On this page...
- What is knowledge?
- Accumulation of Information
- The knowledge of God
- Knowledge versus Love
In this article I seek to not merely answer the question, 'What is knowledge' but to identify the difference between the accumulation of information and the knowledge of God. How do we obtain knowledge? Through much study, right? How do we know that the knowledge we are acquiring is really the truth? Did you know that God contrasts knowledge against love? And how does any of this affect what I believe?
Today most people generally distinguish between belief and knowledge. What I believe may or may not be what I think I know. But it wasn't always so.
What is knowledge?
Nearly 2,400 years ago, Plato suggested that knowledge could be understood as "justified true belief". According to Plato, a statement must meet three criteria to be considered knowledge:
- It must be justified
- It must be true
- It must be believed
It didn't take long for Plato's definition of knowledge to be challenged. His own student, Aristotle, de-emphasized belief (especially in the esoteric) and is credited with the formalization of so-called inductive reasoning, where merit was found in the soundness of the arguments, regardless of whether they were true or not. Truth was also de-emphasized in favor of so-called factuality, or evidence. From Aristotle forward, the understanding among the worshippers of knowledge is perhaps best seen in the maxim, "logic affords no bridge from the probable to the certain."
Knowledge = Facts ➞ Logic ➞ Certainty
Over time knowledge became an aspect of a broader field called epistemology (oh the irony: the knowledge of knowledge). Belief was juxtaposed against knowledge and eventually determined to be incompatible. Knowledge could then be pursued ad nauseam without anyone ever needing to believe anything. For the purposes of maintaining moral superiority, certainty came to be viewed as anti-certainty, and this deliberate posture of knowing everything while believing nothing came to be known as pure science. As a result, and for more than a few, conviction-less intellectualism may be the highest attainable level of consciousness.
Do you think this anti-certainty, this state of conviction-less-ness, is what God was referring to when He asked Job about his use of words without knowledge?
Who is this who devises doctrine in words without knowledge?
In the event you are unsure, let me assist: In the passage referenced, above, Job had just unleashed a diatribe of pseudo-religious verbiage to describe his lot in life, to which God responded that Job didn't know what he was talking about. He was about to get schooled by God.
Is there more to knowledge than the mere collection and organization of information sans all belief? Most seem to think not. Theologians, bible students and researchers, ministers, religious proctors, etc. will often quote from Hosea...
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge...
...as if to find justification for their pursuit of and lust for more information, more data points, more statistics, more facts. Indeed, today's apparently unending and exponentially growing stream of data that is assimilated and redistributed via papers, books, television broadcasts, computer screens, presentations, orations, schooling, social media, so-called "independent fact checkers", etc. provides much insight into God's revelation to Daniel regarding the time of the end:
...and knowledge shall increase (knowledge will be multiplied).
Did you assume that to be a good thing, this increase of knowledge?
Accumulation of Information
Education is the careful process of the delivery of very particular information, the goal being to ensure the participants arrive at pre-determined conclusions. Without belief, of course, because we are all very scientific now. While the schools do their part with a lowest common denominator approach, and employing participation awards and sliding scales, we find that the most eager and willing recipients having the best memories excel in such an environment.
Attending the great halls of education and demonstrating proficiency at regurgitating the facts-du-jour as they have been presented (at least long enough to pass the tests) is commonly referred to as having an education. One cannot be expected to flourish among men without having such an education. It is sold as an essential component of a successful life.
The religion of Educationism thrives on the premise that salvation can only come though the perpetual accumulation of data, or facts as they call them. These facts are determined and authorized by the priesthood and carefully scripted into presentations called curricula. Any teaching that deviates from an authorized curriculum is branded as false. Only the sound doctrine distributed via the hierarchy of the religion is acceptable.
Through an astonishing feat of mental gymnastics (aka, delusion) the devotees and supporters of Educationism (parents, administrators, proctors/teachers, students and alumni, etc.), become convinced that their indoctrination is superior to the indoctrination of all the foolish masses that preceded them (especially those narrow-minded addicts of the opiate of religion). They, alone, are the open-minded ones. Of this they are certain. 😁
Achieving that divine state of conviction-less-ness is as simple as decreeing it to be so. The process works thusly:
- One must remain open to all options, and not close off options through belief
- Belief is the enemy of knowledge
- Knowledge doesn't require belief
- If one accumulates enough information, the truth will become self-evident
- Self-evident truth does not require belief; it is known to be true
Tremendous credit is generously provided and applied to the whole of mankind, as everyone suddenly and innately possesses the abilities and skills to:
- Believe that truth is self-evident, and will be arrived at so long as I...
- Accumulate sufficient information, and
- Dismiss only erroneous data and retain all meaningful data, and
- Collate the amassed information into a cohesive order, and
- Recognize the allegedly self-evident state of said information
I have to ask: When have all men ever arrived at the same conclusion due to the self-evidentiary nature of (the unspecified sufficient volume) of information? Let me show you what is self-evident:
For the secrets of God from the foundation of the world have been clearly seen, appearing to his creatures through intelligence, even His power and eternal Godhead, and they are without a defense because they knew God, and they did not glorify him as God, nor did they give him thanks, but they became destitute in their reasoning and became dull in their heart without understanding. And when they thought in themselves that they were wise, they became fools.
The knowledge of God
Let us revisit the popular verse in Hosea, the verse so often quoted by the worshippers of knowledge, and realize what God is saying:
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge...
Do not neglect the details found a few verses earlier:
...There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land.
Missing in the land is the knowledge of God, not knowledge in general. God was saying, "My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge... of ME!" Consider the price about to be paid:
...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.
The knowledge of God isn't merely missing; it has been rejected! The knowledge of God has been systematically replaced with pseudo-knowledge, which has filled the Earth. What might the consequences be for rejecting the knowledge of God? We are not left to guess...
For the coming of that evil One is the working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and with all the deceptiveness of iniquity, in them that perish; because they did not receive the love of the TRUTH, by which they might have life. Therefore God will send upon them the operation of deception, that they may believe a lie; and that they all may be condemned, who believe not the truth, but have pleasure in iniquity.
Knowledge versus Love
Paul wrote the following to the assembly at Galatia:
For all of The Written Law is fulfilled in one saying, by this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'
Such demonstration of love is not born of conviction-less acquisition of information. This general knowledge men lust for and chase after, the knowledge they most cherish, is not contrasted with ignorance (much to the chagrin of academicians everywhere). Rather, knowledge is directly contrasted with the love of God:
...knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.
Love does not seek its own. Love considers others better than one's self. The pursuit of puffery knowledge by the proud and arrogant is nothing but mental gluttony, and is devoid of the love of God.
What, exactly, are you chasing after? What are you lusting for? Some new teaching? Some fashionable teacher? Data? Information? Statistics? Scientific Fact(s)?
Maryah Yeshu Meshika (Jesus) had this to say:
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
As He says, "They follow me", He makes it perfectly clear that they, His sheep, do not follow another. They do not follow the science (falsely so called). They are not chasing after the knowledge that puffs up. They are not devoting their lives to the acquisition of more information.
In Acts 17:1-9, Luke tells us that Paul and Silas traveled to Thessalonica in Greece where Paul spoke from the Scriptures with the Judahites who lived there. A few of them believed that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God. But most were angry with Paul. A great mob eventually formed outside the house of a fellow named Jason. They all ended up in front of the local authorities to face the following charge:
...these all oppose the commands of Caesar, while they are saying that there is another King, Jesus.
In Thessalonica, arrests ensued, for which Jason made bail, and Paul and Silas quietly slipped out of town.
The story continues with both men traveling to the nearby city of Berea, Greece where they encountered a handful of Judahites. Luke wrote:
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
For any who may have firsthand experience with these two types of encounters (Thessalonica vs Berea); the contrast is significant: The Judahites at Thessalonica wanted Paul and Silas arrested (or worse), whereas the Judahites at Berea received the WORD. Oh, what a difference!
For all the wrong reasons, the Bereans are adored in religious educational circles, especially among those who are eager to equate their own lust for more knowledge and their rejection of the love of the TRUTH with the perceived studiousness of the Bereans. "After all," they claim, "those poor Bereans didn't know Paul from adam. How can you expect them to simply take Paul at his word! Their job was first and foremost to be suspicious! Paul could have been a false teacher. The only way to save themselves was to rely on their Bible study skills, cultural studies, inductive reasoning, and scientific facts, all supported by a library of commentaries, lexicons, dictionaries and maps."
Sadly, what these types miss entirely is the fact that it was the Living WORD that Paul was delivering to the Bereans, not more religious tripe, not more information, not more hypotheses to be debated. Remember what he was talking about in Thessalonica, where he and Silas were arrested? He wasn't telling the Thessalonians or the Bereans about wall paint, only to have them all argue with him that their exhaustive studies led them to believe Paul was taking things out of context, and their own interpretations and opinions were "just as important as Paul's were". Paul, the same Paul who had been assigned an angel of Satan to stalk, harass and assault him due to the extent of revelation given him by God, was speaking from the Scriptures about Jesus, now alive from the dead, telling these people who Jesus was and what He had done. And he Bereans, unlike the Thessalonians, received the WORD...
A doctrine has subsequently emerged and (unsurprisingly) become quite popular where the acquisition of knowledge is apparently the goal of the righteous and the careful intellectual study of information is the only accepted means of acquiring said knowledge, let alone delivering one from dangerous cults. Aristotle would be proud. Independent pursuit of this knowledge is discouraged, unless the student is already a trained and credentialed researcher. Even then, his work must be reviewed and accepted among his peers to have credence. Group study is smiled upon, so long as someone qualified is in charge, preferably a trained and credentialed proctor, but curricula is available for the non-credentialed in the form of study guides.
Look again at these same two passages, this time contrasting the King James Version translation with the First Century Aramaic Bible...
Regarding the Judahites in Berea:
...they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honorable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.
...and they were hearing gladly from the WORD every day while they were distinguishing from Scripture whether these things were so. And many of them believed, and so also of the Greeks, many men and notable women.
In Berea we find a small group of people who A.) actually held the Scripture to be God's words and B.) were receiving (hearing) God's words gladly. The condition of their hearts were such that they could recognize the TRUTH when it was delivered to them via Paul and Silas.
Missed entirely in Gnostic/intellectual circles, the significance of Paul and Silas' visit to Berea is not "...they searched the Scriptures daily...". Some would wish you to believe that full-time students of Scriptural Research Sciences at Berea Bible Institute spent Mondays through Fridays pouring through documents and texts in search of the evidence needed to refute Paul and Silas, the lone wolves!
Rather, the significance is in the statements, "...and they were hearing gladly from the Word every day...and many of them believed."
This is a rare and precious thing in the Earth, regardless of the timeline. Having heard the word of TRUTH gladly, these Bereans believed. We are thrilled that the Bereans, who had just heard the Gospel for the very first time, cared enough to open the Scriptures and see them come to life with their very own eyes. But this had absolutely nothing to do with so-called Bible study. It wasn't the Bible that was raised from the dead, and then showed Himself to more than five hundred brethren before He ascended to sit at the right hand of His Father. What occurred in Berea most certainly does not somehow justify intellectualism or the accumulation of religious knowledge.
Paul and Silas were not sharing some trendy new teaching, some alternate point of view, some new perspective that was open for interpretation and debate and where only after weeks, months or years of thoughtful devotion and careful investigative research and laborious study could the Bereans acknowledge this new information Paul and Silas had introduced to them was indeed safe to add to their own already extensive, encyclopedic knowledge base.
By sharp contrast, these two brothers were proclaiming the Gospel of Yeshu the Messiah to a small group of people who "had ears to hear." These particular Bereans were hungry for the TRUTH, not hungry for more knowledge. And the TRUTH was hand delivered to them from the apostles, not discovered as a result of deep word studies in foreign languages presented only by qualified, licensed, well-dressed, well-spoken graduates having approved abbreviations after their names.
The Bereans were familiar enough with the words of the Living God that when Paul and Silas provided the details how the Messiah had come to suffer, bleed, die, be buried and rise again on the third day their eyes were opened. They recognized the Scripture had come to life, that prophecy had been fulfilled, that "this is that which was written..." And they believed that which had already occurred!
In an effort to bolster support for Christian Educationism in the form of Christian colleges, Bible schools, seminaries and the like, the aforementioned passage in Acts referencing the Bereans is typically cited along with (the KJV translation of) Paul's words to Timothy:
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Here is an alternate translation of what Paul told Timothy, for perspective:
And take care of yourself, that you present yourself perfectly before God, a laborer without shame, who preaches the word of truth straightforwardly.
In other words, "Timothy, be diligent. Do your utmost to present yourself approved unto God..."
In his letter, Paul called Timothy a good soldier, a laborer. He didn't call him a student - not once. He didn't praise Timothy for his scholastic skills and achievements! In the preceding verse Paul said:
Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit...
Cracking open the books was not the apostle's advice (it never has been, and it never will be). Let's read a couple more verses from this same passage:
...And avoid empty words in which there is no benefit, for they will all the more add to the wickedness of those who converse in them, and their speech will seize many like a consuming cancer, and one of them is Humenayus, and another, Philetus, these who have wandered from the truth, while saying that the resurrection of the dead has occurred, and overthrow the faith of some.
(I do wonder if Humenayus or Philetus had published and distributed their own study Bible or Bible study guides, available perhaps for a small donation, of course. Certainly they had established their own denomination. Perhaps they also started up a small, charter school...)
Abstain from the disputes of fools who are without instruction, for you know that they generate conflict. But a Servant of Our Lord ought not to fight (contend, argue, be quarrelsome), but to be humble toward every person, instructive and long-suffering that he may instruct with humility those who dispute against him. Perhaps God will give them repentance and they will know the TRUTH, and they will remember their souls and break loose from the trap of Satan by whom they were captured for his pleasure.
The trap of Satan... that should give pause to any of you still wishing to justify the pursuit of intellectual knowledge.
Pauls says, "Perhaps...", as in, "Who knows, maybe God will..."
Maybe God will what?
- Give them repentance
- and they will know the TRUTH
Do you understand God's role in this? And the role of the apostles? The Bereans experienced it!
In Paul's letter to Timothy, the word instruct appears three times in as many verses - all without the word classroom being associated with it, mind you. Are you understanding who is doing the instructing? Remember God's words through Hosea regarding the knowledge of God. Would not one need to know in order to instruct?
Not according to men, as is evidenced by proctor positions throughout educational circles. The curricula contains the information to be disseminated. The task of the proctor is simply to deliver the package of pre-determined information, and perhaps to conduct testing in order to assess the receipt and retention of said information.
The Kingdom of God operates differently from any of the kingdoms of men. It is not the amount of informational knowledge one possesses (in one's head or in one's curricula) that qualifies one to instruct. The requirement is not what but, rather, Who one knows...
After all, what does God think of mans idolatrous accumulation of information?
For the wisdom of this world is nonsense to God, for it is written: "He has seized the wise in their craftiness." And again, "The LORD knows the reasonings of the wise that they are worthless."
...the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no TRUTH, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.
Speaking to Thomas, Jesus had declared of Himself:
I AM... the TRUTH...
Jesus presented the litmus test to Pilate:
For this I was born and for this I have come into the world: to testify of the TRUTH. Everyone who is of the TRUTH hears my voice.
To which Pilate responded:
"What is the Truth?"
Jesus did not say He had come to learn what is true over time, and only after much study. He did not say He was someone who held truth to be dear. He did not say He was simply a truth, one of many truths, implying that others may also be a truth.
He declared Himself to be the TRUTH... the one and only TRUTH. All that encompasses TRUTH is Who He is. He is the embodiment of all that is true. He is all TRUTH.
It can be said of Pilate, "You wouldn't know the TRUTH if it was standing right in front of you!"
Jesus, who knew He would be returning to His Father, told His disciples:
...When he, the Spirit of TRUTH, is come, he will guide you into all TRUTH.
How about that! Jesus established a way for His servants to know - to live - to walk in - the TRUTH. Hint: it has NOTHING to do with so-called education, what men refer to as study, learning, and the acquisition of more information.
You will know the TRUTH, and that TRUTH will set (make) you free.
Is there hope? Paul told Timothy:
Perhaps God will give them repentance and they will know the TRUTH...
But for all the others? Paul warned Timothy of those who are...
...always learning, and are never able to come to the knowledge of the TRUTH...
Paul wrote the following to Timothy, warning of a time yet to come upon the Earth:
But you should know this, that in the last days hard times will come. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, censorious, unyielding towards their own people, deniers of grace, wicked, calumniators (slanderers), addicted to concupiscence (sex), ferocious (brutal), haters of the good, treacherous (traitors), rash (impulsive), inflated (arrogant), attached to pleasure more than to the love of God, having a form of respect for God, but far from His power... always learning yet never coming to the knowledge of the TRUTH
In his conversation with Nicodemus (for more on this see my article titled, "Born Again"), a leader of the Judeans, Jesus did not say:
For God so loved the world that He gave His only set of encyclopedias along with an expository dictionary including historical maps, a commentary, a lexicon, several bestsellers written by popular authors, two study guides and the complete works of several best-selling Christian authors.
Jesus certainly did not tell Nicodemus:
For God so loved the world that He temporarily gave us simplistic and superstitious beliefs until we were evolved enough to successfully replace trust in God with "trust the science."
However, Jesus did say:
For God loved the world in this way: so much that he would give up his Son, The Only One, so that everyone who trusts in HIM shall not be lost, but he shall have eternal life.
According to the vision God gave to Daniel, there will be a whole lot more information available to mankind at the time of the end. Please take note of precisely what is (and is not) written:
...and knowledge will increase.
Daniel was told that knowledge would increase. This is a sign of the end, and it is not a good thing. Daniel was not told that the knowledge of the TRUTH would increase!
The stakes are eternal... It is Who you know, not what you know that matters!
Thus says the LORD, 'Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,' declares the LORD.
Paul, having shared his personal accomplishments in life with the assembly at Philippi, concluded this:
But these things that were advantages to me, I have accounted losses for the sake of The Messiah. I also consider all these things a loss for the majesty of the knowledge of Yeshu The Messiah, my LORD, him for whose sake I have lost everything, and I consider it all as a dung heap, that I may gain The Messiah, and be found in him, while I do not have my own righteousness, which is from The Written Law, but that which is from the faith of The Messiah, which is the righteousness that is from God, that by it I may know Yeshu and the power of his resurrection, and that I may share in his sufferings and be conformed with his death, that I may be able to come to the resurrection from the place of the dead. I have not yet received it, neither am I yet perfect, but I run so that I may obtain that thing for which Yeshu The Messiah apprehended me.
Let's return to Hosea to hear the concise Word of the LORD on this subject:
I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the LORD.
Indeed, there is hope. But what has gone wrong?
I have been the LORD your God since the land of Egypt. You were not to know any god except Me, for there is no savior besides Me.
God only! Not God plus...
Their deeds will not allow them to return to their God. For a spirit of harlotry is within them, and they do not know the LORD.
The problem is not just idolatry - it is adultery, as well. So, what do we do?
Come, let us return to the LORD.
For the confused and/or the rebellious, the call is for repentance. To repent is to turn to the LORD. Turning to the LORD is repentance. It requires turning away from everything else.
For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day That we may live before Him. So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, Like the spring rain watering the earth.
The days are coming...
And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
As brother Paul desired for the faithful brethren at Colossae, I also desire for my brethren today:
That you would walk according to what is right, and that you may please God in all good works and yield fruit, and increase in the knowledge of God...
Grace and Peace be with you,