What Does The Bible Say About Knowledge?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

There has been an explosion of human knowledge in the last few decades, but what does the Bible say about knowledge?

Experience

Knowledge can come from experience. As a child we learn not to touch hot stovetops. That knowledge is important. It can keep us alive, but sometimes experience can give us the wrong knowledge. People become disenfranchised in life; they become bitter after experiencing great tragedies. Some will even become angry at God or profess to be an atheist, so not all experience can be useful…especially if they distort their experiences. That can warp their perception of knowledge. If you grew up in a home where there were no Christians, your experience would be different than those raised in a Christian home. Your experience with your parents raising you would be different than those from a Christian home. That would mean you view of knowledge would be different from that of children raised in a Christian home. Differences include a biblical worldview verses a skeptical or pessimistic worldview. One person would have hope in the future, and much of the evil in the world would make sense to them (Gen 50:20 Gen 3:16), but to those who don’t fear God, it’s all a matter of happenstance and there is no purpose behind it. One is hopeful, while the other seems hopeless…and indeed it is without Christ.

Human Knowledge

Human knowledge is certainly impressive. Putting men on the moon, discovering the theory of relativity, and things that astound the mind, but has it ever occurred to you that nothing has ever occurred to God? Humans might think they’re intellectually impressive, but human knowledge can backfire, and it’s nothing compared to what God knows (which is everything!). Take the Garden of Eden. God warned them that “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen 2:17). Of course, Eve took of the tree and ate, and gave some to Adam, and both of their eyes were opened to the fact that they had sinned, and now they were ashamed (Gen 3:6-12). They decided to choose for themselves the knowledge of good and evil, or what is right and what is wrong. Of course, they made the wrong decision when they disobeyed God. And the thousands of years of human history have proven how disastrous that decision was. Adam and Eve didn’t die physically, at least immediately, but spiritually they died. And it was “Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord” (Prov 1:29). For us, “All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirit” (Prov 16:2), and “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice” (Prov 12:15). What knowledge? The knowledge of the Holy is found in His Word, and made understandable by His Spirit. Human knowledge is certainly nothing you can hang your hat on. It is always changing, and in time, it can end up being the wrong decision. It’s like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall…it’s just too fluid.

Knowledge of the Holy

To begin with, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge [but] fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Prov 1:7). Before I was saved, I feared pretty much nothing. That meant I despised godly wisdom and instruction; both from His Word and His people. I had not yet begun to understand that knowledge, like wisdom, begins only when we fear God. That fear is not a fear of being struck dead at any moment, but a holy, reverential respect and admiration for God and His Word. Who doesn’t want to know God better? One way we can know the Father better is to read the gospel accounts of Jesus, for if we know Jesus better, we can know the Father better. Jesus said, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9), and He was not talking about His physical appearance. God is Spirit (John 4:24), so Jesus was referring to His own nature of showing mercy, grace, and forgiveness, meaning, God is ready to forgive all who repent and believe. Want to know the Holy One better? Read His Word and study His Son. To know Jesus better is to know God better.

Our Knowledge of God

Sometimes we humans get overwhelmed by certain things in the Bible. For example, the tension that exists between predestination and freewill (or really, human responsibility); it’s hard to see how both are true, and yet they are. The Bible has been described as shallow enough that a child can wade in, but deep enough where theologians can’t touch the bottom. The gospel is so simple that even a child can understand, and many do and are saved, but when we mature into adulthood, we can start making it complicated. The knowledge of how God works is sometimes beyond finding out, and I can live with that. I don’t know how to pilot a 747, but that doesn’t mean I won’t fly on one. It’s just human nature to try and figure out God or His Word when we don’t understand it, but the finite can never know the infinite. God has said His ways are past finding out and beyond our comprehension. Of course, God is knowable, and it begins with a relationship with Jesus Christ, but how can we fathom the fact that God has always existed? Can our minds go back to “eternity?” Can we wrap our minds around Jesus becoming God in the flesh? How did that happen? I don’t know a lot of these things, but the things I do know are the plain things, and the plain things are usually the main things.

Conclusion

My knowledge is pretty worthless if it doesn’t square up with biblical knowledge. For example, I know that loving one another is how people will know we are Jesus’ disciples (John 13:34-35). It won’t be by our Bible tracts, our slick presentation, or our trying to persuade them. It will be the love we show one another. Of course it takes the Word of God with the Spirit of God but it also takes to love of God. That’s not rocket science, but I’d say it’s more important knowledge than rocket science is anyway.

Here is some related reading for you: 10 Bible Verses About Knowledge

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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