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 ?
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?
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?
(Eph 6:17) And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
The Helmet of Salvation represents the intellectual, or philosophical, appreciation or understanding of the divine plan. Apparently, it was less necessary in the past than now: but now, in the "harvest," when the Adversary is furiously attacking the Truth and turning everything scientific and educational into a weapon of destruction--now the helmet is indispensable. And now, and only now, is it provided in such size and shape that the humblest soldier of the cross can put it on. The Lord held back the Attacker within the bounds where the shield of faith would serve as protection; but now the whole armor is supplied, and not too soon for the needs of his faithful.
R2873 - THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE RANSOM
Question.--Is an understanding of the philosophy of the ransom essential to justification?
Answer.--Justification is the name for that standing in the sight of God in which He can accept us and deal with us no longer as sinners but as perfect human sons. This relationship or standing has been accounted to the friends of God ever since the day of Abraham, surely, and evidently to some others previously. Neither Abraham nor David nor Samuel nor the prophets understood the philosophy of the ransom. They could not understand it, for it had not yet been revealed in any sense or degree: it had merely been hinted at in types and through indefinite promises.
But they could and did have faith in God, and the Apostle Paul (`Rom. 4`) shows that it was that faith that justified them. They had faith to the full of the revelation of God's will and plan made to them. The extent of the knowledge of God possible to be possessed has increased considerably since Abraham's day. In `Rom. 4:24`, the Apostle makes faith in God the basis of our justification as it was the basis of their acceptance, though now faith in God includes faith in the Lord Jesus as our Redeemer. It was impossible for any to believe on Him of whom they had not heard; but Abraham believed God in His statement that in his seed (afterward shown to be Christ) all the families of the earth should be blest. Abraham's faith was reckoned as justifying him in God's sight. It was such an active, obedient faith as would have accepted Christ personally, as it accepted the promises concerning him. In due time his faith shall be perfected --at our Lord's second advent.
Coming down to the first advent of our Lord: His teaching evidently brought a great light to them that had the eyes of their understanding opened, and he declared the ransom. We have no reason to suppose that even those who heard our Lord speak in dark sayings and parables grasped the philosophy of the ransom; and so through the Gospel age to the present time. We must therefore suppose that in God's wisdom it was quite sufficient that his people should believe the fact which his Word does clearly state, that Christ's death paid the penalty for the sins of the whole world somehow or other, not understood.
The ransom was necessary, so far as God was concerned, as the basis of our justification. But so far as we were concerned, the thing necessary was to "believe God" and to accept God's statement, that through the death of Christ the reconciliation for the sins of the whole world was effected, for all who would believe it and act accordingly.
The philosophy of the subject is needful in our day, and is "meat in due season;" now, because we have come down to a time when there is in progress a special sifting and testing in connection with Christ and his sacrifice, and when it is necessary to have the philosophy of the subject in order to be able to appreciate and hold on clearly to the fact that we were redeemed by the precious blood.
It will be noticed that the prophet declares that all the tables of Babylon are full of vomit--rejected things. They had some very good things upon their tables, among others the doctrine of the ransom; but failing to be in the right condition of heart now, the Lord is rejecting Babylon; and those of his people in her are called away from her tables to the meat in due season, while her tables, served by those who are rejected from being the Lord's mouth-pieces ("I will spue thee out of my mouth"), are in the light of the dawning day being despised; and even the good things from the Lord's Word (the ransom, etc.), which once yielded them refreshment, are now defiled in their eyes along with the rejected nonsense of the dark ages.
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There is danger that some may misunderstand the meaning of our text, and suppose it to teach that every incident in the life of God's people is what and as he intended it to be;--that God arbitrarily interferes in the affairs of his people, sets aside their free agency, and forces them to take this step or the other as mere machines. This is a serious mistake. No such thought is contained in the words. God has shown us his good pleasure in such matters; for, although he could have made us like wagons or wheelbarrows, to be pulled or pushed regardless of any ambition of our own, he did not so make us, and seeketh not such to be his children--the recipients of his favors. On the contrary, he made man a free moral agent--in this respect a copy of his Creator, free to will as he may please. Although we are not always free to do as we may please, we are always free to will as we may please, and, as already seen, in the present time the Lord is dealing with his people according to their wills. And if God respects the will of the natural man, much more would he respect the will of the new creature in Christ Jesus, begotten of the holy Spirit.
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?
(Joh 17:17) Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
Sanctified through the Truth
From the foregoing it is manifest that the sanctification which God desires--the sanctification essential to attainment of a place in the New Creation--will not be possible to any except those who are in the school of Christ, and who learn of him--are "sanctified through the truth." Error will not sanctify, neither will ignorance. Moreover, we are not to make the mistake of supposing that all truth tends to sanctification: on the contrary, although truth in general is admirable to all those who love truth and who correspondingly hate error, our Lord's word for it is that it is only "Thy truth" which sanctifies. We see the whole civil world ostensibly racing, chasing each other and contending for truth. Geologists have one part of the field, Astronomers another, Chemists another, Physicians another, Statesmen another, etc.; but we do not find that these various branches of truth-searching lead to sanctification. On the contrary, we find that, as a rule, they lead in the reverse direction; and in accord with this is the declaration of the Apostle that "the world by wisdom knows not God." (1 Cor. 1:21) The fact is that in the few short years of the present life, and in our present fallen, imperfect and depraved condition, our capacity is entirely too small to make worth our while the attempt to take in the entire realm of truth on every subject; hence, we see that the successful people of the world are specialists. The man who devotes his attention to astronomy will have more than he can do to keep up with his position--little time for geology or chemistry or botany or medicine or the highest of all sciences "Thy truth"--the divine plan of the ages. It is in view of this that the Apostle, who himself was a well-educated man in his time, advises Timothy to "beware of human philosophies" (theories and sciences) falsely so-called. The word science signifies truth, and the Apostle, we may be sure, did not mean to impugn the sincerity of the scientists of his day, nor to imply that they were intentional falsifiers; but his words do give us the thought, which the course of science fully attests, that, although there is some truth connected with all these sciences, yet the human theories called sciences are not truth--not absolutely correct. They are merely the best guesses that the most attentive students in these departments of study have been able to set forth; and these--as history clearly shows-- from time to time contradict each other. As the scientists of fifty years ago repudiated the science of previous times, so are the deductions and methods of reasoning of these in turn repudiated by the scientists of today.
23. How can we explain the Apostle’s statement, ‘Ye know all things,’ and ‘need not that any man teach you’?
(1Jo 2:20) But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.
(1Jo 2:27) But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.
E280 to 287
An Unction from the Holy One
"Ye have an unction from the Holy One and ye know all things."
"The anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things and is truth and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him." 1 John 2:20,27
These words unction and anointing awaken in intelligent Bible students recollections of the holy anointing oil poured upon the heads of each successor to the offices of High Priest and King in Israel. As the people of Israel were typical of "the true Israel of God," so their priests and kings were typical of Christ, the great antitypical High Priest and King. And as their priests and kings were anointed with the "holy anointing oil" as an induction into office, so our Lord Jesus was anointed with the holy Spirit at the time of his consecration. He thus became the Christ--the anointed of Jehovah.
The elect church is to be a "royal priesthood" (king-priests) under their Lord and Head--"members of the body of the Anointed [the Christ]." The holy Spirit of anointing which came to our Lord Jesus at his baptism at Jordan, and with "all power in heaven and in earth," when he was raised from the dead by the holy Spirit or power of the Father (Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:19,20), he with the Father's approval "shed forth" or poured out as the antitypical anointing oil upon the representatives of his Church at Pentecost. There (keeping in thought the type) the anointing oil passed from the "Head" to his "body," the Church, and thenceforth the faithful, abiding in the body, were recognized in the divine Word as "the very elect" of God, anointed of him (in Christ) to rule and bless the world after being first "taught of God" under the guidance of the anointing Spirit.
The signification of unction (and of its Greek original chrisma) is smoothness, oiliness, lubrication. From custom the word carried with it also the thought of fragrance, perfume. How beautifully and forcefully this word represents the effect of God's influence toward goodness, upon those who come under this antitypical anointing--holiness, gentleness, patience, brotherly kindness--love! What a sweet, pure perfume does this anointing of the holy Spirit of love bring with it to all who receive it! However ungainly or coarse or rude or ignorant the outer man, "the earthen vessel," how speedily it partakes of the sweetening and purifying influence of the treasure of the "new heart," the new will within--anointed with the holy Spirit and brought into harmony with "whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely!" Phil. 4:8
These words "unction" and "anointing" are in full accord with the correct view of the holy Spirit--that it is an influence from God, an invisible power of God exercised through his precepts, his promises, or otherwise as may seem good to the all-wise omnipotent One. These words certainly do not convey the thought of a person. How could we be anointed with a person?
But some one perhaps will suggest that in the expression, "an unction from the Holy One," not the unction but the Holy One represents the holy Spirit. We answer, No; the Holy One is the Father. Peter, describing the Pentecostal blessing, declares that it was "shed forth" or poured out--as anointing oil, but not as a person would be said to be sent. He says, speaking of Jesus, "Having received of the Father the holy Spirit promised [in Joel] he hath shed forth this which ye see and hear"--this miraculous power or influence which manifests itself variously, in quickening thoughts, in tongues of flame and divers languages uttered by unlearned men. Again Joel's prophecy was "I will pour out my Spirit." Can any one claim that this would be appropriate language to use respecting any person? That he was given by the Father to the Son, and that he was poured or shed forth and seen and heard as "this"? Surely not. And surely such language would be disrespectful, if applied to a third person of a trinity of Gods "equal in power and glory."
The item however which strikes everyone as most astounding is that those who have this unction "know all things." How many of the Lord's people have felt absolutely certain that they did not "know all things," and therefore doubted if they had received the anointing of the holy Spirit! How the matter is simplified when translated, "Ye have an unction from the Holy One and ye all know it!"* Yes, indeed; all the true children of God know very well the difference between the natural mind or heart or will and the new heart, new mind, new disposition, controlled by love and righteousness.
*The words "all things" are omitted by oldest Greek MSS.
And how many of God's best and humblest children have read with amazement the words, "The anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you and ye need not that any man teach you!" Alas! they said, we have received no such anointing, for we have very much need that some man teach us, and know very little that has not come to us either directly or indirectly through human instrumentality. And these humble souls would feel greatly cast down and discouraged by reason of their honesty of thought, did they not see that the very best of the saints of their acquaintance similarly need and appreciate human teachers. On the other hand, some of the less honest, less candid, less saintly, endeavor to deceive themselves and others by claiming that they have learned nothing of men but have been taught all they know by direct inspiration of the holy Spirit. They see not that they are thus claiming infallibility for their thoughts and words, in the most absolute sense. They fail, too, to see that their errors of thought, word and deed, claimed to be under plenary inspiration of the holy Spirit, reflect against God's holy Spirit, as the author of their errors and follies.
Taking this passage just as it stands, it contradicts the general testimony of Scripture. Does not the Apostle Paul mention among the Spirit's gifts to the Church--apostles, prophets [orators], pastors, teachers, evangelists? And why give these if the Church had no need that any man teach them? What does the Apostle say of the reason for setting these special gifts in the Church? Hear him: "For the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God." (Eph. 4:11-13) Compare 1 Cor. 12:28-31.
It is not supposable that the Apostle John was contradicting the Apostle Paul and the other apostles--all of whom were teachers and who instructed the Church to seek out the Spirit's choice of pastors, teachers and overseers, and to honor those who thus had the "rule over" the Church and who were to watch for the interests of souls as those who must give an account to the Lord. (Heb. 13:17) It was undoubtedly in full accord with the Apostle Paul's advice that the Church had need to select as its servants men "apt at teaching," "able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers," and when necessary to "rebuke sharply that they may be sound in faith." They were to recognize under-shepherds, who would not "lord it over God's heritage," but would "feed the flock" with meat in due season--avoiding teachers having ears which itched for popularity and flattery. 1 Pet. 5:2-4; 1 Tim. 3:2; 2 Tim. 2:25; Titus 1:9,13
Furthermore, John himself was a teacher, and in this very epistle was teaching what he and we appreciate as sound doctrine--necessary to be taught. Surely no one reading John's writings could draw the inference that he meant them merely as social letters, devoid of doctrine or teaching. Does he not open the epistle by saying, "That which we have seen and heard declare [teach] we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us?" (1:3) Again he says, "These things write I unto you [to teach you] that ye sin not." (2:1) Again, "A new commandment [teaching] I write unto you." (2:8) Again, "Little children, let no man deceive you [but heed my teaching]: he that doeth righteousness is righteous." (3:7) Again, "We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us [obeys our instructions, our teachings]." (4:6) Again, "These things have I written unto you...that ye may know [be taught]." (5:13) He closes his epistle with a very important teaching, saying, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols [permit no person or thing to supplant God himself in your affections and reverence]."
Seeing then that the Apostle cannot be understood as meaning that the Church has no need of human teachers-- seeing on the contrary that he recognized human teachers as the agency employed by the holy Spirit specially "set in the Church" for this very service, what can he mean by these words, "Ye need not that any man teach you," and "the same anointing teacheth you all things"? The proper answer to this query will be readily seen by examining the context in the light of facts already discussed.
This epistle is supposed by scholars to have been written in the year A.D. 90. By that date Christianity had attained considerable prominence in the world. It had gathered the "remnant" of fleshly Israel and drawn upon itself the hatred and persecution of the vast blinded majority of that people and been scattered everywhere throughout the then civilized world. Many things in Christianity commended it to the Greek philosophers of that time who sought to combine with it and to become philosophic Christians and Christian philosophers--still holding their philosophies which the Apostle Paul points out were "falsely so-called." (1 Tim. 6:20) These philosophers were quite willing to acknowledge Jesus as a good man and a wise teacher but not as the Son of God who left a spirit nature, "a form of God," and was "made flesh," to thereby become man's Redeemer, and the author of eternal life to all who obey him. They were, however, teaching a future, eternal life and were glad to find Christians teaching the same: the difference being that the philosophers (Plato and others) taught that eternal life is a human quality, an inherent power in mankind-- deathlessness, immortality, whereas the Christians taught that eternal life was not inherent in man but a gift of God through Christ, intended only for those who accept him. Rom. 2:7; 5:15,21; 6:23; 2 Cor. 9:15
These philosophers practically said to the Christians-- We are glad to meet so respectable and sensible and free a people. Your great teacher, Jesus, surely did make you free from many of the customs and superstitions of the Jews and we congratulate you accordingly. But you are still in a measure of bondage: when you have investigated our philosophies you will have still more liberty and will find that much you still hold in common with the Jews--their hopes of a Messianic kingdom, their peculiar ideas of one God and your peculiar ideas that your Teacher, Jesus, was his only Son, etc., these things you will soon outgrow, with the aid of our philosophy. 2 Pet. 2:19; Jude 4
John's epistle is written to fortify Christians against these subversive doctrines. He exhorts them in this chapter (2:24) to hold fast the teachings heard by them from the beginning and to consider these philosophizing teachings as lies and all such false teachers representatives of the Antichrist which they had so often heard would be manifested in the Church. (2 Thess. 2:3-7; 1 John 2:18) He says, "These things have I written unto you concerning them that [seek to] seduce you [from Christ]." Verse 26
Then comes the peculiar language of verse 27, now under discussion, which we paraphrase thus:
But, dearly beloved, the true children of God cannot be seduced by any such philosophies: with us no philosophy can take the place of Christ in our hearts--no theory could cause us to question the fulness and the correctness of the great message which we received as the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ--the Father's Beloved, the Father's Anointed. Besides the reasonableness of "the faith once delivered unto the saints," consider the marvelous effect of that message upon you: it was accompanied by miraculous "gifts" of "tongues," "miracles," etc., which these philosophers declare are duplicated by the fakirs of the East; but aside from this you have another testimony in your own new hearts-- in the anointing which has transformed and renewed your minds, producing in your daily life fruits of the Spirit of holiness which the fakirs cannot duplicate and which the philosophers who would seduce you cannot deny.
On these fundamentals of our holy religion--that Christ Jesus was not an impostor but the very Son of God and our Redeemer; and that eternal life can be obtained only through vital union with him--you have no need of instruction, neither from these false teachers nor from me. And so long as you have this holy Spirit of love abiding in you, it will serve as a guard against all such blasphemous, antichristian theories. So long as you remember that "the peace of God which passeth all understanding" came to your hearts through an acceptance of Jesus as the Son of God and the only power of God unto salvation, so long will this spirit hold you firm, steadfast, on this point. And you will find this same test (of loyalty to the holy Spirit of love received through the Father and the Son) helpful in proving all matters: for whatever contradicts or ignores this Spirit of love is an unholy spirit--a false teaching. And remember that its teaching is that if we would receive any reward we must "abide in him"--to abandon Christ is to abandon all.
The Apostle's thought is, that any who have become Christians at all, any who have understood the divine plan to any extent, must first have before them the fact that they and all were sinners and in need of a Redeemer; and, secondly, the fact that Jesus, the Anointed One, had redeemed them by the sacrifice of his own life. The Apostle further declares that they have no need that any man teach them this basic truth. They could not be Christians at all and yet be in ignorance of this fundamental of the Christian religion-- that Christ died for their sins according to the Scriptures, and rose again for their justification--and that our justification and consequent sanctification and hope of glory are all dependent upon the fact and value of Christ's sacrifice on their behalf. He points out that although it might have been possible to trust in and believe on the Father without believing on the Son before the Son was manifested, yet now, whosoever denieth the Son of God denies thereby the Father; and no one can confess the Son of God without confessing at the same time the Father and the Father's plan, of which he is the center and executor.
So, then, we today can see exactly what the Apostle meant; namely, that whoever had been begotten of the holy Spirit must first have been a believer in the Lord Jesus; that he was the Only Begotten of the Father; that he was manifested in the flesh; that he was holy, harmless and separate from sinners; that he gave himself as our ransom; and that the sacrifice was accepted of the Father and witnessed by his resurrection to be the glorious King and Deliverer. Without this faith no one could receive the holy Spirit, the anointing: consequently, whoever has the anointing needs not that any man shall waste time in discussing further the fundamental question as to whether Jesus was or was not the Son of God; whether or not he was the Redeemer; whether or not he was the anointed Messiah who shall fulfil in God's due time the precious promises of the Scriptures. The same anointing which we have received, if it abides in us, will assure us of the truth of these things--"Even as it hath taught you ye must abide in him." Whoever abides not in him, in the Vine, is--like the branch cut off--sure to wither; whoever abides in him is sure to abide in his Spirit also, and cannot deny him.
"Ye have an unction from the holy one and ye all know it." (Diaglott) The holy Spirit was typified throughout the Jewish dispensation by holy oil which, poured upon the head of the High Priest, ran down over all the body; so whoever is of the body of Christ is under the anointing, under the influence of the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, it is unctuous, smooth, lubricative. Its tendency is to follow peace with all men, so far as is possible, and so far as fidelity to righteousness will permit. It is opposed to friction--to anger, malice, hatred, strife. Those under its influence are glad to be taught of the Lord, and so far from quarreling with his plan and revelation, they readily fall into full harmony with them, and have correspondingly the lubrication promised--the unction, the smoothness, the peace, the joy, the holiness of mind.
Those who have received the Spirit of the Lord in this sense of the word, bringing peace and joy and harmony into their hearts, knowing that they have these as a result of the Lord's dealings with them, and that they received these since they believed on the Lord Jesus and accepted him as the Anointed One. This unction, therefore, is an evidence not only to themselves but, in a considerable measure, an evidence to others that they are members of the body of Christ; while those who lack this peace and joy, and whose hearts are filled with malice and strife and hatred and bickerings and quarrelings and disputes, certainly lack the evidence of the anointing, of the lubrication, of the smoothness which accompanies the Spirit of the Lord. True, we are not all alike, and the smoothness may not in the outward affairs of life manifest itself so quickly in some as in others; but very early in the Christian experience this smoothness should be looked for in the heart, as an evidence that we have been with Jesus and learned of him and received his Spirit, and shortly after it should begin to be evident to others in the daily life.
24. Explain Isa 53:11.
Our Lord's words are still applicable to the case, viz., "No man knoweth the Son but the Father, neither knoweth any man the Father save the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him." (Matt. 11:27) The world knew him not: knew not of his high origin, and his great humiliation on its behalf; and when we remember that a long period of time probably intervened between the beginning of the creation in the person of our Lord, and the time when he was made flesh, and when further we remember that during all that period he was with the Father, "daily his delight, rejoicing always before him," we cannot wonder that the Son knew the Father, as his disciples and the world knew him not--as we are learning to know him through his Word of revelation and the unfoldment of his wonderful plan of the ages. Hear him again declare, "O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee, but I have known thee." John 17:25
The key to this wonderful knowledge of heavenly things is furnished in the statement, "He that is of the earth is earthy, and speaketh of the earth; he that cometh from heaven is above all, and what he hath seen and heard, that he testifies." (John 3:31,32) No wonder, then, that even his opponents asked, "Whence hath this man this wisdom?" (Matt. 13:54) And it was his knowledge of heavenly things, his intimate and long acquaintance with the Father, begetting absolute faith in the Father's promises, which enabled him, as a perfect man, to overcome the world, the flesh and the devil, and to present an acceptable sacrifice for our sins. Thus it was written beforehand through the Prophet: "By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many, while he will bear their iniquities." Isa. 53:11
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The language of our Lord's faith was, "O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee." He had been with the Father from the beginning, had realized his love and his goodness, had seen his power and had marked his righteousness and his loving kindness and fatherly providence over all his works. And so it is written, "By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities." (`Isa. 53:11`.) The knowledge which he had of the Father gave to him a firm footing for faith in all his purposes concerning the future. Hence he could and did walk by faith. And that faith enabled him to overcome all obstacles and secure the victory even over death.
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 ?