Pen Points 13
Knowledge is Needed
Knowledge is not the enemy of God’s people, and this means that education is not the enemy either, for one must participate in some form of education in order to receive knowledge. While knowledge without love puffs up (1 Cor 8:1), knowledge itself is not the root problem. On the other hand, ignorance is a problem because it results in the blind leading the blind so that both fall into the pit (Matt
Education is not what causes people to leave the faith. It is not what causes people to interpret the Scriptures poorly or to take wild positions that threaten the faith of others. Education is not the enemy and ignorance is not something to celebrate. God’s people are to love God with all the mind (Matt 22:37), so we must foster the mind in service to God and beware that we are not promoting a form of anti-intellectualism and calling it righteousness.
I’m not saying that Christians must have college degrees to be good Christians. Education comes in many forms, and there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to this matter. Yet seeking to do what we do in excellence is a matter of commitment to the Lord no matter how much ability each person has. We are to seek to be the best workers, students, teachers — name it — that we can be because we are serving the Lord. Being satisfied with minimal effort isn’t what the Lord accepts (cf. Matt 25:24-26). As Paul wrote, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Col 3:23-24).
Knowledge, understanding, and wisdom are connected in Scripture, so if we want to be able to use wisdom with understanding, we need to seek excellence in our knowledge as well. Let this wisdom guide us:
For learning wisdom and discipline;
for understanding insightful sayings;
for receiving prudent instruction
in righteousness, justice, and integrity;
for teaching shrewdness to the inexperienced,
knowledge and discretion to a young man —
let a wise person listen and increase learning,
and let a discerning person obtain guidance —
for understanding a proverb or a parable,
the words of the wise, and their riddles.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and discipline. (Prov 1:2-7)
Have you noticed how often the purpose of something is stated in Scripture? This is often done by using terms often translated “that” or “so that,” which is meant to indicate purpose. The idea is found many times in Scripture throughout various contexts, and I believe we ought to pay attention to it so that we can better understand the purpose of what’s under discussion. For example…
Paul’s purpose was to promote faith in God not in human wisdom, and he expresses this sentiment in several places: “My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not be based on human wisdom but on God’s power” (1 Cor 2:4-5).
“Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death, so that we would not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead” (2 Cor 1:9).
“Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us” (2 Cor 4:7).
Our own purpose is expressed this way: “And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the one who died for them and was raised” (2 Cor 5:15).
“Do everything without grumbling and arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world…” (Phil 2:14-15).
The “so that” and related terms and ideas matter because these tell us why something is important and practical. In our Bible study, then, let us be careful to consider the stated purpose of something so that we better understand our purpose.