Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding (Proverbs 3:13).
Surely we live in “perilous times,” as prophesied by the apostle Paul in his second epistle to Timothy:
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof (2 Tim. 3:1-5).
As you read that scripture some distinct or specific examples are likely to come to mind. Two recent examples that are most distinct in my mind are these:
- God, theology, or religion are becoming less a part of people’s lives in most modern societies; even targeted by societal minorities and accused of being unacceptably discriminatory.
- Most modern societies in the world today have redefined the societal family unit; now to be very loose or ambiguous.
These are examples of man’s wisdom, and the different states or attitudes that Paul describes are the fruits of man’s wisdom. A lot of these “new“, popular views or practices, and the reason why people today question the “old” traditional beliefs and practices, seem to stem from the vast amount of information that has been collected and is now mostly available through modern technologies (e.g. – advanced scientific technology, social media and the internet). I can agree that that the earth has never experienced an age like today, but it has of similar or like ages. True principles never change.
Nevertheless, according to the voice of the people or of government these new views and practices, and other societal aspects are viewed today as positive, or wise if you will, and in many cases have even been set as laws of the land. Of course, we cannot or necessarily will not know the effects of these changes until later on, after they have been tried and tested by time…or can we know?
One might ask, for example, how or why the belief in a God, or the traditional definition of a marriage/family being between a man and a woman with children of their own, came into existence in the first place. And then, contemplate the fact that this is true for most world cultures (not just Christians alone).
A history professor of mine told us students the very first day of class: “Those who fail to record history are bound to repeat it.” Interestingly enough both the Bible and Book of Mormon, which are long-term records of certain peoples or civilizations, demonstrate this pattern exactly, many times over the many years recorded within them. In both cases, the people who are righteous, or in other words, follow the counsel and wisdom of God, are always blessed and almost always spared, while those who are wicked, or in other words, follow their own wisdom or the wisdom of men and deny God and His counsels, are always cursed and almost always degenerate or are destroyed altogether. Furthermore, it is quite evident that is was in God’s own wisdom that both of these volumes of scripture were made and kept, and it was according to the wisdom of God, and through divine revelation that the contents of these books of scripture were decided upon and explained for the purpose and benefit of future generations.
Therefore, the scriptures contain or reflect the wisdom of God, and teach us truth; things as they really are. In some instances this knowledge and wisdom is referred to as the mysteries of God, or hidden treasures of knowledge. In his first epistle to the Corinthian saints, the apostle Paul both explains why this wisdom and knowledge is referred to as mysterious or hidden, and instructs us how we can obtain it:
…we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:…
But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:7, 10-14).
So, God’s wisdom is hidden in that it appears as foolishness, or is otherwise transparent to those who are insensitive to the Spirit.
In the previous chapter, Paul gives a prime example of this from his day:
For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
For [according] to the wisdom of God the world by [man’s] wisdom knew not God, [therefore] it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
But unto them [who believe], both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
…God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty (1 Corinthians 1:17-25, 27).
Now, this does not mean that secular knowledge is of no worth. In fact, God wants us to seek learning in mortality. But not all secular knowledge is truth. God wants us to grow in the truth, and He has command that we seek truth and wisdom out of the “best books,” and by experience. Through gifted and inspired individuals, perhaps as well as other temporal means, mankind has learned and gained much truth as to our physical and biological world. What is more effective, however, and important to our learning is our attitude, or spirit in learning. God’s commandment for us to learn is not limited to study alone, but also by faith (D&C 109:7). Said Solomon the wise:
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).
In like manner, the prophet Jacob in the Book of Mormon boldly taught:
O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.
But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God (2 Nephi 9:28-29).
So, you see, we must always remember, and rely on our Heavenly Father. As we do, and as we seek His wisdom in faith and with the intent to obey, to live by it; Only then will His mysteries be revealed freely to us by way of the Spirit, and we will experience joy beyond comparison, as King Benjamin observes and counsels us:
O, all ye old men, and also ye young men, and you little children who can understand my words, for I have spoken plainly unto you that ye might understand, I pray that ye should awake to a remembrance of the awful situation of those that have fallen into transgression.
And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.
In the world today, we can see that same pattern that we find in the scriptures actually happening in real time. In such a world and in such a time may we remember and take heed to the words of the prophet Jacob, from the Book of Mormon:
O then, my beloved brethren, repent ye, and enter in at the strait gate, and continue in the way which is narrow, until ye shall obtain eternal life.
O be wise; what can I say more?