The BlogShipwrecked Faith from a Shipwrecked Church
In Proverbs 1:2 we’ve discovered one of the great goals of the book of Proverbs is to allow us to know, in an intimate and experiential sense, both wisdom and instruction. We’ve already looked at what the word know means in this passage in yesterday’s post. But what about wisdom? And instruction?
Wisdom is defined as “the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment, or the quality of being wise. It’s the ability to discern or judge what is right, true, and lasting.” Wisdom is not the mere accumulation of facts about someone or something, it’s the ability to properly apply those facts in a given situation to determine the right and God-honoring outcome. Wisdom is manifested when a person can see the circumstances they face and match them with truth they know, God’s Word, and then plot a course of action based on the truth and not on the urgency of the situation.
Instruction, surprisingly, is not primarily defined as teaching or exhortation, as we would expect. Instruction (muwcar) is defined as discipline, chastening, and correction, with the imagery of a father disciplining his son. So the book of Proverbs is designed to help us know (yada) by doing, to learn by experience, in an intimate, personal way, the ability to discern what is right, true, and lasting versus choosing the cheap trinkets and toys our culture offers. And we are to learn the wisdom of God by discipline, correction and chastening. After all, the Lord disciplines the ones He loves (Heb. 12:6).
How to Get Wisdom
And that’s a question we all ask, isn’t it? How do we get wisdom? There are several verses that speak to this desire. The most well-known is found in James:
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways (James 1:5-8).
As we can see, wisdom is given to anyone who asks, just as long as they ask in faith. For if they doubt when they ask, they shouldn’t expect to receive anything from the Lord. Why? Because they are “double-minded” and “unstable” in all their ways.
The Lord tells us in His preamble of Proverbs that one of the purposes of this great book is for us “to know wisdom and instruction” and “to perceive the words of understanding” (Prov. 1:2). And bam!— there it is again, right before our eyes— another troubling yet vital four-letter word.
But this time the word isn’t love, but know. What does it mean to know something, to know wisdom and instruction for example? What does it mean to be in the know, to have knowledge, or to acknowledge someone or something?
Our contemporary definition of know is “to be aware of something through careful observation, inquiry, or information; to develop a relationship with someone through meeting and spending time with them, to be familiar or friendly.”
“Oh, ask me, I know the answer to that question.”
“You don’t have to remind me, I know I have to pick them up at the airport at 5:00pm.”
“I know who you are, I recognized you from your Facebook profile.”
“I know all about Abraham Lincoln, I read about him in my textbook.”
But there are several different words that are translated know in the Scriptures: in the Greek, primarily edio (1492 in Strong’s) and ginosko (1097 in Strong’s) and in the Hebrew, yada (3045 in Strong’s). Plus, the Hebrew word yada is essentially the same as the Greek word ginosko. So let’s take a few minutes and dig a bit deeper into the difference between knowing something edio or knowing someone ginosko (or yada) and why that is even important.
To Know With Your Head or Your Heart
This is the question that defines these two words and describes the different aspects of what it means to know. Is it merely head knowledge, the accumulation of facts and raw data? Or can I know someone on a more personal level, with more intimacy and passion? Can I know them by my experience with them and not just know facts about them.
In the Greek, edio (1492) is defined as “to see, to perceive with the eyes or the senses, to observe, to get or gain knowledge of something, to understand.” It’s a mental, cognitive retention of some facts. It’s head knowledge, or book learning. It’s preparing for your final exam by memorizing all the answers and then forgetting them immediately after the test is over. It’s knowing, for example, that George Washington was the first President of the United States yet that fact having absolutely no impact on your daily life. “Yeah, I know all about George Washington. I saw his picture and watched the movie. But so what? Who cares?”
Our culture is fascinated with four-letter words.
And believe it or not, the same can be said of the Scriptures. The Word of God places an incredible amount of significance on some simple, four-letter words.
Let me give you a quick example.
Show Me the Love
There are some four-letter words that will transform your entire life once you understand their meaning. “Love” is one of these words. In our culture you can love your wife, love your children, love your job, love pizza and ice cream, you can love Fluffy your new pet cat, you can love the way you look in a pair of jeans, you can love the meal you’ve just eaten at Cheddars, you can love the Carolina Panthers, you can love Johnny Depp movies, you can even love the deal you got on your new car. And in the English, all we know is that you have a really strong and intense feeling of affection for whatever phrase comes after the word love— even if that phrase ranges from your love for your children to your love of ice cream.
But in the New Testament we find several different Greek words used to describe different kinds of love. For example, you have the word agape which describes the highest form of love, the kind of love the Father has for the Son and the Son for the Father (John 5:20). It’s the altruistic, self-sacrificing, accepting, benevolent, gracious, all-encompassing and all-giving love that is used in Scripture to communicate the love God has for His creation and for His children.
Next you have phileo which is defined as “brotherly love” or the love between friends. It means to have affection for someone, or to befriend someone. As a side note, God calls us to agape our enemies, to love them like Christ loves us in order to win them to Him. But He never encourages us to phileo our enemies, to befriend them. Why? Because “bad company corrupts good character” every time (1 Cor. 15:33). Remember?
Then you have eros, the intimate, physical, sexual love a man has for his wife. This is the root of our word, erotic. It expresses feelings of arousal shared between people who are physically attracted to each other.
We have three different Greek words used to describe in great detail the meaning of a simple, four-letter word. We enjoy and rejoice in, for example, the agape of God yet we would never agape pizza. We phileo our best friend, our college roommate, but would never use eros to describe that relationship. See the difference? Can you see how important it is to define and understand even our simple, overused, familiar four-letter words?
Let me show you how this plays out in real time.
Another great question. But the answer is also quite simple.
We have allowed the church to become what it is, or isn’t, today. The fault and blame for the carnality of the church belongs to each of us. We, as those who make up the Church, His Body, of which He is the Head, the Preeminent (Col. 1:18), have allowed it to be hijacked by those seeking entertainment and the glorification of the flesh and not the moving of the Spirit.
We have enjoyed church services that seem like family-friendly rock concerts and not worship times designed to bring us closer to the Lord we love. We have supported and promoted pastors and sermons that feed our feelings of self-importance rather than exalting and glorifying Christ. We want to have our egos stroked, our selfish wants fulfilled, and our lives uninterrupted by a God we claim to know— but truly don’t.
And we’ve done this to ourselves. The blood is on our own hands.
We smugly cherry pick the Scriptures we like, those we agree with, the non-convicting ones, and reject the others as the words of mere men and not the very words of God. We turn Jesus in to our personal Savior, our personal God, with our personal understanding of who He is and what He requires of each of us based on our own personal feelings or agenda.
Not Every Christian Will Suffer Persecution. Will You?
If you’re alarmed and concerned about how bad the persecution of Christians and the church will get in America in the very near future, you’re showing yourself to be far more astute in understanding the “signs of the time” than most of the professing church today (Matt. 6:33). Why? Because it seems, at least in America, that we have adopted a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” mindset regarding current events and how they may interrupt what we hold most dear: our vacations, our retirement, our free-time, our video games, and our false sense of security in our immature relationship with Christ.
Oh, I’m sorry. Did that last phrase sting a bit? Did it seem somewhat unloving, maybe a little unkind? Good. It shows you’re not completely anesthetized to what is happening all around us. And that’s a good thing. A real good thing.
But to your question: How bad will the persecution really get? Well, that all depends on what kind of Christian you are and what kind of church you attend.
Let me explain.
We Will Not All Be Treated Equally
Not everyone will suffer the same under the coming persecution, just like they didn’t all suffer the same under Nero’s reign of terror during the first century of the church. Nor did all Christians suffer the same under the persecution of the Third Reich. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, for example, was martyred for his faith on Monday, April 9, 1945. But just six days later churches all throughout Germany met in their own church buildings unmolested by the Nazis who murdered Bonhoeffer earlier that week.
How could that be? How could one group of professing Believers suffer persecution at the hands of the Nazis yet another group freely worship with the permission and approval of the persecuting State? How is that possible?
Today, we look at the word proverb to discover what it means and why Solomon used this form of teaching to communicate God’s wisdom to us.
As we learned yesterday, Solomon wrote over 3,000 proverbs during his lifetime but the Holy Spirit decided to only use the ones found in this book to reveal His unchanging truth to us. It doesn’t mean the other sayings of Solomon aren’t important. It just means they aren’t inspired. They’re not “God breathed” (2 Tim. 3:16). They’re simply the sayings of a wise man and not the infallible, inerrant words of our sovereign God.¹
And the wise sayings of Solomon aren’t the only ones the Lord considered inspired. In the Proverbs we find sayings from “Agur the son of Jakeh” and someone known as “King Lemuel” (Prov. 30:1; 31:1), although many feel King Lemuel was another name for King Solomon. That may, or may not be the case, but we’ll look into that matter in more detail at another time.
Suffice it to say, the Book of Proverbs is a collection of… well, proverbs. God-inspired proverbs. And since most of them are from the lips and pen of Solomon, the book is rightly known as the Proverbs of Solomon. But for me, a better title would be: The Proverbs of God Given to Solomon to Give to Us. But that’s just my opinion.
What’s a Proverb?
Which begs the question, “What’s a proverb?” A proverb is defined as a “short, pithy saying in general use stating a truth or piece of advice.”² Biblically speaking, a proverb can be defined as “a short saying that expresses a general truth about God for practical, Godly living.” For us, the Proverbs of Solomon contain the wisdom of God that shows how to live above the sin and degradation of our society and how to understand and fully embrace the “mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16). The Proverbs give clear, practical examples on how to “walk in the Spirit” and not “fulfill the lusts of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). They teach us how to live everyday as an “overcomer” (1 John 5:5) and reveal to us that the “abundant life” Jesus promised is truly obtainable and not just beyond our grasp (John 10:10). And they present us with a vivid, in-your-face contrast between the painful consequences of choosing the path of the foolish or the wondrous blessings that come with walking in the way of the wise.
But there’s so much more.
The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel. Proverbs 1:1 The book of Proverbs contains some of the over 3,000 sayings of Solomon, who is known as the wisest man who ever lived (1 Kings 4:30). Unfortunately, Solomon didn't always heed his own advice and...
The Danger of Bad Company One of the most overlooked and ignored warnings in all of Scripture is found in 1 Corinthians 15:33. Here the Lord tells us to not be deceived. But deceived about what? 1 Corinthians 15:33 - Do not be deceived: "Evil company corrupts good...
But Fools Today, Day One, we are looking at the first Proverb. And, as often happens, I am arrested by the simplicity of the Lord's words: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction" (Prov. 1:7). First, let's see...
Some truths for today from Proverbs 21. Proverbs 21:2 - Every way (or, path, journey, pattern of life) of a man is right (or, just, straight, upright, correct, ethically or morally pleasing) in his own eyes, but (contrast) the LORD weighs (or, measures, ponders,...