Lucia's Blog: June 2017
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A CALL TO GODLY MANHOOD AND FATHERHOOD

"Be thou strong therefore, and show thyself a man; and keep the charge of Jehovah thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his ordinances, and his testimonies."
1 Kings 2:1-3 


Father's Day is next Sunday, and our hearts reach out to the fathers today who live in a world hostile to their role in our modern society. Today, more than ever, fathers need to be strong, and we need to encourage and support them in taking a godly role.

The Word of God is entirely clear that men and women are God's image bearers, (Genesis 1:27). They are equal in their standing before God, (1 Peter 3:7; Galatians 3:28), in their relationship with each other and are fellow-heirs as Christians.  The Bible also makes it clear that both men and women are equal concerning creation and redemption, thus sharing many things in common.  They are also given different roles in marriage and in the church.  God Himself chose distinctive roles for both, male and female, to fulfill His creation order and decree He gave to mankind, (Genesis 1:28; 3:15-19).  God has commanded men to serve as leaders in marriage and the church.  Likewise, He has commanded women to submit willingly to that headship as they labor together in their distinctive roles, (Ephesians 5:23-24; 1 Peter 3:1-6; 1 Timothy 2:12; 3:1-13).  Men and women are to fulfill their respective roles.  God has called men to exercise their headship in a loving, gentle, respectful and honoring manner, (Eph. 5:25ff; 1 Peter 3:7).  He likewise has called women to submit to that headship in a willing, gentle, respectful and honoring way, (Eph. 5:24, 33; 1 Peter 3:1-2).  They are to carry their roles in a godly manner in their everyday situations.  Unfortunately, many forces are working against them that must be overcome, and the antidote is found in the revealed Word of God (His grace) which instructs both men and women how to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world, (Titus 2:11-14).

The apostolic teachings instruct men to be the male leaders in the church.  They insist on men being the primary leaders in the church just as in marriage and exclude women from that role, (1 Timothy 2:12).  God has given man and woman different roles in their leadership of the church.  God demands men to be godly leaders with godly commitments; faithful to the church; faithful to their wives; faithful to their neighbors and faithful to the children God has charged them with.  God also commands men to be godly in their conduct, understanding the need of a good reputation, the nature of their calling and the necessity of a godly and righteous life.  God wants men to be godly in their character, pursuing righteousness, sanctification, and holiness.  They must be men with godly convictions, devoted only to the Truth, diligent to teach and instruct others in godliness and righteousness.  Male leadership is vital for the success of any organization.  The home and the church are no exceptions.  Godly men are to be mature in godly leadership, mature in their integrity of life, mature in Christ, mature in their knowledge of the Scriptures, mature in their ministry.  They are to provide and protect, feed and lead, teach and tend to the spiritual needs of their family and the church.  God demands that the man be responsible spiritually to Him, his wife, his children, his finances, himself (emotionally, physically, psychologically), his friends, his neighbor and the Lord's church.

Today, our society, as well as our nation, is in crisis due to men abandoning their God-given role of manhood and fatherhood.  They have ignored the notion of being responsible both spiritually and physically for the well-being of those around them, those God has entrusted to them.  Men used to be more active members of the church, the home, and their community.  Fathers labored hard to instill principles of righteousness in their children, obedience, and respect toward God and all forms of authority.  Men were once more active in their sons' education.  Today they have given that responsibility to a public school system dominated mostly by female teachers and feminine learning patterns.  Men then began to look at social reform and mercy movements as women's work and, in time, they were the objects of that social reform.  For over 150 years our men have walked out of their God-given role and responsibilities of moral and spiritual leadership in their homes, schools and Bible instruction or counsel.  By the end of the 19th century, it was acceptable by our society for men not be involved with their families.  The majority of our little boys and little girls continued under the supervision and authority of ladies until they reached maturity.  Nothing in the history of mankind (crusades, wars, migrations, pestilence, etc.) has ever before taken such a large percentage of young and older adult males out of the family context for so much of the walking life of our children.

Consider the sobering statistics:  One of every four American children has no father in the home to welcome them at their time of birth.  Only 41 percent of today's children will grow up in a two-parent family.  Almost a million children are left with just one parent due to divorce.  Nine out of ten of these children are with their mothers only.  Today's children believe that divorce and separation are a normal part of family life.  Indeed, there is a significant father absence, and it is the curse of our day. Such absence has dramatic consequences on our children, especially our sons.  The lack of the father's presence indeed damages their son's self-esteem and confidence.  Moreover, the absence of male role models at home is also associated with the lack of male role models in the schools.  Did you know that 95 percent of elementary school teachers are women?  Add to that a system that stubbornly insists that our little boys learn as if they were little girls.

So, what is causing our young people, especially our boys, to commit so much lawlessness and crime in our nation?  The common factor is the absence of fathers.  Fatherless families degenerate boys into far more delinquency and personality disorders than normal or motherless families.  Indeed, there is a significant plague of missing fathers in our nation and society.  Our boys are confused about their identity and under a great deal of psychological stress and frustration.  Our land is increasingly filled with angry, frustrated, and isolated young men who no longer know who they are.  In their desperation, they are destroying everything in sight.  The majority are victims of substance abuse and murder.  Many of them commit suicide each year.  This is alarming!

Absent and disinterested fathers also have a significant effect on their daughters.  Fathers play a crucial role in the development of their girls' image of femininity.  Dad's positive feedback is vital. Their dad's lack of attention leads these girls to believe they are dull and unintelligent leaving them with little self-esteem.  These girls are forced to seek male attention from other places.  Usually, they end up finding men who victimize them and take advantage of their need for male approval.  Each year three-quarters of a million teenage girls become pregnant in our nation.  Half of them will have to deal with an unwanted pregnancy and thus take the life of their unborn baby.  Many of these girls are trying to compensate for affection that should have come from their Dad.  I grieve to submit that our nation's children are lost!!  This reminds me of the nation of Israel's darkest hour in their history.  The land was polluted by greed, oppressors, robbery, falsehood, adultery, and murder.  The fathers of the nation had failed in their responsibilities.  Hosea summed up this tragic situation like this:
"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.  Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest.  Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children."  (Hosea 4:6).
Our society has divorced itself from heaven and God's kingdom of righteousness.  Our fathers have ceased to model their fatherhood after the Fatherhood of God.  Unless fathers return from the exile of self-serving behavior and start offering their souls to the mercy of our Father in heaven, there is no hope for the children of our nation.  Our nation's fathers must come to know God as the Father and to see His Fatherhood as their pattern.  They must reconnect their earthly fatherhood with the heavenly model to function and heal the hearts of their children.  They must return to godly and responsible fatherhood, (John 5:19).  When we look at our Father, we see One who models, and a Son who could declare, "He who has seen me has seen the Father,"  (John 14:19).  Christ is the image of the Father.  Our view of God will determine our view of man, the essence of all fatherhood and family life.  All of man's critical questions regarding roles, functions, and equality can be solved by a better understanding of the Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).
"Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, look and take note!  Search her squares to see if you can find a man, one who does justice and seeks truth."  (Jeremiah 5:1)
So, what is God asking Jeremiah to do?  To find a man "who does justice and seeks truth." Jeremiah could have found any man in Jerusalem, but God was not looking for just any man.  Indeed, finding a righteous, holy and godly man in the eyes of God was more difficult. Obviously finding any man will not be difficult, but finding a godly man (one that God recognizes as a real man) it is more challenging.  It is time for our older men and fathers to start teaching, training and defining what a man of God is; setting an example of godly character, the high standards and excellencies of God as goals for our young men to reach toward.  Likewise, it is vital for Christian men to understand and apply godly principles of righteousness in their lives, the lives of their sons and the young men of the church.  God demands this of all Christian men (father, husband, and leader in the church).


I.   WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A GODLY MAN OR A REAL MAN?

Before I start with the characteristics of what makes a "real man," a "godly man," I would like to start with the definition of what godliness is and what it means to be godly.  According to Strong as well as Thayer's Greek definition, to be godly means to be pious, 2 Timothy 3:12.  It conveys the idea of a personal attitude toward God that results in actions that are pleasing to Him.  Godliness is more than just character.  It is character that springs from a devotion to God.  True devotion to God always results in godly character.  When someone declares that a man is pious, he is saying he is godly, and it is seen in his daily life.  To be a devout man is to be a Cornelius as in Acts 10 or an Abraham.  Such a man did that which was well pleasing to God.  Godliness is a fear or reverence toward God.  The Psalmist wrote,

"Praise the LORD! How blessed is the man who fears the LORD, Who greatly delights in His commandments.  2 His descendants will be mighty on earth; The generation of the upright will be blessed.  3 Wealth and riches are in his house, And his righteousness endures forever.  4 Light arises in the darkness for the upright; He is gracious and compassionate and righteous. 5 It is well with the man who is gracious and lends; He will maintain his cause in judgment.  6 For he will never be shaken; The righteous will be remembered forever.  7 He will not fear evil tidings; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. 8 His heart is upheld, he will not fear, Until he looks with satisfaction on his adversaries. 9 He has given freely to the poor, His righteousness endures forever; His horn will be exalted in honor. 10 The wicked will see it and be vexed, He will gnash his teeth and melt away; The desire of the wicked will perish."  (Psalm 112).

Indeed, a godly man's heart is upheld; he will not fear.  The blessed man of this Psalm is one whose heart is "fixed," "established."  It is a heart that is resolved to a distinct purpose in life.   All great men of God have been men of strong resolution.  Take for instance Abraham who searched for a city whose builder and maker was God, (Heb. 11:10).  The apostle Paul who was resolved to press on and move forward and do "one thing..."  Our Lord Jesus who said, "I came to do Thy will O God."  Even earthly men, those with a firm resolution of heart are the ones who succeed.  Christian men are no different.  They too must resolve to have the mind of Christ, (Phil. 2:5).  So, what does a godly man resolve to do?  He considers three characteristics are his resolve:  To be sound in faith, to be holy in his life, to be a faithful servant of Christ in His kingdom of righteousness.


II.   SHOW THYSELF A MAN:  ACT LIKE MEN
"Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love."  (1 Corinthians 16:13-14).
So, what is involved for a man ( a Christian man) to show himself as a real man?  The answer to this question is found in God's Word which instructs men on how they ought to conduct themselves. In Timothy 4:12, Christian men are instructed to be examples to those who believe in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity.  We also learn from this Scripture how young men, single men ought to act.  And though this passage is talking to Timothy, I believe the same principles apply to all men, young and old.  In Colossians 4:6, we are exhorted to let our speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that all may know how to answer each other.  A Christian man must never compromise with vulgarity.  Timothy was also instructed to be an example of love.  When a man is full of love, he will not leave any room for hate, bitterness and angry words.  As a Christian man, he must conduct himself in a way that is pleasing to God and that includes love.  Timothy was to be an example in spirit, faith, and purity.  All Christian men must be compelled to live their lives in a way that others might see the beauty of Christ, His Spirit in them.  It will require faith in God.  A Christian man (godly man, a real man) will watch carefully how he conducts himself around women and maintains pure thoughts.  All Christian men are to act in such a way as to be good examples to those around them, (Titus 2:6-8).

  • Characteristics of a Real Man, a Godly Man as Found in I Corinthians 16:13-14:  
Let us analyze in depth what a "real man," or "godly man" looks like.
  1. He would be a man "on the alert."  He is aware that he has to watch with extreme vigilance his own soul and the souls of those whom he loves to protect them.  He will be watchful and careful. He knows that we are engaged in a spiritual war against a cunning and dangerous enemy.
  2. He is to "stand firm in the faith."  He knows that he can succeed in standing firm only if he completely surrenders to God, obeying Him with all of his heart, soul, and mind.  He surrenders to God's wisdom and not to worldly wisdom.
  3. "Act like men."  He shows himself as a real man in Christ.  He labors intensely to show himself worthy of God, courageous in his steadfastness and his judgment.  He will not compromise his principles as cowards do.  
  4. "Be strong."  He is strong.  His eyes are fixed on Jesus, and he will not release his grip.  He trusts in His God with all of his strength, heart, soul, and mind.
  5. "Let all that you do be done in love."  He knows that all that he does in word and deed must be done in a spirit of love toward God and toward his neighbor.  He shines his light before all men.
I Corinthians 16:13-14 is very clear about how men are to behave before God.  They are to act like real men; they are to be responsible; they are to be grounded in their faith; they are to show strength in every area of their life; they are to do all things in the spirit of Christian love.  This is the only way that we are going to be able to have effective fathers, husbands, leaders in the church and lights to a dying world of darkness. This is what motivates a man to godliness and manliness.
  • So, How Does a Real Man, Godly Man Act As a Husband?
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church."  (Ephesians 5:25-29).

A real man loves his wife just as Christ loved the church.  Think for a moment how deep this love must be.  Christ was willing to die for the church, His bride.  This is how much love Jesus has for you and me.  He  was willing to give up his heavenly abode to become man and to live like one of us; be tempted like one of us so that He could fully know how to help us in our time of need, (Phil. 2:5-8; 2 Cor. 8:9; Heb. 4:14-16).  You see Jesus our Lord was willing to give everything up so that we could be set free from the bondage of sin.  He loved us so much that He was willing to submit to such a humiliating death on the cross for our sake, (Romans 5:7-9).  He purchased the church with His own blood, (Acts 20:28).  This is how much He loved His bride, the church and so must husbands love their wives with every ounce of their being.  Husbands are to love their wives and nurture them as they would want to be nurtured.  Husbands are to love their wives with respect, honor, attention, and affection.  Husbands must spend quality time with their wives, rendering care and affection to them, (1 Cor. 7:3-5). Based on this Scripture, men must not neglect their wives because Satan will surely have an open door to tempt either the man or the woman.  A husband must render the affection his wife deserves.

According to 1 Peter 3:7, husbands are to live wisely with understanding, giving honor to their wives as to the weaker vessel because they are heirs together of the grace of life.  So that their prayers are not hindered.  
  • How Does a Real Man Act As a Father?
"Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."  (Eph. 6:4).
All fathers must provoke their children to righteousness and not wrath.  A real man trains up his children in God's Word.  He is the spiritual leader of his house, his family.  He takes an active part in the teaching and instruction of his children concerning the Lord.  God demands that fathers be involved in the upbringing of their children. He does not demand such a role of the schools, the government, or the church.  Every Christian man who wants to act like a real man must heed God's instructions about the training of his children, (Joshua 24:15; Deut. 5:6-7).  Christian men are to act like men, servants of God and true children of God.  Real men of God love the Lord, their family, and the church.  God wants Christian men to show themselves as real, manly men (brave, determined, matured, leader).  He wants men to show what they are made of.  So, those who show themselves to be real men are confident in their goal.  They know it is worth reaching it.  Being a real man is purposed.  It does not happen accidentally.  To be a real man is what all men must do. It is what every father must be teaching his sons. 

A real man, a godly man, leads his family, (Gen. 3:16; Eph. 5:23).  He knows it is a command from his God.  He leads with love as described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and Ephesians. 5:25.  He shows compassion toward others, (James 2:15-16).  He shows hospitality, (Gal. 6:10).  He leads with honesty, integrity, and diligence.  He observes, delights in God's ways, (Prov. 23:26).  He knows his children are watching his manner of life.  He is the manager and head of his family.  He makes wise choices for his family.  He is responsible for the well-being of his household.  He loves, protects, provides and points them to Christ in godliness, (Deut. 6:7; Eph. 6:4) and provides spiritual nourishment and leadership, (Joshua 24:15).  Often, the father who fails to lead his family spiritually has children who become unfaithful and ungodly as they grow up.  A godly man, husband, and father leads his family in worship that is consistent with the Word of God.  He makes sure his children are worshiping God in Spirit and Truth, (John 4:24).  He reinforces the importance of worship in the daily lives of his family.  He serves God faithfully and cheerfully, (Col. 3:17,23).  He encourages his children to serve by being an example of servitude to others.  He instills steadfastness and faithfulness in his children.  He is aware that without works his faith is dead.  So he leads his family daily in prayer and Bible study, (Eph. 6:4).  As he spends time reading and studying the Word of God, he understands that he needs to apply it in his daily life.  He teaches his children to pray.  He leads his family soberly in holiness, righteousness, and godliness before the world, (Titus 2:11).  

So, fathers, remember that as real men, godly fathers, you must be the right example before your children. God demands that of you, (Matt. 5:13-16; 1 Tim. 4:13).  Your godly example speaks louder than words.  Remember you are to be the leader in your home.  Under no circumstances, are you to abandon your God-ordained role as the head of your home.  You must continue in your father's role.  You must lead your family in church attendance, Bible study, prayer and all spiritual activities. These are not women's work.  Godly father, you must be the right kind of man, practicing love in the home and rejoicing in your children, (Psalm 127:3-5).  You are to be meek and not weak. You are to be pure in a lawless society.  A godly father will avoid, at all cost, anything that would pollute his home.  Though you are not perfect, you must sincerely seek to lead your children to heaven.  May your tribe increase!
  • A Real or Godly Man Stands For Truth And Righteousness: 
He is sound in his faith and is free from error, (Titus 1:13).  He opposes all error, all that is against the Truth.  He knows he cannot stand for Truth without standing firm against all error.  He opposes error and all falsehood because he stands for the Truth, (Psalm 119:104).  The godly man stands for Jesus' authority.  He acknowledges well that Jesus is the head over all things to the church, (Eph. 1:22); Jesus has all authority in heaven and earth, (Matt. 8:28).  Thus he, the godly man, stands against all human tradition as his rule of authority.  He is resolved to stand for the inspired Truth which contains no error.  He opposes modernism of every kind, humanism and everything that is against God's will.  He stands firm for the Lord's church which He built, (Matt. 16:18) and purchased with His own blood, (Acts 20:28).  The godly man stands for the Gospel plan of salvation that requires men to believe, repent, confess Jesus as Son of God and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins.  Thus he opposes all religious error such as "faith alone" because it denies God's plan.  He stands only for the authorized worship rather than rituals, innovations and new forms of emotional satisfaction.  He fights tooth and nail for the souls of men.  He is indeed, by his godly behavior, a sound man in the faith.  
  • A Real Man, a Godly Man, is Resolved to be Holy in His life:  
He follows peace and holiness with all men.  He knows that without holiness, sanctification, he will not see the Lord, (Heb. 12:14).  The godly man sets his affections on things above where Christ is, (Col. 3:1-3; 1 Peter 2:11-12).  Under no circumstance will he set his mind on earthly things.  He is not interested in earthly things but rather the heavenly ones.  He, the godly man, lives unspotted from the world, (James 1:27).  He is pure in speech and conduct, (Eph. 4:29).  He lives for Christ rather than self.  He is as Paul said, "crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me."  (Gal. 2:20).
  • A Real Man is Faithful (Devoted) in His Service to God: 
He does the will of the Father in heaven, (Matt. 7:21).  He is completely obedient to Jesus, (Heb. 5:8-9) because he loves God and wants to obey His commands, (1 John 5:3).  He is not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the Word of God, (James 1:25).  He diligently seeks to obey all that his Master requires, (Luke 6:46).  The man of godly resolve will do God's will daily in his study of God's Word, in prayer, in his family and at work.  He indeed worships in Spirit and Truth not forsaking the assembling of the church.  So, to be godly, all Christian men must be sound in faith, holy in life and faithful as servants of the Lord.
  • The Man Who Seeks to be Godly Before God Pursues the Right Priorities and Loves What is Good Defined by God, (Phil. 4:8):
He possesses the right perspectives.  It means he is sober-minded, self-controlled, sensible, under mental and emotional control.  He has a balanced view of life both in his judgments and actions.  He acts with wisdom and common sense.  He sees his life from God's perspective and acts accordingly.  His primary focus is righteousness.  He is just and holy (devout).  He is just because he is righteous, fair, equitable and honest in how he deals with others.  Because he is a just man, he reflects the very character of God.  He is holy because he is pure, unpolluted and committed to godliness and Christ-likeness.  His life is a pure reflection of Christ living in him.  He indeed is self-controlled (disciplined).  It means he has control over himself; he is in control of his strength.  He masters his passions and impulses and brings everything under the will of God whom he loves and trusts.  He has a good grip on himself!!  He submits his life daily to God's Word and will.  He looks daily into his reflecting mirror of Scriptures, not forgetting what kind of man he was, (James 1:24).  He is definitely a man of godly convictions, (James 1:9).  He knows that false teaching, wrong belief will lead him to false living.  He does not leave room for any compromise of the Truth.  So, he is resolved to be devoted to the Truth, holding fast, strongly latching on to the faithful Word as he has been taught.  It means he reveres and respects the Word of God as being the inspired and inerrant Word of God.  He affirms the Bible's priority, authority, and sufficiency for what he believes and how he ought to live his life.  He is in full submission to the Word of God.  He proclaims the Word of God and honors what God has said.  In a few words, he is an expositor of the Sacred Scriptures.

Therefore, he is diligent to teach sound doctrine, healthy teaching against false, weak, and sickly teaching which contradicts, opposes (by compromise, opposition or neglect) the Truths of God.  He is both a defender and teacher, preacher and physician in that he consistently takes up the task to comfort, confront, admonish and expose false teachings, half gospels, and deceptive messages of false teachers.  Hence, he knows that to take up such an assignment from God, his life and his message must be in harmony with the will of God.


CONCLUSION:

A real, godly man is a proclaimer of God's Truth. He is the head of his wife and leads with love and honor; he is prince in his home but not domineering; he professes love even when silent; he prioritizes but is not reclusive; he is possessive but not possessing; he is a godly husband and is loyal to his wife; he honors his wife.  He respects and esteems her by the way he treats her.  He lives with her according to his understanding of her strengths and weaknesses, (I Peter 3:7).  He provides for the needs of his wife, both physically, spiritually and intimately, (I Tim. 5:8; I Cor. 7:1-4; I Peter 3:7).  He is a blessing from God in the marriage relationship.  He loves his wife as God loves the church by sacrificing, loving her as he loves his own body, genuinely caring for her, (Eph. 5:25-33). He follows the perfect pattern of love toward his wife, (I Cor. 13:4-8).  He provides for the needs of his children and brings them up in the admonition of the Lord, (I Tim. 5:8; Eph. 6:1-4).  He teaches his children respect for authority, older people, and the law.  Likewise, he teaches his children to love work, use their money wisely, the sanctity of marriage and the importance of serving the Lord faithfully.  He does not belittle and provoke his children to wrath, making unreasonable demands, (Eph. 6:4).

A godly man sets the right example for his family and others with love, respect, and understanding, (2 Cor. 3:2-3; Eph. 5:22-23; 4:32).  He is an example in the church (attendance, worship, Bible study, prayer, and righteousness, 2 Tim. 2:15; Titus 2:11-12).  He guards his heart and is pure; he is devoted to God first; he is merciful; he is a protector; he loves God's principles of righteousness because he loves God and His Word.  He knows God's Word will help him to conduct himself as a child of God in his family, (I Timothy 3:15).   He also thinks and behaves in a manner worthy of the Gospel that will not bring shame to God, (I Peter 1:16).  He knows he is to crucify the old man of sin and become more like Jesus in His righteousness. (Romans 6:1-4; II Cor. 5:17).  He acknowledges that he has been bought by the blood of Jesus and therefore is expected to give his life completely to the Lord in service.  He knows he belongs to the Lord and his life is no longer to do the will of the flesh, but rather to do the will of the Lord,  (I Corinthians 6:19;-20;  Phil 3:12-15; Matt 16:24).

A real man, a godly man focuses primarily on spiritual things, (Col. 3:1-4).  He knows he is to do the good works of His Father such as teaching others by word and example: encouraging others, correcting error, and providing assistance for the material and spiritual needs of others, (Titus 2:14; Eph. 2:10; James 5:16; Gal. 6:1-2; Eph. 4:28).  He knows he is to live godly with contentment, (Titus 2:11-12; I Tim. 6:6).  Godly in his marriage, (Eph. 5:25); godly toward his children, (Eph. 6:1-4); godly in his work, (Col. 3:22-24); godly in government, (Rom. 13:6-7); godly in bodily discipline, (I Tim. 4:8); godly in material and financial matters, (Romans 13:8); and finally he is to be godly while he is walking here on earth, (I John 2:15-17; I Peter 2:11-12).  

Moreover, he is to be mature in Christ by bearing good fruit, (Gal. 5:22); by adding excellence to his faith, (2 Peter 1:5-9); by studying God's Word and being rooted in it, (2 Tim. 2:15; I Peter 2:1-2); and by putting into practice the principles of righteousness, (Heb. 5:14).  He knows that work is honorable, (Gen. 2:15).  He is aware that God hates the disorderly man who refuses to work and provide for his needs and for the needs of those he loves, (2 Thess. 3:6-13; I Tim. 5:4, 8).  He knows he is to labor intensely as unto the Lord and not men, (Eph. 6:5-8; Col 3:22-25; Eph. 4:28).

A real man, godly man loves God's church in deed and Truth, (I John 3:17-18).  He provides them with the things they need,( James 2:14-17).  He knows that if he does not love his brethren, He does not love God, (I John 4:20).  He is careful with worldly friendships, worldly habits and everything that corrupts him, (I Cor. 15:33).  He knows he needs righteous friends to be strong and holy (Rom. 15:1); he helps those who are found in sin with meekness and humility of heart, (Gal. 6:1).  He also knows how to build and maintain relationships since he knows well how to apply and follow the "golden rule."  (Matt. 7:12.)  This will help him eliminate causes of strife, hate, anger, a contentious spirit, foolish talk, and meddling.  He is very watchful about what he says to others or how he expresses himself, (Prov. 25:11; James 3:2-12).  

He regards others as God does.  That means he loves his enemies, (Matt. 5:43-48; Romans 12:17-21). He follows the example of Jesus, (Luke 23:34).  He teaches the lost as well as the saved with meekness, love, and longsuffering, (I Tim. 2:4; 2 Tim. 2:2).  He is sober-minded, discreet, well balanced and able to make sound decisions on any matter with wisdom and understanding, (I Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:8).  This means he is mentally alert, always knowing what is going on, working with all his might for the success of the Lord's church.  He is temperate, meaning self-controlled in everything, (I Tim. 3:2).  He controls his temper, his foolish anger.  He is a man of good behavior. He is orderly, (I Tim. 3:2).  This implies that he is decent, modest, honorable in his appearance and conduct.  He is not clownish, rude, crude, sour, boisterous and disgraceful.  A man of God who rules in His kingdom must be dignified, courteous, chaste, honest, fair, diligent, kind, polite in speech, not sour, nor cutting, clean and moderate in all his habits. In a few words, he is a well-behaved man in all phases and manners of his life.

He is gentle and patient, (I Tim. 3:3).  This implies that he is meek, lowly and considerate.  He is a lover of good and holds fast to what is good.  He does not strike back at anyone who disagrees with him or displeases him, (I Tim. 3:3; Titus 1:7)He does not attain money or riches dishonestly by abusing others, (Titus 1:7).  He is not quarrelsome. He abstains from battling both physically and verbally, (I Tim. 3:3).  He is not covetous nor is he a lover of money and self, (I Tim. 3:3).  He is not given to wine, and lawlessness, (I Tim. 3:3; Titus 1:7).  He hates all evil, sin, (Titus 1:8, Micah 6:8; Rom. 12:9).  He is just, righteous, and upright, (Titus 1:8).  He is holy, free from all lawlessness and wrong.  One who observes all of God's commands is pure in heart toward all men. He knows he must be holy because God is HOLY, (I Peter 1:16).  A real, godly man is not self-willed, self-absorbed, selfish and arrogant; he is not inconsiderate, arrogantly asserting his own will.  He is not presumptuous, demanding his own rights, (Titus 1:7); he is not quick-tempered, getting very angry all the time, (Titus 1:7, James 1:19-20).

Therefore, a real man, a godly man's primary goal is to become an elder and serve the needs of the congregation.  He will be eligible if he meets all of the above qualities or characteristics.  This will not only qualify him but will also provide a heritage for perhaps future elders from his descendants. Wouldn't that be a blessing in the kingdom of Christ?!

Our homes and churches are in so much need of these godly men of God.  Men who diligently want to seek God's counsel and Truth in every area of their lives.  It is such a tragedy to see the breakdown of the family, especially the role of the head of the household, due to no-fault divorce, out-of-wedlock childbearing, materialism, and individualism.  The breakdown of the home reflects a lack of respect for the Bible as the Word of God by allowing our culture to redefine what God has divinely instituted. It will take a lot of strength and courage to stop the tide of our culture.

Throwing more money at government programs will not help lower divorce rate, children being born out of wedlock, or the vast majority of children who live in a house without a father.  The answer is not in strengthening our economy, the military, and our public education system.  The answer is in men wanting to be godly men, real men, who seek righteousness and Truth.  We need real men who will not abandon their covenant of marriage and their children.  We need real, godly men like Abraham, Joshua, Job, Jonadab, Elkanah and others like them.  Moreover, we need fathers who will turn their own hearts to their children and the hearts of their children to their fathers as well as to God.

May the Lord help our brothers in Christ to be real and godly men and fulfill the great need that godliness provides.   May each and every father rule the little corners of God's kingdom honorably and well. May they keep their eyes fixed on Him alone and His Word. May they seek wisdom to faithfully persevere in their God-given role of fatherhood. May each father never forget his dependence on the Heavenly Father to fulfill his role as prince in his home.


I would like to conclude with a few words of exhortation from Titus 2:12; Proverbs 22:6 and a poem I have written myself.
"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world."
"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."

Oh, Blessed Fatherhood!  
By Luci Y. Partain

More than words could ever say,
A godly father loves his child
For his heart leads like the Shepherd’s
As he leads the righteous way.
For he knows he shall give an account
To his heavenly Father above one day.
For the way he molds that life he holds…
As a yielding and pliable piece of clay.

With tender loving care, he trains,
He does not spare his shepherd’s rod,
For a closer walk with God;
He prays each and every day
For he knows his child learns more
By the example he observes,
Than what he hears from one grown cold…
And instructions he receives.

For a godly father knows his days
Are limited with this clay;
For he must fashion it
While it’s still tender and pliable,

He knows he must shape it God’s way;
For he knows one day, he must depart for glory,
And will leave behind footprints in his child's heart
To trace and find his place…
In that sublime and great kingdom of Christ


Luci

Friday, June 9, 2017

HEAVENLY WISDOM VERSUS EARTHLY WISDOM

"Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom... The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy... " 
James 3:13-18


Some of the smartest people are the dumbest in the most important matters on this earth. Education and intelligence will not do us any good if we are too foolish to see the obvious. One such matter is the wisdom of God. If He was wise enough to create the heavens and the earth, is it not reasonable that He is wiser than the wisest of men? Let's think for a moment about the differences between conventional wisdom, that of smart men, and the wisdom of God's Word.

Everything in life is vanity without God's wisdom in our lives.  Earthly wisdom, the pleasure of the eyes, physical labor and riches are all worthless without proper communion with God, our Creator.
"Wisdom along with an inheritance is good and an advantage to those who see the sun.  12 For wisdom is protection just as money is protection, but the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the lives of its possessors."  (Eccl. 7:11-12). 
God's wisdom is the excellence of knowledge and those who have it have life.  Wisdom is far superior in that it gives life and protection to the one who possesses it.  God's wisdom sets the standard of morality and man can never change it or modify it, (Isa. 5:20).  No matter how he might attempt to justify his sinful behavior or conduct by making it acceptable, (trying to straighten what God has declared as crooked), it will always be wrong and sinful before God.  Earthly wisdom is vanity.  In Ecclesiastes 1:12-18, Solomon writes about the futility of human wisdom and how most men seek it without God in the picture.  The wisdom of the world leads men to their grave.  The grave is precisely where most fools end up.  Human wisdom often increases suffering.
"I, the Preacher, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 And I set my mind to seek and explore by wisdom concerning all that has been done under heaven. It is a grievous task which God has given to the sons of men to be afflicted with. 14 I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind. 15 What is crooked cannot be straightened and what is lacking cannot be counted.  16 I said to myself, 'Behold, I have magnified and increased wisdom more than all who were over Jerusalem before me; and my mind has observed a wealth of wisdom and knowledge.' 17 And I set my mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly; I realized that this also is striving after wind. 18 Because in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain.'"

The Book of Proverbs is full of godly wisdom.  As I read through the book, I notice how the wise men contrast wisdom and folly.  Folly (foolishness), according to the writers, is loud, seductive (simpleness) and knows nothing, (Proverbs 9:13). She entices those who are naive (simple), (Prov. 9:16). She lies about what she's offering without revealing her real purpose, which is the way that leads to death, (Prov. 9:17-18). On the other hand, wisdom is calling out, crying out (Prov. 8:1-3), proclaiming righteousness (8:8), instead of deceiving everyone with temporary pleasures.  Wisdom offers understanding, knowledge, and instruction. She is more valuable than silver, gold, and jewels; nothing can measure up to her. Instead of death, she says, "For by me your days will be multiplied, and years of life will be added to you."  (Prov. 9:11). The world's wisdom leaves men empty with no answers, (Ecclesiastes 1:16-18). God's eternal wisdom in Jesus fills us with hope. In Him, we live and love with meaning when we seek after Him. In Him not only do we find purpose and meaning, but also a renewed and restored hope.   

In Proverbs 12:15 we read that “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.”  As I look around me, I notice that there are a lot of people who are fools in their beliefs. That is especially so because they see themselves as wise when in reality they're fools.  In the Bible, the word “fool” and its plural “fools” is found 113 times.  In the New Testament, there are eight different words translated “fool, foolish, foolishly or foolishness.”  It speaks of those who are “without reason,” "without understanding," “dull, sluggish; hence stupid, foolish,” “without discernment,” “to make foolish,” “to be deranged,” “foolishness,” and senselessness.”  (Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, pp. 453, 454).

Indeed, the apostle Paul dealt with this kind of fool at Corinth. They saw themselves as “wise” when in fact they were fools, (1 Cor. 1:20-25).  The Word of God calls some people fools, because of their choices and conduct or behavior.  A fool is “a person lacking in judgment or prudence, wisdom.”  It is one whose choices and behavior reflect a lack of sound, righteous judgment and wisdom.  It is not one who is imbecile, idiot, stupid, simpleton or dimwit.  On the other hand, the wise according to God is the one who abounds in real knowledge and all discernment, so that he can approve the things that are excellent, “to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; 11 having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 1:9-11).

According to God, he who is a wise man is one who fears Him, (Prov. 1:7); wins souls, (Prov. 11:30); hears counsel, instruction, and correction, (Prov. 12:15); is cautious and turns away from evil rather than being arrogant and careless as fools do, (Prov. 14:16).  


I.  WHO IS A WISE MAN ACCORDING TO JESUS:

A wise man is he who hears His words and does them or acts on them, (Matt. 7:24-27).  
Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” 
Those who reject the doctrines of Jesus are foolish.  According to Thayer's Greek Lexicon, the word “foolish” is equivalent to without learning or erudition, 1 Corinthians 1:27; 1 Corinthians 3:18; 1 Corinthians 4:10; imprudent, without forethought or wisdom, Matthew 7:26; Matthew 23:17, 19 (see above); Matthew 25:2f, 8; equivalent to empty, useless, 2 Timothy 2:23; Titus 3:9; equivalent to impious, godless.  Those who reject the teachings of Christ have their own way of reasoning to justify not obeying Him.  They think they're wise, but Christ calls them foolish men.  In the parable of the virgins, (Matthew 25:1-13), there were “ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.”  They were expected to be prepared and ready to go out to meet the bridegroom when His approach was announced.  Those virgins represent those in God's kingdom who are pure, 1 John 3:3.  The “lamps” were small earthenware vessels with flaxen wicks.  They represent the Christians' faithfulness, (Matt. 5:16).  The ten virgins in this parable represent Christians.  Jesus' message in this parable is the necessity of preparedness.  

According to verse two, there were wise and foolish Christians in God's kingdom, (2 Cor. 13:5). The foolish virgins brought their lamps without extra oil.  They were foolish because they should have brought the extra oil for their lamps in a separate vessel.  They did not know the time when the groom would come.  Though all the virgins made some preparation, in fact, these foolish virgins did not prepare enough.  You see, the wise virgins brought extra oil in a separate vessel and were prepared for a delay.  In this parable, the additional oil represents the active, living faith of Christians, (Eph. 2:10; James 2:14ff).  It is their perseverance and active living faith!  Those who strive to make their election sure are the wise ones, (2 Pet. 1:10).  Jesus says that those who are not prepared are foolish.  

The natural man who seeks the foolish wisdom of this earth says that such preparedness is useless and not essential.  Those who only care about earthly pleasures, (Matt. 24:38-39) are but fools because they do not make any preparation to receive the groom, Jesus our Lord (at His second coming, Judgment Day) to avoid eternal punishment, (1 Thess. 5:1-3).  Those who seek human wisdom believe that their beliefs, religious tactics, and practices are better than the teachings or doctrines of Christ.  But what is their end?  Destruction!  The Pharisees and Scribes of Jesus' time exalted themselves as wiser and well known for their Jewish religion and traditions, but in reality, how were they?  Jesus called them, “You blind fools!”  They were blind fools for rejecting Jesus and wanting to follow their own traditions or teachings.  In Matthew 23, Jesus calls them “hypocrites” seven times.  You see, worldly wisdom produces hypocrites.  Hearing is useless unless it is followed by obedience, (James 1:22-25).  He who hears the warning call but fails to heed it shows a lack of wisdom in his actions.  Likewise, he who does not prepare himself for judgment is a fool though he thinks himself wise.


II.   WHO IS WISE AND FOOLISH ACCORDING TO THE APOSTLE PAUL:

According to Paul he who obtains his wisdom from the Sacred Scriptures, (2 Tim. 3:15).  The wise man watches carefully how he walks, making the best use of his time here on earth because the days are evil, (Eph. 5:15-16).  Paul describes fools as those who do not honor God and whose hearts are darkened by their futile thinking (empty and vain).   He then goes on to talk about their corruption or degeneration.  Their human reasoning did nothing good in their lives, but rather it encouraged self-indulgence of every kind, (Romans 1:24-32).


III.   THE WISDOM OF GOD VERSUS THE WISDOM OF MEN:
  • The Gospel is God's Wisdom:
"For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.'  20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.  26 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29 so that no man may boast before God. 30 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, 31 so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”  (1 Corinthians 1:18-31)


God's wisdom is the Gospel, the word of the cross, (v. 18).  The apostle Paul was writing about how he preached to the Corinthians. He did not preach to them with lofty speech or wisdom, humanly persuasive words of wisdom, but rather he came to them in weakness, fear and trembling along with power and revelation of the Spirit so that their faith would not be based on human wisdom but on the power of God alone.  The message that the apostles proclaimed is God's wisdom, (1 Cor. 2:6-9). 

"Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; 7 but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; 8 the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; 9 but just as it is written, 'Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, And which have not entered the heart of man, All that God has prepared for those who love Him.”  10 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.  14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. 16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.”  (1 Corinthians 2:6-16).

Paul spoke wisdom among those who were mature.  When Paul was speaking in 1 Corinthians 2:6-16 as “we,” he did not include himself with the Corinthians as imparting wisdom for in 1 Corinthians 3:1, he calls these Corinthians immature (spiritually) and infants in Christ.  In 1 Corinthians 4:6 he later identifies who the “we” are:  Paul and Apollos.  Remember that these Corinthians were dividing over which apostle or messenger of God had taught them (Paul, Apollos or Peter).  So, the “we” in this context is speaking of those apostles and preachers who came to them.  Paul explains who they are and what they had done.  Therefore, the apostles and those who preach and teach the gospel are indeed imparting wisdom, but are doing it in a manner that is not recognized by the world or respected as human wisdom.  Those who believe will indeed recognize that what is taught to them is the wisdom of God.  Paul calls such believers “mature” because they can grasp the message that is proclaimed to them as wise and mature.  The Corinthians thought the proclaimed message was immature.  The mature will understand that the message that is being imparted is God's wisdom.  The apostles' message of wisdom is not the message of the earthly.  Those who willingly accept God's message of wisdom do not live according to the world's ways.  “For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the wicked will perish.”  (Psalm 1:6).  Thus, the apostles and those who preach and teach the Gospel speak God's hidden wisdom which is nothing more than the message of the cross.  God's wisdom was hidden for a long time but was being revealed through the cross.  In Romans 16:25-27, Paul explains this idea well.
Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, 26 but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; 27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.”
Though the prophets spoke about the wisdom of God, no one understood these messages until God did it.  The apostles proclaimed the hidden wisdom of God “which God predestined before the ages to our glory.”  God did this for us!  But the rulers and authorities could not guess or even dream what was on God’s mind, this revealed message.  The world (human wisdom and philosophy) did not understand what God was doing for our glory.  Human wisdom and philosophy along with their worldviews cannot comprehend the things of God.  The main point here is that no human can understand the wisdom of God or His plans using their own power, knowledge, reasoning or thinking. They cannot figure it out on their own!  Paul quotes, Isaiah 64:4 and 65:17 in 1 Corinthians 2:9, “but just as it is written, 'Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, And which have not entered the heart of man, All that God has prepared for those who love Him.'"  Paul makes the Corinthians aware that they were not so smart, neither were they so mature.  And though the world may boast on their values, culture, worldview and human wisdom or philosophy, they still can't understand God or what He has done for them.  Nothing they do out of their own will or knowledge can bring or draw anyone closer to the throne of God even, regardless of their claims.  The Gospel message that the apostles proclaimed is the wisdom of God that every man can and must come to know and understand.  

In 1 Corinthians 2:10-16, God's wisdom is revealed through the Spirit who knows the depths and wisdom of God.  And no human can reach that wisdom on own power, knowledge or skills.  Paul proves this point in verse 11.  No one knows the thoughts of another person unless that person reveals them to them.  In the same way, “the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.” Only God knows His own thoughts.  Therefore, man must have the Spirit of God to know God's thoughts.  It will be impossible for any human being to know or understand God, His ways and thoughts simply by one searching within himself.  No human wisdom can help.  The Spirit of God is the agent who can bring this required revelation.  The spirit that the apostles had was not the spirit of this world. They were given the Spirit of God that they might understand the message that was revealed to them. They were not teaching human wisdom, (2:13) but God's spiritual truths that were taught to them by the Spirit Himself.  The apostles express spiritual truths revealed in the Spirit's Words.  I don't see any other way to divine wisdom and knowing God.

You see, the natural man does not accept what the Spirit of God teaches because such divine truths are but foolishness to him, (1 Cor. 1:18-25 and 2:10-13).  They are not able to understand or accept the apostles' teaching, doctrines because they are prejudiced against spiritual things and refuse to accept them.  They do not care or desire to know the wisdom of God because of their foolishness, self-indulgence, self-centeredness and focusing on themselves.  On the other hand, the spiritual man listens to the apostles' words and teaching and judges the apostles' words.  Those who walk according to the Spirit can discern these truths.  They are not going to be judged by their worldly thinking and wisdom.  Those without the Spirit of God cannot understand or judge the spiritual one. For they have the Spirit of God and speak the wisdom of God, whether they like it, accept it or won't.  The apostles revealed the Spirit’s Words that we might understand the mind of God, (Eph. 3:3-5).

The world is constantly criticizing Christians for being ignorant, narrow-minded and incapable of understanding. They do so because they believe in worldly wisdom and not in God's wisdom.  As Christians, it would be foolish to exalt their worldly perspective as the Corinthians did.
  • Christ, The Power, and Wisdom of God:

For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.'  20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men."  (1 Cor. 1:18-25).

The apostle Paul states that the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but that it is the power of God to those who are being saved, (1 Cor. 1:18).  By the way, Paul is quoting this Scripture from Isaiah 29:14.  Isaiah 29:11-14 describes a people who did not desire to know God.  They drew near to Him with their lips, but their hearts were far from Him, (29:13).  God was going to destroy the wisdom of the wise and thwart the discernment of the discerning.  The message of the cross is God's way of doing what He has promised He will do.  Through the message of the cross, God was going to destroy all human wisdom and pretensions.  This is a focal point in the Scriptures. God will indeed destroy everything that mankind depends upon for strength and wisdom so that they will have to rely on the only true God for their salvation.  Man's problem is that he thinks he can outsmart God because he is self-centered and self-glorifying.  The Gospel is not just some good advice or good news about God's power, but rather it is His power to those who believe in Him. God has destroyed all human arrogance through the Gospel, the cross.  

In Corinth, wisdom was human philosophy and worldview that tried to make sense of life.  According to them, the wise man was one who adopted and defended one of many competing worldviews by articulating them.  Not much has changed in our culture today.  Scholars, talk show hosts, and many others claim to be wise or wiser by supporting their own worldviews.  They openly claim to make sense of life, death, and the universe.  Like the Greeks of Paul's time, there are many today who believe they are in control of life.  Did the “wise men” of this world discern God's plan of redemption?  Did they figure out that the cross was and is the only way to salvation?  Even the best public philosophers and most excellent rhetorical speakers of Paul's time did not understand the cross. No matter their brilliant oratorical performance, none was able to comprehend the cross by his own abilities and so it is today.  For everything the world values is brought to nothing before the cross!!  God has made the wisdom of this world, and all that they value, to be deemed foolish.  God made the wisdom of the world foolish for it does not bring knowledge, nor does it draw any man closer to God. Indeed, this is a great truth!  Everything that the world teaches as “spirituality” or drawing man closer to what they call divine is false.  Nothing in their worldly wisdom can come close to God's wisdom.  Holding any specific worldview or human philosophy cannot draw man to God.  Those who emphasize spirituality, utilizing health, saving the planet, being tolerant or whatever worldly tactics cannot bring them to the knowledge of God, their Creator.  The wisdom of the world is idolatrous.  God must be the center, our Rock, our help, our anchor, our confidence and not something else that's outside of God's realm and Word.

For the Jews, the Gospel was a stumbling block.  The Jews demanded signs, (1 Cor. 1:22-25).  The Jews of Jesus' day demanded that He perform signs, (Matt. 12:38-39; 16:1; John 4:48; 6:26).  By demanding signs, they were putting themselves in the driver's seat.  Jesus would not yield to their requests because it would have turned Him into nothing more than a performer on demand.  Nothing has changed today.  Many reject God because they demand that He do something for them as a condition to obey Him.  “God must heal my marriage, my wife or child so that I can follow Jesus.”  

The Greeks sought wisdom.  Like the Greeks, we have many today who believe that because they are scholars, scientific, compelling and philosophical, God has to do something for them, before they follow Him.  For if God exists, He must fit into the philosophical worldviews and way of reasoning of their thinking.  They are self-centered for they will determine God's existence if he fits their worldview of life and expectations.  Paul preached Christ crucified which was the biggest problem for both people, (1:23).  The message of the cross was a stumbling block to both the Jews and the Gentiles.  For the Jews, the Gospel was foolishness for they could not understand how God's Messiah was crucified.  Jesus did not meet their conditions and expectations for the Messiah.  For the Gentiles, Jesus could not be Savior who was crucified as a hero.  So, Jesus did not fit their philosophical worldview, for it was complete foolishness for a Savior to be killed through capital punishment by any government.  But for those who are the called, Christians, the cross (Christ crucified) is the power of God and His wisdom, (v. 24).  

Many Corinthians accepted the wisdom of God (salvation through the cross of Christ).  Christ is the answer for both groups.  The Jews demanded a sign, so God gave them Jesus and His resurrection.  The power of God was displayed through the cross of Jesus our Lord and Savior.  The Greeks demanded wisdom, so they were given Christ, who is the wisdom of God on full display.  The cross of Christ is God's breathtaking display of wisdom.  For the unbelievers (the world) God's wisdom was and still is foolishness because it does not go along with human wisdom (Greek philosophies).  They cannot grasp the meaning of the cross! Paul explains that the wisdom of men did not help people to know God.  Therefore, God made foolish the wisdom of men by revealing to man true wisdom, salvation through Christ.  The power of the Gospel does not have intellectual reasoning according to human wisdom.  Likewise, it does not harmonize with their concepts and philosophies of what comprises wisdom (like that of the Greeks). No matter how much men call the Gospel madness or foolishness, it is still the wisdom of God and His power to save those who choose to believe in Him, (Rom. 1:16).  God proves to be better and greater than human wisdom.  And what the world describes as hopeless weakness, God declares as being stronger than any human strength or wisdom, (1:25).


IV.    THE WISDOM OF THE WORLD REJECTS THE IRREFUTABLE EVIDENCE OF GOD'S CREATION:

“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power, and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”  (Romans 1:20).

The fact that one is alive and breathing is plenty of evidence that there is a Supreme God who created the whole universe and everything in it.  Therefore, all humanity must be compelled to worship and serve Him according to God's divine will revealed in His Sacred Scriptures.  The Bible from cover to cover, claims that God created all things in nature, heavenly bodies, plants, animals and men,(Genesis 1:1,3,9,11,20,24,26; Nehemiah 9:6; Psalm 8:3-9; 86:8-10; 95:1-7;100:3; 96:1-10; 148:3-5; 1 Chronicles 16:25-36; 2 Kings 19:15; Isaiah 37:16; 17:17; 40:25-28; 42:5-9;45:18; Jeremiah 10:11-12; 32:17; 14:22; 51:15-19; John 1:1-3, 14; Acts 4:24; 14:15; 17:24-29; 1 Corinthians 8:6; 2 Cor. 6:16; 1 Thess. 1:9; Colossians 1:16-17; 1 Timothy 6:13;   Hebrews 11:3; 12:9; Rev. 10:6, etc.).  The only explanation for the existence of all things created is that a Supreme God created them.  God's creation proves that He exists and that He is the true God.  No other god can be true unless he is the only God and Creator of all.  Everything proves that He is the Creator of the heaven of heavens with all their hosts, the earth and everything in it.  Thus, all humanity is obligated to worship Him for He alone is God and there is none like Him among the gods.  He is the great God and King of all gods.  He made us and not ourselves. We did not make Him.  He is the Maker and has established all His creation.  In the New Testament, all His disciples raised their voices to confirm that He is the God who made the heavens, the sea and the earth and all that is in them.  He is the true God who created the world and gives us life.

In Acts 14:15-17, Paul exhorts the people of Lystra toturn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. 16 In the generations gone by He permitted all the nations to go their own ways; 17 and yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”  Paul taught these people who worshiped idols to turn from those useless, vain things to the living God, who made the earth, the sea and all things that are in them.  In Acts 17:24-29, Paul taught the philosophers of Athens, idol worshippers that they should stop worshipping idols of gold or silver and seek the true God “and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for in him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ' For we are indeed his offspring.’ who rules the heavens and the earth and gives us life.'”    

In Romans 1:20 the things that God made prove His existence and reveal His power, His wisdom and His Godhead.  Those who fail to recognize Him as God and Creator of all, are without excuse.  Moreover, those who reject these truths will fall deeper and deeper into error and will definitely be rejected by their Creator, (Romans 1:18-32).  Thus, those who promote human wisdom reject the evidence given in Romans 1:18-32.   They reflect rebellion against the established facts of God's creation.  In both the New Testament and Old Testament, we can find enough evidence that proves the existence of the true God.  The true God created the heavens and the earth.  No other god could have made them but the living God.  The universe confirms the truth of God's creation.  We can see that when we observe the universe.  Therefore, there must be a God who exists and created the universe.  A lesser god could have never done what the all powerful and all wise God did.  Likewise, there can be no other system of true religion unless it worships that all powerful and all wise Creator. 

Therefore, the Creator and Designer must be the true and living God. So if the God of the Bible truly created everything, the worship of all false gods is idolatry and is evil.  Creation proves God's eternal existence.  All things were made by Him (Jesus), and He is before all things.  Clearly, if God made all things, He must have existed before He created all things.  He is the everlasting God who created the ends of the earth.  He lives forever and ever.  Again, any god that is less than eternal cannot be true God.  No religious system can be true if it worships any god that is not eternal.  The true God is the only living source of all life.  So, creation proves that God must be alive since we are His offspring.  He gave us life.  Creation demonstrates God's ultimate power, for He created the universe.  There is no human or physical power that is capable of creating such a great universe. Again, no god can be the true God unless he is infinitely powerful.  Only infinite power could have created the vast universe that we are beginning to know.  Creation proves God's infinite wisdom.  No human wisdom is capable of creating the universe.  Again, no god can be the true God unless he is infinitely wise and no other religious system can be true if it worships a god that is not infinitely wise.  The universe belongs to God for He made it.  Creation proves God's control over it for He made it and has every right and power to control it and do as He pleases.  Since He is the Creator of all, He rules as Lord over it.  Therefore, all humanity is compelled to worship the Creator for He is worthy of man's worship.  No other gods are as powerful or wise as God for they cannot do God's marvelous works.  The Sacred Scriptures repeatedly argue for and support the existence of God. Period!
  • So, who is truly a fool?
  1. A fool is one who says there is no God, (Psalm 14:1, 53:1).  
  2. He thinks he is wise.  He willfully ignores the evidence of God's wisdom and power, (Romans 1:19;21; cf. Psa. 92:6).  
  3. He accepts the wisdom of unbelievers, (Col. 2:8).  
  4. He refuses to acknowledge God's Truth, (Acts 17:22-23, 32).  
  5. He trusts in his own heart though he thinks he is wise, (Prov. 12:15).  
  6. He does not control himself, his tongue, his speech, his emotions, the desires of his flesh. 
  7. He destroys the souls of his family, friends, etc.  (Prov. 19:1;10:8;10:18;12:16;27:3;7:24-27). 
  8. He ignores the dangers of sin and rejoices in its pleasures, (Prov. 23; 2:14; 15:21, Heb. 11:25; Jas. 4:3-4).  The wise person fears evil and flees from all its forms, (Prov. 14:16).  
  9. The fool is always right in his own eyes and refuses godly counsel.
  10. He speaks out of pride and rejects correction.  
  11. He is the expert on everything, (Prov. 12:15; 28:26; 14:3; 17:10; Eccl. 10:12-14). 
  12. He does not obey God, even though he thinks he is wise, (Matt. 7:26-27). 
  13. He does not prepare his soul for death for he is covetous and is self-centered.  
  14. He is not, nor will he ever be, ready to meet His God in judgment for what he has done in his life, (Lk. 12:20; 12:13-15, 19, 20-21).  Though he thinks he is wise.  
  15. He rejects the admonition to be ready.  Men, such as he, neglect the oil needed for their lamps, (Matt. 25:1-13).  
  16. He is not cautious therefore he is a fool in the sight of God.

The Bible is full of examples of people who engaged in actions which were foolish and who had to pay the negative consequences of their foolish choices.  The foolish man neglects the wisdom which is eternal salvation.  They snare themselves in a world of sin, and the end result is shameful absence from the presence of God for all eternity.  Fools choose to value that which is of no value.  They opt to accept corrupt knowledge rather than that which leads them to godly wisdom.  The wise prepares himself so he can be strong and have control over his actions by a foundation of Truth, (Eccl. 10:2).  But a fool does not keep his heart sound.  He trusts in emotions, feelings, and the praise and opinions of men.  They are fools because of their disobedience, speech, anger, and knowledge which will be rewarded with terrible consequences.  God values man's reverence and obedience to Him, (Eccl. 12:13-14).  Hence the fool and wise will be rewarded according to the deeds or works which they have done in life.  Are you choosing to be wise or a fool?


V.   SO ACCORDING TO JAMES, WHO IS WISE AND UNDERSTANDING AMONG US?
Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. (James 3:13-17).  

Human wisdom is earthly, unspiritual and demonic which produces jealousy, selfish ambition, disorder, and all forms of lawlessness, evil practices.  On the other hand, the wisdom that's from above, our God, is pure, peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, and without hypocrisy.  What a contrast between divine wisdom and the so-called human wisdom!  The tree is known by its fruits, “so every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.” (Matt. 7:16-17).  Therefore if we lack God's wisdom, we must ask Him to give it to us, “for He gives to all generously and without reproach,” (James 1:15). 


CONCLUSION:

Many reject God's wisdom and Christ crucified and the cross (the gospel) because they trust in their own goodness.  They are ignorant of God's righteousness and seek to establish their own righteousness.  Therefore, they refuse to submit to the righteousness of God.  The believe that their own moral excellence, according to their own worldly standards, is going to save them.  They are foolish because they trust in their own goodness to deliver them from eternal destruction.  They don't believe in the need for a Savior and His cross.  So, they make no room for the Lord, His Lordship, and His kingdom.  

Some refuse Christ crucified because they trust in their own sufficiency.  They rely on themselves and not in the Almighty God.  They ignore what Paul said, “Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God.”  (2 Cor. 3:5).  Others refuse God and His wisdom because they trust in their own wisdom.  They ignore that the wisdom that comes from man, like self-sufficiency, is vain and powerless and cannot save men.  Those who trust in men's wisdom have no room for Christ.  The Gospel message, the cross, becomes foolishness in comparison to human or earthly wisdom, (1 Cor. 1:21-23).  Others refuse Jesus because they love the world.  Their lives are full of many wrong things instead of the overflowing abundance of spiritual blessings.  They love to pursue earthly treasure, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life above spiritual things.  They have no room for Jesus either, (2 Tim. 3:4; 4:10).  What about you?  Are you trusting in yourself or God?  

The wisdom of the world and the wisdom of God are eons apart.  Human wisdom claims, “don't give up, don't give in, and don't settle.  Fight for what you want!!  Negotiate and compromise where you must but don't yield unnecessarily.”  But God's wisdom says, “Don't' be selfishly ambitious, be gentle, peaceable, full of mercy and willing to yield to others.”  Can you see the contrast?  The more self-centered we are, the less submissive we become.  Our humanistic culture highlights putting one’s self first because man is basically his own god.  Hence, they bargain with the only true and living God.  The more we seek self, the harder it will be to seek God and be submissive to Him as well as all those in authority.  Preaching Christ crucified is the ultimate picture of submission to God and one another.  God's weakness is much stronger than any human strength and foolishness, for the foolishness of God is far wiser than human wisdom.  We must have God's wisdom to understand the mind of God and not human wisdom.  Earthly wisdom will not help us to know God and His will. We will know the thoughts of God only by reading and studying His Word.   God's wisdom is revealed in the writings of the apostles.  

Today our churches are starving, malnourished and dying because they lack God's wisdom. Many lack wisdom, knowledge, and understanding.  Their faith is a dying faith that seeks after the lusts of this world that leads to their souls' destruction.  The world and the church desperately need the wisdom from above, but only God has the key. It can be found only when one seeks it with a sincere and humble heart. It is there for anyone who desires to benefit from it. It has been there all the time, waiting to be opened, read and obeyed (the Word, the Gospel, the Truth, the Way).  In it, we can find the tools necessary to become wise and righteous. Wisdom is still calling out to us.  God's wisdom can only bless us when we listen and obey Him.  God's wisdom, His Truth, is the only source of everlasting life.  For "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."  (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Those who rely on human wisdom and reject God's wisdom as revealed in His Word, are not able to submit to His wisdom. They are immature, fleshly (natural) and not spiritual.  The mature (spiritual) understands this.  Our lives must be built upon the authority of the Sacred Scriptures.  It will lead us to discover God's will and know Him better and be renewed through God's Word.  Why not live His Word and wisdom?  The fool brings sorrow to himself and those who love him.  Are you willing to be wise and start acting wisely or do you want to be like the dog that returns to its vomit?  Are you willing to repent of your foolishness and live for Christ alone?  Why not repent and obey God?  Be wise and not a fool!

May we keep our eyes on wisdom, the wisdom of God and not the folly of this world.  May we be truly willing to learn, listen to God's wisdom and counsel.  May we be wise (according to God's wisdom) and learn from our mistakes and not repeat them again.  May we let God's wisdom shape, mold and transform our heart into His likeness. May our Lord give us wisdom to be acceptable and equipped for every good work.  And may we not be deceived, but heed God's wisdom, God is not mocked, for whatever we sow we shall also reap.  

Luci