“It’s very interesting,” my Dad said as he walked over to the speakers one day. “He’s just able to speak about anything.” Usually, we are wary of the “person who has something to say about everything”, and the “person who knows everything”. This, however, was different. The speakers buzzed to life and a question was asked, “Should we always give to the person who asks us on the street?” The man began to speak and we listened. Paul Washer – a well-known name, a man known to have served God tirelessly for many many decades. Something struck me as I listened to him reply to the questions asked in these podcasts. He answered well, he answered biblically, he answered wisely, but more than this, He was humble yet confident in the Lord. We live in a questioning world – people have questions about many things! Where did we come from? How big is the universe? What should I eat? What should I wear? What is moral? What is freedom? Why do we think the way we do? Some questions are easier answered than others. Some questions venture into a depth of understanding seemingly beyond our minds. How was the earth created? Why is there suffering in the world? People would search anywhere for an answer. Some people spend their whole lives researching, reading, searching and earnestly longing for understanding of these things. We think they are wise but even they admit that the world is too big for humans alone to understand. As the teacher says in [Ecclesiastes 1:17], “And I set my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is grasping for the wind.” Paul Washer’s answers did not claim to know everything. He simply stated what He believed would please God. WWJD – what would Jesus do? It’s a phrase printed on bracelets, T-shirts, bookmarks and even boardgames. People quote it often but there’s more to this question than the simple decision to take back the excess change you’ve been given at the store. We might not know the answer to all questions, but we know someone who does. Jesus knows the Father’s heart completely. When Paul Washer answers the questions posed to Him, He answers out of his relationship with Jesus. His wisdom is not the wisdom of man, but he speaks from understanding the wisdom and heart of God. The question becomes less “should we give to this person”, and more “how does God think?” This requires a depth of understanding, and an intimacy of relationship with God that cannot be cultivated in a single second, but is the result of faithful perseverance – one lasting a lifetime and into eternity.
What kind of knowledge is this then? Proverbs 9:10-11 says this:
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
I do not claim to know everything. Many times, when asked about some of these “questions of life”, I have said, “I don’t know.” However, this does not mean that I do not want to know. I desire to know God’s heart. I want to think the way He thinks. The only way this can happen, is for me to know Him. Think of someone close to you, your best friend, your husband, your mother for example. They know you – your favourite food, that scarf you just hate, the response you will have to a particular comment. You know them – you know their likes and their dislikes, their preferences and personality. Now, think of your new boss at work, or your teacher at school? It’s a different kind of relationship. Sure, you might still get along well. Perhaps you know what coffee your boss enjoys most, and you might know what your teacher expects of the class but, what is their goal in life? Can you predict their response to an unfamiliar situation? Certainly not unless you really know them. In the same way, we cannot pretend to know what Jesus likes unless we know Him. The Bible does not contain every specific situation in life. There’s no set instruction to – “Turn down the blaring music when your sister is studying.” The Bible is NOT a rule book, it is the WORD of God. It’s His dialogue with us, His expression of who He is. We don’t read His word to know His rules, we read it to know Him, to meet Him. It is from this relationship that we know His ways and walk in them. This is not an obligation, but the consequence of loving relationship. You turn down the blaring music while your sister is studying because you love her. You don’t need to be told when you know your sister likes to have a quiet environment when studying. You do it because you know what she likes and you love her. So, what does Jesus say He loves and hates? Through the bible, we see that God hates divorce, pride and the distortion of His festivals to selfish pleasure. He loves the contrite heart, the working of justice and the sincere love of His people. Isaiah 58: 4-7 is one passage that shows us what the Lord truly desires, contrasted against a gift He despises.
“4Behold, you fast for strife and debate, and to strike with the fist of wickedness: you shall not fast as you do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high.
5Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? will you call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD?
6Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke?
7Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring the poor that are cast out to your house? when you see the naked, that you cover him; and that you hide not yourself from your own flesh?”
The Hebrew for the word “chosen” is בָּחַר (bachar), meaning to choose/prefer/desire. See if you can find other similar passages (Malachi, Amos, Matthew, Revelation for example).
Proverbs 8:13, expounds on the consequence of knowledge saying – “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil. Pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate.” What is evil? If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the fear of the Lord is also to hate evil, then wisdom should reveal what is evil. Proverbs 8:14 tells us where this wisdom comes from as the Lord says – “Counsel is mine,” and sound wisdom…” Is this wisdom available to everyone? Yes it is, but it comes from building relationship. It’s much more exciting to receive a gift I love when the person has bought it as a surprise, than to have told them exactly what to buy for me. It shows that they know me. They know what I would like, and what I wouldn’t. God can tell us exactly what He wants, but it’s not the same as us dialoguing with Him and finding out as we grow in relationship. When we do this, we grow to know Him intimately so that even when we are faced with a situation we have never encountered before, we can instinctively know God’s heart for it. We have a promise that God will reveal Himself as we love Him and seek Him. He says,
“I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently will find me.” [Proverbs 8:27]
“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” [John 14:21]
[1 Corinthians 2:7-10] reminds us that the Spirit of God in us, makes known His heart to us.
“7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, 8 which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
9 But as it is written:
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.”
Though God is God, His ways and thoughts higher than our own, God is not so high and lofty that we cannot know Him. This is the God who loved us so much He could not bear to have sin separate and destroy us. Instead, God came down in human form to speak with us, conquer the grave and make a way for us to know Him and stand in relationship with Him once more. Misty Edwards’ song “Soul Cry” captures the truth in 1 Corinthians:
“You’re not so far away, it’s not too mysterious
You’re living on the inside of me,
Your Spirit on the inside of me”
The knowledge that comes from God is a different kind of knowledge. The world teaches its wisdom but its wisdom cannot save. Its wisdom promotes a sense of utilitarianism, yet is so easily corrupted by the sinful desires of the flesh – greed, pride, selfishness. The knowledge that comes from God is the wisdom of His heart, revealed to us through His Spirit as we walk with Him in intimate relationship. “Love me” – God’s first commandment. “I will reveal Myself to you” – the response He has because of His love for us. God wants to be known, He desires that we are one with Him. The book of Revelation details a final picture of the new earth – Jesus ruling the world together with His Bride. Here is a picture of the mature church, now fully restored to Christ and One with Him just as He is One with the Father and Spirit. The Bride Jesus will rule with is one who will know Him. In that day, we will be completely in sync with the thoughts, desires and love of God. But remember, even now, His Spirit is available to reveal these things to us. Love Jesus, seek His face, and we will gain understanding of His heart. He will transform the way we think, feel and live on this earth. Struggling with deep questions? Curious for understanding? Look to the knowledge found in Christ.