I’ve often heard that knowledge is power. In many respects, that is indeed the case. I am experiencing that on a day-to-day basis as I continue to learn more and more about computers, servers and networking.
But knowledge can also be treasure.
Not all knowledge is treasure. For example, I have a lot of knowledge about baseball. I can dialog with fellow baseball fans about which player is the greatest all-time per position and support my case. However, knowing these facts is neither life-changing or particularly valuable. The same cannot be said regarding my knowledge of Christ.
Lately I have been meditating upon one of my favorite chapters in the New Testament–2 Corinthians 4. This is the passage where the Apostle Paul writes,
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves,” (2 Cor. 4:7; New American Standard, Updated).
Several questions are raised by this verse. What are the “earthen vessels” mentioned by Paul? What does the Apostle mean by “the surpassing greatness of the power”? And, why is it important that it be evident that this power is from God “and not from ourselves”?
The first question begging to be answered, though, is: What “treasure”? Surely the answer is related to a specific knowledge due to what I have written above. In fact, I actually played my card. Paul is indeed speaking of the knowledge of Christ.
“For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6).
There is no better knowledge! I would know. I was once without it. I grew up in a spiritual wasteland. There wasn’t a single evangelical witness where I was raised in Wisconsin. In the small town in which I lived, there was a Catholic and Lutheran church, but I did not know a single individual who believed enough to want to share that information. I personally knew quite a few people who regularly attended services, but not a single one felt compelled to present the facts to me about my need for a savior and the provision of the Savior, Jesus Christ. If they possessed the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ, they did not consider its worth. They did not consider it a treasure. That is usually an indication of an inauthentic experience with God; the knowing about God, not the knowing of God.
The knowledge of God in the face of Christ is only a truly a treasure when it produces both inward and outward change. That’s why Paul mentioned “earthly vessels” (humanity) and “the surpassing greatness of the power” (the gospel at work within us). And isn’t that when we actually recognize the fact that this knowledge is something valuable. We learn the truth about Christ. We believe the truth about Christ and then we begin to change from the inside out. We starting looking like the Truth. We start speaking the truth. We share the knowledge.
That’s one of the reasons I created this blog. It is an outlet for me to pass along my insights from life and–more importantly–God’s Word. If you possess the knowledge of God in the face of Christ, what is your outlet? How are you sharing the knowledge? If you have come to the place of understanding today that you simply know about Christ, but do not know Christ, I commend to you the practice of prayer. Talk with God. Be honest. He is truth and He loves to reveal truth.
“Ye are fond of contention, brethren, and full of zeal about things which do not pertain to salvation.”
Those are the words of Bishop Clement to the church in Corinth (45:1). Some things never change. The church in Corinth struggled to such an extent that the Apostle Paul wrote several lengthy letters to them and–several years later–the senior pastor of the church in Rome felt the need to write as well.
Earle E. Cairns wrote, “About the year 95 a serious disturbance occurred in the church at Corinth. A little later Clement, the leading elder in the church at Rome, wrote his first epistle to the Corinithian church to urge the Christians who were in revolt against the elders to end their disturbance and to be in subjection to these elders…” (Christianity Through the Centuries, p.73).
I trust you have read the New Testament books 1 & 2 Corinthians. Each is filled with personal information about Paul and material specific to the situation in the troubled congregation. Each epistle also contains great truths, encouragements and exhortations. The same is true of 1 Clement. I doubt you have read this particular epistle. Unless you have been assigned the read 1 Clement by a history teacher or seminary professor, you will most likely never read the fifty-nine brief chapters. However, I recently did so and thought I would share some of which stood out to me.
I hope you are encouraged by these words by a man of God.
“Content with the provision which God had made for you, and carefully attending to His words, you were inwardly filled with His doctrine…” (2:2).
“So let us give up vain and fruitless cares, and approach to the glorious and venerable rule of our holy calling. Let us attend to what is good, pleasing, and acceptable in the sight of Him who formed us. Let us look steadfastly to the blood of Christ, and see how precious that blood is to God, which, having been shed of our savlavation, ahs set the greace of repentance before the whole world” (7:3-5).
“So let us yield obedience to His excellent and glorious will; and imploring His mercy and loving-kindness, while we forsake all fruitless labours, and strife, and envy, which leads to death, let us turn and have recourse to His compassions” (9:1).
“He does good to all, but most abundantly to us who have fled for refuge to His complassions through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom be glory and majesty ofr ever and ever. Amen” (20:
“The all-merciful and beneficent Father has bowels [of compassions] towards those who fear Him, and kindly and lovingly bestows His favours upon those who come to Him with a simple mind” (23:1).
“What shall we do, then, brethren? Shall we become slothful in well-doing, and cease from the practice of love? God forbid that any such course should be followed by us! But rather let us hasten with all energy and readiness of mind to perform every good work. For the Creator and Lord of all Himself rejoices in His works” (33:1-3).
“Let him who has love in Christ keep the commandments of Christ” (49:1).
“May God, who sees all things, and who is the Ruler of all spirits and the Lord of all flesh–who chose our Lord Jesus Christ and us through Him to be a peculiar people–grant to every soul that calls upon His glorious and holy Name, faith, fear, peace, patience, long-suffering, self-control, purity, and sobriety, to the well-pleasing of His Name, through our High Priest and Protector, Jesus Christ, by whom be to Him glory, and majesty, and power, and honour, both now and for evermore. Amen (58).