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Grace Notes

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A PERSON OF KNOWLEDGE
by Philip Owen

 

Godliness is little talked about today—and less valued. Most of us would probably be hard pressed to name more than a handful of individuals we have known that we might describe as godly. But godliness ought to be important to us because it is important to God and when supplemented with contentment comes with the assurance that the possessor has acquired “great gain” (I Tim. 6:6). The English Puritan Thomas Watson (d. 1686) gave us twenty-four biblical characteristics of a godly person. Over the next several weeks, we will examine some of these (not in any particular order because they are all of a piece). 
 
            Watson observed that a godly person is a person of knowledge. Knowledge is not inconsequential and its acquisition needs to be stressed, particularly in this age of emotions and experience, when feelings seem to trump everything else. While it is true that faith is the one essential for salvation, it is impossible to believe in someone about whom we know nothing (see Rom. 10:13, 14). Faith is always and only a response to some truth revealed by God (today, found only in His inspired Word). At the very minimum, faith takes hold of the knowledge of Christ as Savior. Hence, there is an essential link between faith and knowledge. But true godliness manifests itself in both a desire for and an acquisition of knowledge as the Word of God demonstrates. We will mention only four examples of what a godly person knows.
 
            He knows the Lord. “That I may know him” (Phil. 3:10). This is the prayer of Paul—not for salvation, but for a full and complete knowledge of his Savior. The godly person knows the Lord—he searches out what Scripture reveals about Him, and he comes to know Him by personal experience as the One who walks and talks with him. He desires to commune in the very Presence of his Lord.
 
            He knows the truth. Speaking to some of his followers, the Lord declared that “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31, 32). A godly person, may or may not know liturgy, ritual, and a host of other things. But he will know the Bible. There can be no godliness apart from a deep, reverent, believing, obedient knowledge of God’s truth. All that a godly person needs may be found in the Word of God: sanctifying, cleansing, strengthening, guidance, encouragement, rebuke, wisdom . . . .
 
            He knows the Scriptural doctrines and practices of the church. Paul wrote his first letter to Timothy so that (he tells Timothy) “thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God” (3:15). God reserves the right to determine what is good and fitting in His “household” (rather than “house”). We are not free to preach and teach whatever we like or do whatever the majority desires. Our doctrine and conduct are governed by the truths in the Word of God, which the godly man knows.
 

            He knows how to control his own body. In the midst of a discussion regarding sexual sins, Paul tells the Thessalonians that the will of God is “That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour” (4:4). A godly person is not driven by impulse or desire but is governed by the Word of God and yields himself to the direction of the indwelling Spirit. He understands what it is to be set apart for God and to live in a fashion that honors his Savior and Lord. God puts a premium on holy knowledge.          

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