Monthly Archives: April 2014

Proverbs 9: Productive Conversations

Proverbs 9 provides some very good advice for those of us who are interested in apologetics. Obviously, our interests often times bring us into deeper discussions with people who we might not see eye to eye with. These discussions can be frustrating to say the least. I was involved in a conversation with a few people where it seemed like everything I was twisted into something that I had never said. On top of that, no one bothered to address the questions I had.

Proverbs 9 tells us something about interactions like that.

Pro 9:7  He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot.

Pro 9:8  Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.

Pro 9:9  Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.

I think this is important for all of us to remember. We need to be careful with our interactions. Some of them are simply not worth pursuing. This makes me think of something similar that Jesus said.

Mat 10:14  And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.

I have a hard time with this concept because the truth that we have is important for everybody. If Christianity is true, everybody needs to hear about the saving work of Jesus Christ, and I think that is an example of why we need to make sure that we are having productive conversations rather than spinning our wheels with people who aren’t listening.

We can’t be wasting our time with someone who is not willing to accept. Jesus certainly told the Pharisees what they needed to hear, but when they rejected Him, He went away for the time being. He didn’t stop interacting with them, but He recognized that He was brought to earth to do a lot more than stand around and argue.

Let me tell you the end of the story I started above. I decided that it wasn’t worth my time to debate forever. It was obvious that there wasn’t an interest in conversation. However, there was one guy who somehow sought out my email address, and we proceeded to have a very good conversation. I don’t know if it ultimately changed anything for him spiritually, but I think that we both were able to have a profitable discussion, and maybe I put a stone in his shoe.

I think that is that the proverb is talking about. Wise people are willing to learn and are willing to talk about these things. They are honestly intellectually curious, and they are willing to pursue truth. They are the ones that God is already drawing to himself. We are called to be involved in that process.

Proverbs 8: The Fear of God

I am really liking how Proverbs fits together so nicely. We have been talking a lot about wisdom, and as you will remember, the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. As a result, I have kind of played around a little bit with how I would define the fear of God in a way that is consistent with the other times we have talked about it.

However, in Proverbs 8, we discover another definition for what it means to fear God.

Pro 8:13  The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.

If we truly fear God, we are going to get as far away from evil as we can. We will not want any part of it, and we will want to hate sin as much as God does. Of course, I know that it is cliché, but we need to always remember to love the sinner through all of this.

However, my previous point still remains. We do not want to get into the kind of situation where we are actively trying to keep any kind of sin in our lives. Let’s say that I really enjoy bullying people. I get some kind of personal satisfaction out of it, and in some kind of twisted way it makes me feel better about myself.

We all know that it is not right to treat people in that way. I think that that is a pretty straightforward application of loving neighbor as yourself. Therefore, by violating the direct teaching of Jesus Christ, we are committing a sin.

Now I am in a bit of a dilemma. I am not hating the evil in my life. I am not actively trying to stop the problem that I have. I am enjoying the problem, and I am not really trying to change anything.

That’s a major problem. I know that none of us will ever be perfect, but I also know that we don’t need to embrace our sin. It seems as if this is an important part of learning how to fear God in a Biblical way.

Proverbs 7: Embracing Wisdom

Proverbs 7 begins with great imagery about the relationship that we are supposed to have with wisdom. It ought to be something that we are very close to and interact with as if it were family.

Pro 7:1  My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee.

Pro 7:2  Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye.

Pro 7:3  Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart.

Pro 7:4  Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman:

I think that this is so important. It is one thing to know about wisdom. I can talk about how important wisdom and understanding are, but until I actually apply them in my life and relate to them like I relate to my family, I am not going to have the right relationship I need to benefit from them.

Now, we have been over this before, but it is important to keep in mind that true wisdom and understanding come from a right relationship with God. They come from the fear of God. They come from respecting our position relative to God and giving Him all of the glory and honor that He rightfully deserves.

This chapter expands on that even more. We can have that relationship with God, and we can intellectually know that wisdom comes from God and all that stuff. However, I think that we are talking about another step here. I think that we are talking about something that you actually need to embrace like a family member.

I think that we need to make sure that we never give up on this relationship. We cannot all of a sudden decide that we are going to ignore it. We need to continue pursuing it and loving it. With another person, you don’t all of a sudden drop them and keep the same relationship. It is the same way with wisdom. We need to keep it beside us at all times.

Proverbs 6: Seven Things God Hates

God is certainly a loving God, but He hates sin, and Proverbs 6 is one of the more famous passages on sin in the entire Bible.

Pro 6:16  These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:

Pro 6:17  A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,

Pro 6:18  An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,

Pro 6:19  A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

Honestly, this list seems rather limited. The entire book of Leviticus is about things that we should or shouldn’t do, but for some reason, the seven get called out as particularly important. There were even 10 Commandments, but this list is reduced to seven. Why would you have this kind of reduction?

I think that we have a reduction have because if you think about it, these actions cover a lot of ground. For example, in verse 18, we hear about the heart that plans to do bad things. In my mind, that pretty much encompasses almost any time we sin. That is kind of the definition of sin in a way. We set our hearts on something that we shouldn’t. In other words, we plan on doing something bad.

I think that this is an interesting chapter without a doubt. This particular passage about the seven things that God hates really makes you think. They are general enough to include a wide variety of missteps, but like most of this book, they are simple enough to be memorable. Rather than memorize a book of a million possible sins, I feel like by memorizing the seven characteristics, we have the criteria to evaluate whether something is right or wrong.

This can help us with those gray areas that the Bible does not speak to directly. Does the activity violate one of these seven principles? If it does, then we know that we probably stop doing it. It is not like God left us out there to evaluate what was right and wrong through trial and error. We have a guide to help us.

Proverbs 5: An Outside Relationship

Proverbs 5 sounds a lot like marriage counseling. Solomon is basically warning his son about the dangers of having relationships with women outside of his marriage.

Pro 5:3  For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil:

Pro 5:4  But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a twoedged sword.

Pro 5:5  Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell.

Pro 5:6  Lest thou shouldest ponder the path of life, her ways are moveable, that thou canst not know them.

I first think that this is applicable to both genders. Solomon was writing to his son, but obviously the intent can apply to both men and women.

Basically, it sounds to me like the old proverb, “The grass is always greener on the other side.” Later in the chapter, we hear Solomon advise that his son should enjoy his wife which does imply that his son was already married.

People may think that there are better options out there, and it might sound pretty good. However, and I’m sure that we have all heard that about this happening hundreds of times, these types of affairs only lead to pain.

I’m not married, so I am certainly not an expert on this field, but part of me thinks that it is pretty much common sense. If you are married, that is a serious commitment, and violating that relationship and that trust only leads to a vast amount of pain and suffering for everyone involved.

It might seem like the grass is greener on the other side, but it never really works out that way at least in any experience that I have heard about.

Proverbs 4: Stumbling in the Dark

Proverbs 4 talks about about learning from your parents. It talks about gathering wisdom from people around you and staying on the path that God has prescribed for us.

For a few verses, it contrasts what evil people do. I found one verse of that part so compelling and interesting that I want to zoom in on just that thought today.

Pro 4:19  The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.

I know that this verse doesn’t seem like a lot, but it is really interesting that the people who are wicked do not know what they are stumbling over. They do not realize that they are doing anything wrong.

I think that is why it is so important for Christians to be public about our faith. We know that the Bible tells us that some things are right and others are wrong. The Bible does provide guidelines that we can use to live our lives in the right way.

For people who had never read or don’t want to read the Bible, they might not know what they are stumbling over. They may not realize that they are doing things that God has said should not be done. Because of that darkness, they might recognize that they are falling. However, they will not understand what they are falling over because they don’t have the background knowledge.

That is one of the reasons that we cannot be afraid to talk about the Bible. If the Bible is true, then it is very important for people to come to repentance. That is a central part of salvation. However, how can they repent if they don’t know that they did anything wrong?

I am not saying that we need to be incredibly judgmental or the Bible police, but I am saying that we cannot be afraid to call a spade a spade. It might not make us very popular at times because people don’t want to hear about what they are doing wrong, but sometimes it is necessary.

Proverbs 3: Built into the Universe

Proverbs 3 is going to keep us on the same theme that we have been talking about for the past few days. We have these concepts of knowledge, wisdom and understanding. We have already established that they come from God. That has been rather obvious from the first two chapters of this book.

Now, we run into them again, and a lot of this ties back to what we talked about yesterday in Proverbs 2.

Pro 3:19  The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens.

Pro 3:20  By his knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew.

I think that this is so important. If you recall, yesterday I explained how if the Christian God is everything that we argue He is, then it makes sense that all things would be able to be brought back to Him. If there was some kind of knowledge in the design of the universe, you would be able to trace all knowledge to its origin which we believe is God.

Chapter 3 emphasizes this even farther. God is not just the source of knowledge, but He built it into creation. God used His wisdom to build the earth. He put His mind to the task of creation. That is why these things are built into the creation.

Think about it. Henry Ford designed the automobile. He had some knowledge, wisdom and understanding as he was creating that machine. You can see the evidence of his thought in that car. There is some type of intelligent design behind the building of that machine.

However, I don’t want to end there. By looking at the automobile, we can learn things. For example, by looking at an engine, I could learn something about mechanics or physics. Henry Ford didn’t necessarily build an automobile to teach me physics, but that knowledge comes along with the package.

I think the universe is similar. I don’t know if God explicitly built the universe to teach me biology. However, in building the universe in the way that it is, God made it possible that I could gain knowledge about biology. I hope that that parallel makes sense.

God is indeed the source of knowledge, but He has also made the universe in such a way that we can discover knowledge. It is not like we are injected with infinite knowledge the minute we are born. We can have that pursuit because God built it in.

Proverbs 2: The Pursuit of Knowledge

Yesterday, I wrote about how we need to fear God before we can have knowledge and wisdom. I wrote about how we need to become anchored in the word of God to really learn who He is and develop this sense of fear and respect.

Proverbs 2 provides us with another way of developing this kind of fear of God. There is another way to learn about Him so that we will put Him in the right perspective.

Pro 2:2  So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;

Pro 2:3  Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;

Pro 2:4  If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;

Pro 2:5  Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.

In verse five, we are reaffirming that knowledge does come from God, so that is good. That hasn’t changed since the previous chapter. However, if you want to fear God, you need to be one who seeks after knowledge. I know that this is a radical concept, and it might be a little bit frightening. However, if we are really looking for knowledge, I am convinced that that pursuit will always lead us back to God.

Again, like I said yesterday, the secular world will tell you this is ridiculous, but I think that this is an important concept for all of us.

For example, I know that there can be fear of academic learning. Parents might worry that by sending their child to a secular college, it could rattle their faith. I am not trying to deny that it certainly could. However, this verse ought to be some type of comfort. If God really is that the base of everything and really is the ultimate Creator of everything, then eventually our pursuit of knowledge should lead us back to God if we are being intellectually honest. If God was not the Creator, then obviously that previous sentence does not apply, but if He is, it is certainly logical to assume that all knowledge will lead back to God.

I took a pair of classes in college called The Pursuit of Knowledge. It made me think of that as I was reading this passage. If you really try to follow knowledge wherever it leads, you are going to end up back with God if He is everything that we as Christians say He is.

Proverbs 1: Knowledge, Wisdom and Instruction

Wow, I finally get to say that we are beginning a new book of the Bible. Welcome to Proverbs! I like Proverbs quite a bit, so I think that this should be very fun time.

Chapter 1 seems to be centered on a thesis.

Pro 1:7  The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

I think that in society today, a lot of people would like to say that the fear of God is the beginning of ignorance, but I guess that shows the differences in our worldviews.

We need to think about the implications of this verse though. We need to fear God if we are even going to begin finding knowledge. That is a rather bold statement. This also seems to imply that if you do not fear God, you do not have any knowledge at all.

However, on the surface that doesn’t seem to be quite right. There are plenty of people who are not God-fearing yet seem to have plenty of knowledge. For example, Sam Harris is a very talented philosopher. He obviously does not fear God, but he certainly has a lot of knowledge about the field of philosophy (even though I believe he is misguided).

I think that we are looking at a somewhat different definition of knowledge than simply facts. Look at the way that that particular verse is set up. It is almost like some type of parallel structure. Those who fear God are at the beginning of knowledge. Fools despise wisdom and instruction.

It seems like knowledge and despising wisdom and instruction are at odds here. Wise people do the first, and fools do the second. Therefore, if the fools did not despise wisdom and instruction, they would not be fools anymore. That is what makes them fools.

It seems as if in context, knowledge is being used to mean both wisdom and instruction. Obviously we can gain both of these things from the Bible, and we base our beliefs on the Bible when we respect and fear God. When we understand how great God is and how amazing His power is, we find that fear of God, and we are at the beginning of knowledge. The Bible is what helps us in that process. It can provide us with wisdom and instruction.

This is important stuff. I don’t think that this verse means that we can only learn 2+2 through the fear of God. There are clearly plenty of counterexamples to that one. However, when we look at the context of the verse, it seems to make quite a bit of sense that we need to be grounded in the word of God and learn to fear and respect Him along with the wisdom and teaching that He has given us.

Psalms 150: Continually Praise God

Can you believe it? We made it through Psalms! We made it through the longest book in the Bible, and we made it through the halfway point of the Bible. Thanks as always for coming along for the ride.

Psalms 150 is all about praising God. In fact, it doesn’t really matter how you praise God, but you need to be praising God.

Psa 150:3  Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.

Psa 150:4  Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.

Psa 150:5  Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.

Psa 150:6  Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.

Obviously, there are bunch of instruments here. They make a variety of sounds, and they are used for different purposes. Listening to harp is different than listening to a trumpet which is different than listening to cymbals. However, you can apparently praise God with all of them.

This makes me think about worship styles. For some people, they like contemporary worship. Some people prefer that hymns that they grew up with. I would even be willing to bet that there are some people who wish that there wasn’t music at all since they would prefer more peace and quiet for contemplation.

I don’t think that God has a problem with any of these. Read verse six. We are commanded to praise; we are not commanded to make a certain kind of music or even make any all. We are commanded to praise God.

It doesn’t even limit us to some kind of designated praise time. It just says to praise God which implies that we ought to be doing all the time and everywhere. It is more of a lifestyle choice; it is something that we need to be putting into our life continually.