Monthly Archives: October 2013

Proverbs: Wisdom & Benefits (III)

 

Probers for Living

Series: Digging Deeper into Proverbs

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Topics: Wisdom for Children & Four Benefits (Part four)

[learn_more caption=”Proverbs 2:1-22″] 1 My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, 2 making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; 3 yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, 4 if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, 5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find 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, 8 guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints. 9 Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; 10 for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; 11 discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you, 12 delivering you from the way of evil, from men of perverted speech, 13 who forsake the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness, 14 who rejoice in doing evil and delight in the perverseness of evil, 15 men whose paths are crooked, and who are devious in their ways. 16 So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words, 17 who forsakes the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God; 18 for her house sinks down to death, and her paths to the departed; 19 none who go to her come back, nor do they regain the paths of life. 20 So you will walk in the way of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous. 21 For the upright will inhabit the land, and those with integrity will remain in it, 22 but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the treacherous will be rooted out of it. (Proverbs 2:1-22 ESV)[/learn_more]

 

Wisdom for Children

The Four Benefits under consideration:

1. (5-8) “Then you will understand the Fear of The Lord”.

2. (9-15) “Then you will understand righteousness, and justice and equity, and every good work. ”

3. (16-19) “So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman” (i. e. temptation).

4. (20) “So you will walk in righteousness. ”

We will close out our look at the 4 benefits Solomon told his son he could expect from following the 7 steps of vss. 1-4, with verse 20;

so you will walk in the way of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous.”

 

What a wonderful and vast that promise is!

It is vitally important at this point that we realize Solomon’s concern is not that his son simply adopt a certain set of behaviors. Whenever we confuse mere behavior with true sanctification we open the door for legalism, Phariseeism and religiosity. It is a very dangerous place to go spiritually. Once one assumes that walking in righteousness is a matter of mere performance, they set themselves up to be either perpetually discouraged, or, measuring their performance against others – become prideful and trusting in their own performance more than trusting in grace alone.

Without reading too much into the word – Solomon’s use of the word “walk” is wonderfully instructive. For nothing is more natural, nor a better way to conceptualize true sanctification than the image of walking. It is a picture of every day movement. It is not a picture of formalized actions. When one walks, they do not give much thought to how they walk – the mechanics of it, as much as simply moving toward an object or a destination. And this is precisely what we want to get to. We want our walking in righteousness to be the natural way we continue to move toward the final destination of conformity to Christ’s image, and eternity in His presence. It is Bunyan’s Pilgrim on the way to the Celestial City.

Let me try to say it another way.

When Jesus called the Disciples to Himself, He did not say “here’s my book of rules, read it, memorize it, and start doing these things. It was far more simple. “Follow me” is the repeated formula. Walk with me. I always do what the Father desires. I always say what He gives me to say. I am on my way to where He is by way of the Cross – so just walk with me. Follow me. And you can’t go wrong.

Why can He say that?

Because (as Bunyan remarks in a different place) Jesus didn’t “do” righteousness as if obeying some law structure outside of Himself. He did what came naturally. He was righteous, and so He walked righteously. And this is what He wants to reproduce in us by virtue of the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of Christ within us. A people who “walk” – who comport themselves in everyday life, as naturally in righteousness as it is natural for God Himself. Indeed, this is the promise of being conformed to the image of Christ.

One day Believer, you and I will just be able to do what comes naturally – because by virtue of the Spirit’s completed work in glorification, we’ll only WANT to do what is righteous. Not conforming to an external standard, but having been transformed in the inner man. The fullness of what Peter says we already taste now: 2 Peter 1:3–4 (ESV) —

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. ”

This is the process which has been begun in us by grace, and this is what we are to grow in continually – until He comes for us. And this is what He will complete in us. All this, in the searching out of the unsearchable riches of the person and work of Jesus Christ – actualized by His indwelling Spirit.

 

What a salvation! What a Savior!

The address of Solomon to his son is aimed at encouraging him to develop a Gospel Centered Mind. Why do we say Gospel centered all the way back in Proverbs? Because verses 3-6 camp on letting steadfast love and faithfulness dominate his thinking, while at the same time exhorting him to trust the Lord with his whole heart. The connection can’t be missed. It is the Lord we are to trust this absolutely – letting HIS steadfast love and faithfulness rule our entire thought process.

Only the one who has seen their sin and guilt before God, and His amazing provision for human sin in the person and work of Christ – especially at Calvary – can have such a deep, life encompassing assurance. We cannot over emphasize the need for this in the Believer’s life. Apart from it, life will overshadow Christ. In it, the Cross overshadows all of life. It is a “pre-echo” if you will of Jude 21 “keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. ”

So allow me to exhort you as well in this vital matter again today.

Christian, Believer, Child of God – Never let the wonder, the mystery, and glory, the reality of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness toward you ever escape your consciousness.

When we imagine His love to be vacillating or indistinct – or when we doubt the absolute certainty of His commitment to see all of His promises to come to pass – faith suffers its most devastating blows. We must see our God as constitutionally incapable of the any of the defects of human love. In the darkest of hours, He cannot love you any more, nor can He love you any less. See Him as ontologically unable to fail to keep His word, or to break His promises. He does not merely carry out His promises faithfully, He IS faithful. This is the One with whom we have to do. This is our God. Loving and faithful beyond anything the human mind can imagine. This is the One in whom we place our trust.

Know this for yourself, and remind yourself often, of the steadfast love of the Lord, and of His faithfulness.

He cannot fail. And in that, become one of steadfast love and faithfulness yourself. And when that seems to wane, do everything in your power to restore it. Call out for it in prayer. Seek for it like buried treasure in His Word. Sing about it in your Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. Talk about it with your fellow Believers. Find books rehearing and explicating it. Saturate your heart and mind with the wonder of His grace – with His inviolably steadfast love, and His absolute faithfulness. Above all – keep looking to the Cross, and see it carried out there and sealed in the very blood of the Savior. What more absolute guarantee can He grant?  As the 18th century hymn writer put it:

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word! What more can He say than to you He hath said, You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?

In every condition, in sickness, in health; In poverty’s vale, or abounding in wealth; At home and abroad, on the land, on the sea, As thy days may demand, shall thy strength ever be.

Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed, For I am thy God and will still give thee aid; I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go, The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow; For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless, And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie, My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply; The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

Even down to old age all My people shall prove My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love; And when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn, Like lambs they shall still in My bosom be borne.

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose, I will not, I will not desert to its foes; That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake, I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.

Next post: Proverbs 3

~ Reid

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Reid Ferguson

Reid serves as the pastor for preaching and vision at Evangelical Church of Fairport in Fairport New York. A native of Rochester, N.Y., he has served in various ministry areas during his life, including: a founding member of the former Mark IV Quartet, Youth Pastor at ECF, former board member of the Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals (F.I.R.E.), and author of The Little Book of Things You Should Know About Ministry (Christian Focus Publications, 2002). Pastor Reid blogs regularly at Responsive Reiding.