Friday, January 11, 2008

For the Waywardness of the Naïve Will Kill Them

20 Wisdom shouts in the street, She lifts her voice in the square; 21 At the head of the noisy {streets} she cries out; At the entrance of the gates in the city she utters her sayings: 22 "How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded? And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing And fools hate knowledge? 23 "Turn to my reproof, Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you. 24 "Because I called and you refused, I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention; 25 And you neglected all my counsel And did not want my reproof; 26 I will also laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your dread comes, 27 When your dread comes like a storm And your calamity comes like a whirlwind, When distress and anguish come upon you. 28 "Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently but they will not find me, 29 Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the LORD. 30 "They would not accept my counsel, They spurned all my reproof. 31 "So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way And be satiated with their own devices. 32 "For the waywardness of the naive will kill them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them. 33 "But he who listens to me shall live securely And will be at ease from the dread of evil." (Proverbs 1:20 – 33)

Praise God that His Word is not trivial or able to be fully grasped or understood by reading it once. My daily reading of the Scriptures had me read the final verses of the first chapter of Proverbs where a condemnation of death and destruction is decreed on those who are complacent fools or waywardly naïve. It was the harshness of the language of this section of Proverbs that shocked me. I am sure that I’ve read this passage before, but I must say that I was taken aback.

How can God, who is the supreme embodiment of love and mercy (among other attributes), declare that He will laugh at and mock those who have scorned Him when their calamity comes? Furthermore, how can it be that someone who seeks diligently for God will not find Him? This seems to run contrary to what we know and understand about the gospel of Jesus Christ. It may seem contrary or contradictory, but I trust that the God of all truth is able to communicate His message without contradicting Himself. And if that is the case, how then could it be that someone will seek God and not find Him? God’s Word, of course, provides us with the answer to this dilemma.
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. (Hosea 4:6)

Too often today, and to a fault, I believe that the gospel message is dumbed-down to seemingly the lowest common denominator. This is done with purposing that the most people can hear it and then they, being unoffended by it, can agree with the message and call themselves Christians. The problem with this sort of presentation is that when you cut out the offensiveness of the gospel, you also cut out the effectiveness of the gospel. Or, stated another way, it becomes something other than the gospel and then cannot save anyone. In no way do I want to make the gospel more complicated than it is or intentionally make it convoluted, but we cannot boil it down to something that is less than the bare essentials or water it down so much that it removes the sharp bite of a necessary ingredient.

So, how can it be that someone who calls on God or who is seeking Him diligently will not find Him or will not be heard? Well, if that same person doesn’t know who they’re calling on or seeking, they’re not going to find God. It is one of the greatest sins against the masses of lost and ungodly people that a Christian preacher can commit when he neglects the Law of God and doesn’t make it plain who God is in the fullness of how He has revealed Himself to us in the Bible. In other words, we do not preach the gospel if we do not make a firm declaration about the incarnation, by means of the virgin birth, of the uncreated and eternal Christ. We do not preach the gospel for it to be believed if there is no talk about the mystery of the Triune Godhead. We do not preach the gospel of salvation if we do not preach the just penalty of sin at the hands of the Almighty who cannot tolerate sin in His midst.

Preachers will have a lot to be accountable for before God. Make no mistake about that. However, with that being said, not all of the blame lies with the preachers. God has saw fit to preserve for Himself some faithful preachers and believers, unfortunately probably not a majority of ministers even among those inside of Christendom, throughout history who thunder about the Law and about God’s just wrath at sinful man while, at the same time, they speak softly, gently, and lovingly about the great mercy and grace God our Savior. They preach salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone which brings about good works and a changed life as evidence of true salvation. The problem here lies not with the preacher, but with the hearer. How many church going people, however regularly they attend or how involved they are, have heard the message of the cross time and time again but have never been changed by Christ nor have they been born again by the Spirit? It is not because of a lack of knowledge that these people will be condemned, but because they act as “simple-minded” and live out their lives in the “complacency of fools” by not repenting of their sins and placing their faith in Christ that they will be lost.

Do not tarry and do not let the message of the cross go in one ear and out the other without letting it sit and soak into your heart. Do not shun the fear of the Lord or the call of the gospel! Listen and hear what God has said. Do not assume that you will be able to repent and believe in Christ tomorrow, for tomorrow may never come. Do not take comfort in the fact that you know so much about God and the gospel when it has not yet transformed your very being nor changed your desires. And do not neglect to learn about the God of the Bible and who He really is, for if you do not know who to call on, you will not be calling on the only true God when your life is in crisis and you are desperately seeking salvation.

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