The Prating Fool Will Fall

January 14, 2018 in Authority, Bible - OT - Proverbs, Children, Meditations, Parents, Tongue

Proverbs 10:8 (NKJV)
8 The wise in heart will receive commands, But a prating fool will fall.

Wisdom is a commodity that has often been in short supply. Praise God, therefore, that the Spirit whom the Father poured out upon Jesus and whom Jesus pours out upon His people is, according to the prophet Isaiah, “the Spirit of wisdom…” (Is 11:2). Hence, Paul prays for the Ephesians that “Father of glory may give to you the Spirit of wisdom…” (Eph 1:17). God pours out His Spirit upon the Church in order that we might become more wise.

So how does the Spirit grow us in wisdom, how does He impart His wisdom to us? One of the chief ways He does so is through instruction in the Word of God including the Proverbs of Solomon. The Proverbs guide and teach us that we might be full of wisdom; that we might govern our lives in a way that glorifies and honors our Creator and Redeemer, the Lord of hosts. So today Solomon gives us one of the evidences of wisdom: The wise in heart will receive commands, but a prating fool will fall.

There are two parts to Solomon’s exhortation. First, Solomon tells us that the Spirit of wisdom teaches the wise to receive commands. In the words of James, the brother of our Lord, the wise in heart is”quick to hear” (Jas 1:19). The wise in heart recognizes that God has created a world in which there are proper authorities – parents, elders, employers, bosses, governors, kings, etc. Hence, the wise in heart receives commands, he listens to what these authorities tell him and, so far as he is able, he honors and obeys them in the fear of God.

Solomon contrasts the wise in heart with the prating fool. Who is a prating fool? To “prate” is “to talk much and without substance”; it is to “talk tediously about something.” The prating fool, therefore, is one who is so fond of his own opinions and desires that he refuses to listen to others. He goes on and on and on and on, sure that he is the fount of wisdom, knowledge, and instruction. He is not, in James’ words, quick to hear and slow to speak. No, the prating fool is so fond of his own opinions that he refuses to listen to instruction and he will fall. Why? Because the prating fool is proud and God is opposed to the proud.

The wise in heart will receive commands, But a prating fool will fall. Solomon’s words have particular relevance for the young. One of the great temptations of youth – listen up you teens – is to refuse to listen to your parents and instead to blather on about your own opinions. “Mom, I shouldn’t have to walk the dog because it is Susie’s turn to walk the dog and it isn’t fair that I’m always walking the dog and sometime last week Georgie stole my pencil and I think that I sprained my ankle last night and…” That is an example of a prating fool. But the wise in heart knows that when mom gives a command, it is time to be quiet and obey.

But Solomon’s words apply not only to the young; they apply to all. Solomon tells us that the wise in heart is humble, the wise in heart knows how to submit. So, wives, do you receive the commands of your husband? He is your lawful authority, do you listen to him? Men, do you receive the commands of your employers, bosses, and elders? They are your lawful authorities, do you listen to them? You see the same temptations that confront teens, also confront you. Do you too make excuses for your pride, are you too a prating fool, or are you wise in heart, humble, and inclined to receive commands?

And so reminded that God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble, gives grace to those who receive commands, let us confess that we have often been proud and refused to receive commands. And as you are able, let us kneel before the Lord as we confess our sins. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

Venerate the Word of God

February 2, 2017 in Authority, Ecclesiology, John Calvin, Quotations, Word of God

“What has a Christian man to do with that prevaricating obedience, which, while the Word of God is licentiously contemned, yields its homage to human vanity? What has he to do with that contumacious and rude humility, which despising the majesty of God, only looks up with reverence to men? Have done with empty names of virtue, employed merely as cloaks for vice, and let us exhibit the thing itself in its true colors. Ours be the humility which, beginning with the lowest, and paying respect to each in his degree, yields the highest honor and respect to the Church, in subordination, however, to Christ the Church’s head; ours the obedience which, while it disposes us to listen to our elders and superiors, tests all obedience by the Word of God; in fine, ours the Church whose supreme care it is humbly and religiously to venerate the Word of God, and submit to its authority.”

John Calvin, Letter to Sadoleto, p. 75.

Revilers and the Kingdom of God

September 14, 2015 in Authority, Bible - NT - 1 Corinthians, Bible - NT - Acts, Bible - NT - Jude, Bible - OT - Exodus, Meditations, Sanctification
1 Corinthians 6:9–11 (NKJV)
9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
For the last several weeks we have taken a hiatus from our analysis of this text where Paul’s catalogues sins from which God in His grace and mercy has determined to free us through Christ. If we have truly believed in Christ and the Spirit has been poured out upon us, then these pernicious fruits will be uprooted and in their place the Spirit will begin to bear His fruit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control. Thus far we have considered the sins of fornication, idolatry, adultery, homosexuality, thievery, covetousness, and drunkenness. Today we speak of reviling. Revilers will not inherit the kingdom of God.
To revile is to reproach, to insult, or even to blaspheme. Moses commands us in Exodus 22:28, “You shall not revile God nor curse a ruler of your people.” Reviling, therefore, has particular reference to the authorities which God has placed in our lives – including, especially, God Himself. We are to treat our authorities with respect; in other words, we are not to revile them or treat them lightly.
When the Apostle Paul was on trial before the Sanhedrin, he began by protesting his innocence but the high priest ordered him to be struck on the mouth. Not knowing who had given the order, Paul reponded in anger, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! For you sit to judge me according to the law, and do you command me to be struck contrary to the law?” One the bystanders then demanded, “Do you revile God’s high priest?” Paul immediately corrected himself, “I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’” Note that Paul shows respect for the high priest’s office even though the high priest was acting unjustly.
Paul’s conduct reminds us that God takes authority seriously – authority in the home, in the church, and in civil society. Why? Because these authorities represent Him as the ultimate authority. Consequently, those who revile the authorities that God Himself has established in the world ultimately revile God.
God is no egalitarian – He is Himself the Ruler over the world. Hence, the world that He made reflects these layers of authority and we are called upon to respect them. We are to give honor to whom honor is due. Jude warns us that it is false teachers who “defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries” (8).
So what of you? Have you given due honor to the authorities God has placed in your life? Children, are you honoring your parents? Wives, are you honoring your husbands? Employees, are you honoring your employers? Christians, are you honoring your local elders and deacons? Citizens, are you honoring the civil authorities that God has placed over you? This is our calling.

Reminded that revilers shall not inherit the kingdom of God, let us confess that we often despise and insult the authorities He has placed in our lives. As you are able, let us kneel as we seek the Lord’s forgiveness.

False Prophets, Priests, and People

February 2, 2015 in Authority, Bible - OT - Jeremiah, Church History, Coeur d'Alene Issues, Confession, Homosexuality, Judgment, Meditations, Sexuality, Ten Commandments, Word of God
Jeremiah 5:30–31 (NKJV)
30 “An astonishing and horrible thing Has been committed in the land: 31 The prophets prophesy falsely, And the priests rule by their own power; And My people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end?
One of the reasons that it is critical for us to draw correct lines of parallel between the Old and New Testaments is that it equips us to understand the course of church history and our own moment in the story of redemption. In the history of the Church there are times of great blessing and growth – as in the days of King David and King Solomon – there are also times of judgment and shrinkage – as in the days of Jeremiah.
Jeremiah lived at a low point in Judah’s history. During his lifetime the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar besieged and destroyed Jerusalem including the temple. Jeremiah’s words today help illumine why God’s judgment was falling upon Judah: prophet, priest, and people had exchanged God’s Word for their own words; they had hardened themselves to the truth and embraced lies. Listen to Jeremiah: The prophets prophesy falsely – they speak not the words of God, not truth, but their own words, falsehood; the priests rule by their own power – not by God’s power but their own; and my people love to have it so – this is the sober finale, the people delighted in the deception practiced by prophet and priest. Leaders and people alike exchanged the truth of God for a lie. Consequently, God was judging Jerusalem.
We live in a day not unlike that of Jeremiah. Many of our prophets and priests – pastors and pastorettes in historically Christian churches – proclaim falsehoods and lies in the Name of God. They say that there are many ways to God; they say that Jesus was just a great man; they say that male and female are interchangeable; they say that God’s forgiveness makes holiness unnecessary; they say that homosexuality is acceptable to God; they say that we mustn’t judge unrighteousness or lawlessness. The prophets prophesy falsely, the priests rule by their own power, and my people love to have it so.
God’s assessment of this sin is found at the beginning of our text: An astonishing and horriblething has been committed in the land. Here we receive God’s twofold assessment of Judah’s sin. First, it is “astonishing” – hard to believe. After all, what can be more astonishing than to place one’s confidence in man rather than in God? God is eternal and unchangeable; His Word is sure and fixed, a solid and everlasting foundation. And man’s word? Fickle, unreliable, biased; subject to constant revision and change; influenced by the latte he had at breakfast and the paycheck coming next week. So it is astonishingto exchange God’s truth for man’s opinions.
But not only is it astonishing, it is also “horrible” – devastating in its results. In the end, what will all these lies profit? God sees infallibly the outcome of this sin: Jerusalem will be in ruins; many of the Israelites will die; and then they will stand before God to answer for their sin. Their exchange of the truth of God for a lie is not only astonishing but also horrible.
So here’s the challenge Jeremiah gives you: whose voice do you want to hear? Don’t be surprised that there are many voices, even among priest and prophets, articulating opinions contrary to God’s Word. This has happened before among our people. So don’t be surprised; but do be warned: God is calling you, in the midst of these unfaithful voices, to hear and obey His voice. Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as our fathers did. Determine to understand and submit to God’s Word, God’s wisdom. Have no problem texts; bow before the Lord and seek His grace and mercy to understand and to apply His Word aright.

Reminded of our sinful propensity as God’s people to reject God’s Word and replace it with our own; reminded that many in our day have done this very thing; let us confess our individual and corporate sin to the Lord and petition Him to have mercy upon us; and since we are confessing our sins, let us kneel in humility before our Lord.

True Representation

December 18, 2009 in Authority, Bible - NT - Hebrews, Children, Meditations

Hebrews 2:10-13 (NKJV)
10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For both [Jesus] who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of [One Father], for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 saying: “I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.” 13 And again: “I will put My trust in Him.” And again: “Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.”

One of the lessons we learn from children is that they are under authority, entrusted by God to the care of others. Their position in their homes is entirely a matter of God’s Providence. He put them there; He gave them their parents; He instructs them to honor and obey their parents under Him. What this means is that their health and well-being are dependent on the conduct of those placed over them. So those placed over them need to understand their task.

Fortunately, we are not left adrift with no awareness of what we are called to do. Our Lord has revealed our responsibility throughout His Word and has exhibited it for all to see in the life of Christ. What then is our task?

Our text today informs us, in short, that our responsibility is to bring our children to maturity. We do this in imitation of our Heavenly Father whose goal is to bring us to maturity, to bring us – as our text today says – to glory. So how does our Father bring us to maturity?

First, note that He appoints a representative over us, our Lord Jesus Christ. And this, parents, is our position in regard to our children. God has placed us there, in a position of authority, as His representative. What this means, is that we are there to do His work in the lives of our children not our own.

Second, note the three things that Jesus does as our representative: He identifies with us, He gives us an example to follow, and He takes responsibility for us.

So, first, He identifies with us. Jesus declares, “I will declare Your Name to My brethren.” Though infinitely superior to us in His Person, Jesus calls us His brothers, treats us as His equals. And this is an important reminder to us parents in regard to our children. Though God has placed us in a position of authority over them, at the most fundamental level our children are our brethren – fellow creatures called to worship and adore the Living God.

And this leads us to the second task of representatives – we are to set an example for those under us. Jesus declares, “’I will declare Your Name to My brethren, In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You,’ and again, “I will put My trust in Him.” Jesus sets an example for us in two ways. He leads us in the corporate worship of God and He teaches us to trust God. And here we come to our second duty as parents. Our duty is not only to identify with our children, but to demonstrate to them what it means to worship the Triune God in company with His people, and what it means to trust Him. We are called to bring them, to bring our children, to glory, to maturity – and the height of maturity and glory is to love and worship God Himself.

Finally, Jesus as our representative, takes full responsibility for us. “Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.” He is the captain of our salvation, taking our sins as his own, making our progress in grace His own business. It is He who sanctifies us. In other words, Jesus doesn’t treat us as alien from Him; doesn’t say, “Well there they are and those problems are theirs.” He brings us along with Him by taking responsibility for us. “Christian,” he says, “you are Mine; follow Me!” And so what is our calling as parents? It is, like Joshua of old, to declare, “As for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord.” This is who we are; God has put me in charge here; I am going to lead this family as God’s representative.

So parents how are we doing? The health of our children has been entrusted to us. Are we being faithful stewards of that trust? Are we identifying with our children, treating them fundamentally as our equals? Are we setting an example of glory before them, being passionate about corporate worship and trusting in the Living God? Are we assuming responsibility for the state of our homes, bringing our children to glory, to maturity?

Reminded that so often we fail to measure up to the example set by our Lord Jesus Christ, that we often fail to do what we are called to do as His representatives, let us kneel and ask His forgiveness.

Those in Authority

September 29, 2008 in Authority, Bible - NT - Titus, Discipline, Meditations

Titus 2:15-3:2 (NKJV)15 Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you. 1 Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.

Authority is not a popular subject in the Church today. We talk frequently of love and kindliness, of patience and longsuffering, of compassion and sympathy, but rarely of authority. As this text in Titus makes clear, however, Paul had so such inhibitions. He spoke quite freely of different authorities and our responsibility to them.

In the text today, Paul speaks quite frankly with Titus about his duty as an officer in the Church, his duty as one in authority, and about the duty of the congregation, their duty as those under authority.

So what is Titus’ duty as one in authority? He is commissioned by Paul to speak the truth, to exhort the people of God, to rebuke them with all authority, and to remind them of their duty. Paul commands Titus to let no one despise him. In other words, if Titus were to allow someone to despise him, he would be sinning. What does Paul mean “to despise”? The Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament remarks that to despise in this context means “ to refuse to recognize the force or power of something—‘to invalidate the authority of, to reject, to disregard.’” It is the last sense of this word to which I want to draw your attention. If Titus were to allow someone to disregard his authority, rightfully delegated to him by God through the laying on of hands, then he would be sinning.

The same thing goes for others in positions of authority. Whether parents, employers, magistrates, or babysitters – those who have been entrusted with a measure of authority must exercise that authority. They must use that authority for the benefit of those under their charge and the glory of the one who gave them the authority in the first place. What does it look like to use this authority?

Well, Paul gives us some pointers. At the very least it involves instruction and exhortation. Titus is to remind the members of the congregation of their duty. He is to remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to show all humility to all men. He is to plead with folks to do what is right, to admonish them and beseech them to act in such a way that it adorns the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.

But what if this fails? What if Titus admonishes and exhorts and pleads with a brother or sister and he still doesn’t listen, he rebels and refuses to acknowledge Titus’ authority? Once again we come to Paul’s words – “let no one despise you.” Let no one, Titus, disregard your authority. As any parent or magistrate knows – when you lay down the law and then fail to discipline when the law is broken, you get more disobedience. And so Paul exhorts Titus later in the letter:

“Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned” (3:10-11).

If folks failed to give heed to the voice of authority vested in Titus as an officer of the Church, then Titus was to proceed to discipline the fellow as any good parent would.

Notice, then, that Titus’ duty as one in authority is to use that authority for the building up of the body and the instruction of those under his charge. Simultaneously, the duty of those under authority is to honor the authorities that God has placed over them, showing all good fidelity and being well-pleasing in all things. This is the ideal relationship. Those in authority looking out for those under authority and those under authority honoring those in authority.

Unfortunately, this ideal relationship is often not the real relationship. As those in authority we frequently abdicate our responsibility and fail to shepherd those entrusted to us. As those under authority we frequently kick against the goads and disregard those who have been entrusted with our care. Reminded of our sin, let us kneel and confess it to the Lord.