I have been considering this one for a while, so I thought I would share it with you all. For most Christians, it seems that the pinnacle of their belief centers around the concept of faith; having faith, claiming things by faith, asking for more faith, losing faith, gaining faith, acting on faith, or believing things on faith.
However, in the early church they would have laughed at such a concept; for to them faith was seen as just the preliminary step that the immature took on their way towards real maturity — or knowing. The word for this knowing was gnosis.
The desired end result of faith was to move into this knowing, not to simply have faith in-and-of itself.
I am sure that the early founders would find it even more humorous that today people take great pride in who can blindly believe the greatest number of things without ever knowing them or experiencing them to be true; yet we regard these people and refer to them as our Giants of the Faith.
Real knowing or gnosis is the real life application, as in working knowledge, of the item that was at first taken on faith. So the desired sequence of events should be broken down like this:
Knowledge (not gnosis) > Faith > Knowing (gnosis)
Just so there is no confusion, let us explain the difference between knowledge and knowing (gnosis). It is the difference between knowing something as purely factual information, or on here-say, and having the revelation of experiencing this knowledge in real life. Kind of like knowing the bible says you can raise the dead verses actually going out and raising one from the dead. You can have knowledge, and have all the faith you want, but until you do it — it’s dead; literally in this case.
I like to look at it in terms of our knowledge of outer space. I know it is there, I read books on it, had lessons in class, and I have the general idea as to what it may be like up there; I have knowledge on weightlessness, and understand it to the best of my abilities. This is knowledge.
An astronaut however has gnosis. He (or she) was in outer space, and was weightless. They know the thing better than you or I ever could. This is the working knowledge of gnosis. You can read all the textbooks or watch all the sci-fi you want, but you will never know weightlessness or space travel as they know it.
When the bible states that “faith without works is dead” it does not mean that your religion means very little unless you do good deeds (although some more good deeds would be greatly appreciated); it means that faith without coming into the fruition of works, gnosis, a working knowledge is nothing, dead, or useless.
Say a person comes to know the Law in the bible and they are convicted on their errors; here is the desired breakdown of that and the resulting sequence of events:
- Person comes into knowledge of the Law; thinks “I should not be doing ______”.
- Person comes to the knowledge that through Christ “I do not have to do ______”.
- Person does not feel like they can do it, nor have they experienced gnosis; so they act on faith.
- Person comes into knowing they are set free, and experience the working knowledge of being healed of this.
Churches these days stop at number 3 — they stop at walking in faith; they will walk in this faith at times for the rest of their lives, and will still struggle with the same problems over and over; never seeing any real results or freedom.
So the next time you are made to feel like you are less of a person than someone of faith for asking for some simple proof (or working knowledge) — don’t. Realize that faith was only meant to be a baby step to get people through into the adulthood of actual works. In any other aspect in life if one were to stay that long in the baby stage, and never reach maturity we would call it retardation; so it is nothing to brag about.
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