Note: This post is part of an ongoing series of posts related to the attributes of God. Here are the links to the previous posts (Why Study the Attributes of God, The Holiness of God, The Power of God, The Presence of God, The Knowledge of God, The Fatherhood of God, The Love of God).
As we continue going through the series on the Attributes of God, in this post, we will be looking at the Wisdom of God also known as the Omnisapience of God (Latin – Omni means “all” and sapient means “wise”). In the conclusion of his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul writes, “to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.” Did you notice how he described God as the “only wise God.” Earlier in Romans 11:33, Paul praised God for his wisdom and knowledge in this manner, “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom [omnisapience] and knowledge [omniscience] of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!”
While we can never fully comprehend this attribute of God, let alone any other attribute of his, we will try to get a better understanding of it by asking and answering 4 questions: (1) What is the wisdom of God? (2) How does God display his wisdom? (3) How does God communicate his wisdom to us? (4) How can we know if we are growing in God’s wisdom?
1. What is the wisdom of God?
Knowledge refers to what one knows. Wisdom refers to the application of that knowledge. In the Bible, wisdom has an intellectual as well as a moral quality to it. So, when the Bible describes God as wise, this is what it is actually saying: An all-knowing [the intellectual side] God has the ability to choose the best and highest goals [the moral side] and the best means [the moral side] to achieve those goals in order to glorify himself the most.
In other words, the wisdom of God is the practical side of God’s knowledge, which when applied, achieves his desires in his ways that will glorify him the most. And whatever God in his wisdom has chosen to accomplish, he will accomplish it because he has the power to do so. Remember God is omnipotent, i.e. he has all power as we saw in an earlier post.
This is why Scripture often links the wisdom of God with the power of God. Here are certain examples.
Job 9:4 “His wisdom is profound, his power is vast. Who has resisted him and come out unscathed?”
Daniel 2:20 “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his.”
Romans 16:25, 27 “25 Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past… 27 to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.”
So, the wisdom of God is God having the ability [or power] to choose the best and highest goals and the best means to achieve those goals in order to glorify himself the most!
2. How does God display his wisdom?
We can see God’s wisdom displayed in at least 4 areas.
a. In Creation. We read in Psalm 104:24, “How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.” The arrangement of the entire universe, the unique way our bodies are created are all clear displays of God’s wisdom.
b. In Redemption. We read in 1 Corinthians 1:18, 25 these words, “18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God…25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” What Paul is essentially saying is this: The message of the cross is foolishness to those who do not believe―i.e. the “wise” of the world. Who would think of such a way to save people? Yet, to those who believe, they understand the wisdom of God through this message. God does it this way so that “no one may boast before him” [1 Cor 1:29]!
c. In the Church. When Paul preached the gospel to both the Jews and Gentiles, upon believing both these groups that were racially divided for centuries became as one unified body in Christ. Ephesians 3:6 says, “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.” And by bringing both these groups together, God fulfills his purpose, “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord” [Eph 3:10-11].
This means when we gather as a church even angels and demons see people from different racial, cultural, economic backgrounds come together as one body in Christ. This reveals God’s wisdom in a profound manner and ultimately brings glory to him.
d. In the Lives of Believers. When God created the entire universe, including humans, his desire was that they glorify and honor him. We are told in Revelation 4:11, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” Stated otherwise, we were created to have God as our sole treasure and object of love. Loving him with all of our hearts and minds and strength is the purpose of our existence.
However, due to the entrance of sin and its devastating effects, this purpose has been hindered―for a time! God, through the gospel, is working on bringing all things to himself in a way to achieve that original goal―the goal of all creation honoring him as he deserves. Included in that goal is the formation of a people for himself who will love, cherish and honor him above all things; the people known as his children―that is us, you and me! And that goal will be fully realized when we are all made like Jesus Christ. That is his goal for the believer. Here are a few texts that highlight this marvelous truth.
Romans 8:28-29 “28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”
1 Corinthians 15:49 “And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.”
Philippians 3:20-21 “20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”
So, God is working all events in our lives to bring us to the fulfillment of that ultimate reality―to be like his Son! The joys and the sufferings are all part of what a wise God uses to make us like Christ. If we fail to understand that ultimate end which God has planned for us, we will not gladly embrace his will―especially when we face trials!
Remember, even Christ was not exempt from suffering [Heb 2:10]! And we are to walk in his footsteps [1 John 2:6]! That is why we should be like Paul in responding to trials [2 Cor 12:7-10]. We must trust and yield to God’s ways because through ALL of our life situations, a wise God seeks to glorify himself by molding us into the image of Christ.
3. How does God communicate his wisdom to us?
Some of God’s attributes are incommunicable [e.g., Omnipotence, Omniscience, Eternality, etc.]. However, wisdom is a communicable attribute. How do we know this? Because the Bible says so! There are numerous commands in the Bible that call us to grow in wisdom. Majority of the book of Proverbs support this truth.
Proverbs 1:1-2 “1 The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: 2 for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight.”
Proverbs 4:5 “Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them.”
Proverbs 5:1 “My son, pay attention to my wisdom, turn your ear to my words of insight.”
The entire Proverbs 8 is wisdom personified. Not only Proverbs, other books in the Bible also mention this same idea.
Matthew 10:16 “be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”
Ephesians 5:15 “Be very careful, then, how you live―not as unwise but as wise.”
Paul frequently mentions praying for wisdom in the lives of other believers in his letters [Phil 1:9-11; Col 1:9]. So, it is clear that God wants to communicate this attribute of his to us. So, how do we receive it?
a. Realize our need for wisdom. What we have that we boast as wisdom, i.e., human wisdom is foolishness before God. We need to humbly recognize we don’t have wisdom that the Bible describes as wisdom. We should like Agur confess this to God, “2 Surely I am only a brute, not a man; I do not have human understanding. 3 I have not learned wisdom, nor have I attained to the knowledge of the Holy One” [Prov 30:2-3].
b. Realize God will give it to those who we ask him. Proverbs 2:6 assures us, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” However, when we ask, our asking should be marked with these 4 attitudes: (i) Fear of the Lord [Psa 11:10; Prov 1:7, 9:10]; (ii) Persistence [Prov 2:1-6]; (iii) Humility [Prov 11:2] and (iv) Faith [Jas 1:5 – especially in the context of trials].
When our asking is marked by these attitudes, we can be absolutely sure God will give wisdom to us. Why? Because such a desire indicates we seek to apply that wisdom so that God will be glorified. Not ourselves! And we can be absolutely certain that such an attitude pleases God and for such hearts, God will pour out his wisdom.
c. Realize God gives it through his Word. Scriptures alone reveal how we can be saved [2 Tim 3:15] and how we can be sanctified, i.e. grow in holiness [2 Tim 3:16, John 17:17, Acts 20:32, Deut 4:5-8, Psa 19:7, 119:11]. Without the word, we cannot grow in wisdom. That is why Jesus himself said that we “shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” [Matt 4:4].
In our day, it should be more like believers shall not live by social media or TV or internet alone, not even by the preaching of others alone, but by the very word of God directly taken in! One cannot grow in true wisdom apart from the Scriptures! Period! It is the Word as applied by the Holy Spirit that God uses in helping us to grow in wisdom. Of course, mere knowledge will not be of use. We must obey what God teaches us. If not, we are deceiving ourselves [Jas 1:22]!
So, 3 things to realize when it comes to how God communicates his wisdom to us: (a) Realize our need for wisdom. (b) Realize God will give it to those who we ask him. (c) Realize God gives it through his Word
4. How can we know if we are growing in God’s wisdom?
James 3:13-18 is a good test. “13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”
How does our life match with what James is saying? The answer to that will tell each of us if we are growing or not!
So, 4 questions related to wisdom asked and answered: 1. What is the Wisdom of God? 2. How does God display his wisdom? 3. How does God communicate his wisdom to us? 4. How can we know if we are growing in God’s wisdom?
As I said earlier, we can never fully understand God’s ways. Paul makes it clear to us in Romans 11:33: His ways are beyond our understanding! God also makes it clear to us through Isaiah. “8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.””
There will be times in our lives where we will not be able to understand why certain events happened to us or did not happen. It may seem hard to understand and follow God’s commands. What should be our response at such times? Here are some answers from the Scriptures:
Proverbs 3:5-6 “5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
1 Peter 4:19 “So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.”
Christian: Remember, God’s ultimate goal for you and me is to bring us to a state where we will fully be like his Son and thereby please him. When we forget this truth, we’ll have a hard time yielding to his will.
Friend: If you are not a believer or just playing the game of being a Christian, please remember, your wisdom is foolishness before God [Romans 1:21]. You need to turn to God’s wisdom as displayed on the cross. You need to turn from your own ways of living and trying to please God and turn to God’s way. And that way is by looking to his Son who lived your life and died in your place on the cross and rose again. Come to Christ “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” [Col 2:3]. Place your faith in him and follow him. That is the wisest thing you can ever do!