Solomon or Jesus – Who’s Right?

Solomon or Jesus - Who's Right? LIVE Q&A for January 12, 2023

Who’s Right – Solomon or Jesus?

From Heather…

How do we view Proverbs 6:1-5 in comparison to John 15:13?

Jesus actually is our surety and he has paid the debt for our sins and our obligations. So in reality, we could never pay the debt for someone else, let alone ourselves. It therefore, points to Jesus as the only one who can put up security for any of us.

So, are we to follow the “wisdom” of Solomon, or are we to follow the example of Jesus?

I say that we are to follow the example of Jesus.

To be willing to lay your life down, not to pay for someone’s sins per say…but to take on their burden as if it is your own, is a function of the church and a function of Christianity. We are to bear each other’s burdens and outdo one another in showing each other honor.

This is something that allows us to offer our lives as a living sacrifice for God.

And a way to love others, and love God.

So, can you explain how we should view Proverbs 6:1-5 in relation to John 15:13 in one of your Q&A sessions? Thank you.

Proverbs 6:1–5

My son, if you become surety for your friend,

If you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger,

You are snared by the words of your mouth;

You are taken by the words of your mouth.

So do this, my son, and deliver yourself;

For you have come into the hand of your friend:

Go and humble yourself;

Plead with your friend.

Give no sleep to your eyes,

Nor slumber to your eyelids.

Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter,

And like a bird from the hand of the fowler.

John 15:13

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.

Understanding Proverbs 6:1–5

[1] If you become surety for your friend: Solomon warned his son against guaranteeing the debts of others, whether they were a friend or a stranger. This was the promise to pay the debts of the friend or stranger if they failed to pay.

This wasn’t really like loaning someone money, nor exactly like cosigning a loan. In modern financial terms, it was more like guaranteeing someone’s open line of credit.

You are snared by the words of your mouth: To promise to pay the debts of another person is to put yourself in a trap. It is a promise made with the words of your mouth but will affect and afflict your wallet or purse.

Proverbs 6:1–5 is a warning against guaranteeing, promising to pay, the future debts of someone else. Financially speaking, this is pretty good advice.

Understanding the Nature of Proverbs

Proverbs deals with principles, not with absolute “laws.” As a book of the Bible, it is unique in its theology, being concerned with practical life wisdom more than ideas about God and His work of salvation.

“Proverbs are wonderfully successful at being what they are: proverbs. They are not failed prophecies or systematic theologies. Proverbs by design lays out pointed observations, meant to be memorized and pondered, not always intended to be applied ‘across the board’ to every situation without qualification.” (Phillips)

Here is an example of “contradictory” proverbs:

Proverbs 26:4

Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
Lest you also be like him.

 Proverbs 26:5

Answer a fool according to his folly,
Lest he be wise in his own eyes.

So, which is it? Am I supposed answer a fool according to his folly, or not? The answer, of course, is “it depends.” Sometimes, the right thing to do is to NOT answer a fool according to his folly. Other times, the right thing to do is TO answer the fool according to his folly.

Overall, the book of Proverbs doesn’t give commands that apply universally in every circumstance. It gives principles for wise living that need to be applied wisely.

Comparing Proverbs 6:1–5 with John 15:13

  • Proverbs 6:1–5 deals with financial matters; John 15:13 deals sacrificing one’s self, giving one’s self in a much broader way, especially relevant to what Jesus did at the cross.
  • John 15:13 is a sacrifice that does good for someone else; it may not do good to guarantee another’s future debts.
  • Is it wise to take on all the future debts of someone else? Does that actually help them?
  • The laying down of Jesus’ life was unique; it expressed a love that goes beyond anything we can do. This is one of the points of Romans 5:6–8:

Romans 5:6–8

For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

I’ve read of times in history when courageous Christians gave themselves as slaves in exchange for others, to set them free. This happened in the early church.

“We know many among ourselves who have given themselves up to bonds, in order that they might ransom others. Many, too, have surrendered themselves to slavery, that with the price which they received for themselves, they might provide food for others.” (Clement of Rome, 1st century AD)

This also happened in the 12th century in Spain, when the Moors – the Muslims who occupied much of Spain – would kidnap and enslave Christians. There were committed Christians of the order of the Mercedarians who were so dedicated to seeing the Christian slaves set free that they would sometimes give themselves in exchange.

These are remarkable demonstrations of love and sacrifice, and examples of the greater love has no man than to lay down his life for his friends that Jesus spoke of in John 15:13. But this is really unrelated to the financial advice of Proverbs 6:1–5 – don’t guarantee all the future debts of someone else.

The last word comes from Charles Bridges, in his commentary on Proverbs. His comments on Proverbs 6:1–5 understood something of the question that Heather asked:

“Our God, while he warns us against putting up security, has taken it on himself. May his name be praised for this! He has given us his Word, his bond, yes, his blood as security for sinners, which no power of hell can shake.” (Bridges)

Is it permissible for Christians to eat blood pudding (Acts 15:20, 29)?

In the Old Testament, under the Old Covenant, Jewish people were very strictly prohibited from eating blood. It was a command given to Israel, and there were many reasons for that prohibition. In the New Testament, the dietary laws were set aside for believers, regardless of whether those believers came from Jewish or Gentile backgrounds. In Acts 15, the Apostles wrote a letter to the early Christians, telling them that they did not have to become Jews first in order to become Christians. As Gentiles, they didn’t have to go through Moses and the law. They could go directly to Jesus. But the Apostles told the believers that since there were substantial Jewish populations in their cities, they should abstain from the eating of blood.

But this wasn’t the case everywhere in the Roman Empire. For example, when Paul came to the city of Philippi, which was a big city, there were so few Jewish people there that they didn’t even have the required minimum of ten Jewish men in the community to establish a synagogue. So, they met by the riverside outside, which would be the custom of Jewish people if there were fewer than ten Jewish men in the city. Philippi was a big city but had a very small Jewish community.

In cities which had a substantial Jewish community, the idea was to not needlessly antagonize them. Gentile Christians were encouraged to lay off the eating of blood and lay off the meat sacrificed to idols. The Apostles also urged them to lay off the immorality, but that’s also roundly condemned in other passages and then tested. The immorality doesn’t really match with the other two things in the sense of something being set aside.

So, the main reason was to not needlessly offend the Jewish community in which the believers lived. I would give the same counsel to anybody who wanted it. First of all, if anybody would eat blood pudding or blood sausage today, I’d say don’t eat that stuff. It’s nasty. I apologize to anybody who likes it. Maybe you like it. It’s a Scandinavian thing. But the little I’ve tasted of it, no, thank you.

But if somebody did like it, it does not go against God’s command in the New Covenant to eat it, unless it would needlessly offend Jewish people that you would hope to evangelize in your community. Generally speaking, it is permissible if one wanted to do so.

What does Psalm 3:3 mean by saying that God is “my glory”? Please explain God’s glory.

Psalm 3:3 – But You, O LORD, are a shield for me, my glory and the One who lifts up my head.

As with many words or ideas in the Bible, glory has more than one narrow definition. Oftentimes, it needs to be determined by the context. We don’t want to assign just one narrow definition to glory.

We could define God’s glory as being the radiance of His being, the outshining of His person. In the Old Testament, we read about the cloud of glory, sometimes called the Shekinah, where God displays His glory. I’ve just been reading in the book of Numbers where repeatedly God displays His glory, His radiance, the outshining of His being.

Now, it’s obvious that Psalm 3:3 doesn’t use it in exactly the same way. David says to God, “You are my glory.” You see, everybody has something that they glory in. They glory in their accomplishments, they glory in their family, they glory in their heritage, they glory in their possessions. David says, “Lord, You’re my glory. You’re my radiance. You’re the expression of everything good and powerful and mighty and wonderful in my life.”

God’s glory is the outshining of who He is. Everything that’s good and wonderful and mighty and beautiful in God shines out of Him as His glory. So, there is a glory of God, of course. And there is some kind of glory of man. The two can’t be compared. But what a beautiful thing it is for somebody to say to the Lord, “You are my glory. Lord, I don’t glory in my social media clout. I don’t glory in how many likes or thumbs up I get. I don’t glory in the praise of man or the number in my bank account. I glory in You, Lord.” It’s a beautiful and powerful thing.

Is the gospel of Free Grace or “Easy-Believe-ism” a false gospel?

Is the gospel of free grace or “easy-believe-ism” a false gospel? If so, then are believers of that gospel estranged from Jesus of Nazareth, and not born again?

This depends on the definition of the gospel of free grace and easy-believe-ism. A person may merely mentally agree that Jesus Christ is Lord, that He died on a cross, and He rose from the dead. But if that mental assent is not supported by repentance, by an ongoing life of trust and love and dependence in and reliance upon Jesus Christ, their mere superficial, intellectual assent will not save them. If that’s how a person defines easy-believe-ism, then you’re absolutely right, it will not save anybody.

We are saved by grace alone; we don’t save ourselves. That grace is received by faith alone. But this faith is not a mere intellectual agreement. No, this faith will actually include repentance. It’s a wonderful thing to see in the Scriptures, how the first word of the gospel is repent.

I don’t rip off people’s sermons very often. I did rip off one sermon from a great preacher, a great man of God of a previous generation, named J. Edwin Orr. I wouldn’t preach it word for word, but I used his outline. When I would preach this message, I would let people know that I got the outline from J. Edwin Orr. It’s called, The First Word of the Gospel.

In that message, he points out how the first word in the mouth of John the Baptist was repent. The first word in the mouth of Jesus as he preached was repent. In Acts 2, the first command Peter gave to do something was repent. Repent, repent, repent. That is part of the message of the gospel. But we should never think that repentance is something different than faith. Repentance and faith go together. You might say that repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin.

We must each trust in, rely on, and cling to Jesus Christ, especially what He’s done for us at the cross in burying our sin, and in His resurrection giving us new life. If I trust and rely on and cling to that, it means that I stop trusting in, relying on, and clinging to everything else. It’s moving away from everything else. That’s a pretty good description of repentance. And faith is turning to Jesus.

So, repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin. If somebody really believes that they can believe in Jesus without leaving behind the things that are against God, then they haven’t understood. There are people who think that they are born again, and they are not. There are people who have made a very superficial half-step towards God. But they’ve been told that’s enough, and it’s not.

I believe in calling people to decision. I believe in leading people in prayer for salvation. But those things must be understood as a first step after which other steps must follow. They are important first steps, but that’s what they are: first steps.

So yes, there are people who have a bare intellectual agreement, and they might say they’re believers. But their belief doesn’t translate into any kind of repentance, or any kind of real trusting in, relying on, or clinging to who Jesus is and what He did to save them. That kind of faith will not save you.

Why isn’t God more explicit on certain matters that cause contention amongst His people? For example, views on the end times, denominations, spiritual gifts, tithing?

I don’t know if I can tell you why. God in His wisdom makes some things very clear and without controversy in the Scriptures. Somebody somewhere might raise a controversy about it and say that Jesus Christ was not born of a virgin. There are people would dispute that. They should not be taken seriously. The things which the Bible clearly states are beyond controversy. You either believe it or you don’t believe it.

But there are other things which Christians view with differing perspectives. Spiritual gifts, eschatology, giving, and so on. I think one reason for this is that God wants us to be humble about such things. Now, I feel at peace with my understanding of eschatology in the Bible. I’m pre-millennial and believe in a pre-tribulation rapture of the church. This is my understanding of what the Bible teaches about eschatology, and I am at peace with it. However, I don’t despise people who believe differently. I think they’re wrong, of course. But I understand how they came to their conclusions. I don’t think they’re crazy and I don’t think they’re insincere.

It gives me an opportunity to exercise love. I think that God has allowed certain things to be less clear in the Scriptures, so that we would have humility in regard to ourselves and love for others. But I want to stress this again: woe to those who act as if nothing is clear in the Scriptures. For some reason, this is a special source of irritation to me lately. Some people will presume that, because the Bible isn’t crystal clear on everything, then the Bible isn’t crystal clear on anything. But the Bible is clear on many things, most things, the essential things.

In areas of dispute such as giving, spiritual gifts, eschatology, there is often more agreement among believers than is commonly thought. A lot of the disagreement has to do with things on the periphery, and not with the core Scriptural teaching.

Solomon believed in God and his family line was blessed by God. Towards the end of his life, he did not do good in God’s eyes. Why didn’t God make him realize his sin and repent like David?

Some people think that he did repent. Some people think that Ecclesiastes was written at the end of Solomon’s life, and it was his confession about his error and folly earlier in his life. I suppose that’s possible, but it is by no means certain. In the account of Solomon’s life as recorded in 1 Kings and 1-2 Chronicles, God doesn’t tell us about Solomon repenting.

I think God didn’t tell us that out of a warning. I think it’s a very important warning for us that nobody is so smart, so blessed, and so gifted, that they don’t need to take heed lest they fall away. Friends, do you realize how important that is? Solomon was an incredibly blessed man. Solomon was a man who had so much at his own disposal. Solomon was a man who understood so many things and had so many gifts and talents and abilities. And yet, as far as the biblical record is concerned, things ended very darkly for Solomon. I think God deliberately did that as a warning for us.

You mentioned that Cornelius had a real relationship with God. How can someone have a real relationship with God without a relationship with Jesus Christ?

Cornelius is presented to us in the Book of Acts as having a real but perhaps beginning relationship with God. His relationship with God was just barely beginning. He feared God. But God came to him, God met him, God led him on. It’s important to notice that God was working in Cornelius’ life and Cornelius had some relationship with God. And through that real relationship with God, God led him to a real knowledge of Jesus Christ. It would be just like the faithful Jewish people who hadn’t really heard of Jesus. They had some kind of relationship with God, but it wasn’t a full or salvific relationship with God until they came to Him through Jesus Christ.

For Cornelius, it was a pure beginning. It was the start. The Book of Acts tells us that Cornelius was a man who was praised by God for His righteousness. It doesn’t mean that he was saved yet, but it means that he had some kind of beginning relationship with God. The reality of his relationship with God was demonstrated by the fact that God came to him and drew him deeper into a relationship that can only be found in and through God’s Messiah, Jesus Christ.

The Bible says, “There is not one righteous,” yet Enoch walked with God and pleased Him so greatly that he did not face death. Noah was called righteous in the Scriptures and was saved from flood. How can we explain this?

When the Bible says that there’s not one righteous, that means not one righteous in himself. But the Bible makes it very plain that righteousness comes by faith. For example, Genesis 15 says that Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness. So, the Bible sometimes uses that idea of righteousness.

Yes, we as believers are made righteous by faith in Jesus Christ, by repenting of our sins, turning to God, and putting our faith in who Jesus is, and what He did for us, especially what he did for us at the cross and in His resurrection. That is counted as our righteousness. It’s not a righteousness of your own making. It’s a righteousness received in Jesus Christ.

The Bible also speaks of righteousness that’s available to people even in the Old Testament, a righteousness that’s received by faith. Abraham had that faith, and it was accounted to him as righteousness. This was faith in what God would do and provide through the Messiah. We have righteousness by faith in what God has done in and through Jesus the Messiah. Our faith unto righteousness looks back; their faith unto righteousness looked forward.

Righteousness is described in another way in the Scriptures as well. It’s the sense of a relative righteousness among men. Relatively, there are some people who are more righteous than others. Now, again, we’re not saying that in an absolute sense before God, but it’s obvious all around us. There are some people who live more righteous lives before God than other people do.

Those are the senses in which the Bible describes the idea of righteousness. There is the lack of righteousness in and of ourselves. There is the righteousness that we can receive as the free gift of God, being made righteous by faith. And then finally there is the relative righteousness among men.

How can people enjoy heaven if they have family members in hell?

Our experience in heaven will be so overwhelmed with the understanding of who God is, and how good and right God is in all that He does, that these questions won’t bother us. God will rightly and justly resolve all things in Jesus Christ. It’s painful for us to contemplate people we know and love and care about being eternally separated from God in hell. But ultimately, that works for the resolution of all things. God will resolve everything either under His righteous heavenly grace or under His righteous judgment of sin. But all things will be resolved.

I understand that from our earthly perspective, we think we could never be happy knowing that. Yet we will be overwhelmed by the greatness and the goodness of knowing God’s wisdom in all things. As Abraham mentioned in his conversation with the Lord in Genesis 18:25, “Will not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?” Of course, He will. All the judgments of God are right and good, and we will recognize that in that day.

How can the rich man in Luke 16 be thirsty in Hades when the soul doesn’t need water?

It’s always difficult for us to talk about what existence in the world beyond is like. The only thing we can liken it to are things that we know in this world. I suppose somebody could make the technical argument that the rich man in this story wasn’t thirsty, because he didn’t have a body. I don’t know. Maybe it’s something like a body. The best analogy we can give to what he did experience was thirst that could be cooled by a soothing drop of water.

We have to give latitude towards the explanation of things that belong to another world, as they are put in terms of things that we know and experience here on earth.

Titus 3:4-5 tells us we are not saved by our works but by His mercy. What would you say to those that say repentance is a work? Repentance is clearly part of salvation and coming to God.

Titus 3:4-5 – But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.

I would say that repentance is simply the partner of faith. Here’s an analogy. Let’s say I am in Los Angeles, and I tell somebody in New York, “Come to Los Angeles.” I don’t actually have to tell them, “Leave New York and come to Los Angeles.” Coming to Los Angeles means leaving wherever you’re at.

Similarly, putting your faith in Jesus Christ is to leave whatever else you have trusted in, believed on, clung to, and relied upon. Leaving those things is repentance. I would just say that that’s not a work. That’s turning to God. Certainly, repentance can be expressed in works. But the repentance that initially brings salvation need be nothing more than that interior decision, given by the grace of God, to say, “I will turn from those things.”

Now, in the future, when a person actually does turn from those things, they’re not saving themselves then either. They have received God’s salvation by trusting in Jesus – who He is, and what He did for them, especially what He did in paying for their sins on the cross, and then rising again to new life. You can’t truly embrace Jesus in faith unless you let go of whatever else you’ve had.

That initial decision of the heart, the mind, and the will is not a work; it’s a turning. I’m not trying to say for a moment that a person does those things apart from God’s working in them. No, God forbid. A person can only repent and believe if God works in them first. Yet God won’t repent for them. God won’t believe for them. But God works in them to both repent and believe. In and of themselves, those things don’t require works at the moment. They believe; they receive God’s beautiful, powerful gift of salvation; they’re born again by God’s Spirit; and they are saved unto good works. Good works do not save them but are a legitimate demonstration of the truth that they are saved.

I regard repentance and faith as being different from works. We wholeheartedly agree with Titus 3:4-5 that it’s not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy that He has saved us.

How do you teach and practice fasting?

How do you teach and practice fasting? In the Old Testament it was often an expression of repentance and mourning. There’s very little on fasting in the New Testament, even though many churches have corporate fasts today.

My wife and I have the practice of periodically fasting. We don’t do it according to strict schedule on a day of the week. The greatest example of fasting for me in my life has been my father-in-law, Nils Bergström. He has written an excellent book on fasting, called Dedication through Fasting and Prayer. I recommend it to you.

For many years, Nils has made it the practice of his life to fast two days a week. He generally would have a set system of days. Of course, he would adjust it if there were special occasions or something like that. But generally speaking, he has fasted two days a week for many, many years.

My wife and I don’t have that same practice of designating a day or a couple days a week to fast. But probably at least every other week, we’ll say to each other, “Let’s fast tomorrow.” We do this because it is presented in the New Testament as a normal practice of Christians. When Jesus spoke in the Sermon on the Mount, He said, when you pray, when you give, when you fast. He didn’t say if you pray, if you give, if you fast, but He said when you do those things. Again, these themes are wonderfully developed in my father-in-law’s book.

Here’s the bottom line. Yes, I practice fasting. Yes, it’s something to be taught. And it’s something that is widely neglected in the Christian world, much to our hurt. There are many reasons why fasting is a good and beneficial practice. But let me give you part of it right here. It is a way to say “no” to our bodies and to ourselves. We don’t like to hear that, do we? We don’t like the discipline of just saying “no” to ourselves. I’m hungry, but no, I’m not going to eat for a set period of time.

Now, there are some people who have eating disorders and may compulsively do that. But that’s a different category altogether. I’m speaking about people who do not deal with those sorts of disorders. As humans, we just want to eat when we want to eat. It is a powerful thing to say, “My body, and the appetites of my body, do not rule my life.” I’m not going to neglect them; they’re not unimportant. Normally, I’ll feed myself. But I want to establish the principle that eating is not the most important thing in my life. My obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ and following after Him is more important than my bodily desires.

Matthew 12:36 says every idle word we speak will be brought into judgment. How does this verse apply to Christians who sin in this regard?

Matthew 12:36 – But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.

You’re asking how this applies to Christians. I’m going to make a distinction there. Believers in Christ will face a different judgment than those who have rejected Jesus Christ and His work for them. Those who have rejected Jesus will be sentenced at the Great White Throne Judgment, which is described in the book of Revelation. Christians face a different judgment. Theirs is a judgment of their works and of their fruit. It’s a judgment not for salvation or damnation, but rather a judgment of reward.

Part of our reward will be measured by the words that we speak. I can imagine that there are people who have done some good things for the Lord, but their words were filled with poison and bitterness. And I’m not the judge, the Lord is, but it may be that those people will find that there was little or no reward for them. Every believer will have a judgment before the Bema Seat of Christ, the judgment seat of Christ, as Paul describes in Corinthians. I think that our idle and unwise words will be taken into account there at the judgment seat of Christ.

How did Enoch “walk with God” to the point that he never died but was taken to heaven?

That’s a wonderful question. I don’t know if I can give you much of a detailed answer, other than just to say that his walk with God was simply a demonstration of His relationship with God. He had a real and close relationship with God. He walked with God. Genesis tells us that he walked with God and was not for the Lord took him.

Later on, in Hebrews 11, Enoch is pointed out as being a hero of the faith because of this. It shows what great faith Enoch had in God, as a fruit of his real relationship with God. Walking with God was what God wanted to do, and apparently did do, with Adam and Eve. When God came to Adam and Eve and confronted them with their sin, He had come down to walk with them in the cool of the day. We have reason to believe that in the Garden of Eden, God did that in some physical presence in the person of Jesus Christ. We don’t have to believe that that was the case with Enoch, but he had a real relationship with God. This idea is a metaphor, it’s a symbol: to walk with God. Later on in the New Testament, we’re told to walk in the Spirit. It doesn’t mean that we literally must find where the Holy Spirit is, and walk with Him, but rather it refers to the way in which we conduct our lives. Walking in the Bible is used simply as a figure of speech, referring to how we live our lives.