************ Sermon on Proverbs 1:7 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on September 11, 2016
"The Beginning of Knowledge"
Someone has estimated that, if all of man's accumulated knowledge from the beginning of recorded history to 1845 were represented by one inch, what he learned from 1845 until 1945 would amount to three inches and what he learned from 1945 until 1975 would represent the height of the Washington Monument! Since then it has more than doubled.This morning I want to ask if the incredible leap in scientific, technological, and other such knowledge also means an incredible leap in wisdom? We all know this is not the case.
We are at the start of another church year. Our church programs and ministries have started up again. Look at the opportunities as they are listed at the back of our bulletin:
Church School - 3 years old through adults
Women's Bible Study
Men's Bible Study
Senior Bible Study
Friday Night Fellowship
Sunday Evening Fellowship
Helping Hands Committee
Everyone of these programs have one thing in common -- the Word of God. They all exist to deepen and strengthen our knowledge of the Word; more than that, they all point us to Christ and are designed to deepen and strengthen our relationship with Christ.
As we begin another Church year will it be a year of growth in knowledge? And, will our growth in knowledge about the Word and the God of the Word also mean a growth in wisdom? This is my hope and my prayer -- that we study the Word and grow in wisdom.
I The Fear of the Lord
A This morning's text tells us, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge." What is the "fear of the LORD"?
We must start off by reminding ourselves of Who the LORD is. The Hebrew word for Lord is YAHWEH. He is the One Only God. He is the Creator and Governor of the universe. He is the God Who desires a covenant relationship with us. He is the God Who loves us in Jesus Christ. He is the God Who spoke to Job and said:(Job 38:4-6) "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand. (5) Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? (6) On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone--He is the God about Whom Isaiah said:(Is 40:14-18) Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge or showed him the path of understanding? (15) Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust ... (17) Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing. (18) To whom, then, will you compare God? What image will you compare him to?This God is awesome, almighty, holy, glorious, infinite, invisible, and completely wise.
B What does it mean to "fear" this LORD? Fear means a right relationship with the LORD. Fear means a worshiping attitude of praise and thanksgiving. Fear means to walk in God's ways and to follow His paths. Fear means to love the LORD with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Fear means to live for the LORD and His glory.
We can say Abraham feared the LORD. Abraham was told by God that he must sacrifice the son of his old age, the miraculous son, the son through whom he was to become the father of kings and of a great nation. So Abraham built an altar and laid on the wood, and then he was forced to take his son and tie him up and lay him on top. He raised his knife (Gen 23). What father here could do what Abraham did? Abraham did this because he feared the LORD.
Joseph too feared the LORD. He had a choice between sleeping with Potiphar's wife or prison. He chose prison rather than "do such a wicked thing and sin against God" (Gen 39:9).
Moses too feared the LORD. Remember the burning bush? Moses took off his sandals before the Lord because he was standing on holy ground (Ex 3:5-6).
I also think of the women at the tomb. When they met the resurrected Christ they clasped His feet and worshiped Him (Mt 28:10). We can say that they feared the LORD.
Finally, I think of Thomas. He saw the risen LORD. He saw the pierced hands and side. And he said, "My LORD and my God!" (Jn 20:28). It took a while, but He too feared the LORD.
II The Beginning of Knowledge
A This morning's text tells us, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge." What is meant by "knowledge"?
The knowledge our text speaks of is not just facts, something you learn in a classroom or from a textbook. The knowledge our text speaks of is not something you discover by using the scientific method or by manipulating information on a computer.
Knowledge, in our text, means living out what you have learned. It means taking the facts and having a right relationship with the LORD. I can know all about the LORD without still knowing the LORD Himself. I can memorize the whole Bible, train myself in the original Hebrew and Greek of the Bible, know my church history and theology, and still not know the LORD Himself.
Many so-called Christians are this way. They know all about Christian ethics and teaching, they know all sorts of facts about the bible, they know the Bible's details, but they don't know the Lord Himself.
The King of France gave a watch as a reward to someone. A friend was looking it over and touched a secret spring, at which an inner case flew open, disclosing a beautiful miniature painting of which the proud owner was unaware.If we do not meet the Lord, we have not discovered the inner secret which gives our religion its supreme value. The portrait of Christ, you see, is still hidden; He remains a stranger to us.
Knowledge, in our text, then, doesn't mean just knowing about the LORD. Rather, it means personally knowing Him, loving Him, and serving Him.
B Our text says, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge." The fear of the LORD, in other words, is the basis, the foundation, the first and controlling principle behind all learning, all knowledge, all education. Without a fear of the LORD all that you have is facts but no knowledge, figures but no wisdom, details but no understanding, rules and laws but no inner morality.
If you were to ask 10 professional educators to state the most important ingredient of a good education, you'll probably get 10 different answers. "Values," says one. "The classics," states another. "How to get along in society," is the third teacher's view. "Tolerance for other people's points of view," is another. "Math," says a math teacher. "Science," says a science teacher. Who's right? What is the most important ingredient of a good education?
King Solomon, the second-wisest man in history, said, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge." The foundation of true learning is the fear of the LORD.
C At the beginning of this new church year we need to remind ourselves that "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge." Education, true education, starts off with the fear of the LORD. If that is not our beginning point as parents, as teachers, as pastors and elders, as a church, then we have failed our children and youth and the coming church year will be a waste of time.
Teachers, youth leaders, parents: point the children and youth under your care to Jesus. Urge them to give their hearts to the LORD. Encourage them to make a commitment for Jesus. For that's the beginning point of all knowledge, of all learning, of all education.
This is true, of course, not only for children, but for adults as well. As adults gather together for study and fellowship they too need to be pointed again and again to Jesus and the necessity of a living relationship with Him. For without that relationship all our study, all our learning, all our education means nothing and comes to nothing.
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge."
D The starting point is the fear of the Lord. The ending point is knowledge or wisdom. Do you know what lies in-between? Do you know what get us from Point A to Point B? The study of God's Word. As I told the boys and girls, we need to spend time with the Bible. We need to feed the souls of our children and youth. We need to feed our souls. This means family and personal devotions. This means faithful attendance at both our worship services. This means sending your children and youth to Sunday School and Catechism. This means involvement in GEMS, Cadets, Young Peoples. This means that every adult here be part of a Bible Study.
III Fools Despise Wisdom and Discipline
The second half of our text speaks about fools. It tells us that "fools despise wisdom and discipline."
What is a fool? In the book of Proverbs the fool is not the same as being dumb. It does not mean you are an imbecile, insane, or deranged.
In the book of Proverbs the fool is someone who is wrongheaded. The fool rejects the concept of God and a higher-power and a higher law to which men must give account. The fool rejects or disregards the moral and spiritual values on which life is based.
Here in America we are in danger of being a nation of fools. I want to mention three examples of foolishness in America.
First, when I took my citizenship exam, one of the questions I was asked was, "What is the highest law of the land?" The answer I was expected to give was "The Constitution." But all of us should know this is not really correct. This is an atheistic and humanistic answer. The real answer -- for us who are Christians -- is the Law of God. The Law of God is the highest law of the land. Not the constitution, not the decisions of the Supreme Court, not the declarations of the World Court or the United Nations.
Second, the one true God and the mention of the one true God is being driven out of all of our public institutions. But it is okay to mention Allah and Buddha and Confucius.
Third, in our public schools children and youth are not allowed to pray to the Christian God. They are not allowed to study the Bible -- though the Koran is okay. And they are being given a value-free education. In value-free education there are no absolutes. There are no rights or wrongs. Teachers are told not to make kids feel bad or guilty or ashamed about what they do so nothing is condemned and everything is encouraged. Children and teens are being taught that if something feels good or seems good to them than it is okay for them.
There is an implied contrast here. If the fool despises wisdom and discipline, then the wise man or woman is one who fears and loves the Lord.
So I need to ask you: at the start of this church year are you a fool -- someone who tries to live life without God? Or, are you a wise man or woman -- someone who fears and loves the Lord and spends time with His Word?
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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