The Blessings of Wisdom and Insight
The Blessings of Wisdom and Prudence
All right – well as most of you know, we have come now in our study through the book of Ephesians to Ephesians 1:8 – and if you would like to open your Bibles to that verse we will just read it quickly together – beginning in vs 7. “In him (Jesus Christ) we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of God’s grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight.” Now there are 3 primary words that we are going to define and spend our time looking at this morning – namely the word all, the word wisdom and the word insight. All wisdom and insight has been lavished upon those who have been chosen – adopted - predestined - redeemed and forgiven – and this morning I hope to help bring us all to an understanding of just what that means – that we have been gifted with or lavishly graced with all wisdom and insight.
But before we jump right in to definitions and explanations and applications – I would like to take a quick moment and go back to this article about Joshua Bell playing in a subway station in downtown NY and read a short section of the play-by-play. The article is quite long and gives the play-by-play covering nearly the entire hour that Joshua Bell played – describing in great detail everything that happened. And I would like to read just one part from that article as we begin this morning. “There are 6 moments in the video that Bell finds particularly painful to relive. "The awkward times," he calls them. It's what happens right after each piece ends: nothing. The music stops. The same people who hadn't noticed him playing don't notice that he has finished. No applause, no acknowledgment. So Bell just saws out a small, nervous chord -- the embarrassed musician's equivalent of, "Er, okay, moving right along . . ." -- and begins the next piece.
After "Chaconne," it is Franz Schubert's "Avay Maria," which surprised some music critics when it debuted in 1825: Schubert seldom showed religious feeling in his compositions, yet "Ave Maria" is a breathtaking work of adoration of the Virgin Mary. This musical prayer became among the most familiar and enduring religious pieces in history. A couple of minutes into it, something revealing happens. A woman and her preschooler emerge from the escalator. The woman is walking briskly and, therefore, so is the child. She's got his hand. "I had a time crunch," recalls Sheron Parker, an IT director for a federal agency. "I had an 8:30 training class, and first I had to rush Evvie off to his teacher, then rush back to work, then to the training facility in the basement."
Evvie is her son, Evan. Evan is 3. You can see Evan clearly on the video. He's the cute black kid in the parka who keeps twisting around to look at Joshua Bell, as he is being propelled toward the door by his mother. "There was a musician," Parker says, "and my son was intrigued. He wanted to pull over and listen, but I was rushed for time." So Parker does what she has to do. She deftly moves her body between Evan's and Bell's, cutting off her son's line of sight. As they exit the station, Evan can still be seen craning to look. When Parker is told what she walked out on, she laughs. "Evan is very smart!" The poet Billy Collins once laughingly observed that all babies are born with a knowledge of poetry, because the lub-dub of the mother's heart is in iambic meter. Then, Collins said, life slowly starts to choke the poetry out of us. It may be true with music, too. There was no ethnic or demographic pattern to distinguish the few people who stayed to watch Bell, or the ones who gave money, from that vast majority who hurried on past, unheeding. Whites, blacks and Asians, young and old, men and women, were represented in all three groups. But the behavior of one demographic remained absolutely consistent. Every single time a child walked past, he or she tried to stop and watch. And every single time, a parent scooted the kid away. WOW!! That in my opinion is very, very intriguing. Jesus said in Matt 18:3 – “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
The world is full of all kinds of wisdom and insight. We have traveled by satellite and telescope 13 billion light years from earth and have discovered vast galaxies – and we have plummeted the depths of both the earth and sea and have found great treasures and beautiful splendors and have learned great mysteries and the secrets of the natural world. We have opened up the human body and we have discovered so many of its mysteries and we have cured diseases and we have mapped human DNA which puts us on the brink of millions of new discoveries and finding many more cures for many more diseases. But all of this wisdom and insight is helpless when it comes to eternal salvation.
Jesus said we must become like children – which I will argue today means that we must give up on our natural – worldly wisdom and insight as a way of knowing how to be saved – and we must become like children – admitting we don’t know much at all – in fact we’re really quite foolish – and we don’t know anything - and if we are going to know such a great thing, such an all important life saving thing - such as how to be eternally saved – we must turn to God and ask Him for that wisdom and insight which only comes from Him and which no man can find on his own apart from God. And as we’ll see today – God is so very gracious and He not only gives wisdom and insight into grand spiritual realities – life saving realities - but He lavishes this wisdom and insight upon those He’s chosen according to the riches of his grace. God purposed in His own mind and according to His own good pleasure the whole plan of salvation – and God has revealed this plan. He has made known the mystery of His will – the mystery of His good pleasure – and not only has God revealed this plan but He has also done something which makes it possible for us to know it and to comprehend it and to receive it. He has given spiritual wisdom and insight and so again – this morning we will spend our time looking at just what this means – that we have been given all wisdom and insight - and my hope and prayer for this morning is that every single one of us will realize just how necessary this wisdom and insight is – just how essential – how completely indispensable – how crucial it is – so much so that without it - you will perish eternally. So that’s what’s at stake here. That’s how important this wisdom and insight is. So I hope and pray we will all be like children this morning, setting aside all our preconceived notions and all our worldly learning and humbly submit to the teaching of God’s Word – that it might grab a hold of us like Bell’s music grabbed those children – and that we would listen this morning as one whose life hangs in the balance – as people who know that our destiny all depends on whether or not we truly have this wisdom and insight from God. I pray it will be proven in the end this morning that you do indeed have this wisdom and insight from God.
Now before we jump in and begin looking more specifically at these words all wisdom and insight – we need to clear up a little bit of confusion here that has been fostered by the various translations of this verse. The ESV itself is not totally clear about whose wisdom and insight is being spoken of here. As you look at verses 7-8 in the ESV I think one could argue either way. You could say the verse like this – “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he, in all his wisdom and insight, lavished upon us.” It would not be outside of the rules of grammar to read it like that. And reading it like that would mean that the wisdom and insight is God’s and it was through His own wisdom and insight that He lavished upon us His grace and it was through His great wisdom and insight that He made known to us the mystery of His will.
And there are a number of translations that do in fact translate this verse clearly that way – saying God did what He did utilizing His own Wisdom and insight. For instance, Eph 1:7-9 in the NCV – says, “In Christ we are set free by the blood of his death, and so we have forgiveness of sins. How rich is God’s grace, which he has given to us so fully and freely. God, with full wisdom and understanding, let us know his secret purpose. This was what God wanted, and he planned to do it through Christ.” RC Sproul, whom I respect with the highest regard, agrees with that translation and so he is quoted in his Ephesians commentary as saying, “This wisdom and understanding does not refer to our wisdom and understanding, but to God’s divine understanding – that is, the scheme of redemption He has decreed.” So that’s 1 side of this – that the wisdom and insight there in this verse is God’s wisdom and insight that He utilized in doing the things He did. But interestingly, most translations translate this vs in a way that makes it very clear that the wisdom and insight spoken of here are gifts of God’s grace that are given to those who are chosen and adopted, redeemed and forgiven. The NLT I think puts it most succinctly when it says – “He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.” That is why in D.M Lloyd Jones’s commentary on Eph he says, “I argue that we must regard the wisdom and the insight as being applied to ourselves, and that Paul is saying that they have come to us as a result of the working of God’s grace.” So we begin this morning with The Dilemma. There are two different approaches to this verse and translations on either side to support those views – and so before we get too far into the message this morning I think it would be appropriate for me to give some of the reasons why I believe these are indeed gifts of God’s grace to us - rather than the things God utilizes in the dispensing of grace.
And there are 4 arguments that I want to use and I’m going to rip through these quite quickly so that we can get to the main part of the message this morning . We’ll look at the Theological argument – the Grammatical argument, the Historical argument ands the Scriptural argument. So first the Theological Argument. The fact is, although wisdom is certainly attributed to God all throughout the scriptures – one is very hard pressed to find anywhere else in the whole Bible where it says that God did such and such a thing with all wisdom – or with all His wisdom. The fact is – God is absolute wisdom and we really have no right to say that God did this thing here with all wisdom – as though there are other things that He did in which He did not use all His wisdom. DML Jones says it in fact lacks reverence toward God to say that “God did this thing here with all His wisdom!” That in fact becomes even more obvious when we look at the word insight or prudence as the KJV has it. Nowhere in all the scriptures is prudence or insight ascribed to God. We can easily say that men are prudent – that they have insight into things – but it is inappropriate for us to say that God has insight.
God is perfect and He has absolute and eternal wisdom. He does not need insight into things – because He knows all things. So theologically, this wisdom and insight here cannot refer to God, specially because of the word all that is used – and therefore must refer to the gifts of God’s grace given to those who are His. Grammatically this also makes the most sense. The word all in the Greek (Pas) can either mean “all without exception” or “all without distinction.” All without exception in the case of wisdom and insight would then mean all wisdom and all insight without any exception. It would therefore be the highest and broadest form of wisdom and insight imaginable. It would be absolute and perfect wisdom and insight. If that is what the word all means in this passage then we would have to agree that this wisdom and insight is referring to God, since you and I clearly do not have that kind of wisdom and insight. But the word all – can also means “all without distinction.” In that case, this wisdom and insight would mean all kinds of wisdoms and insights. Not complete wisdom and insight – but all kinds of wisdom and insight – a very broad scope of wisdom and insight. So which definition of all is assumed here by Paul. Well, I’m not a Greek scholar or even a good Greek student – but according the Expositors Greek testament, the “all” here is an extensive, not an intensive which simply means that the wisdom and insight that is being spoken of here by Paul is all kinds of wisdoms and insights – not perfect wisdom and insight.
So grammatically, this must be speaking of gifts of grace we are given by God rather than the wisdom and insight God Himself uses. God doesn’t use all kinds of wisdoms and insights – He is wisdom – He is perfect in all his knowledge – and that is exactly why DML Jones said that we just can’t say this is speaking about God’s wisdom and insight. It would be irreverent. Even Historically, this has been the primary understanding of this text. The Qumran community for instance, in the 1st century, clearly understood and taught that knowledge and wisdom and insight were gifts which God imparted to us by His Spirit. But I think the strongest evidence is the Scriptural evidence.
Over and over and over again all throughout the Bible – and especially in the NT, wisdom and insight or knowledge which is a key synonym - is spoken of as that which God has given to us as a gift of his grace. Paul in fact prays for that very thing just 9 verses later in Eph 1:16-17 which says – “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him.” The NLT reads, “I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.” And over in the book of Col – which is a letter that very closely resembles the letter to the Ephesians, Paul says in 1:9 – “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding…” Here Paul is praying, I believe, that the Colossians have in completeness – the very thing he told the Eph God gave to His chosen as a gift of His grace – all wisdom and insight. In fact, Paul takes this truth and applies it in Eph 5:15-17 where he says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” You are not unwise – but God has given you wisdom – so use it. And you are not foolish – but you have understanding and insight from God – so use it. That’s what Paul is arguing in those verses and I believe that argument originates from vs 8 where Paul says we’ve been given all wisdom and insight as a gift of God’s grace – so use it. Now, there are many, many other verses we could look at and I’ve listed a few in your notes and I encourage you to look them up on your own (Col 3:16, I Cor 1:4-5).
But it seems pretty clear, I hope, that this wisdom and insight is something that we are given as a gift of God’s lavish grace. But what exactly does Paul mean by wisdom and by insight. And what does he mean when he says we’ve received all wisdom and all insight – and so we turn now from The Dilemma to The Definitions. And the first thing that we need to define is wisdom. What does Paul mean when he uses that word? The Greek word for wisdom here is So-phee-ah and it is essentially that knowledge and understanding which grasps the essential truth behind a matter. AT Robinson, the famous Greek scholar says Sophia or wisdom is “the knowledge that sees into the heart of things, which knows them as they really are.”
I’ll never forget a time when I was pouring out my heart to a brother in the Lord – and not wanting to totally incriminate myself – and make myself look too sinful or too foolish - I was withholding important information and keeping certain parts of the story to myself. I wanted some help but I didn’t want to divulge my sinfulness and shame and so I told him what I thought was the most important part and wanted his counsel. Well, he told me that he would give me his counsel as soon as I told him the rest of the story. And I said, “what do you mean!” You know what I mean. Tell me the parts your not telling me Jeff – because it just doesn’t seem plausible that you could feel this way and act that way unless… and he went on to basically unfold my heart before me - and nailed it all right on the head – all to my embarrassment. That’s wisdom – the knowledge that sees right into the heart of things – which knows them as they really are. And spiritual wisdom – which is what Paul is speaking of – not only sees things in the world as they really are – but sees even spiritual things as they really are. In fact, James gives us a good definition of spiritual wisdom in the book of James. Beginning in James 3:13 we read, “Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” Now we could actually takes months to unpack that meaning of wisdom there - but there are just a few things that I want to point out. First notice that this wisdom is from above. We do not have this wisdom on our own but it is a wisdom that is given to us from above. So it comes from God and it is a gift. James even makes a clear contrast between earthly wisdom and wisdom that comes down from God.
So true spiritual wisdom is both from God and it is a gift of God – and this wisdom not only allows us to see into the heart of things in general – but it allows us to see into the heart of spiritual realties. It is a wisdom that causes us to know spiritual truths as they really are – to see the things of God in an understandable way. In fact, wisdom is almost always used in the NT in this more narrow way. It is not just seeing into the heart of things in general, like the wisdom one applies in science or math – but true spiritual wisdom throughout God’s word is the ability to see into the heart of Spiritual realities. One commentator says, “In giving these gifts, Christ bestows on believers a capacity for comprehending something of God’s purposes for the universe.”
In fact, you can see that very thing in the next vs in Eph (9) – God has given us all wisdom and insight – “making known the mystery of His will.” So this wisdom helps us to know and understand the mystery of God’s will. And, as we’ll see next week, this mystery is a truth that has been made known by God through the Gospel – and so you can rightly say that this wisdom spoken of in Eph 1 is really in fact an understanding of the Gospel itself. It is in fact the very grace we are given to know and to receive Jesus Christ as our Supreme Lord and Savior. We have this new found wisdom given to us – a wisdom that allows us to see into the heart of God’s purposes – and at the very center of God’s purposes is Jesus Christ and His Gospel. And so this wisdom sees Christ at the center of God’s purposes and believes on Him. This wisdom from above is the spiritual ability to see into the heart of God’s purposes, to understand His purposes as they are manifested in the Gospel of Jesus Christ – and to believe. And since this believing is so very important – in fact absolutely essential for eternal life – one can see how necessary having this gift is. But Paul also says that we have been given insight as well. The Greek word is fron·ay·sis which simply means practical wisdom or practical understanding. It has more to do with what you do, rather than with what you know or think in your heart. One commentator says, “Wisdom is intellectual understanding - and insight is practical understanding. One satisfies the mind, the other leads to right conduct.” Matthew Poole, the commentators commentator – the one that every good commentator seems to quote says that “insight is the knowledge of the rule of our duty, with skill to govern ourselves according to it.” So, in other words, insight takes the wisdom and applies it in one’s life. Poole says that essentially the wisdom spoken of here is faith – and the insight spoken of here is holiness. Wisdom relates to the things we are to believe and insight relates to the things we are to do.
Last week we saw that God redeems us through the blood of His Son, Jesus and that He forgives us of all our sins and casts them away as far as the east is from the west. But is that it? Does it end there? Does God just bring us to that point and then leave us. Does he place us in a spiritual vacuum and then hope that we can get it all worked out on our own? NO! Paul says that God lavishes us with all wisdom and insight according to the riches of His grace – so that we not only have right thinking about God and His will – but we also have the ability to apply that right thinking in all that we do. Wisdom and insight. God has left us with everything we need for a complete spiritual life in Him.
And this, by the way, is no paltry gift. Paul is sure to make it clear that we have been given all wisdom and all insight so that we are not left without mightily sufficient help. Now, did Paul actually mean all as in all without exception – or did he mean all – as in all without distinction? Every wisdom – or all kinds of wisdom. Every insight – or all kinds of insight? Well, we’ve already covered that so I won’t go over all that again – but just to summarize – when Paul uses the word all here, he simply means that God has given us a very, very rich measure in these things – not absolute perfection in these things – but a great big measure of these things which are totally and completely sufficient for us. So having dealt now with the Dilemma and the Definitions – I would like to begin spelling out the implications of what we have just learned. So we move from the Definitions to The Doctrines - and there are 3 very clear doctrines or teachings that come straight out o this text – and once we’ve looked at the 3 teachings – we will close by looking at 3 Duties – 3 things that we must do as a result of these teachings - and if you have not been paying much attention up to this point – I hope and pray you will pay attention now – because whether one recognizes Joshua Bell or not – makes no difference in the scheme of eternity – but if one does not have the wisdom and insight that God gives from above according to His riches – then there is no way you will ever recognize Jesus Christ as Supreme and Superior over all other gods and believe in Him and be saved – and so this is important. This is very important. You see the problem is that there are many who presume that they have been forgiven of their sins by God because they signed a card at some church – or because they lifted their hand and went forward at some church – or because they were maybe even baptized – or they met with a pastor and said the sinners prayer after him and yet they have no wisdom about the things of God – and no insight about the way they ought to live – a way that is to be in accordance with that wisdom. It is a vain presumption – a false assumption because forgiveness, according to this verse – does not come to those who do not also with it get wisdom and insight. God does not forgive those whom He does not also teach to know and believe and trust and follow Jesus Christ with a life that is in keeping with Jesus.
So that is Doctrine #1. Teaching #1. Forgiveness is Inseparable from wisdom and insight. In Acts 26, Paul was sent to the Gentile world to preach the Gospel. In vs 26 we read that God sent Paul there to “open their eyes(wisdom), so that they may turn from darkness to light (insight) and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” Do you see there how the people are first made to understand – and then as a result they turn from sin - and then as a result they are forgiven. And it all begins with getting divine wisdom from God – having one’s eyes opened by God through the preaching of His word. In Is 1:2-4 God says, “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the Lord has spoken: “Children have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me. The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master’s crib, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand. Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged.”
Mark the one who presumes forgiveness and yet has no wisdom – no understanding – no insight into the things of God – and no real interest into the things of God. That is a very fearful place to be. It would be like some person claiming to be some great composer and a conductor for some famous philharmonic and who brags about his personal relationships with all the great modern day classical musicians and then walks right on past Joshua Bell in the subway mistaking him for some lousy street musician. That just ain’t gonna happen – if all he said was true. Beware of Vain Presumption. Beware of those who claim to have a forgiveness from God and yet have no real interest in God – have no real understanding about the things of Gods and no real life of holiness that puts that wisdom into practice on a daily basis. Doctrine #2 – or Teaching #2. This Wisdom and Insight is a Gift of Abundant Grace. Paul says that God lavished His grace on us in all wisdom and insight. Gods’ favor or God’s gift or God’s grace came to us in the form of lavish wisdom and insight. So this is a gift! And we know it is a gracious gift because it came to us when we were at enmity with God. Right in the very midst of our rebellion – in the very middle of our revolt and betrayal and treason – God stepped in and gave us – freely – His wisdom and insight. If we worked for it and somehow earned it then it would not be grace. But not only did we do nothing for it – and not only were we far from deserving it – but we in fact believed that this wisdom which saves a man was utter foolishness - which makes getting this gift all the more gracious and free.
And I say that it is an abundant grace because it is far better than all other wisdoms in the whole world. We love wisdom. Everyone, to some degree, love wisdom, except maybe those who are insane. But for those who have their right minds about them – we have a desire to be lifted up above ordinary animals or insane people. We think highly of wisdom. It is a good thing. Keri and I were down at the Sheriff’s office the other day getting finger printed - one of the requirements of the Zimbabwean government for us to adopt Esther. And you thought we did something wrong. But there on the wall was a picture of a number of methamphetamine addicts – the before and the after. Before they used - and 2-3 years after they began using. And the difference was horrible – frightening. Those pictures are appealing to the wisdom and insight of man. You have a brain. Look at these pictures. This is what happens. Apply your wisdom and stay way from Meth.
We like wisdom – and we appeal to people’s wisdom and insight all the time. We know the benefits of earthly wisdom and insight. That’s why we have universities and that’s why the internet is exploding with new pages of information every day. And if all this wisdom and insight is so valuable to us – how much more valuable and precious must the wisdom of God be that leads to holiness and eternal life? That knowledge by which someone knows God and knows the reason for history and knows why they exist and knows what their purpose is – to know what is behind the veil of heaven – and in fact even have communion with God because of the knowledge of God – this is the knowledge the Bible speaks of - making it a far better knowledge than all other knowledge in the universe together. So teaching #2 - This Wisdom and Insight is a Gift of Abundant Grace. And Doctrine #3 - Teaching #3 – According to what Paul says here – God gives this wisdom and insight lavishly. We could speak of both the lavish Quality as well as the lavish quantity. It is called All wisdom and insight. Think of the quality that is being spoken of here. If I had the 1 thing in the world that served me so well that I needed absolutely nothing else – then I can rightly say I have everything. I often feel that way with my wife. Next week we’ll celebrate our 15th wedding Anniversary – and I can honestly say that I often feel like she serves me so well in so many ways – that I can say I have everything. What else do I need? I have Keri – so I have everything. She serves all my purpose to the extent that I need nothing else for my happiness. She makes me the happiest – in a worldly sense.
For some people, money might do that, for others, power might do that – so that when they have a certain amount they can say that all their purposes are served and as a result they need nothing else. So even though this wisdom is not all wisdom (like the wisdom on how to fly a 777 airliner – or the wisdom on how to do brain surgery – or the wisdom on how to win at the stock market) – the Excellency of this wisdom is so excellent and so great that it truly serves all my greatest purposes and I truly need nothing else. That is what Paul means by all wisdom. It is everything we need for life, for eternity. It is sufficient. It meets all of our deepest needs. And as far as quantity is concerned – well one can see very clearly in the scriptures that compared to the Jews of the OT – we have been given all wisdom in the NT. Jesus said that the least in the kingdom of God will be greater than John TB. Why? Because the prophets, like John TB, had the bright star of prophecy in the night – but we have the Sun of Righteousness risen over us as the noon day sun. Our light is far greater. And so we have all wisdom in comparison and thus the quantity is very full.
So those are the 3 teachings I see coming out of this text. #1 Forgiveness is Inseparable from wisdom and insight. #2 - This Wisdom and Insight is a Gift of Abundant Grace – and #3 - God gives this wisdom and insight lavishly. So allow me to close now with 3 Duties – or what in fact ought to be 3 great delights. Simply because of God’s favor and good grace toward us – those things that are required of us should not be as dreadful duties – but rather as enjoyable delights. So let us then delight to do the following. #1 – Let Us Delight to Thank God Daily. Imagine for just a second going completely insane. No matter how hard you try and get your mind together – you just can’t – you can’t even think 1 single cogent thought. And then suppose, out of nowhere you are placed back into a right mind by God. Would you be thankful? Daniel was in Dan 4:34. There we read, “At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation…” You know, the fact is – all of us were once crazy – lunatics - mad – foolish – we cast ourselves into the depths of lunacy and stupidity and folly by our sin. But God visited us right in the very midst of our lunacy and by His almighty power He brought all wisdom and understanding to us so that not only could we be saved – but so that we could know this great God and commune with Him. Can we praise Him enough? God promised in the OT that the hearts of the foolish would be made wise and that those who erred in their hearts would understand – and lo – He has done it. I may not have recognized Joshua Bell in that subway station – but By God’s good grace my eyes have been opened, my lunacy removed and I have seen the glory of God revealed in the face of Jesus Christ and it is sweeter music than anything this earth could ever make and I owe God all the thanks and praise.
Duty or Delight#2 - Let Us Delight to Think on God Daily. C’mon – let’s just admit the facts. We are all fools. All wisdom – period – is from God – and on our own we have nothing. Everything we have comes from our Creator and on our own we are absolutely foolish. So let’s go and get wisdom – real wisdom and insight from God. Let’s just humble ourselves with that fact and then let’s go and get knowledge and insight from God. Consider the following. I want you to image some lunatic – so wigged out and insane they can’t even add 2 + 2. That is the way lunatics are. But consider the natural man who does not have the wisdom of Christ. He is not a believer in Jesus Christ. Though he may be the greatest scientist who ever lived or the greatest brain surgeon in the world with vast treasures of knowledge stored up in his cute little head – if this man does not know Jesus Christ – then He doesn’t know the very Maker of all the universe and He certainly doesn’t know about the very state of His own soul. How then is he different from the lunatic who can’t add 2+2?
Lunatics are also people you can’t teach anything to. They are in fact more unteachable than they are unlearned. Persuade Him, smile on him, scold him – but nothing will work. You can’t teach him a thing. And what about the natural man who does not believe in Jesus Christ. If God beseeches him, begs him, threatens Him, promise great things to Him – nothing sinks in – nothing moves him. So what is the difference between him and the lunatic? Again – the lunatic has no idea what he is living for. He just goes from day to day without ever thinking such a thought as to why am I here and what is my purpose. And so it is with the natural man. They know that they live for the good of their country – and for the good of the their fellow man and for their own good - but they do not have the wisdom to see the end of their lives – that God has called them to repent and believe on Jesus Christ so that they can be led into the presence of Almighty God where there are pleasure forevermore. So what then is the difference between the natural man and a lunatic?
Again – lunatics make absolutely no provision for the future. They must be cared for in institutions because they do not have enough forward thinking to provide even the next meal for themselves – but rather they spend their time obsessing over weird trinkets and strange baubles and peculiar prizes from the garbage can. They value their filthy hat as much as they do a $100 bill. And what about the natural man? He gathers fleeting things, but lays up no treasure whatsoever in heaven. I pray that we would all labor to see ourselves as fools – that we might by grace be given all wisdom and insight that comes down from above. That we would in fact seek for that wisdom from God since He gives it so plentifully. He wants us as full of knowledge and wisdom and insight as He wants us full of holiness. I hate when people say that it is just about loving Jesus as if ignorance is the mother of devotion. Is that true – the more ignorant the more devotion? We take great pains to get the knowledge of earthly things – and we see it and esteem it as a great thing – as a great benefit to have insight into earthly matters. But if someone willfully chooses to remain in the dark about spiritual matters how then can we say that the Sun of righteousness has risen in their heart?
Oh that we would delight to think on God daily. That we would seek to get wisdom from Him daily. That we would seek to know Him fully. Someone in our home group heard me say some things about a topic that he had never considered and he asked me to send him whatever I could on that issue. So I sent him 4 articles and told him to get his feet wet with the RC Sproul article and then dive in immerse yourself with the Piper article. He wrote back to me after receiving that email and said, “Jeff - Soak me! soak me! I want every last hair drenched. Thanks for taking the time to send these resources. I love this stuff!” That is a heart that is on fire for God and wants all wisdom and insight to abound to Him – and oh how I pray that every single one of us would have that heart. Let us Delight to Think – to Meditate on God and ask diligently for all wisdom and insight. Lastly – Duty or Delight #3. Let us Delight to Trust in God Daily. The fact that God gives us the grace of wisdom and insight should bring each and every one of us who have received it great comfort. Yes this wisdom is absolute folly to the world – but to us who are saved and who are being sanctified - it is life – abundant life. This wisdom and insight brings us joy – not just the occasional happiness that the world enjoys because circumstances are all just right – but a joy that supersedes all circumstances because it sees and understands and trusts the purposes of God – that they are all for our Good and for His glory. This wisdom and insight – unlike the worlds, is truly able to satisfy the soul and cause us to rest in a trustworthy God and my prayer is that you will rest in that satisfaction and joy and security because our God is a trustworthy God.
Paul said in I Cor 2:2 – “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” Why? Because that was all his joy. Those who have the wisdom to get honor and accolades and power and riches and fame here in this world – they often laugh at all our learning and our preaching and the books we read and the music we listen to. They see that we know about all the earthly wisdoms and yet go barefoot in a sense. We don’t need it for our joy. And they look at us and see nothing but folly. But how foolish to know and have all that they have and yet lose their very souls.
Paul says in Gal 3:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” This is what mattered most to Paul – and I hope its what matters most to you as well.