Archives for : November2014

“What does the Bible say about knowledge?”

Answer: The word knowledge in the Bible denotes an understanding, a recognition, or an acknowledgment. To “know” something is to perceive it or to be aware of it. Many times in Scripture, knowledge carries the idea of a deeper appreciation of something or a relationship with someone. The Bible is clear that the knowledge of God is the most valuable knowledge a human being can possess. But it is also clear that simply being aware of God’s existence is not sufficient; the knowledge of God must encompass the deep appreciation for and relationship with Him.

We know from Scripture that knowledge is a gift from God. Proverbs 2:6 tells us that the Lord gives wisdom that comes from His own mouth—the Word of God—and that the wisdom of God results in knowledge and understanding. James adds that those who lack wisdom have only to ask for it and God will give it abundantly and generously. God’s desire is for all to know Him, appreciate Him, and have a relationship with Him; therefore, He grants to all who truly seek Him the wisdom that leads to knowledge. Further, because knowledge is God’s to give, those who reverence Him will receive it. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). The word fear here is not dread or terror but a reverence for God, respect for His law, His will, His rule in our lives, and the fear of offending Him, which will lead us to obey, worship and praise Him.

God gives the gift of knowledge out of His infinite store of knowledge. Psalm 19:2 tells us that God’s creation reveals the Creator’s knowledge: “Night after night [the skies] display knowledge.” The vastness of God’s knowledge and creative power are on display continually and are clearly seen in what He has created, as Paul reminds us in Romans 1:19-20. Not only is God’s knowledge infinite, but it is absolute: “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! / How unsearchable his judgments, / and his paths beyond tracing out!” (Romans 11:33). When God came to earth in the Person of Jesus Christ, He became the embodiment of knowledge: “. . . Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:2-3).

Human knowledge, apart from God, is flawed. The Bible also refers to it as worthless because it isn’t tempered by love (1 Corinthians 13:2). The knowledge man possesses tends to make one proud. “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (1 Corinthians 8:1). Therefore, the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, without seeking God, is foolishness. “Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom . . . but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind. For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief” (Ecclesiastes 1:17-18). Worldly knowledge is a false knowledge which is opposed to the truth, and Paul urges us to “Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith” (1 Timothy 6:20-21). Human knowledge is opposed to God’s knowledge and therefore is no knowledge at all; rather, it is foolishness.

For the Christian, knowledge implies a relationship. For example, when the Bible says that “Adam knew Eve his wife” (Genesis 4:1, NKJV), it means he had a physical union with her. Spiritual relationships are also described this way. Jesus used the word know to refer to His saving relationship with those who follow Him: “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me” (John 10:14). He also told His disciples, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). By contrast, Jesus said to the unbelieving Jews, “You do not know [my Father]” (verse 55). Therefore, to know Christ is to have faith in Him, to follow Him, to have a relationship with Him, to love and by loved by Him. (See also John 14:7; 1 Corinthians 8:3; Galatians 4:9; and 2 Timothy 2:19.) Increasing in the knowledge of God is part of Christian maturity and is something all Christians are to experience as we “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).

Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-knowledge.html#ixzz3IxwZFyri

What Does the Bible Say About Faith?

What Do “Faith” and “Believe” Mean in the Bible?
Wherever we see the words “faith” or “believe” in the New Testament, they are usually a translation from the original Greek root word pistis. The noun form of the word, pistis, is usually translated as “faith” and the verb form, pisteuo, is translated as “believe.”
The ordinary definitions of “faith” and “believe” imply intellectual agreement with an idea or accepting something as truth, but pistis means more than that. As used in the Bible, it also implies trust in and reliance on God or Christ, surrender of our wills to God or Christ, and conduct consistent with that surrender1. All those elements are present in any mention of “faith” or “believe” in the New Testament, but from the context we can often see that some of the elements are emphasized.

Unfortunately, there are no words in the English language that capture the full meaning of the original pistis and pisteuo, so we are stuck with the often inadequate words “faith” and “believe.”

Examples of Faith in the Bible
In the New Testament, the words “faith” and “believe” often imply confidence, trust, reliance and humility with respect to God or Christ. That is the case with Jesus’ healings. In the story below, the woman had confidence that she would be healed if she could merely touch Jesus’ clothing. She put her trust in Jesus and relied on Him, because all worldly attempts to cure her had failed. She approached Jesus with utmost humility – in fear and trembling. Jesus’ power healed her, but her faith enabled that healing.
Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’ ” He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” (NRSV, Mark 5:25-34)

The story of the woman with a hemorrhage also has a lesson. If we approach God with humility and put our confidence and trust in Him instead of in worldly things, our faith will enable our spiritual healing and salvation.

John 3:16 is one of the best known and most beloved verses in the Bible, but it must be read in context to appreciate its full meaning and implications:

14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

17 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

19 And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. 20 For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed.

21 But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.” (NRSV, John 3:14-21)

From the verses immediately before and after John 3:16, we can see that the word “believe” (translated from pisteuo) brings to mind these ideas:

Verses 14-16: We can trust in Christ and rely on Him for salvation just as the Israelites trusted in Moses and relied on him while wandering in the desert. The image of a serpent that Moses lifted up on a pole was the cure for the snake bites suffered by the Israelites (Numbers 21:4-9). Similarly, Jesus was lifted up on the cross and then “lifted up” into His glory for the salvation of sinful mankind. That salvation is now available to the whole world, not just Israel.
Verses 17-18: We must put our trust and confidence in Christ as the way to salvation. By implication, our wealth, earthly power, intelligence, popularity, good deeds or obedience to rules and laws cannot save us from being condemned to hell.
Verses 19-20: People who do evil deeds have not come into the “light” of Christ – they are not true believers and do not have true faith. A thief works by night to avoid being seen in the light of day. Similarly, many people prefer their sinful ways and avoid facing the “light” of Jesus’ teachings about love, greed, morality, arrogance, etc. (Matthew 5:43-45, Mark 7:21-23, 12:28-31).
Verse 21: Although we are not saved by doing good deeds, good deeds and holy living will show clearly in the lives of those who do have saving faith.
Faith Vs. Works of the Law
The apostle Paul was not one of Jesus’ original followers or disciples. In fact, he despised the growing Christian movement and fiercely persecuted the early Christians. Then, several years after Jesus was crucified, raised and ascended to heaven, Paul had a dramatic encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-9). After that, he spent time learning from some of Jesus’ disciples and became the most energetic disciple of all. He founded many Christian communities among the Gentiles (non-Jews), and his letters to these communities are among the earliest Christian documents preserved in the New Testament.
A group of people known as Judaizers opposed Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles. They told the Gentile converts to Christianity that they must observe all of the Jewish Law – circumcision, dietary restrictions, and all the many other rules and laws. But Paul said that was wrong; salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ, not by observing the Jewish Law.

Galatia, a region of central Asia Minor (modern Turkey), was one of the places the Judaizers were active. Paul wrote this to the Galatian Christians to correct the false teachings of the Judaizers:

We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law. (NRSV, Galatians 2:15-16)

Paul’s teaching has sometimes been interpreted as meaning that if we have faith, nothing else matters; we don’t need to repent of sin or do the “good works” of obeying God’s commandments and helping other people. But that was not Paul’s interpretation at all. He said if the Spirit of Christ is truly within us, we will turn away from evil deeds:

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. (NIV, Galatians 5:19-26)

Faith Vs. “Good Works”
Church officials of the Middle Ages had fallen into the corrupt practice of selling indulgences to raise money. In return for the “good works” of a monetary contribution to the Church, it was often implied that people could virtually guarantee their entry into heaven, or even purchase release from the pains of purgatory for a deceased relative.
Martin Luther (1483-1546), was a Catholic monk and Professor of Scripture at the University of Wittenberg in Germany. From his study of Scripture, Luther knew that the “good works” of giving money to the Church did not have the power to forgive people’s sins. Instead, Luther taught that we can be justified (made acceptable to God) only by faith.

But Luther did not deny the importance of other good works such as obeying God’s commandments, helping other people, etc. He wrote, “For grace and faith are infused apart from our work, and when they are infused, then the works follow.” In other words, when one is saved by the grace of God, through faith, he or she will practice good works as a result of that transformation. He also taught that a believer must practice repentance throughout his or her whole life.

In 1517, Luther tacked his famous 95 theses entitled “On the Power of Indulgences” to the door of the castle church at Wittenberg. That document was a scathing indictment of the practice of selling indulgences, and it set off the chain of events that led to the Protestant Reformation. However, the Catholic Church soon undertook its own reforms and the practice of selling indulgences was abolished.

It is a great comfort to know we do not have to be perfect to find God’s favor. Even the worst of sinners can become a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) through faith. Then, through good works and repentance, the light of Christ will shine brightly in our lives (Matthew 5:16, Luke 15:7).

How to Find and Keep Faith
Proof That God Exists
The Bible takes it for granted that God exists, and it does not attempt to prove it. There is no proof of our faith that we can see or touch, and there is no evidence that will convince someone who does not want to believe. Knowledge of the physical world is based on things we can observe with our senses and analyze with mathematics and logic. But knowledge of God and Christ is a different kind of knowledge based on faith.
Some people see evidence of God in the life and teachings of Jesus. Some see evidence of God’s creation in the intricacies and wonders of the universe and life. Some may perceive God in the gift of life and the miracle of birth. Some see evidence of God in the beauty of the world. Some see God in unselfish love (1 John 4:7-8).

Other people see the sometimes hypocritical and cynical actions of Christians and religious leaders as a reason not to believe. However, the failures of some Christians does not disprove the existence and goodness of God.

Some people see the evils of war, crime, prejudice, greed and poverty and the tragedies of natural disasters and death as reasons to reject God. But others see the gift of life, the gift of unselfish love, the opportunity to serve others and the promise of a glorious eternal life as reasons for faith, hope and optimism.

Finding Faith
A conscious decision and a “leap of faith” are required to put our hopes and trust in God instead of in worldly things. But those who sincerely take that leap often develop a sense of peace, security and joy that confirms the correctness of the decision.
The person afraid to get in the water will never learn to swim. Similarly, the person afraid to believe without knowing all the answers will never find faith.

Facing Doubts and Growing in Faith
Everyone has questions and doubts about their faith from time to time. It is in working through those questions and doubts that our faith can become stronger and more mature and continue to grow throughout life. As mere humans, there are many things about God that we will never understand. It is through faith that we can trust that God is the One who has all the answers and knows what is best. As it says in the book of Isaiah,
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(NRSV, Isaiah 55:8-9)
And the apostle Paul wrote this:

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (TNIV, 1 Corinthians 13:8-12)