We Can’t Know What We Won’t Know (3)
This way to a fuller life of worship and service.
Teach me good judgment and knowledge,
For I believe Your commandments. Psalm 119.66
The knowledge option is not an option
We don’t have to look very hard into the Christian community to realize that, for many believers – if not most – increasing in knowledge is even an option.
How many believers, for example, are faithful in searching the Scriptures daily, to learn more of the truth of God for all aspects of their lives (Acts 17.11)? How many would consider themselves students of the times we live in, so that they might better understand how to serve the Lord effectively (1 Chron. 12.32; Eph. 4.11, 12)? How many are diligent readers, as opposed to casual web-surfers or inveterate TV-watchers? Are the Bible study opportunities offered at our churches packed with believers, eager to learn more of God’s truth?
Clearly, for most Christians, increasing in knowledge – both of new things and of deeper insights to the things we already know – is something to take or leave. And most choose to leave it. After all, they might protest, Paul said that knowledge puffs up (1 Cor. 8.1), and we don’t want to be like those snooty know-it-alls who parade their learning like some badge of honor!
And, of course, that is correct. But the Spirit Who dwells in us, sent from the Fount of all knowing and all knowledge, is eager to unpack for our benefit more of the “all things” He brings for our encouragement, edification, and empowerment. God, Solomon said, has made us with eternity in our hearts; and we are called to discover and know, as fully as we can, all that pertains to living for Him (Eccl. 1.13; 3.9-11). The psalmist eagerly sought the Lord’s instruction in knowledge and good judgment, seeing this as the logical outworking of his belief in the Word of God (Ps. 119.66). Believers constitute a royal priesthood, called to serve God and the world (1 Pet. 2.8, 9); and, as Malachi reminds us, the words of our mouths and works of our hands should be informed by sound knowledge, grounded in the Scriptures (Mal. 2.7).
It is clear, therefore, that increasing in knowledge is not an option for the believer. Either we are growing in knowledge – beginning with the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ – or we are living in disobedience to our calling.
Believers should be eager to hear that casual greeting often employed between friends: “Hey, how ya doin’? Whad’Ya know?” Here is an invitation to draw from the Treasury of all knowledge and bear witness to the beauty, goodness, and wisdom of our God.
If, that is, we have prepared ourselves for such opportunities.
But if we are to increase in knowledge, what should be the focus of our efforts?
In the preface to his book, On the Freedom of the Will, Jonathan Edwards wrote, “Of all kinds of knowledge that we can ever obtain, the knowledge of God, and the knowledge of ourselves, are the most important. As religion is the great business for which we are created, and on which our happiness depends; and as religion consists in an intercourse between ourselves and our Maker; and so has its foundation in God’s nature and ours, and in the relation that God and we stand in to each other; therefore a true knowledge of both must be needful, in order to true religion.”
We need true and increasing knowledge of God, and we need true and increasing knowledge of ourselves, and of everything with which we surround, occupy, adorn, or concern ourselves in this world. Such knowledge does not have to puff us up; rather, it may shape us for loving God and our neighbors, so that our worship of God improves, and our service to our neighbors is more consistent and effective.
Two reasons to increase in knowledge
There are thus two basic reasons for seeking to increase in knowledge. The first is that we might better know Him Who is the Treasury of all knowledge (Col. 2.2, 3). Eternal life consists in knowing God and Jesus Christ (Jn. 17.3), and the apostle Peter commands his readers to grow in such knowledge (2 Pet. 3.18). We can never exhaust the depths of what may be known of God, whether through the study of His Word or the contemplation of His world. Such study is indispensable for living as true disciples, and should have the highest place in each believer’s daily agenda.
The second reason is that we can use our knowledge to edify others. We must not seek knowledge for its own sake, merely to know something for our own satisfaction. This is purely self-serving and can lead to a puffed-up ego that looks haughtily on others. Knowledge is a resource for growing us more completely into the image of Christ, and for equipping us to serve others well. As we increase in the knowledge of God, we will grow in our desire to know ourselves, our world, our times, the people God puts in our lives, and the infinitely many and varied ways that God surrounds us with His grace each day.
All who believe are priests unto the Lord, and are charged with the task of ministering His Word to the people in their Personal Mission Field. How shall we make ready for this high and holy calling? What is our duty?
To guard knowledge (Mal. 2.7)!That is, to acquire and possess knowledge, especially of the Lord and His Law and all His Word, but also of ourselves and our world; and to use our increasing knowledge to serve the Lord and glorify Him in even the smallest and most everyday aspects of our lives (1 Cor. 10.31).
Increasing in such knowledge does not come without effort. And it is not kept at the ready without continuous reflection, meditation, planning, preparation, and application. So let’s make up our minds to become increasingly devoted to this effort, so that should the question be posed to us, “Whad’Ya know?”, we might answer with grace, truth, and light from the Lord.
1. Why do you suppose so many Christians consider growing in knowledge to be an option? What would you say to such a person?
2. What are some things you might do to improve your efforts at knowing the Lord? At knowing yourself and your world?
3. The Holy Spirit possesses “all things” to fit us for loving God and our neighbors. What should be our attitude toward His work of teaching in our lives?
Next steps – Transformation: What will you do today to improve your efforts at knowing the Lord? How can you bring those efforts more consistently into your whole day? Talk with a Christian friend about these questions.
T. M. Moore
One place to begin learning is in understanding the times and the world around us. Our book, Understanding the Times, outlines the broad scope of what we need to understand to live as witnesses in this secular world. Order your copy by clicking here. To see how and why the small stuff of your life matters, order a copy of our book Small Stuff (click here).
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 1Edwards, Jonathan. The Works of Jonathan Edwards, volume 1 of 2, On the Freedom of the Will (Samizdat Edition with Active Table of Contents), improved 2/5/2011 (Kindle Locations 12725-12727). B&R Samizdat Express. Kindle Edition. (Samizdat Edition with Active Table of Contents), improved 2/5/2011 (Kindle Locations 12796-12799). B&R Samizdat Express. Kindle Edition.