If you haven’t yet heard this Bible verse read at a funeral, that probably means you just haven’t attended enough funerals. (Which is good because it means you haven’t lost many people who are dear to you.)
Seems like whenever a serious discussion of heaven arises, whether at a funeral or in general conversation among Christians, the conversation is eventually going to include a quotation of this verse.
But as it is written:
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
-1 Corinthians 2:9 (NKJV)
I’m not sure who first applied this verse to life after death. It’s true that we can’t really imagine what is waiting for Christians in heaven. But the context of this verse has nothing to do with heaven at all.
As 1 Corinthians chapter 2 begins, Paul writes that when he preached the gospel to the Corinthians, he did not use “persuasive words of human wisdom.” Instead, Paul preached only “Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” Paul didn’t want people relying on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. (see verses 2-5)
Then he goes on to say,
However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.
But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory,
which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
-1 Corinthians 2:6-8 NKJV (emphasis mine)
In other words, once a Christian starts maturing in his faith, he’s ready to dive into the wisdom of God. The hidden wisdom. The mystery which God ordained before the ages.
That’s what Paul refers to in verse 9 when he quotes, “Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
It is this awesome wisdom of God which we could never have imagined.
No one, not even the Jewish scholars of the Law, knew this wisdom. Otherwise, they would never have crucified Jesus.
Interestingly, verse 10 of this chapter is never read at funerals (in my experience), nor is it often quoted.
But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.
-1 Corinthians 2:10 NKJV (emphasis mine)
Did you catch it? “But God has revealed them…”
The things we could never have hoped to conceive of on our own? God’s Spirit reveals them to us as we mature.
They’re not a secret any longer.
Now that Christ has come, we can plumb the depths of God’s mysteries. Not through our own wisdom, but through the the Spirit of God.
“No one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.” But now we have received that Holy Spirit, “that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.” (see verses 11 and 12)
Oh, we’ll never fully comprehend the mystery of God’s wisdom. But isn’t it awesome that we can dive in and explore? The followers of God who lived before Christ had no chance of studying the depths of wisdom we can.
Because Christ IS the wisdom of God.
but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness,
but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
-1 Corinthians 1:23-24 NKJV (emphasis mine)
We could never have fathomed the plan of Christ our Substitute, Savior, and Friend.
But God has revealed Him to us.
So I think we need to find a new verse to be our go-to verse when speaking of heaven. A new “funeral verse.” Got any suggestions?