Ephesians 4:7-16; Enumerated powers of wisdom.

Class Outline:

Thursday August 5, 2021

Having wisdom is vital for mankind to successfully exist in a society in this world. The amount of divine morality that an unbeliever can know is vital to his living in a certain harmony and prosperity in his own societies. When things happen, as they have in the modern West that many people throw off God’s definition of good and evil (say in marriage and criminal/civil law) and their only overriding desire is for inner personal happiness and a sense of psychological well-being, they may like to think they believe in good and bad, but these concepts are unhitched from God and merely reflect personal preference. No society can sustain itself if that view is too prevalent.


The believer is to have all of the wisdom that the unbeliever should have, and much more through an intimacy with God is life, coming to know Him, sharing in His very life through the work of Christ.


Still, the wisdom of God given to man has its limits.


Solomon searched for “all” under the sun.

Job searched for “all” beyond the sun.


Solomon writing Ecclesiastes didn’t understand his world when he attempted to unravel all of its idiosyncrasies. Job didn’t understand what was happening to him. Solomon wanted to know all that happened under the sun. Job wanted to know all that happened beyond the sun. Both made the mistake of wanting to know all.


Both of them needed to apply the truth that God is faithful to all His covenant promises and is in complete control of every moment in history, and put their faith in that, knowing that as smart as each of them were, they couldn’t remotely figure it out.


“We may say that a man faced with the unknown has the sense of being ignorant. But the man faced with mystery is not properly described as ignorant. He is aware of being humbled and awe-inspired. He becomes aware of his finiteness.” [William Hordern, Speaking of God: The Nature and Purpose of Theological Language]


1KI 3:12

Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you.


Solomon was blessed by God with wisdom (chokmah; 1KI 3:12) and with it he explored the ins and outs of God’s world. He put his energy into discovering the truth of everything, but wisdom in man was never designed for this.


Wisdom Herself shows us what we should know and what we can’t know and shouldn’t pursue.


One of the concepts applied to the government under the US Constitution is enumerated powers, which means that the government can only do what the Constitution says it can do, and if something comes up that is not addressed by the Constitution, then the government can do nothing. This concept made some reject the Bill of Rights because they state what the government can’t do. Proverbs has a certain enumerated power structure. What wisdom doesn’t tell us to know, we don’t need to know and shouldn’t vigorously pursue.


A note of caution: We should pursue knowledge of God and man and our world. We should not have a mind that lacks curiosity or adventure or discovery. CS Lewis in his book The Horse and His Boy, uses the character Shasta (the boy), to show that even the practical ways of his life could not stop him from thirsting to know and experience the far away place to the north. The north was a place, as in many adventurous stories, where no one ever went and he was never allowed to go himself. He would ask his father, “O my Father, what is there beyond that hill?” to which his father would reply, “O my son, do not allow your mind to be distracted by idle questions. For one of the poets have said, ‘Application to business is the root of prosperity, but those who ask questions that do not concern them are steering the ship of folly towards the rock of indigence (poverty).’ Shasta thought that beyond the hill there must be some delightful secret which his father wished to hide from him. In reality, however, the fisherman talked like this because he didn’t know what lay to the North. Neither did he care. He had a very practical mind.” Shasta did eventually go, but little did he know that it would lead him to a Person more so than a place, “the Lion.”


My note of caution is not to be like Shasta’s father, and pursue all knowledge from God, but also do fall into the error of Solomon and Job. Know that when wisdom tells you that you cannot know, you humble yourself and sit awe inspired before the mystery and in faith know that God will work out all His good pleasure.


Solomon and Job violated the law of enumerated power of Wisdom.


We also must understand that Ecclesiastes is written after the Preacher came to understand the emptiness of his quest. And we must be glad that he pursued it, for he saves us all a trip. If wise Solomon, with all the material and human resources at his disposal, could not discover “all that has been done under heaven,” then we don’t have a chance.


ECC 8:16-17

When I gave my heart to know wisdom and to see the task which has been done on the earth (even though one should never sleep day or night), 17 and I saw every work of God, I concluded that man cannot discover the work which has been done under the sun. Even though man should seek laboriously, he will not discover; and though the wise man should say, "I know," he cannot discover.


Pursuits of pleasure and aesthetic joys; even the best pursuits will satisfy us only in passing. Wisdom is better than folly, but all die. Earthly pursuits are a zero-sum game. Evil is an obstinate fact - we will never be rid of it. Envy attends success; the money-fixation makes the lonely tycoon a pathetic and pointless figure; vanity sustains a fool too long in office (Ecc 4). In the place of justice there is wickedness. On the side of the oppressors is power. Society is structured to benefit these very injustices.


Also, don’t think the entire book is gloomy and of ungodly perspective. The rays of truth appear in several places throughout the twelve chapters. Along the way, these show us that the Preacher is not a nihilist. We are shown the godly hope that he recognizes at various points along the away.


Solomon shows us what wisdom is not for.


ECC 1:12-13

I, the Preacher, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 And I set my mind to seek and explore by wisdom concerning all that has been done under heaven.


Many think that “under heaven” is the problem of his search, but I’m not so sure, as if wisdom has no earthly application. Wisdom is for life in marriage, relationships, money, sex, and work, which are all under heaven. It is also for spirituality, which is lived under heaven though spirituality is of heaven.


The problem for Solomon wasn’t so much that he was looking under heaven, but that he concerned himself with “all” that has been done under heaven.


Solomon’s mistake was that he was attempting to unravel things under heaven that God never asked man to do. We can look and wonder, but we can’t go very far.


That doesn’t mean that we cannot investigate our world; we can, but we can only go so far. Scientific discoveries concerning our natural world, human medicine, and technology that has fed and protected more people by far than in all history have been mostly of great benefit to us all physically. We could argue as to which of these discoveries have benefited man and which have hurt him. Besides the ramifications, it’s just plain fun to explore our world. But Solomon did more than this. Solomon sought to find patterns of human behavior that could always give predictable results. In essence, he sought to know the workings and behavior of humans, which contain a great number of variables, as God knows them. Have any of us been able to predict the outcomes of the various situations in our own life? How could we do so for all the people of the world?


Job’s mistake was that he demanded to know all the ways of God. While we can know what He reveals, we cannot know what He doesn’t.


Solomon sought all the ways under the sun. Job demanded to know all the ways above the sun. Their problem was in the word “all” and not necessarily where they were looking.


The following are just a sampling. I recommend you read through the book and put yourself in Job’s place.


JOB 3:11

"Why did I not die at birth,

Come forth from the womb and expire?


JOB 3:20-23

"Why is light given to him who suffers,

And life to the bitter of soul;

21 Who long for death, but there is none,

And dig for it more than for hidden treasures;

22 Who rejoice greatly,

They exult when they find the grave?

23 "Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden,

And whom God has hedged in?


JOB 6:8-9

"Oh that my request might come to pass,

And that God would grant my longing!

9 "Would that God were willing to crush me;

That He would loose His hand and cut me off!


JOB 7:17-21

"What is man that Thou dost magnify him,

And that Thou art concerned about him,

18 That Thou dost examine him every morning,

And try him every moment?

19 "Wilt Thou never turn Thy gaze away from me,

Nor let me alone until I swallow my spittle?

20 "Have I sinned? What have I done to Thee,

O watcher of men?

Why hast Thou set me as Thy target,

So that I am a burden to myself?

21 "Why then dost Thou not pardon my transgression

And take away my iniquity?

For now I will lie down in the dust;

And Thou wilt seek me, but I will not be."


Wisdom is for the ways of the spiritual life, faithful to God’s commands and promises revealed, and it cannot probe farther.


JOB 42:1-6

Then Job answered the Lord, and said,


2 "I know that Thou canst do all things,

And that no purpose of Thine can be thwarted.

3 'Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?'

"Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand,

Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know."

4 'Hear, now, and I will speak;

I will ask Thee, and do Thou instruct me.'

5 "I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear;

But now my eye sees Thee;

6 Therefore I retract,

And I repent in dust and ashes."