Does Knowledge Save Anyone?

“Who is this who devises doctrine in words without knowledge?” Job 38:2

What is knowledge?

Today, men generally distinguish between belief and knowledge, albeit some more than others. What I “believe” may or may not be what I “know.”

But it wasn’t always so.

Plato suggested that knowledge could be understood as justified true belief. Put slightly differently, a statement must meet three criteria to be considered knowledge:

  • It must be justified
  • It must be true
  • It must be believed

Today, men consider Plato’s definition to be utterly insufficient, with knowledge per se having become an aspect of a broader field called epistemology. Belief is de-emphasized to the point of being juxtaposed with knowledge. Knowledge may be thus be studied ad nauseam without ever needing to believe anything. This deliberate posture of anti-certainty is considered to be pure science. 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 “convictionlessness”, is what God was referring to when He asked Job about his use of “words without knowledge?” Or had God simply informed Job that Job didn’t know what he was talking about and he was about to get schooled by God?

Is there more to knowledge than the mere collection and organization of information sans all belief?

Theologians, bible students and researchers, ministers, proctors, etc. will often quote from Hosea 4:6…

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…”

…as if to find justification for their pursuit of and lust for more information. Indeed, today’s apparently unending and exponentially growing stream of data that is assimilated and redistributed via books, presentations, orations, schooling, etc. provides much insight into God’s instructions 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? The religion of education certainly does.

Did you neglect the details found in the balance of the lengthy verse from Hosea…

“…seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God…”?

According to Hosea, the knowledge that is lacking in His people is the knowledge of the law of God, not knowledge in general.

This knowledge men chase after, the knowledge they most cherish “puffs up” rather than builds others up. See 1Corinthians 8:1

The pursuit of this “puffery” knowledge is like a gluttony of the mind for the proud and arrogant. Data is ubiquitous and comes in every size, shape and color. And if it doesn’t, yet, it will soon enough. It is available for any topic imaginable. Men consume it until their heads hurt, and seemingly measure one another regarding who has the more significant headache.

Study

In Acts 17:1-9, Luke tells us that Paul and Silas traveled to Thessalonica, Greece where Paul spoke from the Scriptures with the Judeans who lived there. A few of them believed that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God. But many were angry with Paul. A great mob eventually formed outside Jason’s house. They all ended up in front of the governor to face the following charge:

“…these all oppose the commands of Caesar, while they are saying that there is another King, Jesus.”

Jason made bail for all who were arrested and Paul and Silas quietly slipped out of town.

The story continues with both men traveling to the nearby city of Berea where they encountered a handful of Judeans. 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.” Acts 17:11 (KJV)

The Bereans are adored in religious educational circles, especially among those who are eager to equate their own lust for more knowledge with the perceived studiousness of the Bereans.

This passage 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.” 2Timothy 2:15 (KJV)

A doctrine has subsequently emerged where acquiring knowledge is the goal of the righteous and the careful study of information is the means of acquiring knowledge. Independent study is discouraged, unless the student is a trained and credentialed researcher. Group study is smiled upon, so long as someone 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 Judeans 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 honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.” Acts 17:11-12 KJV

“…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.” Acts 17:11-12 FCAB

In Berea we find a small group of people who A.) held the Scripture to be God’s words and B.) were familiar enough with God’s words to recognize the TRUTH when it was delivered to them via Paul and Silas.

Missed entirely in intellectual circles, the significance of Paul and Silas’ visit to this city is found NOT in verse 11 (where some would wish you to believe that full-time students at Berea Bible Institute were daily searching the Scriptures, bent on showing Paul and Silas a thing or two!), but in the first half of verse 12: “And many of them believed…”

This is a rare and precious thing in the Earth, regardless of the timeline. But it has nothing to do with bible study, let alone does it somehow justify intellectualism.

Paul and Silas were not simply sharing an opinion or two that was open for interpretation and debate and where only after weeks, months or years of careful study could the Bereans acknowledge the new information Paul and Silas brought was safe to add to their own extensive knowledge base.

By sharp contrast, these two brothers were proclaiming the Good News of Jesus 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.

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!

Regarding 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. 2Timothy 2:15 KJV

“And take care of yourself, that you present yourself perfectly before God, a laborer without shame, who preaches the word of truth straightforwardly. 2Timothy 2:15 FCAB

Paul called Timothy a good soldier, a laborer. He didn’t call him a student, let alone did he praise him for his study skills! 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…”  2Timothy 2:14

Cracking open the books was not the apostle’s advice. 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.” 2Timothy 2:16-18 FCAB

And how about we finish up with a couple more verses:

“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, 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.” 2Timothy 2:23-26 FCAB

The word “instruct” appears three (3) times in as many verses. Would not one need to “know” in order to “instruct?” Absolutely! But “what” is to be known? From that same passage we behold the answer:

“…they will know the TRUTH…”

Truth

Do you recall Plato’s definition of knowledge: justified true belief?

As any well-paid litigator might suggest, ‘What’s truth got to do with anything? It’s all about what you can prove.’

Epistemology, the study of knowledge (oh the irony: the ‘knowledge of knowledge’), loves the concept of evidence.

And the so-called scientific method became the methodology whereby knowledge became a conviction-less interpretation or perspective. No more, no less.

Hosea wrote (a mere five verses earlier than our previous recitation):

“…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.” Hosea 4:1 (KJV)

“What…”, asked Pilate of Jesus, “…is the Truth?” John 18:38

Speaking to Thomas, Jesus declared of Himself,

“I AM… the TRUTH…” John 14:6 (KJV)

Paul warned Timothy of those who are…

“…arrogant, loving lust more than the love of God…always learning, and are never able to come to the knowledge of the truth…” See 2Timothy 3:4-7 (FCAB)

Warning

In his conversation with Nicodemus, 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 a bible dictionary with maps, a commentary, a lexicon, several bestsellers written by popular authors and two study guides.

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.”

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.” John 3:16 (FCAB)

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 written:

“…and knowledge will increase.”  Daniel 12:4

Daniel was NOT told that the knowledge of the TRUTH would increase!

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.  Jeremiah 9:23-24 (NASB)