Berean Studies / Ber03 - Knowledge
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Single Click a triangle below to see the references CT Russell selected for the associated question. The study questions (with the references) are also included as an attached Adobe PDF file at the bottom of this page.
1. What is the importance of knowledge?
2. In what four ways may knowledge be obtained?
3. In which of these ways did Adam possess a knowledge of evil before he sinned?
Adam already had a knowledge of evil by information, but that was insufficient to restrain him from trying the experiment. Adam and Eve knew God as their Creator, and hence as the one who had the right to control and direct them; and God had said of the forbidden tree, "In the day thou eatest thereof, dying thou shalt die." They had, therefore, a theoretical knowledge of evil, though they had never observed or experienced its effects. Consequently, they did not appreciate their Creator's loving authority and his beneficent law, nor the dangers from which he thereby proposed to protect them. They therefore yielded to the temptation which God wisely permitted, the ultimate utility of which his wisdom had traced.
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 ?
10. Does knowledge increase responsibility?
(Luk 12:47) And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.
(Luk 12:48) But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.
Doubtless this was one reason why the Lord instructed us to "judge nothing before the time." Eventually the judgment will be in our hands--as it is written, "Know ye not that the saints shall judge the world?"--our Lord Jesus being the chief of these judges. The Lord's declaration is that he who knew his Master's will and did it not shall be beaten with many stripes, while he who knew not and did things worthy of stripes shall be beaten with few stripes. (Luke 12:47,48) This indicates to us that the guilt of wilful sin is to be measured largely by our knowledge of the Lord and of his will. Hence the Church, and those who have during this Gospel age come under the light and influence of the Church, will be held responsible in a larger degree than others. Nero, although not of the Church, not begotten of the Spirit, and therefore, less responsible proportionately than the Church, had, nevertheless, considerable contact with the children of the light; and hence, we may presume, had a large measure of responsibility in connection with his crimes.
And while the Bible is thus opening up from this standpoint, and disclosing wondrous things (Psa. 119:18), the light of the present day upon the various creeds and traditions of men is affecting them in an opposite manner. They are being recognized even by their worshipers as imperfect and deformed, and hence they are being measurably ignored; and though still subscribed to, they are seldom elaborated, for very shame. And the shame attaching to these human creeds and traditions is spreading to the Bible, which is supposed to uphold these deformities of thought as of divine origin. Hence the freedom with which the various advanced thinkers, so-called, are beginning to deny various parts of the Bible not congenial to their views. How striking, then, the providence of God, which at this very time opens before his children this truly glorious and harmonious plan--a plan that rejects not one, but harmonizes every part and item of his Word. Truth, when due, becomes meat for the household of faith, that they may grow thereby. (Matt. 24:45) Whoever comes in contact with truth, realizing its character, has thereby a responsibility with reference to it. It must be either received and acted upon, or rejected and despised. To ignore it does not release from responsibility. If we accept it ourselves, we have a responsibility TOWARD IT also, because it is for ALL the household of faith; and each one receiving it becomes its debtor, and, if a faithful steward, must dispense it to the other members of the family of God. Let your light shine! If it again becomes darkness, how great will be the darkness. Lift up the light! Lift up a standard for the people!
11. What is our duty toward building up each other in knowledge?
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?
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?
(2Pe 1:2) Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
(2Pe 1:3) According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
R2136 first 8 paragraphs of article THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD-ITS VALUE
"Grace and peace be multiplied unto you, through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus Christ our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto God and life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us by his own glory and virtue."--`2 Pet. 1:2,3` --Reading of Sinaitic manuscript.
THE FIRST question coming to us in connection with these words of exhortation is, To whom were they addressed? Are these the instructions given to sinners? Is this the way by which sinners are to approach to God? No. These instructions are addressed to those who are already justified through faith in the precious blood of Christ, as indicated in the preceding verse. They are addressed--"To them who have obtained like precious faith with us [the apostles] through the righteousness of our Lord and Savior,* Jesus Christ."
The suggestion clearly is that to become believers in Christ Jesus--even justified and fully consecrated believers--is not sufficient; there is to be a progress in the life just begun which will continue as long as we are "in this tabernacle," and, if faithful, be completed in "the first resurrection." The thought of the Apostle is not year by year revivals with year by year backslidings, but rather a continued progression in the new life. This thought is quite in contradiction of the experiences of very many who assume the name of Christ, which, alas! are too often expressed in the lines of the hymn:--
"Where is the blessedness I knew, when first I found the Lord? Where is the soul-reviving view of Jesus and his Word?"
The prevalent idea amongst this class of Christians might be termed alternate subtractions and additions of grace and peace. They first get a blessing, then lose it, then find it again to lose it again, and thus continue. There is a logical reason why this course is so prevalent, and why so few know anything about the multiplication which the Apostle here mentions-- "Grace and peace be multiplied unto you." The reason is that the majority of Christians lack a knowledge of those things which are necessary to preserve to them the grace and peace found through their primary faith in the Lord as their Redeemer; and much more do they lack a sufficiency of knowledge to multiply their grace and peace. The vast majority occupy the position mentioned by the Apostle Paul (`1 Cor. 3:1`) "I, brethren, could not write unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal--even as unto babes in Christ;" "when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God."--`Heb. 5:12-14`.
An error on one subject often leads to many errors on many subjects; and so it is in this case: the doctrine of eternal torment as the penalty for the fall, from which only believers will escape, has distorted the judgment and misdirected the efforts of many of the Lord's people. With some of the most earnest the first thought is personal escape from eternal torment, and naturally the second thought is to help as many others as possible to escape such an awful eternity. With this thought as the mainspring of conduct, we cannot wonder that by such chief attention is paid to "saving sinners" and bringing them into the condition of "babes in Christ." But after they become babes comparatively little is done to develop them in the knowledge of God, that they may grow up into the full stature of manhood in Christ. As babes they are continually fed upon the milk, and hence are unused to the strong meat, so that when they do attempt its use, they are more likely to be choked by it than to be strengthened.
The Apostle points out the proper course by which the believer, having made a proper start, shall continue onward and upward in his Christian development-- multiplying his grace and his peace. It is all-important, however, that he begin right, that he be truly begotten "by the word of truth," "the faith once delivered unto the saints"--which the Apostle here terms "precious faith." This is not the faith promulgated by the higher critics. Their faith is far from precious. Their faith denies the fall, denies the ransom and all necessity for it, and consequently denies the resurrection based upon that ransom. Their faith consists in believing in their own judgments as the criterions of what is truth and what is error, and in doubting the testimony of Moses and the prophets, of the Lord and the apostles. Such a faith is not the "precious faith," is not "the faith once delivered unto the saints." And those who are building upon such a faith are not of those here addressed by the Apostle, and we need not expect that either their grace or their peace will be multiplied. We trust, however, that the majority of our readers are of those who can sing with the spirit and the understanding also,--
"My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus' name. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand: all other ground is sinking sand."
The true foundation, upon which we should build, is,--faith in the righteousness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,--faith that his sacrifice for sin was once for all a full and complete ransom-price for Adam and all his posterity, so that all of these, as in due time they shall be brought to a knowledge of Christ, may, if they will, obtain cleansing and eternal life under the gracious terms of the New Covenant. It is those who build upon this foundation that may hope to multiply their grace and peace. How?
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."
A knowledge of these things, and the evidences that they are nigh, even at the door, should have a powerful influence upon all, but especially upon the consecrated children of God, who are seeking the prize of the divine nature. We urge such, while they lift up their heads and rejoice, knowing that their redemption draweth nigh, to lay aside every weight and hindrance, and to run patiently the race in which they have started. Look away from self and its unavoidable weaknesses and imperfections, knowing that all such weaknesses are covered fully by the merits of the ransom given by Christ Jesus our Lord, and that your sacrifices and self-denials are acceptable to God through our Redeemer and Lord--and thus only. Let us remember that the strength sufficient which God has promised us, and by use of which we can be "overcomers," is provided in his Word. It is a strength derived from a knowledge of his character and plans, and of the conditions upon which we may share in them. Thus Peter expresses it, saying, "Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus Christ our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who hath called us to glory and virtue; whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that BY THESE ye might be partakers of the divine nature." 2 Pet. 1:2-4
But to obtain this knowledge and this strength, which God thus proposes to supply to each runner for the heavenly prize, will surely test the sincerity of your consecration vows. You have consecrated all your time, all your talents, to the Lord; now the question is, How much of it are you giving? Are you still willing, according to your covenant of consecration, to give up all?--to give up your own plans and methods, and the theories of yourselves and others, to accept of God's plan and way and time of doing his great
work? Are you willing to do this at the cost of earthly friendships and social ties? And are you willing to give up time from other things for the investigation of these glorious themes so heart-cheering to the truly consecrated, with the certain knowledge that it will cost you this self-denial? If all is not consecrated, or if you only half meant it when you gave all to the Lord, then you will begrudge the time and effort needful to search his Word as for hid treasure, to obtain thus the strength needful for all the trials of faith incident to the present (the dawn of the Millennium) above other times.
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 ?
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What is now known to the Church of this Gospel age as "justification by faith" (in like manner also the ancient worthies were justified) will not be in operation during the Millennial age, nor be necessary; because the conditions then will be so different from present conditions. It is because "we walk by faith and not by sight,"--because faith is now so difficult, and therefore so rare, that it is so highly appreciated and rewarded of God. But when the Millennial age will have been ushered in, the age of faith will have passed--that will be the age of knowledge,--the age of evidences so clear, so unmistakable, that even "the wayfaring man, tho ignorant, shall not err therein, for the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth, as the waters cover the face of the great deep." With knowledge thus abundant, so that there shall be no need to say to one's neighbor, "Know the Lord, because all shall know him," it follows that special faith will be impossible, and hence the rewards of special faith will no longer be offered.
We do not mean to say that mankind during the Millennium will not believe; on the contrary, none can do otherwise than believe: we do mean to say, however, that there is a difference between believing and exercising faith. We now believe various things by faith, which the world in the next age will believe, not by faith but on evidence, by knowledge--it will be impossible for them to doubt them, seeing that the evidences will be so indisputable. For instance, now God tells us to reckon all of our past sins forgiven, and ourselves fully justified in his sight. Nevertheless, we continually see evidences of our own weaknesses in our minds and bodies. The sins are not blotted out; they are merely reckonedly covered. In the case of the Church's sins: they will not be blotted out until death shall destroy these mortal bodies, and until the Lord, in the first resurrection, shall grant us glorious, spiritual, perfect bodies. In them there will be no trace of sin or weakness or imperfection; all our sins will then be actually blotted out. But now we are required to believe in the covering of our sins; to exercise faith in God's declaration. Our next step of faith is in connection with the high calling to sacrifice earthly and temporal interests for the gaining of the heavenly glory, honor and immortality. But the heavenly crown and blessing are seen only with the eye of faith; and whoever runs in the race now set before us in the Gospel, must not only look with the eye of faith unto Jesus, as the author and finisher of our faith, but with the same eye of faith must see the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, has laid up for those who are faithful. Thus ours is preeminently an age of faith, of reckoned conditions, and of trust in the promises: and it shall have its great and precious reward.
Not so will be the conditions of the Millennial age, when ushered in. Knowledge will be there, as we have seen; and each day's experiences will result either in mental, moral and physical development, or in chastisements for failures to make progress. Such experiences will give ample demonstration of what may be expected as the ultimate outcome,--restitution as the reward of obedience, or the Second Death as the punishment of disobedience.
The matter is clearly set before us in the Scriptures, which clearly teach that, during this age, the rule of divine dealing is, "According to thy faith be it unto thee," while the rule of the judgment of the world in the Millennial age is clearly laid down in `Rev. 20:12`: "I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God: and the books were opened; and another book of life was opened [the first book of life is called the Lamb's Book of Life, containing the names of the elect Church, his Bride:--this other Book of Life will be the book or record of those who shall pass the restitution trial or judgment satisfactorily], and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books [the Scriptures--`John 12:48`] according to their works."
It would be a mistake to suppose that God will call mankind to sonship during the Millennial age, and not require them to make full consecration of themselves to him, and to that righteousness of which he is the personal representative. None can ever have eternal life upon any other condition than this--absolute obedience, and more--absolute harmony with the very spirit of the divine law, the law of righteousness, the law of love. And all who will be in harmony with the Lord to such an extent as this, would of necessity sacrifice, if there were opposition to the Lord or to righteousness which would make necessary a sacrifice of any kind, rather than deny the Lord and the principles of his holiness.
The reason why there will be no sacrifices required of the world during the Millennial age is, that sin and Satan will no longer be in control--"this present evil world" (dispensation) will have passed away, and in its stead will have been ushered in "the world to come, wherein dwelleth righteousness"--wherein righteousness will be the rule, wherein the King and all in favor with him and every feature of government will be one of righteousness, truth and love.
To suppose the restitution call already commenced, would be to suppose that God had in some manner authorized some one to announce that henceforth no one would suffer for right doing, but only for wrong doing; and that henceforth whoever sought to do right to the best of his ability, would find himself unopposed therein, and that his every effort would promptly bring mental, moral and physical strength and recuperation, which, going on and on, would by and by reach absolute perfection. Furthermore, it would be to promise that any who accepted this restitution call would never die the Adamic death; but on the contrary, accepting this call heartily, would find that day by day, year by year, the power of death in him was being vanquished and the process of restitution progressing.
When that call shall go forth, and those restitution privileges shall be offered to mankind, it will be as the Prophet has declared, that no man shall thenceforth die for Adam's sin, nor for the sin of his fathers, but only for his own sin. (`Jer. 31:29,30`.) We understand that this time will not be reached until after the time of trouble--not until A.D. 1915. To our understanding, from that date onward, the Kingdom being fully established, the call of the world to restitution privileges will be opened, and whoever shall then die will die for his own sin [Second Death] and not for father Adam's; and whoever will then be obedient to the Lord will experience the blessings of his grace in restitution,--actual, perceptible recovery beginning at once, as the reward to the faithful under the restitution call.
The sense in which Millennial blessings and favors are already lapping upon the Gospel age, to our understanding, is this: First, knowledge, inventions, etc., are bringing to the world of mankind blessings never hitherto enjoyed, and which are really intended for the Millennial age, and are merely being gotten ready or prepared in this "day of God's preparation." (2) Restitution blessings are lapping also, in the sense that these inventions, etc., are gradually leading on to the great time of trouble, in which present institutions, social, financial, political, religious, will all be overthrown--that in their stead God may bring in the better provisions and arrangements of the Millennial Kingdom. (3) Restitution blessings are coming to the Church now, in the sense that she is permitted to foresee these coming blessings upon the world, and to rejoice exceedingly, and to lift up her heart in thankfulness and praise to him who loveth us and who bought us with his own precious blood, and to realize how it is "the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."
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True, faith may even then be said to be essential to restitution progress toward actual justification, for "without faith it is impossible to please God," and because the restitution blessings and rewards will be bestowed along lines that will demand faith; but the faith that will then be required for progress in restitution will differ very much from the faith now required of those "called to be saints," "joint-heirs with Jesus," "New Creatures." When the Kingdom of God shall be in control and Satan bound and the knowledge of the Lord caused to fill the earth, these fulfilments of divine promises will be recognized by all, and thus sight or knowledge will grasp actually much that is now recognizable only by the eye of faith. But faith will be needed, nevertheless, that they may go on unto perfection; and thus the actual justification obtainable by the close of the Millennium will be attained only by those who will persistently exercise faith and works. Although of that time it is written, "The dead shall be judged out of the books according to their WORKS," as in contradistinction to the present judgment of the Church "according to your FAITH," yet their works will not be without faith, even as our faith must not be without works to the extent of our ability.
The Apostle's declaration that God will justify the heathen through faith (Gal. 3:8), is shown by the context to signify that the reconciliation by restitution will not come as a result of the Law Covenant, but by grace under the terms of the New Covenant, which must be believed in, accepted and complied with by all who would benefit by it. A difference between present and future justification, is that the consecrated of the present time are, upon the exercise of proper faith, granted instantly fellowship with the Father, through reckoned justification, by faith; whereas the exercise of obedient faith under the more favorable conditions of the next age will not bring reckoned justification at all, and will effect actual justification and fellowship with God only at the close of the Millennium. The world in the interim will be in the hands of the great Mediator, whose work it will be to represent to them the divine will and to deal with them, correcting and restoring such as obey, until he shall have actually justified them--at which time he will present them faultless before the Father, when about to deliver up his Kingdom to God, even the Father. 1 Cor. 15:24