Aspiring Meditations: 5. Aspiring to Knowledge
Isa 11:2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him…. the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD
2 Pet 1:5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge
2 Pet 3:18 grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
There is a remarkable passage in Ephesians 2:1-5 that describes what we were like before we came to Christ and in it are such words as, dead in your transgressions and sins, disobedient, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature, objects of wrath, and dead in transgressions (again!), but surprisingly it does not say we were ignorant which I would have expected.
But there is another remarkable passage in Romans 1 that addresses this: “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” (Rom 1:18-20) Now that says that all people inherently have a knowledge of God in some measure at least but suppress it! Solomon said of God, “He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Eccles 3:11) In other words there is something within every single human being that shouts out, “There is more to life than shear materialistic satisfying desires!”
So if the godless world has ‘knowledge’ why does the Bible seem to elevate ‘knowledge’ to something I should aspire to? And what sort of knowledge? The Gnostics of the first and second centuries AD had this ‘special knowledge’, knowledge that was imparted to or acquired by the elite in this cult. That is the reason the apostle Paul so often speaks about the ‘mystery’ of the God that has now been revealed (see Rom 11:25, 16:25, Eph 1:9, 3:3,4,6,9, 6:19, Col 1:26,27, 2:2, 4:3). That is the point he makes, that now this mystery has been revealed and it is open to anyone to appreciate and apprehend it. It is Christ who is at the heart of the plans of the Godhead to redeem the world, plans formulated even before the Creation.
The Messiah, according to Isa 11:2 would be anointed with a “Spirit of knowledge”. Why? Because God knows all things and Jesus is part of the Trinity, certainly limited in human form for 33 years, but nevertheless by the Spirit within him, he had all knowledge available to him to be drawn on as necessary. Is it a coincidence that in John’s Gospel, the Gospel of insight and knowledge and understanding of the Son of God that John had realised over years of pondering on, reflecting on and remembering, that in this Gospel the word ‘know’ is used more than 80 times!
As John, in his latter years, remembered back to those incredible three years of walking with the Son of God, had realised he had all this knowledge in his head, knowledge of the things that had happened in those three years, but which had not been picked up in the Synoptic Gospels that concentrated on the basics of what happened. John knew there was far more than those basics, which is why his Gospel is so profound, bringing to light the knowledge of an insider who had had time to mull over and focus the things that had happened, and the things that were said by Jesus which, at the time had been so profound, e.g. all of the ‘I am’ sayings John brings to us.
And so for me in this quest to take hold of the various things that the Bible challenges me to aspire to, I face this call to increase knowledge. It is a very simple call but also a very profound call. When we first came to Christ, it is probable that our knowledge of the Bible was miniscule. I laugh when I look back, because as a young person at college – not a Christian but coming from a reasonable if not certainly respectable background – I argued with a friend of mine who was a communist. I can see Mick now in his maroon corduroy jacket and long hippy hair, arguing for the communist manifesto, and me arguing for the Christian perspective. It is no surprised that he wiped the floor with me!
Perhaps that was the reason why, after I came to the Lord, by the end of my first year as a Christian, the Lord had me leading seven Bible Studies a week. It meant a serious learning curve, and it has carried on ever since. But do I have sufficient knowledge of the Bible and of God today? No, we can never stop being learners. Even as I write these studies I find things coming into perspective as never before. I see new things in the Bible, maybe not every day, but frequently. I heard a conference speaker the other day saying how she was finding in the secular world today she was being challenged over her faith as never before, and she realised she needed to visit again the area of apologetics (knowing why you believe what you believe and having answers to the big questions), and that has always been an area I too have felt I need to get under my belt.
But all that is knowledge that is intellectual but if, in respect of my wife, I could simply tell you lots of things about her, that would not constitute a relationship with her. She used to be a teacher and so her pupils and fellow-teachers could possibly say quite a lot about her with their superficial relationships with her, but when it comes to me, her husband, that is a completely different ball game.
So it must be with God. If we have a ‘relationship’ with Him, then it means it is far more than “knowing about” Him, it is knowing Him in experience, knowing of Him. So how does that come? It comes in prayer, in worship, in waiting on Him, yes as we study His word, and especially when we are obedient to Him and we allow His Holy Spirit to inspire us, energize us, motivate and direct us, and we ‘do the stuff’ He gives us to do. That is ‘knowing Him’ at a much more profound level.
So the challenge comes to me, first of all, will I continue to learn about Him? That will come as I spend time and effort in His word, time and effort reading what others have written about the whole experience of being a Christian, digging deeper even into theology or even apologetics. Why do this? Well for me, it is in answer to something the apostle Peter said: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Pet 3:15) But then the second part of the challenge, will I continue to develop my knowledge of Him, and that means waiting on Him, praying, seeking Him and being obedient to Him? I hope the answer will be yes. And you?