Let us not become foolish and think that a mere gain of intellectual knowledge or an assent to factual truths about God is enough to qualify us or make us fit for life in the kingdom of God. God requires more than head knowledge, but rather He looks upon the heart. The men on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24 were well aware of all the facts about Jesus – the fact that He was a prophet and even more – the hope of Israel. They even knew details about His resurrection.
But Jesus’ rebuke was firm and to the point. “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe.” These men knew the truth, but their hearts were not engaged with it. They had seen and heard the Word, the One who was with God and the One who was God. Yet having met him, they were still lacking the very thing that God requires – simple faith.
There should be no misunderstanding of the primary lesson here. There is everything to be gained through the acquisition of truth whereby the mind is filled with the knowledge of God. Our minds must firmly be fixed on things above. Yet truth that is not believed and obeyed is meaningless. It is knowledge that simply puffs up, making us all the more accountable, condemned, and sentenced to judgment. We may think we can call Him “Lord,” but in the end we are just goats that never knew Him.
The Bible firmly establishes the truth that to know God is to experience Him, to believe Him, to submit and surrender to Him, to obey Him. This is such that the Apostle Paul even cried for a deeper walk with God when he exclaimed in his letter to Philippi, “I want to know Christ.” Here a man well reasoned and seasoned in the Law of God, first among his peers in education and training, and an Apostle with access to direct revelation, still pleads with an unquenchable thirst to simply “know” God. This was his heart cry, to be sure – not his head cry.
Therefore, let us not abandon academic pursuit, for this is how the Spirit transforms our minds and grants us insight into the will of God (Romans 12). Yet there is more to be gained in the kingdom than facts. To be sure, the essence of the kingdom is a reigning God in a surrendered and obedient heart. It is the cultivation of the life of God in a person’s soul, his character, and subsequent actions. It is a fountain overflowing. It is a life producing fruit that will last – a natural spring that yields that which is pure. And this is the balance we must keep, where head and heart work together, empowered and moved by the Spirit.
I would rather be a pauper working in the vineyard of my God where the fruit yields a rich harvest than a prince at a table of intellectual eggheads who feel very important that they know what epistemology or progressive dispensationalism means. Yet I do not toss the baby out with the bathwater. A growing Christian should know the truths of progressive dispensationalism – and then live out their place in the story. This is the heart of what it means to know truth – to know it, believe it, and live it out joyfully. This is the life that is truly life. May it be so. Amen.