And so I share this word with you that the Gospel may be applied to your hearts in the present … and so that you will know for certain the eternal life that awaits you in that truly inconceivable place Jesus has gone to prepare for us! And the greatest news is that He will soon return … so that we might be with Him where He is!