Romans 11:33 speaks of God’s wisdom: “O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How inscrutable are His judgments, and untraceable His paths!” At the very end of the book of Romans Paul says, “To the only wise God through Jesus Christ be the glory forever and ever! Amen” (Rom. 16:27). Wisdom is different from cleverness and deeper than cleverness. It is possible to be clever without being wise. For example, a criminal may be very clever, but he is altogether lacking in wisdom. God is very wise, and the universe reveals His wisdom.
It is important to see the difference between wisdom and knowledge. Wisdom is both higher and deeper than knowledge. Wisdom is seen in the initiation of something, for example, in the formulation of a new invention, and knowledge is seen in the practical application. If you have only knowledge and lack wisdom, you will not be able to initiate anything or invent anything. God is the unique Initiator. He has initiated many things, not by His knowledge but by His wisdom. When He comes in to apply what He has initiated, He displays His knowledge.
Ephesians 3:10 speaks of the multifarious wisdom of God being made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenlies through the church. The Greek word translated “multifarious” indicates that God’s wisdom has many sides, aspects, and directions.
Only through problems can all the aspects of God’s wisdom be manifested. This means that, in a sense, God needs problems and troubles: He even needs an adversary, Satan. Without Satan, God’s wisdom cannot be fully manifested. Satan has created many opportunities for God’s wisdom to be manifested in a multifarious way. The rebellion of Satan is within the realm of troubles for God’s wisdom. If it were not for Satan’s rebellion, God’s wisdom could not be made known in a full way. If you are a person full of wisdom, the more troubles and difficulties you have, the more wisdom you will express. But if everything related to you is peaceful and without problems, you will have no opportunity to express your wisdom. You need problems in order to display your wisdom. Likewise, God needs problems in order to display His wisdom. Whatever the enemy of God does gives God the opportunity to show forth His wisdom.
Another aspect of God’s wisdom is revealed in 1 Corinthians 1:30, where we are told that of God we are in Christ Jesus, “who became wisdom to us from God: both righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” For Christ to be our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption requires much wisdom on God’s part. Many aspects of God’s wisdom are manifested in His making Christ our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. Our experience of Christ in these matters is according to God’s manifold wisdom.
Furthermore, in His wisdom God is able to make us the church. Sometimes God may say, “Look, Satan, I have taken the very people whom you have ruined and I have made them into the church. Do you have the wisdom to do such a thing? You do not have this wisdom, but I have it.”
In the sight of God the most marvelous thing in the universe is the church, for through it His multifarious wisdom is made known to Satan and his angels. The day is coming when Satan and his angels will be put to shame. They will realize that everything they have done has given God the opportunity to manifest His wisdom. In the same principle, our failures, mistakes, defeats, and wrongdoings have also given God opportunities to display His wisdom. We are God’s chosen people, and even through our failures He manifests His multifarious wisdom. Such a wisdom is also a strong attribute of our God.
Ephesians 1:8 indicates that there is a difference between wisdom and prudence. In this verse, Paul, speaking of the riches of God’s grace says, “Which He caused to abound to us in all wisdom and prudence.” Wisdom is what is within God to plan and purpose a will concerning us; prudence is the application of God’s wisdom. First, God planned and purposed in His wisdom, and then He applied what He had planned and purposed for us with prudence. Wisdom was mainly for God’s plan in eternity, and prudence is mainly for God’s execution of His plan in time. What God planned in eternity in His wisdom He is now executing in time in His prudence.
We may say that prudence is a “stairway” connecting cleverness, which is on a lower level, to wisdom, which is on a higher level. In order to go up to wisdom from cleverness, we need prudence. If a certain person chooses not to remain in his cleverness but to advance to wisdom, he must ascend up the stairway of prudence. We may also say that prudence is a proper cleverness. Those who are prudent will not do things in a foolish way. This kind of prudence is also a divine attribute in God’s move.
(Conclusion of the New Testament, The (Msgs. 001-020), Chapter 9, by Witness Lee)