“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” (Romans 11:33)
We all need wisdom to be successful in this life, but what is the right kind of wisdom? There is earthly wisdom that will help people succeed, at least superficially. This kind of wisdom can be found in many places and can take on many forms. You may find wisdom in higher education, or from brilliant people who are at the top of their field. Wisdom can be found in books, the internet, the experience of someone you admire, etc. This wisdom may help you earn lots of money, it may help you achieve materialistic goals, or any idea of earthly success that can be imagined. However, success at a superficial level is not what we have been created for. The wisdom God has, and we need, is the wisdom required to succeed on an eternal level. If this is the wisdom that you desire, indulge yourself a little further as we examine what the Bible says about wisdom.
Wisdom, and specifically the wisdom of God, is such a large topic that it is hard to do it justice in volumes of books, let alone in a few paragraphs. In the last post, we quickly examined a few of the ideas that King Solomon expressed from the books of wisdom. As a person could spend years in this subject, this will only serve as a taste of an endless feast God has provided in His inspired Word.
What is this wisdom? The answer is Jesus Christ. In Him, “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). Jesus is the wisdom spoken of in the Old Testament. He is the wisdom of the New Testament. Jesus is the incarnate Word of God. We are told so in the gospel of John, chapter 1, verses 1 and 14. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth”. At least in part, the wisdom of God is the Bible. The Bible is the inspired Word of God and it is full of wisdom. But there is more. The important part we must know is what the wisdom is for. It is for eternal success. Stay with me, I am not only talking about success after we go to heaven or in just getting there. It starts here and now. The wisdom of the Bible that is Jesus Christ is about a way of life that starts - must start - in this life and continues long after we are gone from this life as we know it.
There is still more. Any literate, intelligent person can read this wisdom, and it may not have any effect at all. They may not comprehend what is contained in the pages they have read. The whole Bible points to the person of Jesus and His sacrifice for us, His death, His resurrection, and the life He modeled for us to be His followers. Does reading about Jesus and His sacrifice for us guarantee the reader will believe or respond in any certain way? No. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). It is described as foolishness! The world sees the wisdom of God, the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, dying for us and all our sin as foolishness! If the gospel of Jesus Christ is regarded as foolishness, there will likely be little opportunity for those to experience a relationship with our Savior. This is the wisdom of men. Most have no regard for the gospel.
Just as the Bible has much to say about the wisdom of God, it also has plenty to say about the wisdom of men. First Corinthians 1:25 tells us that the “foolishness of God is wiser than men”. And again in 1 Corinthians 3:19 it says, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God”. This world’s wisdom, that which is not from God, is called demonic in James 3:15. Repeatedly throughout scripture we are told not to rely on this wisdom. If not this wisdom, there must be a better way, and there is.
The wisdom of God is Jesus Christ. What does this wisdom look like? “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” (James 3:17). These are some of the attributes of God’s wisdom. This allows us to envision wisdom in our minds’ eye. This paints a picture of Jesus. Some wisdom, however, may seem godly and is not. Some people have “an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and the neglect of the body…” (Colossians 2:23). This speaks of people that are trying to attain the things of God through works and self-righteousness. This is still man’s wisdom. Combining these two ideas, what wisdom is, compared to the appearance of wisdom, reminds me of a sermon of A.W. Tozer that suggested wisdom enables men to pursue God’s will and not fruitless paths. I cannot think of a better way to summarize the thought. Godly wisdom affords men the opportunity to seek and meet with God. Everything else, in the end, is worthless.
Why cannot men discern the things of God when reading through scripture? Why can men who profess to be experts in the Bible, having degrees backing their claims, never truly understand the Word of God? Unbelief. A man can fill his head with all the information in the scriptures, have an understanding of the men who were inspired to write it, an understanding of the times and cultures in which it was composed, a high degree of intellect about the entire matter, and unbelief will derail the whole thing. Romans 10:9,10 tells us, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation”. Without this, a man’s efforts at understanding the things of God will prove fruitless. Those that believe and confess Jesus Christ become children of God. Children of God have the Spirit of God in them as explained in 1 Corinthians 2:12. “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God”. This is the wisdom of God that is in His children.
“But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). Men that refuse to truly believe in Jesus, those that dabble or are lukewarm will never truly see the wisdom of God. I have heard it said that all religion is a crutch, Christianity is some form of “fire and brimstone insurance”, scoffers will say. If that is where anyone finds themselves, that practicing religion is a means of staying out of hell, that is where they may find themselves.
The wisdom of God, following Jesus, is not just staying out of hell. It is so much more. God’s wisdom takes us from the path of destruction and sends us the opposite direction. It points out our destructive behavior and reveals our need for Jesus. This wisdom contains all that we need for eternity and it cannot be bought. It is a gift that will be given to true believers in Christ. This is something that we should all desire and ask for. In James 1:5-8 we are told,
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways”.
Again, this demonstrates that belief is the key to finding the wisdom of God. Remember, the natural man does not receive these things. But to those that are His children, “We have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16).
This reminds me of our need to be “baptized in wisdom” as Tozer described. Taking this idea of being baptized in wisdom a step further, we need to be fully immersed, surrounded with it. Picture this in your mind: being immersed in God’s wisdom. Having the mind of Christ sounds like a baptism of wisdom to me. Fully immersed. That wisdom brings us to our purpose, which is a relationship with our Creator.
Romans 16:19 implores us to, “be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil”.
“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:15-17).
Be wise in what is good. That sounds like good advice. Redeeming the time, which is making the most of every opportunity and understanding the will of the Lord. Those are also key pieces in seeking God’s wisdom, but there is so much more.
The above is a brief glimpse of God’s wisdom. I encourage you to seek out the matter for yourself. God bless you in your seeking.