Ever Learning but Never Knowing

By Irvin Himmel 

In 2 Tim. 3:7, Paul described certain people in the following manner: “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” They were so laden with sin and led by carnal lusts that they were “taken in” by men of corrupt minds.

Wrong Sources

Some of today’s learners are never able to obtain the truth because they look to the wrong sources. Such are they who go to an encyclopedia to get information about the church of Christ, or about baptism, or about the Lord’s supper. Encyclopedias serve useful purposes, but they are not God’s word. One must go to the Bible to find God’s truth about the church, the way of redemption, baptism, worship, etc. It is possible to learn a lot from standard reference books that men have written and still not come to know the divinely-revealed truth that comes through the Bible.

Wrong Subjects

Others are ever learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth because their interest is in the wrong subjects. A person may be exceptionally well informed about politics, economics, science, and human philosophy but terribly ignorant of the sacred scriptures. Some who study the Bible dwell more on technicalities and trivialities than on the practical themes and basic principles that are revealed.

Wrong Attitude

Then there are. others who are ever learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth due to a wrong attitude toward truth. They seem to suppose that storing information in the intellect is all that matters. For a variety of reasons, they go to the Bible and study it, but they lack one thing that is indispensable to saving knowledge: the desire to obey God. Jesus said, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17). Willingness to do the will of God is essential to knowing the truth. Intellectual understanding avails only when applied. One may be able to quote scripture but not able to relate the meaning to himself. The knowledge that saves is applied knowledge. James warned, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (Jas. 1:22).

Do Not Recognize Truth

Finally, there are people who are ever learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth because they do not recognize the truth. They are intrigued by the novel, fascinated by modern ideas, and charmed by speculations. Blown about by every wind of doctrine, in their instability they hurry past the fixed and eternal foundation.

Truth Magazine XIX: 18, p. 279
March 13, 1975