Saturday, June 4, 2016
Triplets of Christ-Mind: Knowledge, Wisdom, Understanding
Once we are saved by placing our trust in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6), we receive three amazing gifts. Not only do we have forgiveness of sins (Matthew 9:6) and abundant, eternal life (John 3:16; 10:10), but we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16; Philippians 2:5).
Once the Holy Spirit enters our heart at the moment of salvation (2 Corinthians 1:22), we have access to all His mind, power and love. Sadly, we do not utilize even a minute fraction of this (1 Thessalonians 5:19; Ephesians 4:30); because we still have our old sin nature, or flesh, battling the new man, who wants to yield to the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:16,25).
The mind of Christ, Who is the fullness of the Godhead encompassing the Father and Spirit (Colossians 2:9; Ephesians 1:13; 4:30), has three essential components: knowledge, wisdom and understanding (Proverbs 3:19-20; Isaiah 11:1-3). If any component is missing, we will fail to fulfill God’s perfect plan for our lives (Psalm 139:16).
The first component is head knowledge, first knowing about the historical Jesus, and once we are saved, learning what the Bible says by reading Scripture, memorizing verses, and studying the Word (Psalm 119). These may be facilitated by hearing preaching (2 Timothy 4:2; Titus 1:3), attending Bible study (Acts 17:10-11), and reading commentaries. But the essential teacher of God’s Word is the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; 15:26), Who teaches only those who have been born again (John 3:3-8) by inviting Jesus to be their Lord and Savior.
Sadly, there are many who have head knowledge of Jesus but who lack wisdom and understanding, and sadder still, these are condemned to hell unless they get wisdom, or heart knowledge. As our former pastor used to say, the distance between condemnation and salvation is only 18 inches – the distance between our head and our heart.
To be saved, it is not enough to know that Jesus was born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14), was crucified, and rose again on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Even Satan and the demons know that He is Son of God, and they tremble (James 2:19). So do many false teachers, preachers and Bible scholars (2 Peter 2:1). There will be many surprises when Christ returns, for many who were faithful churchgoers or even pastors will be left behind if they lack wisdom, meaning an emotional relationship with Christ (2 Timothy 3:1-5), and are therefore unsaved.
Saul of Tarsus was the epitome of knowledge, for he was learned in all Jewish Scriptures, traditions and customs and had been trained at the feet of Gamaliel, the most prominent rabbi of his day. Yet he lacked wisdom to accept that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the Christ, and the Son of God (Acts 22:3). Knowledge implies learning, whereas wisdom connotes emotional involvement with what is learned. The emotions evoked by Godly wisdom include fear, peace, and joy.
Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 9:10). We must realize that He is holy (Psalm 99), and we are not (Romans 3:23), and that we have reason to fear without His grace (Ecclesiastes 5). When Christ appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus, he was blinded by His great light and filled with fear, remorse and shame that he had persecuted, imprisoned and even killed Christ’s followers (Acts 9:1-6).
True wisdom begins with fear that our sins deserve eternal punishment in hell by a holy and just God (Romans 6:23; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9)), then moves to peace (Philippians 4:7) as we realize that Christ paid our debt in full to reconcile us to His Holy Father (2 Corinthians 5:18). Then we experience joy in Him (Nehemiah 8:10) and His saving mercy, love and grace (2 John 1:3).
Wisdom is what converts intellectual acceptance of Biblical facts to emotional integration of that knowledge into the very depths of our spiritual being. Wisdom requires faith, or belief that Jesus Christ is God, that He is Who He says He is, and that He will do what He has said He will do (Hebrews 11:6). By faith alone, men have been saved since the beginning of God’s creation (Hebrews 11). Hearing God’s Word without trusting it in faith falls short of salvation (Hebrews 4:1-6)
The person who seeks answers to all his questions before trusting Christ cannot be saved, because faith implies belief without complete evidence (Hebrews 11:1). That person is attempting to be saved by knowledge alone, but without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Yet faith cannot grow without knowledge, for faith comes by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17).
Once a believer receives salvation by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), having both knowledge of and wisdom in Christ, he should seek understanding, which is the application of wisdom to his life. As James said, faith without works is dead (James 2:17-26), and a Christian devoid of understanding can still be saved but miss out on God’s perfect plan for his life (Ephesians 2:10).
Like the penitent thief on the cross, we can have knowledge that Jesus is the Son of God and wisdom by inviting Him to save us. Yet we can lack understanding if we go no further in our Christian walk. The thief was limited by his circumstances, for his was a deathbed profession of faith. As Christ promised, he entered Paradise that same day (Luke 23:40-43), yet he had no time to prove his love for Christ by living a holy life (John 14:15,21), doing good works, and serving Him (John 21:16-17).
Yet so many Christians who are blessed with time, opportunity and resources to serve Him remain babes in Christ (1 Corinthians 3:1). They enjoy the benefits of their knowledge and wisdom, for they have been forgiven, are saved, and will spend eternity in Heaven. But they do not obey His commandments, show His love to others, or grow to be more like Him (1 Corinthians 3:4).
Sometimes Christians lack understanding because of laziness, selfishness, or lack of discipline. They fail to study His Word, leave the house without putting on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18), and yield to the old man (1 Peter 4:1-2), falling prey to the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16).
Other Christians, though devoted to studying His Word and legalistic in following it, lack understanding because they fail to love one another. An example would be hatemonger preachers with knowledge of correct doctrine, and even wisdom because they fear the Lord and are saved by faith. Although they speak the truth as they stand on the street corner calling out the sins of those who pass by, they lack understanding because they do not speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
Without love, we can have all knowledge and wisdom and yet just be spouting a lot of noise, as the apostle Paul warned us. We can show off our sophisticated learning, eloquent speech, and charitable giving, but without love, we are nothing (1 Corinthians 13).
Once we have knowledge of what Christ did for us and wisdom to trust Him, may He grant us understanding so that our lives will glorify Him (Colossians 3:23) in all we think, say and do!
© 2016 Laurie Collett