The beginning of wisdom we receive from God.
Even as the rays of the sun are the rays that proceed from the sun; so the fear of the Lord is the fear that proceeds from the Lord and is instilled in our souls by His Spirit and grace.
Even that which we call natural wisdom, or if you will, wisdom in the sphere of things natural, comes from God. There are talented men and women in the world. There are those who have brilliant, minds, even though they are under the power of sin. They know how to get that which they seek. They desire earthly carnal objects and know what means to employ and how to employ them to get their goal.
There are men who understand the laws according to which God has created this world. Surgeons and physicians know so much about the body and the function and structure of its members and organs. Scientists know the elements from which the objects round about us are made; the course of the stars in the sky; the conditions of our weather and the line where tornados and hail are apt to strike; the strength of metals; the nourishment of foods; and a host of other items of truth and how to use them for the physical good of man.
There are brilliant statesmen. There are men who are mathematical giants. Men there are that can delve with their minds into deep and abstract problems and matters. There are legal minds and judges who have great ability to ferret out the truth and to get from the criminal that which he has been trying to hide. Here and there men are found who stand head and shoulders above the common man in his mental ability and so-called natural wisdom.
From whence comes all this ability and these talents? Surely we do foolishly if we attribute this to man. And such fools there are in goodly number in the world today. How wrong and how foolish it would be for the moon to boast of its light. It is full of light such a small part of the year. The rest of the time it has, even from our point of view only part of its light and in varying degrees. And always it is half dark because the light of the sun never strikes what is its back side, from our point of view. The moon is a creature that receives light and has no light in itself. No different is it with man either as far as natural light or spiritual light is concerned. Man has no light in himself and can never boast of producing light. Of The Word Which became flesh John says in John 1:9, “That was the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” And John is quick to inform us that he himself is not that Light but was sent to “bear witness of the Light.” John 1:6-8.
The Apostle Paul asks a pointed question of those who were puffed up with conceit and pride, as though they were suns which did not depend upon anything or anyone outside themselves and as though they did shine with their own wisdom, knowledge and talents. Paul asks them in I Corinthians 4:7, “For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” Conceit and pride are folly. We sing from the Psalms so beautifully and correctly:
All that I am I owe to Thee,
Thy wisdom, Lord, has fashioned me;
I give my Maker thankful praise,
Whose wondrous works my soul amaze.
Ere into being I was bro’t,
Thy eye did see and in Thy tho’t
My life in all its perfect plan
Was ordered ere my days began. —Psalm 139.
The fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom, never puffs a man up, as though he or his children have anything in themselves or are anything by themselves, but stands instead in awe of the great and majestic God of our salvation. The lie is always folly. False doctrines are characterized exactly by the fact that they belittle God, ascribe His power and glory to the creature, are bold to place the creature before God and to change the Lord of all into a servant of the creature. And even though Scripture clearly states that we are saved by grace and not by works, insomuch that faith, which is the means whereby we are saved, is the gift of God—so that we are but the moon that receives it from Christ the light of the world—there are those who foolishly speak of that frail, dependent creature of dust, dead in sins and trespasses, as having some light in himself so that e can see the wisdom of the salvation in Christ and can either frustrate the living God in His desire to save or give Him the permission to do so. THAT we state unequivocally is not the fear of the Lord and is utter folly as well as blasphemy! O that men would have that fear of the Lord according to which they would stand in awe before Him and not dare to ascribe any of His power and, prerogatives to the creature! O that men would cease to elevate the creature above the Creator in the matter of salvation.
That is one of the follies of false doctrines. Many are ready to ascribe to the Almighty God every breath of our earthly life. The church-world on the whole is ready to agree that physically in God we live and move and have all of our being. But when you come to the matter of living spiritually before Him as children of His Kingdom, they insist that man has something that he can give to God. In Him we do not live and move and have all of our spiritual being, according to their stand, whether they want to admit this or not. Their ALL is not in Christ. The will to be saved they have apart from Christ. And the folly of this is apparent in that it disagrees with Christ, the light of the world and second person of the all-wise and triune God. Jesus says inJohn 15:5, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in Him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for apart from me (that is the original) ye can do nothing.” Nothing is exactly NOTHING! The branch always comes out of the vine, owes its life to the vine and has nothing—not one piece of its fruit—to give to the vine that the vine did not supply it with the power to produce. And we would be bigger and mightier than The True Vine? Nay, all that we are spiritually, all our desire to be saved, our knowledge of our guilt and sin, of the way of salvation we receive, and for it we owe God everlasting thanks.
Let us, for the sake of argument, say that we do not deny that the sinner receives from God the power to desire salvation. Let us say that we concede that man receives every spiritual breath from God as well as every physical breath of life. When, then, we say that man must first will salvation and pray for it before God does anything, we are not denying that this comes from God. We simply do not believe that man lost every spark of spiritual life. He retained some glimmerings of natural light, as the Canons of Dordrecht state it in III, IV article 4. O, but read the whole article! Let us quote the part that is usually left off but explains the first part: “But so far is this light of nature from being sufficient to bring him (man, since the fall) to a saving knowledge of God, and to true conversion, that he is incapable of using it aright even in things natural and civil. Nay, further, this light, such as it is, man in various ways renders wholly polluted, and holds it in unrighteousness, by doing which he becomes inexcusable before God.” The underscoring is ours. One can have his own opinion as to why this was left unquoted in 1924 in the “common grace” controversy, while the first part of the article was quoted to try to prove a certain “civic righteousness” on the part of the unregenerated.
Even then, apart from this Confession, with which many do not agree, is it the fear of the lord, is it awe and reverence before Him to call Him a liar? He told Adam that in the day that he ate, he would DIE! Adam did not become spiritually sick and weak and even paralyzed. He DIED! He became utterly incapable of desiring anything spiritually good anymore. He could not will to be saved. He became a fool. The corrupt, impossible goal of becoming like God he continues foolishly to seek. He thinks that with the creatures God has made for His own glory, he (man) can succeed in robbing God of that glory and obtain it for himself. And in spite of inevitable death he views his works and achievements here below and deceives himself into thinking that he has succeeded to a degree, until he opens his eyes in hell!
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Wise, is the man who knows Him as GOD and stands in awe and reverence before Him.
But that fear of the Lord is the fear that we receive from the Lord. As we pointed out at the outset, by implication, the rays of the sun are the rays of light that come from the sun. Thus the fear of the Lord is the fear that proceeds from the Lord and lights us up as the moon is enlightened by the natural light of the sun. Our only hope of having the fear of the Lord is that it pleases God to shine down upon us. As the psalmist puts it so beautifully—for he had the fear of the Lord and was not tainted with Arminianism and its lie—”Turn us again, O Lord God of Hosts, cause Thy face to shine, and we shall be saved.” Psalm 80:19. The beginning of wisdom begins with God and not with man.
Whether, therefore, our children will receive that beginning of wisdom depends entirely on Him of Whom James says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God Who giveth to all liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” James 1:5. Here is the fountain of all wisdom. If we have it, we will have to receive it out of God. And we will receive it from Him through Christ, for “In Whom (Christ) are hid all the treasure of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2:3. Again, of Christ it is said in I Corinthians 1:24 that Christ is “the power of God, and wisdom of God.” It all depends, then, on whether God has chosen us in Christ and whether He sent Christ to die for our sins. Otherwise we do not deserve it, have not right to it and will not receive it. Therefore James tells us to pray or “ask in faith.” And that means in the name of Christ and in faith of what He has done.
Nevertheless, we have a calling. It all depends upon the Overflowing Fountain of all good. But He does not treat us like stocks and blocks. He speaks to us. He exhorts and admonishes us. He calls us to sow the seed. The seed—which is the Word—we receive from Him. The life in that seed is put there by Him. The warmth and the moisture come from Him and must be sent at the right time and in the right amounts. Yet He calls us to sow and uses us to instruct our covenant seed. Whether the seed shall sprout in the hearts of our children, whether they will believe, whether there shall be a harvest all depends upon God. He must give that fear to our children, or they will never have it. It is the fear of the Lord in every sense of the word.
And wisdom depends upon knowledge. Facts and the truth are the tools that wisdom must use. Even as the gifted artist can do nothing without his brushes, paints and canvass, so a man born with—or rather more properly reborn with—the fear of God must know the Scripture. He must know God as He is revealed in Scripture in order to stand in that awe and reverence before Him that produces obedience and child-like trust in Him.
These facts of truth, this revelation of God as our Creator—and as the psalmist declares it in Psalm 19:14, our “strength (or rock) and redeemer”—we must teach to the child with the power which God has given us. No unbeliever can do that, and no unbeliever ever desires to do that. He does not want your children to have the fear of the Lord. He does not, therefore desire, nor is he able, to see your children have the beginning of wisdom. He wants—as a tool of Satan—to end all such wisdom.
You see him at his satanic work in banishing all prayer from the class room. You see him operate behind the scenes when he strives to put another burden on the churches by taking away their tax exemption and tax-free holding of properties used for religious purposes. You see him do that in Evolutionism and Atheism. You see him do that in barring the believer from jobs and work unless he reveals fear of the godless organizations that trample God’s laws under feet and practice the evil that might makes right, and that revolt and rebellion are wise and good.
And you still send your child(ren) to men who have not the beginning of wisdom? That certainly is not a wise move to make. In His fear means in true wisdom. Let that fear be the principle that guides you in your own behavior, and certainly in seeking instruction and a training for your children by seeking an educational system that has at least the beginning of wisdom. It will reveal that you have the beginning of wisdom.