Now, some of you may never have heard of the wisdom of Solomon, but it’s one of the original Deuterocanon’s that was included in the bible and still is in the in the Roman Catholic bible more specifically in what is known as the apocrypha or simply “unknown authors”’ that were included in the Latin vulgate or the vulgar or common Latin but not in the Hebrew bible. Before you start saying I’m not Catholic and we’re Methodists, you need new glasses pastor. Yes, we are, we are Catholic as defined by the dictionary, our catholicity is the fact that we are United we are one under God, one church. But you are correct in saying that we are not Roman Catholic but if you know your history or if you stop and think about it, john Wesley was an Anglican priest. If you recall how the Anglican church came about it’s also known as the C of E or the Church of England and it came about because of a certain king, Henry the VIII, he wanted “a second opinion” he wanted to marry Anne Boleyn instead of staying married to his wife Catherine of Aragon. So, he petitions the papacy for a divorce and as you know divorce is illegal for any good Catholic. Henry failed to get his second opinion, so he got rid of the Pope and decided to become the head of the Church of England thereby kicking the Protestant Reformation into high gear. The Anglican church is the Roman Catholic church without the pope and it still keeps the alternative readings, therefore so does the Methodist church. And that’s how we got today’s scripture, so ends the rest of the story as Paul Harvey would say. Have you ever wanted a second opinion, like Henry did? I mean seriously, I think we have all been there, maybe not for divorce, but, something, somewhere, sometime called for a second opinion. The answer we received for whatever question was just not connecting with our brains. You were like what? What you say? It just did not register, and when it finally does you start looking for ways to dismiss it, deny it, ignore it, until you say…I think I’ll get a second opinion. I don’t like this one, so I’ll get another one. Eventually someone will tell me what I want to hear, and we’ll forget about the other one. And I promise you if you search hard enough, heck half the time you don’t even have to search, second opinions come to you, knock on your door, and invite themselves in for coffee. And that’s how I see today’s scripture. These people were looking for a second opinion, and they got what second opinions almost always get you, nowhere.
[Wisdom of Solomon 1:16 – 2:1; 2:12 – 22] 16But the ungodly by their words and deeds summoned death; considering him a friend, they pined away and made a covenant with him, because they are fit to belong to his company. 2 For they reasoned unsoundly, saying to themselves, “Short and sorrowful is our life, and there is no remedy when a life comes to its end, and no one has been known to return from Hades. There is no remedy, isn’t that when we start looking for a second opinion. That’s exactly when we start looking for a second opinion when we feel there is no remedy when your life is at an end and we feel that we have no choice we will look for a second opinion. Indeed, we will search long and hard for that second opinion will do everything in our power to deny that terrible power that death has over us. You see the unchurched, unbelievers, the agnostic, and quite a few Christians, actually believe that life is short and sorrowful. They actually believe that there is no eternity and they just give lip service to God or no service. There’s no heaven, there’s no hell just a short miserable life and we die. It’s that kind of thinking that get us in trouble, wanting a second opinion. When you turn to the second opinion you do indeed summon death you make friends with him, you make a deal with him when you reject the Lord and you exchange a short happy life for a long sorrowfully eternity with your new master death. We reason that no one has returned, so there is no proof. We say: 12“Let us lie in wait for the righteous man, because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions; he reproaches us for sins against the law and accuses us of sins against our training. 13 He professes to have knowledge of God and calls himself a child of the Lord. 14 He became to us a reproof of our thoughts; 15the very sight of him is a burden to us, because his manner of life is unlike that of others, and his ways are strange. 16We are considered by him as something base, and he avoids our ways as unclean; he calls the last end of the righteous happy, and boasts that God is his father. As righteous people we are an inconvenient truth to those that stand against the law of God. If you want to know why Christians are persecuted so harshly around the world, that’s your answer right there, we are the light, we are the opinion that no one wants, we are not the second opinion, we have the true knowledge of God and we call ourselves His children. We oppose the actions of those others who would seek out death and would consider him a friend, who would make a covenant with him. The very sight of us is a burden to them, they fear our lifestyle, our honesty our cleanliness, the things that make us as Christians who we are.
This lifestyle that is most often not tried because it is found too difficult for those who would seek a second opinion. It casts fear into the hearts of those who would covenant with death, we are a constant reminder their live are meaningless, the things they place so much pride and joy in, money, sex, partying, the hedonistic and decadent lifestyle that society pushes on us constantly, tells our children that the just do it lifestyle is what they really want. That tells them they must be just like this other person, rich and powerful and sexy, that it’s the only way they will be truly happy. It bothers them that we take comfort in the end of this life that we are ready and willing to shed the shackles and burdens that this life places on us so that we may be with our God. It bothers them that we do not fear death, it bothers them that we don’t seek a second opinion, it bothers them that we boast, that God is our father and we are happy and willing to die because we know our reward is in eternity not in mortality, we have the promise of God, they have a second opinion. And it’s a worthless opinion, because it’s the opinion of the father of lies. And they know it, so they seek to test us. 17 Let us see if his words are true and let us test what will happen at the end of his life; 18for if the righteous man is God’s child, he will help him, and will deliver him from the hand of his adversaries. 19 Let us test him with insult and torture, so that we may find out how gentle he is and make trial of his forbearance. 20Let us condemn him to a shameful death, for, according to what he says, he will be protected.” 21 Thus they reasoned, but they were led astray, for their wickedness blinded them, 22 and they did not know the secret purposes of God, nor hoped for the wages of holiness, nor discerned the prize for blameless souls; They say trials and tribulations are the wages of Christianity. But these trials and tribulations are not the works of the Lord rather God permits our adversary to test us just as he permitted job’s trials and tribulations so we are tested as well, for it is our gentle forbearance that delivers us from the hand of the adversary, it is our willingness to follow where Christ leads, to forgive others that trespass against us, that is what sets us apart from those who are led astray. And that is something that we forever have to remember they as well are led astray. They have been seduced by their wickedness and it has blinded them but, that does not mean they are lost forever. God created us, gave us purpose and that purpose is to go forth and make disciples of all those on the face of the earth. We are not as they are, we do not seek a second opinion we know the purpose of God, we no his purpose for us. we know he has a plan for us because he tells us he has a plan for us.
11 For surely, I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. 12 Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. 13 When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, 14 I will let you find me, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes [Jeremiah 29:11 – 14] The wages of sin is death, but the wages of holiness is eternal life. Thomas Chalmers said it best: “The death that comes after sin comes as the wages of sin. Everlasting life, coming though it must do after holiness, comes not as the wages of holiness. It is a gift. On this footing must it be received at the last and on this footing must it now be looked forward to by the expectancy of immortality”. In other words, while death is the wages of sin, everlasting life is like grace, even though everlasting life is the wages of holiness, it is still a gift from the most high and not something that can be earned or set aside. So remember these things when you go looking for that second opinion, when you ask God for a second opinion remember you are His child [Genesis 1:26-27] Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” 27 So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Why would you want a second opinion? When you are first among His thoughts. Amen.