************ TASC Sermon on Proverbs 9:4 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on June 30, 2016

Proverbs 9
Proverbs 9:4a
"Decision Time"
TASC Talk 5

We used to live 20 miles from Niagara Falls. We used to go there once a month with our boys. Two summers ago we took our grandson and his mouth fell open.

Niagara Falls is known for 2 things: the falls, of course, and the prostitutes (it was known as the prostitution capital of Canada). One day we were at the Falls and were stopped at a red light. My wife and boys were in the car and this attractive lady draped herself on the hood and invited me to have a good time. Proverbs has a nickname for the lady. Proverbs calls her Lady Folly.

Proverbs 9 portrays two houses, one on either side of the road. On one side the house stands open with an elegant lady named Wisdom inviting us in. On the other side of the road another house stands open with a seductive lady named Folly inviting us in. Wisdom beckons on the one side and Folly calls loudly from the other side. Which house will we enter?

Jesus confronts us with a similar choice in the Sermon on the Mount:
(Mt 7:13-14) Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. (14) But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
Two ways, two gates, two houses, two ladies. The choice is yours. Which do you choose?

We've been looking at wisdom this week. We've looked at its benefits. We've looked at what it says about the tongue. We've looked at what it says about friendships. And now, now it is decision time. Now it is time for you to make up your mind. Now I want to challenge you to follow Lady Wisdom rather than Lady Folly.

I want to challenge you to follow Lady Wisdom because the choice is not simple and it is not easy. Why? Or, why not? Because we are born sinners. Which means our natural inclination is to choose folly. Which means we can know what is the right and obvious choice but we still pick folly. Add to this our actual sins and their consequences. The result? It is you and me standing in front of the two homes of Proverbs 9. We are the ones standing at the crossroads. We know what is the good choice, the right choice, the wise choice, yet we want to pick folly. This is the real you and the real me that God loves in Jesus Christ.

And, yet, by the grace of God in Christ we are still able to make the right choice when it comes to wisdom and folly. We see this grace of God in an important and often repeated word in the book of Proverbs. It is the word "son" -- which appears fifty times in the book. Imagine that: we who pick folly over wisdom are counted as sons and daughters of God.

God is the Father and we sinners are His children. Isn't this the message of the Gospel?
(1 Jn 3:1) How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
According to Hebrews, Christ is not ashamed to call us His brothers and sisters (Heb 12:7).

As sons and daughters of God, as children saved by grace through faith, as pardoned sinners, as brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, we are told to choose between wisdom and folly.

I Wisdom's Invitation to Live
A In our Scripture reading, Wisdom is pictured as a classy lady opening to us her home. Actually, with its seven pillars it is pictured more like a palace (Prov 9:1).

Who is this classy lady? Taking the whole Bible into account, this is a picture of Jesus Christ. I think, for instance, of what Paul writes to the Corinthians about Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Cor 1:24).

The word for "wisdom" in verse 1 is plural in the Hebrew --"wisdoms." But we need to understand this plural correctly. It isn’t a numerical plural, as if there are alternate wisdoms to choose from (remember what I said about Buddhist monasteries and holy men peddling crystals at Mt. Shasta). Rather, it is a plural of majesty. In mind is wisdom with all of its perfections and fullness. Meaning that Jesus Christ is more than able to give us everything we need. Remember what Jesus said to His disciples? "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (Jn 10:10). The fact that wisdom’s house has "seven pillars" says the same thing -- think of all the work to cut and form them, think of all the wealth needed to finance them; none of this is beyond Jesus because His is all power and all wisdom and all wealth and all glory. He is the greatest and wisest person in the universe. He knows exactly what is needed to give you a great and wonderful life.

B Look at verse 2: "She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine; she has also set her table" (Prov 9:2). No junk food at this table! And, no vegetarian diet either. Lady Wisdom serves meat. The Jewish people didn't use their flocks and herds for food, so opportunities to eat roast beef or lamb were infrequent and welcomed. And, mixing the wine does not mean watering it down. It means adding spices to make the wine even better. The point of verse 2 is that Lady Wisdom has prepared a banquet -- a banquet of her best. For us. For us who are the sons and daughters of God.

What is the banquet that has been prepared? The first eight chapters of Proverbs is a kind of menu of Lady Wisdom:
-Chapter 1: wisdom preserves us from violence.
-Chapter 2: wisdom keeps us in the paths of the righteous.
-Chapter 3: wisdom improves us financially.
-Chapter 4: wisdom gives us status.
-Chapter 5: wisdom gives you a great marriage.
-Chapter 6: wisdom makes us work and accomplish worthy goals.
-Chapter 7: wisdom protects us in temptation.
-Chapter 8: wisdom opens our eyes to the beauty of creation.
-Chapters 10-31: wisdom teaches us to control the tongue, to value friends, to be good neighbors, to work hard, and so on.
The point? Christ has set a feast, a banquet, for us.

What really is the feast Lady Wisdom has prepared for us? It is the Gospel feast to which Christ invites all to come. The message is to fear God and find life. The only path to take is along this road established by Wisdom. Without it you will surely enter the gates of hell.

C Look at what is written in the rest of this section about Lady Wisdom:
(Prov 9:3-6) She has sent out her maids, and she calls from the highest point of the city. (4) "Let all who are simple come in here!" she says to those who lack judgment. (5) "Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed. (6) Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of understanding (Prov 9:3-6).

Wisdom -- actually, Christ himself -- has sent messengers out into the world to invite more and more people into His banquet. Wisdom is bold and public. Wisdom cares deeply about people. And we are His messengers today. But even though we are involved, a divine voice is being heard. Notice how verse 3 puts it: "She has sent out her maids, and she calls ..." Her servants are getting the invitations out, but Lady Wisdom herself is speaking through them. It is a picture of the prophets and the apostles. It is a picture of Christian parents and Sunday school teachers and youth leaders and preachers inviting you into His banquet.

II The Exclusion of Mockers
This brings us to the second paragraph: the exclusion of mockers. Notice what mockers don't do according to verse 7:
(Prov 9:7) Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult; whoever rebukes a wicked man incurs abuse.
Do you hear what mockers don't do? They don't listen to advice. They don't take advice. Instead they get angry and mad and throw a temper tantrum and start fuming and make all sorts of phone calls. This kind of person is dangerous. Unstable. Undesirable. Not someone you ever want to be around.

Don't be like these mockers. Don't think for a moment that you know everything. Make this your prayer:
"Lord, I want to grow. I want to become a better person. I want to be like You. Please tell me and show me how. Correct me. Teach me. Train me. Rebuke me."

Do you know what Proverbs calls this kind of attitude? It is wisdom. It is the fear of the Lord.

III Folly's Invitation to Die
A Remember, there are two ladies on the road. One is Lady Wisdom; the other is Lady Folly.

Both call out to us. Both try to catch our heart. Both want to be successful. Both spread out a meal. Both try to look as attractive as possible.

B But there are differences. The biggest difference: Lady Wisdom brings life. Lady Folly brings guilt and hell and everlasting destruction. Wisdom’s followers live forever, but Folly’s guests end in the depths of the grave. Wisdom's meal is a feast but Folly's meal is a funeral.

"Come in," cries Lady Wisdom. She wants us to come to Jesus and find rest for our souls.

"Come in," cries Folly. She wants us to drink stolen water and to eat food in secret. She wants us to transgress God's commandments and end up in the fires of hell.

Two ways, two gates, two houses, two ladies. The choice is yours. Which do you choose? Which voice do you hear? Which voice attracts your heart? Whose guest are you? At the end of your life will you be attending a feast or a funeral?

I urge you, dear friends, to hear the gospel. This is the message of Wisdom. Know that Christ loves you. Know that Christ died for you. Know that Christ was raised for you and sits in heaven for you. Know that He welcomes you to Himself.

If you look to Him in faith, then you have heard and answered Lady Wisdom. If you fear Him and love Him, then you have heard and answered Lady Wisdom.
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