What is Knowledge?

by Mike Ratliff

8 ἀλλὰ μενοῦνγε καὶ ἡγοῦμαι πάντα ζημίαν εἶναι διὰ τὸ ὑπερέχον τῆς γνώσεως Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ τοῦ κυρίου μου, δι’ ὃν τὰ πάντα ἐζημιώθην, καὶ ἡγοῦμαι σκύβαλα, ἵνα Χριστὸν κερδήσω 9 καὶ εὑρεθῶ ἐν αὐτῷ, μὴ ἔχων ἐμὴν δικαιοσύνην τὴν ἐκ νόμου ἀλλὰ τὴν διὰ πίστεως Χριστοῦ, τὴν ἐκ θεοῦ δικαιοσύνην ἐπὶ τῇ πίστει, 10 τοῦ γνῶναι αὐτὸν καὶ τὴν δύναμιν τῆς ἀναστάσεως αὐτοῦ καὶ [τὴν] κοινωνίαν [τῶν] παθημάτων αὐτοῦ, συμμορφιζόμενος τῷ θανάτῳ αὐτοῦ, 11 εἴ πως καταντήσω εἰς τὴν ἐξανάστασιν τὴν ἐκ νεκρῶν. (Philippians 3:8-11 NA28)

8 But even more so I consider all things to be loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, on account of whom all things I suffered loss and I consider them dung, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having my own righteousness that is of the law, but the righteousness through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based upon faith,  10 to know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings being conformed to his death, 11 that if somehow I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:8-11 a personal translation from the NA28 Greek text)

Speaking from experience, which I am sure most of you can relate to very much, one the most frustrating things for me to bear is to have to be subjected to a teaching or information or even something shared about a situation or another person that I know to be false beyond any doubt and yet those expounding what is not true either will not listen to the truth or are beyond the reach of my revealing the truth to them. It is an amazing thing to witness those sure in what they perceive to be the light of a truth that really is darkness. Those mired in postmodernism may at this moment be wanting to scream at me that “truth is relative,” however that stance is illogical and the orthodox Christian doctrinal stance says that God’s truth is revealed to us in his Word and his truth is immutable, eternal and authoritative. This being so, and since believers should seek to be Orthodox Christians who reveal their authenticity through their Orthopraxy as they abide in Christ, through this they must come to a true knowledge of their Saviour. In fact, genuine Christians have that hunger born of the Spirit as Paul declared in the passage above that to “know him” was worth losing all things that this world has to offer. I submit that in our time there are many declaring that they have attained this knowledge, but what they proclaim reveals that they are liars because what they are saying our Saviour is like or what he is saying the Church is to be about is not Biblical. We know they are liars and are, therefore, false teachers or wolves in sheep’s clothing, because we compare their teaching with the straight line of God’s Word, our Orthodoxy and this reveals that what they are saying is Orthodoxy is, instead heterodoxy, that is, another truth, therefore, a lie. 

In the passage I placed at the top of this post I translated a Greek word in v8, “γνώσεως” as “knowledge” and another word, “γνῶναι” in v10 as “to know.” The first instance is the noun  γνώσεως or “gnōseōs,” which means “knowledge.” It is genitive case of γνῶσις, or “gnosis.” What Paul is saying in v8 is that because of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, that is, because he knows from what he was saved and he knows his eternal destiny and he knows that that was all because of what Christ has done and because of that knowledge and because of what Christ has been doing with him since then, he counts everything else as dung compared to that. Why? It is so that he may gain Christ. That is, he is denying self and following his Lord. It’s not about him, but about Christ and his glory.

In v10 we have the words “to know” which translates the verb γνῶναι or “gnōnai,” the Genitive, Singular case of γινώσκω or “ginōskō”, “know, learn, be familiar with, understand, acknowledge.” Those who claim to know Jesus Christ, but then teach from that “knowledge” what is not Biblical do not know him. They do not know our Lord personally as they claim. We can know someone historically or contemporaneously or contractually, but none of those mean we know that person personally.

When we know a person as Paul deeply desired to know his Lord and as we also should deeply desire then we come to know him not only by name, but also by nature. We know their mind, ways of thinking, feelings, reactions, dispositions, temperament, habits, and idiosyncrasies. This is how we should desire to know our Lord just as Paul did. How do we accomplish this?

We come to know our Lord through his Word. We must more and more familiarize ourselves with him photographically in the Gospels. It is in the pages of the Gospels that we see the ‘pen-photography’ of those writers. It is there that we see the real Jesus, the God of the universe, living and moving before us. As we read, we see his thoughts, feelings, actions, attitudes, goals, values, compassions, and dealings with men.

We also get to know the Lord doctrinally in the New Testament epistles. The epistles contain the direct instruction to the church and Christians on how to live and minister based upon who Jesus was and what he did in the Gospels. It is impossible for Christians to grow, mature, and be strong without the doctrinal emphasis of the epistles. How do we get this? It is primarily from doctrinal preaching, which is why we must come out of those churches that squelch the truth and attempt to put the light of the Word under a basket while preaching or teaching another gospel and another Jesus.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Greek Bible text from: Novum Testamentum Graece, 28th revised edition, Edited by Barbara Aland and others, © 2012 Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart.

21 thoughts on “What is Knowledge?

  1. Dear Mike,

    I hesitate to share this but since I have been visiting your ministry for 6 years now I think you can attest to the fact that I desire to lift high the Cross of Christ to the praise and Glory of God.

    Several years ago I was deeply desiring “knowledge” and honestly it was in the context of seeking Christ and searching the Scriptures, but knowing my fallen sin nature I think it took on more of a fleshly want of knowledge and wisdom in a “super-spiritual” distorted way. Long story short what started out in sincerity morphed into more than I bargained for in the quest for gaining knowledge. This is how subtely the Evil One works. My problem was not that I wasn’t EARNESTLY seeking the Lord, but my desire turned from the simplicity of Christ crucified to the pursuit of hidden mysteries.

    There are no hidden mysteries in the Bible. Paul reveals in Ephesians 3 the only mystery in times past has now been revealed in Christ. “To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus or Lord…”

    Any time we are not satisified and say in our hearts, “the knowledge of Christ crucified for the remission of our sins and our eternal undeserved salvation is not enough” is the day we have decided that faith in Christ alone is not sufficient and that we must attain something more… If we are not careful a cunning deceiver will be more than happy to supply us with “more”.

    Kept only by His Grace, charisse

  2. Thanks for sharing that Charisse. I have been through that too. However, God intervened and drew me back and in my repentance this ministry began to bear fruit. Notice, it does not bear fruit because of what I know or what I do, but because of God’s Truth and by His grace it is fed to those who seek it and love it because they love and want to know their Lord for His sake. I agree with Paul, all else must be viewed as dung for the sake of knowing him this way.

  3. YES!!! WE gain true Knowledge-Jesus Christ -knowing HIM.

    The knowledge that these false teachers purport as knowledge is always subjective-becoming smarter or wiser or gaining a large amount of truths here and there “evolving”. WE know that true knowledge is found in Jesus Christ-Col.2:3-. We know that gaining CHRIST is objective truth and that God’s word is our standard. When we think we know something we resolve to know NOTHING but Christ and HIM crucified”– When I think I’ve become wise and know something, I repent knowing that the ONLY time I truly know anything is when I am humbled by God in my WEAKNESS to know JESUS and that can never end.

    Mike I find myself reading your articles and they are choc full of truth. Most of the time I cannot articulate myself. Thank you so much for serving Christ in your life not just in words with your articles but by all the examples you give us in how you are living for Christ in your life the object of your faith

  4. Speaking of Knowledge, I now have “knowledge “ of another new big word – orthopraxy – to go along with arminianism, pelegianism, and a few others since first coming to your site 2 or so years ago so there are a lot of things new to me, a lot of new “knowledge.”
    I really appreciate your hard work in making the effort to explain the scriptures. I also have a difficult time putting words to my thoughts and after checking what I have written, which seems correct at the time but view it later, I have missed the mark. (I guess you’ll just have to be patient with me).
    Back to “knowledge” – I am trying to balance my reading (slowly and methodically rather than flying through it in a year) of God’s word between the old testament, for history and examples of God’s workings, the epistles, as a guide to orthopraxy (have I got that right?) and the gospels to reveal Jesus Christ. That’s too simplified but generally the way I see the bible. I am thinking right now of Jesus’ words wherein He says “you search the scriptures wherein you think you have eternal life and they testify of me, but you are not willing to come to me that you may have life.” John 5:39-40. It seems to me that this whole Christian life begins with Christ, is to be wrapped up in Christ and ends with him.
    If anyone had “knowledge” it was the apostle Paul, the ex-Pharisee who rejected all his many years of learning the Pharisaical ways, for the only true knowledge, the knowledge of Christ. As Paul stood against the evil men and teachings of his time so you (and others) stand against the snares of the evil one and his minions, who would take us (those born of the Holy Spirit into the Kingdom of God) captive.
    So thank you and continue the good fight. It is a big encouragement to me to read your words of wisdom. Glory to God in the highest!

  5. Dear Mike,

    Amen! And that is why there are only a handful of sites that truly and humbly proclaim the unadultered Word of God. I praise the Lord for the feeding of the sheep!

    Blessings to you and your ministry! charisse

  6. Spot on target, my brother. How sad so many churches fail to be the pillar and guardian of God’s Truth. Yet He will always preserve His remnant and we must never grow weary of well doing. Let us all the more, as the Day of Judgment draws near, be humble and bold – proclaiming Christ alone for the salvation of sinners!

  7. Where should an orthodox Christian who lives in an isolated town full of neo-evangelical, seeker sensitive, reformed-in-name only “churches” worship each Sabbath day? Clearly scripture tells us to come out of these false places of “worship” where god is all “love” and no wrath, ie. an idol, where we are asked to “transform our culture for King Jesus”, where the S word (sin) and the R word (repentance) are never mentioned. Tertiary issues I recognize and could ignor if the actual God of scripture was proclaimed, if Scripture was preached as intended, all about Christ, and not ourselves. Not to be found in this place….. Is it sinful to remain apart from such “churches?” Or is it an even bigger sin to participate in their “faith communities,” and “do church” in these false “churches” led by wolves?

  8. Machen Fan, I lived exactly what you described for the last several years where I moved from. I prayed about it continually and my wife and I would try to give each church we visited a chance, but God drove us out each time. We knew this in that we either could not bear the churchianty going on or the focus on things that had nothing to do with the Gospel or with how shallow everything was, et cetra. What do you do? We moved to another state to another city.

  9. I think what Mike relayed about his own experience is vital – visit local churches and see and seek wisdom from God; do not rely on your presupposition about “those people”. God has His remnant, often in places we do not suspect.

  10. ‘Test the spirits to see that they are of God.” Certainly a forgotten scripture in this age.

    Michael, excellent as usual is the Work He does through you.

    @ Machen Fan, I have been, with my family, at His feet like Mary, and no longer concerned by the many things, like Martha for 6 plus years now. we too live in a contemporary emergent hell, with various other nominal fellowships sailing toward their mother, even harlot Rome.
    We got tired of the fight against heresy leading to apostasy being spoonfed the blind by the blind guides. Thus we took the Lord at His Word and allowed the Holy Spirit to lead us into all Truth by His Word in context. He never fails us, and He alone puts you into His Ekklesia which the gates of hell cannot prevail against

    Unfortunately, Mike has seen what many have taken me to task for over these many years, that nearly all the jesus franchises want nothing to do with biblical Christianity. The man has had to return to a prior city insearch of a fellowship he once knew. For he and his wife’s sake I hope it is still there. None of the fellowships from Revelation 2 and 3 remain either. Though the church growth model from cancerous Laodicea seems to have mmetastacised quite well.
    Know this. It is His fellowship, He is building it, He put you in it, it is all living stones, He is the corner Stone, the Apostles are the foundation stones, and we who are in Him are the fellowship of living stones. Paul often fellowshipped with and by letters to those afar off. So can we, and do so here. Error and her children get corrected in this fellowship quickly, and conform to the Truth or leave for broader roads. Seek Him and His will always, and He will add to you those He is adding to His Ekklesia daily, regardless of distance and location. Paul spent about 3 years under Him getting Babylon out of Him, the traditions out of Him before he was even useable by Him. It might take us a while longer. In the interim, this here is a friendly fellowship, and a tightly run ship that is not sailing at breakneck speed back to Rome, like her daughters are!
    Your brother, Mickey

  11. Thank you everyone for your comments. I did not mean to imply that it ever has been about the unfortunate people hearing a false Gospel in the “churches” in my area. The folks sitting beside one in the pew, dress styles for worship, the actual building one worships in, to some extent the music choice or style of preaching (expository over topical), even the Scripture translation used is immaterial, though if the shepherd uses The Message, one might want to head for the door. Even minor tertiary doctrinal differences MIGHT be overlooked. But like the Bereans, who listened to the apostle Paul and compared what he said with Scripture, the shepherd speaking should be able to back up his points with scripture passages. Above all, the Gospel Jesus and Paul preached is repentance for the forgiveness of our sins found only in Christ Jesus, to appease the just anger of a Holy God, not a gospel of “loving our community,” doing justice, making the world a better place, or making our lives “work.” The god referred to should at least resemble the God of Scripture, not some always loving, always longing “god with a man-shaped hole in his heart”. A gospel devoid of repentance, a gospel that does not even mention one’s sins, does not result in salvation for its listeners. And this is very sad for those sitting in the pews on Sunday morning.

  12. True! Or they could be sitting under the delusion of their own choice, in which case the blind leader of the blind becomes Gods judgement upon them!

    Yes there are dear saints still sitting there, the question quickly becomes WHY?

    Yes there are folks coming to repentance under these circumstances, but in spite of what is being taught.

  13. …And thank you to Manfred for realizing and commenting upon the fact that, “God has His remnant, often in places we do not suspect.”
    God does have His remnant in places not suspected, like we who are outside the camp, and in the Lord’s Bethany!
    …And he still has the best Avitar on the web, that Manfred guy! (perhaps I covet? :))

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