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Truth and Wisdom


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Truth and Wisdom – the best friends we all need


·      Good morning to everyone. It is a privilege to share the word of God with you this morning and I pray that you will be as encouraged as I have been whilst I studied God’s word over the last few weeks.


·      Today I would like to talk about a topic which I believe should be close to all of our hearts. It is a topic which the Bible has a lot to say about but I think that many of us as believers can really grow in.


·      This topic is “Truth and Wisdom”. I am sure that many of you are immediately thinking that “Truth and Wisdom” is not something we need education on since Christians generally stick to the truth and have wisdom.


·      But if you look at what is going on around us and what we read in the news and on social media, you can probably agree that we are not as strong in these areas as we think we are.


·      We need to fortify ourselves again as we see the church unfortunately being pulled into many areas where truth is dubious, and wisdom is lacking.


·      History is replete with examples where entire nations have fallen for a lie and not pursued truth and wisdom. The results have often been catastrophic.


·      One example comes from the second world war: Adolf Hitler deceived his own people, and the appeasing world-leaders, as he methodically annexed Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland to the German Reich (1938–1939), ostensibly to defend Germans in those lands, but with the manifest justification that the Germanic race is superior, and therefore destined to rule.


·      While accusing others of brutalising the German diaspora, he was systematically murdering Jews and dissenters in the homeland.


·      Hitler had written in his Nazi manifesto, Mein Kampf, “The great masses will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one.” He built his Reich on this conviction. But it wasn’t just the masses who proved gullible. It was major allied powers too.


·      How do you deceive a whole nation and much of the world? You use unbridled power to control the dissemination of truth. You stigmatize detractors as dangerous to order, and disrespectful of good authority. You inspire young people with utopian hopes and racial supremacy. And in time, you eliminate dissent with punishment, not persuasion.


·      So, in short, you lie and deceive and trust that people will not apply their God given wisdom.


·      And this still applies today. Some of the methods have changed – for example newspapers and radio have been replaced by Facebook, Twitter and email. But other methods have not changed. There are still large rallies where people come together with those who share their own distorted reality – the attendees wear the same uniforms and have the same placards. Often there is a large degree of aggression mixed in with weapons of various kinds.


·      Back to WW2 though - meanwhile in Britain, the mood of the people, and the open press, were gradually setting things in motion that would expose and remove the folly of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, who had given Hitler everything he wanted in the vain belief that he was not being lied to in all his attempts to satisfy Hitler’s claims.


·      In a free democracy, Chamberlain could not keep the truth of German aggression from the English people. He could not blind them to their immanent peril.


·      And, unfortunately, the rest of what happened is history. Approximately 75m people died, including 6m Jews.


·      Lest we think that this lack of truth and wisdom is something that only happened 80 years ago – there are many examples since WW2 of how people and nations have lacked truth and wisdom.


·      A more recent example, although fortunately it does not include a world war, is what has happened in a first world country – the United Sates.


·      When The Washington Post Fact Checker team first started cataloguing President Donald Trump’s false or misleading claims, they recorded 492 suspect claims in the first 100 days of his presidency. On Nov. 2 alone, the day before the 2020 vote, Trump made 503 false or misleading claims as he rushed across the country in a desperate effort to win re-election.


·      By the end of his term, Trump had accumulated 30,573 untruths during his presidency — averaging about 21 erroneous claims a day.


·      And this is no different in South Africa where many of our political and spiritual leaders live double lives characterised by lies, deceit, and a blatant attack on the intellectual capabilities of the people they lead.


·      And it’s not just presidents and other leaders – regular people like us are also guilty of being on the wrong side of truth and wisdom.


·      Facebook recently reported that it had removed more than 18 million pieces of Covid misinformation. So, as you can see, the problem is all around us.


·      Three headings today:

a)    What is truth and wisdom?

b)    Why is truth and wisdom important?

c)     Truth and wisdom in practice.


·      Let us pray.


a)    What is truth and wisdom?


·      Truth and wisdom are best friends. They are best friends that we need every day.


·      We need to establish truth and from that wisdom will follow.


·      You will notice that without absolute truth, wisdom is temporary and man-made.


·      So let us begin with truth. (we are going to reference various texts today so please get your fingers ready to do some page turning)


·      Psalm 119:160-163

160 The sum of your word is truth,
    and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.

161 Princes persecute me without cause,
    but my heart stands in awe of your words.
162 I rejoice at your word
    like one who finds great spoil.
163 I hate and abhor falsehood,
    but I love your law.


·      The psalmist is saying: When you take a census, or a headcount, of the word of God, what you find is that the totality of His word is truth. And not just the totality, but the individual parts of God’s word—every one of them—is truth. That’s why the second half of verse 160 draws out this individual nature of each rule or each judgment—“and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.”


·      Notice verse 163 – the Psalmist hates falsehood, but he loves God’s law. In other words, the antidote to falsehood is God’s word. Do we hate all falsehood – or do we make sure that we are OK on the major doctrines but then tolerate a whole lot of falsehoods in areas that are not really “such a big thing”?



·      Spurgeon wrote: “the ungodly are false, but God’s word is true…God’s word has been true from the first moment in which it was spoken, true throughout the whole of history, true to us from the instant in which we believed it, true to us before we were true to it…”


·      We have the full counsel of God in the 66 books of the Bible and they represent complete truth.


·      In Jesus high priestly prayer we hear this again:


·      John 17

14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.[a16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them[b] in the truth; your word is truth. 


·      We are set apart in truth. We are not of the world and one of the things that has set us apart is that we have been given God’s word (v14).


·      V17 - sanctify them in the truth – sanctification is a life long process where we grow in holiness and become more conformed to Christ. So, we are made more Christ like in the truth. And what is that truth?


·      “your word is truth” – notice it does not say “your word is true” – it says “your word is truth”. If we said that God’s word is true that would be correct but then it is placed on the same shelf as all other things that are considered true. All philosophies, ideologies, and opinions would be in the same category.


·      By saying “your word is truth” the Bible is saying that God’s word is truth itself. It is the ultimate barometer by which all other truths are measured.



·      God’s Word Is Ultimate Truth Because God Is Ultimate Reality.

·      Step back and ponder this for a moment. The reason God’s word is ultimate truth is because God is ultimate reality. The concept of truth depends on the concept of what is real. For something to be true, something behind it must be real. And the truth is telling us what is real. God alone is ultimately real. That is, no reality was before him. He doesn’t depend on any other reality.


·      All other reality is created by him. So by his being and by his creating he has determined and defined what is real. And since what makes something true is that it corresponds to what it real, therefore, God determines and defines all truth. When God speaks, that is truth.


·      Jesus Is Truth and Speaks Truth

·      The place where the reality and the representation of truth come together most profoundly is in Jesus Christ himself.


·      John 18

37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”


·      So Jesus spoke the truth. His words were and still are truth.


·      In fact, Jesus did not just speak the truth – he is truth.


·      John 14

6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.


·      Jesus here says he is the truth. Not “a” truth but “the” truth.


·      Jesus Is God’s Word and Speaks God’s Words.


·      The God who made everything, knows everything, controls everything, and has a purpose for everything—this God has spoken to us. He has not left us without the revelation of his will. He has not left us without truth and wisdom. He has not left us without a full and sufficient revelation of the way of salvation and the way to measure the truth claims of every life-shaping question we face.


·      So then, what is truth? Scripture shows us that firstly God is truth. God was from the beginning, and he is the ultimate reality behind all truth.


·      Secondly, Jesus is truth. What he showed us of himself as God incarnate and what he taught us is truth.


·      Thirdly, scripture is truth. Scripture is God breathed and gives us the standard by which we must live everyday life. But you say, scripture does not give me every answer to every question of every day. And to that I say correct - we will see later how we apply the truth of the Lord, and of His word to everyday life.


·      So the first point for today is what is truth and wisdom. We have seen what truth is and now we move onto wisdom.


·      As I said earlier - Truth and wisdom are best friends.


·      So, what is the relationship between truth and wisdom. Let’s start by looking at what scripture tells us about wisdom.


·      Another way of thinking about wisdom is “good judgement” or “discernment”. We are faced with various decisions each day and we need good judgement and discernment. It is about considering the alternatives and selecting the best option. Some decisions are relatively unimportant, and some decisions are quite serious.


·      We need wisdom to make the right decisions.


·      There are two types of wisdom. Not all wisdom is in the same category.


·      1 Corinthians 1

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,


“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,

    and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”


20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach[b] to save those who believe


·      So there is a wisdom of the wise (or the world) and a wisdom from God.


·      There is a wise debater of this age – one who appears wise – but his wisdom is folly to God.


·      God will destroy the wisdom of the world. The philosophies, clever theories, man made ideas are not what God would define as wisdom.


·      We must be cautious not to adopt the wisdom of this world or the wisdom of the age. It may appear attractive and practical, but it is folly to God.


·      And don’t think here that I am only referring to the very obvious wisdom of the world that we must avoid – things like post-modern and humanistic wisdom. I am also referring to the much more subtle “wisdom” that we adopt because it fits our political thinking or has some obscure notion of Christianity attached to it.


·      Think about parenting, think about marriage, think about finances. All of these topics have a wisdom from the world. The world is not silent on them.


·      Just one example is finance. The world tells us that we can spend more, have more, but there is no counter balance to remind us that it all needs to be paid for. Many people come unstuck financially because they accumulate debt beyond their means.


·      People also fall for pyramid schemes and crypto currency scams because the world is speaking to our covetousness and our desire to get rich quick. If we don’t apply Biblical wisdom to these areas, we will become another statistic.


·      Wisdom requires a starting point. That starting point is in God’s word.


·      Psalm 19:7

The law of the Lord is perfect,

   reviving the soul;

the testimony of the Lord is sure,

   making wise the simple.


·      The law of the Lord does what – it makes “wise the simple”. As smart as we may think we are, we are actually simple. We need the Lords word to make us wise.


·      The law of the Lord, his teaching, his word, is wisdom.



·      Proverbs 2

My son, if you receive my words

    and treasure up my commandments with you,

2 making your ear attentive to wisdom

    and inclining your heart to understanding;

3 yes, if you call out for insight

    and raise your voice for understanding,

4 if you seek it like silver

    and search for it as for hidden treasures,

5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord

    and find the knowledge of God.

6 For the Lord gives wisdom;

    from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;

7 he stores up sound wisdom for the upright;

    he is a shield to those who walk in integrity,

8 guarding the paths of justice

    and watching over the way of his saints.


·      Notice the “if” statements – if, if, if…..


·      Verse 5 “then”. If you do these things – receive God’s word, treasure his commandments, listen to his wisdom, if we call out for insight to God’s wisdom then what happens?


·      Verse 5 - then we understand the fear of the Lord – we understand who God is and how to relate to him.


·      Verse 6 – if we do these things then we are given wisdom, we receive knowledge and understanding. Who would not want knowledge and understanding? Life is complicated, it is difficult to navigate. I want knowledge and understanding from God.


·      Verse 7 - we are protected by the “shield” of wisdom. Wisdom is part of our everyday life as we make decisions. Without God given wisdom we are vulnerable. Without wisdom we are prone to wander and make foolish decisions.


·      James 1

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.


·      The context here is that James is writing to persecuted and struggling believers.


·      And what does he tell them to do in this situation? He tells them to seek wisdom.


·      We must regularly pray to the Lord for wisdom. We must not presume we have all the wisdom we need.


·      And then what does God do – he gives generously.


·      A reminder - Three headings today:

a)    What is truth and wisdom?

b)    Why is truth and wisdom important?

c)     Truth and wisdom in practice.


b)   Why is truth and wisdom important?


·      The information age has ushered in an unprecedented amount of information at our finger tips.


·      Scientists have measured the amount of data that enters the brain and found that an average person living today processes as much as 74 GB in information a day (that is as much as watching 16 movies), through TV, computers, cell phones, tablets, billboards, and many other gadgets. Every year it is about 5% more than the previous year. Only 500 years ago, 74 GB of information would be what a highly educated person consumed in a lifetime.


·      But so much of it is untrue. Fake news now seems to be as prevalent as accurate news.


·      As Christians we are not immune from the deluge of questionable information.


·      Truth and wisdom are important because so much around is claiming to be truth and wisdom. To live productive, God honouring lives, we need to be able to use truth and wisdom every day.


·      As I said – truth and wisdom are best friends. They are essential tools for us to navigate life successfully and to impact our families, our communities, our workplaces, our universities in a way that makes the world sit up and pay attention.


·      In the book of Ephesians Paul takes the first 3 chapters to lay the doctrinal foundation for God honouring living. And then from chapter 4 he puts it into practice for the Ephesians, and for us.


·      Ephesians 4:11-14

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds[c] and teachers,[d] 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,[e] to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.


·      To be a mature Christian, you must know truth and practice wisdom that comes from that truth.


·      In verses 11 and 12 we see that truth is taught to us. We are of course also responsible to pursue truth ourselves and to be students of truth.


·      We see in this text that without truth we cannot be mature Christians (v13). We will be like children. Children are not wise. They are easily influenced and coerced. Children make foolish, immature decisions.


·      The immature Christian is like a ship in a storm without a rudder. They are tossed everywhere and caried along by dangerous winds – winds of bad doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.


·      Imagine a church full of childlike Christians who are so easily conned – spiritually and practically. The church would not honour Christ or His word.


·      We would be an indictment to the name of Christ as we fall for worldly schemes. We would waste our time, our money, our relationships – all because we don’t walk closely with truth and wisdom.


·      If you find yourself following the latest conspiracy theories, agreeing with the latest man-made philosophies, or conducting your marriage and parenting in the same way the world does – then you are like a child in the eyes of scripture. You are going to spend a lot of time lost in the ocean of the world and in great danger of sinking.


·      Without truth and wisdom, you are going to struggle in life and not fully fulfil the role Christ has purposed for you in the church.


·      A reminder - Three headings today:

a)    What is truth and wisdom?

b)    Why is truth and wisdom important?

c)     Truth and wisdom in practice.


c)    Truth and wisdom in practice.


·      So, you are probably wondering what truth and wisdom look like in practice.


·      We have truth in the form of God’s word and his Spirit to guide us, but we need to practically work our wisdom muscles as it were.


·      There are a few practical things that I believe we should be doing every day and here Joel James’s booklet on Biblical Decision Making is very helpful.


·      King Solomon understood decision-making (even if he personally made some bad ones). He knew that the key to making good decisions wasn't seeking signs or listening to people’s opinions and theories. Do you remember what Solomon requested in 1 Kings 3 when God told him to ask for anything he wanted? Solomon asked for wisdom. Even as a young man, Solomon was wise enough to know that God intends His people to make decisions based on thoughtful wisdom, not the latest trend or theory that the world has to offer.


·      Principle 1: Pray for wisdom

·      Difficult decisions begin with prayer. We must ask for God's wisdom right from the start. Solomon spoke of it in terms of committing your works to God.

·      Proverbs 16:3

3 Commit your work to the Lord,

    and your plans will be established.

·      If you commit your works to the Lord, God will establish your plans. He might, and often will, direct your steps to a different path than you planned (16:9), but the establishment of a decision always starts with humbly committing it to God.

·      We do that through prayer.

·      Here's the tricky question: what should we pray for? Don't pray for a supernatural sign—internal peace or a dramatic coincidence. Pray for wisdom.

·      Pray for wisdom to make a wise decision, and then apply what you asked for.


·      Principle 2: Gather information

·      Proverbs loves careful, thought-through, informed decision-making. Without information, you can't know or weigh the options open to you.

·      Proverbs 13:16

16 Every prudent man acts with knowledge,

    but a fool flaunts his folly.

·      Notice what the prudent man does – he acts with knowledge. That knowledge comes from gathering information.

·      There are many sources. Do research – speak to people you can trust. Engage with other mature Christians to ask their input.

·      Also, notice what the fool does. The fool flaunts his folly. Folly, or lack of wisdom, is often flaunted.

·      When people go around with foolish ideas and a lack of knowledge, they are often loud in their opinions and theories. This should be a red flag to us when we encounter someone like this.

·      Proverbs 21:5

5 The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance,

    but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.

·      Be measured. Take your time before making a decision.


·      If you are unsure, delay the decision if you can.


·      Principle 3: Ask, "Does the Bible speak directly to my decision?"

·      When faced with a decision, we must ask the question: does God, in the Bible, speak directly to my decision? Before making a decision, we must first check the Bible—God's revealed will—to see if God has told us what to do.

·      No matter how practical a decision seems, it is never right to make a decision contrary to what God has commanded. No matter how convinced we are God is leading us, it is never right to do what God said not to do.

·      For example, a young man might debate whether he should marry a girl who is kind, exciting, attractive, intelligent, but not a Christian. However, 1 Corinthians 7:39 lays down a divine principle regarding marriage: a Christian is to marry "in the Lord" (i.e., another Christian).

·      2 Corinthians 6:14 (unequally yoked).

·      So the Bible does speak directly to this situation.

·      In the same way, God doesn't say in the Bible that you should work for business X or business Y.

·      However, if your boss expects you to cook the books so he can cheat on his taxes, you know God's will for that situation. God revealed it already in the scripture. Romans 13:6 says, "Pay your taxes." Jesus said, "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's" (Matt 22:21).

·      Therefore, you know you can't accept or stay at a job which demands you to disobey God or to help someone else disobey God.


·      Principle 4: Ask, "Does the Bible speak indirectly to my decision?"

·      It's easy when the Bible says, "Don't steal." That's a divine directive on whether to continue at a job where you are asked to cheat. But situations in life are not always so clear cut.

·      God's word doesn't directly say which car you should buy. But does that mean God's word doesn't have any input on that decision? Indirectly, it does in many ways.

·      God's word doesn't say, "Buy this car or buy that car." But it does say a lot about spending more than you have. ("The borrower becomes the lender's slave" Prov 22:7b). If you want to buy a car that is beyond your financial means, even if the bank will lend you the money, don’t do it. It is addressed indirectly in scripture.

·      Also consider the heart motives you have in your decision. What is driving you in your heart to chose option A or option B?

·      This unwise decision may be driven by covetousness and scripture says not to covet (Luke 12:15).

·      God doesn't say whether to buy a blue car or a red car. But what if your wife hates red? God did say, "Husbands, love your wives," and "Do nothing from selfishness." Indirectly, God might have said more about your car-buying decision than you think.

·      We often get into trouble by not applying this fourth principle. The fact that God hasn't directly said, "Do this, don't do that," doesn't mean God has said nothing that would guide your decision.


·      Re-cap:

·      Principle 1: Pray for wisdom

·      Principle 2: Gather information

·      Principle 3: Ask, "Does the Bible speak directly to my decision?"

·      Principle 4: Ask, "Does the Bible speak indirectly to my decision?"


·      Don’t believe everything on social media and the internet. And don’t forward everything that is on social media and the internet. A local Sola 5 pastor wrote a very good article last year on the debate that was, and is still, raging on the question of how churches should function under lockdown rules.


·      On the topic of all the misinformation and fake news he writes:

“It would be an understatement to say that we live in unprecedented[1] times. From the internet to cellphones, from social media to LGBTQI…, from globalisation to vaccines, we are all living in a world that in so many ways never existed before. We are inundated with information on a never-before-seen scale: from CNN to FOX, from BBC to ENCA, from self-publishing to blogs and now vlogs. Every Tom, Dick and Thabo can tell the world their opinion. It has been said that reading a whole newspaper today will give you more information than someone living 200 years ago would have received in their entire lifetime! So how do we navigate all the pitfalls and landmines out there? How do we sift through the mountains of fake news and scaremongering to find the golden nuggets of truth?

Apart from the quantity of information bombarding us there is also the lack of humility that we have to deal with. Everyone seems to be an expert on everything nowadays”

“please do not drink the Kool-Aid that is being offered on the internet”


·      Do you remember Kool-Aid? I think it was sold in South Africa many years ago. It is a cheap and nasty powder drink from America. Really not pleasant.


·      I like that he refers to some of the misinformation on the internet as “Kool-Aid” because I think what he is referring to is our gullibility for information that comes out of first world countries.


·      As South Africans I am amazed at how we gobble up western culture. Don’t we have our own views – our own thought leaders and our own thinking in South Africa?


·      I also like that he refers to us drinking the Kool-Aid being offered. If a stranger approached you with a glass of greyish liquid that has a nauseating smell, would you grab it from his hands and gulp it down?


·      No, you would not. Then why do we accept so much false information and low-quality journalism from the internet and just gulp it down?


·      Proverbs 1:22

“How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge?

·      Proverbs 1:32

For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them;

·      Proverbs 3:35

The wise will inherit honor, but fools get disgrace.

·      Proverbs 8:5

O simple ones, learn prudence; O fools, learn sense.


·      Chain emails and re-tweets are a bug bear of mine. Why do we so easily forward or re-tweet some of this trash without first interrogating its authenticity?


·      Take the time to research the veracity of the article or the tweet. This is not a trivial matter. Often times, racial and political fires are stoked by the things that are irresponsibly forwarded. Medical misinformation can harm others or even lead to their death as has happened often times during the COVID pandemic.


·      If we would only spend as much time reading the word of God and good Christian books as we do on social media and the internet.


·      Our social media and email activity must look very different to that of the world. We must stop being conformed to the information of the world and renew our minds with the truth and wisdom of scripture.


·      Romans 12

Do not be conformed to this world,[c] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.[d]


·      The world has a mould – a way of thinking about truth and wisdom. The Lord says don’t be conformed to that mould. You have a different truth and a different wisdom.


·      That different truth and different wisdom should renew your mind and transform your way of thinking and your everyday actions.


·      As believers we are held to a higher standard of truth and wisdom. Our pursuit of truth and wisdom is not for our own glory – it is to honour the Lord. It does however have the secondary benefit of protecting us from false doctrine and helping us to not make foolish decisions.