THE ATTRIBUTES OF GOD Lesson #9
The Wisdom of God Romans 16:27
We admire wisdom in men. We do not necessarily admire learning, education, or knowledge. But we do admire wisdom. We seek the counsel and advice of wise men. We take the reproof and correction of one who is wise and seek to profit by his wisdom. To do so is itself an act of wisdom. As we admire the attribute of wisdom in a man, we ought all the more to admire it in God. A wise God is worthy of admiration, worship, trust, and obedience.
Three times in the New Testament the Lord our God is called “the only wise God” (Rom. 16:27; I Tim. 1:17; Jude 25). Wisdom is more than knowledge. It is the proper and best use of knowledge. And the Lord our God, omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient, possesses all wisdom. He is “the only wise God” (Job 12:12-13; Dan. 2:20-21).
WISDOM IS AN ATTRIBUTE OF GOD. Like goodness, sovereignty, power, and holiness, wisdom is an attribute of God’s perfect, infinite Being. God is wise, perfectly wise, supremely wise, and consummately wise. His wisdom should inspire our hearts with confidence in him and praise to him.
God is exclusively wise. That is to say, in comparison with him, no one else possesses any wisdom at all. God the Father is wise. God the Son is the embodiment of wisdom. And God the Spirit is the Spirit of wisdom. But in comparison with the wisdom possessed by the infinite God, no one else has any wisdom at all. The holy angels, though they are wise and holy creatures by God’s design, when compared to him, are charged with folly (Job 4:18). And man, though he would be wise and thinks himself wise, is as “a wild ass’s colt” before God. We have very little wisdom even in natural things and none in spiritual things by nature. If we attain any spiritual wisdom it is by the gift of God (2 Cor. 2:11-16). We are wise to do evil. But to do good, we have no knowledge. God alone is wise. Wisdom belongs to God exclusively.
God is all-wise. He possesses all wisdom regarding all things. And he is wise in all his glorious Being. Everything God is is wise. And everything he does reflects his wisdom. There is no defect or lack of wisdom in him with respect to anything. Men may be wise in some thing’s and foolish in others. But God is wise in everything. No man is always wise. Sometimes the wisest of men say and do foolish things, but not God. Neither his Word nor his works can be charged with folly. There is not an unwise word in all the Volume of Inspiration. And there is not an unwise action in all his works. “O LORD, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all” (Psa. 104:24).
God is essentially wise. Wisdom is his nature and essence. Wisdom is what God is. As God is Love, as God is Spirit, as God is Goodness, so God is Wisdom. Without wisdom, he would not be God. God is wisdom essentially and eternally. And his wisdom is underived. It is immutable wisdom. It never increases and never diminishes.
Moreover, God is the source and fountain of all wisdom. Whatever wisdom there is in the universe among angels and men it comes from God. He is the Author and Giver of wisdom. The angels of heaven get their wisdom from God. The great men of the earth get their wisdom from God. All the wisdom that Adam had in innocence, or his sons have in the earth, even all the wisdom that Solomon possessed and the wisdom of God’s elect in eternal glory, is wisdom given, bestowed and maintained by God. I repeat myself deliberately: Wisdom is the gift of God (James 1:5). Anyone who possesses any wisdom by which he is distinguished from others, be it natural or spiritual, has his wisdom by the sovereign bestowment of the Almighty (1 Cor. 4:7). Whatever wisdom there is in any of us, God put it there. He who gives wisdom to the wise is the infinitely wise God. The wisdom of God is unsearchable. Its depth cannot be fathomed. It cannot be traced and found out to perfection (Rom. 11:33; Job 11:6-9; 28:12-23).
THE WISDOM OF GOD IS MANIFEST IN HIS WORKS. Though God’s wisdom cannot be found out to perfection, there are some glaring, bright, and shining, striking appearances of it which are edifying and comforting to consider. His wisdom is manifest in his counsels of old (Isa. 25:1). Usually, the wisest acts of men are the results of thoughtful deliberation and sober consultation. Therefore, God’s eternal decrees are called “his counsels of old.” God did not need to deliberate or consult with anyone about what he would do. Yet his decrees and purposes, being fixed by the highest wisdom are called his “counsels.” Thus he condescends to speak to us mortals with puny brains in a way that we can understand! God, in his infinite understanding of all things, knew from eternity what is best to be done. And by wisdom he decreed it according to the good pleasure of his will. He appointed the end of all things and ordained the best means to accomplish that end. In predestination, he set the proper time for the accomplishment of all things and guarded his purpose against everything that might hinder its accomplishment. The end for which God ordained all things is his own glory (Prov. 16:4; Rom. 11:36). The beneficiaries of God’s purposes and decrees are his own elect, whom he predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ in everlasting salvation (Eph. 1:5-6, 11; Rom. 9:23; 11:33-36). God’s eternal purpose of grace in election and predestination is revealed for the glorifying of his grace in saving sinners (Eph. 1:6, 12, 14). In order to accomplish his eternal purpose of grace, God has wisely ordained the time, season, place, and end of all things under the sun (Eccles. 3:1, 11, 14, 17).
Though there are many devices formed to overthrow God’s purpose and thwart his decree, they are all vain. God not only disappoints the devices of the crafty, he uses their devices to accomplish his own wise designs (Psa. 76:10). His counsel will stand. And he will do all his pleasure (Isa. 46:10). The thoughts of his heart, his decrees, shall be performed unto all generations. He not only overthrows, but wisely and sovereignly uses the deeds of the wicked to accomplish his holy pleasure. The plot of satan to overthrow his dominion only served to accomplish his purpose (Isa. 14:14, 24, 26, 27). Adam’s insurrection and fall was typical of and foreshadowed our salvation by Christ, the last Adam (Rom. 5:18-19; 1 Cor. 15:21-22). Joseph was sold into Egypt by his brothers who meant it for evil because God had ordained it for good (Gen. 50:19-20). Pharaoh hardened his heart against Israel and against God because the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, that he might glorify himself in Pharaoh’s destruction and Israel’s salvation (Rom. 9:17). Twelve times, the Bible specifically states that “the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart” (Ex. 7:13, 14, 22; 8:19, 32; 9:7, 12; 10:1, 20, 27; 11:10; 14:8). The kiss of Judas, the cowardice of Pilate, and even the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ was in exact accordance with God’s wisdom and purpose of grace toward his people (Acts 2:23; 4:27-28).
Even the failings and sins of his people. Had it not been for the incest of Tamar, the sin of Elimelech in going down to Moab which brought Boaz and Ruth together, and the sin of David in the matter of Uriah, the Lord Jesus Christ would never have been born into this world. His incarnation was, by the arrangement of providence, the direct result of these sad events. This fact does not, to any degree, lessen the offenses mentioned or charge the holy Lord God with complicity in them (James 1:13). But they do display God’s great, infinite wisdom in arranging and controlling the affairs of the universe to accomplish his own gracious purposes.
The covenant of grace, from which all things spring, was a work of infinite wisdom (Heb. 8:10-12). It was wisdom in God that devised such a covenant and moved him to make it ordered in all things and sure for the glory of the divine Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and the everlasting salvation of his elect. It is a covenant stored with all the promises and blessings of grace (Tit. 1:2). It is a covenant that was made with Christ as the Surety of a chosen people (Heb. 7:22). Every blessing of the covenant, as well as every condition of it, was placed in Christ, put upon Christ, and fulfilled by Christ (Eph. 1:3; II Tim. 1:9). Thus did God in great, infinite wisdom find a ransom suitable and way honoring to himself to justify his elect (Job 33:24; Rom. 3:24-26).
God’s works of creation are spectacular displays of undeniable wisdom (Psa. 104:24; 136:3-5; Prov. 3:19-20; Jer. 10:12). In the luminous heavens above - the sun, the moon, and the stars, the atmospheric heavens - the clouds, rain, snow, and seasons, and the earth with all its climates, vegetation, beasts, bodies of water, the human body are all wonders of God’s wisdom (Psa. 139:14-17).
God’s in providence is a constant manifestation of his wisdom (Rom. 8:28; 11:36). As we have already seen, God’s providential rule is universal in its scope, detailed in its exercise, and saving in its end. In infinite wisdom he rules all things everywhere and at all times for the salvation of his people and the glory of his own great name.
Above all else the wisdom of God is revealed in the redemption and salvation of sinners by Christ (Eph. 1:7-8). Wisdom and prudence are displayed in other works of God. But all wisdom and prudence are displayed in the great works of grace by which we are saved. Behold the wisdom of God in...
1. The Person appointed to be our Redeemer - Christ (Job 33:24).
2. The means by which Christ came - The incarnation (Heb. 10:5-10).
3. The people God sent his Son to redeem (Rom. 5:6-10; I Cor. 1:26-31).
4. The method by which Christ accomplished our redemption - Substitution - Blood atonement (2 Cor. 5:21).
5. The method by which salvation is brought to sinners - Irresistible, effectual, almighty grace Rom. 9:16).
The wisdom of God shines forth brilliantly in the gospel, the good news of salvation by Christ (1 Cor. 2:7; Eph. 3:10). Christ is the gospel. And Christ is the wisdom of God (Prov. 8:12-31; 1 Cor. 1:24). The doctrine of the gospel - free justification, peace, pardon, and righteousness by Christ; the ordinances of the gospel - baptism and the Lord’s supper; and the standing ministry of the gospel, all show forth the wisdom of our God as gifts of his free grace (Eph. 4:11-16). In wisdom he uses frail men, placing them where he wills for the salvation of his elect. His wisdom preserves his servants, his church, and his testimony in the world. And his wisdom makes his word to accomplish exactly what he pleases (Isa. 55:11).