Wisdom and Folly

A Gospel Address on Proverbs 9; Luke 7:38-50; Revelation 21:1-8

I read the 9th of Proverbs, because we have presented to us there the two great principles that are at work all around us—wisdom and folly; and every one of us is more or less under the power of one or the other. Folly is the path pleasing to the flesh, in which the natural desires are gratified and indulged. It is the path of self-will and disobedience. The foolish woman is the personification of it. It is the corrupt religious system around us. It was corrupt Judaism in the past dispensation; it is corrupt Christianity today. What is said of the foolish woman is, she “forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God” (Prov. 2:17). It is not hard to recognize her today with such a clear description.

The professing church has fallen, and only awaits the judgment of God. You get church history in Revelation 2 and 3, and if you read it carefully, and understand it, you will know the truth about its departure from God better than you would if you read all the histories of its decline ever written by men. The first thing said of it is that it has fallen. It had left its first love; had become less ardently desirous to follow the Guide of its youth. This goes on till it has to be told, “I will spue thee out of My mouth.” “Thou sayest, I am rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing, and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Rev. 3:17).

This is the foolish woman, clamorous, simple, and ignorant. Whatever her pretensions to wisdom may be, this is God’s account of her. There may be a great appearance of understanding about her, great ability to search out mysterious things, and bring secrets to light; but she is without the knowledge of God. Her very wisdom is her folly, for having cast off God, she thinks to compensate herself by clothing herself with the glory of the world, and by the gratification of her lusts

Clamorous, simple, and ignorant! Who would listen to her? But she will allure those who are not entirely careless. She calls passengers who go right on their ways. Not the indifferent. She can let them pass on. They go on to judgment without her aid. She appeals to those who seek a plain path. “Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.” She allures “through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error” (2 Peter 2:18). She commends the indulgence of the fleshly will of man, and her victim “knoweth not that the dead are there, and that her guests are in the depths of hell.”

Wisdom has builded her house. There is a Shelter for the people of God; and which cannot be moved. Noah, warned of God, built an ark for the saving of his house. He found grace in the eyes of the Lord, and that grace brought salvation to him and his house. But the grace of God that brings salvation to all men has appeared. God would have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. “Wisdom has builded her house, she has hewn out her seven pillars, she has killed her beasts, she has mingled her wine, she has also furnished her table” All things are now ready. Every preparation has been made. The glad tidings must go out. In the streets and lanes, upon the highways, and among the hedges the trumpet must be blown. The maidens compel to the great supper in the house of God.

The world is under judgment. The day is fixed, the Man appointed who shall execute the righteous judgment of God. Men look for the improvement of the world, for its conversion. I do not, my friends. I look for its judgment. God has not appointed a day for its conversion, but He has for its judgment. The proof of this is that He has raised Christ from the dead. He has gone into heaven. He was not brought back into the world. It has had its opportunity. It has put out the Son of God. He will come back to this world in power and great glory, as its judge.

In the meantime repentance and remission of sins is preached among all nations. The grace of God has come to men in Christ. In His name forgiveness is announced to all. There are no exceptions. The woman spoken of in Luke 7 found out the vessel of the grace of God, and drew near to Jesus. She was a child of wisdom. Her hope was not based upon what was in her for God, but on what was in God for her. Simon was under the influence of the world, He was a child of folly. He thought everything depended upon what was in man for God. But he has to hear that when man has nothing to pay, he is forgiven. Ah! this is it. It is all pure grace. Simon is fearfully deceived. He condemns the activities of the grace of God in a world of sinners. He says, “This woman that toucheth Him is a sinner.” Yes, but a forgiven one. Blessed be God!

People say you must be a good man to be able to say you are forgiven. Is that sensible? Does a good man need forgiveness? If I say I am forgiven, I am saying something very bad about myself, but very good about the grace of my Creditor. And God has come out in His great goodness with forgiveness for all.

Come, eat of My bread. You need it. The prodigal heard of it in the far country, when perishing with hunger, and turned to his father for it. Bread enough and to spare. But he got more than he came for. His father covered him with kisses. He got a deep draught of the wine that was mingled for such as he. Figuratively he got the Holy Spirit, who shed abroad the love of God in his heart. The wine gladdened his heart. Drink of the wine that I have mingled.

The kindness and love of God toward all men has appeared. And you may rest assured that what God has caused to appear, is what He would have men occupied with. Turn your eye from yourself to Christ. Hearken to wisdom’s voice. Hear, and your soul shall live.

O, you say, if it were really bread, such as I could stretch out my hand for, and take, I should at once possess myself of it, but faith is a puzzle to me, and I do not understand. But I think you deceive yourself, because if it were a loaf of bread held out to you to satisfy your hunger, before you could stretch forth your hand for it, you would have to believe that it was really yours. Now, if God’s grace is for all, if forgiveness is preached to everyone in the name of Jesus, is it yours, or not? This is the whole point. The poor sinner spoken of in Luke 7 had really appropriated the grace of forgiveness before the word was spoken to her. God means you to be happy. His attitude toward you is perfect grace. It has come to you in Christ. Why do you hesitate? “To Him give all the prophets witness, that through His name whosoever believes on Him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43).

Now turn to Revelation 21. There are the heights of glory and the depths of hell. Wisdom’s guests, and the guests of the foolish woman. Those who give their ear to the voice of the foolish woman, find their portion where they desired it should be, afar off from God. They would have none of Him; He will have none of them. They disappear forever out of God’s universe of bliss. “The fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (v. 8).

But there is for the children of wisdom a new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness, no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away. Everything that could be shaken has been shaken and removed. Wisdom’s house cannot be shaken, and it remains; the everlasting home of all who hearkened to her gracious voice. Jesus makes all things new. He is the Alpha and the Omega; the perfect expression of the whole mind and nature of God. He is the first letter and the last, of all that could be declared of the thoughts and counsels of the invisible God. He is also the beginning and the end, the One who set everything in motion, and the Object of all the activities of God. Everything is by Him and for Him.

He will give to him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He is the last Adam, a life-giving Spirit. He will give the Spirit to them that ask Him. And if you get the Spirit you will be able to overcome all the influences of this evil world. If you do not get the Spirit you cannot expect to overcome. You have no power in yourself. But “whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (chap. 22:17).

He that overcomes shall inherit these things, and I will be his God, and he shall be My son. How very blessed! Hearken to the voice of wisdom. Hear the gracious invitation, “Come, eat of My bread and drink of the wine which I have mingled.” Hear, and your soul shall live.