Knowledge and Understanding - Or Meaningless Information

The inspired Word of God stands as the solid source of all right knowledge.

As an insightful editorial in a popular national newspaper put it: "With nearly 1,000 new books published in the U.S. each week, the pressure to stay informedweighs heavily. But there is a difference between information and wisdom" (emphasis added throughout). The current figure in Britain is about 300 new books published each day, not to mention the massive amounts of information available around the world through new technologies.

Clearly, understanding and information are not synonymous. Wrote former British foreign secretary Francis Pym: "The images we see on television reflect onlythe symptoms and consequences of a problem . . . When we see world events described by commentators, that does not lead to understanding, but only to an emotional reaction and the acquisition of casual knowledge."

So, in spite of this massive proliferation of information, a void exists. Informative knowledge alone won't do. American writer Saul Bellow articulated this fundamental problem: "Information is to be found in daily papers. We are informed about everything, we know nothing."

This is where the Bible enters the picture. The inspired Word of God stands as the solid source of all right knowledge. The Bible provides the proper framework of the essential knowledge through which all other useful information is properly understood. Without this crucial foundation, we live in a confused muddle—constantly inundated with an avalanche of information we cannot fully grasp or understand.

But, when we have the right foundation, the Eternal God reveals exciting and profound spiritual knowledge to those who believe and obey Him.

What does the Bible tell us about "knowledge"? We begin our formal study with several key passages.

Is God concerned about what we know? What are the results of lack of right knowledge?"

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6).

Though we have greater access to the Bible than did any previous generation, we pay scant attention to its contents—with devastating results. Solomon warned us: "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death" (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25).

But what special knowledge is missing?

"There is no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land" (Hosea 4:1).

"The priests no longer asked, 'Where is the Lord?' Those who handled the law had no real knowledge of me" (Jeremiah 2:8, Revised English Bible).

At creation God gave mankind the capacity to acquire material knowledge. Indeed in our time we have amassed it in previously undreamed-of abundance. What concerns God is our pitiful lack of basic spiritual knowledge. How accurate was the apostle Paul's perception that far too many tend to be "always learning and never able to come to knowledge of the truth"! (2 Timothy 3:7).

What are the consequences of ignoring revealed knowledge?"

Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you . . . Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children" (Hosea 4:6).

Ignoring or rejecting revealed spiritual knowledge alienates us from God, cutting us off from His guidance. God's law, the primary source of the understanding of how we should live, operates as a spiritual force in the world (Romans 7:14). Whether we recognize it or not, that law is self-enforcing. Humanity pays a stiff penalty for breaking it; we see the evidence dramatized every day in media reports of human suffering (compare Jeremiah 2:19).

The Bible defines sin as lawlessness (1 John 3:4)—breaking or rejecting God's law—and then spells out the penalty for lawlessness. In the end "the wages of sin is death"—perishing forever (Romans 6:23; Matthew 10:28)—but the immediate consequence is the misery we see in the world. God, however, desires to give everlasting life in the Kingdom of God to all who will respond to His instruction. (For more details, please request our free booklet The Road to Eternal Life.)


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