In Hosea the Lord said His people are destroyed for lack of knowledge (4:6). In Romans, Paul said faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the words of Christ (10:17). In 2 Peter, Peter said the saints are to grow in knowledge, that is, knowledge of God’s word. In 2 Corinthians, Paul wrote one does not walk by sight, but by faith (by God’s word). In each of these passages we learn those who love the Lord are people/saints who know the Lord’s will. They don’t find reasons to not read, but instead make opportunities to read and learn. No doubt, it is beyond disappointing for the Lord to see those who say they belong to Him fail in desiring to gain understanding of His will. Why would anyone operate in this way? 1) they don’t like to read, 2) so many activity involvements, 3) not really redeemed, but Christian in name only. It’s not their lack of knowledge, but their lack of effort and even desire to gain knowledge. When these people are put in stressful situations, they fail the Lord and themselves because they took no time to hear the Lord by reading His word, thus learning what can be and needs to be done. Will the Lord hear them when they call out? “Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord” (Proverbs 1:28-29, KJV). There is a correlation between this failure to learn and the exhortations from the Lord when He said many are called, but few are chosen AND why call me Lord when you do not hear me (Luke 6:46). RT
For all your life you have studied the Scriptures. You can recall in an instant for someone who asks where something is located if there is a need to know. You have not only read the Scriptures faithfully, the entirety of the Bible at least once annually, but you have done much detailed exegetical work on many passages of Scripture. If anyone thinks of you, they think of a “walking Bible.” In some strange way, there is something in that descriptive term that is ego-building though, perhaps, in your modesty you deflect such sentiments. Jesus faced this when He faced those religious leaders in the community who were considered “walking Bibles.” Yet, Jesus took note of how little they truly knew. “Are you not therefore mistaken, because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God?” (Matt. 22.29) He indicted those professional religious leaders with being unlearned, at least in part!
“You do not know the Scriptures” is a mighty powerful indictment against people who would be considered “walking Bibles.” Notice, also, Jesus said they did not know the power of God. I learned a good-while back and was reminded of this by David Pharr while in preaching school, the words of Paul:
For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height–to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21)
To have someone call you a “walking Bible” might make you feel very good, but one needs also to remember, when speaking of people, a walking Bible has many empty pages. Even the smartest of those called “walking Bibles” will tell you how inadequate and empty they are or feel on not a few, but many occasions. Try as one might to understand and apply, there are many times when weakness or neglect soon follows. It is very important to have knowledge of God’s way, but that knowledge will do nothing on judgment day to help if the knowledge attained is not put into application.
There are some who have the academic knowledge of God, but these same ones do what they can to restrict God’s work only to that which He said in the pages of the New Testament. I refuse to do that. With confidence, I can say what I understand the New Testament to teach, even defend it against those who speak in a contrary way. To restrict the Lord, however, only to that which He said about Himself is to restrict Him too much. This I will not do. Why? Paul said it well. RT
One can’t help but notice that Paul asked a single question a number of times in his letter to the Corinthians; in fact, he asked this question 10 times! The question is “do you not know?” The question is asked a total of 17 times in the New Testament, with Paul asking 15 of them. The single question is asked in varied contexts; in this bulletin article, I want to consider the question in two contexts. What prompted Paul to ask the brethren about something they should have already known?
Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you (3:16)? In the context of these words, the apostle wants the Corinthian saints (and us by extension) to understand that the “church” is God’s temple dwelling place. Paul does not have in view a physical building, but the individual saints collectively called the church. Those who adversely (negatively) affect the local church affect the temple God dwells in. When we think about our own dwelling place (our house, our home), and someone negatively affecting it, then we can appreciate the Lord’s concern a little better. If you felt it was threatened, you would likely go to what degree is necessary to protect it. Those who adversely affect the Lord “house” will have to address the Lord at His proper time, but while here on earth, the Lord wants His saints to give attention to this matter also.
Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump (5:6)? In this particular context, the apostle Paul addressed the saints expressing his disappointment that some within the congregation were much too willing to let a brother engaged sin continue in that same sin without correction. In other words, the saints should have insisted upon him stopping the sinful activity, but they did not. In fact, as you can see by the question, they were “glorying” in this matter! What a shame! The local congregation, the elders especially, have an obligation to address sinful behaviors in the saints. When the elders and the saints within the congregation are made aware of sinful behavior, there is a need to address the one or the ones so involved. For what purpose? Two reasons. First, to save the soul engaged in the destructive/sinful behavior. Second, to take the old sinful leaven out of the new lump (church) so the church is not negatively affected more than it already has been (cf. Acts 20:28). What is very troubling about situations like this is the occasion family members take to protect the one engaged in sinful behavior. There is a preference to “protect one’s own” more than there is to honor the One who own’s. RT
How can a person KNOW whether or not what he/she does is approved by the Lord? Two things to help us in getting a better understanding. First, in the New Testament, if the Lord revealed His commands (and He did) that we are to obey, then those who obey His commands with the love of Jesus in one’s heart can know he/she is pleasing to the Lord. Second, when one applies the principles of holiness and righteousness to life, even though the Lord did not express precisely something on this point. That which you are considering, will it encourage you to miss meeting with the saints? Does it invite you to compromise the Lord’s righteous way? Does it reflect badly on the Lord’s name or some other name? How would you answer? RT
The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, But the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness (Proverbs 15:14, NKJV). Knowledge for its own sake is information that may or may not be beneficial to one’s life in this world. Knowledge that is godly directed toward the soul, however, can be nothing but beneficial. It is quite unfortunate that so many speak of a desire to learn more of (about) God, but fail in the practice of it. In fact, there are some who have identified themselves as Christians, read the Bible regularly (or irregularly), and still elevate their own knowledge above the Lord’s. These people feed on their own foolishness.
The lips of the wise disperse knowledge, But the heart of the fool does not do so (Proverbs 15:7, NKJV). The word “disperse” is rendered “spread” in the English Standard Version, and it simply means that one who is wise is going to give wisdom to those who seek it. What kind of wisdom will it be? It could be very practical advice, but it is that advice that comes from God that is the best advice. At the outset of Solomon’s words of wisdom, he said this: To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth (1:2-4). The fool, on the other hand, what wisdom does he (she) have? The wisdom of this world, and for whatever good may come of that, it is limited in scope and hope!
When Paul wrote his second letter to the church in Thessalonica, he wrote to them to express his encouragement because their faith and love was increasing toward one another (1:3); this was occurring during a time of affliction. He mentions their growing faith, their increasing love, and their steadfastness (RSV). Perhaps as we take note of this we might ask ourselves how the same might result in each of us as we read what Paul wrote. The word “faith” is directly connected to the Lord’s knowledge given to man (Romans 10:17). Since it is impossible to please God without faith (Heb. 11:6), then it must be that when knowledge is given, (faith) increases, with understanding and application follow (2 Cor. 5:7). The key to this is our response to that which God gave. Is your “faith” lacking? Then consider what you “know” about that information that came from God. Thus, when Paul was thankful to God for their faith, he was thankful to God for their increasing knowledge level and their response to that knowledge.
The Scriptures teach in John 6:44-45 that for one to come to Jesus that one must be taught by the Father. Jesus explained what He meant when He said that through the writings of Scripture one is taught by the Father. Interestingly enough, but just a few words later, the Lord said this with regard to Judas, “‘But there are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the beginning who were the ones who did not believe, and who was the one who would betray Him. And He said, ‘Because of this I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father’” (John 6:64-65, EMTV).
Why did Judas betray the Lord? Because he did not allow himself to be taught by the Lord. Though the Lord gave him ample opportunity to learn and apply the words of life that He expected in others, Judas, simply put, was not interested; that is, he did not allow the Lord’s teaching to find a home in his heart, stopping him from his betrayal.
What does this tell us? It tells us many things. First, proximity is not a teacher. Can one get closer to God than Judas did for the amount of time that he was with Jesus, and not learn? What did Judas learn? No doubt, he learned much, but the goal of teaching is more than giving information, it is giving information whereby a person’s life is changed. Second, there should be little doubt that Judas gained much information from Jesus concerning things in life that were (and are) important. This academic knowledge not transferred into one’s heart application is knowledge for knowledge’s sake, and, in the end, of not much value. Third, to be taught by God is not a matter of hearing an audible voice from heaven, and neither is it some silent voice that one believes comes from within. To be taught of God means to read, learn, and apply what the Lord said (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
The truth of God applied sets one free from the bondage of sin (John 8:31-22), and this is exactly what Judas would not allow himself to apply. Whereas God granted unto him “repentance unto life,” Judas heard and considered what God said and did not apply it (cf. Acts 13:27).