“That the Father of glory, may give to you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.” Ephesians 1:17
Thus prayed Paul for his believing friends at Ephesus. The Holy Spirit is always a gift. A father’s gift, bestowed on his beloved children. The person of the Spirit is one—but the gift, graces, endowments, and operations of the Spirit are various. His names and titles are derived from his office and work. He is the “Spirit of God,” for he reveals God. He is “the Spirit of Christ,” for he makes known Christ. He is “the Spirit of grace,” for he imparts grace. He is “the Spirit of glory” for he fits and leads to glory. Here he is called “the Spirit of wisdom,” as he makes us wise unto salvation, and imparts to us “the wisdom which is from above, which is pure, peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits; without partiality, and without hypocrisy,”
“The Spirit of wisdom” appears, in teaching us to reject all false refuges, and to make sure work for eternity. Where the Spirit of wisdom is, the man will not lay his own good works for a foundation; nor will he build for salvation, partly on works and partly on grace; but he will dig deep and lay his foundation on a rock. He must have a tried stone or he will not build on it. Christ, and Christ alone will do as a foundation for his hope, an object for his faith, and a Savior from sin and hell.
He will wisely compare himself, his state, his faith, and his profession, with the word of God. Everything will be measured by that rule. Every experience will be brought to that test. Nothing will be esteemed solid, durable, or satisfactory, which will not bear the test of God’s most holy word. He will not be satisfied with light in his head, or morality in his life—but he must have an experience of the power of divine things in his heart; and whatever it may cost him of pain, effort, or anxiety, he will not rest without the internal work of the Holy Spirit.
“The Spirit of wisdom,” will not let us rest at first—but as we feelingly build upon Christ alone for everlasting life; nor will he allow us to go on long with any comfort—but as we realize that we are resting on Christ, looking to Christ, and receiving from Christ. He empties us of self—to fill us with Christ. And having once fixed the affections upon Christ, he will not allow them to be satisfied with any other object. Christ within us, the hope of glory; and Christ for us, the object of faith, and source of comfort—gives us solid satisfaction, and well founded assurance. With this the Spirit will allow us to rest well satisfied—but with nothing short of it.
“The Spirit of wisdom” teaches us to exercise our graces, and qualifies us to perform our Christian duties. But for his gracious presence, indwelling, and power, we would not know when, or how to embrace the promises, rest in them, or successfully plead them before God. There would be no patience in tribulation, hope in dullness, submission under the rod, sorrow for discovered sin, or much yielding of ourselves to our Father’s will. Every grace needs its impulse, and requires his directing energy.
But for the Spirit of wisdom, every command of God would be grievous; every duty would be irksome and difficult; and the ordinances would be like dry breasts. If He enlarges our hearts, we run in the way of God’s commandments; but if left to ourselves, we are inactive, cold and lifeless. It is easy to know how to walk—if he directs us. It is sweet to perform duty—if he assists us. But if left to ourselves, the very reverse is the case. May our heavenly Father give us more and more of the powerful presence and gracious operation of “the Spirit of wisdom.”
“The Spirit of wisdom” fits us for our stations in the Church of God. Our spiritual gifts are from him. He must confer the gifts, impart the grace, point out our place, and help us in our employment, or we shall be sure to fall into mistakes.
For lack of “the Spirit of wisdom,” many vainly imagine that they are qualified for the office of a pastor, who are only fit to be occasional preachers. Many imagine that they are called to the ministry, who are only gifted to be Sunday School teachers. Many imagine that they ought to be deacons, who were never intended to leave the ranks of private members. On account of these mistakes, churches, instead of getting pastors, are troubled with plagues! Congregations have their patience tried, and their souls starved, by a fruitless ministry! Unqualified deacons lord it over a poor pastor, and neglect the deacon’s duty to the poor of the flock; and Sunday School teachers are needed, just because those who ought to teach, have wandered out of their proper sphere.
Did the Lord’s people look more to the Spirit, did they wait more in earnest prayer upon the Spirit, did they watch and expect to see the working of the Holy Spirit, both in providence and grace—these mistakes and disorders would be prevented, and so much misery would be escaped!
There is no fitness or qualification for any office in the church of Christ—without an extra degree of grace, and special spiritual gifts from the Holy Spirit; and these will be manifested by deep humility, and a profound sense of unfitness for the work, and unworthiness to be raised to so high an honor. A man is never really qualified for that in God’s church, for which he fancies he is just fit, and thinks no one could do so well. Aspirants to office are very often the most unqualified. Nearness to God, the effect of special grace and divine teaching, always deeply humbles us; and while it inspires us with a burning desire to do something to glorify God, makes us feel, with Abigail, that we are not worthy to wash the feet of the servants of our Lord.
“The Spirit of wisdom” teaches us to shun every evil, especially sin, setting the heart against it, and the eye to watch and detect temptations to it. It leads us to seek every good, especially holiness—or conformity to the Lord Jesus Christ. The Spirit guides the heart to fix on a high state of holiness—and then to use the most likely means to obtain it. The effect of his presence is mourning over indwelling sin, and lack of conformity to the Lord Jesus in temper, disposition, thought, desire, object and aim. Further effects are ardent longings and fervent desires for internal and external purity, steady aims to be like Jesus.
“Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me.” Psalm 25:4-5. Under Divine teaching and guidance:
Sin is our daily burden—and holiness is our constant pursuit.
The FEAR OF GOD is placed as sentinel of the soul, to watch the approach of the enemy.
GODLY SORROW is appointed the messenger to carry confessions, petitions, and desires to the throne of grace.
ZEAL is armed with a sword to cut off the sinful right hand, or pluck out the wandering right eye.
HOPE is placed on the watchtower to look out for the coming of the Lord, when sin shall expire in his presence, and holiness be perfected in the rays of his glory.
FAITH is engaged to work for God and man, having the promises for its support, the precepts for its guide, and love for its handmaid.
PATIENCE is appointed to keep all quiet and calm within—let the weather be ever so foul, the burden ever so heavy, and the trial ever so severe; and to call submission and resignation into active employment, if fretfulness, murmuring, or dissatisfaction should attempt to stir.
PEACE is placed as a garrison, to keep the heart and mind from anxiety, foreboding, and fault finding with the Lord’s dealings.
JOY is directed to run backwards and forwards to the wells of salvation, to supply the soul with the reviving, invigorating, and strengthening waters of life. Thus evil is prevented, good is secured, God is glorified, Satan is foiled, and the soul is saved.
“The Spirit of wisdom,” makes us wise to win souls. He sets the heart upon it, engages the energies in it, directs the soul to attempt it, and gives special qualifications for it. Wisdom is especially necessary for this work, for Satan has possession of the lost soul, and he is crafty, experienced, and determined; the soul loves sin, lives in it as its element, and will not willingly leave it; the world has cast its net over it, and with the lust of the flesh, the lusts of the eye, and the pride of life—holds it fast. Only the godly wise can expect to win souls. But if the heart is set upon it, if we cannot be satisfied without it, if we are determined to persevere in attempting it, we are justly qualified for it, and shall not be put off without it.
Besides which the apostolic direction comes in, “If any man lacks wisdom,” whether to manage trials perform duties, or win souls; “let him ask it of God, who gives to all liberally and upbraids not, and it shall be given him; but let him ask in faith, believing God’s promise, not wavering. For he who wavers, is like a wave of the sea—driven with the wind and tossed.” Such have no firmness of purpose, no stability of soul, no perseverance in prayer, no steady expectation from God, though he has given his word, and so pledged his character.
Brethren, if you would be qualified to exercise your graces, to perform your duties, to be fitted for and placed in your proper station, to shun the evil and seek the good, to win souls, to escape the snares of the world, and to honor God both in your body and soul, which are God’s; then seek, earnestly, daily, importunately seek, “That the Father of glory, may give to you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.” This will not only make you wise unto salvation—but wise to adorn the doctrine of God your Savior in all things. This will make you an ornament in the church, a blessing in the world, a conqueror of Satan, and a sweet savor unto God. This will entitle you to the promise, “Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever!”