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Knowledge is a Good Thing

September 30, 2014

The Church today has an obsession with knowledge. Actually, it is much more appropriate to say that the Church today has an obsession with depreciating the value of knowledge. It is very common to hear Christians make the claim, “It’s not about knowledge,” and, “If you have knowledge, you will be prideful.” In fact, my wife just recently heard a preacher on the radio say, “The more you focus on doctrine as a Christian, the more arrogant and useless you will be for God’s Kingdom.”

Is this true? Is knowledge a bad thing for Christians? Although a full response is not possible on a blog of this nature, I will attempt to provide a Biblical response.

Let me begin by saying that Paul does tell the Corinthians that, “Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies,” (1 Cor. 8:1, NKJV). Let us ignore for a moment that Paul may be speaking of a specific type of knowledge and just speak about knowledge in general. As we grow in knowledge as Christians, do we need to be careful that we do not become prideful? The answer is yes. This is a fitting warning and should be heeded.

But is all of the bombardment against knowledge that follows such warnings Biblically justifiable? Should we as Christians have a negative attitude towards knowledge? Let me say that I believe our attitude towards knowledge should be the same attitude that Scripture teaches. If the Scriptures are inspired by the Holy Spirit, then the Scriptural attitude towards knowledge is the spiritual one. Our attitude towards it must follow suit.

What then does Scripture say? Let’s begin with the book of Corinthians. Twice, in the same letter that Paul says that knowledge puffs up, he tells the same church that he does not want them to be ignorant of certain things (10:1, 12:1). In his second letter to the same church he repeats his desire against their ignorance two more times (1:8, 2:11). What he is telling them is that there are things that they need to know. The opposite of being ignorant of something is having knowledge of it. On numerous occasions, Paul tells this church that key to their sanctification, and key to their honoring God, was knowing certain things. Paul would repeat the same encouragements to the Thessalonians and the Romans (Romans 1:13, 10:3, 11:25, 1 Thess. 4:13). Knowledge was essential for the church according to Paul.

Let’s throw in some other texts. Peter would tell the church that they were to grow in grace and the knowledge of Christ (2 Pet 3:18). He would also say that grace and peace are multiplied to us through the knowledge of God (2 Pet 1:2). He then tells us to add to our faith virtue, and to our virtue knowledge. Doing such secures our sanctification and ensures a life of fruitfulness (2 Pet 1:5-12).

We are starting to see a markedly different attitude in Scripture towards knowledge than we often find expressed in the Church.

I will add a few more Scriptures and conclude. God tells us in Hosea, “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee,” (4:6, KJV). Paul tells the Roman church that they must be transformed by the renewing of their mind (Rom. 12:1). He would tell the Colossians that they are renewed in knowledge (Col 3:10).

Knowledge is key. It is essential for sanctification. The Bible’s attitude towards knowledge is a positive one. Although we find the warning against arrogance, Scripture never denigrates knowledge as the way to avoid being arrogant. Although we should all heed the warning of not becoming puffed up with pride because of knowledge, we must remember that the solution for arrogance is not ignorance, it is humility.

Remember, Jesus said that we are sanctified by the truth (Jn. 17:17). We have to know the truth if we are going to believe it and live in accordance to it. I grant that we must go beyond just the understanding of the truth. We must believe it and then act based on our belief in it. But we cannot believe in something of which we are not aware. We cannot believe the Gospel until we know what it is. Knowledge is the foundation for the Christian life.

My concern is that by degrading knowledge, the Church is not only approaching the subject with an un-Biblical attitude, it is undercutting the foundation for sanctification. Christ said that God’s Word is the truth. That Word, that truth, is key to our sanctification. Without knowledge of it, we cannot believe it. Without knowledge and belief in it, we cannot live in accordance to it.

That my friends is why knowledge is a good thing. Please do not speak negatively of knowledge in an effort to avoid arrogance. Scripture never does this. The Holy Spirit never does this. May the time come when God’s Church never does this either.

From → Theology

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