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?
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?
12. How do we know we are accepted as probationary members of the body of Christ?
(1Th 1:4) Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.
(1Th 1:5) For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.
How to Know the Spirit's Witness
A man's mind or spirit may be known by his words and conduct; and so we may know God's mind or Spirit by his words and dealings. The testimony of his Word is that whosoever cometh unto him (by faith, and reformation from bad works and dead works, through Jesus) is accepted. (Heb. 7:25) Hence the questions to be asked of themselves by those who are seeking a witness of the Spirit respecting their sonship are:
Was I ever drawn to Christ?--to recognize him as my Redeemer, through whose righteousness alone I could have access to the heavenly Father, and be acceptable with him?
If this can be answered in the affirmative, the next question would be:
Did I ever fully consecrate myself--my life, my time, my talents, my influence, my all--to God?
If this question also can be answered in the affirmative, the inquirer may rest fully assured that he has been accepted with the Father, in the Beloved One, and recognized of him as a son. And if scrutinizing his own heart's desires and sentiments he finds it still trusting in the merit of Jesus, and still consecrated to do the Lord's will, he may allow the sweet confidence and peace which this thought of harmony and relationship to divinity brings, to fully possess his heart. This conviction of the Lord's grace toward us in Christ constructed from facts of our own experience, built upon the unalterable character and Word of God, is not mutative, not changeable, as it would be if built upon the shifting sands of feelings. If doubts or fears intrude in some dark hour, we have only to take the "Lamp" (God's Word) and examine afresh the facts and the foundation, and if our hearts are still loyal to the Lord, faith, joy and peace will instantly return to us; if we find our faith in "the precious blood" crumbling, or our consecration slipping away, we know the true condition of affairs, and can at once make the proper repairs and thus re-establish our "full assurance of faith." (Heb. 10:22) But be it noticed that each one who would have this assurance must "set to his seal that God is true" (John 3:33): that our Lord changeth not, but is "the same yesterday, today and forever." The Lord's people may therefore rest assured that having once come into the conditions of divine favor, they may continue under those conditions so long as their hearts are loyal to God and their desires in harmony with his will: so long as they are at heart obedient to the divine commands--briefly comprehended in the word Love--to God and men. Heb. 11:6; 13:8
Whoever has taken the specified steps has the assurance, the "witness" of the Word of God, that he is a child of God; and this, during the Gospel age, signifies that he is a branch of the true vine, a probationary member of the true Church. (John 15:1) To such the Word of God witnesses that they have joined the true Church, which is Christ's body. This witness is given to their spirit, their mind, by God's Spirit, which testifies through his Word. And the same Spirit of Truth assures such that if their hearts continue faithful to the Lord to the close of their probation--if they willingly and gladly take up the cross daily, seeking as best they are able to follow in the Master's footsteps, their probationary membership in the Church of Christ will shortly be changed to actual membership--after they have finished their course, and been made sharers in his resurrection, the first resurrection. Phil. 3:10
"Knowing Your Election of God"
"Knowing brethren beloved, your election of God. For our Gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power and in the holy Spirit and in much assurance." 1 Thess. 1:4,5
Elsewhere we have pointed out what constitutes the signs, the evidences that we are the children of God; namely, our begetting of the holy Spirit, our sealing, our quickening.* We will not repeat here, but merely in a general way call attention to the fact that whoever participates in this election has various evidences by which it may be discerned not by himself only, but ere long be discernible by "the brethren" with whom he comes in contact. There is a power, as well as a message, in this election. This election message, or call, or "word," is not only Gospel or good tidings to the elect class, but it is more than this to them: it is the power of God working in them to will and to do his good pleasure. It brings to the elect the holy Spirit and much assurance, and they, in turn, are ready at any cost to sound out the Word of the Lord.
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 ?
(Joh 15:7) If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
"Ask and Ye Shall Receive, that Your Joy may be Full" --John 16:24—
"In thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand are pleasures forevermore," declares the prophet. (Psa. 16:11) It is because prayer brings the soul into the presence of the Lord that it prepares the way for divine blessing and superlative joys. Evidently the opening of the way for the Lord's people to approach the throne of grace is not with the object of their changing the divine will or plans. Such a thought is incompatible with every reasonable consideration of the subject; hence, the Lord instructs us that proper praying is not along the line of making requests that our wills be done, in opposition to the divine will, but along the line of full submission to the latter. The Apostle declares of some, "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss"--in harmony with your own desires, and not in harmony with the divine arrangement and plan. James 4:3
Along the same line our Lord admonished: "Use not vain repetitions, as the Gentiles do, for they think they shall be heard for their much speaking; but your heavenly Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him. Be not careful [worried], therefore, respecting what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink, and wherewithal ye shall be clothed, for after these things do the Gentiles seek; but seek ye primarily the Kingdom of God and righteousness in harmony with it, and all these needful earthly things shall be added unto you--by your Father in heaven, according to his wisdom." (Matt. 6:25-34) Again, our Lord says, "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you." (John 15:7) The following conditions are all-important:
(1) The one offering the prayer must be in Christ--must have come into vital relationship with him by the acceptance of the merit of his atonement sacrifice, and by a consecration to his will and service; and, more than this, he must continue to abide thus in Christ as a member of his body, as a member of the New Creation, in order to have the privileges of prayer here referred to.
(2) He must also let the Lord's Word abide in him; he must partake of the Word of truth and grace if he would have the wisdom necessary to ask, in harmony with the Lord's will, things which he would be pleased to grant-- otherwise, even though in Christ a New Creature, his prayers might frequently go unanswered, because "amiss." It is only those who profess both of these qualifications who may expect to approach the throne of heavenly grace with full confidence, full assurance of faith that their petitions will be answered--in God's due time. Only such can realize fullness of joy.
As the Scriptures explain, prayer is the attempt to gain access to the presence of God, and to hold communion with him. Who then may approach the throne of the heavenly grace to "obtain mercy and find grace to help in every time of need?" (Heb. 4:16) We answer, with the Apostle, that the world in general does not have this access, does not have this privilege of prayer. True, indeed, millions of heathen people are offering prayers to Deity with varying conceptions of who and what he is; but their prayers are not acceptable to God. "He that cometh unto God must believe that he is [must recognize him as the self-existing One], and that he is the rewarder of those who diligently seek him [seek to know him, to obey him, to serve him]." (Heb. 11:6) Cornelius was one of this latter kind, who recognized the true God and reverenced him, and sought to know and do his will; and, as soon as the divine plan had reached the necessary stage of development to permit God's favor to be extended to the Gentiles, his prayers and his alms received a response. He was not, however, permitted to have communion with God in the full, proper sense; but was instructed to send for Peter, who would tell him "words" by which he might be brought from his condition of alienation and separation into a condition of harmony and sonship, in which he would have the privilege of a son--the privilege of access to the Father at the throne of heavenly grace.
It was the wisdom from above, the holy Spirit, which guided the Apostle Paul when going into a new city with the Gospel, to seek out those assembled at a place "where prayer was wont to be made." (Acts 16:13) And it is a fact, still, that both the knowledge and the love of God abound most amongst those of his people who pray one for another, that their joy may be full. However many meetings the Lord's people may have for the study of his Word, and for the building up of one another in the most holy faith, we advocate that no service be considered as properly commenced except the Lord's blessing upon the study be first invoked; and that no meeting be considered properly closed until the Lord be thanked for the privilege and blessings enjoyed, and for his blessing bestowed--that the Word of his grace may be meat indeed to the hearts of those who have heard with sincere desire to know and do his will.
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What we thus see exemplified on a large and national scale we may see exemplified in a small way closer to us. How many of us in our ignorance and blindness have at some time in life prayed for the various systems of bondage, for the various sects of Christendom, and labored, too, for their upbuilding, only to find ourselves injured spiritually by that which we prayed for and labored for. We asked amiss, as did the Elders of Israel, while, instead, our hearts as well as theirs should have inquired continually for the ways of the Lord, for his leadings, not asking to have him favor and bless that which we ignorantly and mistakenly supposed to be for his glory and our own good. Let us learn to pray aright, as well as to labor and to hope aright; and in order so to do let us be swift to hear, slow to speak, swift to hearken to the Word of the Lord and to the lesson which he has already given us, and to his method of instructing us and guiding us and blessing us. Let us be slow to tell him what our preferences are; indeed, let us seek to attain that development of Christian character which will permit us always not to seek our own wills, but the will and way of our Father in heaven. (August 29 Manna)
The same principle will apply in the more private affairs of our daily lives. Several parents have told us, with aching hearts, of prayers answered which subsequently they could have wished never answered; they have told us of companions and children on their deathbeds for whose lives they had prayed with importunity and without either the words or the sentiment, Thy will be done, and how the Lord answered those prayers, and what terrible evils had come to them through the answers. All cases may not be alike, but the properly exercised and heart-developed children of God should expect to attain to the place where all of their prayers are answered, and answered in the best possible way, and most satisfactorily, because the Lord's Word dwells in them richly. They would not ask amiss-- would not ask anything contrary to the divine will and providences; but rather, trusting to the divine wisdom, their prayer would be, "Lord, thy will, not mine, be done."
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 ?