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The absence of true wisdom is spoken of in the Scriptures as a great evil. Even Christians may be casual about ignorance but when we turn to God's Word we receive a rude awakening. "The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead." (Proverbs 21.16) He "comes to rest in the company of the dead." The terminus to which a life of ignorance leads is not a happy one. The man void of understanding travels on the real ghost train, hurtling through the darkness with Satan as his travelling companion on his way to a lost eternity beyond the grave! What takes place in the learning situation is a matter of life or death. If the parent or teacher fails to impart true wisdom or the pupil refuses to receive it then things are not well with either of them whatever the appearances might be. It is this awesome truth that injects urgency into the educator's daily round. "My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear to my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them..." (Proverbs 4.20-22a) The teacher is to see to it that what he says is worth paying attention to and the pupil is to listen carefully because "understanding is a well-spring of life unto him that hath it." (Proverbs 16.22)
There are only two kinds of wisdom, "the wisdom of God" and the "wisdom of this world." (1 Corinthians 1.24,20) The wisdom of God is rooted in the character of God and promotes spiritual flourishing and everlasting life. The wisdom of this world is based in unregenerate nature and consequently fosters spiritual barrenness and alienation from God. It may be aware of many of the facts about God's creation and involve much knowledge that can be usefully employed but it cannot raise men above their natural spiritual deadness nor provide any answer to their oncoming death. The wisdom of this world puts man above everything else refusing to accept anything unless it agrees with the natural man's underlying ideas about reality. The descendants of Cain were able to make cultural progress employing their knowledge in cattle rearing, music and metalwork but they had a thoroughly distorted view of ultimate reality lacking the wisdom of God and the experience of His salvation. Consequently while materially progressing, all their labour was in vain. It did not glorify God and it was of no lasting benefit to them when they died and left it all behind.
Between these two kinds of wisdom there is no middle ground. The assumed neutrality of the scientist who says that he is not affected in his work by religious beliefs is impossible. If there is a living and true God as revealed in the Bible His total sovereignty would require that He be recognized in every human activity. For this reason the true Christian must bring his faith into everything he does including any scientific research. Indeed the basic ideas that underlie modern science are Christian ideas, which became more influential at the Reformation. It was as a result of Biblical orientation that researchers approached nature as a realm of order where causes could be discovered for the various observed effects. All was not seen to be random and confused but ordered and structured as a work of God. The scientist who leaves God outside of his laboratory and claims that religious beliefs have no place there must of necessity deny the total sovereignty of God. This is not neutrality but a denial of the God of Scripture, a holding down of the truth in unrighteousness. It is the case that there are facts, which are common to both kinds of wisdom, but this overlap of content must not be allowed to obscure the fact that we are dealing with two approaches to life, which are at variance with one another. Each parent, teacher and child must take his stand and align himself with the wisdom of God or the wisdom of this world. True wisdom, as we shall see, acknowledges God as over all and relates all of the facts of the universe to Him as Creator and Lord. It seeks to understand God's world in the light of God's Word. It recognizes that any interpretation of the facts that is contrary to God's interpretation of them must be in error. Even when we take our stand on the Lord's side we are still far from perfection because of our own innate corruption but we will have accepted that no man can serve two masters and will therefore reject any approach that places the mind of man above the Word of God.
His handy-works are truth and right;
all his commands are sure:
And, done in truth and uprightness,
they evermore endure.
Wisdom's beginning is God's fear:
good understanding they
Have all that his commands fulfil:
his praise endures for aye.
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever." (Psalm 111.10)
Define the following words:
casual, awesome, barrenness
rude, awakening, injects, alienation
terminus, promotes, underlying
void, flourishing, cultural
impart, fosters, distorted
influential, random, overlap
at variance, align, innate
Genesis 4. 16 - 26
1. What happens to those who lack true wisdom?
2. Why is education very important?
3. What are the two kinds of wisdom? How can they be distinguished?
4. What was the value of the knowledge of the sons of Cain with respect to this world and the next world?
5. What is meant by "middle ground"? What is its connection with "sitting on the fence"?
6. What can be said about the supposed neutrality of scientific study?
7. What is the connection between the 16th Century Reformation and modern science?
8. How do the wisdom of God and the wisdom of this world differ in their approaches?
9. What method of approach to knowledge has to be rejected by the Christian man?
Consider the part played by the Bible in the discoveries of Matthew Maury. Show on a map the eventual results of his work for navigators.
Matthew Maury, bottles and the Bible.