11. The Wisdom of God

R.J. Rushdoony • Mar, 18 2024

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  • Series: Aspects of Systematic Theology
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Our Scripture is from 1 Corinthians 1:18-24, our particular concern is the twenty-fourth verse. Our subject; ‘the wisdom of God.’

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” 1

Our text declares Jesus Christ to be God incarnate, the revelation of God the Father. It declares Him to be the very wisdom of God. Colossians 2:3 also so describes our Lord.

Now, in order to understand the meaning of this, “Christ, the Wisdom of God,” let us look by way of contrast at Satan, the tempter, the serpent of Genesis 3:1. Now the serpent is identified in Revelation 12:9, 14-15, and in Revelation 20:2 as ‘Satan.’ Thus the serpent has reference to Satan. There are several words for ‘Satan’ in the Hebrew, the one here used is ‘Nachash (נָחַשׁ).’ It means ‘to hiss,’ ‘to whisper,’ ‘to foretell’ or ‘to divine.’ The meaning comes from the hissing sound that a serpent makes, plus its hidden nature, the fact that it is in grasses and bushes, not always readily discernible. Hence the meaning of divining, of occult knowledge, which this word in its verb form also has. The word of all occultists is a dark, a hidden, a not clearly spoken word; it is an insinuated word, it is a hissed, a whispered, a possible word; never the sure word.

I think we can understand what is meant by looking at astrology. The astrologers tell us “the stars indicate, they do not determine.” Now, that is the essence of occult knowledge. Occultism speaks about a future apart from God, as a possible future. Occultism speaks about a future apart from and outside of God as a possible future.

Now this word, ‘nachash (נָחָש),’ both noun and verb are used in several places in the Bible besides Genesis 3:1. It appears in Genesis 39:27, and Genesis 34:5, 15 as ‘divineth’ in the King James. In Leviticus 19:26, as ‘enchantment.’ In Deuteronomy 18:10 as ‘enchanter.’ In 1 Kings 20:33 it means ‘to diligently observe or divine.’ In 2 Kings 17:17 it means ‘enchantments,’ as it does in 2 Kings 21:6, 2 Chronicles 33:6, and Numbers 23:23, and 24:1.

The reference is to occult knowledge. And the plain inference is, since the same word is used both for Satan and for this occult knowledge, that a cult knowledge is Satanic knowledge. It offers a knowledge concerning the future as knowledge outside of God and His eternal decree.

Now the occultists, by the providence of God, at times do give accurate information, we have an instance of that in the Bible, the witch of Endor in 1 Samuel 28:7-25. But that accurate information, there the prediction of Saul’s death, is false; because it is information and a forecast about a world that is stripped of God, His judgment, and His predestination.

Now, we can bring that up to date. There are all kinds of forecasts today about the future, for example about the relationship of The US and the Soviet Union. Some of those forecasters are no doubt correct in what they predict will come to pass - factually. But there is a tremendous error in all their prediction, because they see the past, the present, and the future, outside of God. As a result they are telling you about events that are going to happen, but they are not giving you the meaning of those events; who ordained them, and why they were ordained by God. Thus, occult knowledge has at its heart the attempt to speak about the future apart from God, to offer a realm of possibility outside of God.

Now in terms of this, with this knowledge of what occultism represents, and what occult wisdom is about, let us turn to Christ as the wisdom of God.

Here we have a very different kind of knowledge and forecast. We are told that He is “the power of God,” that omnipotence is His as well as wisdom. History is totally made by Him, by Him were all things made, “and without him was not any thing made that was made.” 2 There is no possibility of knowledge outside of Him, He is the almighty; no power, no future, no wisdom outside of Jesus Christ.

Moreover, not only does Jesus Christ ordain all history, but He is the central force in history; He is “Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending” according to Revelation 1:8. From the dawn of creation to the last judgment. Christ is not only the determiner of history, but the central person in all of history. He is not an abstract or remote government or presence. Furthermore, Christ is also the savior and the Redeemer of the world:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” 3

His wisdom is seen not only in his determination and government, but in His redemptive work in history. Man’s idea of God and of redemption is foolishness and futility, Christ’s redemption is both wise and particular. His eternal decree, from all eternity, singles out not only the whole humanity of the New Adam Jesus Christ, but each of us individually as His own.

Now, the universalists object, they want universal salvation, they want everybody to enjoy heaven, everybody to get every possible good thing that God can provide. Our politics today is the politics of universalism - all are to be saved. The Universalist sees himself as the nobler person with a nobler faith. By his very insistence, however, on the all, persons are denied; particularity is denied.

Every universalistic faith is intent upon forcing everyone into a particular mold. Marxism is the most universalistic of all faiths today. And Marxism represents very clearly what Universalism winds up doing. The Universalist in religion began by saying: “everybody must be saved.” Very quickly universalism became the motivating power in politics, in what we today call ‘Liberalism’ and ‘Leftism.’ Everyone in the body politic is to be saved, is to be equal, to have the same amount of wealth and of the world's goods, and all who do not meet that standard of equality, the salvation of the all, are to be eliminated. “We are going to save everybody, even if we are going to have to kill off half the human race, because everyone around has got to meet our standard.” In other words, in Universalism, the person does not count, only the totality, and inescapably it becomes totalitarian.

But Paul says Christ’s wisdom or God’s wisdom is manifested in the particularity of salvation. This is emphatically stated in Roman 11:38. He concluded all in unbelief, to make known his mercy and the implications of unbelief, so that those saved might know His grace and His wisdom in salvation.

We are told, moreover, that wisdom is practical and successful. In Luke 14:28-32 we are told that wisdom accomplishes what it purposes, and Christ as wisdom incarnate brings all of humanity to the goal He has ordained.

Now, to see Christ’s work apart from wisdom and from the certainty of God’s absolute power, is to view biblical faith and biblical history as occult knowledge, not revelation. To remove certainty from Christ’s command of time and history and of eternity is to deny Christ and affirm Satan. Because an occult knowledge is a possible knowledge, it is a dimly veiled knowledge; but our Lord is wisdom, absolute certainty. And we are told that all things are naked and open in His sight, that there is nothing in us that is hidden from Him, and He is mindful of all that we are, and all that we shall be.

Satan, however, in the very beginning is insistent that there is a great measure of probability in God’s word, but no certainty. In Genesis 3:4 we read: “Ye shall not surely die...” Now that ‘surely’ can also be translated ‘only.’ “Indeed, there is a great possibility here, because God has control of most of the possibilities in view of His greater power, His greater being an superiority; but not all the possibility in being is in the hands of God. Ye shall not surely, or only die. There are other options which need to be developed and realized.” “God,” in other words the Tempter said, “does not control all things. There is a realm of possibility for man to try to develop, a religious possibility, a self-realization.”

Occultism, thus, is a religious, a theological principle. But Paul says: “In Jesus Christ we see God’s absolute wisdom and power, God’s determination of all things in incarnate form. He is the way, the truth and the life. There is no possibility outside of Him, no occult knowledge. To know Christ as the wisdom of God is to seek no presupposition, no knowledge, no possibility, no determination, apart from or outside of Jesus Christ. He is the Lord.”

As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:19

“For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”

Let us pray.

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Almighty God our heavenly Father, we give thanks unto thee that Jesus Christ is the wisdom of the godhead, incarnate and made known to us. That we know that all things are in His hands, that we are His people, that there is no certainty nor possibility nor anything, not an atom in all of creation, apart from His ordination, His power, and His absolute wisdom and purpose. Give us grace, therefore, our Father, all the days of our life to seek no knowledge apart from thee, nor to have any hope outside of thee, but to cast our every care upon thee who carest for us. And to know that the very hairs of our head are all numbered, known to thee, who doest all things well. Our God we praise thee. In Jesus' name, amen.

* * *

Are there any questions now?


[Audience Member] Carter seems ready to do anything, do you think he will start a war to get reelected?

[Rushdoony] I would not rule out the possibility of a war later on, but at this stage I think that the preparation for it has certainly not been sufficiently made. I question whether the American public yet are ready to engage in warfare. The sad fact however is that again and again in this century the Federal government has seen as the solution to its internal problems, warfare; has gone to war as a means of salvation. Yes?

[Audience Member] Can we now maintain that it is the Democrats who are the party of war?

[Rushdoony] There probably is some significance to that, that the Democrats have been the war party predominantly. However, I think we need to remember that the differences between the two parties have grown dimmer and dimmer, so that we have no assurance that either party will give us peace. What we need to find our assurance in is a revived Christian faith that will make both for peace, and a resolute defense against evil. It is, at heart, a religious matter, and I don’t think there is more than a nickel's worth of difference right now between the parties - there may be a nickel's worth.


[Audience Member] Is war simply a way to cover up their failures?

[Rushdoony] I think so, yes. What we are seeing is that in our century the humanistic plans of salvation are falling apart, and what better way to cover up failures than to bury them in ruins by means of war, and to increase their power? One net result of every war is the increase of Federal power.

Are there any other questions? Yes?

[Audience Member] Unintelligible comment about a really horrible thing that the godless are doing in the world.

[Rushdoony] Well, I don’t think we need to concentrate on what the humanists are doing, because there is no question, they are doing all kinds of things. That is not the issue. There is no question they are planning to take over, or rather have taken over and are planning to consolidate their strength in this country and all the world; the only question is, what are we going to do about it? I think the letter by the Communists that is cited in the May Alert is well worth rereading, because we are losing because of our default, not because of what the enemy is doing. Yes?

[Audience Member] Could you comment broadly on giving our time to lost causes?

[Rushdoony] Yes, we are told in Scripture not to waste our time. Time is a resource that we can never save up or recapture. Our Lord made it very clear when He first sent out the Apostles or the disciples, that they were not to stay in any town where they were not heard; they were to shake off the dust of their feet and move on. There is no virtue in beating our head against a wall, in doing something that’s vain. We need to make our time count, and I am afraid there are too many Christians today who are engaged in a tremendous amount of futile activity, they are doing things that are not promising, where there are no results. Not too long ago, I had to speak to one young man who was dedicating his life apparently to a type of mission that was useless. He was getting no response, several years of activity had proven that. So I told him that it was a sin for him to continue, and that he had better rethink his life and seek an outlet that would be rewarding in terms of the Lord's work, that would produce results, and I am glad to say that he is doing that. So, we must not waste our time with those who will not hear. Any other questions?

Well, if not let us bow our heads for the benediction.

* * *

And now go in peace, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, bless you and keep you, guide and protect you, this day and always, amen.

1 1 Co 1:18–24.

2 Jn 1:3.

3 Jn 3:16.

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