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#3 Wisdom from Above

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                           “WISDOM FROM ABOVE

                     (A Series on the Book of James)

Westgate Chapel 10/24/04                                       James 1:5-8

Proposition:      Pure and undefiled religion is asking for and receiving wisdom from above.

i.    introduction

-     THE Bible takes very seriously calling someone a fool.

-     IN both the Hebrew of the Old Testament and the Greek of the New Testament, the word ‘fool’ means “senseless, stupid, dull, lacking the capacity for understanding.”

-     AND in Matthew 5:22, Jesus warns that if you call your brother a fool, you would be in danger of the fires of hell.

-     BUT the same God who spoke Matthew 5:22, warning us about using the word, fool, wrote Psalm 14:1, which says,

      “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”

-     LET me remind you that the word, fool, means “senseless, stupid, dull, lacking the capacity for understanding.”

-     SO, you can…..

*     have a string of PhDs behind your name.

*     find a cure for AIDS.

*     solve the Middle East crisis.

*     lead nations.

*     discover a renewable fuel source.

*     create the next big thing after the internet.

-     BUT if you deny the existence of God and try to live independent of His love, His life and His wisdom….you are a fool…“senseless, stupid, dull, lacking the capacity for understanding.”

-     WHY are you a fool?

-     BECAUSE there is only one way to live this life as the creation of God within His creation…and that is in intimate, daily, loving fellowship with God (provided through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ).

-     WHEN you are in that kind of relationship with God through Jesus Christ, the Bible says….

      “…you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God; that is, righteousness and sanctification, and redemption…” (1 Corinthians 1:30)

-     THE New Testament Greek word used for ‘wisdom’ means “the capacity to understand and act wisely.”

-     UNDERSTAND what?

*     God.

*     Creation.

*     Humanity.

*     The purpose of life.

*     Sin.

*     Salvation.

*     How to inherit eternal life.

*     The times.

*     The difference between good and evil.

*     God’s Word.

-     THESE are the things next to which everything else in life pales by comparison.

-     SO, back to 1 Corinthians 1:30, when you are in a love relationship with Jesus, He is, in your life…

      “…wisdom from God; that is, righteousness and sanctification, and redemption…”

-     PAUL writes in Colossians 2:2-3,

      “My purpose is that [you] may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that [you] may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that [you] may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

-     SO, you can have a sixth grade education, but if you are in relationship with God through Jesus Christ, you have wisdom!

-     OR, you can be a Nobel prize winner, and if you deny God, be a fool at the same time.

-     WHY a fool? Because without God, all you have is the wisdom of this world.

-     AND listen to what God says about the wisdom of this world:

      “…the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God.” (I Corinthians 3:19)

      “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?” (1 Corinthians 1:20)

      “…the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age are coming to nothing.” (1 Corinthians 2:6)

ii.   the lack of wisdom

-     WHICH explains why there is such a tragic lack of true wisdom in our world today.

-     REMEMBER, wisdom is “the capacity to understand and act wisely.”

-     UNDERSTAND what?

*     God.

*     Creation.

*     Humanity.

*     The purpose of life.

*     Sin.

*     Salvation.

*     How to inherit eternal life.

*     The times.

*     The difference between good and evil.

*     God’s Word.

-     WISDOM is the capacity to understand these things and act wisely.

-     THE problem is that the Church of Jesus today is more influenced by and more conformed to the wisdom of the world than to the wisdom of God.

-     THE world’s wisdom views…

*     God as either non-existent or a forgetful indulgent grandfather who understands your weaknesses and forgives them before you ask.

*     Creation as an accident of nature, developed over millions of years.

*     Humanity as one of nature’s accidents, evolved to its present condition and responsible for its own development.

*     The purpose of life is to fulfill your dreams and gratify your urges.

*     Sin does not exist. It is the unfortunate notion foisted on the world by an irrelevant Christian Church, soon to be side-lined forever from social consciousness.

*     Salvation is whatever you do for yourself to find your own peace in life.

*     There is no such thing as eternal life. When your meaningless, puny little life is over you breathe your last and slip into oblivion.

*     There is no such thing as good and evil. Every action is judged simply by whether it is good for you…and you can get away with it.

*     The Bible is at best a mythology with some general rules to live by….if you are inclined that way.

-     THE wisdom of the world has flooded the lives of Christians and now influences how we live more than the wisdom of God…

*     That the more you have the richer you are.

*     That your time and your energy and your giftings and your home and your money are yours to do with as you please.

*     That taking care of yourself is your #1 priority because no one else is going to.

*     That you should go ahead with that divorce because your children will come through it just fine.

*     That saving whales, spotted owls and forests, is more important than saving babies.

*     That living above your means and going into debt to gratify your desires is OK….regardless of the cost to your family.

*     That what you watch on television or in the movies is just harmless entertainment and doesn’t affect you spiritually.

*     That God is tolerant of your sin because he sympathizes with you over your weakness and your special circumstances.

-     JAMES 3:15 says,

      “This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic.”

-     OUR churches today are filled with people who profess to be Christian, but whose lives are conformed to the wisdom of the world…not the wisdom of God.

-     WHICH is why James writes, in chapter 1, verse 5,

      “…if any of you lacks wisdom

-     AS a pastor, I would say that this is one of the most important elements of the Christian life that is missing today.

-     HOW do I know that?

-     THE pastoral counseling that we all do in the lives of Christian men and women who are dealing with the consequences of disastrous decisions….made under the influence of the wisdom of the world instead of the wisdom of God.

-     SO, the first step towards victory in your life is the acknowledgement that the wisdom of the world is 180 degrees opposite of the wisdom of God….and that you and I lack the wisdom to make godly decisions in our lives.

iii.  the source of wisdom

-     THE second step is to know where to go to find godly wisdom.

-     REMEMBER, wisdom is “the capacity to understand and act wisely.”

-     AND the rest of verse 5 tells us,

      “…if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

-     THE only place for you and me to go to receive what James calls wisdom from above (James 3:17), is to ask God.

-     THAT requires a Father-child relationship between you and God….available only through faith in Jesus Christ.

-     AND in the context of that relationship, James tells us three things that will happen if we ask God for His wisdom concerning how to deal with life:

1.   He gives wisdom generously.

*     You will get more than you initially asked for from Him.

*     Why will He pour it into us? Because James 3:17 tell us that this wisdom is “pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”

2.   He will not rebuke us for asking.

*     Why will He not rebuke us? Because our asking demonstrates a dependence on Him that He designed into us at creation.

*     We can expect a kind response.

3.   God’s wisdom will be given us!

-     SO, back to James as a mirror for the Spirit-led life (HOLD UP MIRROR).

-     DO you believe that God is the only source of the wisdom you need for godly living?

-     ARE you asking God for this wisdom from above?

-     THAT is the Spirit-led life….the opposite of being conformed to the world.

iv. the condition for receiving wisdom

-     BUT wait, there is more here on the subject of wisdom from God.

-     THERE is a condition to be met if you and I are going to receive God’s wisdom.

-     LOOK with me at verses 6-8,

      “But he must ask in faith without any doubting...”

-     WHAT is the doubting that stands in the way of receiving wisdom from God?

*     Thinking that maybe you can handle the situation on your own.

*     Thinking that the wisdom of the world has something to offer you.

*     Doubting that you need His wisdom desperately.

*     Doubting that He is the kind of God who will be true to His Word and give you what you ask according to His will.

-     WHAT is the problem with doubting?

      “…for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, 8 being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

-     DOUBT cancels out your request for wisdom from God.

-     AND the Holy Sprit once again pops up the mirror of His Word…..reflecting on the faith and confidence of the Spirit-led life, and wants to know how you see yourself.

v.  conclusion

-     REMEMBER, wisdom is “the capacity to understand and act wisely.”

-     THE people to whom James was writing needed wisdom from God to understand and act wisely in the middle of persecution and severe hardship.

-     THAT may be where some of you are this morning.

-     BUT God’s wisdom is needed just as much to understand His ways and act wisely when you are in the middle of good times and plenty.

-     LIFE is more complicated and more busy than at any time in history.

-     THE stakes have never been higher….for our marriages, our families, and the work of the kingdom of God.

-     THE wisdom of this world is bombarding you with its propaganda 24/7….in every newspaper, magazine, and television program.

-     COMPARE the amount of time you spend imbibing the world versus the things of God…and you will easily see how desperately we need the wisdom of God in our lives every day!


                                HAVE FAITH IN GOD


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