And finally, what do we mean when we say that God is wise?
There is quite a difference between God’s wisdom and ours. We gather knowledge through various means, and then apply that knowledge to the created order through things like calculation, deduction, visualization, categorization and so on, in order to bring about a desired outcome, whether it be more food, more clothes, more friends, more knowledge or whatever. This is our kind of wisdom. God’s wisdom is very different. Firstly, God already knows everything so he has no need to gather knowledge. Secondly, the outcomes which God desires (which is interesting because if God is all-sufficient how can he have any desires?), are so much higher than anything we could fathom; “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).
Perhaps the real question we need to ask ourselves is; ‘What does it mean to us that God is wise?’
It is a sad reality we live in, where most people in the Western world, despite having easy access to a Bible in their own language, make a conscious decision to reject God’s wisdom in favor of their own. It’s hard to imagine anything more foolish. God has given us his eternal word – everything we need for salvation and a life of godliness, it’s all here between two hardcovers: history, law, poetry, prophecy, proverbs, the gospels, and the letters – over 1000 pages of God’s perfect wisdom. What more can He say? His word is complete (Revelation 22:18-20). His word is eternal (Psalm 119:89). All the wisdom we need is right here! It’s literally right here! No need to go searching. No need to go guessing. Everything God wants us to know is right here in the Bible. All we have to do is read it!
And yet, people don’t. “It’s too hard.” or “It’s too boring.” They aren’t content with God’s wisdom. They aren’t willing to put up with sound doctrine (2 Timothy 4:3). So they turn aside to myths. Although they claim to be wise, they are turn out to be fools (Romans 1:22). And since they don’t think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, they are given over to a depraved mind (Romans 1:28). When people neglect the wisdom of God, when people become the ‘super spiritually enlightened ones’ they will always fall face down into foolishness. And there is a lot of foolish behavior happening in churches today.
Take the phenomenon of talking in tongues for example. This happens in Acts 2 and the early church to communicate the gospel. What was spoken was a set of real languages that could be understood (vs 7-12). It had a communicative function and in this it served the common good. It wasn’t the kind of narcissistic mind-numbing gibberish you get today! In fact, Jesus taught his disciples how to pray and he specifically taught them to not keep on babbling like the pagans (Matthew 6:7) God gives his people gifts for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:7). Everyone is supposed to benefit from everyone else’s gift. But how does one person talking in tongues benefit anyone else? Wouldn’t it be better if they prayed in English?
And take the outlandish practice of ‘slaying in the Spirit’. When the pastor yells “FIREEEE!!!!” and everyone falls down. Let me tell you, there have only been two people in the Bible who have been slain in the Spirit, Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. God killed them in a second, because they dared to make his holy church an occasion for self-glory. But what is modern slaying in the Spirit any more than a chance to show off in front of everyone how super spiritual you are. You get all the glory, and God is pushed aside. It’s disgusting the amount of pride is in this. How foolish to believe the work of God the Holy Spirit can be surmised as causing someone to fall down and shake about like a rag doll! Absolute Blasphemy! If anything, a real mark of the Spirit is self-control (Galatians 5:22) and a life of holiness. That’s why he’s called ‘the Holy Spirit’.
Another good example of foolishness is the extra-biblical dialogue some people claim to have with God whether it be through prophecy, through the interpretation of circumstances, or through that ‘gentle whisper’. When the preacher pauses in the middle of his sermon because “he’s getting something from God.” When someone tells you “God told me in a dream…” None of this is the voice of God. All of it is phony. All of it is false. All of it is foolishness. God tells us plainly: “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things and through whom he made the universe.” (Hebrews 1:1-2) (and keep in mind, this is written to a Jewish audience). God doesn’t talk to us through prophets or dreams anymore. It’s so unfortunate that so many people don’t get the message and they continue on in this error.
Sometimes it’s obvious that people are just making things up, but at other times it can take on a more subtle form, when the preacher starts the message with “I was going to talk on __________ but God put it on my heart to talk to you about ___________.” How do people respond? “Oh wow we’re really gonna get a message from God tonight!” (hats off to Voddie Baucham for this one) But let me ask you something, since when does God’s Spirit work best through improvisation? Is there a verse to back this up? Why can’t God’s Spirit work through careful study and planning? The whole Bible is the Word of God, and none of it returns to him empty (Isaiah 55:11). So I’m begging you. Please don’t be deceived by all this nonsense. God has given us everything we need in his word to be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:17). We don’t need any further dialogue.
At this point, the Pentecostals will say one of two things. They’ll either say; “Oh but aren’t you putting God in a box?” or they’ll say; “Oh but I’ve experienced such and such…” The first comment is so ridiculous it leaves me speechless. Not only is it wrong, it’s incredibly arrogant. If anything, the seeking after signs and wonders isn’t an indication of godliness at all, but an indication of wickedness. When the Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and asked him for a sign he replied; “A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” (Matthew 16:4). The second comment only underscores the pagan nature of this false religion. As Christians we don’t walk by our own experience, we walk by the light of God’s word (Psalm 119:105). God sternly warns us to keep to his word and not create any other light to walk in (Isaiah 50:10&11).
I could go on regarding the many and varied kinds of foolishness people engage in when they abandon the wisdom of God’s word: the cults, the catholic church, the woke church… but the important thing I want to communicate is this: Do not neglect the wisdom of God for anything else. Read your Bible. Seek out all the wisdom of God you can get. Learn what God says about how to run a church, how to run a family, how to live a life worthy of your calling. And then go and do it!