We Can’t Know What We Won’t Know (5)
“Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered.” Luke 11.52
The goal and promise of true knowledge
We are pressing the point that Christians, who are called to be disciples or learners of Jesus Christ, should devote themselves to learning, that they might increase in true knowledge.
All true knowledge can enrich our relationship with God, since all things exist by Him, are sustained by Him, and bear witness to Him, in order to glorify and make Him known (Rom. 11.36). The more of all things we know, the more we will realize our true purpose and greatest happiness in eternal life, which is to know God and Jesus Christ.
We do not seek knowledge as an end in itself, that we should be puffed up with pride because we consider that we know more than others. We seek knowledge because it leads us to a deeper and more constant awareness of God, and an ever-increasing experience of eternal life. Since all true knowledge is from God, all knowledge is true as it leads us to God, to a fuller understanding of His greatness and glory, and a deeper and more joyful relationship with Him. Christians seek to know as much as they can because they may, in all that they know, increase their delight in the Lord, glorify Him more consistently in the world, and fulfill their calling as witnesses to Jesus Christ.
The fruit of true knowledge is greater grace in our Lord Jesus Christ – a more constant awareness and appreciation of His lovingkindness and faithfulness, and a more powerful and transforming experience of the renewal He brings to all of life. As we increase in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3.18), we experience more continuously the peace that passes understanding, and that leads us into the joy of the Lord.
Christians should thus be eager and active in the pursuit of true knowledge, for the more we know, the more of God and His many virtues and blessings become our cherished privilege and possession.
But the kind of knowing we are focusing on in this study requires a proper framework and setting – a key which can unlock all the riches of the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ, which is eternal life.
And that key is the Kingdom of God.
Knowing and the Kingdom
The parallel of Luke 11.52 is Matthew 23.13: “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” Taking these passages together, it is clear that, according to Jesus, the key to knowledge is entering and living within the Kingdom of God. We know nothing, or, at best, know anything only imperfectly, unless we know it with reference to the Kingdom of God. If our experience of salvation is not as broad as the Kingdom of God, then we shall struggle not only to know true knowledge, but even to want to know it.
This was the gist of Solomon’s argument in Ecclesiastes. “Under the sun” – knowing and living in any aspect of life apart from God and His Word – leads only to vanity and feeding on the wind. True life and knowledge are known “under heaven”, in continuous pursuit of God and His will.
The knowledge we possess and acquire is improved and perfected from within the framework of the Kingdom of God, when seeking righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit are our overarching and ultimate objective (Rom. 14.17, 18; Matt, 6.33). The Gospel Jesus and Paul proclaimed and taught is the Gospel of the Kingdom, not merely of salvation. It speaks to all of life, since all of life has been reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. It calls us to take every thought captive for obedience to Jesus Christ, Who is making all things new.
All knowledge requires a frame of reference. We cannot know what a football is or is for apart from the game, the teams, the rules, and the field. We need a proper framework to understand what a football is and how it is to be used. The same is true of all knowledge. Nothing is a fact merely unto itself, and nothing exists apart from God’s purpose and will, and hence, with anything other than the meaning He assigns. If our frame of reference is not the Kingdom of God then it will be some variation on the “under the sun” kingdom of man, even if, like the lawyers and scribes and Pharisees, we dress it up in God-talk.
Thus, if we would know truly – whatever we are seeking to know – so that we increase in God, grace, peace, and joy, we must seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, so that all the boon and benefits of knowing anything may be added to us.
Seeking the Kingdom
Seeking the Kingdom involves a life of earnest prayer, deep study and meditation – especially of God’s Word; it requires mutual encouragement, edification, and assistance, and continuous monitoring of progress. Seeking the rule of King Jesus embraces all things in our lives, for all things have come to us from Him, are sustained with us through Him, and are designed to lead us unto Him, for His praise and glory. Jesus spent three years instructing His disciples in the Kingdom, then forty days more after His resurrection (Acts 1.3). All true knowledge is Kingdom knowledge and points to, culminates in, and finds its meaning in Christ, Who is all Truth and all Knowledge and all Wisdom. Christ rules His Kingdom unto the glory of God, administering from the treasure of knowledge and wisdom all that we need to glorify Him in even the smallest, most everyday aspects of our lives (1 Cor. 10.31).
We are on the path of true knowledge when Christ is our objective, His Kingdom is our context, His Word illuminates our every step, His Spirit is our Teacher, the people we are called to serve are the beneficiaries of all our knowledge, the reconciling of all things to God is our portfolio, and His glory is our constant theme and end. As we make progress on this path, the Kingdom of God increases on earth as it is in heaven, and grace and peace and joy are our constant companions.
Our calling to the Kingdom and glory of God (1 Thess. 2.12) entails the mandate to seek the Kingdom, and to construct our Christian worldview within that framework. The Kingdom of God is the key to all knowing, for only within its framework, in the active pursuit of its greater coming, will the knowledge we possess find its true use and end. Have you entered that Kingdom? Do you know its transforming power (1 Cor. 4.20)? Are you seeking and bearing its fruit? And do you know – know – the joy of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, which pervades that Kingdom for true knowledge in every area and aspect of life?
1. Why should Christians be eager and active learners?
2. What makes the Kingdom of God the only proper framework for the pursuit of true knowledge?
3. What does it mean to seek the Kingdom of God?
Next Steps – Preparation: How well do you understand the nature of the Kingdom of God and what it means to seek that Kingdom? In what areas of your life will you seek the Kingdom of God today? How will this affect your outlook on those areas? Talk with a Christian friend about these questions.
T. M. Moore
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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.