I am becoming increasingly aware of Satan’s scheme to divide and separate us from fellow Christians. As I hinted at in an earlier post, it is far too easy to cast aspersions on other Believers, and throw around the label of “false teacher”. It seems that if you can get 5 or 6 people to agree with you against the theology of another Christian, then you are warranted in calling their interpretation of Scripture “false”.
But today I want to narrow my scope of discussion as to why so many in the Body of Christ find fault with a Christian who desires to seek more knowledge, understanding, and wisdom about God. In fact, if anyone in the Body attempts to go beyond the accepted level of understanding in the group, then the level of fear increases also — the fear that any new interpretation or revelation from Scripture might lead the entire group into deception. So more often than not, the discussion is shut down and the seeker is cautioned to “play it safe” by not bringing up any controversial ideas or — heaven forbid — a bigger picture of God and His Nature. Satan wins as the group’s level of knowledge and understanding is kept at the lowest common denominator.
I can only speak for myself, but I believe that my hunger to know more about God and my desire to seek more of Him comes from the Holy Spirit. I do not believe my flesh has any instinct to seek God, nor do I think that the devil would be encouraging me to do so, either. That being said, I am fully aware that whatever new knowledge or understanding I discern must be compared to Scripture and be stamped with the Holy Spirit’s seal of approval… something that, if you have developed a relationship with Him, you easily recognize. We should never let our pride think the devil won’t try to distort any revelation we might receive from God, but if you know and trust the Lord’s presence in your life, there is no reason to fear being deceived.
But here is what I would like to ask my fellow Christians to consider: in the Bible there is a difference between knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. Proverbs 2 gives us a sound Biblical explanation of these three terms … My son, if you will receive my words and treasure my commandments within you, Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding; For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding; If YOU SEEK her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will discern the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God.
I would first like to make the comment that [to me] it appears that we are encouraged to seek wisdom and understanding, for there we will discover the knowledge of God. That word “discover” implies finding something in the course of a search. We are to seek and search for knowledge and understanding of who our God is, and when we grow that relationship, He will impart His wisdom to us, instructing us in His ways.
If I may, here’s one way that I think we can discern the differences in all these terms:
1) KNOWLEDGE is the facts as stated in the Bible; for example, Jesus’s statement, “These signs [attesting miracles] will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover” (Mark 16:17-18). Jesus plainly states the facts that describe those who have believed [and will believe] in Him.
2) UNDERSTANDING is the ability to translate meaning from the facts. Now consider that after Jesus had risen, He exhorts His Disciples, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” After studying and comparing Scripture, I am able to understand that we, as disciples of Christ, are to observe [and do] all that He commanded we would do as Believers — cast out demons, speak with new tongues, heal the sick, etc. Furthermore, we need not be afraid of the Enemy — even if we drank deadly poison, the power of God can protect us. And ALL Believers can hold on to this promise, because that power will be with us until He returns at the end of the age.
3) WISDOM is knowing what to do next, given an understanding of the facts and circumstances. Acts 5:16 is a perfect example of the wisdom of the Apostles after Jesus’s ascension. They were performing those “signs” that Jesus said would accompany those who believed and followed Him: “Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed”. They knew what to do next after receiving Jesus’s commandment and understanding its implications for the Kingdom of God. And since God doesn’t change (neither His Principles, Nature, or Character), we should be continuing these “signs” as Believers.
But here is what I have seen and experienced amongst the Body of Christ … there are many in the Church who can recite facts and quote Scripture. But, it is possible to have knowledge, and lack understanding and wisdom. Someone might have the facts, but not know what they mean, be able to connect the dots, or know what to do next. And I honestly think there are far too many Christians who don’t trust their relationship with God and are unable to move from Knowledge to Understanding. They are so afraid of being deceived that they need a Chapter and Verse, word-for-word declaration of God’s concepts and principles, or they are unable to discern His Truth.
I tend to agree with Charles Spurgeon, who once wrote, “Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not [necessarily] to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom”. Even the Bible says, A scoffer seeks wisdom and finds none, But knowledge is easy to one who has understanding (Proverbs 14:6). To move from Knowledge to Understanding greatly expands a Christian’s Faith. Then to discern and trust this Understanding to be the Truth of God, will cause Him to impart His Wisdom.
I guess I just find it discouraging when fellow Christians — whether it be pastors, teachers, or a person who sits in a Bible study class — tell me that I am not to seek “hidden knowledge” because the “Canon has been closed” and there is no new knowledge to be found. I will agree that God has not inspired any men in the 21st Century to write additional Books of the Bible, and we should neither add nor take away from what has been written. But, nowhere in the Bible do I see God telling me that I am to no longer seek new understanding of Him. Like Paul’s letter to the Colossians, I wish for our hearts to be encouraged, being knit together in love, [so that we can] reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. We are to REACH the “full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery”, which tells me we aren’t there yet. We are to stretch out and extend ourselves toward that wisdom and knowledge, out of a hunger and desire to receive the full measure of Christ.
Indeed, Paul expresses this same concept in his letter to the Ephesians: And He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
But what are we to do when the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and the teachers are not equipping us to do the work Jesus commanded us to do? What are we to do when they discourage our hunger “to attain the knowledge of the Son of God”? The Scripture says UNTIL … telling me that it is a process that we are to pursue until we reach maturity and grow up IN EVERY WAY into Christ.
And, yes, we are not to be “tossed to and fro” by every kind of doctrine, by human deception and misunderstanding, or by deceitful schemes or methods. But notice that this caution is given to people described as “children” in their understanding. We are “to grow into mature manhood”… and how do you do that? By increasing your knowledge and understanding! By seeking to know more of our God!
It is my sincere prayer that the Body of Christ will throw off the fear that our Enemy is more powerful to deceive us than our God is faithful to reveal Himself if we seek Him. And I also pray that we quit attacking each other because our levels of understanding and wisdom may be different. Why can’t we celebrate that there are those among us who are seeking Him and wish to share Him with the Body? Until we begin to move from childhood to maturity in our knowledge and understanding, the Enemy has us right where he wants us …. alienated from a fuller life with God. With our whole hearts, let us seek Him!
Psalm 53:2 “God has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men to see if there is anyone who understands, who seeks after God”.