The Review and Herald


April 17, 1888

Divine Wisdom


As Paul journeyed from Berea, he stopped at Athens to await the arrival of Silas and Timotheus; and “his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him. Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoics, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.” The philosophers who entered into conversation with the apostle were soon convinced that his knowledge exceeded their own. He was competent to meet their opposition on their own ground, matching logic with logic, learning with learning, philosophy with philosophy, and oratory with oratory. RH April 17, 1888, par. 1

At the close of his labors he looked for the results of his work. Out of the large assembly that had listened to his eloquent words, only three had been converted to the faith. He then decided that from that time he would maintain the simplicity of the gospel. He was convinced that the learning of the world was powerless to move the hearts of men, but that the gospel was the power of God unto salvation. RH April 17, 1888, par. 2

Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” He declares, “For Christ sent me ... to preach the gospel; not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness; but unto us which are saved, it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” RH April 17, 1888, par. 3

The great and essential knowledge is the knowledge of God and his word. Peter exhorted his brethren to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” There should be a daily increasing of spiritual understanding; and the Christian will grow in grace, just in proportion as he depends upon and appreciates the teaching of the word of God, and habituates himself to meditate upon divine things. RH April 17, 1888, par. 4

All pride of opinion and dependence upon the wisdom of this world is unprofitable and vain. When men, instead of humbly receiving the truth of God in whatever way it may be sent to them, begin to criticise the words and manners of the messenger, they are manifesting their lack of spiritual perception, and their want of appreciation for the truth of God, which is of vastly more importance than the most cultured and pleasing discourse. One critical speech, disparaging the messenger of God, may start a train of unbelief in some mind that will result in making of none effect the word of truth. Those who have a constant struggle to cherish humility and faith, are far from being benefited by this course. Anything like pride in learning, and dependence upon scientific knowledge, which you place between your soul and the word of the Bible, will most effectually close the door of your heart to the sweet, humble religion of the meek and lowly Jesus. RH April 17, 1888, par. 5

The world's Redeemer did not come with outward display, or a show of worldly wisdom. Men could not see beneath the disguise of humility, the glory of the Son of God. He was “despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” He was to them as a root out of dry ground, with no form or comeliness that they should desire him. But he declared, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.” RH April 17, 1888, par. 6

Christ reached the people where they were. He presented the plain truth to their minds in the most forcible and simple language. The humble poor, the most unlearned, could comprehend, through faith in him, the most exalted truths of God. No one needed to consult the learned doctors as to his meaning. He did not perplex the ignorant with mysterious inferences, or use unaccustomed and learned words, of which they had no knowledge. The greatest teacher the world has ever known, was the most definite, simple, and practical in his instruction. RH April 17, 1888, par. 7

While priests and rabbis were assuring themselves of their competency to teach the people, and to cope even with the Son of God in expounding doctrine, he charged them with ignorance of the Scriptures or the power of God. It is not the learning of the world's great men that opens the mysteries of the plan of redemption. The priests and rabbis had studied the prophecies, but they failed to discover the precious proofs of the Messiah's advent, of the manner of his coming, of his mission and character. Men who claimed to be worthy of confidence because of their wisdom, did not perceive that Christ was the Prince of life. RH April 17, 1888, par. 8

The rabbis looked with suspicion and contempt upon everything that did not bear the appearance of worldly wisdom, national exaltation, and religious exclusiveness; but the mission of Jesus was to oppose these very evils, to correct these erroneous views, and to work a reformation in faith and morals. He attracted attention to purity of life, to humility of spirit, and to devotion to God and his cause, without hope of worldly honor or reward. He must divest religion of the narrow, conceited formalism which made it a burden and a reproach. He must present a complete, harmonious salvation to all. The narrow bounds of national exclusiveness must be overthrown; for his salvation was to reach to the ends of the earth. He rejoiced in spirit, as he beheld the poor of this world eagerly accepting the precious message which he brought. He looked up to heaven, and said, “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.” RH April 17, 1888, par. 9

It is the humble in heart that receive the enlightenment of heaven, that is more precious than the boasted wisdom of the world. By faith in the Son of God a transformation takes place in the character. The child of wrath becomes the child of God. He passes from death unto life. The infinite sacrifice of the Son of God is a propitiation for the transgressions of the repenting sinner. He becomes spiritual, and discerns spiritual things. The wisdom of God enlightens his mind, and he beholds wondrous things out of God's law. This salvation which offers pardon to the transgressor, presents to him the righteousness that will bear the scrutiny of the omniscient One, gives victory over the powerful enemy of God and man, provides eternal life and joy for its receiver, and may well be a theme of rejoicing to the humble who hear thereof and are glad. RH April 17, 1888, par. 10

It is the completeness of salvation that gives it its greatness. No man can measure or understand it by worldly wisdom. It may be contemplated with the most profound and concentrated study, but the mind loses itself in the untraceable majesty of its Author; but the soul united with God in meditation of his unfathomable riches, is expanded, and becomes more capable of comprehending to a greater depth and height, the glories of the plan of salvation. As the heart is converted to the truth, the work of transformation goes on. From day to day the Christian has an increased measure of understanding. In becoming a man of obedience to the word and will of God, his abilities develop and strengthen to comprehend, and to do with increased skill and wisdom, the requirements of God. The mind devoted unreservedly to God, under the guidance of the divine Spirit develops generally and harmoniously. The weak, vacillating character becomes changed through the power of God to one of strength and steadfastness. Continual devotion and piety establish so close a relation between Jesus and his disciple that the Christian becomes like him in mind and character. After association with the Son of God, the humble follower of Christ is found to be a person of sound principle, clear perception, and reliable judgment. He has a connection with God, the source of light and understanding. He who longed to be of service to the cause of Christ, has been so quickened by the life-giving rays of the Sun of righteousness, that he has been enabled to bear much fruit to the glory of God. RH April 17, 1888, par. 11

Men of the highest education and accomplishments have learned the most precious lessons from the precept and example of the humble follower of Christ, who is designated as “unlearned” by the world. But could men look with deeper insight, they would see that these humble men had obtained an education in the highest of all schools, even in the school of the divine Teacher, who spake as never man spake. Those who desire to be all that God intended man should be in this life, should enter the school of Christ, and learn of Him who is meek and lowly of heart. RH April 17, 1888, par. 12

But let no one imagine that we would discourage education, or put a low estimate upon the value of mental culture and discipline. God would have us students as long as we remain in this world, ever learning and bearing responsibility. We should be diligent and apt, and ready to teach others by precept and example that which we have learned; but no one should set himself as a critic to measure the usefulness and influence of his brother, who has had few advantages in obtaining book knowledge. He may be rich in a rarer wisdom. He may have a practical education in the knowledge of the truth. Says the psalmist, “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” It is not the mere reading of the word, not a theoretical knowledge of the Scriptures, that gives this light and understanding to the simple. Had this been the case, Jesus would not have said to the Jews, “Ye know not the Scriptures, neither the power of God.” The wisdom spoken of by the psalmist is that which is attained when the truth is opened to the mind and applied to the heart by Spirit of God; when its principles are wrought into the character by a life of practical godliness. Through a connection with God the Christian will have clearer and broader views, unbiased by his own preconceived opinions. His discernment will be more penetrative, his judgment more balanced and far-seeing. His understanding, summoned to effort, has been exercised in contemplating exalted truths, and as he obtains heavenly knowledge he better understands his own weakness, and grows in humility and faith. RH April 17, 1888, par. 13

It is the Spirit of God that quickens the lifeless faculties of the soul to appreciate heavenly things, and attracts the affections toward God and the truth. Without the presence of Jesus in the heart, religious service is only dead, cold formalism. The longing desire for communion with God soon ceases when the Spirit of God is grieved from us; but when Christ is in us the hope of glory, we are constantly directed to think and act in reference to the glory of God. The questions will arise, “Will this do honor to Jesus? Will this be approved of by him? Shall I be able to maintain my integrity if I enter into this agreement?” God will be made the counselor of the soul, and we shall be led into safe paths, and the will of God will be made the supreme guide of our lives. This is heavenly wisdom, imparted to the soul by the Father of light, and it makes the Christian, however humble, the light of the world. RH April 17, 1888, par. 14