Category Archives: Knowledge

Knowledge – eliminates imagination

Historian of the West David Lavender wrote that “Where nothing is known anything can be believed….”  Westward Vision, p. 18.   Deuteronomy 29:29 says, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.”  Both references lead to the point of this blog.

When ancient geographers desired a way through the American continent to Cathay, they speculated, among other things, rivers that flowed east from the west to rivers that flowed west from the mountains after a short portage.  They got it half right.  Some didn’t want to bother with the inconvenience of a portage.  They speculated a great lake somewhere in the West from which streams flowed both eastward to the Mississippi and westward to the Ocean.  Ibid., p. 13

Lewis and Clark were the first white men to explode those theories.  Now we KNOW that a Northwest Passage does exist above Canada.  We KNOW we can go to the Pacific Ocean any number of ways from the Mississippi, but we’ll never find the Indies when reaching the West Coast.

We would call a fool anyone today who speaks geographically of rivers running close enough to each other in the West that only a short portage is necessary to travel cross-country; or, even more fancifully, that a single great lake exists somewhere in the West that originates rivers east and west.

Yet, people do exactly that spiritually.  What is the way to God? people ask.  And, as if God hasn’t revealed that way through Jesus Christ, they imagine a way that appeals to them—the easier the better, the fewer demands made better still.  What are such people who defy God’s revelation of life through Jesus Christ just because they want to “imagine” an easier way?

Where little is known, it must be obeyed.  Where much is, remember:  only what’s revealed RULES.  Human Imagination means nothing.

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Knowledge – must change us

In the 4th century B.C. the Ptolemies of Egypt established in Alexandria the greatest center of learning in ancient times.  They gathered a library of some 490,000 separate volumes on every subject studied at the time.  They brought the ablest scholars to the city and let them work.  All manuscripts of any worth were purchased and stored for use.  The Septuagint version of the Old Testament was one good result of that renaissance of learning.

It also had glaring failures.  Questions about personal identity, God’s person and the purpose of life were hotly debated, but no real solutions were found or offered.  Increased knowledge raised questions for the students, but offered few definitive answers.

When Peter preached to Cornelius he addressed a man familiar with the name Jesus Christ and with his reputation as a great miracle worker—because knowledge of the Master was widespread in Israel.  But though Cornelius knew what Jesus had done among the Jews, he had yet to discover that Christ’s life in Judah affected him in Caesarea and, like him, all others in the world.

People today aren’t much different from Cornelius in this regard.  Many have a general, superficial knowledge of Jesus, but little specific information that leads them to see his relevance to their lives.  They’re aware of certain Biblical facts but remained uninformed of their meaning.  It’s a historical person they consider when they think of Christ, not the Living Presence all human lives desperately need right now and forever.

Are we as his disciples any better informed?  If informed, do we draw any of the necessary conclusions from the knowledge:  such as, only by obedience to his will, and in self-denial, is his grace at work in us on behalf of others?  Does our knowledge lead us to repentance and to frutiful discipleship?