KNOWLEDGE WITH CERTAINTY, #824
For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me (JOH 17:8).
They received these things with certainty. They were not plagued by doubts and fears. They did not question their salvation. The schools of Christ teach a right sense of and a true faith in the Person and work of Christ. Satan is so crafty to have those who preach the Word of God to stray away from the clear letter of the Word and start teaching a philosophy of men.
I talked to a woman who was so bound up with the London Baptist Confession of Faith, and I explained to her how urgent it is that we come to realize that the authority is in the Word. I have no objection to using human documents to help us understand the Word, however, the Word is the foundation, not any human document. Anytime we use a human document we must use it to bring us back into the Word of God.
Even the very Son of God, who is called the Word of God in REV 19:13, did not teach His own private interpretations of the Word. He could not go beyond what the Father gave Him to speak. It is dangerous to add a philosophy to the clear letter of the Word.
Christ did not come to act on His own, but as the lowly servant of the Father, who was sent as an ambassador to mediate between fallen wretches, and our offended Holy Father. The Father is offended by our sin against Him, and He sent His Son as His ambassador to bring us the message of the Father, which is the Word of God. He came to mediate to take away the offense with the price of His own blood.
As the Fathers ambassador, our Saviour had His specific instruction according to which He was to act. This was all a part of the humble obedience unto the death to reveal the will of the Father with which the Father was so well pleased. In JOH 17:4 He said, "I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do." Jesus came as the Fathers ambassador to reveal the person, the character and the Word of the Father as well as to atone for the sins of His church.
In effect our text is saying, "I have taught them according to the instructions I have received." The Son of God was not given the latitude to add one word to what the Father gave Him to teach. When men come with what they call insight and add to the Word of God and start teaching doctrines of men that have no foundation in the Word of God, that tramples on the holy will of the Father and the mission that was given the Son.
The Word is the instrument that instills faith in the soul by the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. It is dangerous to teach unbelief as though it is sacred, when the Word of God teaches it as a damning sin. David said in PSA 138:2, "I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name." God is so jealous of His Word and He does not want anyone to tamper with it, adding to it or subtracting from it.
Our text not only speaks of the miracles of Jesus, but of His doctrine. He does not only speak of the manifestation of the Spirit applying the Word, where He says, "I have manifested thy name" in verse 6, but also of the revelation of His Father, enlightening our understanding. The Word of God is a revelation of the character, of the love, of the loving kindness, of the truthfulness, of the righteousness, of the holiness of the Father of heaven and earth.
We read in HOS 4:6, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children." We reject knowledge when we place the wisdom of men before the Word of God. We should have no hesitation to believe what He has said in His Word. We take it as the absolute truth without needing to add one word to it or take one word away from it. We take it as the Word of God.
Saving faith will never come by the working of miracles. The Word says in ROM 10:17, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Faith becomes mixed with unbelief by mixing philosophy with the Word of God.
Even the manifestation of the Spirit is through Gods ordained means. By the ear, grace is transmitted into the heart. ISA 50:4-5 says, "The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned. The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back." When we open our ears to hear, the Word of God enters our soul, grace is instilled in our heart, and the Holy Spirit transmits grace into the soul by the Word of God.
Many may think the Holy Spirit speaks outside the Word of God, and others think He speaks through miracles, but the mind of God is revealed in His Word by His Son Jesus Christ. The Lord does not speak outside of His Word. Even when miracles were in full force in the times of the apostles, many were converted by the Word without miracles, but none with miracles outside the Word. The Lord Jesus used many miracles, but it was the Word that converted the heart.
ACT 11:20-21 says, "And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord." We see no indication that any miracles were performed in this instance. The Holy Spirit illuminates the heart by the preaching of the Word. It is by the Word that the heart is stirred and the conscience is awakened. It is Gods instrument that He has ordained to deliver His church from the power of Satan and sin. The Lord Jesus Christ performed many miracles that brought no salvation. Many people ate the loaves and the fish and they followed Him for the miracles, but not for the Word He spoke. They followed Him just for the bread. It did not bring a new heart. ROM 1:16 says, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek."
A single angel slew 180,000 enemies of the Lord in one night, but all the heavenly hosts combined are unable to deliver one man from the power and tyranny of sin or to find a ransom for his soul. Even the very Son of God said in JOH 7:16-17, "My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself."
This doctrine is in perfect harmony with the Lords teaching by the mouth of His prophet in DEU 18:18, "I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him." This is a prophecy of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our blessed Lord and Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, was anointed as that Prophet as our heavenly Father spoke with audible voice from heaven saying in MAT 17:5, "While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him."
What a blessing when His ministers have been wakened with an ear to hear and are given "the tongue of the learned, that [they] should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary" as it says in ISA 50:4-5.
We must all give an account of our stewardship in the day of judgment, and this is a heavy mantle to bear. His ministers must tell Him that they have given unto them "the words thou hast given me" and not any of their private interpretations. In effect this is what the Apostle Paul said in 1CO 11:23a, "For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you." The Apostle Paul had no private interpretations.
Of all the things the Father gave unto His Son, the chiefest is His wonderful doctrine of the gospel. Herein is a double gift, the Father gave it to His Son, and His Son gave it unto disciples. Next to the gift of His Son, the gift of the gospel is the greatest gift the Father has bestowed upon the human race, but Satan wants to dilute it with deceit. He did all in His power to destroy the gift of the Son. He who despises the gospel despises the very bounty of God. ROM 2:4 says, "Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?" It is such a travesty of the Word of God to teach that all we need is the whip of the law to drive us to Christ. That is not the gospel. The Bible teaches us that it was the goodness, forbearance and longsuffering of God that leads us to repentance.
Despising or slighting the gospel by sinning against knowledge is trampling upon the blood of the very Son of God. HEB 10:28-29 says, "He that despised Moses law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?"
Verses 26 and 27 speak about sinning after receiving knowledge. "For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries." That is trampling upon the Son of God.
We must take heed that we do not slight Christs special gifts that He purchased with His lifes blood. Sending His servant to preach the Word was the great gift for the church in Christs royal estate. When Christ ascended into heaven to be with His Father, His great gift to the church is that He sends His servants to preach the gospel. EPH 4:7-8 says, "But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men."
As these gifts are explained we need to recognize that the gospel and its effect are what are mentioned. In verses 11 to 13 we read, "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."
Those who have a grudge against the gospel despise Christ and His most esteemed gifts. Sending His servants to labor in His vineyard is a special gift to us. We are warned against those who despise this gift in MAT 7:6, "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you."
Our text speaks of two things that are inseparable in saving faith with regard to His words"they have received them, and have known surely." Notice that faith cannot exist without knowledge. ROM 10:14 says, "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?"
We must know what Christ is for a hell-worthy sinner before we can trust in Him for our salvation. He is the substitute to take the penalty for our sins and to perfectly obey the law in our behalf. Of the man born blind we read in JOH 9:35-38, "Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him."
How shall any obey the gospel if they do not know Christ? 2TH 1:7-8 says, "And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ."
We must search the Scriptures, for in them we have salvation, because they testify of Jesus Christ. Certainty of our knowledge of Christ depends on two things that cannot deceive usthe revelation of the Word and the illumination of the Holy Spirit. We need the Holy Spirit to give us ears to hear and to give us understanding of what we hear, to apply it to our hearts, that it may deliver us from the power of Satan and sin.
There is a form of knowledge, which is nothing more than a blind speculation of the truth, as well as a form of godliness that is a great profession, without having been delivered from the power and service of sin. 2TI 3:5 says, "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away." These are those who have much religion but have never been delivered from the power of sin. Their deplorable condition is described in verse 1 to 4, "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God." Their form of knowledge denies the power of the gospel.
ROM 2:19-22 says, "And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?" They can preach Christ so well, but they have not been delivered from sin.
Faith without works is dead. Saving faith in the love of Christ always accompanies practicing godliness. It is a knowledge that is put into practice. EPH 1:17-18 says, "That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling [which is Christ in you the hope of glory], and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints."
Knowledge settles in the brain, but this is not true with the spirit of wisdom. You can be a knowledgeable person and quote scriptures from Genesis to Revelation, but you can have it go no farther than the brain. In PRO 2:10-14 we see wisdom and knowledge put together, "When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee: To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things; Who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness; Who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked." This is not just head knowledge. This happens when the Holy Spirit opens our ears to hear and we start having wisdom.
The light of faith is what reveals what is in the heart. JOH 3:19-21 says, "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God."
This knowledge is what delivered the Apostle Paul from his Pharisee religion and instilled the desire to serve Christ. PHI 3:8-11 says, "Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death."
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