• johned@aibi.ph

The Ocean Of Truth

 

Introduction

(Ecclesiastes 7:19-24 NIV) Wisdom makes one wise man more powerful than ten rulers in a city. {20} There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins. {21} Do not pay attention to every word people say, or you may hear your servant cursing you-- {22} for you know in your heart that many times you yourself have cursed others. {23} All this I tested by wisdom and I said, "I am determined to be wise"-- but this was beyond me. {24} Whatever wisdom may be, it is far off and most profound-- who can discover it?

Sir Isaac Newton said of himself "I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me". Solomon, whose wisdom was legendary said"All this I tested by wisdom and I said, "I am determined to be wise"-- but this was beyond me. {24} Whatever wisdom may be, it is far off and most profound-- who can discover it?"

Great minds are humble minds that know that they have only been dabbling. Dabbling productively and well perhaps but only dabbling - full wisdom is beyond us all. If I may digress I think this is an admirable attitude for theologians to adopt with respect to their knowledge of God. Some systems claim a comprehensiveness that is little short of arrogance and which approaches idolatry of the mind. Paul, who surely knew more of God than you or I said that he "saw through a glass darkly". He confessed to knowing incompletely.

Power

There is power in wisdom - "Wisdom makes one wise man more powerful than ten rulers in a city." Wars are now fought as much by physicists as soldiers. There is a fascinating TV series that shows the scientists that helped win WW2. In that series it seems that "one wise man" can be a powerful force indeed! It also takes us to the root of the biblical meaning of wisdom. Wisdom in Scripture is that which helps you achieve your ends. It isn't at all abstract or terribly philosophical. It is pragmatic and useful much more like the business books in your local bookstore than the philosophy books in the library. We don't find elaborate definitions or discussions of semantics and epistemology. There is little syllogistic logic or categorization. Bible wisdom is knowledge that works in real life. Its more about avoiding an adulteress than the formulation of the concept of inter-subjective testability. And frankly the Bible's approach is much more useful! Many people wise in philosophy have ruined lives that a little bible wisdom would have saved.

Ultimately God's most practical wisdom is found in Christ Jesus our Savior for He is the solution - the pragmatic Answer to all the problems of life.(1 Corinthians 1:30-31 NIV) It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. {31} Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."Jesus is the answer to problems such as guilt, sin, sickness, demon possession and growth in character. Everything we really want out of life can be satisfied by the promises of God to which Jesus Christ is the "yea and amen".

The Fall

"There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins. {21} Do not pay attention to every word people say, or you may hear your servant cursing you-- {22} for you know in your heart that many times you yourself have cursed others" This is one of the clearest statements in the OT about the Fall. The reality is that we all sin. Handling this fact is not easy. Wisdom allows us to see that the world -including ourselves is fallen and that therefore we should not take every small thing too seriously. We will be in misery if we expect to be perpetually respected and to live in a totally just and fair world. We can see that we have often been disrespectful of others and so we should give them the same latitude also. Wisdom takes a "live and let live" attitude to life in a fallen world.

Perspectives

Wisdom is full of large perspectives. It sees our present knowledge as just pebbles on the shore of the ocean of truth. (But pebbles worth collecting). It sees our actions from the perspective of redemption knowing that mankind is fallen and seeking to win it back with grace. Wisdom is like viewing life from a helicopter so that you can see where roads are going and you realize that your back-yard is not the entire Universe or even a particularly important part of it. I think that is what is so disturbing about the photos of the earth from outer space - most of man's efforts cannot be seen. The earth is still just land and water and white clouds. I believe the Great Wall of China is the only man-made structure that can still be seen from space.

Wisdom is more than a concept it is a Person - Christ Jesus. If Jesus is wisdom and we have Jesus then we should become wiser and wiser. Christians should be wonderful "pebble collectors" on the shore of the ocean of Truth. If this is so, and it is, then Christians must not treasure foolishness and ignorance or be spiteful and envious towards those who think deeply. Unfortunately many Christians bear hostile attitudes towards "academics". The fundamentalist-modernist controversy deeply entrenched this hostility with the unfortunate side-effect that many people rejected not only the thoroughgoing skepticism of the modernists but anyone who was a "thinker". This has made a laughingstock of many Christians - and it has been unnecessary. Let's treasure wisdom and pursue it in Christ.

Prayer

Lord wisdom is beyond us for it belongs to You. Please open our minds and hearts to Your wisdom that is in Christ Jesus and make us humble to receive it and rejoice in it. Amen.

 

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