February 23, 2016

God’s Wisdom for the Social Order

Solomon contrasts covenant wisdom with the wisdom (folly) of man, outlining two completely different visions of the world and two opposing programs for civilization.

Scripture:  Ecclesiastes 3:16-4:3

Sermon Notes:

  1. Ecclesiastes is not a random collection of thoughts by a philosopher. It is the word of God and it comes to us through the greatest king of Israel.
  2. Solomon speaks to us as a covenant-keeping man, keen to keep the word of God; he is also a person who is acquainted with the wisdom of the nations.
  3. Solomon contrasts covenant wisdom with the wisdom (folly) of man, outlining two completely different visions of the world and two opposing programs for civilization.
  4. Ecclesiastes declares that man's wisdom is powerless to straighten out that which is crooked in a fallen world under the curse.
  5. The believer lives in a broken world but he has been given a new heart, and God’s life is at work in him.
  6. Yet we must do battle against our old nature and the humanistic thinking which wants to rule in our lives (cf. Rom. 7). We need Christ to give life to our mortal bodies.
  7. Solomon now considers the ideal social order and man's failure to achieve order, justice and peace.
  8. Man vainly seeks to connect earth to heaven, but only the Bible makes sense of history, the human condition, and the present social order.
  9. The dream to create order without the living God leads to injustice and oppression (cf. Ecc. 5:7).
  10. Solomon observes that God allows injustice in the world so that He can make His justice visible.
  11. Man's dreams and plans are basically no better than that of the beasts, because both will die.
  12. In our time many humanists believe democracy will bring a just social order, but it is just the tyranny of the majority.
  13. Outside the covenant of God there is no solution to the problem of injustice.
  14. In the context of growing despair, the Christian is tempted either to escape inward, emphasizing personal piety, or to escape outward, emphasizing Christ's return.
  15. Godly men and women are called to work in faith for the just society and the kingdom of God.
  16. Unless we tell the world to submit to Christ and His Word and people are re-made by His Holy Spirit, the social order will always be tyranny.
  17. Wilberforce said that we must work to demolish the effects of sin. We strive according to Scripture to bring every thought captive. Our failure to do so is to abandon the world to evil.
  18. Wisdom is perhaps one of the most important themes in all of Scripture. Wisdom is personified as the voice of God. We're told it's a blessing of God and the principle thing to prize and treasure. And James tells us that God will give generously to those who ask for wisdom.
  19. The wisdom that God gives isn't limited to one area of your life. It's not limited to your personal life only in approaching this problem of the fallen world. Rather all the promises of wisdom and knowledge are available to us in Christ.
  20. God Himself rules in terms of wisdom over all creation, and so we must rely on God's wisdom for the issues of justice.
  21. Folly is a threat to human life. God's wisdom is peace, life and the reign of justice.
  22. All aspects of our life are spiritual; every aspect is intimately related in every way to God.
  23. The fool then is spiritually blind because of obstinate rebellion (cf. Rom. 1:21-22); if we speak truth and justice into the places of power, we should expect opposition.
  24. The Christian is not a pragmatist; ideally when Christians get together it should not be to ascertain the mind of the majority but the mind of the Holy Spirit.
  25. The Bible is God's covenant Word for all of life, through which justice and righteousness will prevail.
  26. We must recognize that Jesus is Lord and King and live in that reality. To put the preferences of the people before the Word of God is folly. It condemns us to a slow cultural death.
  27. We must live and work in terms of the wisdom and justice of God and know that God is bringing all things to His desired end.
  28. We are able to shape and influence the world around us. We are called to a cultural mandate. Culture is not something God just lets happen after the Fall. Culture was the first commission we were given: to bring order and justice. There is no higher calling or higher responsibility.
  29. You as a Christian have been regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit, you willingly submit to God's Word, you work in terms of the righteousness of God's Word, and therefore you are the light of the world.
  30. The gospel power of Christ changes everything. So we pray Thy kingdom come and Thy will be done.

Application Questions:

  1. Why is earthly wisdom futile for bringing about justice?
  2. What is the Christian’s role in seeking to apply God’s wisdom to the world?
  3. What is a biblical view of democracy?
  4. How can we go about seeking justice this week?
  5. Are there any neutral or “non-spiritual” areas of life outside the concern of Christian mission?
  6. In what areas of modern life and society do we need to recover and apply God’s wisdom?
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