November 10, 2011
We have two large oaks in our front lawn that were likely planted as small trees by the first owner in the late eighties. Our home lot had originally been farmland. Over the past nine years they’ve increasingly intensified in their foliage colors. Another interesting characteristic of these trees is that many of the leaves stay on all winter prior to dropping as new leaves come out in the Spring.
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“The Wisdom Of This World”
Last month during a trip to New England we drove through the campus of Harvard University.
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 photo to the right shows Nikki and Sarah who had grown up in the church I pastored in New England. I took this photo of them beside the John Harvard statue* in Harvard Yard on the campus of Harvard University.
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” (Prov. 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. To the left is the original crest.
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. The present crest is seen to the right.
Today we examine the third scheme of Satan, which elevates human wisdom over God’s wisdom.
Regardless of where we live, we encounter the secularized “wisdom” that prevails in our “postmodern” culture. This “wisdom” that infected 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.
We must heed the Scriptural warning, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8).
The daily verse is such a powerful expression: “For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate” (1 Corinthians 1:19). Paul is actually quoting Isaiah 29:14 in the Old Testament, thus the expression, “It is written.” This window of time in which we live, the wisdom and intelligence of the world seems so prevailing, but God’s promise stands. It will one day be destroyed.
“For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.” The Apostle Paul is saying that wisdom from a worldly standpoint is foolishness to God who is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. Human based wisdom does not form a bedrock foundation of genuine truth that also has eternal ramifications.
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, and even those in particular religious circles are the authoritative sources of wisdom for our day. But I have a desire to receive this unchanging age-old word of wisdom from Daniel: “He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning” (Daniel 2:21). Amen! May God give to each of us wisdom and discernment. The surest way to obtain them is to be an eager student of the Scriptures and apply them to our experiences in life.
I want to continue to grow in my understanding of God’s ways. And that begins when I recognize that any wisdom that is in conflict with the wisdom of God is foolishness. This day join me in seeking to know the Lord and His ways better!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily 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.
In the course of studying for today’s message I noted 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 (the tree) and the wisdom of God expressed in the Word of God.
Tomorrow we will continue this theme of Satan’s schemes with an examination of the rejection of Scriptural standards of morality.
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* An interesting article about Harvard written by Mark Roberts who has a Harvard Ph.D. This article has an interesting point about the statue!
More info about the Harvard crest from a Christian group on campus.
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Ministry Update (Revised 10/21/11)