So if you are in any way familiar with the Bible, let me ask you a question: what do you think is the most practical book?
Surely somewhere at the top of the list has to be the book of Proverbs.
Well I’m just beginning my journey through proverbs at the moment and five verses in, I came across this:
Proverbs 1:5 Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance
As I reflected on this verse I realized something that I never really saw in the book of proverbs before:
Wisdom is ‘sealed off’ from the fool because the fool is incapable of listening. Moreover, you can give all the guidance in the world to someone, but if they are not blessed with guidance, it is of no use.
To summarize, there is an enormous assumption that exists in the background here. What it is it?
That there is something outside of our power to attain which we first must be granted in order to even learn the the first thing about God and about life.
In other words, in our fallen state our ability to learn is not ‘natural’ but actually a gift.
Think about that; a gift. You can’t earn it. Can’t get it from studying. So there, education can’t solve all our problems.
Sovereign grace under-girds the book of proverbs, the most practical book in the bible. Maybe this is also a call to prayer as, particularly in a leadership context, it brings us to our knees to know that we cannot make one single correct decision without the grace of God.
But there’s more, a wonderful discovery to be had.
Religion typically works by obeying the rules, and learning doctrines. If you do that you are ‘in’ (to put it crudely). If there was a place in the bible that could be reduced down to mere religion it would be the book of proverbs.
In other words, if verses like this were not in this text, it would flatten out biblical faith into mere rule-following and doctrine memorization. Just like every religious system on the planet.
Please don’t miss this: when Jesus came to earth, he ‘copped it’ from the religious leaders of his day. NOT because he was abolishing the Old Testament, but because he was fulfilling it. In fulfilling it, the religious leaders were confronted with how they had turned God’s electrifying truth into……..religion.
If you delete the idea of sovereign grace (some call it election) from the Bible, Christianity becomes…..mere religion. With it however, it is the anti-religion, the truth that brings all religiosity to naught. Including the self-made, self-actualization religions of post-modern secularism.
In it’s difference to everything else, in my mind anyway, lays the greatest evidence as to biblical Christianity being the truth.
Even those practical book in the bible points out that you can;t really ‘get it’ unless to some measure you’ve been ‘given it’.
It humbles us, and offends our modern sense of personal rights. But my goodness, to those who realise what it implies…..
I cannot tell you the thrill of such an insight being revealed to me, not simply because it’s amazing but because the Holy Spirit that brooded over creation….saw fit to speak to me. Little insignificant, one in 7 billion me.
….and he’s ready to speak to you if you’ll ask him.
Maybe, there’s no accident that you’re reading this right now?
It’s not religion, it’s the truth.
It’s not technique it’s sovereign love.
It’s not about us, it’s about him.