Total Pageviews

Monday, June 27, 2016

Called According to His Purpose (and other devotionals)

Called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

God has a very great purpose for His people by their eternal calling and by their wonderful redemption. A very great purpose... so much greater than the majority of Christians have realized. I do not think I am saying a false thing when I say that perhaps the larger number of Christians have got little further than to know that they are saved, and to be very glad that they are saved, to rejoice in being saved. Comparatively few are really in the good of God’s great, great purpose from eternity, “Called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). It is not for us now to say what that purpose is, to explain it. It is sufficient to state the fact. We are called with a very great purpose, not just even to get out of Egypt and the clutches of the devil, but with an object, a tremendous object, nothing less than the infinite fullness of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, and an eternal vocation. It is a great thing to which we are called in Christ, but how many Christians are really in it, and if they know they are in it, are tasting of the meaning of it: that this Life is an inexhaustible Life, that there are new vistas all the time?
I am not exaggerating. The heavens are opened and we see more and more, and ever more, of what it is to which we are called. It is just wonderful.... You are not meant just to be saved and get to heaven, to know your sins are forgiven and to have a certain number of blessings which come with salvation. But there lies before you and reaches out through eternal ages such a purpose of God concerning us all that “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him” (1 Cor. 2:9).

~T. Austin-Sparks~


I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection. (Philippians 3:10 NIV)
Resurrection always means that we are outside of the world. After His resurrection the Lord Jesus never again appeared to the world. He never manifested Himself personally to the world after His resurrection. The resurrection means that He had passed, in that sense, out from the world and stood apart, and His power over the world was His apartness from it. His ability to deal with the situation is because He is no longer involved in the situation. Resurrection Life means that we are outside of the world spiritually, and in a superior position....
We have to learn how to live by the power of Christ's resurrection, so that the death around us is not able so to impinge upon us as to bring us into its grip. Resurrection union with the Lord Jesus means that we are not involved in the death that is all around us. We can move in scenes of death and not be touched by death. This is a very important lesson to learn, how to be in Life in the midst of death.... In the resurrection of the Lord Jesus we are delivered from the curse – that is, from the death which works vanity – and we have been brought into the place where we can go right through to the Divine end, the full realization that vanity no longer rests upon us. We are no longer held up; no longer in the position that we live and come to a point and that is the end, and we can go no further. We can go right on now! The fruit of Life can come to perfection because the power of death in the curse has been canceled in the power of His resurrection. The condemnation has been removed.

~T. Austin-Sparks~


The words "once more" indicate the removing of what can be shaken – that is, created things – so that what cannot be shaken may remain. (Hebrews 12:27 NIV)
In the destruction of Jerusalem – toward which the Letter [to the Hebrews] pointed – the whole earth was shaken so far as Jewry was concerned. The Temple, as the focal point of that whole world, crashed even with the ground. The priesthood, as gathered up in the high-priestly order, passed away. The temple service ended, and the nation ceased to be an integrated and unified people. These were things capable of being removed. And yet how long they had stood! What forces they had withstood! What confidence there was that they could never cease to be! How assured they were that God was so bound up with it all that it could never be destroyed and cease to be! How they fought and clung to it to the last terrible extremity! But it was of no avail. God was no longer wanting the framework and earthly system, which had taken so much room, and energy, and expenditure, before the really spiritual was reached. The percentage of spiritual value was so small after all, and spiritual interests lay so far along the labyrinthine ways of religious machinery and tradition, that it was not worthwhile. The means to the end was not immediate, that is, there was far too big a distance between the means and the end. There was no immediate touch with the real Divine requirement, and there was far too much that was intermediate. And so it had to go, and, rather than preserve it, God Himself shook it.
What remained after the shaking was just that, and that only, which was Christ in a spiritual and heavenly way: Christ in heaven, and here by His Spirit, the gathering point, or occasion of assembling; Christ in heaven the High Priest and Sacrifice; the order of God's house here a purely spiritual and heavenly one – not formal, arranged, imposed, imitated, or material. Order grows out of life, and if that Life is Divine, and unchecked, Divine order will be spontaneous.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

The One, True God

"So remember this and keep it firmly in mind: The Lord is God both in heaven and on earth, and there is no other."

—Deuteronomy 4:39

We don't see a lot of idol worship in our culture—at least outwardly. But I think that in some ways, maybe there is.

People have their gods, although they don't call them gods. Their gods are what they trust in. Maybe it's a person. Maybe it's a bank account. Maybe it's a career. Maybe it's their appearance. Maybe it's something else.

Then one day something happens, and they lose that money in the bank account. Something happens, and they lose that position. Something happens, and they no longer look like they once did. It's a wakeup call, and they realize that whatever their god was, it was never a good thing to build their lives on.

Anyone or anything that takes the place of the true and living God in your life can potentially become an idol. But here is the bottom line: When crisis hits, is that god going to save you? No, but the Lord will.

Sometimes God allows us to see the futility of what we put our trust in. That is what He did with Pharaoh and the people of Egypt. The Egyptians worshiped pretty much everything, including birds, the Nile River, and plants. You name it, they worshiped it. So the Lord, in sending the plagues, afflicted them with the very things they worshiped.

God was saying, in effect, "You want a worship service? I'll lay some frogs on you. Worship away." There were frogs everywhere—frogs in their beds, in their ovens, and on their floors. God was showing them the futility of what they trusted in.

Have your so-called gods let you down yet? In time they will, because they aren't real. In this battle of the gods, there is only one real God. And He is the God who will win.
~Greg Laurie~

We have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16)
Our natural mind is a great obstacle in the race which we are running, cropping up all the time with its complexes, its arguments, its interests and its methods. When the Corinthians were brought into the Church they left behind their obvious sins, but they carried over into their new realm the old, natural ways of thinking and reasoning which belonged to the world and not to the Spirit of God. But the apostle remonstrated with them: "But we have the mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2:16), so urging them to allow the Cross to be planted between the natural mind and the spiritual. We shall only come to the fullness of Christ as we leave behind the mind of the natural man and move on more and more in the progress of the mind of Christ. On everything; every judgment, every conclusion, every analysis, every appraisal; we must ask the Lord: "Is that Your mind, Lord, or is it mine?" We may sometimes feel that we have the strongest ground for taking up a certain attitude or coming to a certain conclusion; we may feel that we have all the evidence and so are convinced; and yet we may be wrong.

The man who wrote the letter to the Corinthians knew from deep and bitter experience that this was the case. "I verily thought... that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth," he said (Acts 26:9). There was no man who had stronger convictions as to the rightness of his course than Saul of Tarsus. The great revolution which took place in him when he came to Christ was that he had to say: "I have been all wrong in my fundamental way of thinking." After that confession he made good headway in the race because he was always ready to subject his thinking to the jurisdiction of his crucified Lord. This is the way of spiritual progress. We shall not get very far while we hold to our own opinions and our own conclusions, even though we may have the support of others; we have to learn to conquer our natural mind by submission to the mind of Christ. This is most important if we are concerned about spiritual progress. And spiritual progress is the increase of Christ – there is no other.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

Friday, June 24, 2016

Contagious Joy (and other devotionals)

Contagious Joy

Jesus calls us to be His “witnesses.” When some Christians hear this word, they worry that they need exceptional skill or charisma in order to share the good news with others. Yet to witness is not to merely speak of the “plan of salvation” to someone. The word literally means to see, hear, or know by personal presence and perception; to testify; bear witness to; give or afford evidence of. When John wrote that he was sharing what he had experienced first-hand, he was saying, “I am full of joy because of the experience of knowing Jesus, and I want to invite you to share in that joy!”
When you’re in love with someone, you are excited about the relationship and time spent together. Likewise, when you’re in love with Jesus, you can’t keep to yourself the joy that comes from knowing Him—it just spills over, bearing witness and strengthening other believers. In fact, as you give testimony of who God is and how He’s working in your life, it makes no difference whether you speak quietly or with great exuberance: in their spirit, Christians will pick up on the deep, genuine gladness in your heart that goes beyond natural happiness. And people who don’t yet know the Lord will find themselves hungering for the relationship you have. In that way, they will be drawn to His Spirit in you.
Witnessing is not a matter of eloquence or talent. It’s an overflow of the personal relationship with Jesus Christ that is conforming you to His image. As you allow the Holy Spirit to increasingly express His life and power through you, contagious joy will be “fruit” of His indwelling presence.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Today's ReadingJoel 1Revelation 5

Today's Thoughts: No such thing as wasted years

"So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten…” - Joel 2:25

The book of Joel was written by the prophet of whom we know the least. His book is only three chapters in length but is packed with sincere pleas for repentance for the nation of Israel. Joel knew the Lord’s Day was coming but he also knew and spoke of God’s endless mercy and grace. One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Joel 2:25. For me, this verse represents great hope and encouragement for the future. Not only is our God a God of second chances, but also He is a God who restores our past. I have witnessed this restoration first hand in my own life.
I was raised in church, accepted Jesus as my Savior and was baptized, all before the age of 10. I can honestly say I have known the Lord most of my life, but I have not always chosen to walk with Him. There is a big difference in knowingHim versus living for Him. There is also a big difference in knowing aboutHim versus knowing Him personally. I spent many years as an adult choosing to live my life my way. I still read the Bible, went to church and prayed…prayed a lot for the things I wanted. But my life was my own. Then one day, something changed in my heart. My eyes were opened in a very different way. I realized who was really on the throne of my life and it was not Jesus. I began to see how empty my life had become and that I wanted more. More meant more of Him. It was time to live for Jesus. It was time to change my course. But what about those wasted years? I had such sadness realizing the time I had wasted. If only I had done things differently.
Then one day, I come across this verse in Joel. And the Lord Himself said to me that He would restore all of those years that the locust had eaten. He has a plan for my life and His plans and callings are irrevocable. Not only is God with me as I go forward but also He has never left me. I look back and see God’s tremendous grace. And I have seen God do immeasurably more than I could ever ask or imagine in just a few short years.  Do you have regrets about wasted years? Know today that God will restore them all. If you have been away from Him, come back today. Repent and ask the Lord to sit on the throne of your life and carry out His plans and callings for you. Let this verse give you hope and encouragement to begin a new day.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Make his praise glorious.
This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise. - I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me. And it shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and an honour before all the nations of the earth. - By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore. For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell. - Who is like unto thee, O LORD, ... glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? - I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving. - They sing the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty.

PSA. 66:2. Isa. 43:21. Jer. 33:8,9. Heb. 13:15. Psa. 86:12,13. Exo. 15:11. Psa. 69:30. Rev. 15:3.

By nature the children of wrath, even as others.
We ourselves also were sometime foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. - Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

Job answered the LORD, and said, Behold, I am vile: what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth. - The LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?

Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. - David ... to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will.

I obtained mercy, ... who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious.

That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

EPH. 2:3. Tit. 3:3. John 3:7. Job 40:3,4. Job 1:8. Psa. 51:5. Acts 13:22. I Tim. 1:13. John 3:6.

~Samuel Bagster~

Do You Really Believe It?

Ephesians 2:4-7 says,
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,  even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
There was a time in my wife's life when nothing was going right.  It was before we were married while she was attending Bible school.  Things were so bad that she was ready to drop out, and she wondered where God was in her life.
It was then that she attended a seminar where a woman was teaching on this passage.  As my wife read this, and heard it taught, she saw that God loved her in an amazing way.  That He loves everybody so much He sent Jesus Christ, so that He could make us a showpiece of His great love. 
She realized He wanted to make her life beautiful and full.  He wanted to make it good.  He wanted to do things in her life so that she would be a showpiece for Him, and other people would look and say, "What is it about you?" and she could tell them that God made the difference in her life.  Since that truth dawned on Janet's heart, she has never been the same.
1 John 4:16 says,
And we have known and believed the love that God has for us.
Do you really believe that God loves you and has good things in store for you?  You have heard about God's love, but do you really know it?  Are you really believing the love that God has for you?
Well He does love you, and when you believe it, you will never be the same!

~Bayless Conley~

Hear what the unjust judge saith - Luke 18:6
The force of this parable lies in its succession of vivid contrasts, which rise to an irresistible climax. The judge is unjust. - He neither fears God nor regards man. His one idea is to extort as much money as he can from the prisoners who desire to get out of jail, and from those that want to keep them in, or put others to share their fate. But God is our Father, unimpeachable in His integrity, and only eager to promote our welfare.
The judge had no personal interest in the claimant. - She had no personal attraction for him. Had she been possessed of property, he might have cared more. But now he looked on her as a pest that plagued and worried him. But we are God's elect, over whom His tender heart yearns. Did He not choose us before all the worlds unto His glory?
The judge answered the widow's cry just to save himself trouble. - Whenever he went to his seat, there she was. Though he had refused to hear her a score of times, there was her voice again, as clear and penetrating as ever. She had been forcibly hurried from his presence by his officials, and she had been borne screaming and remonstrating into the rear; but she never knew herself defeated. At last he could bear it no longer, and gave orders that her patrimony should be restored.
And will not God do as much, as, generation after generation, He sees His Church, like a widowed soul, oppressed by the great enemy and avenger? As He hears the cries of martyrs and saints; the perpetual prayer, Come, Lord Jesus; the insolent boast of the foe - will He not arise and avenge? Yes, verily, speedily! But it may seem long to us, because one thousand years with Him are as one day.

~F. B. Meyer~

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A Quiet Heart (and other devotionals)

A Quiet Heart 

"In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength"   (Isaiah 30:15).

It is always weakness to be fretting and worrying, questioning and mistrusting. What can we do if we wear ourselves to skin and bone? Can we gain anything by fearing and fuming? Do we not unfit ourselves for action and unhinge our minds for wise decision? We are sinking by our struggles when we might float by faith. Oh, for grace to be quiet! Why run from house to house to repeat the weary story which makes us more and more heart-sick as we tell it? Why even stay at home to cry out in agony because of wretched forebodings which may never be fulfilled? It would be well to keep a quiet tongue, but it would be far better if we had a quiet heart. Oh, to be still and know that Jehovah is God! Oh, for grace to be confident in God! The holy One of Israel must defend and deliver His own. He cannot run back from His solemn declarations. We may make sure that every word of His will stand though the mountains should depart. He deserves to be confided in; and if we would display confidence and consequent quietness, we might be as happy as the spirits before the throne. Come, my soul, return unto thy rest, and lean thy head upon the bosom of the LORD Jesus.

~Charles Spurgeon~

“But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:24.

Have you needed a counselor at times? People come to pastors and counselors for wisdom. We can counsel from Scripture, but we can’t solve their problems. 

We can try to lead them to the One who can solve their problems, the Lord Jesus Christ. I don’t want them dependent upon me. I want them to know Jesus. He is the Counselor. There is wisdom in His name. Paul says in 1 Corinthians1:30, He “is made unto us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” 

Are you going through a problem right now? You don’t know the way out. You don’t know what to do. Every answer seems wrong. I want to recommend my counselor to you. Call upon the true Counselor. His name is Jesus. Not only is there wonder in His name. Friend, there is wisdom in His name.
~Adrian Rogers~

The clear message that came across to me from Psalm 50 was that God wants our hearts, and desires for us to offer up to Him an earnest and genuine sacrifice of thanksgiving.
"The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!" (vs. 23)

How do you show God that your heart is given to Him? Do you demonstrate to others that God is the desire of your heart? 


Good Leaders Follow
Good Leaders Follow 

If it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.  Romans 12:8

Gifted leaders are first and foremost good followers of God. They recognize the Gift Giver as their authority, so they do not lord over others—rather they submit themselves to the Lord. Because the leader respects Christ, he or she respects those they lead. Because they love the Lord, they love their team. Because they serve Jesus, they serve those who serve with them. Yes, a gifted leader is able to influence and educate a group toward an agreed upon goal. Leaders have followers.

Are you called to lead but feel inferior? If so, seek your confidence in Christ. Go to the Resourceful One for reassurance. Resistance does not mean you are a bad leader; on the contrary it may be validation that you are moving in the right direction. Indeed, some struggle in getting on the bandwagon of change—it threatens their security. So stay the course and lead prayerfully, patiently and lovingly. Trust the Spirit’s small voice that affirms your actions—God is with you.

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:9-12).

You know you have the gift of leadership if you can see the big picture and inspire others toward that God-given vision. You understand the sequence of steps required to reach the objectives. You perceive potential problems and are courageous and wise to make adjustments. You motivate the team to embrace transitions as necessary to stay relevant. You create a culture of accountability with real-time updates. No one wants to let anyone down in the execution process.

Your gift of leadership is a weighty responsibility, but you are not alone. Almighty God is your “go to” for humility, holiness and wisdom. God gives you what you need to accomplish what He wants. Furthermore, use your leadership role to invest in other emerging leaders. It is harder to grow leaders than it is to lead. Therefore, be intentional and prayerful to train up faithful men and women who will train others. You steward your leadership best by birthing other leaders!

“And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them” (Psalm 78:72).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, lead me so that in humility I can lead others in Your ways.

~Wisdom Hunters Devotional~

The Lord is in the midst of thee.
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. - Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; He will come and save you. - The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing. - Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart.

I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.

ZEPH. 3:15. Isa. 41:10. -Isa. 35:3,4. Zeph. 3:17. Psa. 27:14. Rev. 21:3,4.

Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward.
Be of good courage, and let us behave ourselves valiantly for our people, and for the cities of our God: and let the LORD do that which is good in his sight. - We made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night.

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. - If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God. - Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD.

Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation. - Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. - Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.

Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not.

EXO. 14:15. I Chr. 19:13. Neh. 4:9. Matt. 7:21. John 7:17. -Hos. 6:3. Matt. 26:41. I Cor. 16:13. Rom. 12:11. Isa. 35:3,4.

~Samuel Bagster~

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Worthy Sayings of Great Christians

True Christianity is not merely believing a certain set of dry abstract propositions: it is to live in daily personal communication with an actual living person - Jesus Christ.
~J. C. Ryle~

This silly world thinks it is finished with Jesus Christ, but they haven't even started with Him yet.
~Leonard Ravenhill~

Nothing else will preserve from the infections of the world, deliver from temptations of satan, and be so effective a preservative against sin, as the Word of God received into the affections. "The Law of his God received into heart, none of his steps slide (Psalm 37:31). As long as the Truth is active within us, stirring the conscience, and is really loved by us, we shall be kept from falling.
~Arthur Pink~
More spiritual progress can be made in one short moment of speechless silence in the awesome presence of God than in years of mere study.
~A. W. Tozer~

A liberal church says you are welcome here and you do not have to clean up your life. In legalistic churchs you are not welcome here until you clean up your life. Jesus says you are welcome here and I will change your life from the inside out (John 8:11).

While others are congratulating themselves, I have to lie humbly at the foot of Christ's Cross and marvel that I am saved at all.
~Charles Spurgeon~

Let your love for God change the world, but never let the world change your love of God.
~A. W. Tozer~

Whatever I am, whatever I am doing, I hope and pray to God that I will have the courage to stand up for the real Jesus of the New Testament, regardless of whom I offend.
~A. W. Tozer~

Pray, and let God worry.

God will not permit any troubles to come upon us, unless He has a specific plan by which great blessing can come out of the difficulty.
~Peter Marshall~

I have learned that faith means trusting in advance what onlymakes sense in reverse.
~Philip Yancey~

Faith is the vision of the heart; it sees God in the dark as well as in the day.

To learn strong faith is to endure great trials. I have learned my faith by standing firm amid severe testings.
~George Mueller~

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Church In Prophecy

The Church in Prophecy
End Time Revival or Apostasy?
by Dr. David R. Reagan

There is much talk going around these days about how unified, triumphant and glorious the Church will be in the end times right before the return of Jesus. This pollyanna image of the Church is certainly attractive, but it does not correspond with what the Bible prophesies.


The picture of the Church in the end times that is portrayed in the Bible is not a very pretty one. For one thing, the Bible prophecies that the Church will be racked by apostasy. Jesus prophesied that "many will fall away" (Matt. 24:10). Likewise, Paul said the Anti-Christ cannot be revealed until "the great apostasy" takes place (II Thess. 2:3).
Paul reveals the source of the apostasy in II Timothy 3:5 - "Men will hold to form of religion but will deny its power." The fulfillment of this prophecy began in the 1920's with the ascendancy of the German School of Higher Criticism. This school of thought, which quickly swept American seminaries, advocated that the Bible should be approached like any other piece of literature - with a critical eye. The concepts of the special inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible were rejected. The Bible came to be viewed as Man's search for God rather than God's revelation to Man. As a human product, it was considered to be full of myth, legend, and superstition.

This assault on the integrity of God's Word opened the floodgates of apostasy. Before long Christian theologians and ministers were laughing about the virgin birth of Jesus, discounting His miracles, casting doubt on His resurrection, and flatly denying His second coming.

As the uniqueness of Jesus was downplayed, many denominations began to embrace the damnable doctrine of Universalism. And that is where we are today, caught up in the midst of a gross apostasy which says, "Believe what you want. The important thing is to be sincere. There are many roads to God." All of which makes a liar of Jesus who said: "I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:16). The result is that there are a lot of sincere people who are sincerely going to Hell.


A second set of prophecies warn that the Church will be assaulted by cultic deception in the end times. Jesus emphasized this point repeatedly in His Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24:5, 11 & 24). And Paul underlined it in the strongest possible language when he wrote: "The Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons" (I Tim. 4:1).
The fulfillment of these prophecies began in the 19th Century with the rise of Mormonism and its demonic teaching that Jesus is the brother of Lucifer, one of thousands of Gods created by the super god, Adam, an exalted man. The Jehovah's Witnesses were next on the scene with their perverted teaching that Jesus is the Archangel Michael.
This century has witnessed the rapid multiplication of the cults, just as prophesied. Today, life long Christians who do not know why they believe what they profess to believe are being sucked into the cults by the tens of thousands.

Equally appalling is the direct penetration of the Church by cultic doctrine. Well known Christian leaders are advocating the ancient Shamanistic practice of visualization as the key to prayer. Others are teaching one of Satan's oldest lies - that those who have been born again are "little gods."
The latest cultic fad is the concept of Satanic salvation; namely, that we do not owe our salvation to the blood Jesus shed on the Cross but rather to some imaginary torment which He suffered at the hands of Satan for three days in Hell. And then, of course, there is Masonry, the oldest form of cultic penetration of the Church, with its secret blood oaths, its works salvation, and its Universalism.
The degree of cultic penetration into the Church is perhaps best illustrated by two recent events.
Not long ago the number one rated "Christian" televangelist in America served as the< main speaker for the dedication of the new international headquarters of the Unity Church. The Unity Church is a classic cult that teaches reincarnation and denigrates the uniqueness of Jesus by advocating that the Christ potential resides in each of us. That same televangelist continues to hold church growth seminars for the Unity Church.
Meanwhile, one of the leading Charismatic spokesmen in America has called for Christians to embrace the Mormons!


A third group of prophecies indicate that in the end times the Church will be assailed by doctrinal error. These are doctrines that do not damn the soul but which confuse and weaken the spirit.
In II Timothy 4:3-4, Paul says: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths." There are many popular myths in Christendom today that either rob people of the power of their faith or else deceive them into practicing a presumptuous faith.
Among Fundamentalists there is a myth that God retired in the First Century and that with Him went all manifestations of the supernatural, including angels, demons, spiritual< gifts, and miracles. Among Charismatics the doctrinal abuses have been epidemic, including the following myths:
1) Faith is to be placed in your faith and not in God.
2) It is always God's will to heal.
3) The believer has the authority of Jesus.
4) It is God's desire that believers be financially prosperous.
5) Believers can have what they want through positive confession.
The winds of doctrine (Eph. 4:14) are blowing through the Church at gale force and believers are being tossed here and there by the waves, all in the fulfillment of prophecy.


A fourth characteristic prophesied about the Church in the end times is that it will be compromised and corrupted by worldliness. The prophetic picture of this worldly church is found in Revelation 3:14-22, where the church at Laodicea is described.
The seven churches depicted in Revelation 2 and 3 are symbolic of seven periods of church history. The church at Laodicea, the last to be presented, is representative of the type of church that will prevail in Christendom at the end of the Church Age.
The picture is a pathetic one. The Church is apathetic, neither hot nor cold. The apathy is a product of the Church's adoption of a worldly attitude expressed in the words, "I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing." Jesus responds with a scathing rebuke: "You don not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked."
In fulfillment of this prophecy, our churches today are filled with cultural Christians who have accepted Jesus as Savior but not as Lord. They are schizophrenic Christians who walk with one foot in the Church and the other in the world. They are carnal Christians who shout "Hallelujah!" on the weekend but who live like pagans during the week. They are greedy Christians in pursuit of health, wealth, and power. The Cross and its message of sacrifice is as offensive to them as it is to the world.


Because of the apostasy, heresy, cultism, and worldliness that the Bible says will characterize the end time Church, the Bible prophesies that the Church will come under judgment. In Revelation 3:19 Jesus says to the church at Laodicea, "Those whom I love,< I reprove and discipline."
The glitzy, overindulgent church of the 70's and 80's is now tasting the judgment of< God. Sin is being exposed. Religious empires are being dismantled. The Lord is calling us from the Cadillac to the Cross. Through discipline, the Spirit is motivating us to humility, righteousness and holiness.
Judgment has begun in the House of the Lord, where it always begins (Ezek. 9:6 and I Peter 4:17). The Lord is disciplining His Church as a prelude to the pouring out of His wrath upon the world.

The Latter Rain

Is there any good news about the Church in prophecy? Yes, there is. The incredibly good news is that the Bible prophesies a great pouring out of God's Spirit in the end times to empower those who are receptive to stand against the onslaught of Satan.
The prophecy is found in Joel 2:28-30. Because this prophecy was quoted by Peter in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost to explain the phenomenon of tongues (Acts 2:14-21), many have assumed that it was fulfilled on that day. That assumption is erroneous.
The context before the passage (verses 18-27) makes it clear that there will be two< outpourings of the Spirit (the "early and latter rain") and that the final outpouring will occur after the Jews are regathered to their land and re-established as a nation. Also, the context after the passage (verses 31 & 32) indicates clearly that the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecy will occur at the time of the Second Coming.
We have been in the period of the "latter rain" ever since the re-establishment of the state of Israel on May 14, 1948. The Spirit is being poured out, and the gifts of the spirit are being manifest in a way unparalleled since the First Century. The praise and worship of the Tabernacle of David are also being restored to the Church to further empower it for spiritual warfare.
This great anointing of the Spirit is producing a remnant that is immersed in the Word, committed to righteousness, crucified to self, dedicate to prayer, surrendered in worship, zealous for evangelism and yearning for the soon return of Jesus. It is this remnant that will usher in the Lord's return on a cloud of praise.

A Modern Day Prophecy
Concerning the Church

Printed below is an excerpt from a prophecy given by the late Stanley Frodsham, former editor of the Pentecostal Evangel. The prophecy was delivered at the Elim Bible Institute Summer Camp Meeting in 1965.
"When I visit My people in mighty revival power, it is to prepare them for the darkness
ahead. . .Take heed to yourselves lest you be puffed up and think that you have arrived. Many shall be puffed up as in the olden days. . .
"Listen to the messengers, but do not hold men's persons in admiration. For many whom I shall anoint mightily, with signs and miracles, shall become lifted up and shall fall by the wayside. I do not do this willingly; I have made provision that they might stand. I call many into this ministry and equip them; but remember that many shall fall. They shall be like bright lights, and people shall delight in them. But they shall be taken over by deceiving spirits and shall lead many of My people away.
"Hearken diligently concerning these things, for in the last days shall come seducing spirits that shall turn many of My anointed ones away. Many shall fall through divers lusts and because of sin abounding. . .
"I warn you to search the Scriptures diligently concerning these last days, for the things< that are written shall indeed be made manifest. There shall come deceivers among My people in increasing numbers who shall speak for the truth and shall gain the favor of the people. For the people shall examine the Scriptures and say, 'What these men say is true.' Then when they have gained the hearts of the people, then and then only shall they bring out these wrong doctrines. Therefore, I say that you should not give your hearts to men, nor hold people's persons in admiration. For by these very persons shall Satan enter into My people. Watch for seducers!
"Be not deceived, for the deceiver will first work to gain the hearts of many, and then he shall bring forth his insidious doctrines. You cannot discern those that are of Me and those that are not of Me when they start to preach. But seek Me constantly, and then when these doctrines are brought out you shall have a witness in your heart that these are not of Me.
"The minister of righteousness shall be on this wise: his life shall agree with the word and his lips shall give forth that which is wholly true, and it will be no mixture. When the mixture appears, then you will know he is not a minister of righteousness. The deceivers speak first the truth and then error to cover their own sins which they love. . .
"I desire you to be firmly established in My Word and not in the personalities of men that you will not be moved as so many shall be moved. . . Diligently inquire of Me when you hear something that you have not seen in the Word, and do not hold people's persons in admiration, for it is by this very method that Satan will destroy many of My people."
An interesting thing about this prophecy is that it was published in Jimmy Swaggart's magazine, The Evangelist, in October 1987. Later on, the problems encountered in his life and ministry were to serve as a partial fulfillment of the prophecy.
The message is clear. We must all be on guard spiritually. None of us is immune to deception. Everything must be tested by the Word. If a doctrine fails the test of Scripture, it is to be rejected, regardless of who is teaching it. Our trust is to be placed in the Word and not in men.
We must stop chasing after men and miracles. A fixation on either will result in deception. False teachers can appear as angels of light. Miracles can be performed by the power of Satan. Our eyes are to be fixed on Jesus, and Him only. Our authority in all things is to be His Word.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Wisdom of God

The Wisdom of God


Recently several from our church attended the Ligonier’s 1994 Dallas Conference. Among the speakers were Charles Colson and R. C. Sproul. My favorite speaker was my former seminary professor, Dr. Bruce Waltke, who spoke on the subject, “What Does God Require,” from Micah 6:8. After a very fine exposition, Dr. Waltke gave opportunity for questions. One question concerned the particular words used in the original text of Micah 6:8. When he heard the question, Dr. Waltke tipped his head back, closed his eyes, and prepared to answer.
Sitting beside me was my friend and colleague in ministry, Mark Sellers, who was hearing Dr. Waltke for the first time. Most impressed, especially by the way Dr. Waltke prepared to answer the question, Mark said, “When he closed his eyes, he was mentally reading the text, wasn’t he?” “Yes,” I replied, “with one significant addition . . . he was mentally scrolling theHebrew text in his mind’s eye.” I am convinced that is exactly what happened.
Dr. Waltke is one of my favorite Bible expositors, and the first thing that always impresses me is his great love for the Lord. The second is his love and commitment to the text of the Scriptures. Here is a man whose knowledge of the Old Testament is awesome.
It is a joy to behold wisdom and knowledge in a man. How much greater then to find in God wisdom and knowledge unsurpassed and infinite. The beauty of God’s character is that each of His attributes compliments the other attributes. We have already considered the infinite power of God—His omnipotence—which enables Him to do anything He chooses. We further studied the goodness of God, which motivates God’s every action toward those who believe, as well as His common grace to unbelievers and believers alike. Now we turn to His infinite wisdom. When we consider these attributes together—God’s goodness, wisdom, and power—we find great comfort and encouragement.
If there is anything the Bible teaches us about God, it is that He is all-wise.
13 “With Him are wisdom and might; To Him belong counsel and understanding” (Job 12:13).
28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable (Isaiah 40:28).
33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! (Romans 11:33; see alsoJob 9:1-4; 36:5Isaiah 31:1-2).
God is all-wise, infinitely wise:
5 “Behold, God is mighty but does not despise [any;] [He is] mighty in strength of understanding” (Job 36:5).
5 Great is our Lord, and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite (Psalms 147:5).
God’s wisdom is vastly superior to human wisdom:
8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. 9 “For [as] the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9; see also Job 28:12-28Jeremiah 51:15-17).
God alone is wise:
25 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, 26 but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, [leading] to obedience of faith; 27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen (Romans 16:25-27; see also 1 Timothy 1:17Jude 1:25).
It is God who is the source of wisdom:
6 For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth [come] knowledge and understanding (Proverbs 2:6).
20 Daniel answered and said, “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him” (Daniel 2:20).
5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him (James 1:5).

What is Wisdom?

One might sum up the meaning of the term “wisdom” with the words, “know how.” Wisdom is based upon knowledge. Often, in fact, wisdom and knowledge are mentioned together (see Jeremiah 10:12; 51:15Luke 1:17(AV); Romans 11:331 Corinthians 1:24; 2:5Colossians 2:3Revelation 5:12; 7:12). Wisdom cannot exist without a knowledge of all the facts pertinent to any purpose or plan. For example, building a Disneyland in Europe seems to have been a disaster. If this venture fails as it seems certain to do, it is because it was planned and built without the knowledge of some very crucial data. Some very serious miscalculations were made which may prove fatal to this venture. The God who is all-wise is also the God who is all-knowing.
God knows everything. Theologians use the term “omniscient” when speaking of God’s infinite knowledge. God knows everything about everything. He knows what men are thinking (see Ezekiel 11:5Luke 5:21-22). He knows everything that is going to happen. He even knows everything that could happen, under any set of circumstances (see, for example, 1 Samuel 23:10-122 Kings 8:10). God cannot devise a bad plan or fail to bring His purposes and promises to their conclusion because He knows everything. His omniscience undergirds His wisdom.
Wisdom is not just knowledge, but “know how.” God’s wisdom enables Him to “know how” to do anything (see 2 Peter 2:9). Wisdom entails the skillfulness to formulate a plan and to carry it out in the best and most effective manner. Bezalel was a craftsman, a man with incredible “wisdom” in the art of making the furnishings for the Tabernacle (seeExodus 31:1-5). Joshua had been given wisdom to know how to lead the nation Israel (Deuteronomy 34:9). Solomon asked for and received the wisdom and knowledge needed to rule Israel (2 Chronicles 1:7-12).
A. W. Tozer and J. I. Packer have defined wisdom as follows:
“In the Holy Scriptures wisdom, when used of God and good men, always carries a strong moral connotation. It is conceived as being pure, loving, and good.… Wisdom, among other things, is the ability to devise perfect ends and to achieve those ends by the most perfect means. It sees the end from the beginning, so there can be no need to guess or conjecture. Wisdom sees everything in focus, each in proper relation to all, and is thus able to work toward predestined goals with flawless precision.”17
“Wisdom is the power to see, and the inclination to choose, the best and highest goal, together with the surest means of attaining it. Wisdom is, in fact, the practical side of moral goodness. As such, it is found in its fulness only in God. He alone is naturally and entirely and invariable wise.”18

The Wisdom of God in the Bible

When it comes to the wisdom of God, a picture is worth more than a thousand words. As we look at a few passages of Scripture which speak of the wisdom of God, we will attempt to sharpen the definition of God’s wisdom and show its relevance to our daily lives.


I must confess I had never considered the account of the fall in Genesis in light of the wisdom of God. Nevertheless, it is clear that Eve’s desire for wisdom contributed to her fall:
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die.’” 4 And the serpent said to the woman, “You surely shall not die! 5 For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make [one] wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate (Genesis 3:1-6, emphasis mine).
Verse 6 informs the reader just how Eve came to perceive the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. She perceived it as good, good for food. She came to see it as delightful to look at and as desirable because she now believed the fruit of this tree would make her wise.
Let us be very clear: the way Eve perceived the forbidden fruit of that tree was not reality. Eve now saw the fruit of that tree as Satan wanted her to perceive it. She saw the tree as desirable because she was deceived:
13 For it was Adam who was first created, [and] then Eve. 14 And [it was] not Adam [who] was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression. 15 But [women] shall be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint (1 Timothy 2:13-15).
The fruit of the tree was not good for food, because God had forbidden Eve and her husband to eat it. And neither was the fruit of that tree able to make one wise. The tree was able to do what its name indicates. It was not called the “tree of wisdom,” but the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Eating of the fruit of the tree did enable Adam and Eve to “know good and evil.”
Wisdom is not “knowing good and evil.” Wisdom is knowing good from evil.Eating the fruit of the forbidden tree did cause Adam and Eve to know evil. They knew evil by experience.19 The worst of it is that Adam and Eve did come to a new awareness of “good and evil,” but notice what happened in the process. What was evil became “good” in their eyes. Eating of the fruit of that tree was forbidden by God. To eat that fruit was to do what was evil. And yet, with a little prompting and deception by Satan, Eve came to see this “evil” (by God’s definition) as “good” (in her perception, as suggested by Satan).
After eating the forbidden fruit, that which was “good” came to be looked upon as evil. When God made Adam and then His wife, they (like all the rest of God’s creation) were good in His sight. They were created naked, and they knew no shame. Their nakedness was good in their state of innocence. But once they sinned by eating the fruit of that tree, they were ashamed of their nakedness and tried to cover themselves. Their nakedness was no longer “good” but “evil.” And the fellowship they enjoyed with God was most certainly good. But once they disobeyed Him, they tried to hide from His presence rather than enjoy it. Why? Because this “good” (of enjoying God) was now “evil.” They knew good and evil, but now the labels have been switched. Is Satan not guilty of doing that which God forbade?
20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20).
Satan assured Eve that in eating the fruit of the forbidden tree she would be “like God, knowing good and evil” (verse 5). Satan’s sin was in trying to be “like God” in a competitive way and by his own effort (Isaiah 14:14). I fear Eve’s motivation may have been similar. The truth was that eating of “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” would not make Eve “like God.” Eating that fruit was disobedience; it was sin. God is righteous, and one does not become like Him by sinning. She was deceived, quite deceived, as Paul points out in 1 Timothy 2:14.
But was it wrong for Eve to desire to be wise? Surely it cannot be evil to desire to be wise, can it? When “knowledge” is the knowledge of evil, then ignorance truly is bliss. But did God want to keep Adam and Eve ignorant? Did He forbid them to become wise? Not at all! God wanted Adam and Eve to be wise concerning what is good and ignorant of what is evil:
19 For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good, and innocent in what is evil (Romans 16:19).
Satan’s “wisdom” was a knowledge of “good” and “evil.” And in the knowing of evil, Adam and Eve became alienated from the enjoyment of “good.”
Adam and Eve were given every opportunity and encouragement by God to know Him, to be like Him, and to be wise with respect to all that is good. Let us note some of the ways God made this possible. First, they could be wise concerning good by becoming students of creation:
24 O LORD, how many are Thy works! in wisdom Thou hast made them all; The earth is full of Thy possessions. 25 There is the sea, great and broad, In which are swarms without number, Animals both small and great. 26 There the ships move along, [And] Leviathan, which Thou hast formed to sport in it (Psalms 104:24-26).
5 Him who made the heavens with skill, For His lovingkindness is everlasting (Psalms 136:5).
19 The LORD by wisdom founded the earth; By understanding He established the heavens. 20 By His knowledge the deeps were broken up, And the skies drip with dew (Proverbs 3:19-20).
22 “The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His way, Before His works of old. 23 From everlasting I was established, From the beginning, from the earliest times of the earth. 24 When there were no depths I was brought forth, When there were no springs abounding with water. 25 Before the mountains were settled, Before the hills I was brought forth; 26 While He had not yet made the earth and the fields, Nor the first dust of the world. 27 When He established the heavens, I was there, when He inscribed a circle on the face of the deep, 28 When He made firm the skies above, When the springs of the deep became fixed, 29 When He set for the sea its boundary, So that the water should not transgress His command, When He marked out the foundations of the earth; 30 Then I was beside Him, [as] a master workman; And I was daily [His] delight, Rejoicing always before Him, 31 Rejoicing in the world, His earth, And [having] my delight in the sons of men” (Proverbs 8:22-31).
12 [It is] He who made the earth by His power, Who established the world by His wisdom; And by His understanding He has stretched out the heavens (Jeremiah 10:12).
15 [It is] He who made the earth by His power, Who established the world by His wisdom, And by His understanding He stretched out the heavens. 16 When He utters His voice, [there is] a tumult of waters in the heavens, And He causes the clouds to ascend from the end of the earth; He makes lightning for the rain, And brings forth the wind from His storehouses (Jeremiah 51:15-16).
Did Adam and Eve wish to be wise? Then let them study the creation of which they were a part. Did they wish to know “good?” Then let them know it in His creation:
24 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind”; and it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good (Genesis 1:24-25).
Did Adam and Eve desire to know “good” and to become wise, like God? Then let them take every advantage which God gave them to be with Him in sweet communion and fellowship. It would seem God daily was walking in the garden with Adam and his wife (Genesis 3:8). And the moment they sinned by disobeying Him, they attempted to avoid being in His presence. How much they could have learned of Him and from Him!
Did Adam and Eve wish to become wise and understanding? Then let them obey God:
6 “So keep and do [them], for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people’” (Deuteronomy 4:6).
10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do [His commandments]; His praise endures forever (Psalms 111:10).
Satan deceived Eve into believing disobedience was the path to wisdom when the opposite was, and still is, true. Wisdom is not the cause of obedience as much as the result of obedience. We obey God not because we are wise enough to do so, but because we trust in God and His wisdom which is revealed in His commandments. By disobeying God, Adam and Eve evidenced their distrust in God and His infinite wisdom.
Finally, Adam and Eve could have become wise by eating of the fruit of that other tree, just as prominently placed, perhaps even more prominently placed, in the center of the garden—the tree of life. Our understanding ofGenesis 3 is greatly enhanced by a consideration of Proverbs 3.
1 My son, do not forget my teaching, But let your heart keep my commandments; 2 For length of days and years of life, And peace they will add to you. 3 Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 So you will find favor and good repute In the sight of God and man. 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil. 8 It will be healing to your body, And refreshment to your bones. 9 Honor the LORD from your wealth, And from the first of all your produce; 10 So your barns will be filled with plenty, And your vats will overflow with new wine. 11 My son, do not reject the discipline of the LORD, Or loathe His reproof, 12 For whom the LORD loves He reproves, Even as a father, the son in whom he delights. 13 How blessed is the man who finds wisdom, And the man who gains understanding. 14 For its profit is better than the profit of silver, And its gain than fine gold. 15 She is more precious than jewels; And nothing you desire compares with her. 16 Long life is in her right hand; In her left hand are riches and honor. 17 Her ways are pleasant ways, And all her paths are peace. 18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, And happy are all who hold her fast. 19 The LORD by wisdom founded the earth; By understanding He established the heavens. 20 By His knowledge the deeps were broken up, And the skies drip with dew (Proverbs 3:1-20, emphasis mine).
From a cursory study of this text, several truths are self-evident and serve as a most helpful commentary on Genesis 3 and the fall of man. First, we are urged to desire wisdom as something of the highest value (see verses 13-18). Divine wisdom is to be greatly desired. Satan turned Eve’s desires in the opposite direction—to that which would lead her from wisdom to folly—from life to death. Second, we are told that divine wisdom is evident in creation (verses 19-20). Adam and Eve had all creation before them to teach them of God’s wisdom. God was not withholding His wisdom from them, but displaying it before them. Third, wisdom does not balk at discipline, but recognizes it as an evidence of the love of God (verses 11-12). Eve was led to believe exactly the opposite. Satan suggested God withheld the forbidden fruit because He was selfish and unloving. Fourth, wisdom is the result of obedience (verses 1-2). Satan convinced Eve that wisdom would result from her disobedience. Fifth, to have true wisdom, we must cease trusting in ourselves and our own assessment of what is “good” and trust rather in God’s wisdom and in His commands. Sixth, we should see that wisdom is a “tree of life” (verses 2, 18). I do not think this image of a “tree of life” is haphazard. Eating of the “tree of life” was the way to wisdom, which is why Satan sought to change the focus of Eve’s attention and desire from this tree to the forbidden tree.
The fall of Adam and Eve may seem a distant, unrelated event of ancient history, but do not be deceived by this false perception. We have much to learn from Eve and much to apply in our own daily lives. As Paul urged, we must seek to be wise about what is good and ignorant concerning evil: “I want you to be wise in what is good, and innocent in what is evil”(Romans 16:19b). We must learn to focus our desires on what is good and to discipline those desires which lead to our destruction:
6 Now these things happened as examples for us, that we should not crave evil things, as they also craved (1 Corinthians 10:6).
11 Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul (1 Peter 2:11).
1 As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for Thee, O God (Psalms 42:1).
1 Therefore, putting aside all malice and all guile and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, 2 like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation (1 Peter 2:1-2).
Christians today seek to be wise, but all too often it is not God’s wisdom they seek. They seem ignorant of the fact that there is a false wisdom which must be rejected:
13 Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and [so] lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. 18 And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace (James 3:13-18).
12 For our proud confidence is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you (2 Corinthians 1:12).
23 These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, [but are] of no value against fleshly indulgence (Colossians 2:23).
The wisdom of God and the “wisdom” of men are not the same; they are not compatible. Indeed, they are in opposition to each other:
18 For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, “I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.” 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not [come to] know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For indeed Jews ask for signs, and Greeks search for wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men (1 Corinthians 1:18-25).
1 And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. 4 And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. 6 Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; 7 but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden [wisdom,] which God predestined before the ages to our glory (1 Corinthians 2:1-7).
We sometimes hear, “All truth is God’s truth.” In a sense, I suppose this is true. But the only “truth” we know to be truth is the “truth” which is in Christ, the truth revealed in God’s Word (John 17:17). All other “truths” are claims of truth which may or may not be true. The one thing we do know about these other “truths” is that they are not essential truths, for God has revealed to us “all that is necessary for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3-4).
True wisdom, the wisdom which is a “tree of life,” does not come from below, from man; it comes from above, from God. Too many Christians try to become wise by reading secular sources (not that we should avoid all secular reading, but we should not read these to become wise). And even more Christians are reading books and works written by “Christian experts,” who merely mouth secular thinking baptized with religious terminology. Let us desire God’s wisdom as a “tree of life,” and let us look for it in God’s Word and pursue it by keeping His commands. Let us not persist in the very thing which brought about the fall.
6 For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth [come] knowledge and understanding (Proverbs 2:6). 12 “I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, And I find knowledge [and] discretion. 13 The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way, And the perverted mouth, I hate. 14 Counsel is mine and sound wisdom; I am understanding, power is mine. 15 By me kings reign, And rulers decree justice. 16 By me princes rule, and nobles, All who judge rightly. 17 I love those who love me; And those who diligently seek me will find me. 18 Riches and honor are with me, Enduring wealth and righteousness. 19 My fruit is better than gold, even pure gold, And my yield than choicest silver. 20 I walk in the way of righteousness, In the midst of the paths of justice, 21 To endow those who love me with wealth, That I may fill their treasuries” (Proverbs 8:12-21).


7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, 8 which He lavished upon us. In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fulness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth (Ephesians 1:7-10).
8 To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things; 10 in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly [places.] 11 [This was] in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. 13 Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory (Ephesians 3:8-13).


God promised Abraham that in him, in his seed, all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3). It seems this would have taken place through the entire nation, but history makes it clear the nation will not be subject to God and will persistently resist and rebel against God. It was not through the seed (plural) of Abraham that God brought about the blessing of the world, but through the seed (singular) of Abraham—Jesus Christ:
16 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as [referring] to many, but [rather] to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ (Galatians 3:16).
And the “sons of Abraham” are not just the physical seed of Abraham (seeRomans 9:6-13) but the spiritual seed of Abraham:
26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise (Galatians 3:26-29; see also Romans 4).
It was not through the obedience of the nation Israel the Gentiles came to possess the blessings of Abraham’s seed; it was through their disobedience:
30 For just as you once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their disobedience, 31 so these also now have been disobedient, in order that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy. 32 For God has shut up all in disobedience that He might show mercy to all (Romans 11:30-32).
Looking back on the salvation God has brought about in Christ, in spite of and even because of Israel’s disobedience, Paul can only stand in awe of the wisdom of God to plan such a thing and bring it about:
33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! 34 For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? 35 Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN? 36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him [be] the glory forever. Amen (Romans 11:33-36).
God’s wisdom exceeds man’s wisdom and even man’s imagination. God brings about what He has promised in ways we could never imagine or even believe if we were told in advance. God’s wisdom is seen in His dealings with the nation Israel.


Paul indicates in Ephesians 1 the eternal purpose of God to sum up all things in Christ. In the Old Testament, the coming of Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah was progressively revealed in greater detail. This began with the promise of salvation from sin and the defeat of Satan through Eve’s seed in Genesis 3:15. It was more fully disclosed in the Abrahamic (Genesis 12:1-3) and Davidic (2 Samuel 7:14) covenants. In the Psalms (e.g.Psalm 22) and the prophets (e.g. Isaiah 52:13–53:12), more and more was said about Messiah, until in Micah 5:2, we are told His birthplace.
God promised to bring salvation and blessing not only to the Jews but also to the Gentiles. He promised a Messiah who was a man, the seed of Eve and of Abraham and of David, but also One who was the divine Son of God. He foretold of a coming of Christ in which He would be rejected and suffer for the sins of men (Psalm 22Isaiah 52:13–53:12) and of a triumphal coming of Messiah to put down His enemies (Psalm 2:7-9; 110). These seemingly contradictory promises made the whole matter of God’s purpose a mystery (see, for example, 1 Peter 1:10-12). But with the first coming of Christ, the mystery has been resolved. And now, as Paul indicates in Ephesians 1, the matter has come into focus in Christ. All of God’s purposes and promises culminate in Christ. And now, in place of wonder at the mystery of the past, we are overcome with wonder at the wisdom of God which accomplished all of this.


God’s eternal purpose is to reveal His wisdom to the celestial beings as well as to His church. God is still accomplishing His purpose, which will culminate in the second coming of His Son and the establishment of His kingdom upon the earth. When this purpose and program is completed, the full scope of God’s wisdom will have been revealed, and this wisdom will be revealed as so great it will provide the fuel for the praise of God throughout all eternity.
Is it any wonder the basis for every creature’s (earthly and heavenly) eternal praise may be worthy of thousands of years to establish? No wonder God is taking His time in revealing and bringing to completion His marvelous plan decreed in eternity past, which in its culmination discloses His infinite wisdom.
In thinking about this text in Ephesians 3, it suddenly occurred to me that God is something like an awesome writer, producer and director, although I wouldn’t press the analogy too far. In eternity past, the script of history was written, and there are no edits. His eternal plan was formulated in His goodness and wisdom. The Israelites and saints of Old were the actors or players in times past, and the saints (not to mention all others) are the players today. Even the angelic host, including Satan, is involved in this great drama. Each act is a dispensation or, for non-dispensationalists, a new outworking of God’s plan. Act I began with the creation of the angelic hosts and ended with the fall of Satan. Act II began at the creation of the world and with mankind, starting with Adam and Eve. Act III commenced with the calling of Abraham. Act IV began with the birth of the nation Israel at the Exodus. Act V commenced with the first coming of Christ. The great and final act begins with the second coming of Christ.
The purpose of this lengthy drama is the demonstration of the glory of God. In Ephesians 3, Paul speaks of God’s purpose as God presently working to display His wisdom through the church. When this act or chapter is consummated, all creation, including the heavenly creatures, will have all eternity to marvel at His wisdom and to praise and glorify Him.
Do we sometimes wonder why God takes so long to fulfill His promises and to answer our prayers? It is because His drama is vastly bigger than we are, and He has chosen to take thousands of years to present it to the cosmic audience. Do we wonder why we cannot understand at present exactly what God is doing, how he is using the most unusual circumstances (including man’s sin and rebellion, sickness, death, sorrow) to achieve His purposes? God leaves these matters a mystery because He is creating and sustaining the interest of His audience. He, the great author, producer, and director, is creating the suspense appropriate to the grand conclusion of the final act. He dare not inform us, because we would then not be proven faithful to the degree that we are. And He also dare not inform us because this would dispel the intense curiosity and wonder which holds all of heaven in rapt attention (see 1 Peter 1:121 Corinthians 11:10).
Do we sometimes wonder why God is putting us to the test in a seemingly private and personal way, a way that no one seems to be aware of but us? Our thinking is wrong! There is, as the writer to the Hebrews informs us, a “great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1) looking on with fixed attention even this moment. When we endure the tests and trials of this life, without knowing as Job did, for example, we are left with only one thing in which to trust—God Himself. When life simply does not make sense, we must look to Him who is the Author and the Finisher of our faith, to Him who has a great cosmic plan, a plan to reveal His glory and to accomplish that which is good for His people. We must trust in Him who is all-wise and who is also all powerful.
What a great privilege is ours to be a part of this great drama and to have a part in bringing praise and glory to our all-wise God! This matter is beautifully summed up by A. W. Tozer:
“With the goodness of God to desire our highest welfare, the wisdom of God to plan it, and the power of God to achieve it, what do we lack? Surely we are the most favored of all creatures.”20
Robert Deffenbaugh
Community Bible Chapel