“You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
While many know what’s in the Bible, few understand it. At the same time, there are many who believe they understand the Bible, but their understanding is little more than a collection of theologies and doctrines passed on to them by the leaders of the church system they have joined themselves to. While the situation is a sad one, there is one thing that to me is the most sad of all. That is: It doesn’t have to be that way.
It is possible for you to go beyond collecting appealing Bible facts. You can acquire understanding. It is understanding, and not knowledge alone, that is “more precious than jewels.” (Proverbs 3:15a) Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, also declared that understanding is of such great value that, “Nothing you desire compares with her.” (Proverbs 3:15b)
Knowledge and understanding are partners. Without understanding, knowledge is incomplete. Add understanding to knowledge and the result is wisdom. Knowledge, when joined with understanding, leads to technological discoveries, medical breakthroughs and artistic masterpieces. Apply this axiom to God’s word and the result is freedom.
Truth becomes a living reality when it is experienced. The account of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden provides a lesson for us on the necessity of experience. God said to the first couple, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16b-17) God had given Adam and Eve knowledge of the forbidden tree, but mental awareness alone was not a cause of death. They had to experience the tree by eating of its fruit before the consequence would be realized. God’s warning was, “In the day you eat from it [experience it and make it your own, a part of you] you shall surely die.”
When Adam and Eve ate from the banned tree, something in addition to knowledge was imparted to them. This something was not just in their head; it filled their entire being. As a result of their action, they entered into an experiential knowledge of the truth … they had gained understanding. They had experienced evil and they knew it … they saw the shame of it on each other … and they covered themselves and hid from God. They had come to understand what had previously been head knowledge.
This same point is made in John’s gospel.
31 Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly disciples of mine;
32 and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32)
The Greek word translated know is ginōskō (ghin-oce’-ko). This word carries the normal meanings of the word know as we typically use it in English. In the Greek, however, it also carries the idea of knowledge grounded in personal experience. It is to know and to experience, and that means to understand. In the Jewish religious sense of the day, it was used to describe sexual relations between a man and a woman, as in Adam knew Eve. Ginōskō, therefore, is an intimate knowledge of a person or thing.
Note that the above passage tells us it is His disciples, those who abide in His word, who shall know the truth in this experiential manner. The verb abide in verse 31 means to act in accordance with. Hence, those who experience Jesus’ word, and act in accordance with it (being obedient and not disobedient like Adam and Eve) will understand the truth, and their experiential knowledge (ginōskō) will make them free.
Memorizing Bible verses and passages is a splendid and worthwhile activity. However, committing the truth to memory will not free us from the prison of sin. This only happens when we know His truth intimately … experientially … when we attain understanding. We must take a bite of the truth and swallow it … make it a part of us … become one with it … gain an experiential knowledge of it … then we will be made free.
This is true freedom.
That’s a lengthy explanation, but it explains my purpose for writing and teaching. My objective is to show you the necessity for obtaining understanding not just mental knowledge. Further, I hope to motivate you to actually seek understanding. But you must seek it. I cannot give you understanding, because it cannot be taught. It must be experienced.
If you receive my teaching, or anyone else’s, you have only added to your encyclopedia of knowledge. You have the knowledge, but the teacher has the experience. There is no freedom, no life, for you in either my or another teacher’s experience. When all a believer has is knowledge of a teacher’s experience, that believer is bound to the teacher for direction. In my mind, that is not freedom.
Paul wrote in Galatians, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free.” (Galatians 5:1) He finished this verse with a warning, “Therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” My hope is that by showing you what I have come to understand, you will be moved to seek your own understanding. This is not only the privilege, but also the obligation of every believer. If you are so motivated, I promise you an experience greater and more exhilarating than any other. If you seek understanding, you will find it. When you receive it, and make it your own, you will be edified. And when you share your understanding with a community of believers, that entire body will be built up when they make the truth their own.
It was shown in the previous article, The Prophetic Word Made More Sure, that the spoken word from God in heaven is the Truth. It is this truth that makes you free. The apostle Paul wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) There isn’t a big Jesus and a little Jesus. There are no select groups of believers who get more from the Holy Spirit and a lesser groups who receives less. You don’t have to be Peter, James or John to receive revelations of Truth from the Holy Spirit. Everything He shared with them, He would share with you, me or any believer. Our job is to get ourselves in a place where we can receive it.
I hope you make the decision to move into that place. With that as a goal, we move on laying a foundation for understanding the Bible.