By Victor Knowles
“Knowledge is indispensable to Christian life and service,” said John Stott. “If we do not use the mind that God has given us, we condemn ourselves to spiritual superficiality and cut ourselves off from many of the riches of God’s grace.”
The apostle Peter would likely agree. We can see the importance he placed on knowledge:
• “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge” (2 Peter 1:5).
• “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever!” (3:18).
Peter would know. He was a fisherman by trade. But after Jesus called him to become a “fisher of men,” Peter experienced a wonderful transformation. The time he spent with Jesus was truly life changing. A man who was once given to cursing and swearing stood up on the Day of Pentecost and preached one of the greatest sermons ever preached.
He also stood up before the Sanhedrin (the “Supreme Court” of Israel) and boldly proclaimed that salvation could be found only in Jesus. Notice the response of the court: “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).
Peter had been with Jesus. Christ is the key to knowledge: “Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:2, 3). The more you have of Jesus, the more wisdom and knowledge you will possess. “Knowledge is but folly unless it is guided by grace,” observed George Herbert.
Destroyed Without Knowledge
Israel had a big problem—lack of knowledge. God spoke to them through the prophet Hosea:
“My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children” (Hosea 4:5, 6).
The people of Israel were literally being destroyed because they, along with their miserable prophets and priests, were actually rejecting knowledge. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7). They had no fear of God. They were ignoring the law of God. They had cut themselves off from the source of true knowledge.
Biblical illiteracy happens when people reject the knowledge of God. The last days will be a terrible time “when people will not put up with sound doctrine” and will “turn their ears away from the truth” (2 Timothy 4:3, 4).
According to data from the Barna Research Group, 60 percent of Americans can’t name even five of the Ten Commandments. “No wonder people break the Ten Commandments all the time. They don’t know what they are,” said George Barna, president of the firm.
What is the solution? Albert Mohler suggested, “Recovery starts at home. Parents are to be the first and most important educators of their own children, diligently teaching them the Word of God. . . . God assigned parents this non-negotiable responsibility, and children must see their Christian parents as teachers and fellow students of God’s Word.” (See Deuteronomy 6:4-9.)
Empowered with Knowledge
Paul fervently prayed for believers to be filled with knowledge. “We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives” (Colossians 1:9). Surely this is a worthy prayer for your church too! Christians who are filled with the knowledge of God will be empowered by the Holy Spirit for effective Christian living.
Sinclair B. Ferguson noted, “We tend to be a generation of Christians who major on minor matters but do not seem to possess the true measure of the gospel in the knowledge of God. We do not really know God. At best we know about him.”
The night Jesus prayed for the unity of his church, he said, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3). Once we know the only true God and his Son Jesus Christ, we will understand, discover, appropriate, and enjoy eternal life.
Paul was absolutely delighted with the progress of the Christians in Rome: “I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another” (Romans 15:14). Matthew Henry said, “Knowledge is vain and fruitless which is not reduced to practice.” We must put into practice what we have come to know. A competent congregation will be able to instruct one another because each one is filled with the knowledge of God.
Isaiah the prophet predicted a beautiful day when “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9). God is the one who will fill his people with this marvelous knowledge. Through Jeremiah he announced a new covenant:
“I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” (Jeremiah 31:33, 34).
We are a new covenant people. We must live up to the magnificent covenant that God has written on our hearts. Paul told the church in Corinth, “You excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you” (2 Corinthians 8:7). Isn’t that amazing? But it gets better!
Paul literally went to his knees on behalf of the faithful saints in Ephesus, praying that God would strengthen them with power through the Holy Spirit and that Christ would dwell in their hearts through faith (Ephesians 3:14-17). Imagine that you are a member of the church in Ephesus. Now hear his earnest prayer for you: “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (vv. 17-19).
There is an amazing, astounding love that surpasses knowledge. “Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12). This is what it means to grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Victor Knowles is founder and president of POEM (Peace on Earth Ministries), Joplin, MO. www.poeministries.org
Test Your Bible Knowledge
The following free apps are available for smart phones and tablets. (All apps may not be available on all devices.) Search your app store for:
• “Bible Quizzer” by Supergonk Ltd.
• “Bible Quiz Game” by Webelinx DOO
• “The American Bible Challenge Game” by Game Show Network
• “Bible Trivia—History Quiz Challenge Game” by Fancy Quiz Games
• “Bible Quiz—Who Am I?” by Brett Plummer