There are times when reading Scripture that a verse will stand out with a special truth. It’s those time we might say, “right on!”. Such a verse stood out for me recently. Paul had been listing a long series of bad characteristics of people in the last days of the Church age. He concludes the list by saying they are “always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.”(II Timothy 3:7) It seems quite descriptive to me. We are certainly in an age where learning is increasing at an exponential rate. There are things being done today that have never been done before. It is as God said of the people seeking to build the Tower of Babel, if they continue as one language “nothing will be impossible for them”.(Genesis 11:6) We have substantially overcome the language barrier, and are back on the path of Babel. But knowledge has become totally man centered and not God centered. God is the source of all knowledge, and unless our knowledge is God directed, and draws us closer to Him, it only leads to confusion. This is the myth of progress. The only true progress is that which leads us to a deeper understanding of our Creator.
The great NASA scientist, Wehner Von Braun, once said, “Science does not have a moral dimension. It is like a knife. If you give it to a surgeon or a murderer, each will use it differently.” We are told in Scripture that in the end times knowledge will increase.(Daniel 12:4) We are in a time now where the extent of human knowledge is doubling every few years. Just think of the rapid pace of technology. But as Von Braun said, knowledge itself has no moral content. It must be guided by the far great wisdom of the One who is the source of all knowledge. The ability to do something doesn’t necessarily make it right to do it. We are in an age that requires us to be very diligent and disciplined in the use of the knowledge we gain. My fear is that we too often yield to knowledge for knowledge’ sake alone, and ignore the will of the Giver.
I know a few very smart people. There is nothing wrong with being smart. It is a gift of God. But as with any gift it is to be guided by God’s wisdom and used for God’s glory. Our country is being run by some very smart people, but for the most part, not under God’s wisdom or to His glory. The result is not a good direction. The Apostle Paul was a very smart and highly educated man. After reviewing his credentials in a letter to the Philippian Church he said, “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord,…”(3:7-8) Paul knew that it was only through Christ that he could properly use the knowledge he had for the good of his people. In our desire to create a secular society, accepting of all values as equal, we’ve gone off in very wrong directions. The writer of Proverbs understood this three thousand years ago. He wrote, “Desire without knowledge is not good– how much more will hasty feet miss the way!”(19:2) Many very smart leaders face tremendous problems today. The true knowledge that is necessary to meet our needs can only come from the Lord. “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”(I Corinthians 1:25) Can we humble ourselves enough to seek that wisdom?
We want to know! This has become one of man’s chief characteristics. We want an accurate weather forecast. What is the Stock Market projected to do? Reporters declare that the public has the right to know. We explore space because we want to know what is out there. People read their horoscopes to see what the day will bring. There is an insatiable desire to know. This began with our first parents. “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.”(Genesis 3:6) This is not some ancient myth. This is a truth that has infected mankind ever since. Rather than being willing to trust God for the right timing of His gifts and wisdom we take things into our hands – which usually leads to a mess. Solomon wrote, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6) Maybe we really don’t need to know all that we think we do.
In Psalm 119 is the longest of the Psalms, and many people find it too redundant and boring to read. I think we would do well to reconsider.
“Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts. I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word. I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.”(vss.97-104)
In a world where we think we know more than God does on virtually any subject, considering the writers words is a necessary correction. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge…”(Proverbs 1:7)
Mankind does a wonderful job of growing and processing crops for food. Did you ever wonder how we learned this in the first place? How did we figure out how to plant wheat, then learn that only the kernel was good, but had to be ground into flower to bake bread? Or weaving cloth, or working metal, or any of the skills we depend upon. The Bible says that God taught us. We are a bit too arrogant when we think we did it all on our own. Isaiah 28 tells about farming saying, “God instructs him and teaches him the right way.”(vs.26) And a little further on, “all this also comes from the Lord Almighty, wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom.”(vs.29) Does God understand how computers work? Of course. He opened the way for all that is useful for our good. All knowledge is from the Lord. He cares about us so much He has provided for all of our needs. He has also given us the freedom to use knowledge in harmful ways. Knowledge must be used with wisdom if it is to work for our good. Wisdom comes from humbling one’s self before God, and learning His will for life. Knowledge, in itself, can and has led us into destructive paths. Knowledge guided by Godly wisdom leads to great blessing.
I had a recent e-mail exchange with a good friend of mine. He had asked me a question about why the members of another Christian congregation were allowing such and such a thing to be happening there. I responded by saying that once people begin to set aside various portions of Scripture as not applicable today, it is fairly easy to justify much of what they want to do. After a while people no longer know what is true, what is God pleasing, and what is not. The Prophet Hosea wrote, “my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.”(4:6) Our God is the One who gives us life. He intends our life to be good, and come into a full bond with His life, but that can only happen if we understand the way He intends life to function. In our fallen nature we pit our will, our idea of life, against God’s. This never works. This is sin. God in His grace has made the way for cleansing, forgiveness, and a new beginning in Jesus Christ, but He doesn’t change His plan for life. He gives us His Word to show us the right path to life. He has given us His Spirit to guide us into His truth. What more could He do? Jesus gave us the invitation, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”(Matthew 11:29) In accepting His invitation we find life.
Scientist and engineers have been working for some time to develop artificial intelligence. I’m afraid I get a bit cynical with this. I know it is an important part of automation. It is just that the human brain is such a marvelous God-created gift to man that it will never be matched. We only use a small portion of it as it is. But above all, intelligence is not the issue. What we need is wisdom. It is only wisdom that gives the proper direction to use the intelligence we have. Further, Scripture teaches us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Unfortunately, in our stubbornness, we reject that source. It is God who created us, and has determined the best way for us to live. In so many ways we have pushed Him aside in favor of our own human reason. Except for a lot of technological advances, we really can’t say that we have progressed in ways that are really important for the total good of mankind. It is time we put in as much effort seeking the source of all true wisdom as we do in our scientific endeavors.
Many strive for knowledge today. We read of scientific advances taking place all of the time. There are medical cures today that weren’t known a year or two ago. And anyone who touches a computer knows how fast things change in that field. But there is a vast difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is the accumulation of information. Wisdom is the way of using that information guided by a set of values and principles. I am afraid that we have not advanced in wisdom as we have in knowledge. Scripture says that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Yet, in our quest for knowledge, we have left the Lord behind. The Lord knows all things, even the computer stuff we haven’t even dreamed of yet. But He wants us to seek wisdom, so that whatever we learn we use for the best good, and in ways that honor Him.
Man does a wonderful job of growing and processing crops for our food. Did you ever wonder how we learned this in the first place? How did we figure out how to plant wheat, then learn that only the kernel was good, but had to be ground into flower to bake bread? Or weaving cloth, or working metal, or any of the skills we depend upon. The Bible says that God taught us. Isaiah 28 tells about farming and says, “God instructs him and teaches him the right way.”(vs.26) And a little further on, “all this also comes from the Lord Almighty, wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom.”(vs.29) Does God understand how computers work? Of course. He opened the way for that as well. All knowledge is from the Lord. He cares about us so much He has provided for all of our needs. However, knowledge must be used with wisdom if it is to work for our good. Wisdom comes from humbling one’s self before God, and learning His will for life. Knowledge, in itself, can and has led us into destructive paths. Knowledge guided by Godly wisdom leads to great blessing.