Who is this who devises doctrine in words without knowledge? Job 38:2
A life spent amassing information, that which men generally refer to as knowledge, in lieu of coming to the knowledge of the TRUTH, is a wasted life. Knowing all about someone is not the same as knowing someone. Read on to see why Who we know and Who knows us is so much more important than what we know…
What is knowledge?
Most people generally distinguish between belief and knowledge. What I believe may or may not be what I know. But it wasn’t always so.
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. Sound familiar? Truth was also de-emphasized in favor of factuality, or evidence. From Aristotle forward, the understanding among the devotees of knowledge is perhaps best seen in the maxim, “logic affords no bridge from the probable to the certain.”
Over time knowledge became an aspect of a broader field called epistemology (oh the irony: the knowledge of knowledge). Belief was contrasted with knowledge and eventually determined to be incompatible. Knowledge could then be pursued ad nauseam without anyone ever needing to believe anything. This deliberate posture of anti-certainty came to be known as pure science. As a result, 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? Job 38:2
In case you are unsure, let me assist: In the passage referenced, above, Job had just unleashed a diatribe of pseudo-religious verbage to describe his lot in life, to which God responded 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? 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… Hosea 4:6a
…as if to find justification for their pursuit of and lust for more information, more data points. 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 “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. Daniel 12:4
Did you assume that to be a good thing, this increase of knowledge? The religion of Educationism certainly does.
Please do not neglect the details found in the passage from Hosea:
…There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land. Hosea 4:1
At issue is the knowledge of God, not knowledge in general. Let’s revisit that oft-cited passage:
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge… Hosea 4:6a
Missing in the land is the knowledge of God:
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. Hosea 4:6b
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’s love got to do with it?
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.’ Galatians 5:14
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 directly contrasted with the love of God:
…knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 1Corinthians 8:1
Love does not seek its own. Love considers others better than one’s self. The pursuit of this puffery knowledge is nothing but mental gluttony for the proud and arrogant, 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? Science? Jesus said this:
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27
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 Judeans 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.” Acts 17:7
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 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)
For any who may have firsthand experience with these two types of encounters; the contrast is significant: The Judeans at Thessalonica wanted Paul and Silas arrested (or worse), whereas the Judeans 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 along with 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, along with 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. Remember what he was talking about in Thessalonica, where he and Silas were arrested? He wasn’t telling either 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 was speaking from the Scriptures about Jesus, alive from the dead, telling these people who He was and what He had done.
A doctrine has subsequently emerged and become most 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. Aristotle would be proud. Independent pursuit is discouraged, unless the student is a trained and credentialed researcher. 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 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.) 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 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. It had absolutely nothing to do with so-called Bible study. It 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 study could the Bereans acknowledge this information Paul and Silas had introduced to them was indeed safe to add to their own already extensive knowledge base.
By sharp contrast, these two brothers were proclaiming the Gospel 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 presented only by qualified 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!
In an effort to bolster support for Christian Educationism in the form of Christian colleges, Bible schools, seminaries and the like, this 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. 2Timothy 2:15 (KJV)
Here is an alternate translation, 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. 2Timothy 2:15 (FCAB)
Be diligent, do your utmost, to present yourself approved to God.
In his letter, Paul called Timothy a good soldier, a laborer. He didn’t call him a student. He didn’t praise Timothy for his scholastic skills! In the preceding verse Paul said,
Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive NOTabout words to no profit…” 2Timothy 2:14
Cracking open the books was not the apostle’s advice (it never has been). 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)
(I do wonder if Humenayus or Philetus had published their own study Bible, or distributed any study guides, available perhaps for a small donation, of course…)
We can finish up with a couple more verses from that same chapter:
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 trap of Satan… that should give pause to any of you still wishing to justify the pursuit of intellectual knowledge. The word instruct appears three (3) times in as many verses – all without the word classroom being associated with it, mind you. 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. Just follow the science.
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.” 1Corinthians 3:19-20
…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)
Jesus told 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. John 18:37
To which Pilate responded, “What is the Truth?” John 18:38
Speaking to Thomas, Jesus had declared of Himself,
I AM… the TRUTH… John 14:6 (KJV)
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.
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. John 16:13
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.
Is there hope? Paul told Timothy:
Perhaps God will give them repentance and they will know the truth… 2Timothy 2:25
But for all the others? 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)
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. 2Timothy 3:1-5,7
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 philosophers.
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 told that knowledge would increase. Daniel was not told that the knowledge of the TRUTH would increase!
It is Who you know, not what you know!
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)
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 Yeshua 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 Yeshua 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 Yeshua The Messiah apprehended me. Philippians 3:7-12
Hosea had this to say:
So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. Hosea 6:3a