Few people have had a deeper impact on my way of thinking than John Stott. In his little book Your Mind Matters, he writes about the importance of being Christians who use our minds. But knowledge is not an end in and of itself. Rather, all that knowledge is meant to lead somewhere.
Knowledge should lead to worship. The true knowledge of God will result not in our being puffed up with conceit at how knowledgeable we are, but in our falling on our faces before God in sheer wonder and crying, “O the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” Whenever our knowledge becomes dry or leaves us cold, something has gone wrong. For whenever Christ opens the Scriptures to us and we learn from him, our heart should be aglow within us. The more we know God the more we should love him.
Second, knowledge should lead to faith. We have already seen that knowledge is the foundation of faith and makes faith reasonable. “Those who know thy name put their trust in thee,” wrote the psalmist. It is our very knowledge of God’s nature and character which elicits our faith. But if we cannot believe without knowing, we must not know without believing. That is, our faith must grasp hold of whatever truth God reveals to us. Indeed, God’s message brings no benefit unless it meets with faith in the hearers. This is why Paul does more than pray that the eyes of our hearts may be enlightened to know the greatness of God’s power which has been demonstrated in the resurrection; he adds that this power which God accomplished in Christ is now available to use who believe. The first and necessary step is that we know in our minds the magnitude of God’s power, but this should lead us to appropriate his power in our lives by faith.
Third, knowledge should lead to holiness. We have to see how the more our knowledge grows, the greater our responsibility to put it into practice. Many biblical examples could be quoted. Psalm 119 is full of aspirations to know God’s law. Why? In order the better to obey it: “Give me understanding, that I may keep thy law and observe it with my whole heart.” Thomas Manton, the Puritan minister, who at one time was Oliver Cromwell’s chaplain, likened a disobedient Christian to a child suffering from rickets: “Rickets cause great heads and week feet. We are not only to dispute of the word, and talk of it, but to keep it. We must neither be all ear, nor all head, nor all tongue, but the feet must be exercised!”
Fourth, knowledge should lead to love. The more we know, the more we should want to share what we know with others and use our knowledge in their service, whether in evangelism or ministry. Sometimes, however, our love will restrain our knowledge. For by itself knowledge can be harsh; it needs to sensitivity which love can give it. This is what Paul meant when he wrote: “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.”
Knowledge is indispensable to Christian life and service. If we do not use the mind which God has given us, we condemn ourselves to superficiality and cut ourselves off from many of the riches of God’s grace. At the same time, knowledge is given us to be used, to lead us to higher worship, greater faith, deeper holiness, better service. What we need is not less knowledge but more knowledge, so long as we act upon it.
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