by Mike Ratliff
16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. (James 1:16-17 NASB)
With Brian McLaren and his followers showing their true colors 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 creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. (2 Corinthians 5:17 NASB)
This means we are not destined to the spiritual ignorance and blindness with which we were born, 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 are ignorant of God’s wisdom from above knowing only human wisdom.
From where does the wisdom come in which all genuine Christians are to know, believe and walk?
13 Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. 18 And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3:13-18 NASB)
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 from the NA28 Greek text.
13 Τίς σοφὸς καὶ ἐπιστήμων ἐν ὑμῖν; δειξάτω ἐκ τῆς καλῆς ἀναστροφῆς τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ ἐν πραΰτητι σοφίας. (James 3:13 NA28)
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good conduct his deeds in meekness of wisdom. (James 3:13 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
The “wise,” the σοφὸς, 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 σοφὸς. These would also be ἐπιστήμων 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 πραΰτητι σοφίας, or meekness of wisdom. Jesus said in Matthew 5:5, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth,” “μακάριοι οἱ πραεῖς, ὅτι αὐτοὶ κληρονομήσουσιν τὴν γῆν.” Here we have the word πραεῖς describing those who live and minister according to πραΰτητι. Πραΰτητι 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.
21 Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. (James 1:21 NASB)
In other words, this is what real repentance looks like. The πραεῖς 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, man’s wisdom, 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.
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four- footed animals and crawling creatures. (Romans 1:18-23 NASB)
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, man’s wisdom which is earthly, unscriptural, and demonic.
Soli Deo Gloria!