Do you want to be stronger in your faith? Do you want to stand in the faith with the strength that Abraham had when he was prepared to sacrifice his son and heir but fully convinced that God would provide a solution when he was tested?
The faith that we Christians hold as we come to Christ and grow and mature in Him is not a blind faith. The gifts and revelations we receive from God as we walk in His ways with Christ Jesus are given by grace but we must learn how to use His gifts to serve Him and to grow ourselves.
God’s will for His people is that they mature and be strong in the faith. There is much to learn as we walk with Jesus and much to believe as the mystery of the words of God written in the Bible He has given us is unravelled. All of this is thus boiled down to the pursuit of one thing.
Knowledge is necessary if we are to become like Christ. It is the foundation upon which faith rests and grows.
Note the last two verses of this section of scripture today.
16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ. (Romans 10:16-17 – RSV)
Faith comes from what is heard. What is it hat is heard? It is the preaching of the gospel and the good news of Jesus Christ. As the word is taught and preached to people it is opened up to them as knowledge when they listen and understand. And so they receive faith and their faith grows stronger as they listen and perceive what is being said.
Going back to my first question in this post, do you want to be stronger in your faith?
Seek knowledge. Not just any knowledge but the knowledge of Jesus Christ and the teachings He gave so that we may be saved. As your knowledge of His ways and the workings of the new covenant grow, your faith will be strengthened too.
In it’s simplest sense, we believe what we know. Not just in Christ but in all things. What we have seen, heard, experienced and felt we believe because we have seen, heard, experienced and felt it. We have used our senses to take in all types of experiences and these experiences exist in our hearts and minds as knowledge.
It is no different with the knowledge of Jesus Christ. When we experience the power of Jesus Christ through what we see, hear and feel and we recognize His hand in all that occurs around us, we accept this as truth and this knowledge strengthens our faith. We believe Him because we have experienced Him.
And we hold onto this faith because it is based upon knowledge. Our faith is not blind. It is not “wishing” but it is real and strong and powerful in us because it is based upon knowledge of the truth.
So if you want to have stronger faith, seek knowledge. Seek out the things of God and the words of Jesus Christ as He taught them and as recorded in the bible. And as Jesus promised when He said in Luke 11,
9 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:9-13)
There are two significant promises in this quote from Luke 11.
First, that those who ask, seek and knock in their search for the knowledge of the things of God, then they will receive, find and have the knowledge opened to them. This is a promise. If you look for God you will find Him. If you look for the knowledge of God, it will be revealed. If you have questions for God about anything, it will be revealed and will be made known to you.
God wants you to be a knowledgeable member of His family so you are strong in the faith, mature in the teachings of Jesus Christ and able to stand in the face of opposition which will come.
The second great promise in this scripture is the promise of the Holy Spirit. He has said that if you ask for the Holy Spirit, He will give this gift to you. And with respect to knowledge, the Holy Spirit is a wonderful gift for it is the work of the Holy Spirit to open up the scriptures so you can learn, understand and grow. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to transform us into the full maturity of the image of Jesus Christ, and to do that requires that we are taught all the things we need to know to grow and be changed.
That is the power and purpose of the knowledge of God. Transformation into the image of Jesus Christ.
But there is a dark side to knowledge as well for there are warnings about knowledge in the bible too.
The Problems of Knowledge
Knowledge is necessary. We cannot grow without it. But knowledge can also be deceptive and destructive for us if we are not careful.
The bible tells us that the aim of the work of the new covenant is to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ, who is the image of God the Father and that God is love. So the aim of the working of the new covenant is to have the people of Christ transformed by, through and to…love.
Knowledge is not love. Knowledge is basically the assimilation of data and information to make sense of the world or things around us. And the more we know the better we may understand what is going on…at least that is the theory.
But the pursuit of knowledge that is not tempered by faith and the desire to please God can lead down other paths.
The following scripture, while talking about food offered to idols, has a broader application to all and any knowledge.
1 Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” “Knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. 2 If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. 3 But if one loves God, one is known by him. (1 Corinthians 8:1-3 – RSV)
The challenge with knowledge is that it can “puff up” a person. A person can be puffed up with pride and arrogance when they know something or believe they know something and think they are better than others because of what they know.
But as the second verse above shows us, when someone thinks they know something but in a way that puffs them up, then they do not yet know whatever that things is as God wants them to know it.
Look at the academics, experts and so on who pontificate and are held up, or worse, hold themselves up to be people of importance on any subject. These are the people who do not yet “know as he ought to know”. These are the people who use knowledge for power and personal gain, whether financial or respect.
And knowledge is power. When we know something we have power that those who do not know do not have.
But when this power is abused and the knowledge is not used as it should be used, then we see the dark side of knowledge for as the scripture above concludes, it is when we love God that we are known by Him. God does not know us through knowledge but through love because God IS love.
Using Knowledge Rightly
So how do we balance these two aspects of knowledge? How do we ensure that we are not puffed up by knowledge but are built up in love?
Well like so many things in the truth of Jesus Christ and the Way that He teaches, it is quite simple.
If the Lord has given us knowledge we need to understand that it is given for a purpose or purposes.
First, we are given knowledge for our own benefit so that we may learn the truth and grow and mature in Jesus Christ. That is the first purpose.
But the second purpose is so that we will be known by God through love. When we are given His knowledge we are to share it with others. We do not hold onto it and tuck it away like miser tucks away pennies and will not share them. Rather we give the knowledge we have received back to God by helping His people to learn, understand and grow.
When we so serve God by serving His people, the we are walking in love with His people and are known by God through the love we give to our brothers and sisters by sharing the good things we have learned.
Jesus Himself said of the knowledge He received from the Father that He gave ALL of it to us.
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another. (John 15:12-17)
ALL that the Father gave Jesus he has given to us. He did not hold back anything that we needed to know and to understand as we walked with Him to find salvation and eternal life. And His message to those early disciples was to go out and share it with the world. It’s the same message today.
And what was the point of that message and the aim of this sharing? The aim was that by sharing we should love one another. Holding back some useful piece of knowledge that may help another in their walk and to strengthen their faith is not walking in love. When we give of what we have we walk as Christ walked, for He gave all that He had and by so doing showed how much He loved us.
So knowledge when rightly used and applied, when it is shared with the faithful will help them grow in faith and will build the whole body up in love, as is the will of God and the desire of the lord Jesus Christ. But holding onto knowledge and not sharing is selfish and prevents the growth of faith and love for you become puffed up, proud, arrogant and conceited.
Walk the path of love. Share what you have with your friends. Teach them and listen to what they have to say also for none of us “knows it all”. And together we shall grow into the family of God as He desires us to be.
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