Today, we interrupt our series on the salvation covenants with a blog on knowledge.
Knowledge is essential if we want to live in covenant with God.
The problem with knowledge
I heard someone recently say that the problem with knowledge is the distance between the heart and the head. This might be true!
I think, however, that not having ‘heart’ makes everything someone has worthless, not just knowledge.
The other problem that I have with that statement is that it downplays the importance of knowledge in a relationship. As if the knowledge of someone itself can somehow be cold and distant instead of a requirement in order to properly display our love for them.
Love overrides knowledge
Of course, there are many excellent characteristics that people might bring to a relationship. Knowledge of the other in the relationship is just one of them and while maybe not the most important one it is still essential to the relationship. The Bible tells us that Love, for instance, overrides knowledge.
However, is this always the case? No, not always. If we acknowledge that the Bible is our instruction book, if someone does not understand love, they can use the Bible to gather understanding about what real love is. Many people thought of love as a feeling until they read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7: “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” In other words, love is not feelings love is action.
We know this for sure that if we have faith or trust in God and His word, only then will we accept what the Bible tells us as true.
So, while love is greater, we cannot fully comprehend it and live in it without knowledge and the faith to accept that knowledge and to put it in action. However, if we learn how to love properly but don’t practice it, then our knowledge is not going to be of any use. Not because the knowledge is bad but because our faith is bad.
So, then our knowledge is activated by our faith which only then produces the proper love and service for God and those around us. If perfect love and service is the ultimate goal of our relationship with Him and others, then knowledge and faith are the key essentials.
What do I mean by ‘knowledge’?
Knowledge means to gather facts and information to understand a subject. The goal of knowing God and His ways is so we can know how we are to live properly in relationship with God and with those around us. If we acquire the proper knowledge and accept that knowledge with our faith, then we will be able to properly display our love for God and those around us.
More true knowledge combined with more true faith will help us manifest more true love, if that is our goal. If our goal is just to please ourselves then we need no more knowledge and no more faith because we know everything (or we think know everything) to properly please ourselves.
The true reason why people don’t want to acquire more knowledge about God is the distance between the heart and the head. If there is no faith, then there will be no desire for knowledge because the goal was never about how to properly love and serve God and others.
God is about relationships
‘I am not living for myself anymore.’
The thrust of God’s message to us is that we turn away from ourselves and our self-centeredness and enter a mutual relationship with Him and those around us.
To do this there are three essential elements that we must have; knowledge, faith, and love. These three elements are critical. We must know the one we are in a relationship with. We must have faith or trust in the one we are in a relationship with. Thirdly as we grow closer together in our knowledge and faith of them, the goal must become to perfectly love and serve them.
If any of these three minimum elements breakdown then the relationship will eventually break down and will ultimately dissolve.
A relationship with Him
God wants a true honest relationship with us. He knows that they can only be built upon these sound principals.
How do we know this?
1. For one God gave us His Bible and His Holy Spirit so we could get to know Him.
2. He tells us plainly that if we are to be His we must have faith or trust in Him. Then He gave us example after example of those who have gone before us and the relationship that their faith in Him produced.
3. And what does true knowledge and true faith in God produce? True love and service, which is the greatest commandment.
The ultimate goal of being in a covenant relationship with God is not faith in God. It is perfectly loving and serving God and loving and serving those around us.
Without the proper knowledge from Him and the faith in Him then everything is just lip service. We might think we are in a relationship with Him but without these elements the goal of true love for Him will always be beyond our grasp.
Knowledge and Faith go hand in hand
Knowledge encourages our faith then like a seesaw back and forth our new faith encourages us to know Him more and back and forth it goes. Each one encouraging the other until we reach the pinnacle of true love and service to God.
Unless of course, something happens along the way and loving and serving God is displaced with a different goal or we believe that our goal has been attained. We can get too comfortable with our knowledge of God and simply believe that we know Him enough, love Him enough, and serve Him enough. This is often a consequence of us mistakenly thinking that listening to our pastors is how God intended for us to know Him.
If our knowledge of Him becomes stunted, then our faith becomes stunted and our love and service to Him because stunted. This is the plight of many of our relationships with God. Many times, we don’t even know it. We go to church on Sunday and we falsely believe that we are somehow growing in a true honest relationship with God by listening to the message of the pastor or priest.
This can be a huge mistake. We can read for ourselves in Matthew 15:14: “Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” God gave us His Bible so we could know Him. God did not give us pastors and priests so we could know Him.
It is God who wants the relationship with us. It is God who wants to speak to us individually through His word.
We don’t know Him
It happens in our everyday relationships all the time. We go along thinking everything is just fine and then we wake up one day and think, “I don’t even know you.”
We can’t be in a proper relationship with someone we don’t know or even care to go the extra mile to know.
This is exactly what Jesus will tell some people on judgement day as we can read for ourselves in Matthew 7:22-23: “On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’”
So, our relationship with God must develop in a specific order. First, we must be introduced to God which then begins our faith in Him; next, our faith must be strong enough for us to want to get to know Him deeper and then, of course, our knowledge and faith must drive us into the goal of loving Him perfectly according to His word.
Without knowledge or understanding of some sort, there cannot be faith, without enough faith there will never be true knowledge and without an adequate supply of each we cannot love God properly.
True loving relationships take time to develop
Relationships cannot happen overnight they take time to develop. Our relationship with God is designed to develop over our lifetime and beyond.
The complete relationship is essential
A genuine relationship doesn’t just happen it must be sought after, encouraged, and strengthened. This is what it means to be His people. A loving relationship so strong that it triumphs, even over death!
To the Jews, the idea of salvation was foreign. They simply viewed themselves as in a relationship with God as His people and others as not in a relationship with God and therefore not His people.
Salvation is not possible without faith and a desire to know Him
The idea that someone can somehow receive some version of ‘salvation’ by a simple ‘prayer of salvation’ without an enduring faith that seeks His word and drives the relationship to the ultimate goal of loving and serving Him is naïve.
The problem with the church today. Is that we think we are hearing the whole message about God on Sunday when in fact we are only getting such a tiny portion of who God is as to literally be putting many of us in a relationship with an idea of a god who may not even exist let alone living in a relationship with the one true God of Israel.
We should still pray for salvation. Prayer is part of how we seek Him. However, if we want to be in a saving relationship with God, we must develop a true knowledge, which inspires a true faith and develops a true love for Him.
If that doesn’t happen then there is no relationship with God and our prayer of salvation was for nothing.
In other words, a prayer of salvation’ should be the first step in developing a certain kind of faith that will lead us to seek God and to ultimately love and serve Him.
Does salvation depend on knowledge?
Yes, how is it possible to be saved by a God we do not know. Or at least have a desire to know?
We can read for ourselves in John 17:3 that our eternal life is dependent on our knowledge of Him: “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
Jesus said that knowledge is tied to eternal life. As our understanding of Him increases, our root grows deeper and deeper into the fertile ground of our heart, and we grow into a tree that produces good fruit.
Only one thing is necessary
Some reasons we don’t seek God more.
Some of us lack great faith and we prioritize other priorities above knowing God. We can read the story about Martha and her sister Mary in Luke 10:38-42. Martha complains to Jesus that her sister Mary is not busy with the chores and spending her time listening to Jesus. Jesus responds to Martha in Luke 10:41-42: “But the Lord answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.'”
Jesus tells her “only one thing is necessary.” A relationship with God is the only thing necessary and knowing God is essential for that.
However, that is not the full extent of it either.
Many of us say: “Oh, I know all about how Jesus came and died for my sins, and so all I have to do is believe in Him. I will be saved, and that is all I need to know.”
However, to honestly believe and trust Him, means there is a desire for us to be a relationship with Him which requires us to know Him more and more.
It means that we listen to the Holy Spirit calling us to His word. He is there, continually speaking to us, reminding us of how our relationship must grow — a relationship based on faith, love and yes, knowledge.
We can trust His word and His Holy Spirit to teach us properly. We can stop putting our faith in these false prophets and teachers to teach us about God.
Much of the blame rests squarely on all the false prophets and false messages in our churches every Sunday.
The hired hands tell us that they are somehow feeding us when, in fact, they mostly tell us half-truths and lies. We think we know who God is when we have no clue.
We can’t have a relationship with Him through others. We must know God and experience Him for ourselves.
Something to think about
If you loved someone and they didn’t even care if they knew your favorite color or favorite food or anything about you how long would that relationship last?
Good, unselfish people would care enough to get to know someone so they could learn how to love them properly. This is the essential structure of good relationships.
If we don’t even care enough to honestly know God for ourselves (not through other people who may or may not know Him), then there is simply no relationship, there. We cannot be His people.
Some scriptures about knowledge:
Matthew 13:11-12 says:
“‘He replied, ‘You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of Knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them'” (NLT).
Hosea 4:6: “My people are being destroyed because they don’t know me. Since you priests refuse to know me, I refuse to recognize you as my priests. Since you have forgotten the laws of your God, I will forget to bless your children” (NLT).
Psalms 119:66: “Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust your commands.” Simply put if we trust or have faith in God, we trust or have faith in His commandments, and we seek to know both God and His commandments.
2 Peter 1:2-3: “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” Meditate on these words “everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him….”
We have a responsibility. Loving relationships are about what we do for the other in the relationship. Not just what they do for us.
By the grace of God, we have been given the responsibility to search Him out and to know Him. He exists in multi-dimensional layers! It will take our lifetime and beyond.
We’ve been given the privilege to know Him, to trust Him, so that we can properly love Him and serve Him. We can also love and serve others.
He gives meaning to our lives – it gives us something bigger than ourselves. It is in this sacrifice and responsibility that we find meaning in our service to Him. It is in this search to be in a more loving relationship with God that we bear the fruit that impacts the world around us.
A lasting relationship
This way, our relationship with Him becomes real and absolute in a practical sense. Loving relationships take time, energy and sacrifice.
Eventually, one day, we will stand before Him. It will be beyond our wildest dreams! God and man, in a beautiful active sacrificial relationship with each other. “Welcome, my beloved,” He will say “I have been waiting for you.”
If you agree or don’t agree with any of my comments, feel welcome to leave a reply below. I will be happy to answer, respectfully, with more scriptural back-up of my views.