PREPARATION – AN EXPRESSION OF GODLY WISDOM
A. Question: When we hear the word “wisdom” today, what kinds of things usually come to our minds?
B. So what is God’s definition of wisdom? In Scripture, wisdom is a rich, multi-dimensional concept that involves mind, heart, will, and action. Our understanding, our emotions, our choices, and our behavior are all integrated realities. What we think and understand about something powerfully influences our feelings and choices. What we feel and choose, in turn, profoundly influences what we think.
C. God desires for us to grow in a right understanding of His personality, His ways, His character, His promises, and the way He is carrying out His plans for the earth. Right understanding of the gospel is designed to stir in us holy emotions and motivate us to righteous choices and holy living. The degree to which our understanding, emotions, choices, and actions are not in agreement with God and the truth of the gospel, is the degree to which we are still in deception.
|Understanding and Faith
||Choices and Behavior
|Jesus as God’s appointed sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins
||thankfulness, joy, love, gratitude
||Follow Jesus’ example; dying to self; putting off the old, putting on the new; communion in prayer
|Jesus as God’s appointed judge, who will punish the rebellious and reward the righteous at the Second Coming
||holy fear and trembling
||Putting to death the things of the flesh, and walking in the fruits of the Spirit in light of the coming judgment; accessing grace in prayer
|God’s long-suffering with and mercy towards sinners in this age
||gratitude, thankfulness, wonder and amazement
||mercy and patience towards others, pray for enemies, etc.
D. We often tend to think of wisdom primarily in terms of creative solutions and applications. It is more accurate to describe wisdom as biblically defined in terms of creative solutions and applications that are righteous in God’s sight and which spring from our faith and conviction in a coming kingdom that will only be full of righteousness.
E. We often tend to think of wisdom primarily in terms of creative solutions and applications. It is more accurate to describe wisdom as biblically defined in terms of creative solutions and applications that are righteous in God’s sight and which spring from our faith and conviction in a coming kingdom that will only be full of righteousness.
F. Biblical wisdom means a righteous understanding of God as revealed by God; unto righteous heart responses toward God and through God (grace); unto righteous choices and actions in obedience to God; unto receiving the inheritance promised by God – the resurrection of the righteous. As we, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, respond to God in humility, love, faith, and obedience, He in turn increases our understanding and the cycle continues. We don’t want to be too linear in the way we think about this. Each dimension is complex and dynamically impacts the other.
Job 28:20-28 (NIV)
20 “Where then does wisdom come from? Where does understanding dwell (wisdom tied to right understanding)? 21It is hidden from the eyes of every living thing, concealed even from the birds of the air. 22 Destruction and Death say, ‘Only a rumor of it has reached our ears.’ 23 God understands the way to it and he alone knows where it dwells (God alone gives wisdom and right understanding), 24for he views the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens. 25When he established the force of the wind and measured out the waters, 26 when he made a decree for the rain and a path for the thunderstorm, 27 then he looked at wisdom and appraised it; he confirmed it and tested it. 28 And he said to man, ‘The fear of the Lord (Heb. “adoni” – emphasizing majesty and authority, often refers to the Messiah, cf. Ps. 110:1)—that is wisdom (righteous understanding, righteous heart response), and to shun evil (righteous choices and behavior)is understanding.’ ”
Proverbs 2:1-5 (NIV)
1My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you (understanding of God’s ways revealed by God), 2 turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, 3and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, 4and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure (affections, emotions, and desire set on it), 5then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. 6For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless (right choices and behavior from a right heart), 8for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. 9Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path. 10For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. 11Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you. 12 Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse, 13who leave the straight paths to walk in dark ways, 14 who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil, 15 whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways.
James 1:2-8 (NIV)
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom (concerning how to persevere patiently in loyalty to God through sufferings, like Job and prophets cf. Jam. 5:7-12), he should ask God cf. Prov. 2), who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6 But when he asks (for wisdom concerning perseverance), he must believe and not doubt (that in the Day of the Lord God will in fact vindicate the righteous who choose wisdom and righteousness in this age, cf. vv. 9-12), because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
G. In Daniel 12, God tells Daniel that at the end of the age, the earth is going to enter into a time of unparalleled difficulty and distress. God also tells Daniel about an amazing promise He is extending to the saints, especially to those who will live through this time in history. Those who commit themselves to God’s path and definition of wisdom; and those who train others in wisdom and righteousness, will shine with great power and glorious brightness in the resurrection of the righteous at the end of the age.
Daniel 12:1-3 (NIV)
1“At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. 2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise (NIV alternative – “those who impart wisdom”) will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.
Matthew 24:21 (NIV)
For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.
H. God spoke this promise to Daniel in context to a prophetic warning about the difficulties that would come upon the earth at the end of the age. From Daniel 12 we learn that at the end of the age, it is imperative that shepherds, teachers, churches, and ministries commit themselves to clinging to the truth of God’s Word irrespective of what the world calls wisdom, and to train the saints to walk according to God’s righteousness and wisdom in the face of severe opposition – even if it isn’t upon us yet.
I. Throughout the Scriptures, we constantly see a conflict between God’s definition of wisdom and what this rebellious planet calls wisdom. The world persecutes God’s heralds of wisdom.
Luke 11:49 (NIV)
Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’
J. The most inspiring stories of the Bible are about normal men and women who clung fervently to God’s path of faith and wisdom in the face the world’s so-called wisdom. Would Abraham and Sarah believe God for the birth of Isaac despite what the world said about their old age? Would Noah risk looking like a fool and start building the ark 120 years before God’s word came to pass concerning the Flood? What would have happened had Joseph not stored up grain in response to God’s word? What if Job, the prophets, and Jesus himself had given up through their sufferings?
K. This battle continues to rage today. Worldly wisdom says “let us eat and drink (wicked behavior), for tomorrow we die (wicked understanding and unbelief)” (1 Cor. 15:32). Godly wisdom says, “let us prepare our minds, hearts, and hands in righteousness, love, humility, obedience and the fear of the Lord, for tomorrow Jesus will return in power and glory to punish the wicked and establish the kingdom of God on the earth.”
L. God is patient with human beings who in their arrogance tout their own version of wisdom. However, God is going to win this battle in the end. Wisdom will be vindicated by her children on the Day of the Lord when Jesus comes for His people. The so-called “wisdom” of this evil age will come to nothing when Jesus returns.
Luke 7:33-35 (ESV)
33 For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine (because he followed wisdom in fearing the Day of the Lord), and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’(because he followed wisdom in demonstrating God’s longsuffering towards sinners) 35 Yet wisdom is justified (vindication in the Day of the Lord) by all her children (those who heeds wisdom’s voice, cf. Prov. 2)”
1 Corinthians 2:6 (NIV)
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
M. The issue of preparation, therefore, is primarily an issue of God’s wisdom verses man’s wisdom. God has said that these difficulties are coming. Will we believe His Word even when everything around us seems to be going on business as usual? Will we, like Noah, walk in the fear of the Lord and scorn what this world calls wisdom? Will we prepare our hearts, our minds, our friends, our families, our children? Will we believe God’s word to Daniel and ask God to help us build an ark that will float through the difficulties of Matthew 24?
Hebrews 11:7 (NIV)
By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.