What is the source of knowledge? And I mean of true knowledge? Not just information. Not someone’s version of “their truth” or what someone else “knows”. But real, honest-to-goodness true knowledge. Remember when that used to exist? It hasn’t gone away. And it won’t go away, no matter how much we try to ignore it. But in today’s world of information overload, how can we find real true knowledge?
What is true knowledge?
I guess the first thing we need to do is reach a common understanding of what “true knowledge” is. Not that you necessarily have to agree with me. Many of you probably won’t! But let me at least try to let you know what I mean. The kind of true knowledge that most people used to recognize. That means we need to look at two words: truth and knowledge.
Here’s what dictionary.com has for truth:
noun, plural truths [troothz, trooths].
- the true or actual state of a matter:
He tried to find out the truth.
- conformity with fact or reality; verity:
the truth of a statement.
- a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like:
- the state or character of being true.
actuality or actual existence.
- an obvious or accepted fact; truism; platitude.
Here’s what dictionary.com has for knowledge:
- acquaintance with facts, truths, or principles, as from study or investigation; general erudition:
knowledge of many things.
- familiarity or conversance, as with a particular subject or branch of learning:
A knowledge of accounting was necessary for the job.
- acquaintance or familiarity gained by sight, experience, or report:
a knowledge of human nature.
- the fact or state of knowing; the perception of fact or truth; clear and certain mental apprehension.
- awareness, as of a fact or circumstance:
He had knowledge of her good fortune.
What happened to truth and knowledge?
After looking at that, it seems the biggest problem these days comes down to something else besides definitions. It’s more like a trust problem. Two people can see or hear the exact same thing, and reach totally opposite conclusions about what happened. And then they proceed to verbally attack each other. Even physically attack. And demonize. It’s like civilized discussions can hardly take place anymore.
That’s certainly true in politics. Good grief, it’s open warfare, even to the point where “good people” carry around weapons threatening to, and actually shooting someone they disagree with.
But then it’s also true in science. Some of the stuff that counts for “knowledge” these days is little more than supposition. No one can really discount it, but then no one can really prove it either. And when things do get proven to be wrong, many people still cling to the “old knowledge”, even though more recent science has proven it to be wrong, at least within the confines of what used to count for scientific research.
Today, we can’t even agree that face masks and vaccinations help prevent serious cases of COVID, even though there’s plenty of evidence that it’s true. The die-hard anti-mask and anti-vax people insist they’re right – up until the point where they get COVID. Then, lo and behold, they tell people they should have gotten the shot. Or the jab, if you’re in the UK, Africa, or other parts of the world.
In other words, truth and knowledge are very much personal. And subject to change at a moment’s notice, when individual truths, knowledge, and circumstances change. Guess what people? That’s not true knowledge. That’s personal feelings, biases, and whatever else enters into it. None of that has anything to do with true knowledge!
So – What is the source of knowledge? True knowledge?
Since this site is about finding God among the various “gods” of this world, let’s try to look for what God says about truth and knowledge, but without getting into a particular denomination and without getting into messy differences that they have with each other. In the words of C.S. Lewis and his excellent book – Mere Christianity. In the words of Sgt. Joe Friday, for you Dragnet fans out there – just the facts. In other words, let’s just go to the Bible, God’s word, and not to any denominational extra-Biblical texts.
What does the Bible say about knowledge?
There are 4 chapters in Proverbs that deal with Wisdom. Proverbs, if you don’t already know, was written by Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived. That’s wisdom in terms of the truths of life – not today’s science, politics, personal truth, Etc. Let’s start with Proverbs 2:6, which speaks to wisdom, knowledge, and understanding.
Pr 2:6 For the LORD gives wisdom,
and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
So – God gives wisdom, as well as knowledge and understanding. Are these somehow related? And what about truth?
Where does truth combine with knowledge?
Where does truth come into the picture? This may surprise you.
Truth. The Bible does not provide a systematic account of the nature of truth in either its theological or philosophical dimensions. Nevertheless great prominence is given to the idea of truth in Scripture because God is the God of truth (Pss 31:5; 108:4; 146:6) who speaks and judges truly (Pss 57:3; 96:13). God is the God of all truth because he is the Creator, and it is impossible for him to lie (Heb 6:18). Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). Truth. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 2, p. 2108). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
That’s a fine distinction in there, but it’s important:
The Bible does not provide a systematic account of the nature of truth in either its theological or philosophical dimensions.
There are all sorts of instances where we read about truth. In fact, a search of the 1984 version of the NIV yields 214 instances of the English word “truth”. And yet, the claim is that there’s no systematic account of the nature of truth in either its theological or philosophical dimensions in the Bible.
How can that be?
It’s simple, actually. Let’s look at a few passages and see if there’s a pattern to what they say. Of course, there will be.
When truth became a man
This first one isn’t exactly the easiest to understand. However, I still put it first, because it really says a lot. As we go on, you’ll understanding will be deeper when considering this passage in light of the rest of them. Pay special attention to the underlined verse 14.
OK – stay with me here if you’re not familiar with the details of this passage. It really is important for understanding how knowledge, truth, and understanding fit together in the Bible. And therefore, in life, at least if we’re trying to find God.
Jn 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.
In the beginning. You may remember those words. They’re the very first words in the New Testament, which was originally Jewish scripture. In either case, they take us back to the creation of the earth. By God.
But then we have that really weird-sounding part – the Word was with God, and the Word was God. “The Word” is Jesus. Somehow, in some way beyond our understanding, Jesus was both with God and was God.
Not only that, but Jesus was with God in the beginning. In other words, before creation even began. Before time, as we know it, began. But there’s more coming.
Jn 1:3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
Not only was Jesus there before creation, but He was also an integral part of creating everything – without Him, nothing was made that has been made.m
Furthermore, Jesus is the light (that) shines in the darkness. Good amongst the evil. Truth amongst the lies.
Jn 1:6 There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 9 The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.
This part is about John the Baptist, who was telling people about Jesus before His ministry began.
Jn 1:10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
Back to Jesus. Remember that Jesus was involved in the creation of our world. In that role, Jesus was and is God. But when Jesus came to be in the world, entering as a baby born to Mary through the Holy Spirit, Jesus was also a man. In the world, although not of the world is the “churchy” description of it.
The next part tells of His gift of eternal life for those who believe in Him. The second life. Also not of this world, with a rebirth through God. Children of God.
Jn 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
And here’s the key for our look at truth. Jesus, God, became a human as well. He lived with us. That’s why Jesus is sometimes called Emmanuel – God with us. And Jesus came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Full of truth – from the Father. The Father and Jesus – both God. Both the source of truth. So on the highest level, “truth” is that which comes from God.
When we put this together with Proverbs 2:6, we see that knowledge, wisdom, understanding, and truth all come from God. After one more passage related to John the Baptist, let’s return to this thought.
Jn 1:15 John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ ” 16 From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.
Truth – from God and leading to God
So, we have truth coming from God. How does that help us? Jesus answers that question for us.
Jn 14:5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jn 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
The question is innocent enough. The disciples want to know how to get where Jesus is going. But they don’t understand Jesus was speaking of the next life. Rather than correct the misunderstanding, and knowing that a time will come when things will be made clear to His disciples, Jesus answers in a way that points to what will come.
Again, we see Jesus saying He is the truth. Also the way and the life, both referring to the next life.
And then in what appears to be a cryptic way, Jesus says again that He and the Father are One – both God, in some manner beyond our comprehension.
Jn 14:8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
Jn 14:9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. 12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
In the middle of this rather long explanation about Jesus and the Father being One, Jesus again tells them that He speaks the truth. It can be no other way. Because Jesus is truth.
If all of this seems a bit much right now, keep in mind that it was too much for the disciples as well. And they just spent the last three years with Jesus. In person!
But don’t worry, things can become more clear. Still beyond our ability to understand, but clear enough that we can have faith that what Jesus says is true. Here’s how, as explained by none other than Jesus.
Jn 16:5 “Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’
Notice, we’re all the way up to chapter 16 now, and Jesus’ disciples still haven’t asked Him where He’s going. Of course, now we know what He meant. But they didn’t. Did they assume it was someplace else here on earth? Were they afraid to ask, in case it was someplace else? We really don’t know. We only know they didn’t ask.
If there’s something to learn here, which there always is, maybe it’s that no question is too stupid, too out there, generates too much fear, that we shouldn’t ask it?
In any case, Jesus continues.
6 Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief.
No matter what the reasons for not asking, Jesus lets us know that He’s aware of the grief involved in what the disciples think the answer’s going to be. That points out another thing we should know. Whether we literally ask or not, Jesus knows what we’re thinking. What we’re afraid of. What we think we can hide from Him. So we really ought to just ask. And He is wanting, waiting for us to ask.
7 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away.
In this instance, Jesus goes ahead and answers the unasked question. In the process, He allays the fears. At least, His words should do that. If only we had the small amount of faith it took to truly believe, to not worry, to trust, then Jesus’ words would at least reduce our fears.
Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.
Nest, Jesus prepares to let us know why we shouldn’t be afraid. He must go away, physically. Only then can the Holy Spirit come. Back then, the disciples didn’t really know what that meant. Today, we do. Or I should say, we can.
8 When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10 in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
And now Jesus enters into the details of the explanation. For this topic, I’m not going to go further into it right now. But as we go into the examples of things from our lives today having to do with knowledge, truth, and wisdom, we’ll get much deeper into the details of this passage and various other verses from Proverbs as well. For a look at the examples, check out knowledge versus information, which will grow as time goes on.
Jn 16:12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.
Isn’t this great news? Or is that scary news? There’s more to say, but they weren’t ready for it. You know, that also means that new Christians aren’t really ready for it either. It’s not like we get baptized and immediately just understand everything. It’s the beginning – not the end – of becoming a Christian. There’s always more to learn. For more on that thought, please see Pop Tart Christians.
13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.
Once again, we see truth. We also see that The Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, are all One. That’s no more understandable to us than how Jesus and The Father are One. And yet, it’s something that Jesus wants us to know. Something important enough that, even though it’s beyond our comprehension, God knows it’s important for us to have faith and know it’s true.
Jn 16:16 “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.”
Jesus now closes with something even more cryptic. The disciples, without the Holy Spirit at this time, didn’t understand. Couldn’t understand.
But in a short while, as we read in Acts, the Holy Spirit was in them, and they understood. The only difference between this point in time and what happened after the event in the upper room in Acts was the Holy Spirit.
Clearly, that’s what brought understanding, courage, faith, lack of fear, and so many other things to the disciples. And yet, today, we seem to be afraid of the Holy Spirit. Afraid of the one thing that can remove those hears. That can give us so much understanding. That can make our lives so full of the presence of God. And can enable us to know the truth. The truth of God.
Conclusion – What is the source of knowledge? True knowledge?
So what s the source of knowledge? The source of true knowledge? God – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And if we use that knowledge, through the guidance and the power of the Holy Spirit, it will lead us to the truth here in this life. And more importantly, it will lead us back to God in the next life.
We must remember though, it’s not our head knowledge. It’s the truth from God, in our hearts. Our heads must align with that. Only then can we actually use the brains that God gifted to us to search out His truth here on earth, and use that to find our way back to Him in Heaven.
And that’s what the articles in this category will be about. Flavors of “truth” here in this life. Trying to view them through what we read in the Bible, not through the words of some denomination or some popular preacher.
Not through the eyes of people, who want the Bible to say what they want to hear. After all, we didn’t create God in our image. God created us in His image. And the only way to Him is through His truth, not ours. If that sounds interesting, I invite you to subscribe to this site using the link at the top of the page – or probably at the bottom if you’re on a cell phone.
Have a blessed search for God’s truth!
Image by bluebudgie from Pixabay
|Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). Truth. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 2, p. 2108). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.