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’?
R3279 - "HALLELUJAH! WHAT A SAVIOR!"
CHRIST, THE INSTRUCTOR, JUSTIFIER, SANCTIFIER AND DELIVERER OF HIS PEOPLE.
"Who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, [justification],and sanctification, and redemption [deliverance]."1 Cor. 1:30”.
CHRIST OUR WISDOM.
Since God's dealings with his creatures recognize their wills, the first step in his dealings with them, therefore, is to give them knowledge, or "wisdom," as it is translated in the above Scripture. It is for this reason that preaching was the first command of the Gospel age. To the worldly minded the preaching of forgiveness on account of faith in the crucified Jesus did not seem the wise course. To them it would have seemed better for God to have commanded something to be done by them. But, as Paul says-- "It pleased God to save those who believe by [knowledge imparted through what the worldly consider] the foolishness of this preaching."--`1 Cor. 1:21`.
The first gift of God to our redeemed race, therefore, was knowledge.
(1) Knowledge of the greatness and absolute justice of the God with whom we have to do. This knowledge was prepared for by the Mosaic Law, which was a "schoolmaster," or pedagogue, to lead men to Christ. And Christ, by his obedience to that law, magnified the Law and showed its honorableness, its worthiness; and thus honored God, the author of that Law, and showed his character.
(2) Knowledge of his own weakness, of his fallen, sinful and helpless condition, was also needful to man, that he might appreciate his need of a Savior such as God's plan had provided for him.
(3) Knowledge of how the entire race of Adam fell from divine favor and from mental, moral and physical perfection, through him, was also necessary. Without this knowledge we could not have seen how God could be just in accepting the one life, of Christ, as the ransom price for the life of the whole world.
(4) Without knowledge as to what is the penalty for sin--that "the wages of sin is death"--we never should have been able to understand how the death of our Redeemer paid the penalty against Adam and all in him.
(5) Knowledge, in these various respects, was, therefore, absolutely necessary to us, as without it we could have had no proper faith, and could not have availed ourselves of God's provision of justification, sanctification and deliverance through Christ.
Most heartily, therefore, we thank God for knowledge or wisdom concerning his plan. And we see that this wisdom came to us through Christ; because, had it not been for the plan of salvation of which he and his cross are the center, it would have been useless to give the knowledge, useless to preach, because there would have been no salvation to offer.
CHRIST OUR JUSTIFICATION.
That Christ is made unto us righteousness or justification implies,--
(1) That we are unjust, or unrighteous in the sight of God, and unworthy of his favor.
(2) That, in view of our unworthiness, God had in some manner arranged that Christ's righteousness should stand good for "us," and thus give "us" a standing before God which we could not otherwise have because of our imperfections--our unrighteousness.
(3) This scripture does not imply that Christ's righteousness covers every sinner, so that God now views every sinner as though he were righteous, and treats all as his children. No, it refers merely to a special class of sinners--sinners who, having come to a knowledge of sin and righteousness, and having learned the undesirableness of sin, have repented of sin, and sought to flee from it and to come into harmony with God. This is the particular class referred to in this scripture--"who of God is made unto us justification," or righteousness.
(4) How God has arranged or caused Christ to be our "righteousness," or justification, is not here explained; but what we know of divine law and character assures us that the principle of Justice, the very foundation of divine government, must somehow have been fully satisfied in all of its claims. And other scriptures fully substantiate this conclusion. They assert that God so arranged as to have the price of man's sin paid for him; and that the price paid was an exact equivalent, a ransom or corresponding price, offsetting in every particular the original sin and just penalty, death, as it came upon the original sinner and through him by heredity upon all men. (`Rom. 5:12,18-20`.) He tells us that this plan of salvation was adopted because by it "God might be [or continue] just, and [yet be] the justifier of him [any sinner] that believeth in Jesus"--that comes unto God under the terms of the New Covenant, of which Christ Jesus is the mediator, having sealed it, or made it a covenant, by his own precious blood.--`Heb. 13:20,21`; `10:29`.
(5) While the benefits of this gracious arrangement are only for "us," for "believers," for those who come unto God by Christ--under the provisions of the New Covenant--these benefits are, nevertheless, made applicable to all; for God's special provision for the whole world of sinners is that all shall "come to a knowledge of the truth," that they may, if then they will accept the conditions of God's covenant, be everlastingly saved. A knowledge and a rejection of error--of false doctrines which misrepresent the divine character even though they be mixed with a little misconstrued truth--will not constitute grounds for condemnation; but a knowledge of the truth and a rejection of it will bring condemnation to the Second Death. The Greek text states this much more emphatically than our common English translation. It says, "come to an accurate knowledge of the truth."-- `1 Tim. 2:4`.
(6) The provision made was sufficient for all men. Our Lord gave himself [in death] a ransom--a corresponding price--for all; he was a "propitiation [or sufficient satisfaction] for the sins of the whole world." (`1 John 2:2`.) As a consequence, he is both able and willing "to save unto the uttermost [i.e., to save from sin, and from divine disfavor, and from death, and all these everlastingly] all that come unto God by him." (`Heb. 7:25`.) And inasmuch as God's provision is so broad, that all shall come to an exact knowledge of the truth respecting these provisions of divine mercy under the terms of the New Covenant;--inasmuch as the provision is that all the sin and prejudice-blinded eyes shall be opened, and that the devil, who for long centuries has deceived men with his misrepresentations of the truth, is to be bound for a thousand years, so that he can deceive the nations no more; and that then a highway of holiness shall be cast up in which the most stupid cannot err or be deceived; and in view of all this provision God declares that all men will be saved from the guilt and penalty incurred through Adam's sentence. Because, when all of these blessed arrangements have been carried into effect, there will be no reason for a solitary member of the human family remaining a stranger and alien from God's family except by his own choice or preference for unrighteousness, and that with an accurate knowledge that all unrighteousness is sin. Such as, of their own preference, knowingly choose sin, when the way and means of becoming servants of God are clearly understood by them, are wilful sinners on their own account, and will receive the Second-Death sentence as the wages of their own opposition to God's righteous arrangements.
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’?
(Pro 2:3) Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;
(Pro 2:4) If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;
(Pro 2:5) Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.
(Pro 2:6) For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.
(2Pe 3:18) But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen.
R3153 c1 p6,7; c2 p2-4
It is a blessed thing to take the first step in the Christian life--that of belief in and acceptance of Christ as our Redeemer and Lord; but the reward of this step depends entirely upon our continuance in his Word, in the attitude of true disciples. It is not difficult to do this, yet the disposition of human pride is to wander away from the simplicity of divine truth and to seek out new theories and philosophies of our own, or to pry into those of other men, who desire to be considered wise and great according to this world's estimate.
The reward of continued discipleship is, "Ye shall know the truth"--not that we shall be "ever seeking and never coming to a knowledge of the truth." (`2 Tim. 3:7`.) Here is the mistake that many make: failing to continue in the Word of the Lord, they delve into various human philosophies which ignore or pervert the Word of the Lord and set up opposing theories. There is no promise, to those who seek for truth among these, that they shall ever find it. And they never do. Divine truth is never found except in the divinely appointed channels: and those channels are the Lord and the apostles and prophets. To continue in the doctrine set forth in their inspired writings, to study and meditate upon them, to trust implicitly in them, and faithfully to conform our characters to them, is what is implied in continuing in the Word of the Lord.
But the idea is entirely compatible with that of heeding all the helps which the Lord from time to time raises up from among our brethren in the body of Christ, as enumerated by the Apostle Paul. (`Eph. 4:11-15`; `1 Cor. 12:13,14`.) The Lord always has raised up, and will to the end raise up, such helps for the edification of the body of Christ; but it is the duty of every member to prove carefully their teaching by the infallible Word.
If we thus continue in the Word of the Lord, as earnest and sincere disciples, we shall indeed "know the truth," be "established in the present truth" (the truth due), and be "rooted and grounded in the truth;" we shall be "firm in the faith," and "able to give a reason for the hope that is in us," to "earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints," to "war a good warfare," to "witness a good confession," and firmly to "endure hardship as good soldiers of Jesus Christ," even unto the end of our course. We will not come into the knowledge of the truth at a single bound; but gradually, step by step, we will be led into the truth. Every step will be one of sure and certain progress, and each one leading to a higher vantage ground for further attainments both in knowledge and in its blessed fruits of established character.
The truth thus acquired, step by step, becomes a sanctifying power bringing forth in our lives its blessed fruits of righteousness, peace, joy in the holy Spirit, love, meekness, faith, patience and every virtue and every grace, which time and cultivation will ripen to a glorious maturity.
R3156 c2 p1
But after we have attained this position, and after the promise of our text, and all like promises, are ours, it requires time and a continual application of faith, in order to rightly appreciate God's promises, and to appropriate them to ourselves; and this is Scripturally called "growing in grace and knowledge." We grow in knowledge as we take note of the promises of God, and by faith apply them to ourselves, and seek to discern in our lives the fulfilment of those promises; we grow in grace simultaneously, for unless each item of knowledge be received into a good and honest heart, and bring forth its measure of obedience and righteousness (grace) we will not be prepared for the next step of knowledge, and would be thus stopped, or possibly turned back. And as a loss of knowledge would mean a measurable loss of grace, so also a loss of grace would mean a corresponding loss of knowledge; --going into darkness, the promises of the Lord's Word becoming more and more dim and obscured, in proportion as our goodness or grace would be lost in worldliness or sin.
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.
R3156 c2 p3
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?
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 ?