Tag Archives: wisdom

The Whole Counsel of God: The Wisdom of God

Today we introduce a new series that, I hope, will help believers in our daily challenge to live in a world where our faith and our Christian lifestyle are at risk.  While God’s salvation is unquestionable and His faithfulness to us is undeniable (2 Tim. 2:13), it is we believers who must be reminded to grow in our faith (2 Pet. 1:5-8) so that we may remain free from the sinful influences of the world (Gal. 5:1.)

This series, “The Whole Counsel of God”, will focus on building our confidence and spiritual “grit” to earnestly contend for your faith—unashamedly, openly, without guilt or embarrassment (Jude 3).   Reliance on the whole counsel of God will fortify the believer against persistent assaults from the world and satanic attacks (1 Cor. 2:5).

I’d like to kickoff this series by returning to an earlier WordBytes entitled the “Wisdom of God”.   I have chosen this teaching because the believer’s understanding of God’s wisdom is foundational in their acceptance of the whole counsel of God and for living victoriously under “Kingdom Rule”.  God has the first and final word in all things!  Why?  Because we trust in His love, we submit to His sovereign rule in our life and we willingly receive His wisdom.   Welcome to “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 Cor. 1:23, 24 (NKJV)

After reading 1 Corinthians 1-2, I wanted to get out of my seat, stand tall, and stick out my chest, and figuratively, “drop the mike.”  This teaching by Paul to the Corinthians was, for me the capstone, the finale, the ultimate answer for those who are desperately seeking wisdom.   “Christ crucified” or the Gospel message is not only the power of God but also the wisdom of God.  While time and space does not permit me to fully teach on this passage, I would invite you to include it in your future Bible study devotion.  Today, however, I’ll attempt to contain myself as we conclude this series, “Desperately Seeking God” by exploring the wisdom of the God.

What is the Wisdom of God?

For believers in Christ, the wisdom of God is the truth set forth in His Word and through His Holy Spirit.  This wisdom becomes accessible to us through belief in Jesus Christ and His saving work to lost humanity (Matt. 1:21).   This wisdom shapes our beliefs and the reality in which we daily live.

Although 1 Corinthians is not part of wisdom literature, it does illuminate the fact that the Gospel and acceptance of its truth will result in “true wisdom from above” (1 Cor. 1:30).   So why was it considered “foolishness” in Paul’s day (and today)?  This requires we take a look at the context of Paul’s letter—the city of Corinth and the beliefs at that time.

Corinth was a key city in ancient Greece until it was destroyed by the Romans.  The city was filled with shrines and temples leading to idolatry and corrupt living.  The diversity of the population produced many philosophers with Greek philosophy being the dominant thinking.  These men filled their days with study and in espousing their beliefs as to the existence of divine beings, the nature of life, and how life was to be lived.  When Paul spoke of the wisdom and power of the Gospel, the Jews demanded “signs” while the Greek demanded “worldly wisdom”.   Both groups appearing as wise “became fools” (Rom. 1:21-22).

You might find some parallels with activities and beliefs we find in the 21st century.  Technology, information, and knowledge are being touted as the “crown jewels of wisdom” for this age.  Explosion of the Internet and microchip development, robotics and artificial intelligence, and genetic re-engineering have become but a few of man’s self-proclaimed proofs of his superiority to any professed god.  Such progress has created a sense of “deity” within man, leaving God and His wisdom behind as mere relics of a past civilization.  The result of such thinking puts future generations in jeopardy of forgetting God and His mighty works (Judges 2:10).   Such thinking has become nuevo wisdom.

So why does the wisdom of God seem like “foolishness”?  Paul answers this question in 1 Corinthians 2:7-15.

    1. The wisdom of God cannot be understood using human wisdom
    2. The Holy Spirit (being God Himself) is the revealer of the wisdom of God, and
    3. The Holy Spirit does not dwell within unbelievers therefore they cannot receive the revealed wisdom of God.

This being the case, God’s methods in sharing His wisdom, through His Word and through His Spirit are “spiritually incompatible”  with the “natural”, unregenerate man.  To them, it appears as foolishness.

The wisdom of God, however, is available through Jesus’ work of salvation, providing “whomsoever will” with access to the wisdom of God the Creator, God the Deliverer, and God the Sustainer.   He is all wisdom.

Things I Learned in 2017

“But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the LORD.”

Jeremiah 9:24 (NKJ)

 

Who’d a thunk it?  (Yes, that’s what I said.)  We are rapidly approaching two decades into the 21st century.  My, how time flies!   When people ask what I’ve been doing, it’s hard to respond:  “Just taking it one day at a time.” or “Putting one foot in front of the other.”  It’s hard to find words.

So it is with writing this year’s “Things I Learned”.  What have I gleaned from my faith walk this past year?  As I “examine myself, am I still of the faith”? (2 Cor. 13:5)  “Have I studied to show myself approved?” (2 Tim. 2:15)  Have I sought the “kingdom of God first” (Matt. 6:33) and am at “peace with all men”? (Heb. 12:14)

“Things I Learned” is written to share my major “ah ha’s” this year with regard to what I learned about God, about myself, and my faith. No judging or regretting. No New Year’s resolutions or personal improvement plans, only silent contemplation about how God has revealed Himself to me from eternity to time we called 2017.  What are the things I learned in 2017?

  • God is faithful and will do everything He can to aid in my success (Jer. 29:11-13). It is, however, my responsibility to insure I am aligned to receive His grace and power. I must exercise caution and be aware of those things in my “human nature” that can impede my “spiritual progress”—fear, doubt, pride and envy.  In my daily walk, I must recognize and “set aside the weight and the sin that so easily seeks to ensnare me” (Heb. 12:1):  the busyness of the day, the distractions of the urgent versus the important, or the spirit of unforgiveness I may harbor.  Lastly, to be successful in accomplishing God’s purpose, it is critical to understand the will of God.  While God’s will can be found throughout Scripture, the time I spend in prayer and meditation are key in understanding both His way and His will (Ps. 103:7).
  • God is in control regardless of what I see happening around me (Ps. 46:1-3).  Nothing catches God by surprise whether it is political wrangling, social disparity, or an ecological disaster.   Scripture teaches us three truths to sustain us in times of uncertainty and confusion:  God is completely sovereign, God is infinite in wisdom, and God is perfect in love.  Jerry Bridges writes in his book, Is God Really in Control:  “In His love, God wills what is best for us, in His wisdom He always knows what’s best for us, and in His sovereignty He has the power to bring it about.”  God has a plan for mankind which was created before the foundation of the world (Ep. 1:4, 10) and each day we are moving to the culmination of that plan.  There is no one or nothing that can thwart God’s plan.
  • God’s Word is critical for victorious living and spiritual transformation (Ps. 19:7-8). Why?  Because the Scriptures expresses the very mind of God.  It is God speaking directly to us.  How?  The “word of God is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. God’s Word exposes us for what we really are” (Heb. 4:12, NLT).   God’s Word also renews our mind so that we begin to think like Christ (Phil. 2:5) leading us to be conformed to His image–the image God had originally designed for us in the Garden of Eden.  Through this process of “exposing and renewing”, or sanctification, we become true children of God (Phil. 2:15).  Investing time in God’s Word—devotional reading and systematic study—yield returns that are priceless, in this world and in the world to come (Ps. 19:10-11).
  • In 2017, I rediscovered the special blessing that can be found in Scripture memorization or as I prefer calling it, “writing God’s Word on my heart.” Oh, the things God has revealed to me about His goodness and His greatness as I’ve “planted” large passages of scripture in my spirit such as Psalms 19 and Ephesians 1.  As I memorized each line, I prayed that it would “take root and bear much fruit (Matt. 13:23).  This spiritual discipline is not about speed or quantity (how many verses I can learn) but in experiencing the “depth of the riches of His grace” God reveals to me.

What are the things I learned in 2017?  I learned that God is God and I’m not, and I’m more than okay with that.  However, the Prophet Jeremiah did a much better job in describing what is really important for us to learn in order to live victorious, successful lives:

Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches;  But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the LORD.  (Jer. 9:23-24)

SELAH:  What are three (3) things you learned in 2017—about God, yourself, or your faith walk?

“Will the real wisdom please stand up?”

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.  James 3:17 (NKJ)

Have you ever watched To Tell the Truth?  It is a television game show where three people who claim to be someone are questioned by a panel of celebrities. One of them is the real person while the other two are impostors. The panelists take turns questioning the people about their subject and then try to guess which of the three people the “truth teller” is.  The program concludes with the contest moderator asking the question, “Will the real ***** please stand up?”    While this is a harmless game of deception, James finds no humor in doing the same as we search for the true meaning of wisdom.

James methodically unmasks the wisdom impostor by clearly delineating what is wisdom and what wisdom is not”.

One doesn’t normally think of James as a book of wisdom.  While generally grouped in General Epistles, James has, however, been called the Proverbs of the New Testament because it is written in the terse, moralistic style of wisdom literature—Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon.

Today’s scripture is found in the overall context of how inner faith is demonstrated outwardly by the believer.  In this case, godly wisdom should be an extension of the believer’s faith walk.  James challenges believers who would claim to be wise to, “SHOW IT!”

If you are wise and understand God’s ways, live a life of steady goodness so that only good deeds will pour forth. And if you don’t brag about the good you do, then you will be truly wise!  (James 3:13, NLT)

James shares how wisdom can either result in that which is divine or that which is demonic.  He does this by contrasting seven characteristics of human wisdom with seven qualities of divine wisdom.

  • Human wisdom is described as earthly, unspiritual (sensual), and demonic. Such wisdom spawns jealousy, selfish ambition, disorder, and every kind of evil (James 3:16).  It originates from a heart that is “sin-bent” (Gen. 6:5; Jer. 17:9), flawed with personal bias, and focused on self-gratification.  Such wisdom is also subject to fierce temptation by the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16).
  • Divine or godly wisdom is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere (James 3:17). This type of wisdom (sophia) acknowledges the holy influence of God upon the actions and thoughts of believers.  With God as its source (Deut. 4:5-6; James 1:5), wisdom is framed by those attributes demonstrated in His character within His moral qualities of purity, integrity, and love.

We began our series defining godly wisdom as a way of thinking and conduct that is orderly, socially sensitive, and morally upright.  It is a way of viewing and approaching life that results in purposeful, God-honoring living (1 Pet. 1:13, 14).  Unfortunately, as we look around our city, our nation, and our world, godly wisdom seems to have been abandoned as men and nations do what is “right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:25; Prov. 3:7).   It is therefore incumbent upon us as believers to demonstrate outwardly the godly wisdom being placed within us as we obediently follow the teachings of God and the leading of His Holy Spirit.  Let James’ words become your wisdom battle cry:

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. (James 3:13, NIV)

Also read:  God’s Moral Qualities

SELAH:  Click on the “God’s Moral Qualities” link above and review the attributes of God’s goodness.  Meditate on how each quality shapes “godly wisdom”—a way of thinking and conduct that is orderly, socially sensitive, and morally upright.  Share your thoughts with us.

Get Wisdom

“Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.”  Proverbs 4:7 (KJV)

Is wisdom important?  When was the last time you complimented friends or family for their wisdom?  Has a political candidate ever run on a wisdom platform?   As I listen to daily newscasts and assess our current world affairs, I wondered if Jesus views us as “wise” or foolish stewards.  Do people, in general, care about wisdom? With that in mind, I input into my search engine, “where is wisdom in the 21st century?” I was overwhelmed by the number and variances in responses—7.6M to be exact.  People do care about wisdom!  So with that information in hand, we begin a new series entitled, “Desperately Seeking Wisdom” as we direct our attention to the Source and Sustainer of true wisdom—God.

Why do we need wisdom?   Wisdom is particularly important for us in our technological society, where we place a strong emphasis on knowledge.  Climate change, social oppression and injustices, political strife, the erosion of truth and trust in our traditional institutions—these are just a sample of the problems our world faces.  None of these pressing challenges can be navigated unless tempered with biblical wisdom.  Only when one abandons what seems wise by human standards to accept without hesitation the “divine viewpoint” as revealed in Scripture by the Holy Spirit can true wisdom be claimed (1 Cor. 3:19-20) .

What is wisdom?  Wisdom is generally defined as knowledge guided by understanding.  Knowledge without understanding often results in misunderstandings and errors in judgment.  But I would expand that secular definition and say that “godly wisdom” is a way of thinking and conduct that is orderly, socially sensitive, and morally upright.  It is a way of viewing and approaching life that results in purposeful, God-honoring living (1 Pet. 1:13, 14).  While wisdom may be relatively easy to define it, the real challenge lies in how to acquire it.

How do we gain wisdom?  Though wisdom cannot be learned, its development begins with the access of knowledge; it must be honed by experience.  We can gain wisdom vicariously through the experiences gleaned from others—seeing how they handle situations similar to ones we may face.  For wisdom that can only be gained through experience, we might seek mentors, special “tech” groups, and life coaches, to help guide our decision making and problem solving.  These are a few examples of how we hope to gain understanding, insight, and ultimately wisdom. However, the best source of wisdom is God (Prov. 2:5, 9-10,12).

The wise person is one who is sensitive to God and who willingly subjects himself to Him. The wise person is one who goes on to apply divine guidelines in everyday situations and guided by God’s will, makes daily choices. It is only in joining the Lord’s words to experience that wisdom can be found or demonstrated (James 1:23-25).

I like Eugene Petersen’s Message translation of our opening text.

“Sell everything and buy Wisdom! Forage for Understanding. Don’t forget one word! Don’t deviate an inch! Never walk away from Wisdom—she guards your life; love her—she keeps her eye on you. Above all and before all, do this Get wisdom!”

SELAH:   Meditate on the benefits of wisdom found in Proverbs 4:5-10.  Journal how God’s wisdom has benefitted you this past week.