Faith & Knowledge!

In speaking of the activity of faith, we believe that faith includes knowing. There have always been those who wish to separate faith from knowledge and to see faith as “blind” acceptance or trust. This is especially common today.
Roman Catholicism has always taught that faith and knowledge can be separated, especially in its teaching about implicit faith (faith without any intellectual content). This, according to Rome, is the faith of many or most laymen.
Modernism and neo-orthodoxy teach this also, as do the charismatic and other anti-doctrianl movements. They do not actually deny that faith includes knowledge, but they separate faith and knowledge by denigrating and speaking scornfully of doctrine and teaching.
Sadly this inclination is also found among some Reformed theologians and teachers. They, too, do not explicitly deny that faith is knowledge, but end up doing so nonetheless when they promote paradoxes and contradictions as part of their theology.
These are people who say that God loves all men in the gospel, but that he does not love all men in election; that he wants to save all men according to his revealed will, but does not want to save all men according to his secret will; and that he well-meaningly offers salvation to all, yet he has not determined to give faith to all. Such talk is irrational and anti-intellectual. No one can understand such contradictions. They can only be implicitly accepted, and faith then becomes a blind leap, not a matter of knowing!
This opposition to knowledge and doctrine is also contrary to Scripture. In John 17:3 Jesus defines saving faith as “knowing” God and Jesus Christ whom God sent. This knowledge, Jesus says, is eternal life, not merely trusting, but knowing.
In 2Timothy 1:12 Paul speaks of his own faith as a “persuasion,” but he says that he is persuaded because he first knows. Indeed, it is impossible to be persuaded that Jesus Christ is able to keep us unless we first know that he is the only begotten Son of God, the one come in the flesh who suffered and died on the cross for our sins.
We may not despise knowledge. By itself, knowledge is profitless; there must also be trust. But Scripture makes it clear that knowledge is nevertheless a good thing. In 2Corinthians 4:6-7 “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” is called our treasure (see also Luke 1:77; Ephesians 1:17; Ephesians 4:13; Philippians 3:8; Colossians 2:3; 2Peter 1:2-3). There is no confidence in not knowing.
Faith without knowledge truly is a leap in the dark. But God is not in the dark. He dwells in the light. Neither is our Lord Jesus Christ to be found by a leap into the dark. He is the Light of the world and to believe in him we must come to the light. That light is the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2Corinthians 4:6).

By Rev Ron Hanko, in “Doctrines According to Godliness (Reformed Free Publishing Association).

(James R Hamilton, written December 2020)
Sermon Audio


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