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By Rev Charles Seet

Preached at / Published Life BPC 8am Service, 2000-11-05

Text: Proverbs 8:32-36

This morning we continue with our study of the book of Proverbs, a book that contains many Pearls of Great Wisdom. The topic for our message is 'For He Who Finds Me Finds Life' and this is taken from our text: Proverbs 8:32-36: 'Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways. Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD. But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.' 

Dearly beloved, how often do we give a thought to matters of life and death? In the midst of all our busy-ness do we ever take time to reflect on these realities? In the past week we were shocked and shakened by the news of the SIA 747 crash in Taipei, in which 79 out of the 179 people on board the plane lost their lives. The airplane had just taken off and 10 seconds later it crashed unexpectedly. We feel very sorry for all those who who died and and sympathise with those who were injured, as well as with their loved ones, and pray that the Lord will somehow help them, especially those who are believers, in their time of grief. 

But this awful accident should also awaken us to the frailty of our life. Let us realize through this: That if it were not for the grace of God, we would likewise perish. Death can come upon us at any time, and even in moments when we least expect it to come. 

Just last Tuesday night at Prayer meeting, an Elder was sharing about an architect who had a clean bill of health after being examined by several doctors. Some of his friends had noticed that he was looking pale and tired and so he got worried and went for thorough medical check-ups not with just one doctor, but several recommended doctors. All of them examined him from head to toe and declared him to be well. That allayed his fears for a while but he was recently diagnosed to have a cancer of unknown origin that has spread to his whole body! What a shock this news must have been to him. 

I remember a scene I witnessed in an A&E department many years ago. An asthmatic 11-year-old boy was rushed in at night with breathing difficulties. He was struggling for his life and the doctors were trying their best to intubate him. But he soon became limp and lifeless. And all efforts to resuscitate him failed. The room was soon filled with the woeful wailing of his distraught parents. I was moved to tears for them. What I saw that night made a very deep impression on me never to take the life I have for granted. 

When I was in the army for national service I had a platoon mate whom I got to know quite well. After our 3 months of BMT we were transferred to different units. Then I received news one day that he had died suddently of heat stroke during training. I grieved because I lost a friend, but the parents' grief was far worse because they had lost the only child they had. 

Dearly beloved we have absolutely no control on when our life begins and when it ends. In Luke 12, Jesus told the Parable of the Rich Fool. This is an excellent illustration of how unexpectedly death can come. According the parable, a rich man had such an abundant harvest that he planned to build new barns to accommodate his harvested grain. And this rich man made one very great mistake. He said to himself: "Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years." (v.19). This man mistakenly assumed that he would have many more years to live. But he died on that very night and never had the chance to enjoy his success. 

It is sometimes quite frightening to see the way that some people live their lives - they live as if they have many years ahead of them. They make the most elaborate plans to fulfill their dreams and ambitions, right up to their old age, without any thought at all about the possibility of being cut short by death. Death is the furthest thing from their thoughts. 

Dearly beloved, you and I must be careful not to make this mistake. Always remind yourself that you are a mortal creature. Never assume that you will have many more years to live. Your life can end at any time. You may even have the cleanest bill of health from your doctor and eat only the healthiest health food, and get lots of exercise. But one day you develop a fever or sore throat that persists. And when you see a doctor about it, thinking that it is probably just another viral infection that will soon pass, you receive the most upsetting news of your life. After doing a thorough examination the doctor says to you, 'I am sorry to inform you that you have an incurable terminal illness.'

You may be the safest driver in the world, and take every possible precaution to avoid accidents. But one day while driving on the expressway, a drunken driver suddenly steers his car into your lane, and there is no time for you to react! The inevitable happens. Dearly beloved, let us realize that nothing can be done to remove the possibility of facing death at any time. Your life is always hanging in the balance. When God says to you, as He said to the rich man in the parable, 'this night thy soul shall be required of thee:' you will not be able to say to Him, 'No, please wait, I cannot die now. There are so many things I need to do first.' 

When your time is up, your life will end whether you like it or not. In James 4:14 your life is likened to a vapour, that appears for a time and then disappears. In Psalm 90, Moses likens us to the grass which grows in a field. 'In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth.' (Psalm 90:6). 

Therefore if you know these things, make it a point never to take matters of life and death lightly, but pay full attention to them. This morning as we look into God's Word, please consider what it says to you as matters of grave importance. In our passage from the Book of Proverbs we will discover three pearls of wisdom which are truly matters of life and death. These pearls of wisdom are about wisdom itself. And to be specific, they tell us about God's wisdom, not the wisdom of the world. 

In this whole 8th chapter of Proverbs, the writer personifies wisdom by giving it a voice to speak. This is seen in the first two verses: 'Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice? She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths.' What God's wisdom speaks is then recorded in verse 4 and right to the end of the chapter. Look now at v.36 where wisdom says: 'All they that hate me love death' This is the first pearl of wisdom that we want to examine: 

I. To Hate God's Wisdom is to Love Death (v.36) 

This is a very revealing statement and one that deserves our careful consideration. It is strange for a person to love death. How can anyone love death? The very thought of death conveys ideas of darkness, desolation and decay. Now, for the believer, physical death is of course only a short passageway into eternal life. 

A. Not Physical Death, but Eternal Death 

The resurrection of Christ has removed the sting of death, and so death is no longer fearful to us who have been saved by Jesus Christ. But the word 'death' as used in the book of Proverbs does not refer to physical death alone. This word, which is used 18 times in this book, refers to the awful judgment faced for one's sins. For instance, Proverbs 16:25 says 'There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.' And when the writer speaks of the dangers to being tempted by the wicked, adulterous woman, he says, 'For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead.' (2:18, see also 5:5, 7:27). 

Some people have the mistaken idea that death is the end of all things. And some of them then see death as a way out of their troubles in life. When everything has gone wrong, and they find that there is no hope left and no way out of their troubles, sickness and suffering, they say, 'I am going to end it all now, with death.' But those who take their own lives with these hopes will be dismayed find out that death does not bring an end to all their troubles, but is only the beginning! God's Word makes it very clear that death will not be the end of everything, because after death, there is a judgment that sinners will have to face. God Himself has told us in Hebrews 9:27: 'And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.' 

Therefore, coming back to our study of Proverbs, when the writer says that to hate God's wisdom is to love death, we must understand death here to be eternal death, which is the judgment that all sinners deserve for all their sins, the judgment of the soul in the fires of hell. Look again at the earlier part of the Proverbs 8:36. You will see that it speaks about the one who wrongs his own soul. This confirms that physical death is not the intended meaning here, since physical death only separates the soul from the body. What injures the soul is not physical death but eternal death! 

Dearly beloved, eternal death is much much worse than physical death. When we read about the plane crash in Taipei and how so many passengers were soaked with jet fuel and suffered burns, some as much as 98%, we can't help feeling sorry for them, and hoping that such a thing will never happen to us. How then should we feel about the prospects of burning in the unquenchable flames of hellfire? I think anyone in his right mind would do everything possible to avoid it. 

B. How perverse it is to reject God's Wisdom 

And I think that you all will agree with me that it is very odd, it is extremely strange, and more than that, it is even perverse, for anyone to love eternal death! How can anyone ever love to go through this death? It does not stand to reason at all. And that is precisely the point the writer wants to make. Anyone who deliberately rejects the Wisdom of God when it is freely given to him and made fully available to him, is hating his own soul. He is being utterly unreasonable and perverse. His values are completely turned upside down. He is loving that which he should never love. He loves death! To such people God says: 'Why will ye die? Why do you want to die, rather than live?' (Ezekiel 33:11) 

Dearly beloved, perhaps there may be someone here this morning who is in such a state. All this while, you have been turning your back to God's wisdom. Time after time the Wisdom of God was manifested to you when you read the Bible or when you heard someone preach it. But time after time you have not received it, but rather doubted it and criticized it. If this is true of you, dear friend, please realize right now that you are being utterly perverse. And that which you have chosen to love so unreasonably, is coming your way - the death of your soul! 

Isn't it time for you to change? Yes, it is high time! But how can you change? The answer is found in v.33 'Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not.' Let your ears be open and your heart be receptive to God's wisdom. And do not expect to receive God's Wisdom by just sitting idle and doing nothing. You must let your whole disposition be transformed to that of earnestly seeking after the Wisdom of God. In v.34 the earnest seeker is portrayed as one who keeps watching daily at the gates of Wisdom, as one who keeps on waiting patiently at the posts of Wisdom's doors until Wisdom emerges and rewards him. And the rewards of Wisdom are wonderful and worth all the effort made to find it. Look at v.35 'For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD.' This brings us now to the second pearl of Great wisdom from this passage: 

II. To Seek After God's Wisdom is to Find Life and Favour from the Lord (v.35)

Now someone may ask, 'What is so great about finding life?' Don't we already have life in us? Are we not all alive? Biologically speaking, yes, we already have life, as long as all the vital signs of life like the heartbeat, breathing and brain waves are present and intact. 

But there is a sense in which one can have all these things and yet not have life. When Jesus spoke to the church at Sardis in Rev 3:1 He said, 'I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.' The church at Sardis was spiritually dead even though its people were alive physically. Jesus said in John 10:10 'I am come that they [His sheep] might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.' This abundant life Christ wants us to have is a life which is fuller, richer, and deeper than we can ever expect or imagine; a life which is much better than anything this world can offer. He wants us to have life, and much more than life in our daily experience -- a life that is filled to overflowing with His blessings! 

One of the most fundamental questions that can be asked is: What is life? Life can be defined as the ability of an entity to interact with the things around it. When a living thing dies, it loses all ability to interact with its environment. Animals have life, because they are able to interact with their physical environment. Human beings are able to experience a higher level of life than animals, because we can interact not only with physical things, but also with one another, and with knowledge, ideas, and feelings. But the highest level of life comes from having the ability to interact with God Himself, with the One who is the ultimate source of all life. We experience life in its fullest meaning only when we can more fully know, love, and fellowship with the infinite, eternal God. But how can we know, love and fellowship with the eternal God when we cannot even see Him, hear Him or touch Him? This is where the Wisdom of God becomes so important for us. 

You see, the Wisdom of God is not just a collection of wise sayings and idioms to live by. It is not just a collection of truths. It is God's own character and will. The Wisdom of God is God's revelation of Himself to man. Dear friends, you do not know what life really is, if you have not begun to know the Wisdom of God, and through that, the God of all Wisdom. Let me ask you then whether you have found God's Wisdom. If you have not, please find it for yourself and you will also find life. If you have already found God's Wisdom, then the exhortation for you is to keep on walking in that wisdom (Colossians 4:5). 

You now need to maintain your walk in God's Wisdom. It is no point to find wisdom only to leave it later on, for something else. Blessing only comes from a continual abiding in God's Wisdom, as v.32 says 'Blessed are they that keep My ways.' The word keep has the idea of continuing action or maintenance. This is perhaps one reason why some of us seem to have lost our sense of peace, tranquility and God's blessing in our lives - in all our preoccupation with the things of this world, we have failed to maintain our walk in God's wisdom. We would then feel spiritually weak and dry. Let us who are saved and have found God's Wisdom, therefore ensure that we maintain our walk in God's Wisdom.

Thus far we have examined the first two pearls of wisdom from Proverbs 8 'To Hate God's Wisdom is to Love Death' and 'To Seek After God's Wisdom is to Find Life and Favour from the Lord' And now, we proceed on to the third and most precious pearl of Great wisdom in this passage: 

III. To Have Jesus Christ is to Have God's Wisdom and Life 

You know, the Bible is truly an amazing book. Since God is its divine author, all its various parts are very nicely linked together. Thus we can see one passage of scripture giving identical truths on the same topic with other passages of scripture. This phenomenon can be seen in this chapter of Proverbs. And from this we now understand that the wisdom of God in this chapter is actually Jesus Christ! 

I would like you to look at what God's wisdom says vv.22-23 'The LORD possessed me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.' and let us now compare it with John 1:1-4 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.' Can you see from this that the wisdom of God in Proverbs and the eternal Word in John are the same?

This was the opinion of commentators like Matthew Henry - 'Wisdom, here is Christ, in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge' This is verified in the New Testament that sees the fulfillment of God's wisdom in Christ. According to Colossians, all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hid in Jesus Christ! 1 Corinthians 1:24,30 affirms that Christ is the wisdom of God for all believers. Therefore the essence of God's wisdom is for us to know the Lord Jesus Christ personally, as our Lord and Saviour. Through Him you will be enlightened to understand the things of God, and the true meaning of life. You will know how to relate to God, and how to live your life according to His will and plan for your life. Dearly beloved, have you received God's Wisdom in Jesus Christ?

But Christ is more than God's wisdom to us. He is also life itself to us. Just as Proverbs 8 tells us that those who find God's wisdom will find life, so those who find Jesus Christ will find life in Him. This truth is clearly revealed in NT verses like: 1 John 5:11 'And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.' John 14:6 - 'I am the way the Truth and the Life, No man cometh unto the Father but by Me.' In John 11:25, He also said, 'I am the resurrection and the Life. he that believeth in Me, though He were dead, yet shall He live.' 

According to John 5:26 Jesus has life in Himself ('For as the Father hath life in Himself; so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself.') No one can claim to have life in themselves like Jesus. We do not have inherent life within us, as the life we have is actually not from ourselves, but derived from others. We derived life from our parents when we were conceived and born. But Christ is different. He does not derive life from anyone, just as God derives life from no one. Jesus possesses inherent life. Within His own being, He has the power to create life, the power to renew life, and the power to give eternal life to anyone He wills.

And Jesus will give life to anyone who will just come to Him and receive it from Him by faith. In John 10:10 He said, 'I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.' Jesus is the Life-giver. Dearly beloved, have you received the Life which is in Christ Jesus? Earlier on we saw that Christ is God's Wisdom to us. Putting both of these together now, we understand that He is both our Life and our Wisdom.

But the sad thing we see today is that many people are looking for life and wisdom in all the wrong places, and therefore they fail to find it. Contrary to what many people think, life cannot be found in having all the material things of this world. In Luke 12:15 Jesus said that 'a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesses.' And contrary to what many people think, the wisdom of this world is not as wise as people think, since 1 Corinthians 3:19 tells us 'For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.'(cf. 1 Corinthians 2:6; Romans 1:22).

How sad it is to see so many who have not found wisdom and life, because they have not come to the Jesus. But how about you? The question that this message today poses for all of us is: When you know that Jesus is truly the Wisdom of God and the Life, are you constantly appropriating these things from Him? Are you daily depending upon Him as your source of wisdom and life? That is the question for those of us here who already have Christ as our Lord and Saviour.

For those of us who are still outside Christ, your greatest need is to receive Jesus Christ into your life. Please do not delay, but come to Him right now repenting of your sins, and asking Him to be your Lord and Saviour. We began this message by stressing that matters of life and death should never be taken lightly. Coming to Christ is a matter of life and death! Please take time to give serious thought to what you have heard from God's Word today. For we cannot tell whether we will live to see another day, or whether we will be overtaken by a sudden disaster like the plane crash that took the lives of 79 people just 5 days ago. May the Lord help us all.

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

December 3 & 10 - Holy Living

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 2 Peter 3:11