What do I mean by undervaluing knowledge? How does the church do it? Let me start by saying, as I said in my previous post, that knowledge should not supplant faith. Man does not come to God nor is he justified by God because of knowledge; rather it is through faith. Similarly, man does not grow closer to God by having a special knowledge as the Gnostics of the 1st century claimed. But neither should people who have believed on Christ for salvation then stick their heads in the sand. And too often, I think that is the case. Christians talk about living by faith, and rightly so. But they do not often speak about living with knowledge. The latter does not diminish the former. Look at what Paul wrote to the Colossians, who were under assault by a group of people who claimed they needed a special, elite version of knowledge to get close to God. Paul didn’t tell them to avoid knowledge. Rather…
“…we have not stopped asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has
qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.” (Colossians 1:9-12, NIV)
We see the significance of knowledge from these verses in that…
1) Knowledge comes from spiritual wisdom and understanding—that is, it is based on God’s wisdom and understanding as revealed by the Holy Spirit, not on man’s wisdom and understanding. (Verse 9)
2) Knowledge enables us to live a life worthy of God, please Him, and bear fruit. (Verse 10)
3) Knowledge leads to more knowledge. (Verse 10)
4) Knowledge leads to power that produces endurance and patience. (Verse 11)
5) Knowledge helps us better give thanks for the Father’s provision of eternal life. (Verse 12)
Paul prayed for the Colossians to grow in knowledge and clearly outlined the benefits of doing so. In studying the culture in Colosse and the condition of the church there, it doesn’t seem drastically different from our world today, and I think Paul’s prayer would be similar for us.
As I mentioned in my first post, I often hear one person describe another as having a “heart for the Lord.” What I don’t hear is a person having a “mind for the Lord.” Once again, I’m not arguing one over the other. It should be both. Paul wrote to the Corinthians that “Knowledge puffs up but love builds up.” (I Corinthians 8:1, NIV) and that without love, we are “only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” (I Corinthians 13:1, NIV) But what happens to the person who doesn’t have knowledge? How will they know if the fiery preacher is actually speaking the Word of God if they themselves do not know the Word of God? How will they know that a fine-sounding argument is based on lies if they aren’t acquainted with truth? How will they know if an emotional experience or a word of advice or tugging on the heart comes from the Holy Spirit or from someone else with a known proclivity to produce counterfeit acts? Scripture makes numerous references to guarding against false teaching and being led astray. False teachings and lies of the devil don’t advertise themselves as such. In fact, they often do just the opposite. The way we recognize them as false is by being intimately familiar with what is true. That which deviates from truth, must then be false.
I think it’s clear from Scripture that God wants His children to value knowledge, to cherish it, to pursue it. The knowledge must be based on truth and it must not take the place of faith or love. Instead it should come alongside both to support and enhance them. Without it, we will be left twisting in the wind, vulnerable to the lies of the devil. Jesus said in John 10 that His “sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” (John 10:4-5, NIV) His voice is most prominently spoken through Scripture, and therefore our knowledge of it is paramount.
Knowledge is indeed power. We mustn’t make the mistake of thinking that since we have faith, we have no need for knowledge. But we also must be sure that our knowledge is found in Christ, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (1 Corinthians 2:3, NIV)