By Forrest D. Moyer
When Peter wrote about the traits of godliness or the fruit of the Spirit, he urged that knowledge be added to our lives. Knowledge of God’s will is and always has been one of the most vital virtues among God’s people. Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). In the long ago God said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children” (Hos. 4:6). When God allowed the ten tribes to go into Assyrian captivity, it was because of a lack of knowledge properly applied. When the people of Judah were taken into Babylon, it was because of a lack of knowledge. People refused to listen to men like Jeremiah. How vital knowledge is!
What A Lack Of Knowledge Does
1. A lack of knowledge keeps us in spiritual slavery to Satan. When Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32), the Jews responded, “We are Abraham’s offspring and have never been enslaved to anyone; how is it that you say, ‘You shall become free’?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin” (vv. 33-34). They were in spiritual bondage because of a lack of knowledge. I am sure that there are multiplied thousands on earth today who are not Christians because they do not know. They, too, are in bondage because of a lack of knowledge. What a dynamic responsibility is placed upon the Christian to carry the Lord’s words of freedom to the lost so that they might “come to the knowledge of the truth and be saved” (1 Tim. 2:4). Surely a lack of knowledge keeps us enslaved to the devil.
2. A lack of knowledge causes us to be lost. In 2 Thessalonians 2, Paul spoke of the lawless one “whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming” (v. 8). This lawless one works in complete harmony with Satan (v. 9). In Paul’s words he uses “all the deception of wickedness for those who perish” (v. 10). Why would they be deceived? Why would they perish? “Because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved” (v. 10). Because they did not have the love of the truth, “God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false” (v. 11). The result of their believing what is false is condemnation (v. 12). What is the cure for this condition? A love for the truth that will cause us to search for that truth, learn it, and live by it is the solution.
3. A lack of knowledge keeps us as children tossed and carried by winds and waves. One reason that Jesus gave gifts to the church – apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers – was to help us come to “the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man” (Eph. 4:11-13). As a result of this knowledge, he says, “we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming” (v. 14). So, a lack of knowledge would leave us as children. It puts us in the position of being tossed by the waves and carried about by the trickery and craftiness of scheming men. This may well explain why “millions call him (the pope) ‘holy father.”‘ It may well explain why millions are happy in denominationalism. It can well explain why thousands of brethren have no concept of Bible authority and therefore practice those things which are unauthorized. They are deceived because of a lack of knowledge.
4. A lack of knowledge keeps us from being able to teach others. This was precisely the situation described by the Hebrews writer in 5:12-14: “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for some one to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For every one who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. ” They had been Christians long enough to be able to teach others, but their lack of knowledge left them in the baby class where milk had to be used rather than solid food. The church is robbed of able teachers because some lack knowledge that they should have gained. Souls may be robbed of salvation because someone didn’t teach them the way of life. How tragic indeed is a lack of knowledge when that knowledge could have been gained!
5. A lack of knowledge causes us to be ashamed. We often quote 2 Timothy 2:15: “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” A failure to study means that I will have a lack of knowledge. This will cause me shame in not knowing God’s will. It will cause me shame in not being able to “give an answer for the hope that is in me.” It will cause me shame in not being able to guide my children properly. It will cause me shame in not being able to be a fountain of spiritual wisdom for my grandchildren. More than anything else, it will cause me shame when I stand before the Lord on the day of judgment. Oh, how I need to gain the knowledge of the Lord and his way!
How Knowledge Comes To Us
1. A person is not born with knowledge. It is not a gift that can be bestowed at Christmas time or as a birthday present. The Holy Spirit does not come down and zap us with knowledge. Knowledge is acquired only by the use of our own mind in that activity called study. Our minds are capable of so very much, and yet we use them so very little. Psychologists tell us that we only use 2 to 5 percent of our mental abilities. Oliver Wendell Holmes said that the average person goes to his grave with his music still in him. I am sure that this is true in our spiritual lives. We could learn so very much about God and his word and yet we do not apply ourselves. We remain spiritual pygmies when we could become spiritual giants! The only way we can know God’s word is by study. There is no other way. That study may be in form of our own reading of God’s word and information about it or by our listening to others and discussing it with them. But the truth is self-evident: we must study in order to gain knowledge.
2. God commands us to study his word in order that we may know his will. Peter tells us to be “like newborn babes” and “long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Pet. 2:2). He further said, “but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18). The need is evident; the order is clear: we must study the word!
3. We are inspired by some noble examples of Bible study. The attitude of Cornelius is a beautiful example of one’s desire to learn the truth. He said, “Now then, we are all here present before God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord” (Acts 10:33). Inspiration praises the people of Berea as being “noble” because “they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). Their quest for knowledge let them to the diligent effort necessary to come to know God’s will.
4. God places upon parents some heavy responsibility along this line. In speaking to the parents in Israel, he said:
“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates (Deut. 6:4-9).
Parents today have a grave responsibility resting upon their shoulders. They are responsible for teaching children honesty, purity, dedication, and faithfulness is worship. They are responsible for guiding their children into sexual purity. We cannot leave it to the church or to the schools. So many parents have abandoned their sacred trust! We must restore to parents their allegiance to God and their children. How mighty is the call to parents to impart spiritual knowledge to children!
Truly, knowledge comes only through the learning process. It is up to us as to how much we learn and know.
Guardian of Truth XXXII: 20, pp. 619-620
October 20, 1988