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Hey, this is John Ortberg passage to wisdom. I’m so glad you’re joining us. And I have a word, an invitation for today, which is Revere ancient wisdom. I cannot go outside today cuz it’s raining, but I’m in California where we need rain so much. So thank God for that. And I’m reminded of how the prophet said a long time ago that just like the rain can’t fall to the earth without watering it, making it flourish in bud. So it is with every word from God, every thought every action, every expression of God achieves his purpose and his attention. And that thought was expressed more than 2000 years ago and it brings great, uh, hope to me that God wants my life, my spirit, my mind to bud into flourish. And so he’s sending his word, his goodness, his love to me from one moment to the next.

Now all of this is backdrop for what I want to talk about that I receive Revere ancient wisdom in the screw tape letters. Old uncle screw tape is talking with wormwood about a problem that human beings often have when it comes to prayer, where we get confused about it. If God knows everything, he foresees everything. If he knows what’s gonna happen, then why would my prayers make a difference? How can people really be free? And screw tape talks about it may be replied that some metal, some human writers notably Bethe have let this secret out. Now BEUs was a brilliant philosopher. He lived four or 500 years after Jesus. He was imprisoned by the Romans for treason, died a horrible death. But before he died, wrote a book called the consolation of philosophy, which is one of the great books of all time. And he talks about this particular question of God’s knowledge.

And he says really because God transcends time because God has eternity. And that means life whole and perfect. In one moment, God, doesn’t so much force the, as he simply sees and that makes it possible for God to know all things and still honor human freedom. Uh, screw tape’s point in this is if people had read Beas, then they might have some understanding of this and this is what he writes. And this is where it gets to what I wanna talk with us about today to Revere ancient wisdom, but in the intellectual climate, which we have at last succeeded in producing throughout Western Europe. And we could include the us or the west. Generally you didn’t bother about that. Only the learned, read old books.

It is worthwhile to read old books only they’ll learn, read old books and we have now so dealt with the learned that they are of all people, the least likely to acquire wisdom by doing so. Now there is of course, a difference between wisdom and information, a series of facts, wisdom, particularly as it’s talked about in the wisdom literature of the Bible, like the book of Proverbs is above everything else. The ability to make good decisions that lead to flourishing life and we are being drowned in information, but there is a drought of wisdom. And this is a fascinating observation by screw tape only to learn, read old books we have now dealt so dealt with the learn that they are of all people, the least likely to acquire wisdom by reading old books. Now, why is this? So this is something very important going on in our culture that it’s good to be aware of.

We have done this by inculcating. The historical point of view, the historical point of view put briefly means that when a learned person is presented with any statement by an ancient author, the one question they never ask is whether it is true. He asks, who influenced this ancient writer and how far this statement is consistent with what he said in other books and what phase in the writer’s development or in the general history of thought it illustrates and how it affected later writers and how often it has been misunderstood, especially by the learned person’s own colleagues and what the general course of criticism on it has been for the last 10 years. And what is the present state of the question to regard the ancient writer as a possible source of knowledge, to anticipate what he said could possibly modify your thoughts or your behavior.

This would be rejected as unutterably, simple mind. And this is very pervasive in our day. And particularly in realms of education, there is an old musical that I love singing in the rain. Some of you may have seen it and lean Lamont is the woman in it who, uh, plays a movie actress often in these old 17th century French restoration pieces. And, uh, she will wear these big elaborate wigs. And she says, this is stupid. Anybody that would wear a wig like this is a dope. And she’s told back then everybody wore wigs like this. And she says, well, then everybody was a dope. And that’s the historical point of view. One perspective on history is to say that when it comes to wisdom, now, obviously there’s areas in technology or scientific understanding where there have been enormous levels of pro uh, uh, progress, but that when it comes to wisdom, what is beauty? What makes a person good? Is life worth living? When it comes to wisdom, we should be humble. And we have much to learn from previous generations. Lewis talks sometimes about the idea of chronological snobbery and the idea of chronological snobbery is that every generation of course is smarter, better, stronger, wiser than the generations than went before. So we have nothing to bother to learn with them. And then we cut ourself off from enormous amounts of wisdom.

Tosser said that, uh, tradition is a very important part of human life. That it’s really the extension of democracy to the dead. And we wanna be humble enough to learn from those who went before us. Screw tape goes on since we cannot deceive the whole human race all the time. It is most important thus, to cut every generation off from all others, for where learning makes a free commerce between the ages. There’s always the danger that the characteristic errors of one may be corrected by the characteristic truths of another. But thanks be to our father and the historical point of view, great scholars are now as little nourished by the past as the most ignorant mechanic who holds history as bunk. And you might remember that ignorant mechanic was Henry Ford. So the alternative to this is to recognize that there is great wisdom in the past, but the historical point of view is more and more prominent in our day. And you recognize this by phrases. Like sometimes people will say you don’t want to be on the wrong side of history. What’s the idea what would be the wrong? Well, the idea would be that history automatically is the same thing as progress and therefore wherever history leads. That’s the question we wanna ask where’s history going because we wanna be on the right side of history. A different way of thinking is for example, what Dr. Martin Luther king Jr said that the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

In other words, history is just the passage of time. Justice is a standard by which human actions and the course of history will be judged. So I’ll give one example of this first Corinthians 13, where Paul is writing about the truth of love and love understood as it was taught and embodied by Jesus. He says, though, I speak in the tongues of men and of angels. If I don’t have love, I’m just a resounding gong or a clanging symbol. If I have the gift of prophecy and I can fathom all mysteries and knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can move them out, but don’t have love. I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, uh, to feed the poor and give my body to be burned. Peter Wagner used to say, based on that passage, that martyred him is actually a spiritual gift, but it’s the gift. You can only use one time if I give away everything, but don’t have love. I gain nothing.

And of course the alternative is then if I do have love, I gain something. If I do have this kind of love, I am something. What is this love like love is patient love is kind. It does not dishonor others. It is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight and evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects. Always trusts. Always hopes, always perseveres love never fails. Now has anyone come up with better knowledge about love than that? Where did Paul get these ideas? Nobody talked about Zeus in those terms, nobody talked about bail in those terms, those words are not just inspiring. They are not just poetic. They are true. And we are to live our life by them. So today Revere ancient wisdom and in particular love today, be patient. When you’re tempted to snap today, be kind when you’re tempted to be cruel or gossip. I do those things so easily today, honor others today. Don’t be easily provoked today. Revere ancient wisdom, make it a wonderful day. I’ll see you next time.