Friday, May 26, 2017

Proverbs 14:7 --- Learning to Hear the Voice of Christ

Proverbs 14:7 
Leave the presence of a fool,
    for there you do not meet words of knowledge.
This verse forms a pair with the previous proverb.  The catchword knowledge helps to link the two proverbs.  But while the previous proverb viewed the scoffer as a seeker of the wisdom from below, this proverb sees the scoffer or "fool" as a teacher.  But, of course, the fool is a teacher the Lord's people must turn away from.  We will "not meet words of knowledge" from a fool or scoffer, who rejects the wisdom from above for the wisdom that is below.
If I were to think of a New Testament parallel to this verse, I think we would find it in John 10.  There we learn that following Jesus Christ as our Shepherd King, means total allegiance to his teaching.  Our allegiance to Jesus' teaching means we must reject teachers who reject Jesus and his teaching.  How many souls have been ruined because they have sat year after year in the same pews long after solid gospel preaching, which exalts Christ and his heavenly wisdom, has left the church.

Let us consider John 10:1-6:

"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber.But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers." This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

With regard to our proverb, the key verses are italicized above.  Jesus' people are devoted to his teaching.  We learn to recognize the voice of our Shepherd.  His teaching is our rule, and any teaching that deviates from this rule is to be rejected, and is rejected, by his faithful people.

In the early church there developed the idea of the rule of faith.  The rule of faith was made up of the essential teaching of the apostles.  Faithful teachers held to the rule of faith.  False teachers deviated from the rule of faith.  The Apostles Creed, Nicene Creed, and Chalcedonian Definition became a summary of the rule of faith, and we still confess this rule today.  These creeds or confessions were following the Scriptural precedent of creeds that we find in both testaments (for example, 1 Timothy 3:16).

At the time of the Reformation there was a debate about the work of Christ.  The creeds of the early church were mainly concerned with the person of Christ and were answering the errors of various groups that challenged the deity or humanity of Christ, or how the humanity and deity of Christ related to each other.  The Reformation debate brought to light the need for further confessions that spelled out in more detail the work of Christ on our behalf.  The Reformation held to the doctrine of justification by faith alone, while the church of Rome chose to see justification as the result of the cooperation of faith and works.  There was also a split over the sole headship of Jesus Christ over his church.

Creeds and confessions, then, give us boundaries that help us, and especially the young, to distinguish the voice of Christ from the voice of imposters, like the scoffers and fools run into in Proverbs 14:6-7.  The true sheep of Christ "flee from" (John 10:5) strangers, scoffers, and fools who bring false teaching and depart from "words of knowledge."  Below is a new creed called The Word Made Flesh, from Ligonier Ministry which I would commend to you.  Its strength is that it helps us to discern the truth, not only about Christ's person, but also about his work on our behalf.  The church would be strengthened by using it along with the Apostles and Nicene creeds.

We confess the mystery and wonder
            of God made flesh
            and rejoice in our great salvation
            through Jesus Christ our Lord.

With the Father and the Holy Spirit,
            the Son created all things,
            sustains all things,
            and makes all things new.
            Truly God,
            He became truly man,
            two natures in one person.

He was born of the Virgin Mary
            and lived among us.
            Crucified, dead, and buried,
            He rose on the third day,
            ascended to heaven,
            and will come again
            in glory and judgment.

For us,
            He kept the Law,
            atoned for sin,
            and satisfied God’s wrath.
            He took our filthy rags
            and gave us
            His righteous robe.

He is our Prophet, Priest, and King,
            building His church,
            interceding for us,
            and reigning over all things.

Jesus Christ is Lord;
            we praise His holy Name forever.


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