Daily Reflections March 15, 2017
Proverbs 2 begins with a list of conditions found in verses 1 – 4: If you accept my words and store them up, and if you cry out for wisdom, and if you search for it as you would for treasure:
“then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” (Proverbs 2:5 ESV)
Right from the outset, it is made clear that wisdom is not something that one stumbles into. It comes through hard work and persistence. As we delve into this book it is worth considering what facet of the Christian life the Proverbs speak to. For instance, should the Proverbs be understood as instructions on how to earn one’s salvation? Certainly not! And yet, in much the same way as the Beatitudes or the Sermon on the Mount, we sometimes lapse into the mistake of reading these verses through a works-based-salvation lens. We can falsely believe, “This is how I must live if I want to be saved.” To be clear, that is not how we should approach these verses.
So then, how do we understand this book? I would argue that Proverbs should be classified in our minds as “axioms for Christian living.” Much like the practical moral passages I mentioned previously, the Proverbs teach us how to live in relation to a holy God and in relation to one another. As we respond in gratitude to God’s grace freely given, we will want to grow in obedience and wisdom.
With that in mind, Christian, consider these opening verses:
“My son, if you receive my words
and treasure up my commandments with you,
making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to understanding;
yes, if you call out for insight
and raise your voice for understanding,
if you seek it like silver
and search for it as for hidden treasures,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.” (Proverbs 2:1-5 ESV)
Does this describe your disposition? Are you receiving, treasuring, inclining towards, crying out and searching for wisdom from the Lord? Not to earn His love – He has given that to you freely – but in response to His love. O that we would seek to know, love and obey the Lord with our whole heart. That is where wisdom and knowledge are found.
Pastor Levi denBok
This is a rich and autobiographical introduction of Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Here Paul is opposing a false gospel and false teachers by emphasizing his God-given authority and his Christ-centered message. Paul is a real Apostle, chosen by God, and saved by Christ. He preaches the real gospel given to him by Christ himself.
Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead… (Galatians 1:1 ESV)
In contrast to the Galatian believers who were turning from the gospel and rejecting Paul’s authority, he recounts the story of his calling and loyalty to the gospel at some length. Paul tells how he was converted from Judaism and commissioned by God to preach the gospel of Christ. He was a servant of Christ, living for the commendation of Christ alone.
His life stands as an eloquent witness to the truth of the gospel in contrast to the counterfeits. There are and there have always been false apostles and perverted gospels. Does this surprise us? Satan is the father of lies and the great deceiver. The evil one is continually trying to lead God’s people away from the truth of the gospel.
According to this chapter what is the gospel? It is the message of grace, God's unconditional, acceptance of us through the sacrificial work of Christ. The gospel is the message that Christ gave himself for our sins on the cross to be the solution for our moral bankruptcy. In the cross alone is victory over sin. The cross was the plan and will of God to accomplish our rescue.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (Galatians 1:3-5 ESV)
Paul, speaking God’s truth in love, needed to confront an extremely serious problem in the Galatian churches: they were being led astray by false teachers and deserting the gospel and God himself. Paul sternly condemns, and curses those who preach a false gospel.
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. (Galatians 1:6-7 ESV)
Adding to the gospel negates the essence of the finished work of Christ. Salvation is in Christ alone, by grace alone through faith alone. A false gospel gets our eyes off the sufficiency of the work of Christ. This robs God of glory and believers of experiencing the vast riches of God's grace in Christ.
How do we apply this chapter?
1. Be confident in your calling. You have work to do for God (see Ephesians 2:10), work that he has called you to. We can endure difficulty if we remember we are working by God’s power and for God’s glory.
2. Ensure that you are pursuing a greater understanding of the gospel as you pursue life in Christ. Don’t be led astray. Don’t be deceived by false teachers or false teaching.
3. Resist the pressure to water down the gospel, deny Christ’s sufficiency or shrink back from proclaiming the truth. By God’s grace, be winsome, bold and courageous.
Associate Pastor Jody Cross