Sunday, January 23, 2005

The Sabbath Essay - Your God is Wise

We live in a society that does not generally appreciate wisdom. We praise knowledge. People are made to feel great if they know a lot. The more letters you can have after your name the better. But God's word says,

Proverbs 4:5 Get wisdom, get understanding… Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding"

What is wisdom? Wisdom is the ability to look at a situation and know the best possible way to bring about the best possible outcome. The best way to the best outcome. Wisdom is using knowledge for the highest and best results.

What do we learn from God's wisdom?

Your God is wise
It seems obvious to state it, but God is wise. He brings about the best ends, by the best means.

The Best Result
From his perspective the best result is that he is glorified. From our perspective the best result is that we can spend the longest possible time, in the greatest possible pleasure. God has a name for that - its called heaven. The greatest possible pleasure that will never end. Thankfully both these results come together, with God being glorified by the saints made perfect.

There is another aspect to this best of results. He makes us like the best and greatest human being ever to have lived - Jesus.

The Best Way
Now what is the best possible way? Is it just to take everyone there without exception?

No. Two great problems have to be overcome. Our sin. And God's wrath at our sin.

Can God display two contrary affections at the same time and in the one act? The greatest hatred of sin, and the greatest love to the sinner?

Here lies the wisdom of God that causes Paul to burst into a great chorus of praise in Romans 11. God has a solution where he will punish sinners, and he will allow sinners to delight in the glories of Heaven without ever knowing that punishment.

He, God, will provide a substitute, and in that substitute justice will find its satisfaction, wrath will be poured out. And mercy can be shown to the person who has been substituted.

But how could you have a substitute for each person going to Heaven? God's wisdom provides the answer: the one person will be a substitute for all those who enter Heaven. How does that work? How can one person pay the penalty for millions of believers? This is no ordinary person, it will have to be a person of infinite worth, so that justice will really be satisfied, a person who can bear in a short space of time, the sufferings of a multitude in eternity in Hell. This person will have to be more than man, he must be God.

But where could such a being be found? Here again we see the wisdom of God. God the Son takes on Human nature.

And that is one reason why Jesus is described as the wisdom of God. Because in Jesus Christ we see the wisdom of God. It is where the solution to the problem of God's mercy and his justice and our sin and his wrath all meet.

What supreme wisdom

In all this God punishes sin without ruining the sinner, and repairs the ruins of the sinner without indulging the sin.

Now that's wisdom. What a wise and glorious God, who gains for us the best end, by the best means.

And what is so good about the method that God has used?

Put yourself in God's place - if we can say such a thing. The great goal is to bring all sorts of people to Heaven. Children, adults of varying abilities, people who live in all parts and places in the world. What condition do you place on people that takes all this into account? Do you ask them to travel to a particular place, or to carry out a set of activities, or to live in a certain way?

What has God done? He has picked the best way. It is the simplest and easiest of demands - easy enough for a child. Easy enough for someone who hasn't much of an education. Believe.

How wise! All the work is done, we just have to trust.

But it is not enough to know that God is wise. It must make an impact on our lives:

"Unless you become familiar with the wisdom of God, you cannot make much real progress in the Christian life. True stability over an extended period of discipleship will often depend on trusting that God is wise in everything he does and in all his dealings with his children."

You can trust God's wisdom in all circumstances
God not only has the best and great goal in view for us, and not only is his means of getting us there the best means, but he takes the best route.

God's Wisdom means that nothing he does could be done better
Whatever circumstances you are going through, you can rest assured that this is the best path for you to get there.

He picks the best end and the best route. Whatever he is taking you through now, if you are seeking to follow him, it is the best way for you to be going. God is using it to do all sorts of things in your life. He always chooses what is best. You need to let that truth sink in, because there will be times when it doesn't seem like it.

Stephen Charnock writes: "We see the gardener pulling up some delightful flowers by the roots, digging up the earth, overwhelming it with dung; and ignorant person would imagine him wild, out of his wits, and charge him with spoiling his garden: but when the spring is arrived, the spectator will acknowledge his skill in his former operations."

Your God is wonderfully wise. And his wisdom is displayed in everything he does. God's wisdom is perfect. He needs no advice and He never makes a mistake. He knows what is best in every situation. And God always acts with perfect wisdom. He not only knows what is best: He always does what is best.

God's wisdom means you can be content with who you are and where God has placed you

Many people spend a lot of time wishing that they were someone else, somewhere else. Many Christians can fall into the same trap. Here is where we need to realise - God has made me who I am, for a good and wise reason, and that good and wise reason is for his glory and for my good, and therefore I need to get on with living and trusting God.

God has made you who you are because he has a role for you to play in his great plan for this world.

That doesn't mean that we aren't to try and grow as believers, but it does set us free from the tyranny of envy, and dissatisfaction. If fields longed to be mountains where would we get grain for bread? Where would cows feed to produce milk? But God in his wisdom has designed the surface of this planet for usefulness. So he has ordered his people in his kingdom for usefulness

God's wisdom means you won't understand everything

God's wisdom is sometimes, or most times, beyond our understanding. Often, because we do not know everything that God knows, we cannot understand His ways. Sometimes we watch situations develop and think that we could have come up with a better plan, but the God who is in control never gets it wrong.

His wisdom is infinite. His knowledge of the past, the present and the future is infinite. He knows all possible outcomes. He knows where every path he could take you down will go, and he has picked the best.

But our wisdom is tiny. Our knowledge is minute. There are decisions in life that are so complex and require so much wisdom to make that no matter how hard we try to explain them to our children we can't enable them to understand. And so we say to them, "just trust daddy - He knows what he is doing".

And there will be times when we will just have to say, "I can't see what you're doing God, but I'll trust you."

You can have wisdom from God
We need wisdom. We need wisdom to know how to bring up children. We need wisdom to pick a job that we will be able to do for the rest of our lives. We need wisdom to advise people whose lives have been wrecked by sin, and where there seems to be no way out of the mess that they are in. We need wisdom when we find ourselves having to make difficult decisions about family or the future.

And the great news is that if you are a Christian, Christ has bought for you the very thing you need most. God has promised to give his children wisdom to know what to do, what to say, what course of action to take that will be most God-glorifying.

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

The great news for the believer is that you can have God's wisdom. Where do we get this wisdom?

When you ask God for wisdom, you will find that He has already spoken. He has recorded for you in the Bible all the wisdom you need and if you are looking for guidance that is where you should look.

That means it isn't enough to just read the Bible to get a verse or a thought that will help us through the day. We should study it carefully to become skilled in its use and store up its truth for future use. God's word needs to be studied, not just read. In the book of Proverbs, we are told to seek wisdom as silver, and search for it as for hidden treasures. We are to diligently search the Scriptures for help.

Wisdom comes through spending time with the wise God in his word, and being convinced that here is where wisdom is to be found, and then having enough confidence in His wisdom to follow it when the world around us thinks it foolish.

Whatever else you do - get wisdom. Wisdom will enable you to cope with difficulty, wisdom will enable you to live and walk with God. Get wisdom above all else.

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