Wisdom and Holiness in the New Testament

In this episode, Johnathan Arnold and Philip Brown continue to discuss the relationship between wisdom and holiness.

Quotes from Brown:

  • We see Christ growing up doing precisely what Proverbs prescribes so that he may grow in wisdom.
  • The incarnate Christ is the model for human holiness because the same Spirit that empowered Jesus for his life and ministry dwells within us.
  • The Beatitudes are cast in a wisdom format because they affirm the blessedness of a person who has a given characteristic, coming directly out of the Psalms and even Proverbs.
  • Your intelligence level is less important than your posture towards truth.
  • It is not as though the person who has never given much thought to the nature of wisdom or to acquiring wisdom doesn’t have wisdom. To whatever degree a person has embedded the thoughts and teaching of Christ into their own mental structure and then lives those thoughts and teachings out, they are wise. You can have a very uneducated person who has immersed themselves in Scripture and is thus both wise and holy, though they don’t have the exposure that education provides.
  • The essential “problem” for God was how to be just—maintain your moral government, holiness, and righteous standard—and justify sinners. This seems like an intractable problem. The cross is the solution that cuts the gordian knot of this problem.
  • The body of Christ is a plurality in which there is unity without uniformity. God in his wisdom given a plurality of gifts to the body, and that means that other people are going to be able to speak into my life, teaching and admonishing me, and I should not think that I am beyond that.
  • Divine discipline has as its purpose that you share in the character of God. Suffering is the workshop of divine discipline in our life to shape us to make us like him.
  • Every call to holiness in the New Testament in one way or another touches on the social dimension. There’s no escaping of it. We love Ephesians 5:18 on being filled with the Spirit, but many people don’t get around to going down and preaching on verse 21, which is submitting to one another in the fear of Christ. That submission finds its most natural enactment when someone is making a demand on us—correction, instruction, or admonition. This is Christlikeness. Christ who submitted to the Father calls us to submit to one another.
  • I have a part in others’ pursuit of holiness. When they are weak, part of my job is to make straight paths for their feet and help them to be healed.
  • The holiness marathon—this journey—is a pursuit of holiness from start to finish, and it’s done in the community of the saints, as we all look to Jesus. We recognize the role of discipline and resisting against sin, but we do it together. That’s so different than the individualistic “I gotta go to the altar, get it all straightened out, then maintain my devotions, and it’s all about me and my personal walk with the Holy Spirit.” A lack of accountability and transparency, and having other people speak into my life on a consistent basis, is one of the reasons why there’s so much up-and-down in the holiness tradition. When we link arms with one another, as wisdom says, a threefold cord is hardly broken.

We need to hear a rebuke to the current use of social media that causes people to be unwilling to be transparent because if they are transparent, they are going to be fried or skewered or screamed at.

  • We need to hear a rebuke to the current use of social media that causes people to be unwilling to be transparent because if they are transparent, they are going to be fried or skewered or screamed at. God have mercy on the people who are not being kind and tenderhearted, loving and forgiving one another even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven us. This is the very opposite of holiness.
  • Proverbs makes it abundantly clear and James summarizes it in his little line, “Let every many be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” And I would say, here it is, the very thing that James says we are not to be, we often are. We’re quick to speak, quick to wrath, and slow to hear. And so I would say, what Scripture calls to us in this particular time is the wisdom that slows down. The whole conversation’s pace must slow down so that we’re hearing one another, understanding one another, we fully explore the alternative position before we offer critique. Most people lack the grace of patience and because they’re impatient, they are unwise in their words. Wisdom is never impatient. That’s not to say that wisdom may not speak up and say some hard words. We see Jesus himself saying some very hard words. But that was the exception in the life of Christ, not the rule. It was particularly in cases where he recognized there was a hardened, wilful refusal to accept truth.
Johnathan Arnold
Johnathan Arnold
Johnathan Arnold is a husband, father, and aspiring pastor-theologian, as well as the founder and president of holyjoys.org. You can connect with him on Twitter @jsarnold7.