Being Knowledgeable

Slice it any way you wish; ignorance is not bliss. Dress it in whatever garb you please; ignorance is not attractive. Neither is it the mark of humility nor the path to spirituality. It certainly is not the companion of wisdom.

On the contrary, ignorance is the breeding ground for fear, prejudice, and superstition . . . the feeding trough for unthinking animals . . . the training field for slaves. It is blind and naked (Tennyson), the mother of impudence (Spurgeon); it brings despairing darkness (Shakespeare), never settles a question (Disraeli), nor promotes innocence (Browning). And yet it remains the favourite plea of the guilty, the excuse of the lazy, even the Christian’s rationalisation for immaturity.

We dare not fall into that trap! Our spiritual fathers didn’t. Trace your heritage back to Moses, and you’ll find that the people were given the Truth of God in written form that they might know and that their children might know the right path to follow. In Samuel’s day, there was established a “school of the prophets” to dispel ignorance among the people. This philosophy carried into the New Testament as Jesus frequently rebuked His listeners for not reading, for not knowing the underlying principles for living. How often Paul expressed similar convictions with such strong words as, I “do not want you to be ignorant” (Romans 11:25; 1 Corinthians 10:1; 12:1; 15:34; 1 Thessalonians 4:13 NIV). Dr Luke recorded great commendation for the church at Berea because they were “examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).

Most nations have seen the need for being knowledgeable . . . for perpetuating an educated, well-trained body of godly people who could proclaim God’s message with intelligence, authority, and conviction. The oldest institutions of higher learning in the many parts of the world were established for such a purpose. Think of Oxford and Cambridge, the Sorbonne in Paris; they were established to dispel ignorance. Even in the New World the importance of sound thinking was of paramount importance. You can still see, etched in stone near an iron gate that opens to the campus of Harvard University:

After God had carried us safe to New England
and wee had builded our houses
provided necessaries for our liveli hood
reard convenient places for God’s worship
and setled the civill government
one of the next things we longed for
and looked after was to advance learning
and perpetuate it to posterity
dreading to leave an illiterate ministery
to the churches when our present ministers
shall lie in the dust
New England’s First Fruits

Over time though, the subtle narcotic of humanism began to paralyse the nerve centres of theological thought and weaken educational philosophy. Doubt and despair replaced certainty and hope. Mental discipline, honed on the wheel of exacting academic requirements and intellectual integrity, began to lag. Permissiveness became the order of the day. This has evolved into a postmodern mentality that now considers a commitment to truth and a thorough study of God’s Word a joke. Thank God, there are some exceptions. But they are precious few . . . especially precious among clear-thinking saints.

To be sure, there are dangers connected with being knowledgeable. Solomon warned us of the worst in Ecclesiastes—PRIDE—the wearying, futile pursuit of knowledge, a flesh trip that can cause a head to outgrow a heart. Mere intellectualism can be only “striving after wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:17).

Our ministry is purposely named Insight for Living because that’s what knowledge is to be used for—for practical, life application. I urge you to pray for our various ministries. Each area of ministry addresses a wide array of real needs . . . and how they meet these needs head-on with practical knowledge from God’s Word.

By the way, may I personally urge you to become a better student of your Bible? Familiarise yourself with its content. Filter today’s difficult times through its grid. The better you know the Word of God, the more quickly you will recognise the path to help you find your way through the fog of our postmodern mist.
My single desire is to support the premise that knowledge, rather than being an enemy of the faith, is an ally . . . perhaps one of our strongest. Rest assured; we will forever remain committed to excellence in communicating biblical truth . . . and its application. That is the ministry of Insight for Living.

Copyright © 2012 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc.

Posted in Bible, Theology and tagged , , , , .

Accuracy, clarity, and practicality all describe the Bible-teaching ministry of Charles R. Swindoll. Chuck is the chairman of the board at Insight for Living and the chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary. Chuck also serves as the senior pastor of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas, where he is able to do what he loves most—teach the Bible to willing hearts. His focus on practical Bible application has been heard on the Insight for Living radio broadcast since 1979.