Knowledge and Insight

by J. D. watson

Ephesians 1:8b-10 declares the sixth of eight great riches we have in Christ: "in all wisdom and prudence; having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him."

French philosopher André Maurois (1885-1967) said: "The universe is indifferent. Who created it? Why are we on this puny mud-heap, spinning in infinite space? I have not the slightest idea, and I am convinced that no one has the least idea." Countless other philosophers have either directly or indirectly mocked God with such comments. One was French philosopher Voltaire (1694-1778), who held up a Bible and said, "In 50 years I'll have this book in the morgue." Well, in 50 years he was in the morgue and the Geneva Bible Society owned his house and used it as a place to store Bibles that they first printed on his press.

We should also mention the empty ramblings of existentialist Jean Paul Sartre (1905-1980). In his book, Being and Nothingness (1943), which has been called his "monumental philosophical treatise," he presents the main tenets of his existentialist thought. In it he "delves into the nature of existence, rejects the supernatural as well as any preconceived notion of humanity or morality, and argues that existence is pointless, contingent (i.e., not logically necessary, subject to chance–JDW) and absurd. Each object simply is and has a being-in-itself, and, by virtue of their abundance, all objects encroach upon people. The human being is distinguished from the rest of the universe by consciousness, being-for-itself, and by the freedom to form an identity" (Grolier Encyclopedia).

And so it has gone for centuries. Man has blathered on about "nothingness" and has been "ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (2 Tim. 3:7). Man refuses to accept the truth which Shakespeare recognized—as Hamlet said to Horatio, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

In contrast to man's empty philosophies, the Apostle Paul declares that the second result of redemption is that God, through Christ, has given us "wisdom and prudence," or "knowledge and insight." How profound this is! Only through Jesus Christ can we have true knowledge and insight. Men have been groping for millennia for these, when all they have to do is open the pages of God's Word.

The idea behind "wisdom" (sopha) is a deep knowledge of the things that really matter—the truths of God, truths such as: life and death, God and man, righteousness and sin, heaven and hell, and so on. Does the world have knowledge of such subjects? No, but the true Christian believer does.

The concept behind "prudence" (phrne\sis) is insight, emphasizing how to make knowledge practical for everyday living. Paul, therefore, uses these two terms to show that the believer has been given both knowledge and insight to thoroughly equip him for life.

But God does not just give us knowledge and insight "in general." Rather He gives both in specific ways. First, He makes known the "mystery of His will," which refers to His explaining to us the incredible miracle of bringing man back into fellowship with God through the redemption in Jesus Christ. Second, he also shows us the "dispensation of the fulness of times," a term that speaks of God working in history. History and current events will seem meaningless until we realize that God is in control and is ultimately bringing "together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him" (v. 10).

And for what purpose? For God's  glory and our good.

Dr. Watson is pastor-teacher of Grace Bible Church, Meeker, Colorado. His full exposition of Ephesians and other resources are available on-line at<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>

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