By L. Nelson Bell | Published: September 18, 2015
For the wise person, peace, certainty, and perfect assurance displaces frustration, uncertainty, and fear
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Proverbs 9:10, ESV).
According to this description, many of the world’s “wise” ones have never come out of kindergarten and into the realities of life.
If true wisdom is the orientation of self and the affairs of this world to the Creator-Redeemer, how many of us possess it? The wise man gives God His rightful place in every realm—creation, history and destiny—and recognizes Him as sovereign over individuals and over nations.
Such wisdom, coming as it does from a reverential fear of and trust in God, produces peace, joy and hope, independent of outward circumstances. It is the preventative for the situation our Lord described as “people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world …” (Luke 21:26).
Christians lose much joy in life by failing to recognize that the God of creation is also the God of history. As such He is sovereign also in love and in judgment. We have nothing to fear, for the wrath of a holy God against sin has been borne in the person of His Son.
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The wisdom God gives to those who fear Him puts Him on the throne in every area of the universe—in creation, in history and also in destiny. He who brought the world into existence will surely control the course of events to the end. Today we see the rage and tumult of men and nations. Has God been dethroned? Has He abdicated? Has He lost control of events? Far from it. No circumstances of our lives, no courses of nations, are completed until God has finished His own work in and through them.
The fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom, is God’s gift to the humble. A childlike attitude of mind is the gateway to God’s grace. It is not a mere lazy acquiescence but a rational acknowledgment of God as Creator and Lord.
The inescapable link between true wisdom and genuine humility rests in the perspective this wisdom gives. When we see ourselves in the light of God’s holiness, we are inclined to cry out with Job: “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6, ESV). Thomas showed true wisdom and humility when he cried, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28, ESV).
The frustration, uncertainty and fear we see on every hand can be exchanged for peace, certainty and perfect assurance if we appropriate the wisdom God yearns to give. This is the Christian’s privilege and at the same time his opportunity. All about us are people who are educated, perhaps, but who lack true wisdom because there is no fear of God in their hearts. D
L. NELSON BELL (1894-1973), a missionary surgeon to China from 1916-1941, was a leading Presbyterian layman and the father of the late Ruth Bell Graham. This article was adapted from While Men Slept: A Concerned Layman’s View of the Church Today (Doubleday 1970), with reprint permission from East Gates Ministries International. Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version.