The journey through the doctrines of God continues this week. I’m deeply convinced that what you know about God (i.e. your convictions) will keep you anchored and help you maintain perspective. Think about all the challenges that you’ve faced over the last several weeks and months. Or, think about all the challenges you’ve faced over your life. Understanding God helps remain correctly oriented through these times. I hope this has proved true during this odd period we have been experiencing.
Wisdom is a common term utilized throughout the Bible and its articulated broadly with reference to (1) God himself and (2) something He gives to creation. Wisdom is another one of those “communicable attributes” meaning God transfers His wisdom to creation. But, as with all the other doctrines, we must first start with understanding wisdom in terms of God, not in terms of ourselves. God gives wisdom, but God is wisdom. To understand and appreciate any doctrine (I hope you’ve realized this), it must be appreciated and adored primarily from God’s perspective
As with most other doctrines, wisdom is closely related to other attributes of God. In this case, wisdom is connected to knowledge. What is the difference between wisdom and knowledge? There are many nuances we could make between to the two but primarily wisdom has an ethical implication that knowledge does not retain. In other words, wisdom is knowledge applied because wisdom involves actions. It’s one thing to know but another thing all together to act appropriately based upon that knowledge.
God is masterful at perception and He always acts correctly out of that perception. Do you realize how difficult it is to pair both of those with any consistency, much less perfectly? To have a perfect perception (knowledge) is incredible but to always take the proper action based upon that perception is incomprehensible. God is remarkable.
Georges Frédéric Doriot (1899–1987) was a professor at Harvard Business School and is known as the father of venture capital. In his teaching at Harvard, he was well known for his blunt wisecracks. He may not have been the first to use it, but one of his best and most common was: “A committee is an invitation to do nothing.” If you’ve ever been on a committee, you might know exactly what Doriot is talking about. And if you’ve been on a committee and can’t relate to the frustration in that statement by Doriot…immediately go and apologize to anybody you’ve ever served with. I promise they will completely understand why you are repenting.
All jokes aside, there are a number of things behind the quip by Doriot. Underneath that statement, he’s alluding to the difficulty of applying knowledge with any sort of success. It’s easy to identify a problem, but few people actually have the ability to consistently marshal resources to fix problems. Committees can often serve to only complicate this challenge. In general, anybody can usually identify the problem (have an opinion!), but it takes a much deeper and refined skillset to move beyond identifying problems to actually correcting something. In part, that is due to a lack of wisdom. It is one thing to “discern” something and a totally different ballgame to act properly out of that discernment. We’ll talk about this on Sunday, but there are also profound elements of humility within wisdom. Humility and wisdom are fundamentally interrelated. You’ll never have one without the other.
But back to the point at hand. Most importantly, God is not part of a committee and He never has difficulty perceiving and acting correctly. That’s tied to His wisdom. A wisdom that perceives, and acts on that perception, with supernatural precision. God does not have to discern. He’s not sitting around pondering an issue and praying for wisdom. He is wisdom. Wisdom is not “part of God” because God has no parts. God’s being is wise, or said differently, His very nature is wise. God can do nothing but manifest Himself in wisdom.
So how do we know all this? How is God actually wisdom? There are two general ways to understand God as wisdom.
General Revelation: Creation, Providence, and History
First, God’s wisdom is present in creation, providence, and history. God reveals Himself to all people through these three acts. You might recall how Paul enforces the truth about all people knowing God through general revelation (Rom 1:19-32). Everything in creation, providence, and history is executed by the wisdom of God. In Scripture wisdom is personified as the “master workman/craftsman” of God (Prov 8:30). This proverb reminds the astute reader that wisdom was at the beginning of God’s work, connected to all His creation thereafter, and continues to work within the expansion of the heavens. Wisdom is God’s delight and it is instrumental in how and why God reveals himself in creation, providence, and history. God is wisdom therefore everything He does is a perfect function or articulation of being wise—AKA perfectly applying His knowledge.
Special Revelation: Scripture and Christ
Second, and most importantly, God’s wisdom is demonstrated in special revelation. There are two aspects of special revelation – Scripture and Christ. God reveals himself in a very specific way to Christians in His Word and the person and work of Jesus Christ. With Scriptures, we know God and have access to His wisdom.
Above all, the height of God’s wisdom is the person and work of Christ. Christ is the pinnacle of God’s revelation to mankind and the first and great hope of all people. The gospel is folly to many, but to those whom God has redeemed, it is wisdom in the fullest sense. Why is Christ the pinnacle of God’s wisdom? Because only a wise God can (1) perceive the need of a lost and wandering people separated eternally from Himself without hope, (2) chose a fit person in the Son of God, (3) engineer a way to accomplish justification through that Son of God, (4) give the Son, by the Son’s free consent, to be made flesh like you and I, (5) live a perfect life under the moral and ceremonial laws, (6) take on the anguish and dread of a Father’s wrath in order to fulfill righteousness once and for all, and (7) be exalted above death so that eternal life would abound. This is the gospel. This is the story of redemption. It’s the beautiful reality of God’s wisdom. A God that has acted perfectly on the knowledge that humans are broken and unable to save ourselves….It’s one thing to know but another thing altogether to act appropriately based upon that knowledge…
Herman Bavinck (1854–1921) utilized one of the most beautiful phrases when writing on wisdom. He notes that wisdom is “the art of proper living.” The gospel, my friends, is the basis for mastering the art of proper living. A God that perceives and acts with perfection, is one that gives life through Christ. Thanks be to God for His wisdom, manifested in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A wisdom that gives us peace with God, favor in His Kingdom, and eternal happiness.
Stand firm my friends and be the people of God.