Insights #8 February 21, 2015
First Quarter 2015 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"Words of Wisdom"
For the week of February 21, 2015
Words are thoughts made audible. Have you ever said "I am going to give him/her a piece of my mind!" If so, how was this accomplished? We give a piece of our minds by our words. Our words are ether wise or foolish.
Human wisdom has to do with accumulated philosophic or scientific learning that is more than knowledge. One may have knowledge, but not the wisdom to use it wisely. Wisdom includes the ability to discern inner qualities and relationships. This is known as insight. True wisdom also involves good judgment. With that is good sense. Wisdom is practical and not merely theoretical.
Jesus is both the Word of God and the Wisdom of God (John 1:14; 1 Cor 1:24). He is the heavenly Word of Wisdom. If we accept Him into our lives, we receive God's wisdom. The wisdom of heaven cannot be separated from Jesus. It is embodied in Him. We receive it by receiving Him. His wisdom, like His word, is very practical. This then is the foundation for this week's lesson.
Our study this week covers three chapters of Proverbs, which are chapters 20-22. These chapters reveal practical actions – both good and evil – within the great controversy motif. This is the central theme. There are no abstract theoretical theologies here. These are practices warring against each other. Two antagonistic kingdoms meet – the kingdom of heaven versus the kingdom of hell.
Proverbs 20:1 begins with the wisest things to not do, which is to be led astray by wine and strong drink. In verse 2 the word of wisdom is to not rile up those in authority, for it may cost you your life.
A key to the study of the three chapters, regarding the words of wisdom's rightness, is found in chapter 22 beginning with verse 17 –
17Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge; 18for it is a pleasant thing if you keep them within you; let them all be fixed upon your lips, 19so that your trust may be in the LORD; I have instructed you today, even you. 20Have I not written to you excellent things of counsels and knowledge, 21that I may make you know the certainty of the words of truth, that you may answer words of truth to those who send to you?
James, like Solomon, outlines heavenly versus demonic wisdom in chapter 3:13–18. This passage sheds light on the theme for this week in the book of Proverbs:
13Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. 14But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
Both James and Solomon present the same practical facts of all wisdom, of all learning, of all education, whether that wisdom is good or evil. The fact of wisdom is always demonstrated in behavior. Righteousness and heavenly wisdom are always united. There is practicality in righteousness by faith as well as in the wisdom of God. E. J. Waggoner penned the following:
In 1 Cor. 1:30 we are told that Christ is made unto us righteousness as well as wisdom; and since Christ is the wisdom of God, and in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, it is evident that the righteousness which life is made to us is the righteousness of God. Let us see what this righteousness is. In Ps. 119:172 the Psalmist thus addresses the Lord: "My tongue shall speak of Thy Word; for all Thy commandments are righteousness." The commandments are righteousness, not simply in the abstract, but they are the righteousness of God. For proof read the following: –"Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath; for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner; but My salvation shall be for ever, and My righteousness shall not be abolished. Hearken unto Me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is My law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings." Isa. 51:6, 7. What do we learn from this? That they who know the righteousness of God are those in whose heart is His law, and therefore that the law of God is the righteousness of God. Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, March 14, 1898."
Righteousness by faith always carries God's law on the face of it – always upfront. Faith never sets it aside. It always causes the law to stand out. "Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law" (Rom 3:31).
As stated above, God's "commandments are righteousness" (Psa 119:172). By faith in Christ the righteousness of the law is seen in the life of the believer. The same is true regarding the law and wisdom. The law "is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, 'Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people'" (Deut 4:6). Like righteousness, wisdom does not come directly from the law. However, this is promised in the new covenant – that God will write this wisdom, this righteousness, in our hearts and minds. We must never forget that God's righteousness, like His wisdom, is embodied in Christ. Both are received by receiving Him by faith.
The wisdom exercised and the works of righteousness performed by the believer are never meritorious. Christ alone is our wisdom, our righteousness, our merit. Mrs. White speaks to the merit issue in the following quotation:
If man cannot, by any of his good works, merit salvation, then it must be wholly of grace, received by man as a sinner because he receives and believes in Jesus. It is wholly a free gift. Justification by faith is placed beyond controversy. And all this controversy is ended, as soon as the matter is settled that the merits of fallen man in his good works can never procure eternal life for him.—Ellen G. White, Faith and Works, p. 20.
For what purpose, then, are good works? Prov 20:11 opens this up for us: "Even a child is known by his deeds, whether what he does is pure and right." What is true of children is likewise true of adults. We are known by our works. They never save, but they reveal what we are: either evil and carnal or pure and righteous. The purity, the righteousness, the works and the wisdom reveal Christ to others. Truly, we are Christ's sermons in shoes.
In closing, consider the following thought from Waggoner:
There is one text … which briefly sums up all that Christ is to man and gives the most comprehensive reason for considering Him. It is this: "But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." 1 Cor. 1:30. We are ignorant, wicked lost. Christ is to us wisdom, righteousness, redemption. What a range! From ignorance and sin to righteousness and redemption. Man's highest aspiration or need cannot reach outside the bounds of what Christ is to us and what He alone is to us. Sufficient reason this why the eyes of all should be fixed upon Him. Christ and His Righteousness, pp. 7-8.