WHO You Know is More Important than WHAT You Know!
This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.(John 17:3)
As someone who spent many years studying language in school and abroad, and as someone who has earned a living at teaching language, one of my favorite activities is studying the history of specific words, and how their usage has changed over time. One word that has changed in meaning quite a bit since it entered the English language is the word “science.”
Our modern day English word “science” was originally a French word derived from Latin, and in the 1300’s its meaning was very similar to the word “knowledge.” It meant the opposite of “ignorance” and generally meant something obtained by “studying.”
It was not originally restricted in meaning to any particular branch of study. In the 18th and 19th centuries its usage was becoming more restricted, referring to a “body of regular or methodical observations or propositions … concerning any subject or speculation,” and was often linked to the study of “philosophy.”(science. Dictionary.com. Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian.)
From the 20th century up until today, the meaning of “science” is restricted even further, as can be seen by this definition found in a medical dictionary: “knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through the scientific method and concerned with the physical world and its phenomena.” (science. Dictionary.com. Merriam-Webster’s Medical Dictionary. Merriam-Webster, Inc.)
This narrow understanding of “science” or “knowledge,” which only looks at what can be observed in the physical realm, is now equated with “truth,” and is considered by modern society to be more valuable than any other kind of knowledge. It has become the religion of modern man. But there is much knowledge in our world that cannot be observed in the physical realm, or proven by scientific discovery!
If you search the Bible in any modern-day English version for the word “science,” it will return zero results. This is because today’s modern meaning of the term is extremely restricted. Ancient cultures did not have such a restricted understanding of “science” that regulated it only to the physical realm and the modern “scientific method.” The older King James English Version of the English Bible will turn up one verse in the New Testament where the translators chose to use the word “science”:
O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called (1 Timothy 6:20)
The original King James Version of the Bible was translated in 1611, long before “science” took on its more restrictive meaning in modern English. More modern versions of the English Bible will translate this word (gnosis in the Greek) in the verse above as “knowledge.”
When we read the Bible, we get a much different view of “knowledge” than today’s modern view. The most valuable knowledge is seen not as an accumulation of data, but in relationships.
To truly “know” someone is not possible by simply using modern scientific methods. You can know “about someone” by studying a book written about them, for example, but to truly know another person is only possible by spending time with them. If the president of the United States walked into a place where I was visiting, I would recognize him because I know some things about him, including what he looks like. But I do not “know” him personally. There is a huge distinction in these two different kinds of knowledge. The kind of knowledge that only recognizes the president of the United States is not nearly as significant as knowing the president of the United States on a personal level, where he would also know me.
So since there is valuable knowledge that can only be obtained via relationships (as opposed to scientific discovery or the observation of facts), which relationship is the most important? Obviously, man’s relationship to his Creator is the most important relationship! We know God by knowing Jesus:
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.”(John 14:6-7)
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. (John 10:27-28)
You can get to know about a person by reading a book about them, but you cannot really know a person that way. Imagine if you tried to build a marriage relationship by simply studying facts that were written about your spouse! You could read volumes and volumes of books (if they existed) about a person, but you would never really know them personally. You could never really love them simply by knowing things about them, and never having met them in person. To love someone requires a different kind of knowledge; a knowledge which is based on experience – subjective experience from spending time with them and developing a relationship.
But in our modern day culture which worships a narrow view of knowledge called “science,” a knowledge which only recognizes the observation of the physical realm, subjective experiences are considered “invalid” ways of knowing truth. So the accumulation of data, bolstered by the belief in Darwinian evolution, becomes the most valued knowledge in our modern society.
And what does God think of this “knowledge” which attempts to deny (or at least ignore) his existence?
For it is written, “I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. (1 Corinthians 1:19-21)
We cannot know God simply by studying his physical creation. Such knowledge may teach us some things about God, but it will do us no good when we die the physical death and then meet him face to face for the first time. The only knowledge that will lead us to eternal life is the knowledge that comes with a personal, subjective relationship with Jesus Christ: This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. (John 17:3)
When we know Christ, we come to love him, and to know his love for us. And this love is more valuable than knowledge, and more powerful than any knowledge on earth.
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith–that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19 italics added)
Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know; but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him. (1 Corinthians 8:1-3)
The Bible also makes it clear that the people who go around pretending to know Jesus, but really only know some things about him (maybe they read his book), and don’t know him personally, are NOT going to be able to enter the kingdom of heaven:
Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ (Matthew 7:21-23)
So in the end, it really is true that who you know is much more important than what you know! If you know the love of Christ first hand, and have experienced him personally, you don’t need to know anything else to enter the Kingdom of God!
But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:7-11)
Do you know Jesus? Have you experienced his love first hand, the kind of love that led him to voluntarily give up his life as a sacrifice for your sins? Or do you only know some things about him, having simply an intellectual (“scientific”) knowledge about him?
In the case of Jesus, the “scientific” knowledge about him is not worth too much. The personal subjective knowledge, however, is much more valuable, both now and in the future. It is more valuable than anything else this life has to offer! So get to know Jesus and his love for you: your life depends upon it!