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The Wisdom From Heaven (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
September 19, 2022 4:00 am

The Wisdom From Heaven (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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September 19, 2022 4:00 am

You don’t need a Ph.D. or a lifetime of learning to be wise. Wisdom truly comes from Above and is measured by how we live, not by what we know. Discover the qualities and benefits of godly wisdom when you listen to Truth For Life with Alistair Begg!


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The Bible teaches us that true wisdom is measured by how we live our lives, not by our IQ or our age or our experiences.

So how should we live? We'll find out today on Truth for Life as Alistair Begg concludes a message titled The Wisdom From Heaven. We're in James chapter 3 verses 13 through 18. The wisdom that comes down from heaven is first of all pure, then peaceable.

In other words, it is the opposite of contentious. Thirdly, that we are to be marked or wisdom is marked by consideration. Considerate. Fourthly, wisdom is also submissive.

Submissive. Also, and fifthly, wisdom is full of mercy. Full of mercy. Mercy, of course, is one of God's essential qualities. If grace, put simply, is that aspect of God's character whereby he gives to us what we don't deserve, mercy is that dimension of God whereby he does not give to us what we do deserve. But the mercy of God is an all-embracing mercy, and it breaks down the barriers that man erects. It's classically reported for us in the parable that Jesus told after one of the teachers of the law came to him and said, You are a wise man. What must I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said, Well, you know what's written in the law.

How do you read it? And he said, Well, I know that in the law it says you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself. And Jesus said, That's entirely correct. You've answered rightly.

Then just go ahead and do this, and you will live. And Luke tells us that the man seeking to justify himself asked Jesus to define neighbor. I wanted to know who my neighbor is.

Well, let me tell you a story. He says, There was this fellow, and he came down the road, and he buzzed off, and another one came down, and he did too. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds and poured in oil and wine and set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And on the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, Take care of him, and if you spend any more than this, when I come back I will repay you. So which of these three do you think was the neighbor to him who fell among thieves?

And the lawyer is forced to answer. He who showed mercy to him. Then Jesus said to him, Go and do likewise. Who will show mercy to the half-dead of twenty-first century Cleveland culture? Who will show mercy to the battered and the beaten? The merciful. My unwillingness to display mercy to those outside my circle of reference is unavoidably a representation of my own stony heart's inability to grasp the vastness of God's mercy towards me. It is when I am reminded constantly of what I deserve before God and what he has chosen to do in Jesus that I then realize what a wonderful thing mercy is. Mercy there, says the songwriter, was great, and grace was free, and pardon there was multiplied to me. Or, in the words of the old hymn by Margaret Cussons, who wrote a poem from the memoirs of Samuel Rutherford, With mercy and with judgment my web of time he wove.

And in Victoriana language, And I are always the dews of sorrow were luster'd by his love. This tremendous picture of the compassion and grace and mercy of God, that kindness which leads men and women to repentance. Who's my neighbor? How many people do I have to be nice to? You've got the question wrong. Who was neighbor to this man? The one who showed him mercy.

Correct. Do you think Parkside's a merciful community? Do people come to us in our daily routine at the office, when their life is in a shambles and in ruins, and they come into our office and they close the door and say, I know I can speak to you, because I know that you understand mercy?

Or are we the kind of people that they come into our office and they close the door, and they say, you know, I can talk to you? I'm really envious of that promotion. Can't stand that character, can you? I'm so ambitious. It's hard to wiggle out of this.

I find it really, really hard. Mercy is a characteristic of wisdom. Mercy enters into the difficulties, identifies with the needs and the feelings, and enables us to point men and women to a God who is rich in mercy. Mercy and judgment are met in the cross. It is not mercy at the expense of judgment, but it is mercy in judgment. He does not count our sins against us, because he counts them against Jesus.

That is mercy. Sixthly—and we must move on—good fruit, good fruit. We're back in verse 18 of chapter 1, and we're down in verse 18 of chapter 3. Because faith for James is a faith that is seen. We have a creed that we recite. It should be seen in our conduct. If we are men and women of truth, then the truth will transform.

Indeed, it's by means, verse 18 of chapter 3, of this spiritual harvest that we prove that God is at work in us. In other words, it is because we are peacemakers and not troublemakers. It is because we're not marked by envy and selfish ambition, that we're not raising a harvest, a weed-infested crop of disorder and evil deeds.

No, but wisdom produces peace, and that peace produces a harvest, and that harvest is the harvest of a right standing before God and right deeds before men and women. That's how we'll know where we are. You see, it is not the fruit that determines what the tree is. It is the fruit that gives evidence to what the tree is. I was driving in Indiana this past week when I was speaking at Taylor University, corn on the one side and a crop that went forever on the other side.

And eventually, I had to stop and find out what it was. And it was soybeans. And the reason I know is because of what was growing there. The beans. The beans did not determine what the plant was. The plant was what it was.

The beans displayed what the plant was. Our fruit does not make us. Our fruit reveals us. Some people think that's Christianity, that it's plastic fruit like at your Aunt Mabel's from Minneapolis, or porcelain fruit if it's a little upmarket. All those beautiful fruit, you say, Man, I never saw them in such pristine condition before. Don't ever try and have a bite of one of them.

You'll break your teeth off. Because they're not real. They're manufactured.

They're fake. The Christian life is not Christmas tree ornaments being hung on from the outside. That is moralism.

That is ethics. Try your best, embrace a few values, hang them on your life, and see how you do. That's a litany of despair, because we make such a hash of it. The Christian life is Jesus says, I am the vine, and you are the branches. I come and live in you, I will produce fruit through you, and you will bear the fruit of wisdom, because I am all of righteousness and I am all of wisdom. And so that it is as God invades our lives that we become increasingly wise, increasingly peaceable. We're not the finished article.

We won't be this site of eternity. But nevertheless, we are growing in grace and in a knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. And finally, this wisdom is defined in terms of being impartial and sincere, undivided in mind. It's the wisdom that is without wavering. It's not hesitant.

You wouldn't expect it to be. You would think that God would know his mind, wouldn't you? When he says yes, he means yes.

When he says no, he means no. And this wisdom is impartial. The clarity of God's Word determines our coming and our going. Undivided in mind and untainted by hypocrisy, impartial and sincere. The word in Greek is anopokritos.

Anopokritos. If you say it five times quickly, it will begin to sound like unhipocritical. And that's exactly right, because it is virtually a literal translation from the Greek into English, anopokritos, unhipocritical. In other words, God's wisdom isn't two-faced. God's wisdom doesn't play one thing on a Sunday and another thing in a business trip.

It's not one way on a Friday night and another way on a Sunday night. The wisdom that comes down from heaven is untainted by hypocrisy. That, all by way of definition. What is the display save these characteristics, by God's Spirit, worked in and through a life?

Remember, back in 13, who is wise and understanding among you, don't grab for your SAT scores, don't give me a speech, I don't need to know how articulate you are, show me. Show me. This, of course, allows me to quote from my favorite musical always.

Anytime I can quote Eliza Doolittle, I like to do so. And in that classic song that she sings to Freddie, remember, Sing me no song, read me no rhyme, Don't waste my time, show me. It's not so much tell me, it's show me. Show me what? Show me the quality of your life that expresses itself on the basis of the humility of your heart. A humble heart is the key to a quality life. God opposes the proud, but he gives grace to the humble.

Humility of heart. Notice the phrase, Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. A wise man isn't arrogant. A wise man knows how much he doesn't know. A bright, wise girl knows that what she knows is only a tiny portion of the vastness of knowledge that is available. So you will find that particularly intelligent people who marry their intelligence with wisdom will be marked not by the ostentatious ugliness of their displays of verbosity or intellectual capacity, but by the humility of their very lives.

Where does this humility come from? It comes from a high view of God. From a high view of God. In the beginning, God. Not in the beginning, you, or in the beginning, me. In the beginning, God. In the end, God. He is the Alpha and the Omega.

And in the middle, God. The humility of heart has a high view of God, has a sober view of oneself. Romans 12, I beseech you not to think of yourselves more highly than you ought, but to think of yourselves with sober judgment according to the measure of grace or faith that God has given you. So you have a sane estimate of yourself, a high view of God, a sane estimate of yourself, and a generous view of other people. That's how you'll know if you're dealing with humility. That's how we will know if wisdom is producing humility within us. We begin our day thankful that God has awakened us, recognizing that the synovial fluid that works in all of our joints, we are totally unable to control or to produce. That the double circulatory system of our hearts is not doing anything, really, in response to ourselves, no matter how much Lipitor we're jamming in. And so on.

In other words, we are entirely dependent upon God. Oh, God, you woke me up today. I want to thank you for that. God, you've made yourself known in the world today. I honor you and adore you for that. You've given me life and breath.

You've given me parents, whatever it might be. And here I am, the tiny thing in the vastness of your universe, a high view of God, a sane view of myself, and a generous view of other people. How will I know if I have a generous view of other people? I will know if I have a generous view of other people if I am routinely cutting them down or building them up. It's not a generous view of other people that is constantly carping, tearing down, diminishing, second-guessing. Here's a quote from Van Dyke. That's Henry Van Dyke, not Dick Van Dyke.

This is how it goes. Never believe anything bad about anybody unless you positively know it to be true. Never believe anything bad about anybody unless you positively know it to be true.

Never tell even that unless you feel it is absolutely necessary and that God is listening while you tell it. Quite a standard. It's the standard of humility. Wisdom displayed in the humility of heart and, finally, in the quality of life. Who is wise and understanding among you, let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.

Good deeds. I was struck this week in reading Acts chapter 10. Peter at Cornelius's house, where he has that big dramatic lesson, because Peter had the same problem as the man in Luke chapter 10 that needed the parable of the good Samaritan told to him.

And you remember, Peter wanted to draw circles around the providence and grace and goodness of God, and God had to obliterate that for him and show him that God's mercy and grace extended beyond the Jewish nation and out into the peoples of the world. And when he got that, he made a speech at Cornelius's house, and it's a wonderful talk that he gives. And as he goes through it, he tells the people, You know that this was true, and you know that was true. And right in the middle of it, who came on this phrase, he says, And you know about Jesus of Nazareth, he went around doing good.

That's what it says. He went around doing good. It seems almost anticlimactic, doesn't it? Except think how goodness oils a family. Think how goodness sets forward an agenda in a company. Think how goodness ties hearts together. Think how goodness displays the character of God. Show me, he says, show me, by the deeds that are done in the humility that comes from wisdom. Wisdom, humility, deeds, quality of life.

It's like Paul to Titus. You read Titus 3 for your homework, and you'll find he's constantly saying, Make sure the people that you're the pastor of are doing good. I want you to stress these things so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. To doing what is good. Now, remember—and with this I finish—James is not issuing a call to his readers to accumulate virtues.

This is not a call to accumulate virtue. Anybody can read this list and say, Well, I can try and be more peaceable. I can try and be more humble. I can try and be more submissive or considerate or whatever else it is. I guess that's the message. I'm supposed to go out and just try and stick as many of these characteristics on my horrible life as I can.

Mm-mm. No. No, all you need to do is put your name at the head of this list. Try putting your name at the top of the list that goes, Alistair is pure, peace-loving, considerate. You don't want to go much further. Because you're saying, Oh, you know I'm not. I wish I were. How may I be?

And it is the very absence of these things that shows us our need of someone who is the embodiment of these things—namely Jesus. You see, if I showed you a painting up here on the screen, done by Turner or by Picasso, and then I said, This afternoon, I want you to take that image away, and I want you to paint paintings like that and bring them back this evening, and I'm going to put them up on the screen and show how well we've all done. Some of us would come back, and we'd think we'd done pretty well. But we'll put Turner over here in his landscape, and then we'll put yours over here, and then we'll try and put handkerchiefs in our mouth to stop from laughing at the disparity between the two situations. Some people will be nice and considerate, and they won't do that, but me, I'll be like, Oh, man, that is so far from it that I can't believe you, and we're prepared to put that up there.

How are you going to do it? Let's throw the life of Jesus up here that is pure and peaceable and gentle and open to reason and full of good fruit and the harvest of righteousness that comes through peace. Let's throw that life up there, and then let's say, Well, I'll go out and try our best this afternoon until they'll give us a week. We'll come back next Sunday and see how we are.

The disparity between the two is so vast that it will be pathetic to behold. But if somehow or other, by some miraculous procedure, the genius of Turner could come and live in our lives, then we could paint Turner's paintings. And if the power of Jesus would come and live in our lives, then we can live a life like Jesus. And the very purpose of God from all eternity is to produce his children looking more and more like Jesus.

So the Christian life is, if you like, a point of entry whereby we say, Gracious God, thank you for sending Jesus to be a Savior, and I so desperately need a Savior, and I want him to be my Savior. Okay, now we're married. Now the fun starts.

Just like in a marriage. Oh, I didn't know it was going to be like this. Oh, I didn't know you were going to be like that.

Oh, I didn't know how hard this might prove to be. But through it all—growing, learning, loving—I wonder where you are in relationship to this. When God invades our lives, that's when we get a right view of him and a right view of ourselves and a right view of others. And that's when we can display a humble and fruitful life. You're listening to Alistair beg on Truth for Life.

Alistair returns in just a minute. If you know someone, or if you even find yourself unsure about some of the claims made in the Bible, about God, about us, be sure to request a copy of the book Seven Reasons to Reconsider Christianity. This is a book that addresses questions from skeptics of Christianity. The author examines several claims that raise doubt in people's minds, and then he presents factual, logical, and historical information that affirms the truth of Scripture.

This book is a great help for anyone who is uncertain about Jesus, and also for you if you're reluctant about becoming a committed follower of Jesus. Request your copy of the book Seven Reasons to Reconsider Christianity when you donate today. Your financial support goes directly to the distribution of this daily program, and also toward making all of Alistair's online teaching available, free to access, free to share. You can give a one-time gift at slash donate, or you can arrange to set up an automatic monthly donation when you visit slash truthpartner.

And, of course, if you'd prefer, you can call us at 888-588-7884. Now, here is Alistair with the closing prayer. Father, teach us not to sin with such abandon. We do it all too easily. Pretend and lie and envy and lust and criticize and brood and ignore people's needs and deny them.

We consume things for ourselves, we hoard money, we defame others, we distort, and we make excuses. And then we come and expect an easy forgiveness just because we paused at the end of the service. We ask you, gracious God, to forgive us for the neglect of your holy character. Help us not to misinterpret your patience with our sin as though it were permission. Loving Father, astonish us with a wholesome, godly fear which will not drive us to despair but cause us to number our days and to produce in us hearts of wisdom. Lord, your love and goodness to us is an undivided love. It is impartial and sincere. Grant that we might have undivided hearts as we go out into this week. For your son's sake. Amen. I'm Bob Lapine. Thanks for listening. One of the main differences between heavenly wisdom and earthly wisdom is that the latter often results in chaos and confusion. We'll find out why tomorrow. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-25 20:47:16 / 2023-01-25 20:56:05 / 9

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