Mysterious Gifts

“Because the secrets of the kingdom of heaven have been given for you to know, but it has not been given to them. For whoever has, more will be given to him, and he will have more than enough…

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“But your eyes are blessed because they do see, and your ears because they do hear! For I assure you: Many prophets and righteous people longed to see the things you see and yet didn’t see them; to hear the things you hear yet didn’t hear them” (Matthew 13:11-12, 16-17 HCSB).

Matthew 13 and its parallels (Mark 4, Luke 8) record Jesus’ teaching about the Kingdom in parables. In the middle of teaching the parable of the sower, He explains to His disciples why He teaches “indirectly” through parables instead of “plainly.” His answer is, “It’s a secret.”

The word translated secret is mysterion, which is where we get the word “mystery.” The mysteries of the Kingdom are not puzzles that have to be solved, but truth that can only be revealed. Mysteries are truths that are behind the curtain, in a sense, and God graciously invites His people to take a look.

The fact that we have an entire, thick, book of God’s inspired, authoritative, inerrant word is itself an immeasurable kindness from God to us. The problem is, it’s often hard to understand, and it’s not clear how it’s supposed to benefit us.

But notice where Jesus goes next: “For whoever has, more will be given to him, and he will have more than enough” (13:12 HCSB, emphasis added).

What do we have, and what are we getting more of? What will we have more than enough of?

Understanding. Wisdom. Insight. Truth.

If you have been born again, you have been given eyes to see and ears to hear (see Matthew 13:16-17). That means you already have, and more will be given to you. In fact, you’ll have “more than enough” truth from God’s word to ponder, to marvel at, to praise Him for, to convict you, to teach you, to lead you, to mature you, to…everything.

In fact, you have more than even the Old Testament prophets and saints did: “Many prophets and righteous people longed to see the things you see yet didn’t see them; to hear the things you hear yet didn’t hear them” (13:17 HCSB, emphasis added).

You’re the envy of the entire Old Testament Church!

What this means is that every one of us who has been born again has the promise, the guarantee, from Jesus Himself, that your time in the Word is not wasted. Everyone who has, more will be given to him.

And the Kingdom of God will grow in your heart, and it will yield a bountiful harvest. Jesus promises to give the gift of His secrets, His mysteries, His truth.

In other words, He promises to give Himself (John 14:6).

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Book Review: John Wesley on the Christian Life

I recently finished Fred Sanders’ (@fredfredsanders) John Wesley on the Christian Life: The Heart Renewed in Love. I was doubly drawn to the book: having read Sanders’ The Deep Things of God, I had been acquainted with his rich devotion to the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3) and his helpful, clear writing. The subject of the book also appealed to me; I knew very little about Wesley, other than scattered “facts” that were admittedly unverified and likely caricature. Since Sanders comes from a thoughtful Wesleyan perspective, I hoped I was in for a treat.

I was not disappointed.

Continue reading “Book Review: John Wesley on the Christian Life”

Lady and the Tramp

The book of Proverbs has an extended introduction that lays the foundation for the actual proverbs that begin in chapter 10. In this introduction, Solomon pleads with his sons (and his readers) to grasp the necessity and immeasurable value of wisdom. To do this, he often personifies wisdom and folly (or foolishness) as women appealing for a hearing. Wisdom is a distinguished, elegant, beautiful woman who is as hard-working as she is graceful. Folly is, to put it bluntly, a skanky bimbo. Continue reading “Lady and the Tramp”

Faith vs. Sight, Wisdom vs. Foolishness

Trust in Yahweh with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own understanding;
think about Him in all your ways,
and He will guide you on the right paths.
Don’t consider yourself to be wise;
fear Yahweh and turn away from evil (Proverbs 3:5-7 HCSB)

Proverbs 3:5-6 have been loved and memorized by saints immemorial, and it’s easy to see why. In Solomon’s expected pithy power, he reminds us of the need to live by faith and not sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Continue reading “Faith vs. Sight, Wisdom vs. Foolishness”

What Polar Opposites Have in Common

The poor and the oppressor have this in common:
Yahweh gives light to the eyes of both.

Proverbs 29:13 HCSB

Once again, Solomon masterfully uses comparison and contrast to condense so much wisdom into a single two-line proverb. Reading Proverbs helps renew the sense of wonder at God’s immense wisdom, but also at His immense artistry. What incredible skill it is to say so much in such a pithy little statement! Continue reading “What Polar Opposites Have in Common”

Tools in the Toolbox

The wicked flee when there is no one pursuing them,
but the righteous are as bold as a lion.

Proverbs 28:1 HCSB

Proverbs often convey wisdom by means of comparison and contrast, and the above verse is no different. The contrast here is between abject terror and an unshakable confidence, and Solomon tells us that the wicked are wet-their-pants afraid while the righteous are fearless lions.

What is Solomon driving at here? This proverb seems to be easily disproven; for one, I am often wet-my-pants afraid (thankfully not literally), while the disobedient are confident and established. How should we make sense of this?

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Cudgels and Scalpels

The tongue of the wise makes knowledge attractive, but the mouth of fools blurts out foolishness. Proverbs 15:2 HCSB

Particularly in our time under the undisputed reign of “Science,” this proverb is extremely helpful. Many people it seems–both believers and unbelievers alike–think and speak as though the difference between them is merely one of knowledge. Unbelievers claim that believing in God is a willful rejection of what “science” “knows”; many believers can fall into the trap of thinking that simply presenting alternative views and analyses of data could change unbelievers’ minds. Even between believers, addressing sin and breaking patterns of rebellion or temptation or believing lies can be approached in a horribly ham-handed fashion if we think that mere knowledge is enough.

Knowledge by itself is not compelling. If I am in sin, I probably know that it’s sin and wrong and that I should stop. Simply presenting those facts–which are all completely true–won’t change my heart. When Ken Ham presented facts to Bill Nye, the Science Guy was not convinced. Simple exposure is not enough (which Ken Ham agrees with, by the way).

This is why Proverbs is a book of wisdom, not mere knowledge. Wisdom takes knowledge and faithfully presents it so that knowledge is compelling and attractive. Wisdom makes knowledge winsome.

The difference here is one we are all familiar with, and likely familiar with from both perspectives. We have probably been the one wielding facts like a cudgel, and we have probably been the one beaten senseless with that same cudgel. It’s the difference between a know-it-all and a teacher; it’s the difference between the Lord Jesus and a Pharisee.

Repeatedly, Proverbs urges us to get knowledge; with equal force it pleads for us to get wisdom so that we may know how to wield that knowledge with skill and discernment, like a living and active, two-edged surgeon’s scalpel.

The Honey Rule

If you find honey, eat only what you need;
otherwise, you’ll get sick from it and vomit.
Seldom set foot in your neighbor’s house;
otherwise, he’ll get sick of you and hate you.

— Proverbs 25:16-17 HCSB

The book of Proverbs is a book of wisdom, and that in multiple respects. It is a book containing wisdom, one that intends to convey that wisdom to all who hear its call. It is also a book that, as it gives wisdom, requires that wisdom in order to obtain even more treasures of wisdom. John A. Kitchen writes,

A proverb is truth in its most concentrated form, and thus expects us to add Spirit-illuminated reflection to come to full understanding. A proverb is designed to be ‘unpacked’ through much meditation, comparison with life, and with other Scriptures. … Proverbs was written not merely to tell us what to do, but also to make us think. Pure pragmatists may find themselves frustrated, if unwilling to pursue reflective, Spirit-guided meditation” (Proverbs: A Mentor Commentary, 29).

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Who Signs Your Checks

Listen to your father who gave you life,
and don’t despise your mother when she is old.
Buy–and do not sell–truth, wisdom, instruction, and understanding.
The father of a righteous son will rejoice greatly,
and one who fathers a wise son will delight in him.
Let your father and mother have joy,
and let her who gave birth to you rejoice.

My son, give me your heart,
and let your eyes observe my ways.
For a prostitute is a deep pit,
and a forbidden woman is a narrow well;
indeed, she sets an ambush like a robber
and increases those among men who are unfaithful.
Continue reading “Who Signs Your Checks”