Ephesians 4:7-16; Wisdom doesn’t mean you know it all.
Wednesday August 4, 2021
As Christ’s sheep, He said that we would know His voice. He said that eternal life was knowing God (Joh 17:3).
“We must know enough about God to trust Him, and know Him deeply enough to hold nothing back from Him and for Him.” [Tim Anderson, Into His Presence]
None could know God unless that knowledge is given by grace. Some call this epistemological grace or cognitive grace. God reveals some of Himself in creation (Psa 19:1-6; Rom 1:19-22) and in conscience (Rom 2:14-16). His most extensive and specific revelation is in His written Word. All knowledge of Him is contingent on Him. We are invited to listen in on the conversation in Scripture and become part of that very conversation.
We must strive for knowledge/wisdom really and earnestly – “fear of the Lord.”
My son, if you will receive my sayings,
And treasure my commandments within you,
2 Make your ear attentive to wisdom,
Incline your heart to understanding;
3 For if you cry for discernment,
Lift your voice for understanding;
4 If you seek her as silver,
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
5 Then you will discern the fear of the Lord,
And discover the knowledge of God.
6 For the Lord gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
7 He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
He is a shield to those who walk in integrity,
Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser,
Teach a righteous man, and he will increase his learning.
10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
We have to have confidence in the source and not be like so many who hold only to a materialist theory that God, if He exists to them at all, cannot be known because He is outside this world. They fail to understand, in their pride, that He has always been in this world, the omnipresent Creator who walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and has most importantly become Man in the Person of Jesus Christ.
When times are perplexing, confusing, and painful to not focus on self means to have a very deep and lasting focus in Christ.
In good times it is easier to fix our eyes on Christ, but our gaze is not as intense as it is when life pains us.
And because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me — to keep me from exalting myself! 8 Concerning this I entreated the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
Vs. 9 has “in me” when the preposition is the accusative of epi which means “on me.” The distinction is not that great, but we should see the idea that Paul has, which is that the power of Christ is on him, or clothes him. This gives us the idea of armor that is a protection against the forces of the outside world that makes for people and circumstances that perplex, confuse, and pain us.
When he is weak with problems and persecution, and with a weakness manifest in the fact that he can’t stop them himself, he finds that he is strong.
His focus is intensely on Christ or else he would fall into a deep pit of self, self-pity, self-justification, and blame. He would be useless.
Anderson comments on the difference between our knowledge and Gods: Every aspect of God’s being is utterly immense, and yet He is minutely close to us. He is infinite, transcendent, apart from us, but intimately with us. The difficulty in grasping these concepts is why the Bible uses analogous language. Everything that is not God is contingent upon Him. Thus He freely brings it into existence. He and His will are infinite while we are very, very small. Thus intimacy with Him, knowledge of Him, attaining His wisdom is very nearly one-sided. He must come to us. His knowledge of us and exhaustive and free. Our knowledge of Him, if you knew the most about Him compared to anyone else, is so miniscule and constrained. So, why don’t we take a small view of ourselves, or better, no view of ourselves and avoid self-pity, blame, and self-justification? He alone controls every aspect of our lives, while at the same time allowing our self-determination. Trust and rest in Him, search for more knowledge of Him and you will dwell in the land of peace and tranquility. He doesn’t have to reveal Himself to us, but He condescends to do so.
Solomon would conclude, occupied with many things, but not God in all that God has revealed about Himself, and only that revelation, that all was vanity.
Recent research into the spiritual lives of young (18-25) who call themselves Christian shows a significant group that say they are “spiritual” but shy away from anything that doesn’t help them with their personal needs or their recovery. Not surprisingly, a significant amount of this same group confess that they do not feel close to God. (Christian Smith, Soul Searching: The Religious & Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers, 2005)
Added to this is the current trend of reimagining the self by being the true self, or more accurately, the lazy self, that finds meaning in simply existing in any way self currently feels that it would like to. Enter a school or a church to be told that one has to learn, change, and grow into conformity with truth and morality and goodness, the self protests that it should be unhindered by outward pressure to conform to any greater reality. They are their own reality. This makes the individual king. And so, if there is any truth about God accepted by them, it is usually the love of God while the holiness of God is very deemphasized. Truth becomes personal taste rather than sovereign authority. God becomes a power only for meeting my personal, psychological needs. Doctrinal standards are absent (plenary epistemological rehabilitation). This must not happen to any believer.
That is not to say that there are not individual experiences, but the entire revealed truth from the Scripture must be sought in the context of our individual experiences. Nothing revealed is to be ignored, and if an experience does not conform to revealed truth from the Bible, it must be treated with suspicion.
It would be beneficial for us in our hard and difficult times to not focus on ourselves or our circumstances, but on Him who is sovereign.
To do that, we should make a diligent effort to be busy with the Father’s business.
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for [preposition “anti” meaning “instead of,” or “in place of”] the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart. 4 You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin;