The world is full of knowledge. So many facts, so much reasoning, so much research, so much increased technology and amazing study—and we can understand it because God gave human beings mind power beyond that of the animals. God expects us to use our minds to gain knowledge. But there’s a missing dimension in the world’s knowledge. How can we fulfill our potential, use the amazing mind God has given us, and do so in a way that brings us not into the errors of the world, but into the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ?
We are all familiar with the prophet Daniel’s famous prophecy that “knowledge shall increase” at the end of this age (Daniel 12:4). The Industrial Revolution of the 18th century brought an unprecedented increase in the technology and capability available to human beings, and in the last 50 years the Information Age has sped up that process even more.
A Knowledge Explosion?
The famous futurist R. Buckminster Fuller estimated in his 1982 book Critical Path that before 1900, it took about a century for human knowledge to double, and that by 1945 knowledge was doubling every 25 years. What about today? In 2006, IBM Global Technology Services stated, “It is projected that just four years from now, the world’s information base will be doubling in size every 11 hours” (The toxic terabyte: How data dumping threatens business efficiency, p. 2). Is knowledge now quadrupling every day? It depends on what we mean by “knowledge.” Certainly, with ongoing research in biology, astronomy, oceanography, physics, health, and so many other areas of science, we are gaining so much data and new information that it can be hard even for experts to keep up to date. Some of you may be familiar with Alvin Toffler’s 1970 book Future Shock, which warned of the information overload we face as a society and as individuals. I certainly feel that overload from time to time.
But how much of the knowledge mankind gains every day is true knowledge? And how much is simply information that distracts us from our purpose? On the one hand, science and technology have brought great convenience to our lives. I heard one expert say that technology has brought the equivalent of 90 servants into a typical household, considering all of the electrical gadgets and equipment that we have. On the other hand, I like to tell our Tomorrow’s World viewers about the “Doomsday Clock” from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Earlier this year, they moved the clock’s second hand to 100 seconds before “midnight”—with “midnight” as their symbol of a nuclear apocalypse (“Closer than ever: It is now 100 seconds to midnight,” TheBulletin.org, January 23, 2020). These aren’t wild-eyed religious fanatics. These are very sober scientists who look at the world’s political and governmental situation—and at the reality of military weaponry—and realize, “Yes, we are 100 seconds to midnight.” When has mankind ever created a destructive technology he has failed to use? Knowledge can benefit humanity or be misused to destroy all life on Earth! Still, God wants us to have true knowledge.
As a society, we have sent probes into the vast reaches of space, and twelve astronauts have actually walked on the Moon. The human race seems to have mastered amazing power—even the power of nuclear energy. But have we really mastered it? We cannot forget Christ’s words: “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened” (Matthew 24:21–22).
Seek the Truth
God gave this stark assessment of the tribes of ancient Israel, ancestors of many of today’s Western nations: “Hear the word of the Lord, you children of Israel, for the Lord brings a charge against the inhabitants of the land: ‘There is no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land’” (Hosea 4:1).
Scripture warns us of what happens when a nation stops seeking the truth. Anciently, God told the prophet Jeremiah to warn the nation of Judah, “Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem; see now and know; and seek in her open places if you can find a man, if there is anyone who executes judgment, who seeks the truth, and I will pardon her. Though they say, ‘As the Lord lives,’ surely they swear falsely” (Jeremiah 5:1–2). What happened as a result? Jeremiah found no one seeking the truth, so God allowed Nebuchadnezzar to invade the nation, and in 586 BC the temple was destroyed.
Are our modern nations seeking the truth? The Israeli newspaper Haaretz featured this headline on January 11, 2012: “Tel Aviv Declared World’s Best Gay Travel Destination.” The world is becoming more and more accepting of conduct condemned in your Bible. The Guttmacher Institute reported that from 2010 to 2014, the annual abortion rate for women aged 15–44 was estimated at 35 per 1,000 (“Induced Abortion Worldwide,” Guttmacher.org, March 2018). Though abortion rates have declined in the U.S. in recent years, more than 850,000 abortions were performed in the U.S. in 2017 (“Induced Abortion in the United States,” September 2019). Abortion isn’t something new. What is new is that modern technology has made it much safer for the mother, and that much of the world encourages, even welcomes, the procedure. Is this a right use of knowledge? We read that “to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be” (Romans 8:6–7).
Today, if you are a parent of a college-age student, you probably know about the secularism and political radicalism that is so common at American universities. It is easy to forget that many of our nation’s top-ranked universities were originally established as Bible colleges or governed with biblical principles in mind. In the founding charter of Yale University, established in 1701, Connecticut legislators describe the school as a place “wherein Youth may be instructed in the Arts & Sciences who through the blessing of Almighty God may be fitted for Publick employment both in Church & Civil State” (Act for Liberty to Erect a Collegiate School, p. 1). What was expected of its students? As Yale president Thomas Clap wrote in 1754, “All scholars shall live religious, godly, and blameless lives according to the rules of God’s Word, diligently reading the Holy Scriptures, the fountain of light and truth; and constantly attend upon all the duties of religion, both in public and secret” (“Yale University,” U-S-History.com).
Certainly, Yale has moved away from its founding emphasis on living a religious and virtuous life. Yet we should not fear that the pursuit of knowledge is incompatible with godly righteousness and character. As our predecessor in this Work, Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong, wrote, “God intended for man to produce additional knowledge.... He gave us awesome minds with which to think” (Why Were You Born?, 1972, p. 18). Today, we in the Living Church of God are pleased to be able to offer what we now call “Living Education”—a program that doesn’t try to duplicate the errors or bureaucracies that this world’s educational establishment thinks of as essential, but instead focuses on developing the Christian character of its students, who are seeking knowledge and biblical wisdom! As Dr. Roderick C. Meredith wrote several years ago, we feel that true education “should include not only developing a personal understanding of the underlying purpose and meaning of human life, but a mastery of needed secular knowledge and development of critical thinking skills as well. The foundation to do so, however, necessitates internalizing the worthwhile values, wisdom and understanding embedded in the Bible—the missing dimension in education.” He wrote that for Living University, but it applies just as much to Living Education today, and it should be the goal even of Church youth and young adults pursuing education in secular high schools and universities. Even if you never attended Ambassador College or Living University, you can still live by the motto of those institutions: “The word of God is the foundation of knowledge.”
We serve a God “who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). Knowledge and truth are not in opposition. In fact, unless we have God’s truth, there will be a dimension absent from our knowledge. What did ancient King Solomon say? “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7).
The Limits of Science
If we have the fear of the Lord, we will not fear science. True science is totally in harmony with the creation. It magnifies our sense of beauty and harmony and helps us to see the magnificent laws in the design of all kinds of creatures, flora, and fauna. It’s absolutely amazing! Every time I look up at the beautiful Carolina blue skies and see those cumulus clouds, I just think, “Isn’t the formation of those clouds absolutely beautiful?”
When we look into the intricacies of DNA and RNA and their operation within the human body—how they replicate—we find that modern theories of evolution cannot explain them. But science has shown us those kinds of operations and so many others of wondrous complexity, which help us understand the glories and the magnificence of God’s design, creation, and laws.
And yet we know that science has abused technology, and that an “explosion of knowledge” can open the way to literal—and frightening—explosions of extraordinary destructive power! Former U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower said in his first inaugural address, “Science seems ready to confer upon us, as its final gift, the power to erase human life from this planet” (January 20, 1953). Well, science isn’t wrong in and of itself—the problem is the misuse of science. Sir John Eccles, winner of the 1963 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, stated this: “We need to discredit the belief held by many scientists that science will ultimately deliver the final truth about everything. Science does not deliver the truth. What it provides are hypotheses in an attempt to get nearer to truth. But scientists must never claim to know more than that. The scientific concepts that we have are always going to be changed as science progresses” (“Science Can’t Explain ‘Who Am I? Why Am I Here?’,” U.S. News & World Report, December 10, 1984).
No, science doesn’t have all the answers. It cannot deliver the final truth, as Sir John Eccles said. Yet it is laudable that some scientists want to know the answers to these questions, and honest scientists realize the implications of knowing those answers. As the late Cambridge astrophysicist Stephen Hawking wrote in The Theory of Everything: The Origin and Fate of the Universe, “If we do discover a complete theory, it should in time be understandable in broad principle by everyone, not just a few scientists. Then we shall be able to take part in the discussion of why the universe exists. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason. For then we would know the mind of God” (2005, p. 136).
As hard as it is for the world to accept this, even a great scientist such as Hawking was blinded from knowing the mind of God. Yet most of you reading this article are not blinded! God is opening your eyes and mind to His truth, a truth that is indeed “understandable in broad principle by everyone”—everyone, that is, who has a humble and teachable heart called by our Savior! To earn a Ph.D. in astrophysics is not a bad accomplishment. It requires much study, diligence, and mastery of a great body of knowledge. But God reveals Himself not to the world’s experts, but to humble, converted Christians who seek Him in His word. “At that time Jesus answered and said, ‘I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes’” (Matthew 11:25).
What an amazing gift we have been given! Unlike Hawking and other very knowledgeable scientists, you and I know why the universe exists! God is creating in us His very own holy and righteous character—something He cannot do by fiat. God can create a galaxy through His own power, but He cannot create His character in us unless we cooperate!
True Wisdom and Knowledge
Though the world around us wants to confuse and deceive us with false knowledge, we must maintain a teachable heart. Why? We are learning in this life the lessons that will help us serve as kings and priests in the Millennium. In that day, we will be teaching the whole world true knowledge. “For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you. And though the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your teachers will not be moved into a corner anymore, but your eyes shall see your teachers” (Isaiah 30:19–20).
Yes, all of God’s people who are faithful will be teachers in tomorrow’s world. We’ll be those kings and priests. During the Millennium, today’s firstfruits will play an active role in helping people stay on the right path of true knowledge. “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left” (v. 21). The responsibility of a priest is to intercede for someone else, but also to teach. And we’re learning that way of life so we can teach it to others. We learn painful lessons so that we can help those who are also experiencing painful lessons.
But what about religious knowledge? So many religions of this world are not even convincing counterfeits of God’s true religion. In them, we find violence, deception, and the acceptance of evil as if it were good. Most of the world’s religion today is under the sway of the “god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4)—Satan the devil. Yet the presence of a lie does not mean there is no truth. True religion gives us the missing dimension in knowledge. “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). What do we do with that truth? “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed’” (v. 31). We must abide in the truth! What is that truth? “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27). We must not become contaminated by the world’s values, and we must practice outflowing concern for others.
If we have received true knowledge, we will be found acting on it, not just knowing it. Christianity is a way of life. In fact, that’s what Christianity was called before it was called Christianity: “But when Felix heard these things, having more accurate knowledge of the Way, he adjourned the proceedings” (Acts 24:22). The Apostle Paul wrote, “But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets” (Acts 24:14). That phrase, “the Way,” occurs three other times in Acts (9:2; 19:9, 23).
Tremble at His Word
We eat food. We drink water. We breathe air. But are we taking in the spiritual nutrition we need—God’s word? What should our attitude be toward the Bible? “Thus says the Lord: ‘Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist,’ says the Lord. ‘But on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word’” (Isaiah 66:1–2).
If you have ever experienced an earthquake, you know how it humbles you. I remember standing in the doorway of our little wood-frame house in Pasadena, California, trembling in an earthquake! It was just like a ship moving back and forth, and my knees were weak. When we think of the awesome majesty of God, how can we not tremble at His word? What is the most awe-inspiring knowledge we can have? That God reigns supreme! That should humble us and keep us trembling at His word!
To make sure we are living the missing dimension in knowledge, we must be living by God’s truth. We must examine ourselves and make sure that we’re not hypocrites who say we like God’s word and that we agree with it, but fail to act on it. “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). We must hear God’s word, but that is not enough. “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22).
Have you ever deceived yourself? I’ve deceived myself. But when you actually practice God’s way of life, you can understand the truth, live the truth, and actually share the truth with others. “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was” (James 1:23–24). And you are free to approach God for that understanding, if you sincerely desire it! “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).
What kind of man or woman are you? Are you following the example Jesus set when He was battling Satan and said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4)? Righteousness is more than knowledge—it is what we practice. “Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous” (1 John 3:7). And “In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother” (v. 10). We can know the truth by practicing—living by—God’s word.
Do you believe that God exists, or do you know that God exists? With so many skeptics around us and so many arguments, how can anyone truly know that God exists? Scripture tells us, “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him” (1 John 2:3–5). The Apostle John uses the expression “by this we know” quite a few times in Scripture.
Also, “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” (2 Peter 1:2–3).
The Greek word for knowledge is epignósis. Epignósis, according to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, “denotes ‘exact or full knowledge, discernment, recognition’… expressing a fuller or a full ‘knowledge,’ a greater participation by the ‘knower’ in the object ‘known’” (“Know, Known, Knowledge, Unknown”). John had to battle the philosophy of Gnosticism, which promoted the idea that the God of the Bible was not the true God, and that only those with special, secret knowledge could escape from the God of the Bible and reach perfection. No, dear readers, the missing dimension in knowledge is right in the open, in the pages of your Bible—but it is hidden from those whom Satan has blinded.
True Knowledge Is Spiritually Discerned
The world professes to have gnosis, or knowledge, but God has revealed to us the missing dimension in knowledge. As we saw earlier, He said that “you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). And He gives us this wonderful revelation:
But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God (1 Corinthians 2:9–12).
God created the universe as an environment where human beings could discover who He is—and how powerful and how great He is. As we gain true knowledge, we will grow in our fear of God, and we will tremble in awe at His might—yet we will also grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, and in treasuring His great love for us. Yes, the earth is our inheritance, but so, too, is the universe. We will inherit all things—that’s from the Greek ta panta (Hebrews 2:8)—everything that is seen and unseen.
And of all those things, what is the greatest knowledge? We could answer this in several ways. I still remember how Mr. Herbert Armstrong put it several times—that the greatest fact of all is that “God rules supreme!” And we can look to Christ’s prayer for His disciples, in which He prayed to the Father, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17).
So, dear readers, saturate your mind with the true knowledge you find in God’s word! Never let a day go by without studying your Bible. Pray to God for wisdom and understanding. Practice the righteousness that is taught by the knowledge you receive. As you do so, you will grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, and prepare yourself for your place in tomorrow’s world, where you will be helping human beings understand the missing dimension in knowledge!