Continuing our series on the Wisdom of God. I once many years ago, heard a Christian express that Grace is all well and good, but that he wanted to move on to “deeper things”. I didn’t think much about his comment at the time, but since then I have noticed that this idea is actually quite common. Over the years I have witnessed many people come to Jesus Christ with great optimism and joy as they realize the truth of what He has done for them, and they are filled with His Divine Joy and Peace, and then it sets in… the idea that “now that I’ve received Jesus, I have to work”. I must do this and this and this and that to “grow in Christ.” Now I do believe that there is a growth process for believers, however this growth process is not what some today think that it is.
So today as we continue to study the Wisdom of God, we will be examining how growing in the Divine Wisdom of God actually leads to growing in Grace; and I believe that as we see this truth in scripture, chains will be broken and the joy and peace of God will be loosed again for some that have lost sight of it.
Our first scripture text for today is going to be Galatians 4:21-5:4:
“Tell me, you that desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law?
For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a female slave, the other by a free woman.
But he who was of the female slave was born after the flesh; but he of the free woman was by promise.
Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which engenders to bondage, which is Agar.
For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answers to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.
But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
For it is written, Rejoice, you barren that bore not; break forth and cry, you that travail not: for the desolate has many more children than she which has an husband.
Now we, brothers, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.
But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.
Nevertheless what said the scripture? Cast out the female slave and her son: for the son of the female slave shall not be heir with the son of the free woman.
So then, brothers, we are not children of the female slave, but of the free.
Stand fast therefore in the liberty with which Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
Behold, I Paul say to you, that if you be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.
For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.
Christ is become of no effect to you, whoever of you are justified by the law; you are fallen from grace.”
Beginning with verse 21, we can see that there is a group that for whatever reason, desires to be under the law. They existed back then and they still exist today. I used to be one of them, there was a time before I knew Jesus Christ when I erroneously believed – as the gentleman that made the comment to me before – that Grace was only for newborn Christians and the Law was the advanced material. There was a time when I believed that Jesus saves people so that He can put them to work. But this belief is flawed for two main reasons: First, it makes God out to be selfish… I’ll help you, but only so I can get something in return. Second, it presupposes that God actually needs us for something other than sheer pleasure. The simple fact is this my friends, God does not need us or our service, period. I am taking the time to mention all of this because the idea that God saved us for service has become very wide spread, and it’s actually a belief that is rooted in pride, arrogance and ignorance. The simple truth is that Jesus saved us because God loved us enough to send His only begotten Son, and Jesus loved both the Father and us enough to complete His purpose and sacrifice Himself in our place on the cross.
Even so, verse 21 is addressing those who still desire the law, and in verses 22 through 31 we see an analogy drawn between Abraham’s two sons and the two Covenants of Law and Grace.
In verses 23 and 24, we can see that Isaac, the son who was born of the free-woman represents the covenant of Grace, and Ishmael, the son born of the slave (born into the flesh which speaks of self-effort) represents the covenant of the Law. Also in verse 24 we see that Hagar, the slave-woman which represents the Law, gives birth to bondage.
You see, whenever you hang onto the Law, you will be in bondage. So many people think that they are graduating from the elementary truth of God’s Grace, into the advanced truth of God’s Law, but this is not the case. We can see here that in reality, to cling to the Law will breed bondage in our life.
Now in verse 28 we see that we are not children of the Law but that we are children of Grace. The word “promise” in this verse is the Greek word epaggelia which means “a divine assurance of good.” That is Grace.
Verse 29 continues on to say that the son which was born of the flesh (self-effort) persecuted the son that was born of the Spirit (grace), and even so it is now.
If you read the full story of Sarah and Hagar and their sons Isaac and Ishmael in Genesis 21, you will see something interesting… you will see that once Isaac was weaned that is when Ishmael began mocking him, and we see the same type of behavior today. When a believer has grown in Grace, those who are still of the Law will tend to mock and accuse them. You will hear terms thrown around like “hyper-grace”, “pillow-prophet”, etc. However verse 30 reminds us of the end, the slave-woman and her son were cast-out because those who are of the Law will not share in the inheritance with those who are free – this is free in Christ with all of the blessings that come with Him.
And then as if to solidify the point even further with another reminder, verse 31 states again that we are not children of the slave-woman, but of the free woman. We are not under Law but under Grace.
Continuing on to Galatians 5:1, the scriptures tell us to stand fast or remain in the liberty (freedom) that we have in Christ Jesus and not to entangle ourselves in the yoke of bondage to the Law. Verses 2 and 3 also affirm this thought by saying that if anyone is circumcised (as is the first rite of being entered into the Mosaic Covenant of the Law) then Christ is of no profit, because anyone who is under the Law is now in-debt to it, to do the entire Law; which verse 4 expands on even further by saying that Christ is of no effect to whosoever is justified by the Law, you are fallen from grace.
I emphasized that last part because most people thinking of “falling from grace” as a euphemism for sin. However we see here in this verse that falling from grace is actually when someone tries to be justified by the Law rather than by faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ.
Turn now to Luke chapter 2, and lets read verses 43 through 52:
“And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it.
But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance.
And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him.
And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the middle of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.
And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.
And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said to him, Son, why have you thus dealt with us? behold, your father and I have sought you sorrowing.
And he said to them, How is it that you sought me? knew you not that I must be about my Father’s business?
And they understood not the saying which he spoke to them.
And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.
And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”
In verses 43, 44 and 45, we see a scenario in which Joseph and Mary quite literally in a physical sense lost sight of Jesus and had made an assumption about His whereabouts. So much so in-fact, that they traveled a full day before realizing that He was not there with them.
Now in verse 46, we see that that they find Jesus after three days! This means that after the one-day return trip, they spent two full-days searching for Him! They did not realize that He would be in the temple, but they were looking for Jesus in all the wrong places. Many times we do this today, we chase after signs and wonders, feelings and desires, never realizing that Jesus has made Himself known to us, today in the Word. Also, verse 46 makes a point that Jesus was in the middle of the doctors and teachers. In this amazing setting, where He is dispensing such wisdom to astonish all who hear Him, Jesus is in the middle. He will always be at the center where wisdom is being given. Even as a boy, Jesus is still Jesus. How many understand that age has no meaning to the One who is Ageless.
This verse also tells us that He was both hearing them, and asking them questions. I believe that these were questions designed to make them think and to teach them as He also did later in His time on this earth. I believe this also because of the next verse, 47… all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and answers.
Verse 48 shows us an emotional Mary, who questions Jesus’ actions, but notice what she said: Son, why did you deal with us this way? See, your father and I have searched for you sorrowfully.
The interesting thing here is that Mary calls Joseph the father of Jesus, although she knows better, and the reply of Jesus in verse 49 sets her straight, saying: Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know I must be about my Father’s (capital “F”) business?
In verse 50, we see that they did not understand what Jesus said. However, connect this with verse 51: Jesus went with them… and was subject to them. There’s just something I find awesome, about God choosing to be subject to human parents. Of course we know He lived a perfectly sinless life and obeyed the Law perfectly; however another interesting thing here is the second-half of the verse.. but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.
The word for “ponder” used here means to “keep continually”. Also the word for “sayings” used in this verse is the word rhema which means “an utterance or spoken word of God. While no-one really understood what Jesus was conveying, Mary still kept His words close. There may be times when we don’t understand all of what God is speaking, but we should still keep His words with us we never know when we might need them.
Lastly in verse 52, we see that Jesus increased in wisdom, stature and favor with God and man.
That word “favour”, is the Greek word kharis, which means simply, Grace.
Now keep in-mind that there are no insignificant details in the Bible, and whenever you see a list of items, there is always a Divine order to the items in that list.
First we see that Jesus increased in wisdom. This is sophia in the Greek, broad wisdom that covers both divine and earthly things. It is difficult for us to imagine Jesus even needing to grow in wisdom, but while on earth, He increased just as we all should, and we can learn something about the method and order of how He grew here.
We see also that He increased in stature. This word in the Greek is hēlikia, which means not only age, but “suitability for an intended purpose”.
These two items alone already show us a valuable piece of information. Many people assume that wisdom and maturity comes with age, however we see here from this verse of scripture that wisdom is what produces maturity. It is the wisdom of God that produces maturity and suitability for any purpose.
There are many people advanced in years that lack maturity and spiritual suitability, and there are also many spiritually mature people who are still young. It comes from God, not merely passage of time and years.
Lastly we see that Jesus increased in favor with God and man. And it is no accident that favor with God is mentioned first . Keeping in mind that the word favor used in this verse is “grace”, we see that as Jesus grew in the Grace of God, He also grew in the grace and favor of men. My friends, it is the Grace of God that gives us favor with men. Not our business savvy, not our intellectual prowess and not our personality or charm.
Now look at the order of the items:
3) Favor with God
4) Favor with men
This is why the book of Proverbs mentions in many places that the wisdom of God is supreme and the most valuable possession. As we studied last week, the Wisdom of God for us today is Christ Crucified. And this power of the finished work of Jesus Christ for us is what has a glorious effect on every other area of life. The more that we see of Jesus and the truth of what He has done for us, the more He will lead us into Grace for the sake of His finished work on our behalf. It is through Christ that we obtain our suitability for every good purpose. It is through Christ that we have favor with God and with men.
Divine wisdom can be summed as one single idea: Jesus Christ and His completed work on the cross. And Divine wisdom will always lead to growth in the Grace which that completed work of Jesus Christ affords.