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Getting Wisdom

Theologians divide the attributes of God into two categories, communicable and incommunicable. That God created man in his image means that man was given qualities corresponding to the attributes of God. However, not all of God’s attributes were included in this image. Incommunicable attributes are those for which there is no corresponding quality in his image in created man. These attributes were not communicated to Adam. They include aseity (self-existence) and infinitude (unlimited by time or space). Communicable attributes are those that God communicated to man in creation. They are his moral qualities.

God’s communicable attributes are the image of God in us. That image, and therefore those attributes, were lost or damaged in the fall. A part of God’s redemptive plan is the renewal of those communicable attributes (2 Corinthians 3:18; Colossians 3:10).

Among those communicable attributes is wisdom. It should be clearly seen that fallen man is lacking wisdom. It is equally clear that God wants to give us wisdom. Scripture, particularly the book of Proverbs, exhorts us repeatedly to “get wisdom.” The New Testament also instructs us to seek wisdom (Ephesians 5:15–17; James 1:5). But how can we get wisdom? J. I. Packer offers two prerequisites for receiving this gift.


1. We must learn to reverence God. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” . . . Not until we have become humble and teachable, standing in awe of God’s holiness and sovereignty . . . acknowledging our own littleness, distrusting our own thoughts and willing to have our minds turned upside down, can divine wisdom become ours.

2. We must learn to receive God’s Word. wisdom is divinely wrought in those, and those only, who apply themselves to God’s revelation. “Your commands make me wiser than my enemies,” declares the Psalmist; “I have more insight than all my teachers”—why?—“for I meditate on your statutes” (Ps 119:98–99).

So Paul admonishes the Colossians, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly . . . with all wisdom” (Col 3:16). How are we of the twentieth century to do this? By soaking ourselves in the Scriptures, which, as Paul told Timothy (and he had in mind the Old Testament alone!), “are able to make you wise for salvation” through faith in Christ, and to make us “thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:15–17).

Again, it is to be feared that many today who profess to be Christ’s never learn wisdom, through failure to attend to God’s written Word. . . . How long is it since you read right through the Bible? Do you spend as much time with the Bible each day as you do even with the newspaper? What fools some of us are!—and we remain fools all our lives, simply because we will not take the trouble to do what has to be done to receive the wisdom which is God’s free gift.

—J. I. Packer, Knowing God (InterVarsity Press, 1993), 101–102.

Posted 2008·11·25 by David Kjos
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Posted in: Godliness · J I Packer · Knowing God · Sufficiency · Wisdom · Wisdom (of God)

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