False Wisdom

 

 

In a passage we will examine more fully later in this article, Peter writes the following exhortation to the Saints:

Be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness.  (II Peter 3:17)

Along these lines I read the most astounding essay online recently in which the author tried exhaustively to defame and diminish the work of the Apostle Paul in the early Church.  Needless to say, I was not convinced.

The author’s accusations were lengthy.  However, even Paul’s detractors in the first century were unsuccessful, so only a slanderer or one deceived could think that such arguments might succeed.  I won’t mention the author’s name or the title of the article because it isn’t worth anyone’s time. I will briefly summarize the author’s points to offer my own rebuttals.

They included the arguments that 1.) Paul was not a real apostle because he wasn’t one of the original disciples; 2.) Paul never was taught directly by Jesus, only by “revelation”; and 3.) Paul was constantly at war with Peter and the other leaders in the Church over Gospel teachings. Most seriously, the author 4.) criticized Paul for appealing to Caesar and subsequently traveling to Rome for trial as a Roman citizen. His appeal set the Church on the road to being centered in Rome, resulting in Catholicism and the papacy. Finally, 5.) the author also lamented the fact that because so many of Paul’s writings appeared in the New Testament canon, other more important works were left out, including the Gospel of Enoch, a Gnostic text that they author evidently favors over the works of Paul.

 

Gnosticism

I won’t thoroughly analyze  in depth Gnosticism or the problems this heretical teaching brought to the early Church, but I will give a brief overview to serve as a framework for the truth.

The term gnosis essentially means “secret knowledge,” a knowledge that arises from within the self, a teaching that is similar to many religions still today.

Like Satan’s original temptation in the Garden of Eden, gnostic followers are told that they will be like gods, knowing good and evil.  In fact, the Gnostics believed that all matter is evil, so the idea that Jesus Christ is God incarnate, fully human and fully divine, is false in their view.  

The Church’s fundamental teachings are directly opposed to this idea, for Christ could only take our place as a loving substitute and receive the full judgment for the results of sin by fully taking on humanity in a sinless form.

Salvation, to the Gnostics, was only an escape from the material world back to the spiritual position from which humans had fallen; this salvation is obtained through hidden knowledge, as opposed to obedient faith in Jesus Christ.  Thus, the problem of sin is not confronted in Gnosticism necessarily, for the works of the flesh are considered irrelevant in the mystical realms of knowledge.

 

Gnosticism Refuted

Gnosticism was soundly refuted and condemned by all of the Apostles, particularly John. In his letters John denounces the teachings of the Gnostics by demonstrating the truth of the Christian Gospel and by contrasting these truths with the antichrist heresies and teachings of his day, including the idea that Jesus did not actually come in the flesh:

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. (I John 4:1-3)

Peter and Paul both taught stringently against not only the errors of Gnosticism, but also the false teachings of all of the “Mystery Religions.”

From the earliest times in Christianity, these cults were problematic; they included strange and private initiation rituals, passing on secrets to the initiate about the life of the cult’s god or goddess, including how these initiates might achieve unity with that deity. This secret esoteric knowledge was unattainable by any person outside the circle of the cult, and even initiates had to progress in secret knowledge from stage to stage  to reach the heights of knowledge.

Paul specifically warns Timothy about these teachers in his letter:

O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge”—which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith. (I Timothy 6:20-21)

Paul’s Letter to the Colossians

Paul was also directly concerned about the heresies of Gnosticism in his letter to the Colossians, not by directly confronting and refuting the Gnostic errors but by relating the truths of the Christian Gospel and the Mystery of Christ:

That is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me. (Colossians 1:28-29)

Note the inclusion of the Gentiles in God’s plans for saving all who will call upon the name of Jesus Christ.  The idea that Christ can live in us and we can experience the Hope of glory is the genuine relationship with God, not the counterfeit.

 

The Apostle Paul’s Revelations

The Apostle Paul also received revelations in the spirit, therefore, even though he had once been an unbeliever and a persecutor of the Church.  Nevertheless, he received the grace of the Lord and became a prophet and a teacher in the Church at Antioch after he had been brought there by Barnabus (Acts 11:25-26).

It is possible that the “fourteen years” mentioned by Paul in II Corinthians 12:2 refers to this time he spent in Antioch.

Boasting is necessary, though it is not profitable; but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven.

At any rate, Paul recalls that he received marvelous “visions and revelations” from the Lord:

And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows—was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.  (II Corinthians 12:3-4)

In his Letter to the Ephesians, Paul summarizes the mysteries he has received, specifically the “mystery of His will,” beginning in Chapter 1:

In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. (Ephesians 1:8-12)

Paul clearly writes to show that these revelations were not private for him alone, not secret knowledge, but were intended for all the saints in order to reveal the manifest wisdom of God, and in particular the Gentiles who had once been excluded from the Covenants of God.

Paul refers to this same summary later in Ephesians, or “As I wrote before in brief,” so that his readers might understand his insights into this mystery:

That by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit. the gospel. (Ephesians 3:3-6)

Here is a brief statement of Paul’s mystery:

That the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. (Ephesians 3:6-7) 

Then Paul clearly shows that he is not taking personal pride in this revelation’s being given to him, confessing his own weaknesses:

To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly placesThis was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. (Ephesians 3:8-12)

What is the essence of this mystery?  It was that the Gentiles were to be fellow-partakers of the promises of salvation and redemption in Christ Jesus, working through faith in the sacrifice of Christ.

Thus, Paul did not hesitate to claim that the mysteries he had received were indeed given to him by revelation from God, but he did not do so in pride. And the difference between his claims and those of the gnostics is that these mysteries were never intended to be kept secret, but instead taught to all believers as the full truth of the Gospel.

Yes, the “Mystery of Christ” was indeed a secret, kept hidden from the foundation of the world.  However, the glory of the mystery is that the “manifold wisdom of God” has now been made manifest to the Church of which Paul had been made a minister.

The full gospel of Christianity was never intended to be a “mystery religion,” in which a few supposedly holy men keep secret their revelations in order to enforce authority and control over their followers, as did the leaders of the cults in the early centuries after Christ’s resurrection, and the cult leaders since that time have continued to do the same, even today.

 

Peter’s Revelations

Significantly, these truths were given by revelation not only to Paul, but also to Peter.  This is Peter’s story:

But he [Peter] became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance; and he *saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground, and there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. A voice came to him, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!” But Peter said, “By no means,Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.” Again a voice came to him a second time, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.” This happened three times, and immediately the object was taken up into the sky. (Acts 10:10-16)

This vision and its fulfillment described in the next chapter in Acts, when Peter came to the house of Cornelius the Centurion, laid the foundation for the acceptance of the Gentiles into the Christian Church and affirmed the statements of Jesus when He declared that He had sheep from another flock that would be joined together into one:

I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the  Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. (John 10:14-18)

Paul, however, was commissioned by God to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles, and he took the largest responsibility for doing so, as he wrote in the passage cited above and also below:   

To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ.

And the Book of Acts reveals how this commission was worked out in Paul’s life. However, rather than opposing Paul’s revelations and teachings, Peter emphatically defends them:

But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (II Peter 3:14-18)

Don’t you just love Peter?  In this passage we see Peter the fisherman, not one to indulge in studious reading, not always able to completely follow what Paul is writing, declaring openly that Paul is sometimes hard to understand!

However, Peter knew the teachings and statements of Paul to be true, for they connected powerfully with the revelations Peter himself had on the rooftop concerning the salvation of the Gentiles if they would only believe in Christ’s salvation.

Looking to Things Unseen

New Criticism

When I began my studies in English Literature in the late 1960s, the favored method of textual interpretation was called “formalism,” or “New Criticism,” proposed by I.A. Richards in the 1920s.   Other approaches were not favored necessarily, particularly Freudian criticism, Marxist criticism, and philosophical criticism.

New Critical methods focused on discovering the author’s intentions through a “close reading,” while looking at the uses of figurative language or other expository techniques and asking what the author’s purpose was and what he or she wanted the reading audience to learn or discover.  This method involved analyzing a poem, novel, or short story based on the writer’s techniques, without bringing in a lot of background information about the author’s life, the history of the time, the beliefs or values of the culture at the time.

As students, our goal was to analyze each text based on the text alone as much as possible, discovering an ironic tone, for example, or the imagery patterns the author may have developed.  We also analyzed the work’s setting, characters, and the author’s overall point of view and try to discover what the author’s message was in the text.

When I entered my doctoral program of study over twenty years later, I learned that the world of literary criticism and study had changed drastically, for the work of Jacques Derrida, labeled “Deconstruction,” had overtaken the literary realm from New Criticism. This new method was nearly antithetical to New Criticism, for it essentially denied the possibility of any work’s having an inherent meaning, for such a meaning was considered impossible given the nature of human language and thought.

I’ll never forget one published article I read that essentially said, “The meaning of a text changes the moment it is written down, and it continues to change with every person’s reading of that text.”  This idea was stunning to me, for I asked myself, “Why read anything then?”

One of the first essays I wrote for my PhD classes concerned the imagery patterns in a particular novel we were analyzing.  I focused on similar passages in the novel that used the same types of images (similes, metaphors), so I quoted the texts at length, completing a thorough New Critical study of the novel.

I was stunned when I received my graded paper back.  My grade wasn’t the usual top of the ladder mark I was used to getting, and my professor simply wrote in explanation, “So what?”  In other words, he was saying, you have uncovered an imagery pattern, but in itself it means nothing.  What does the novel say as a result of these patterns?

In other words, he was saying, you have uncovered and analyzed the author’s imagery patterns, but in itself your analysis means nothing.  What does the novel say as a result of these patterns, if anything?

I wasn’t used to having to explain the interpretation of a text necessarily, so I definitely had to readjust my thinking when approaching a work of literature if I wanted to succeed in getting my PhD degree.

 

The Scriptures

In actuality, the New Critical approach I learned as an undergraduate was very appropriate for studying the Scriptures, however, for I had learned to recognize the truth resident in the words themselves, understanding that the truth was infallible and could be discovered, for that was God’s purpose.  I had found that a deconstruction approach, however, was futile, for it declared itself to result in meaningless meanings from a text that was itself meaningless. However, I believed that the words of the Scriptures had true meanings, and they could be not only understood but also life changing if received by faith.

However, I believed that the words of the Scriptures had true meanings, and they could be not only understood but also life changing if received by faith.

 

Biblical New Criticism?

Analyzing literary techniques found in the Scriptures is not always easy, for we live in a different age and culture.  Nor are we familiar with the writing strategies prominent in the Scriptures, and finding them is difficult.

For example, the use of an ironic tone in the Bible is not always apparent, and if it is used, it is often difficult to discern.  However, we may discover fairly easily that Elijah is being very ironic when he says, “Call out with a loud voice, for he is a god; either he is occupied or gone” (I Kings 18:27).

If you will recall, Elijah had set up a test for the 450 prophets of Baal.  He challenged them to offer an ox as sacrifice; however, they were not to start a fire, but instead were to challenge Baal himself to burn the sacrifice on his altar.

So they cried with a loud voice and cut themselves according to their custom with swords and lances until the blood gushed out on them. When midday was past, they raved until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice; but there was no voice, no one answered, and no one paid attention. (I Kings 18:28-29)

When no fire appeared, Elijah was moved to speak words of ironic ridicule, saying, “Perhaps he is asleep and needs to be awakened.”

Elijah then showed how God was strong on his behalf.  He had the Lord’s altar rebuilt with a trench around it, then he had four pitchers of water poured over the ox, not once but three times, until the water filled the trench also.

When he prayed for God to reveal Himself, the fire appeared miraculously:

Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The Lord, He is God; the Lord, He is God.” (I Kings 18:38-39)

 

Double Meanings

One university freshman literature class I had was reading an essay from our text that was written in a highly ironic tone. The author essentially was saying that medical personel should not be required by law to hold to their Hippocratic Oath, for they should not be required to treat patients with extremely communicable diseases such as AIDS.

Several students wrote their analysis of this essay agreeing with the author, not realizing that he was using an extremely ironic tone in his essay.  In essence, his intentions were entirely the opposite of what his words seemed to be saying.

After studying this lack of recognition in students further, I learned that the cognitive abilities of most young people do not completely function until well after their teens when their pre-frontal brain lobes have fully developed.

Thus, college freshmen by and large are unaware of the many nuances of tone in language and in writing particularly.  I found I had to demonstrate verbally, using exaggerated tones of voice, to show the difference between the many different messages that might be communicated in writing just by altering the tone in my voice.

 

Irony in the Scriptures?

This kind of ironic double meaning is apparent in the description God gave to Isaiah:

Make the mind of this people dull, and stop their ears, and shut their eyes, so that they may not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and comprehend with their minds, and turn and be healed. (Is 6:10)

Why would God not want people to hear, or see, or understand the prophet? Why wouldn’t He want the people to be healed? Jesus essentially said the same thing after telling His Parable of the Sower:

To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables, so that while seeing, they may see and not perceive, and while hearing, they may hear and not understand, otherwise they might return and be forgiven. (Mark 4:11)

In other words, an obstinate people may hear the words, but they will not receive the message for which they will then be held accountable.  Is God being cruel to these people?  No, He ultimately is being kind.

 

Finding Patterns

In a similar way, I learned that finding patterns in the Scriptures was helpful in understanding what the authors, and hence the Holy Spirit, intended.

While reading through Paul’s second letter to the Church at Corinth, for example, I found some significant passages in the fourth and tenth chapters that seemed interrelated, especially after I was able to discern the similarities in their contexts and meanings.

Read through the following passages carefully to see if you also can find the similar meanings:

  • But our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (II Corinthians 3:5-6)
  • And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (II Corinthians 4:3-4)
  • But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed, therefore I spoke,” we also believe, therefore we also speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you. (II Corinthians 4:13-14)
  • Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.  (II Corinthians 4:13-18)
  • I ask that when I am present I need not be bold with the confidence with which I propose to be courageous against some, who regard us as if we walked according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.  (II Corinthians 10:2-4)
  • You are looking at things as they are outwardly. If anyone is confident in himself that he is Christ’s, let him consider this again within himself, that just as he is Christ’s, so also are we.  (II Corinthians 10:7-11)

Finding the common themes in these passages may be difficult for you, at least at first, but read them through several times slowly, while thinking about what the Lord is telling us through the Apostle Paul.

Take note of the following extractions from these passages, for they may help you to find the common themes:

  • . . .not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
  • . . .if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. . .so that they might not see the light of the gospel
  • . . .having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed, therefore I spoke,
  • . . .while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
  • For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.
  • You are looking at things as they are outwardly.

Combining these ideas together, we find that we Christians are contending in a daily struggle or a kind of warfare against two competing realms.  The conflict is in the realm of the flesh and the realm of the spirit, between what is seen as opposed to what is unseen, the outward appearance versus the unseen inner reality, between faith fighting against unbelief, and what is veiled in darkness against what is seen in the light.

Consequently, we find that the Apostle Paul wants to teach us about walking in the Spirit according to the Word of God, not looking to outward appearances or moving according to the flesh, but being guided by the unseen presence of the mighty God and taking our guidance from Him.

 

Receiving The Power of the Holy Spirit

Filled to Overflowing

I recently asked a pre-teen boy if he had ever asked Jesus to come into his heart.  He answered that he had, so I asked him when he had made this decision.  When had he prayed and invited Jesus to come and live with him and be his Lord?

He thought a moment, then said, “When I was born!”  I assured him that he needed to make a more definite decision at some specific time in his life.

Thinking again, he said, “Well, I guess it was the first time I went to Church, then.” I told him we all need to make a definite decision to ask Jesus to cleanse us from all sin and come into our lives.  I emphasized that salvation is not necessarily automatic. We can just live good lives or be raised in a godly home.

 

Continued Filling

We all need to continue to grow in the Lord and in the power of His might. Salvation is only the beginning of our life in the Lord.  We may have the foundation built, but we need to build on that foundation with more than wood hay, and straw as we continue our journey with our Lord through this life.

For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. (I Corinthians 3:11-13)

For example, how many times have you asked God for more power in your life?  Do you hunger and thirst after righteousness, or “right-standing” with Him? Many Christians assume that the power of the Holy Spirit is a gift that is automatic and doesn’t need to be searched and prayed for.

 

The Holy Spirit’s Likeness

The Holy Spirit is described in the Scriptures in many figurative ways.  When Jesus met with His disciples immediately after His resurrection, for example, John’s Gospels says that Jesus “breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit'” (John 20:22).

Later, however, Jesus told them, “And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:48-49).

Then, before His ascension, Jesus gathered his disciples together and commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:4-5).

In these verses the Holy Spirit is compared to Jesus’ breath, articles of clothing, and with cleansing water.  Also, these verses show that the “promise of the Father” was not limited to just being born again in one moment, or just the Church’s receiving the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, but the filling, or “baptism” of the Holy Spirit, when they received the power they needed to be His witnesses “throughout the world,” a phrase that extends these promises to all believers today:

Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.”  (Acts 2:38-39)

The pouring out of the Holy Spirit was, and today still is today, a step-by-step life of filling and refilling.  The early believers received this power at Pentecost, but also were filled again with power when Peter and John were released by the Jewish religious rulers after the healing of the lame beggar (Acts 3).

And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.  (Acts 4:31)

Other Examples

More examples of the infilling of the Holy Spirit may be found in the Acts of the Apostles in particular. Most noteworthy are those when Christians were filled again with the Holy Spirit, not just when they were saved or born again.

Saul of Tarsus was definitively “saved” when he met Jesus in a vision on the Road to Damascus, for Ananias was sent not to lead Saul in praying the “sinner’s prayer,” but to pray for the healing of Saul’s eyes and also for the infilling of the Holy Spirit.  After laying his hands on him, Ananias said,

Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.  (Acts 9:17)

Another example is when Peter was sent to the first gentile Christians at the home of Cornelius, the Roman centurion.  Notice that the Holy Spirit fell upon these gentiles before they were baptized:

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered, “Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?” And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days. (Acts 10:44-48)

This is the reverse order of what occurred on the Day of Pentecost, for during Peter’s message to the gathered Jews, he said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 10:47).  Thus, water baptism usually came first!

Finally, we have the Apostle Paul’s exhortation to the Ephesian believers:  “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).

The Holy Spirit is not only our Comforter and our Teacher, but also the true source of our Power.  We need to seek Him and His power continually in our lives, not just be filled, but also refilled.

 

The Rhema and the Logos: God’s Word

Getting Started

My Prophetic Dream

This is a picture from our wedding day.  One year later, my wife Jan and I had a baby, a beautiful girl.  In spite of the surprise, the Lord miraculously provided for her birth:  I found out that even after leaving my job as a grocery clerk to continue my education, I still had “extended coverage” for my insurance, enough to cover the hospital and doctor bills!

We were surprised she came so quickly, only one year and one month after our wedding, but four years later, we couldn’t seem to conceive our second child for a lengthy time.

One night in a dream, Jesus came towards me holding out both hands open towards me.  Lying across his forearms was an infant child.  With great clarity Jesus said, “Take this child to raise as your own.”  

I immediately woke up and recalled what Jesus had said to me so clearly.  In the morning I told my wife that we were going to have a baby!

When we received the confirmation about the conception about a month later, we were ecstatic, for we knew that our second baby , as was our first, was truly a gift from the Lord.

 

Trusting God

We had only recently moved into a full-time Bible teaching ministry, having opened a non-profit Evangelistic Association called “The Abiding Word.”  This was an exciting step for us since I believed I was no longer unemployed!  

Since I hadn’t gone to seminary, my path was very different from most ministers, although I did have secondary teaching certification.  Therefore, we often encountered many opportunities to look for a steady income, but the Lord kept telling me that I worked for Him, and no matter how long I looked, I wouldn’t find a job!

Seeing the weekly miracles of God’s provision appear, however, just in time to pay our rent or buy gasoline and groceries, was both challenging and exciting. One reason was the guidelines the Holy Spirit had strongly impressed upon me that I needed to follow as I set out to teach His Word.

First, I was never to take an offering, and second I was never to ask anyone for money or any kind of sustenance such as food or gasoline.  I had to rely only on God for our needs.

The Holy Spirit even chastised me once when I was looking into our Post Office box.  When I confessed to seeing if someone had written us a check, I heard the Lord’s voice saying to me in my spirit, “I am the source of your supply, not the Post Office.”

The Lord has only rarely spoken to me verbally in my life, and my dream was one of them.  The other was when He called me to use His Spiritual Weapons.

Usually I heard His voice in my thoughts, and not necessarily in English.  Once I was praying, “Lord we need some money because we need a new tire for our car.”  

His reply was filled with wisdom:  “When you pray, don’t pray for money for what you need.  Pray for this tire, not the money.”  So I changed my prayer.

A few days later, one of my friends said to me, “Do you need tires for your car? I got four from my uncle, but I only need two.”

Even though I only desperately needed one at the time, I rejoiced and had both put on the car.

I stumbled a few times as we learned how to trust the Lord, but we were learning.

 

Our Biggest Challenge

Knowing how the Lord was going to provide for the birth of our baby was the focus of much of our faith and prayers for nine months.  We had no insurance, so we needed to pay the doctor and the hospital both, totaling at the time about one thousand dollars. Plus, we had our regular monthly expenses, including rent, utilities, and food.

We came right up to the time when Jan’s labor began, and we still had no money for the doctor or hospital expenses.  I kept remembering how in my dream the Lord gave us the baby, so I kept thinking, “God would not give us such a precious gift and then not provide what we need to pay the medical expenses also.”

I had to speak to the woman in the Hospital’s office when we checked in, and she told me how much I would need to pay.  Plus, the doctor was very firm with me later , saying that we should have paid him already.  Meanwhile, I was very nervous about the money, but even more nervous for my wife.  She was in great pain, and all I could do was rub her back and take antacids.

 

A New Life

Jan was in labor for nine hours, and I was almost as exhausted as she was when we finally held our child.  I realize, of course, that there is no way to compare both of our experiences!

Leaving the hospital, the young couple that we had asked to take care of our other daughter gave us a check, a love gift, which covered much of the cost of the hospital, so I was greatly encouraged that the Lord’s had begun to answer our prayers and the fulfillment of His message in my dream had begun to come to pass.  

When we got home, we were visited the very next day by a couple we had been teaching in our home group.  They had just sold their home, and it had cleared escrow that morning, so they said they had a gift for us.  

Sure enough, the amount was enough to cover both the doctor’s and the hospital bills, plus the money we needed to pay our rent, which was also due.

Ultimately, we had fifty dollars left, giving us enough for gasoline and groceries.  We were then ready to start believing God again for a new month!

Overall, we truly believed the Lord’s promises to us about supplying all of our needs, especially when one of those needs concerned His gift to us of a baby girl.

This miracle of God’s provision has steadied me throughout our lives as a family, and we have always seen our needs met, sometimes just as miraculously as in those early days.

One time, for example, we were in the grocery store with very little money to buy enough for our dinner.  Somehow, a neighbor we barely knew who lived a few blocks away, came up to us and gave us a ten dollar bill.  It was enough to pay for the food we needed, which came to within a few cents of ten dollars at the checkout. We thanked him profusely for his gift, but in our hearts we also thanked the Lord for his goodness to us.

 

Learning How to Receive the Faith We Needed

After hearing messages from a number of Bible teachers who have soundly rebuked those who try to believe God in the ways we did, I have often asked the Lord to show me about being guided by His wisdom and truth so that we would not be presumptuous or ignorant. Yet time and time again, He has shown us that He is our Father who cares for us enough to meet our needs like the loving Father He is.

I wanted to know, though, how to allow Him to live, move, and have His being in our lives more fully.  Consequently, the Holy Spirit began to teach me about the power of the Word of God, both the Logos and the Rhema, the terms used extensively in the New Testament Scriptures.

Both terms are translated “Word,” depending on their contexts, although the words are not strictly used interchangeably; thus, they are not synonyms in the strictest sense.  Therefore, a few of those passages will help to clarify the differences and similarities between the two.  

 

 

Logos

Today, as in the past, even the term “logo” commonly means a graphic mark or symbol used to represent a company, organization, or even a person.  We are all probably familiar with the Nike “swoosh” or the NBC “peacock.”  This term is also derived from the Greek word.

The most significant uses of the Greek word Logos in the New Testament, however, are found in two places in the first chapter in the opening chapter of John’s Gospel:

In the beginning was the Word [logos], and the Word [logos]was with God, and the Word [logos] was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.  In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.  (John 1:1-5)

And the Word [logosbecame flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

The first five verses reveal how the Logos, or Word, essentially means the totality of God’s will and revelation, revealing the very essence and nature of the acts and attributes of God.  Nothing would, or could, exist in this world apart from the Logos

Also, the second passage clearly reveals that the Logos is Jesus, who became flesh and dwelt among us, revealing the love and full glory of God to us.  Thus, the Logos is the sum total of God’s will, power, glory, and truth, ultimately personified in Jesus the Messiah

Traditionally in the Church, the Logos represents the written Scriptures, but in the original Greek the Logos also represents what is thought, not necessarily spoken.  This is the view seen in Hebrews, where the Logos is portrayed as a sharp sword:

For the word [logosof God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.  (Hebrews 4:12-13)

Thus, even the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, is a personification of Jesus Christ.  

In his letter to the Colossians, the Apostle Paul also writes a statement that reveals why Jesus is the Logos.  Paul prays for those he has not yet met in person, praying

That their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.  (Colossians 2:2-3)

Therefore, all of the hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge are within Christ Jesus, who is named the Logos in John’s Gospel.  And within the chapters in this book we shall see that the “mysteries” of the Kingdom are similarly portrayed.  

 

Rhema

Another Greek word used in the New Testament is Rhema, which is translated in similar ways as Logos.  Howeverthe English words in the translations, though spelled the same, do not have precisely the same meanings in context.  

Here are some scriptural examples that will highlight the use of the word Rhema.

The following verse seems to align almost exactly with the use of the word Logos in John 1:1.  For example, the writer to the Hebrews says the following about the creation:

By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word [rhemati] of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. (Hebrews 11:3)

Several passages using this word Rhema either quote or make reference to the Scriptures in the Old Testament, including the following verses:

When Satan tempted Jesus, telling Him to turn stones into bread to satisfy His hunger, Jesus said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word [rhemati] that proceeds out of the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4, see also Luke 4:4)

However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?”  So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word [rhematos]  of Christ.  But I say, surely they have never heard, have they? Indeed they have; “Their voice has gone out into all the earth,  And their words [rhemata]  to the ends of the world.”  (Romans 10:16-18)

“But the word [rhema] of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word [rhema] which was preached to you.  (I Peter 1:25)

This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the words [rhematon] spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles. (II Peter 3:1-2)

At times the word Rhema refers to specific messages from a person or an angel, for example:

And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word [rhema] ” (Luke 1:38).

And likewise Peter remembered the word [rhematos] which Jesus had said,

“Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. (Matthew 24:75, see also Mark 14:72)

Peter also relates to the Christians in Jerusalem the incident when he first shared the Gospel with the gentiles:

Arriving from Joppa, Peter heard from a man who relayed what the angel had told him in a vision, “Send to Joppa and have Simon, who is also called Peter, brought here; and he will speak words [rhemata] to you by which you will be saved, you and all your household.”  (Acts 11:13-14)

Peter then continues to tell his story to the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem,

And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as He did upon us at the beginning. And I remembered the word [rhematos] of the Lord, how He used to say, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ (Acts 11:15-16)

One passage in particular reveals a context that shows how the word Rhema is not necessarily used exclusively for literal renderings, for Paul says he heard words that are ineffable, that cannot be articulated or explained in terms of human language.

Speaking about the revelations he received, Paul speaks in the third person, relating his story:

And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows— was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words [rhemata], which a man is not permitted to speak. (II Corinthians 12:4)

Finally, although some Bible teachers oppose this application in the lives of Christians today, the word Rhema is used to reveal the reception of a personal word or message given by God.

If you abide in Me, and My words [rhemata] abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7)

But what does it say? “The word [rhema] is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word [rhemaof faith which we are preaching” (Romans 10:8).

“Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word [rhema] of God.”  (Ephesians 6:17)

 

The Reason for Our Faith

As a result, therefore, of hearing a message in a vision and receiving that message in our hearts, not only were my wife and I given the gift of a child that we had been seeking, but also we were assured that the child would be truly the Lord’s and He would use her in powerful ways.  Plus, all the means for bringing her into this world, the home and the funds, would be provided for her.  This is why we were able to believe so strongly for the miracle of provision we experienced that day in the Hospital.

The Apostle Paul tells believers how to live their lives: 

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.  (I Thessalonians 5:17-22)

One assumption is that we will listen to the voice of the Lord in our hearts, in the inner man.  Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me”  (John 10:27).  It is not memorization of the Scriptures that allows us to hear the voice of the Lord, for even a parrot can repeat words and phrases.  

The difference is found in allowing the Logos of the Lord to become a Rhema in our hearts.  We allow the Lord to speak to us by meditating on his Logos day and night and listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit.  Then we will find that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word [rhematos] of Christ” (Romans 10:17).

We will then have the word abiding in our hearts, along with the faith to bring His will to pass in our lives: “If you abide in Me, and My words [rhemata] abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7).

 

Merchandise of Wisdom, Part II

The serene peacefulness of the desert landscape was rudely interrupted by a deathly pall as an uncommon stillness crept over the fast fading sands.  Even the sinking sun seemed to hasten its journey away from the scene, its light fading quickly behind the evening clouds on the horizon.

After forty days in the wilderness, the splendidly formed arms and hands of Jesus, conditioned and sharpened through long toil in the carpenter’s shop, had long since taken a gaunt appearance.  The once smooth muscles that now stretched from His robe appeared chiseled and lean.  His hands slowly gathered the folds of His robe together against the chill of the evening.

All that day, His body had been crying for food, reminding Him that after receiving no nourishment for so long, death was imminent if sustenance was not restored.  It was at this point, when His body was at its weakest, that He felt the presence of the evil one.

“I see that you are hungry!”  Satan taunted.  “Since you are the Son of God, why don’t you just say the word?  Why not just command that these stones be made into bread?”

But Jesus calmly answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’”

Twice more Satan tempted Jesus.  And twice more Jesus used the Word of God, the mighty Sword of the Spirit, to defend Himself and press the attack.

At length, Jesus said, “Be gone, Satan!”  And the presence of evil quickly fled, and peace was restored to the landscape once more.  In spite of the fact that Jesus could have made bread out of the stones of the desert, He relied solely upon the Word of God for His strength and support.

Perhaps He remembered where it was written, “I have never seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.”  At any rate, the angels of God appeared and cared for Him, just as they had for the prophet Elijah so long ago in the wilderness.

 

The Beginning of Wisdom

In Part I of this series we discussed the fact that the exercise of God’s wisdom in our lives will insure that every need we have will be met by God, no matter what the circumstances!  As we saw in Proverbs 3:13-20, the merchandise of wisdom is better than the merchandise of silver or gold, themselves only imperfect means of worldly barter.  Where silver and gold fail, God’s wisdom never fails.

Isn’t this what the crippled man who sat at the Gate Beautiful found out?  Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!” (Acts 3:6).   All the gold in the world could not have met that man’s need.  But Peter had the wisdom of God!

We need to ask, therefore, “How do I receive God’s wisdom?  How do I receive the God-given ability to apply and speak God’s Word in faith in a specific situation and see results?”

 

The Richly Dwelling Word

The Apostle Paul writes, “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Colossians 3:16).  One paraphrased translation says, “Let His Words enrich your lives and make you wise.”

The Word of God, therefore, is the key that opens the door to Godly wisdom.  Through God’s Word we come to know God’s will.  Did you know that His Word and His will are one?  God never says one thing and wills another!  And wisdom is a God-given knowledge of His will in a specific situation.

Paul also writes to Timothy, saying,

You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (I Timothy 3:14-17)

This is why Jesus said, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7).   If the Word of God dwells in us, it will greatly enrich our lives, for we receive God’s wisdom through His Word. And as we receive wisdom, and act accordingly, we are thoroughly and completely equipped for every good work!

 

Come, Buy and Eat

Have you ever wondered about the following passage in Isaiah?

Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters;
And you who have no money come, buy and eat.
Come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without cost.
 “Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And delight yourself in abundance.
 “Incline your ear and come to Me.
Listen, that you may live;
And I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
According to the faithful mercies shown to David. (Isaiah 55:1-3)

How do we come and buy and eat without any money?  Is there any way we can receive what we need without money?  Isn’t that the question everyone has been asking for centuries of time?

Well, according to the lies of the enemy and the world’s system of barter, the answer is no!  Anybody who tries it gets locked in the slammer!  But we are not talking about the world’s system.  Nor are we interested in the lies of the enemy!  God says that His children are joint-heirs with Jesus, and as such we have unlimited access to His storehouse!  He says that if we bring our gifts to Him, we have the following promise:

Test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.  Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes,” says the Lord of hosts. ” (Malachi 3:10-11)

The key to buying without money is the merchandise of wisdom.  Isaiah continues to speak the Word of the Lord saying,

Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And delight yourself in abundance. (Isaiah 55:2)

In other words, the key to buying without price and without money is hearing the Word of God! He says, “Listen to me.” He says, “Listen to my Word and you will be satisfied beyond measure!”

 

Returning the Word

Isaiah continues further in the same chapter to quote the Lord as follows:

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth
And making it bear and sprout,
And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:10-11)

Let’s examine this principle further to see how it works.  The rain and the snow fall, according to this passage, in order to water the earth, to give seeds to the sower, and bread to the eater.  There is a purpose in the coming of the snow and rain.

Well, God says that His Word works the same way!  When God sends forth His Word, which He has already done in abundance, it will accomplish similar results as the snow and rain!  God’s Word waters, gives seeds to the sower and bread to the eater!

This is why God wants us to diligently listen to Him, for He is speaking His Word to us!

But through Isaiah God also said, “It shall not return unto me empty.”  God’s Word will not return to Him void.  It has to have some faith in it to be returned to Him!  Isn’t that the way it is with money?  All the little green papers in the world won’t buy anything if people do not have faith in them!

During times of extreme inflation after World War II, people had to have a wheelbarrow full of German marks to buy a loaf of bread.  Why?  Because nobody had faith in the money!  And why do banks fail?  Because people no longer believe in the integrity of the bank’s word.  Faith and trust are necessary for any economic system to function!

And it is the same with God’s Word.  If people never believe in God enough to believe what He says, they never can receive from Him.  To receive from God we must believe in His form of currency, and we must use it to receive from Him what He has already promised.  Used in faith, God’s Word will indeed return to Him.  Unfortunately, most people have more faith in a dollar bill than the soundness of God’s Word.  And they don’t know how to use the Word of God as a form of currency, returning it to Him filled with faith!

How do we do it? Through prayer!  God says He wants us to put Him in remembrance concerning His promises to us.  As we do, praying the prayer of faith, based on the Word, God responds in a way He never could before because of our ignorance and unbelief.

Why do we continually labor only for silver and gold, that which will not satisfy?  God wants us instead to labor to receive His wisdom through His Word!  He wants us to live not by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds forth out of His mouth!

If wisdom is the medium of exchange, that we must use in receiving from God in specific circumstances, then the Word of God is the currency!

In the next article, we will continue  to learn how to obtain wisdom and how to use God’s form of currency.

 

 

 

 

Merchandise of Wisdom, Part III

Fishing for Sustenance

Simon the fisherman listened intently in spite of the slapping waves along the shore of the Sea of Galilee and the distraction of his long neglected nets which lay unwashed on the shore.  The morning sun warmed his broadly tanned shoulders as he waved his oar through the sparkling water to keep the boat steady.

He had toiled and worked all night long with his brother Andrew, and he was extremely tired.  But still they had caught no fish.

Yet somehow the words of Jesus seemed to bring his tired arms and hands to life.  Perhaps it was the fervor with which He spoke. Or was it the excitement His words generated in the crowd?  Whatever it was, Simon too strained his ears to catch every word.  For this man seemed to have the wisdom of God.

He had never seen such a crowd in all his days as a lowly fisherman.  And how the people had pressed and thronged Jesus!  Because of them, it had been impossible for Simon to complete his job of washing the nets, what with the children and the constant interruptions!  So he had left his washing temporarily, but gladly.

“Washing those nets always seems harder when there are no fish to clean as well,” he had thought tiredly.  And he had readily granted Jesus’ request to use his boat from which to speak to the crowd.  The nets could wait, and there was little use fishing this late in the morning.

But when Jesus had finished teaching, He spoke to Simon further, asking him to contradict all of his fisherman instincts, “Simon, why don’t you and Andrew launch out into deeper water and let down your nets for some fish?”

It seemed completely against his experience, and he momentarily wondered if the carpenter from Nazareth shouldn’t stick to his woodwork and leave fishing to the experienced seamen.  But then he remembered how Jesus had rebuked the fever in his wife’s mother and how she had been instantly healed.

Finally he said, “Master we have worked all night long and have caught nothing.  Nevertheless, since you have said the word, I will let down our nets.”

When the net was let down, Simon immediately felt the pull of a great multitude of fish, and the net began to strain and tear.  While he worked the net, his brother Andrew, who worked excitedly to keep the boat from capsizing, called loudly to James and John on the shore to come and help.  Together, the two small ships took in so many fish they nearly sank as they strove to bring the catch to land.

Simon and the other fishermen were overwhelmed to the point of amazement! Never before in their experience had they seen such a catch.  It contradicted everything they knew!  Surely this man Jesus had something, some kind of godly wisdom that gave Him insights no other man had!

 

More to Be Desired than Gold

Jesus did have the wisdom of God on that occasion, just as He does today!  The Word of God says that “Jesus is made unto us Wisdom,” and, “In Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

The Wisdom of God, as we have seen, is precious.  There is great treasure in godly wisdom, for the merchandise of wisdom is greater than that of silver or gold!  Where these natural means of barter fail, the Word of God will never fail! And through God’s Word we receive the knowledge of God’s will in any circumstance!

As it says in the Psalms:

The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether.
They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them Your servant is warned;
In keeping them there is great reward.
Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults

(Psalms 19:7-12)

Let us continue to learn how we may receive the wisdom of God through His Word!

 

Exceeding Precious Promises

The Apostle James writes about wisdom from God in his epistle,

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.  (James 1:5-6)

This is a tremendous promise, and it is a key in opening all of the promises of God to us!  We have already seen that if we have Godly wisdom, the knowledge and ability to know God’s will and speak God’s Word in a specific situation and see results, then such wisdom can be used to receive from God.

James says that God actually desires to give us His wisdom.  And He gives liberally!  The only condition is that we ask in faith, believing that we receive when we pray!

But not only does God desire to give us His wisdom; He also desires for us to receive all things pertaining to our needs in this life, for He has already given us richly all things to enjoy!  Peter writes,

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord;  seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.   (II Peter 1:3-4)

This is why we need to have a thorough knowledge of Him.  This is why we need to know His Word.  He has already given us all things that pertain unto life and godliness.  Therefore, He has made exceeding great and precious promises to us so that we can receive what He has promised!

The miracle is that God’s Word contains these promises!  If we don’t know what the promises are, we don’t know what God has promised us, and we perish for lack of wisdom and knowledge.

In other words, God has given us His Word (His precious promises), and has promised to give us His wisdom in how to use this Word effectively in our own lives.  The Word is the currency and the Wisdom is the knowledge we need to invest His currency wisely.  The two are dependent upon each other.  There can be no wisdom without the Word, and the Word will not operate without wisdom!  But God has liberally provided both in order that we might live as full partakers of His divine nature.

 

Seeking After Wisdom

We must remember, however, that godly wisdom does not come cheaply.  In spite of the fact that God gives His wisdom liberally and freely, He still will not cast His pearls before swine!  His wisdom must be sought!  As it says in the Proverbs,

My son, if you will receive my words
And treasure my commandments within you,
Make your ear attentive to wisdom,
Incline your heart to understanding;
For if you cry for discernment,
Lift your voice for understanding;
If you seek her as silver
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
Then you will discern the fear of the Lord
And discover the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
He is a shield to those who walk in integrity.  (Proverbs 2:1-7)

Many have set themselves to seeking for gold and hidden treasures in this world, only to find that gold and silver cannot meet their every need.  They have strained, and toiled, and sweated after worldly riches only to perish with their using.  Some have fished all their lives and caught nothing!

How much more ought we to search, and seek, and ask for God’s wisdom in faith, crying after His knowledge and lifting our voice seeking for understanding.  As in Jesus’ explanation of the Parable of the Sower, God only continues to plant His seeds of the Word in the ground that will bear fruit.  God is a good farmer, and He will plant His seeds of wisdom and knowledge in those places where the enemy, the deceitfulness of worldly riches, where persecutions and afflictions will not steal or choke the seeds before they produce fruit.

Have you been fishing all night and caught nothing?  Seek after God’s wisdom that comes from His Word, for He has given us many precious promises, and He wants us to receive our full inheritance through a knowledge of Him and His will.  The merchandise of wisdom is greater by far than the merchandise of silver or gold!

 

 

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