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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Matthew 5:16 mural
I saw this large mural at a church I visited last night.

"Professing To Be Wise, They Became Fools"

Note: Today we continue our study from Romans 1 which we began Monday with the message, "The Wrath Of God". It is challenging material but so needed in seeking to understand the times in which we live, the mess our country (and world) is in, and the blunt reality that things will only worsen without a transforming revival. Today's message is focused on the simple phrase, "Professing to be wise, they became fools."

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"Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures" (Romans 1:22,23).

Romans 1:22

"Professing to be wise, they became fools."
Regardless of translation used, this verse is rendered very similarly (see here).

"Professing to be wise."  Professing means to affirm, allege, pretend, profess. The idea conveyed is that one is speaking with an air of certainty, stating something with a high degree of confidence, even forcefully or aggressively. One may confidently assert his or her view without need for proof or regard for evidence.

Obviously Paul wasn't writing of one specific time period in this text but rather is describing the universal condition of the human race in rejecting the truth of God. Bible commentator Marvin Vincent states, "Thinking they are wise, they have become fools because their own speculations cannot replace the revelation they reject."

This inspired truth that Paul espouses is especially applicable to our own age.
We live when advanced education is rampant and so many consider themselves wise and certainly far wiser than previous generations. I've often referred to these folks as "generational snobs". (C.S. Lewis called this chronological snobbery). Many of these who claim to be wise take their wisdom from this world which leads to foolishness. Sadly, many try to make the Bible say something it doesn't or silences that which it does say.

"They became fools." Those who deny the God of creation become fools and are "without excuse" (Romans 1:20) Yet they come to such a foolish decision in the belief that they are wise and scientific in trying to explain the infinitely complex, majestic, beautiful creation without a Creator.

George Orwell quote on truthMan rationalizes his sin and proves his utter foolishness by devising and believing his own philosophies about God, the universe, and himself. The next stage of downfall consists in asserting as truth its opposite—evil is really good, darkness is really light, futility is really wisdom. (see Isaiah 5:20) George Orwell who wrote 1984 wisely observed, “The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it.” My, O my, don't we see that happening today!!!

The fact is, once a person rejects the truth of God in Christ, he will fall for anything foolish, and trust far more tenuous and fanciful systems (like evolution) than what he has rejected from God! This futility of thinking, darkening of the heart, and folly must be seen as one manifestation of God's righteous wrath against those who have rejected His revelation.

I want to know the ways of God who is all-wise so that I recognize foolishness, in whatever form it may appear. Most often academia, political, cultural, media, government and even those in particular religious circles are reckoned as the authoritative sources of wisdom for our day.

But I eagerly receive this unchanging age-old word of wisdom from Daniel: "He (God) gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning" (Daniel 2:21). Amen! May God give to each of us wisdom and discernment to navigate our way through this tempest tossed world in which we temporarily reside. The surest way to wisdom and discernment is to be an eager student of the Scriptures and its application in our life's experiences.

I want to continue to grow in my understanding of God's ways. And that begins when I recognize that any wisdom that conflicts with the wisdom of God is foolish and dangerous. Let us resist watering down or explaining away the hard teachings of Scripture to make it fit in better to the world-based wisdom or philosophy of our day. Instead let's align our hearts and minds with the wisdom imparted through the Scriptures. This day join me in seeking to know the Lord and His ways better!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, when we gave you our heart, we made the willful choice to no longer conform to the trends and philosophies of this world. Instead we ask You to daily renew our minds so that we see this world and its philosophies through the eyes of Christ. We are put to the test daily in deciding what is truth and what is error. May Your Holy Word be our reference point and Your Spirit be our Guide as we are exposed to countless philosophies based on human understanding and the basic principles of this world rather than Your eternal foundational truths. Sharpen our discernment and grant us courage so that we readily know truth from error and are fearless in saying so. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

Note these two contrasting verses regarding the source of true wisdom: "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 3:6). "From infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 3:15). It seems to me these two verses contrast the wisdom of this world and the wisdom of God expressed in the Word of God.

Regardless of where we live, we encounter the secularized "wisdom" that prevails in our "postmodern" culture.  This "wisdom" that infected elite schools like Harvard many years ago is now rampant in our culture and impacts many Christian colleges and churches who are forsaking the authoritative wisdom of God as taught in the Scriptures.  Sometimes my head spins as I see the rapid decline and the accumulative effect of years of living according to the ever-changing human principles of this world. Perhaps the following history will be of interest:

In 1638 John Harvard, a devout minister of the Gospel, died at 31 years of age. He left some money and about four hundred books to a new college that had just been established two years earlier. This gift established the library at the new school and in 1639 the school was named after him.

The college's “Rules and Precepts” of 1646 reads as though it came out of a devout Bible College handbook: "Let every Student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the maine end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life (John 17:3) and therefore to lay Christ in the bottome, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning. And seeing the Lord only giveth wisedome, let everyone seriously set himself by prayer in secret to seeke it of Him" (Proverbs 2:3). Every one shall so exercise himselfe in reading the Scriptures twice a day, that he shall be ready to give such an account of his proficiency therein, both in Theoreticall observations of Language and Logick, and in practical and spiritual truths, as his Tutor shall require, according to his ability; seeing the entrance of the word giveth light, it giveth understanding to the simple (Psalm 119:130)." (spelling unchanged)

When Harvard was founded, its motto was "Veritas Christo et Ecclesiae" (Truth for Christ and the Church). Its crest showed three books, one face down to symbolize the limitation of human knowledge.

But over time that book has been turned face up to represent the unlimited capacity of the human mind. And the motto has been changed to read simply "Veritas" (Truth) with the reference to Christ and the church removed.  At the present time Harvard is a bastion of secularism, although there is still an active group of Christian students.

From a Harvard page see here.

Mark Espenshade 2/26/14
Last night I had the opportunity to share our ministry with a men's group at the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Lancaster along with challenging them to shine brightly for Christ. Mark Espenshade is a co-leader of the group and a project manager in one of the companies we serve as chaplains. It was great to see a wide range of ages including several students from Lancaster Bible College with an earnest desire to let their lights shine in the marketplace.

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

I find much richness in using the Precept Austin Online commentary of Romans 1:22 (This commentary has become one of my first "go to" resources the last several years. Essentially it is a compendium of many commentaries. It is also a work in progress. I use several thoughts from the commentary today.

"Jesus Shall Reign"
  What a powerful Isaac Watts hymn to give us perspective today!
Video  Stately organ version
Video (a bit more contemporary but maintaining the melody and rich lyrics)

Jesus shall reign where'er the sun
does its successive journeys run;
His kingdom spread from shore to shore,
till moons shall wax and wane no more.

To Jesus endless prayer be made,
and endless praises crown His head;
His name like sweet perfume shall rise
with every morning sacrifice.

People and realms of every tongue
dwell on His love with sweetest song;
and infant voices shall proclaim
their early blessings on His name.

Blessings abound where'er He reigns;
all prisoners leap and loose their chains;
the weary find eternal rest,
and all who suffer want are blest.

Let every creature rise and bring
honors peculiar to our King;
angels descend with songs again,
and earth repeat the loud amen!

"Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise"  Video  Steve Green

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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