Berean Studies / Ber03 - Knowledge
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1. What is the importance of knowledge?
2. In what four ways may knowledge be obtained?
But the question recurs in another form: Could not man have been made acquainted with evil in some other way than by experience? There are four ways of knowing things, namely, by intuition, by observation, by experience, and by information received through sources accepted as positively truthful. An intuitive knowledge would be a direct apprehension, without the process of reasoning, or the necessity for proof. Such knowledge belongs only to the divine Jehovah, the eternal fountain of all wisdom and truth, who, of necessity and in the very nature of things, is superior to all his creatures. Therefore, man's knowledge of good and evil could not be intuitive. Man's knowledge might have come by observation, but in that event there must needs have been some exhibition of evil and its results for man to observe. This would imply the permission of evil somewhere, among some beings, and why not as well among men, and upon the earth, as among others elsewhere?
3. In which of these ways did Adam possess a knowledge of evil before he sinned?
4. Where is the source of all true knowledge?
5. How is knowledge ‘God’s first gift to man’?
6. What is the relation between knowledge and faith?
7. Who only are counted ‘worthy’ to know ‘the deep things of God’?
8. Is knowledge necessary to salvation ?
9. What is the difference between knowing about God and knowing God ?
(Joh 17:3) And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
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The Apostle answers--"Through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord." At first it may occur to some that this has but a slight meaning, and that it simply signifies that we come to know that there is a God, and that there is a Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. But the knowledge of God means far more than this to the advancing and developing Christian: to him it means an intimate acquaintance with the Father and with the Son, a knowledge of the "mind of Christ," which is a full and clear representation to us of the mind of the Father. We are to grow in this knowledge by studying the Word of God, by discerning through that Word the principles which govern the divine conduct, as to how divine justice, wisdom, love and power operate. These are progressive studies. Something may be learned the first day of our Christian experience, but the end of the first year should show considerable progress in the knowledge of the divine mind; the second year should show us a still further increase, and so on.
As our intimate knowledge of the divine plan and character increases, so must also our grace increase; for those who do not attempt to come into harmony, step by step, with that which they see of the divine character will soon lose interest in such knowledge, while those who have the interest which leads to further and further study must of necessity be growing in grace continually. And as they grow in grace, so also will they grow in peace; for peace also is a progressive thing. We had peace when first we found the Lord and realized the forgiveness of our sins; but those who have made progress in the knowledge of the divine plan and character have found their peace to be an ever-increasing one; and those who have advanced some distance in the good way can speak of it in the language of the apostles and realize it in their hearts as being "the peace of God which passeth all understanding."
The Apostle, continuing, assures us that through this knowledge of God is imparted to us as by divine power "all things that pertain unto life and godliness." What an assurance! This statement of the importance of knowledge for our Christian development in every direction reminds us of the words of our Lord, "This is life eternal; that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." (`John 17:3`.) To know God, as the Apostle here explains, signifies an intimate acquaintance with "him that hath called us by his own glory and virtue." It is only as we realize something of the greatness and perfection of the divine character that we are properly able to estimate our own littleness and imperfection; only as we see the beauties of his gracious character can we become intimately acquainted with God, familiar with his graces and virtues. The influence of this knowledge and fellowship with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, reacts upon our own hearts, and has a cleansing and sanctifying effect. Thus the Apostle prays for some that they might grow in the knowledge of God so as to be able to "comprehend with all saints what is the length and the breadth, the depth and the height of the love of Christ which passeth [human] understanding." (`Eph. 3:14-19`.) Those beholding the divine character, even though but dimly, as through a glass, are thereby changed from glory to glory as by the spirit of the Lord.--`2 Cor. 3:18`.
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In view of what we already know of our Creator, especially as revealed to us in and through our Lord and Redeemer, Jesus, shall we not, as those who have come to see something of his glorious character, "press toward the mark" (`Phil. 3:14`) for the attainment of all that he may be pleased to reveal to us concerning himself, that thus we may be more and more partakers of his spirit, more and more conformed to his likeness, more and more acceptable, and by and by be actually and everlastingly accepted in the Beloved, to the full realization of all those blessings which God has in reservation for them who love him, and of which now we have the exceeding great and precious promises?
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The Master realized that his special instructions must be toward those whom the Father had given unto him, rather than toward the unready and unwilling ones who would not receive his testimony because not in a proper condition of heart to appreciate. To his faithful disciples, therefore, and to all of the same class since, he declared that all things he possessed he had received of the Father; he claimed nothing of himself; and further, he asserted that no one knew him truly, fully, intimately, but the Father, and that no man knew the Father except himself, the Son, and he to whom the Son revealed him. The average reader gets very little meaning out of this passage at first. The Christian who has been making progress for years, growing in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord, can appreciate it much better. He realizes that while he had some knowledge about Jesus and about the Father at first, from the very inception of his Christian experience, yet it was a different matter to come to know the Father and to know the Son in the intimate sense, in the sense of becoming well acquainted with them, knowing their mind as one knows the mind, the heart, of an intimate friend. It is a privilege to receive such an acquaintance. It is not to be had by everybody; it requires seeking for and knocking for, and such seeking and knocking implies an earnest desire to have an intimate fellowship and communion. Such a growth in grace should be earnestly sought by all of the Lord's true followers who seek to be his joint heirs in the Kingdom; for without it they cannot make progress. In proportion as we know the Father and know the Son we will love them and seek more and more to do those things which are pleasing in their sight.
10. Does knowledge increase responsibility?
11. What is our duty toward building up each other in knowledge?
"Him that is Taught" and "Him that Teacheth"
This scripture, in accord with all the others, shows us that God designed to instruct his people by means of each other; and that even the humblest of his flock shall think for himself and thus develop an individual faith as well as an individual character. Alas, that this important matter is so generally overlooked amongst those who name the name of Christ! This scripture recognizes teacher and pupils; but the pupils are to feel free to communicate, to make known to the teachers any and every matter coming to their notice and seeming to bear upon the subject discussed--not as desiring to be teacher but as an intelligent student to an elder brother student. They are not to be machines, nor to be afraid to communicate; but by asking questions, calling attention to what seems to them to be misapplications of Scripture or what not, they are to do their part in keeping the body of Christ and his teachings pure--they are thus to be critics; and instead of being discouraged from doing this, and instead of being told that they must not criticize the teacher or call in question his expositions, they are, on the contrary, urged to communicate, to criticize.
We must not, however, suppose that the Lord wished to encourage any hypercritical spirit, or combative, fault-finding disposition. Such a spirit is entirely contrary to the holy Spirit, and not only so, but would be very dangerous; because whoever in a spirit of debate sets forth a hypothetical, or supposititious case which he does not believe to be the Truth, merely with a view to confusing his opponent, having a "debate," etc., is sure to be injured as well as tolerably sure to injure others by such a course. Honesty to the Truth is a prime essential to progress in it: to oppose what one believes to be the Truth, and to even temporarily uphold what one believes to be an error, "for fun," or for any other reason, will surely be offensive to the Lord and bring some just retribution. Alas, how many have undertaken to "see just what could be said" against a position which they believed to be the Truth, and have been entangled and entirely captivated and blinded while pursuing this course! Next to the Lord, the Truth is the most precious thing in all the world; it is not to be trifled with, not to be played with; and whoever is negligent along this line will himself sustain injury. See 2 Thess. 2:10,11.
It is proper to remark that the word "communicate" is a broad one, and includes not only communication respecting thoughts, sentiments, etc., but may be understood also to mean that he who is taught and who receives spiritual benefits should be glad to communicate in some manner to the support of those who teach--giving to the Lord, the brethren, the Truth, of the fruit of his labors and talents. And such is the very essence of the holy disposition of the New Creation. Early in Christian experience each learns the meaning of their Master's words, "It is more blessed to give than to receive," and, hence, all who have this spirit are glad indeed to give of earthly things in the service of the Truth, and that in proportion as they receive spiritual blessings into good and honest hearts. The question of how to give, and of the wisdom to be exercised, will be considered later on, under another head.
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Knowledge is to be highly esteemed in the Church, and to be regarded as an evidence of progress, of growth; for none can grow strong in the Lord and in the power of his might--in grace--unless he grows also in knowledge. We properly esteem most highly those whose love for the Lord and for his truth are evidenced by zeal in the study of his Word, and whose favor with God is evidenced by their being guided more and more into the deep things of God. Nevertheless, as in the earthly family we love and care for the babes and immature, so also in the household of faith the little ones and the dwarfs are to be cared for and loved and helped that they may grow strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.
12. How do we know we are accepted as probationary members of the body of Christ?
13. What is our present inheritance through obedience to our knowledge of God’s will?
(Eph 1:7) In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
(Eph 1:18) The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
HEAVENLY VERSUS EARTHLY RICHES
We have said that the heavenly riches are to be attained in the resurrection, when the Millennial Kingdom shall be inaugurated, and the faithful overcomers, by their resurrection change, shall be richly endowed with all the good things which God hath in reservation for them that love him, and who prove their love by present-time devotions, sacrifices, etc. But, we should notice that there is a foretaste of these heavenly blessings granted to the faithful in this present life; these heavenly riches granted us now the Apostle speaks of as "riches of grace" (`Eph. 1:7,18`), and these grace-riches include faith, hope, and joy in the holy spirit and an ability to see and appreciate with the eye of faith things actually not seen as yet. The Apostle declares that these treasures of wisdom and grace--knowledge of divine good things in reservation, and the fellowship with God which permits us to anticipate and enjoy those blessings in a measure now, are all hidden in Christ, "in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." (`Col. 2:3`.) We must come into Christ, as members of his body, the true Church, by sacrifice,--before we can have the opportunity of even searching for these hidden treasures, or of finding any of them. And then, as we progress faithfully in our sacrificial service, as priests, walking in the footsteps of the great High Priest, we find more and more of these true "riches of grace" day by day, and year by year, as we progress.
Moreover, another kind of riches comes to the royal priesthood, faithful in performing their self-sacrifices. These are riches of the holy spirit. They find as they sacrifice the selfish interests, earthly aims, earthly projects, etc., in the service of the Lord and the Truth, that they grow more and more in likeness to their heavenly Father and to their Lord, and that the fruits of the holy spirit abound in them more and more--meekness, patience, gentleness, brotherly kindness, love.
Furthermore, they find a peace and a joy to which formerly they were strangers, and which the world can neither give nor take away. This peace and joy come through a realization that having given their all to the Lord, all of his exceeding great and precious promises belong to them. Now their faith can firmly grasp these promises as their own; they can realize that as their justification and call were not of themselves, but of the Lord, so all their course of sacrifice, in harmony with that call, is under divine supervision and care, and sure to work out blessings; and that to whatever extent they shall work out earthly hardships, trials and sufferings, God will proportionately make them to work out a far more exceeding and an eternal weight of glory in the Kingdom.--`2 Cor. 4:17`.
With this peace of God and confidence in his leading and care, they can apply to themselves the prophetic statement, "All the steps of a righteous man are ordered of the Lord, and he [the righteous man] delighteth in his way." (`Psa. 37:23`.) They can delight in this way, be it ever so thorny and narrow and rugged, because of their confidence in God's love and wisdom, and that he who began a good work in them is thus completing it and blessing them with experiences which divine wisdom sees will be to their profit eventually. Thus the Lord's blessing is upon this class; and they realize indeed that, "The blessing of the Lord it maketh rich." How rich it makes their hearts in the present time--rich in noble sentiments, rich in faith, rich in love, rich in good works to all men as they have opportunity, especially toward the household of faith; and very rich in God's blessing and under his providential care, which, if rightly accepted, will ultimately make these members of the Royal Priesthood heirs of God, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ their Lord, in an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for them.--`1 Pet. 1:4`.
14. What effect does the knowledge of the truth have upon superstitious fears?
15. How do we ‘ grow in knowledge’?
16. What is the significance of ‘the helmet of salvation,’ and is it more important now than in the past?
17. Can we give too much attention to acquiring knowledge?
18. What is the relation between knowledge and love ?
19. What is the difference between the knowledge which precedes justifying faith, and the knowledge...
20. How are ‘grace and peace multiplied’ unto us through knowledge?
21. What is the relation between knowledge and prayer ?
22. Do all kinds of knowledge profit us?
23. How can we explain the Apostle’s statement, ‘Ye know all things,’ and ‘need not that any man teach you’?
24. Explain Isa 53:11.
25. Should we expect to have any knowledge of the future?
26. What evidences have we that Da 12:4 is being fulfilled?
27. When will ‘the knowledge of the Lord fill the earth as the waters cover the sea,’ and...
28. What will be the relation between knowledge and faith in the Millennial Age ?