From the second lecture in the audio seminar Abounding Emptiness, Abundant Living
Paul in 1 Corinthians tells us that Christ has become for us the wisdom of God. And in this marvelous passage (from Cassier's new translation) he builds on that statement by saying this: “Consider my brothers how you were placed when the call came to you. Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many powerful. Not many wellborn. On the contrary. God has chosen what the world thinks foolish to put the wise to shame. God has chosen what the world thinks weak to put the strong to shame. God has chosen what the world ignoble and contemptible. Indeed, he has chosen which the world thinks of as being nothing so as to bring to nothing that which is. No human creature was to have any ground for boasting in the presence of God. It is his doing that your life is one in union with Christ Jesus and he is the one who has become wisdom to us. God willed it to be so. Jesus is He who is the Source of our righteous, our sanctification, of our redemption in order that it may be, as Scripture says, he who boasts, let him boast in the Lord.” God has given us wisdom in the person of Jesus. If any of you lacks wisdom says James, he should ask of God, who gives generously. James 1:5: “God also has promised to give us knowledge.” The knowledge spoken of here is not an intellectual acquisition of data about God; the knowledge spoken about here is an intimate relationship with God. To those who fear God, he gives wisdom and knowledge. Intimacy, companionship, fellowship, reconciliation. Paul continues this kind of comment in 2 Corinthians, if you like to look with me in chapter 4:6, “For God who said, let light shine out of darkness has made his light shine in our hearts to give us the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ...but we have this treasure in jars of clay, earthen vessels to show that the al surpassing power is from God and not from us. God in Jesus has given us knowledge of his glory. We behold it when we behold the face of Jesus.” So God has promised to give us wisdom and he has promised to give us knowledge. And he has done that by Jesus and by the Spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us and is called a Sprit of truth, that leads us into all truth and guides us and finally God says to those who please God, he will also give joy or happiness. With this point, we’ll conclude.
Did you know that one of the greatest deceptions of our day, and in fact it has really been universal in the history of man, is the deception that happiness is something that can be acquired by pursuing it? It’s a mirage. You never acquire happiness by pursuing it. It’s a byproduct of a purposeful life. There’s a parallel that is very prevalent today. We recently spoke on this whole issue of the philosophy and practices of the New Age. The in thing now is this whole issue of self-awareness, personal growth, coming to your full self-express. It’s an illusion. You never come to a sense of self-express by seeking it. In fact, the truth of the matter is just the opposite, to the extent that you seek it, you lose. But to the extent that you lose yourself for God’s sake, you find it. Self-transformation and maturity is very important but it occurs not as a as a result of seeking it but it occurs as a result of seeking God. As a result of being conformed to the image of Christ. Then, as a byproduct, it comes. It’s found as a byproduct, not as the thing itself. This is why, by the way, the preamble of the Kingdom of God is not “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” It’s “life, liberty and the pursuit of holiness.” That’s what our commission is. That is what our high calling is. And to the extent that we seek holiness, God gives us joy and happiness and the ability to enjoy life, even to enjoy a good Mexican dinner, amen. Even to able to enjoy the sun as it shines. Even to be able to look at a flower and marvel at the creative capacity of God. God is the one who give us this as we pursue holiness. We come into life and liberty.
There is this wonderful passage, Isaiah 12:2. Joy is a product of our salvation, it is not ours. It is God’s to give us. Chapter 12:1 - "I will praise you, O Lord... Surely God is my salvation, God is my Yeshua. I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song. He has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation." Joy is the water, the streams that flow from the salvation that is a gift of God. And verse 6, the prophet says, “Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.” And who is the Holy One of Israel? Even the demons had enough sense to recognize him when he came. He is the Holy One. And that is why he has given us a kingdom that Paul says in Romans, chapter 14, as my final scripture tonight; Paul says of this kingdom that Jesus has given us, the One who has brought God’s salvation to us. Chapter 14:17: “The Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteous, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men. The very thing Koheleth encouraged us to do. He who pleases God, God gives wisdom, knowledge and joy. He gives the gift of the ability to appreciate life and to live it abundantly. And once we come into this wisdom, this knowledge, and this joy, then we can begin to understand the all encompassing plan of God and that is the subject of section 2, beginning with chapter 3:1, which happens to be the subject of our next study together.
Father, how blessed, how greatly blessed we are to be part of the kingdom of God. To have a life in the Son, the only begotten Son, and not to be relegated to life under the sun. Help us, help us, help us, Lord, to appreciate the fact that you are the giver of every good gift, to take nothing for granted, our breath, our very existence is because of you, our shelter, our food, our daily provisions, all good things come from you. Increase in us the awareness of the appreciation of these things. Develop in us the wisdom, we ask you, Lord, according to James, we ask you for wisdom, for skill, in living that we may learn to enjoy more than ever before the goodness of life that you have given us. For apart from you, it is all meaningless, but in you, it is righteous, peace and joy. Thank you for that, Father, and let that awareness carry us into our existence, even on the morrow with greater eyes of appreciation and a greater heart full of thanksgiving. In the name of Jesus, we pray and sanctity your holy name. Amen.
* This is an audio transcript, listen to the original message here.