This study was originally presented over a five day period in July 1997 as a series of radio talks by Pastor Keith Graham. The material will be more profitable if digested in its five separate sessions, of which this is the first.
In this series of messages on "In His Presence" we are going to look more closely at each of those terms - wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption - and discuss how Jesus is made to be, or becomes, those things for God's people according to God's eternal plan.
We will start with WISDOM. What is wisdom? We find the answer in the book of Job - "the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding." Likewise, in more than one verse, the Psalms and Proverbs tell us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge. This fear of the Lord is not a cowering terror, but a devout understanding of Who He is and who we are. He is the Almighty, holy, just, and good Creator and Provider. We are His dependent creatures, who moreover have become sinful in His sight. So the Bible's wisdom asks and answers this question: how can we sinful creatures be in a right relationship to the holy Creator? Scripture does not identify wisdom with either the accumulation of a vast sum of facts, or with the crafting of impressive philosophical concepts about unseen and abstract things. So we are to think of how Jesus becomes our wisdom in terms of how He brings us into a right relationship with God.
If we want to discuss what Jesus became, we should begin with what He was! And the Lord Jesus Christ always was, He has no beginning. As the apostle John wrote: "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made." John goes on to say that the Word was MADE flesh; He became a Man. This One Who both was God and was with God in the beginning is called the Word. O, how can we even begin to speak of what is wrapped up in that simple term, the Word! It speaks of the eternal, sublime wisdom and knowledge of God, Divine reason itself. The apostle's statement that without Him, the Word, no created thing came into existence takes us back to the first page of the Bible. There we read, "God said" - it was by His Word that God created the entire universe. In the last book of the Bible, Revelation, John writes again that Christ's name is called "the Word of God".
In venturing to discuss these things, we are venturing into matters which our minds cannot fully comprehend. Looking again into one of what are called the Bible's WISDOM books, Job, we find Job's friends asking him, "Can you search out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limits of the Almighty?" Obviously, we cannot. We can't know God by climbing up to Him, He must disclose Himself to us. Christ is the great Revealer of God. Jesus said, "He Who has seen Me has seen the Father". He said that no one knows God the Father except the Son, and whoever the Son wishes to reveal Him. While never attaining full comprehension, yet we know the unlimited, incomprehensible, eternal God only because in Christ He has condescended to our level to make Himself known.
So Christ became our wisdom in the first place because He, the eternal Word Who is God, is the One Who makes God known. If you ask what rational power holds the very universe together and makes it work, the answer is Jesus Christ: "in Him ALL things consist", Colossians 1:17. He, that is Christ, upholds ALL things by the word of His power, Hebrews 1:3. We look at the way we ourselves are wonderfully made, we gaze on the vast heavens, we see the innumerable creatures of the earth and sea, the way they all fit together. With scientific instruments and research we see this even more. All the order, power, and majesty we see by the creation is in Christ Jesus, for in Him are ALL such treasures of wisdom and knowledge, Colossians 2:3. Jesus Christ is the focal point of all history, and in Him it will all be summed up, Ephesians 1:10.
Christian, rejoice in these magnificent, "cosmic" statements about Jesus Christ in Scripture! Don't be captivated by the vain human philosopher, the worldly wiseman whose wisdom cannot be God's true wisdom, for he doesn't have Christ. There can be no compromise here! The world's knowledge - falsely so-called - is empty and foolish. It promises but never delivers satisfying answers. God's wisdom satisfies, as the prophet expresses by the analogy of a feast and the removal of a blinding veil and covering, "And in this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all people a feast of choice pieces, a feast of wine on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of well-refined wine on the lees. And He will destroy on this mountain the surface of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations," Isaiah 25:6ff.
And the removal of that veil is the second way in which Christ became our wisdom. It is by Him that the foolish ignorance that exists within us because of sin, this cursed veil and covering, is removed. Hear the words of the apostle Paul, "This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their heart." Do you hear how Paul speaks of the mind apart from Christ, within the space of two verses? FUTILE. DARKENED. ALIENATED. IGNORANT. HARD-HEARTED.
Being in this condition by nature, we never attain to wisdom. This is why the wisdom displayed in creation does not lead human beings to the true knowledge of God...not because the revelation of God is unclear there; we have seen that it IS clear, because it also is in and by Christ. No, human beings are dead in trespasses and sins, alienated from God the source of all life and wisdom, and refuse to see creation's revelation. The wisdom displayed in the creation is not wisdom that can SAVE us...that can bring us back to God.
Wisdom incarnate, Jesus Christ, demonstrated perfect obedience to the good and wise moral Law of God that came through Moses, the 10 Commandments. But not even that Law, or Jesus' perfect example of living by it, can SAVE us. It can only underscore our need for forgiveness and cleansing. Mankind needs a wisdom that works to SAVE! By the gospel, Christ has become this kind of wisdom. By offering Himself as the perfect sacrifice for sin through the eternal Spirit to the Father, He restored those who believe Him to that right relationship with God which is the heart of wisdom.
Many of us have been taught to simply ASSUME that human reason is a law unto itself, and that it is sufficient for us to find bedrock truth. This idea is absurd on at least these two counts which we have been discussing:
1. our nature as finite beings, and the even greater hindrance that
2. our present state is one of being justly under God's wrath, guilty and corrupt, in bondage to sin, and alienated.
To regard our own ability to reason as the fountainhead of all wisdom is both the height of arrogant stupidity and the deepest idolatry. The proud, worldly wise man assumes he can reason on the basis of some other foundation. He glibly starts with his own minds and asks IF a god exists. The Divine wisdom, the Word Who became flesh, shows us that He IS the only starting point for reasoning. True reasoning begins by affirming that the living God has revealed Himself in Christ.
The message of Christ's Gospel contains the eternal wisdom of God in all its unassailable truth, power, and consistency. Human philosophy can offer nothing to rival it. "Isms" have come and gone for 2,000 years, but this message just keeps going century after century, claiming the allegiance of untold millions from every race, tribe, and tongue - and from all walks of life.
James wrote if anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask of God. We've seen today that to ask for wisdom is to ask to brought into a right relationship with God through Jesus Christ. If you've never known this kind of wisdom at all, call upon HIM now, don't perish in your foolish ignorance. If you are a Christian, to ask for wisdom is to ask for more communion with the Lord Jesus, to obey the command to be transformed by the renewing of your mind, to ask to grow in grace and knowledge of your Savior.
Go to Session Two - Bible Study on 1 Corinthians 1:30, 31
Go to 2 Timothy 2:15 Dept.
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