When mankind sets out to discover the truths that the Bible holds, with what mindset do we enter into this journey of discovery? Do we begin it with an earnest and honest desire to find truth or do we hold some agenda other than an honest study of God’s word? Over the centuries, many have searched diligently to find untruths or inconsistencies to make some sort of scholarly debunking of the Scriptures. In this effort, there have been those who not only have seen the truths contained in them, but eagerly searched for answers to spiritual questions they have developed in their search. They have actively sought those who have read and come to similar conclusions; God does exist and His Scriptures contain the words that will put them in a relationship with the Creator they have discovered.
Unfortunately, there will always be people who maintain that there are truths that are not consistent with the Scriptures. These individuals confidently assert that their intelligence is superior to that of believers. And, their intelligence coupled with their education leads them to be superior in wisdom. Well, what is wisdom? First, let’s look at some definitions in which these individuals feel superior. Intelligence: the capacity for learning. Knowledge: the acquaintance with facts gained from study. Education: the process of acquiring knowledge. And, wisdom: knowledge coupled with good judgment. Where the difference lies between the wise of this world and the wisdom of believers is the source of knowledge and from whom it is obtained; in other words, secular wisdom versus heavenly wisdom. These two types of wisdom contain two types of judgment.
Fortunately for us, God anticipated that man would gain so much self confidence that he would eventually feel superior in judgment to God and His children, and finally dismiss Him altogether. He has given us insight into what true wisdom is. The writer of Ecclesiastes, who I believe was Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, wrote much about his life’s pursuits using his great wisdom. He wrote about the futility of seeking answers to life through things like pleasure, riches and earthly wisdom. He said in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14: “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.” If you seek wisdom, seek it from God not from the scholars of this world.
In the book of Job, God had some questions for Job and his counselors after they had expressed their views based on their own wisdom. Let’s read just a few verses containing God’s view of man’s knowledge and wisdom verses His own which is contained in chapters 38 through 41. Job 38:1-7: “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said. ‘Who is this that darkens counsel, by words without knowledge? Now gird up your loins like a man, and I will ask you, and you instruct Me! Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who set its measurements, since you know? Or who stretched the line on it? On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?’” Get the message? When you start feeling arrogant in your intelligence, knowledge and wisdom, remember what is said here to Job, who are you to question God?
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 about the wisdom of the world versus the wisdom of God. He knew the message of God would be deemed foolishness by man. In verse 25, he states “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” This is hard to swallow for the intellectually elite of this world. Those who would call into question the great miracles of our God recorded throughout His word from Genesis to Revelation, God would ask: who are you to question Me? They rely on the very gifts God has given them to bring into question His very existence. They rely on science and all the measureable facts contained in it to question God. He gave us the very science we are abusing by creating doubt about our heavenly Father. We need to be careful! Paul said in verse 26 that those answering God’s call would not contain many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty and not many noble. Look at the apostles; not many wise, mighty or noble.
James tells us in chapter 3 that there is a wisdom that comes from above and one that is earthly. They are not the same. God has given us the source of knowledge that will save men’s souls, and it is His word. He has told us what he wants us to know and that’s all we can know. He has knowledge that He has not shared with us. He is God and it is His right to do so. In Deuteronomy 29:29, He tells us there are things He holds secret from us, but what He has revealed is for us and every generation. We must resign ourselves to the fact we don’t know everything, but we need to be about the business of learning what He has given us to know. We need to pray for wisdom from God to understand what we have learned. And, we need to pray that as we gain knowledge and get wisdom from the Father that the word will produce a faith in us to trust Him and leave the secret things to Him. When we can do that, we will truly become wise.
In our discussions with others concerning the Bible or other subjects haven’t we heard the following statements before? I know in my heart that this is right. Or, I think this is right. Or, I’ll ask my pastor or Bible teacher about this, I want to see what they say about it. When we come to questioning what is right or wrong, shouldn’t there be some concrete bottom line information that is the truth about the questions we have. If it is the “I feel” or “I think” scenario, don’t we all have different feelings and thoughts about religious topics that affect our attitudes and spiritual goals. You have just as much right to feel and think about a certain matter as I do or vice versa.
There must be and is a standard that is recognized and accepted as the final and only authority on what is right or wrong. Most will agree that this is the divinely inspired Word of God.
Man needs this standard just like we need the standards of time, weights, and measures. We accept these with no basic differences but when issues and questions come up concerning religious belief we must ask, “What does God say about it in his Word?”
Do not the Scriptures imply that they are the standard, the bottom line that we can agree should settle the question or what is scripturally right or wrong?
God’s word says in 2 Timothy 3: 16,17(KJV) “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto every good works.”
2 Peter 1: 3 (KJV) says His divine power has given us everything we need for life and Godliness through our knowledge of him.” Psalm 119:105 (KJV) says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
The question asked by the Sadducees in Matthew 22: 23 prompted this reply by Jesus “Ye do err not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.” The source of their error was ignorance. Consider Acts 3:17(NKJV), “Yet now brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance.”
Note the question asked by Pilate in John 18:38, “What is truth?” The answer is found in John 17:17. “Thy Word is truth.” Isn’t Jesus’ reply so easy for us to understand? Not my word or yours or anybody else’s but God’s word settles the matter. May we conclude from the above that our Faith should not stand in the wisdom of man but in the power of God (cf. 1Corinthians 2:5).
Does this not settle the matter as to where we must go to determine the answers to our differences? In Jeremiah 10:23, it states, “It is not in man to direct his footsteps.” If not in man to direct, then who? Consider the aforementioned Scriptures in Psalm 119:105.
Let us not follow in the people’s path in Hosea 4:6, “ My people are destroyed for the lack of knowledge because they have rejected knowledge.”
There is an old television commercial for E. F. Hutton where when Hutton speaks, everyone stops and listens. The point being, his investment wisdom would make one wealthy. There are always people who have such a great influence on us, we stop and listen to them; people such as parents, teachers, coaches and preachers. We look to them for wisdom and direction to make us better people and able to live better lives. We respect them and, therefore, what they say.
When we seek wisdom and direction in our lives, where do we go? Who better to look to than our creator, the God of heaven? David wrote: “The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:9, NASB). But, when we need guidance and even correction, unfortunately, we look to the wise of this world to lead us. James wrote in James 3 that there is a wisdom that is ‘earthly, natural and demonic’ and then there is a wisdom that comes ‘from above.’ David said we are to look for wisdom and guidance from God’s law and His testimonies.
For the past several months we have been reading from the 119th Psalm in our assembly. There are 117 verses in this Psalm expounding on the wisdom and instruction of God’s word and the unsurpassed benefit found in it. The psalmist refers to the word with terms such as; law, testimony, His ways, statutes, righteous judgments, commandments, counselors and precepts. God has given, in His word, everything “pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3, NASB). If you want to know how to be a better husband, wife, child, citizen, friend, employee or employer, look to His word for direction. What is our attitude toward things of great value? The psalmist said of God’s word that they are to be treasured in verse 11. They are to be kept in verse 9. They are to be looked upon in verse 6. We take delight in them according to verse 16. They are something to be longed for in verse 40. They are to be loved in verse 47. What do we derive from such a treasure given to us from God? We learn purity (verse 9), not to sin (verse 11), to tell others (verse 13), diligence (verse 4), revival (verse 25), to know truth (verse 142) and hope for salvation lies in them (verse 166). This is why we have been reading this Psalm to the congregation.
Something I have observed over the years is our quiet attention to prayers during our assemblies. This is a good thing. However, often we do not give the reading of God’s word the same quiet reverence we give our own prayers. Is this the respect for the Scriptures the Psalmist wrote about? We must renew our love for the Word of God and value the words of Jesus. We must have the attitude expressed by Peter when many disciples stopped following Jesus and He asked if the 12 would go away too. Peter said “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life” (John 6:68, NASB). Since God’s word contains righteousness as the Psalmist said, why are we not hungering and thirsting after it? Why aren’t we starving for the words of eternal life? Paul told Timothy to “give attention to the public reading of Scripture” (I Timothy 4:13, NASB). Let’s love His word, trust its instruction and delight in the hope it gives us. Let’s read in public and privately. “Where else shall we go?”