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New Sermon Series from Proverbs 30 February 5, 2010

Posted by roberttalley in Bible, Proverbs, Religion, Sermons.
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CONFIDENCE IN LIFE
Proverbs 30:1-6

We live in an age of speculation and cynicism. The experts are proven wrong often enough that it is not surprising when people refuse to believe them.

Experts are finite. They are sometimes dishonest. They can also be blinded by their own arrogance. Although there is nothing wrong with respecting an expert, his or her statements must be evaluated for accuracy. We all understand this. This, however, destroys the confidence that we would like to have in our experts. For example, there are many parents of autistic children who recognize this and for that reason, refuse to accept the pronouncements of the medical community concerning the causes and cures of autism. It is easy to attribute their refusal to the emotion to which they come to this issue.

Yet we often hear of reversals in earlier medical opinions. Last year a panel of doctors suggested raising the recommended age for breast examinations from forty to fifty. It became a battle of the experts. One of the biggest worries was that women would no longer be confident in their doctors recommendations.

Another example is that of W.C. Heuper of the National Cancer Institute who was supposedly quoted by the New York Times in 1954 as saying, “If excessive smoking actually plays a role in the production of lung cancer, it seems to be a minor one.”

Such examples cause us to lack confidence in the experts. The lack of confidence in politicians, journalists, authors, and even pastors is not surprising. Too often we have found to be fallible, blind to the truth, or even dishonest and self-seeking.

It is possible to have confidence in life. Our confidence in life, however, should not rest on human experts but rather on divine truth. That is the message that Agur the son of Jakeh has for Ithiel and Ucal. We know nothing of these men but we do know the purpose of the book of Proverbs. The book of Proverbs was written so that young men, particularly young men of the royal family, would understand that wisdom begins in God and is expressed in life through our actions. This certainly applies to all of us but many of the dangers addressed in this book are uniquely dangerous to young men of some means. They had in those days temptations to face that were not common for the poor or for women.

Agur wants these two men to understand that even though there are many temptations in this world, one can through life with confidence if his confidence is placed in the truth.

A. First of all, Agur illustrates for them that confidence in life comes with an understanding of the nature of God (verses 1-4). Agur is a wise man but he makes it clear in verses 2-3 that he is unable through his own wisdom to obtain knowledge of God.

a. That does not mean that God cannot be known. He is knowable by man through the Word of God (verses 2-3, 4b-5). There is much that we do not know about God but He has not kept Himself secret from us. He has revealed Himself to us through His Word.

Paul talks about this in 1 Corinthians 2:20-21 says, “Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.”

We can have confidence in this life because we understand that God wants us to know Him.

b. He is all-powerful in maintaining creation (verse 4a). God has gathered the wind in His fists, bound the waters in a cloth, and fixed the position and rotation of the earth. God determines where and when storms hit and where the oceans are located. He controls creation.

Yet this God who controls the creation wants us to know Him for it is in knowing Him that we can have confidence in life. In Ecclesiastes 12:1, 7 Solomon wrote, “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come…[for] then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.” Young person, do not wait until your old to seek God. Look at the wind and the waves and the horizon and seek the face of the Creator and Controller of those things now!

Where should you look? Not in creation. The creation reveals God’s power and judgment according to Romans 1 but if you really want to seek God, then you must go to His Word. In Romans 10:6-9, Paul echoes Agur’s first question in Proverbs 30:4, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ down from above) or “ ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ ” that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

c. He is the protector (the shield) of those who trust in Him (verse 5). That is why you can have confidence through God’s Word. In it you will understand that you are protected through faith in Him.

Warren Wiersbe tells in his book, “Walking with the Giants” how that G. Campbell Morgan was beginning to lose confidence in his faith. “In desperation, he locked all his books in a cupboard, secured a new Bible, and began to read it. ‘If it be the Word of God, and if I come to it with an unprejudiced and open mind, it will bring assurance to my soul of itself,’ he said. He canceled all his preaching engagements and devoted himself to the Bible. The result?” Wiersbe quotes Morgan as saying, “That Bible found me!”

Let me add my testimony to Morgan’s. It was not until I put total confidence in God’s Word rather than in my own ability to be righteous that I was about to confidence in this life. When you are afraid then look to God’s Word. When you are plagued by doubts then look to God’s Word. When you are ridden with guilt then look to God’s Word. When you are burdened with sin then look to God’s Word. When you are facing the unknown look to God’s Word.

d. He will correct those who reject Him (verse 6). Know you might say, “Nah! I know better!” Like Pinocchio on Pleasure Island, you will one day be corrected in your ways. The question is not if God will correct your ways but rather when, before or after it is too late.

B. Confidence in life comes with dependence on God as revealed in His Word (verse 5). The word “pure” means “refined.” There are no impurities in God’s Word.

a. God’s Word is dependable because it was pure when written. 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God…” God’s Word is God breathed. It is as pure as the breath of God. Was it not, you ask, written by men? Peter answers in 2 Peter 2:21, “…prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” It is God’s Word not man’s word. Men were merely the tools used by God to give us His pure word.

b. God’s Word is dependable because it is pure in its preservation. Did you realize that the book of Proverbs was not put into its final form until at least two hundred years after Solomon’s death. Look at Proverbs 25:1, “These also are proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied.” What if they miscopied something. God preserves His Word. Now that does not mean that there were never mistakes made in the copying. Mistakes were made. Nor does that mean that mistakes were never made in translation. Mistakes have been made. What it does mean is that God preserves His Word. None of God’s Word has been lost. The form may not be on tablets of stone as given to Moses or on scrolls as used by Jeremiah but we have God’s Word today.

My son and I were talking the other day about drawing a 90 degree angle. He said it was impossible to draw a perfectly accurate 90 degree angle because we have no tools that can do that perfectly. We can, however, with a very close degree of accuracy draw a 90 degree angle and have confidence that an angle measures 90 degrees but we are limited.

In the same way, God has miraculously preserved His Word through multiple manuscripts and through careful study of those manuscripts and through careful translation of the resulting texts we can have confidence that we have the pure Word of God despite the fact that our understanding of all the issues and our solving of all textual issues is limited. We have God’s Word and it is pure.

c. God’s Word is dependable because it is pure in its teaching. Now teachers make mistakes. I sometimes make mistakes in my preaching and teaching of the Word of God but when I teach God’s Word as God intended it to be understood and apply it appropriately to my life then I am applying the pure Word of God and I can depend on it. I can be confident in life because I am confident in God’s Word.

C. A false confidence in life comes when we add our wisdom to God’s wisdom (verse 6). When some person, whether with the spoken word or with the verbal word claims to have additional revelation from God, that is a dangerous thing. It gives one a false confidence. The Mormon has a false confidence because he believes Joseph Smith’s addition to God’s Word. The Muslim has a false confidence because he believes Mohammed’s addition to God’s Word.

This applies to more than religious organizations. Some try to correct God’s Word through psychology or science. Others try to add to God’s Word through visions and dreams. Some claim to speak directly for God. All of these things add to a false confidence.

The IRS has a government website. There are, however, websites that claim to give help that are not from the IRS. You may follow their advice. When, however, the IRS makes a ruling, it does not matter how anyone else interprets the rules. The IRS has spoken and must be followed. Following anyone else will lead to false confidence.

a. Our additional wisdom is undependable when it contradicts God’s Word.

Have you ever tried to make a decision based on something of which you were not sure if it was true? Have you ever tried to use a map in which you had already found errors? You have no confidence. The map may be lovely to look at but if it is wrong, it will lead you the wrong way.

b. Our additional wisdom is undependable because it is not based in truth. Lies, sooner or later, lead to a day of reckoning.

You determine where to place your confidence by comparing what man says to God’s Word. If man contradicts God’s Word then place no confidence in what that man has said. Look at Deuteronomy 4:2-4, “You shall not add to the word which I command you, not take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. Your eyes have seen what the LORD did at Baal Peor; for the LORD your God has destroyed from among you all the men who followed Baal of Peor. But you who held fast to the LORD your God are alive today, every one of you.” Balaam had been given God’s Word and had given it out in its purity but he then called the king of Moab and said, “I couldn’t curse these people. God wouldn’t let me do it but if you will follow my advice and intermingle and intermarry with these people, God will destroy them” God did destroy those who intermarried but He also destroyed the king of Moab and his advisor, Balaam, the man who added to God’s Word.

Will you trust God’s Word today? In the coming weeks we will learn from Agur some of the things that he has learned from God’s Word. Today, I want to ask you if you will believe Jesus Christ. We saw in Romans 10 that faith in Christ is learned from God’s Word. Will you obey God’s Word today and put your faith in Jesus Christ, who died for your sins and rose again so that you might be saved.

Next Week: Proverbs 30:7-9 “Lead Me Not into Temptation”

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