December 2011

Some Thoughts…

As I continue to process the decisions of the Lord in my life lately, it is important to me to constantly be looking toward Scripture.

First, I have found a lot of comfort in the principle that Paul teaches concerning himself,

“Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy. But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.” (1 Corinthians 4:1–5, NASB95)

Paul is speaking of himself here in that no man is acquitted because he believes himself to be without fault. Just because we don’t see our sin does not mean that it is not there. Think about it, if I were deceived, I would not know it. Otherwise, I would not be deceived. But, in the last day at the throne of Christ, Jesus Christ will examine the motives and thoughts of every believer and reward accordingly. That is a fearful thing, and that fear should motivate us to be honest-with ourselves and others.

Jesus spoke of this very reality in Matthew 10:26,

“Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.” (Matthew 10:26, NASB95)

The hidden motives and motivations of the hearts of men (myself included), that we believe no one will ever find out, will be ‘aired’ at Christ’s throne. The hidden things will be made known. The secret things will no longer be a secret. We will enter into Christ’s eternal kingdom having all things revealed. In one sense, that is refreshing since it means a fresh start. In another sense, it is terrifying because we can so easily deceive ourselves. This is why we should deal with sin within ourselves immediately and swiftly, so that we might be a praise and honor to Christ in that day, and not an embarrassment.

Second, do not leave the pursuit of Christ in order to “spin your mental wheels” in worry. Paul as much said that in Philippians,

“But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:7–14, NASB95)

Paul, a better man than I will ever be, says that all things (including self-merit) is like rubbish as compared to the knowledge of Jesus Christ. This knowledge leads to a righteousness based on faith and not works. That righteousness further causes us to know the death and resurrection of Christ in a personal way so that we might fellowship with His sufferings, for righteousness’ sakes. The perfection of resurrection is elusive and moves ahead of you and you must chase after it. That is why we press toward that goal-the conformity to the likeness of Jesus Christ (cf. Romans 8:28-30). In that pursuit, there are lines drawn and decisions made. Some good some not so good. I have heard it said that a wise leader is good at making “second decisions.” That is true. In the pursuit of the righteousness of Jesus Christ we shred off those things in our lives that are dead weight and run with endurance that race set before us. And, again, in the end, only Jesus Christ, the righteous Judge, will know the true motives of our hearts. Thus, when worry, a very heavy weight for most of us, drags us down, realize that anxiety is not teaching us a thing about Jesus Christ. Therefore, it has to go. I would guess that Jesus never spent a second in worry. He never apologized for what He said, but at strategic times He was silent. He truly is the Perfect Man (James 3:1-12).

Lastly, I must be more concerned for the glory of the Lord than my own glory. No man can serve two masters. Loving one will pit me against the other. If I love my own glory, I will not desire Christ’s. Jesus taught this in John,

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. “I do not receive glory from men; but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves. “I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him. “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?” (John 5:39–44, NASB95)

Oh how I wish I were surrounded by men zealous for the glory of the Father! I would guess that would eliminate so much sin and mediocrity. It would only introduce other things that need to be dealt with, but there is so much grace in pursuing the glory of God in everything (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:31). Also, seeking for the kingdom of Christ first does generate animosity in those who do not. There needs to be so much grace toward them and yet a resolution to still pursue that very righteousness that brings conflict.

“Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;” (1 Peter 3:13–18, NASB95)

Prior to this passage, Peter teaches that those who would love righteousness should not speak evil of others, but rather seek peace. God is always opposed to those who do evil. That is not so hard to do if you consider the above point that everything you say and think will be divulged before Christ. The best pursuit of righteousness includes receiving the kiss of Judas or the friendship of Ahithophel (1 Samuel 15:12-31; cf. Psalm 55:12-14) without malice. Thus, when you pursue righteousness, this may lead to suffering for doing what is right in the eyes of God. Thus, the Lordship of Christ (1 Peter 3:15) drives you since you understand that He is judge and law-giver in His kingdom.

Wisdom-The Building Block of the Home.

It is important that we understand that our homes are more than simply a place where some people live together. There is more to God’s creation of the home than what we typically understand or even expect. I would venture to say that if we gave the doctrine of inerrancy, or the doctrine of the church, or any other clear doctrine of the Scripture the same, superficial, attention that we usually give the home and the family, we would not even scratch the surface on these profound truths. Such is the case with the theology of the home.

You know the usual treatment of marriage and children, and topics surrounding the two. They are usually practical (Arminian) in nature and profoundly original, albeit shallow. Just like any other responsibility in a Christian’s life, if we do not have the doctrine understood first, our duty simply will not be what it should be. However, there are many from whom we never hear, whose marriages and families are wonderful and wholesome. But they are too wise to boast about it.

I would like to take opportunity to undertake a collection of posts on the issue of the Theology of the Home. As I have observed, although there are snippets of truth in a lot of teachings on the home, a full-orbed teaching is lacking.

 

In The Beginning…

It would seem to me that God knew what He was doing in Genesis 1-2 when He created the heavens and the earth. In this creation there would be animals, stars, water, and a myriad of others inhabitants and objects. But the crown of His creation would be a man and a woman. This man and woman would share in the likeness and image of God Himself. By His design, the man, being created first, uniquely reflects and represents God on this planet. The woman, being taken from the flesh and bone of the man, would derive her glory from representing the man who in turn represents God. Hers is a derived glory of God through the man. Thus, the man would be the image of God on this planet forever. His job? To rule. That rulership would be in wisdom and with the blessing and expectation of God. God would expect Adam to rule over the creation with skill, insight, and godly wisdom. Thus the man and his wife would give glory to God in their respective responsibilities together. This was a glorious and magnificent condition for this unique creation of God.

It is important to realize that the way that God created everything in the beginning was entirely sufficient to produce His glory. Everything that the man and woman needed for marriage, work, child-rearing, etc.. is all contained in the basic, consummate instructions and precepts of Genesis 1-2. It would all work out in the lives of the man, woman, and the children. However, with the fall, that wisdom and knowledge was lost. It was a wisdom that directed their lives and their relationships. This wisdom was sufficient for everything that the man and woman were required to do. But at the fall, the man and woman relinquished all rights to wisdom and rather gave themselves over to foolishness. It is important to understand this since these terms of wisdom and foolishness appear throughout Scripture.

To begin with, consider a few passages from the premier book on wisdom, Proverbs. Proverbs 3:19 states,

“The Lord by wisdom founded the earth, By understanding He established the heavens.”

The tool by which God created the earth and the heavens was wisdom. Wisdom was instrumental in establishing the universe, with all its diverse and wondrous phenomena. Further, it is this wisdom that He must have made available to Adam and Eve as well.

““The Lord possessed me at the beginning of His way, Before His works of old. “From everlasting I was established, From the beginning, from the earliest times of the earth. “When there were no depths I was brought forth, When there were no springs abounding with water. “Before the mountains were settled, Before the hills I was brought forth; While He had not yet made the earth and the fields, Nor the first dust of the world. “When He established the heavens, I was there, When He inscribed a circle on the face of the deep, When He made firm the skies above, When the springs of the deep became fixed, When He set for the sea its boundary So that the water would not transgress His command, When He marked out the foundations of the earth; Then I was beside Him, as a master workman; And I was daily His delight, Rejoicing always before Him, Rejoicing in the world, His earth, And having my delight in the sons of men.” (Proverbs 8:22–31)

Wisdom was the possession of God before, during, and after the establishment of the universe. This wisdom was present with the creation of the man and was pleased to see his creation. Inasmuch as this wisdom was present in the creation of the universe, it must also have been present in the man and woman as well. It was by wisdom they were created, and, apparently, the man and woman would have been created with this wisdom, to some extent, in them as well. The kind of thinking and understanding that would be required to create all that was created in six days is the kind of thinking and understanding that was in Adam and Eve as well, yet not as comprehensive. This quality of thinking is a kind of thinking that brings God glory. This wisdom is able to instruct Adam and Eve for eternity and this wisdom is able to instruct us as well (Proverbs 2:10-11; 6:22-23).

The source of all wisdom is God. His Word is wisdom (Proverbs 2:6-7), King Solomon was given wisdom from God (1 Kings 3:6-15), and in times of pressure and temptation, the church is urged to cry out to God for wisdom in order to live righteously in the midst of trial (James 1:5). Further, wisdom is to be the quality of our ministry in the church (Colossians 1:28; cf. 1 Corinthians 2:6f.). Wisdom is able to lead us to faith in Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 3:14-15), and, in fact, Jesus Himself is the embodiment of wisdom (Colossians 2:3; cf. 1 Corinthians 1:24,30). Therefore, to ignore wisdom is to do harm to ourselves (Proverbs 1:20-33).

 

The Home-The Display of Wisdom

This wisdom is most necessary in the home. This is the summation of Proverbs 24:3. To manage a home well takes the wisdom that existed at creation, was in the heart of Adam and Eve before the fall, has as its source God, and is made visible in Jesus Christ. This profound and extensive wisdom is what it takes to build a home. This is obviously not speaking of laying concrete, building 2×4 walls, and a roof. This is speaking of the act of building a home-a place in which the relationships that God ordained between a man and woman and their children exist. Thus, the home is not a place that “just happens.” Building a home demands diligence, effort and complete dedication. There are those who would disagree with that last statement. They say, “I don’t think that is true. My home is doing alright. The kids are okay. My husband and I get along. We have good times, and yes sometimes bad, but who doesn’t.” However, you have to ask yourself what you are aiming at for the goal of your home. What is it that is actually supposed to be achieved in a home? If God says that a home is only built by wisdom and that wisdom is only given by God and that after searching for it as one would a hidden treasure of immense worth, then what does He mean? Is He mistaken?

If a home is only built upon the wisdom that is only available from God for the upright, then that would explain why so many households are simply not what they should be. Even in the church, households are not much above the quality of the world. Husbands don’t know how to lead their wives and children, nor do they think they are supposed to. Wives would much rather pursue a career than remain at home and build a place for her to express her love for her husband and children. Children are rebellious and expect the parents to give them their space. It seems that even the best of Christian homes are missing something. Could it be that we are missing wisdom? After all, it is as rare as a valuable treasure.

In order to address this issue, there needs to be more than one post dedicated to it, and there will be. We will be considering what wisdom is, what it does, what it does not do, and how to gain it.

Introduction

For a few preliminary thoughts, consider this. Wisdom is given, never discovered. That is, we gave up our access to wisdom at the fall (consider Proverbs 3:18 as compared to Genesis 3:22-24. We no more have access to wisdom, inherently, than we have access to the Tree of Life. Thus, it must be given by God, as the Tree of Life will be as well-Revelation 2:7; 22:1-9). Wisdom is from God and He gives it, not to the foolish, but the upright (Proverbs 2:1-7). For the fool, wisdom is too high to attain (Proverbs 24:7). It is like the space station in relation to his plight on earth. He cannot see it nor know that it is there. But it is there.

How do we get this wisdom? If it is given by God, how do we get it from Him? Is there a mechanism in place that will generate wisdom in us from God? The answer is in Proverbs 1:7 and repeated in 9:10. The fear of the LORD is the starting place for this treasure called wisdom (it also has shades of meaning in ‘understanding’, ‘knowledge’, ‘discretion’ and so on). The fear of the LORD is understanding the nature of God in all His power, majesty, and glory, and our relation to Him in all of our depravity, weakness, and foolishness. In other words, Jesus said to be afraid of the One who can kill both body and soul in Hell (Mt. 10:28; cf. Hebrews 10:31; 12:28-29). By His very nature, God should instill in us a real fear. He is absolutely unlike us. We are absolutely unlike Him, although we are made in His image (which is all the more tragic). This fear is the reality that in all His holiness, God has the right and the power to kill us and judge us for eternity for our sins. If a person does not fear after contemplating that, then he has no hope of gaining wisdom. He is proud. He is a fool.

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