The Wisdom From Above

by Mike Ratliff

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:16-17 ESV)

With Brian McLaren and his followers showing their true colors recently proclaiming that they are working to recreate the Church, to bring in a new form of Christianity, we must go back to the root of the matter. We must show what truth is and what it is not. Yes, we are in a post-modern culture that is relativistic, but that does not mean that we have to succumb to that fatal disease. If we are in Christ then we are new creations–Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV)—This means we are not destined to the spiritual ignorance and blindness that we were born with, but have been changed through the washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5) being resurrected from spiritual death unto reconciliation and renewal of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we have the freedom in Christ to know the truth, hold the truth, believe the truth, and stand firmly within it in His power as He sustains us and keeps us from succumbing to the lies and spiritual mediocrity of this lost and dying world and the charlatans who profess to be Christian theologians, but who know only human wisdom. 

Where does the wisdom come from that all genuine Christians are to know, believe and walk in?

Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3:13-18 ESV)

Look at the contrasts in this passage. Those who preach and teach the truth according to God’s wisdom received it from above. That is, it is the Word of God, the Bible. If we minister within this wisdom, we sow the seeds of righteousness and peace. We will possess God’s wisdom from above and from that we will be pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. However, the main attribute we will possess and exhibit if we are working within God’s wisdom is meekness of wisdom (v13). This is the attribute elevated by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 5:5 as a primary Christian virtue. Here is v13 in Koine Greek.

13τις σοφος και επιστημων εν υμιν δειξατω εκ της καλης αναστροφης τα εργα αυτου εν πραυτητι σοφιας (James 3:13 WHNU)

Who (τις) wise (σοφος) and (και) understanding (επιστημων) in (εν) in you (υμιν)? Let show (δειξατω) from (εκ) the (της) good (καλης) behavior (αναστροφης) the (τα) works (εργα) of him (αυτου) in (εν) gentleness (πραυτητι) of wisdom (σοφιας). (James 3:13 word-for-word translation from Koine Greek to English)

The “wise,” the σοφος, are watchmen. This word is used to signify one who knows how to regulate his course according to the will of God. These are Christians who are prudent, sensible, and judicious. In other words, these are believers who know God’s truth and live and minister within it. These are the wise, the σοφος. These would also be επιστημων or endued with knowledge. These believers know the Word of God and through that knowledge, they know God’s truth and are able to discern what is not. These believers live and minister within this wisdom and understanding and are, therefore, exhibiting godly behavior and works that are the fruit of πραυτητι σοφιας, or meekness of wisdom. Jesus said in Matthew 5:5, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth,” “μακαριοι οι πραεις οτι αυτοι κληρονομησουσιν την γην.” Here we have the word πραεις describing those who live and minister according to πραυτητι. Πραυτητι is expressed not in a believer’s outward behavior only nor in his or her relations to others or their mere natural disposition. No, it is expressed rather as an inwrought grace of the soul, first and chiefly directed toward God as seen in James 1:21.

Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. (James 1:21 ESV)

In other words, this is what real repentance looks like. The πραεις live within the attitude of spirit in which he or she accepts God’s dealings with them and others as good and do not dispute or resist His will. This is the nature that those who know and live within the wisdom which comes from above. On the other hand, in contrast, those who minister and live within the wisdom that does not come from above are motivated by a jealous spirit and are full of selfish ambition. They lie or stretch the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes from God, but is earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. In other words, those who reject the Word of God as God’s truth are operating from a wisdom that does not come from Him, but is from the enemy.

Some may say that those who use their discernment to warn the Body of Christ about false teachers and false doctrine, et cetera, are not kind or gentle or meek. Was Jesus meek? Absolutely! How did he operate around the Pharisees? What about Paul, Peter, and John? How did they operate around false teachers and apostates? They rebuked them and warned the Body of Christ about them. That is within the bounds of this meekness of wisdom. The motive for the watchman in this is to obey God and bring people to repentance by warning them about their false doctrine, et cetera. In Romans 1:18-23 the Apostle Paul describes these people.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. (Romans 1:18-23 ESV)

Carefully read this passage my brethren. The bold part is vv21-22. The Greek word translated here as “they became fools” is εμωρανθησαν. The root of this word is μωραίνω, which is the source of our English word “moron.” This is not a description of stupid people. Even brilliant theologians can be μωραίνω. Those who reject God’s revealed Word of Truth as The Truth do not honor Him and so miss the whole purpose of life and are, therefore, fools. We see this in seminary professors who believe they have discovered the real purpose of the Church is to forget evangelism and become missional instead. That is, go into the world to do good works, to minister to the poor and make the world a better place. This theology (Natural Theology) assumes that there is no such thing as the doctrine of Total Depravity and that the primary mission of our Lord Jesus’ incarnation was not the purchase of His people by the shedding of His blood on the Cross. Even though parts of this “Natural Theology” sounds cool, it is not biblical. Therefore, it is doctrine based on a wisdom that is not from above, but is, instead, earthly, unspiritual, and demonic.

Soli Deo Gloria!

7 thoughts on “The Wisdom From Above

  1. Hi Mike,
    It is good to have you back! I hope you enjoyed your time off and that your grandson is doing well.
    If it is true that these that hold to Natural Theology do not believe in depravity (which the bible clearly says we are) or that Christ died to purchase his people by shedding His blood on the cross (as the bible clearly says He did) then why even seek to be called Christian? Is there another name one could use for this belief other than Christian? Because surely a Christian believes in Christ, trusts in Christ and believes who He is as He has revealed Himself in the word. Maybe they could just call themselves humanitarians and leave the term Christian for those who hold to the truths about Christ as revealed in the word and stop confusing people. The “work” that we are supposed to be doing is to believe in Him and believe all that is revealed about Him. The rest naturally follows.
    Thanks, Mike and God bless you today.


  2. Diane, you are exhibiting all the signs of a heart regenerated by God unto His wisdom and understanding. 🙂

    This is the point. The religion these people are espousing is not Christianity, but the religion according to man’s way of thinking.

    It was a good trip, but I am glad to be home and am seeking for God to draw me in close to His truth as He directs my path and gives me the truth and equips me with what I need to obey Him in standing firm in the Truth War.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff


  3. “Missional” as defined by the current so-called ‘church’ is works based arrogance. It is stuffed full of a condencending pride. The Apostles, as defined by the letters and accounts as recorded in the New Testament never once set up feeding stations, medical clinics, micro loans, armies to fight so-called ‘enemies’, corporations for salaried gains and good works before men and ‘political action commitees’ to sway thier country’s leaders or other countries’ leaders to act moral and ‘godly’.
    This is the biggest treadmill the ENEMY has so-called ‘christians’ on since the invention of the Roman Catholic religious system.
    I know many people who have been to foreign countries for all kinds of so-called ‘christian’ endeavours that never ONCE proclaimed nor obeyed the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Gospel of God!
    My stomach turns at the sheep following the world’s ‘pied pipers’ of the Devil and his fallen world plans.
    Christians wake up, be lead by the Spirit of God rather than decieved by the ‘vain traditions of men and the rudiments of this world’!
    The next time a ‘mission’ of a ‘purpose driven’ feeding station is set up or a so called medical clinic is erected, just simply stand there and softly but sternly proclaim the Gospel of God (the whole counsel as defined by Paul) and you will see who will throw you out of thier ‘synagogue / assembly’. It will be the “Christians” telling you ‘that is not why we are here’.
    Most are told not to tell people or mention ‘sin’ lest we offend the host country or the people. If the word ‘sin’ and ‘God’s wrath’ are not spoken, then the Gospel of the New Testament has been succesfully turned into a mission of flesh and a blanket of darkness has been held over the ‘captives’ so they will not see the Good News of God’s Redeemer shining forth His truth through those He alone has chosen. The hour has become more dark because ‘Chrisitians’ love thier idol of good deeds and the praises of men for all they are ‘doing’ rather than the glory of Christ and His redemtion of His chosen!
    The spiritually ‘luke warm’ will be spewed. God didn’t choose His people to do anything other than PROCLAIM and bring GLORY to Himself alone. SO BE IT.


  4. One more thing… Jesus ( God with Us) fed the multitudes after teaching them, then later rebuked them for following for the bread for thier bellies.
    That shows the importance that God placed on the perishable food in this life.


  5. Brent – I have often used that example from Jesus many times in discussions with people about this very topic. It really puts the whole thing in a nutshell very nicely….

    Mike – These posts have been so encouraging, especially since we have been encountering this false teaching all over the place, and not just as it comes from the pulpits and books of guys like McLaren, but coming from the mouths of many “regular” people we know. What seems so interesting to me is that many of them who are latching onto and espousing these ideas actually have little to no involvement with the whole “emergent” vein of teaching, but yet somehow it has filtered down to them anyway. I see this new teaching everywhere, as it seems to have found a way to be spread without actually being “taught” in the traditional sense. (even though it definitely is being taught more and more…) But many people don’t seem to adopt this approach after being consciously convinced by a sermon or teacher, but rather it’s more of a subconscious pull, that can come from a million different directions. That’s why this false teaching is so deceptive, so dangerous, because it preys on what can be legitimate concerns, but then subtly subverts the gospel by placing earthly matters over spiritual ones, (thereby denying the spirtual reality altogether…) I mean, it’s not that God doesn’t care about people’s physical needs, because He does, but He cares about our eternal destinies most of all! In all this I have begun to see the craftiness of the Enemy at work, as he is so bold as to take the words of Jesus when He says, “Love your neighbor”, and uses them in such a way that actually rejects the cross. It’s kind of incredible, in a disturbing sort of way….

    Anyhow, I’m rambling, just wanted to say thanks for the encouragement.

    In Christ, Daniel


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