A few years ago, a story started traveling the internet about the quote by Francis Bacon, “knowledge is power.” It is a pretty funny story that still causes me to chuckle every time I hear it. If you’ve never heard it, it goes like this.
When I was young my father said to me: “Knowledge is Power… Francis Bacon.”
I understood it as “Knowledge is power, France is bacon.”
For more than a decade I wondered over the meaning of the second part and what was the surreal linkage between the two. If I said the quote to someone, “Knowledge is power, France is bacon,” they nodded knowingly. Or someone might say, “Knowledge is power” and I’d finish the quote “France is bacon” and they wouldn’t look at me like I’d said something very odd but thoughtfully agree. I did ask a teacher what did “Knowledge is power, France is bacon” meant and got a full 10 minute explanation of the “knowledge is power” bit but nothing on “France is bacon.” When I prompted further explanation by saying “France is bacon?” in a questioning tone I just got a “yes.” At 12 I didn’t have the confidence to press it further. I just accepted it as something I’d never understand.
It wasn’t until years later I saw it written down that the penny dropped.Lard_baron
And even though this a delightfully funny story, there is some truth to be found here. Not just the fact that knowledge is power. Especially knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
But also what happens when we misunderstand something about God.
It can cause confusion. And it can cause us to isolate ourselves from others. They seem to understand. But it is not getting any clearer for us. So there must be something wrong with us.
What is heartening about this little vignette is that the boy in the story doesn’t stop trying to figure out what he was missing for a long time. However, eventually he just accepts it as something he will never understand.
We, too, are at risk of confusion, lack of confidence, and eventually giving up. When we don’t stay in the Word, when we put off quiet time with God, we stray further and further from understanding. The views of the world get clearer and clearer. While God’s view of the world becomes dim.
And this misunderstanding can cause big problems in our lives.
Hosea 4:6 warns what happens to God’s people when they stray from knowledge. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.”
What is this knowledge we are required to have?
The first and most important can be found in Psalm 111:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.”
And again in Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
We are to fear the Lord first. This doesn’t mean that we are to be frightened of Him. (Though, of course, He is the Almighty and His wrath will be fearsome to behold.) But we are to be in awe of Him. We are to recognize who He is (the Infinite God with no limits). And we are to recognize who we are (His creation with only limits). We are to remember our place in the world. And not try to be equal with Him.
Then comes the knowledge of what He has done for us. John 3:16 (can you recite it with me?) “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
This is the key to living out the hope of our salvation.
Our faith. Belief in the Son. Who came to earth, died, and was resurrected for us. He came to pay the price of our sins so that we could be reconciled with the God of all creation.
And many Christians stop there. Either they do not understand the rest of God’s message, what happens after salvation (France is bacon). Or they have given up looking. Or else they think that is enough.
Because there is more required of us after we have been saved. We don’t need it to be saved. (God’s grace is all that is needed. Ephesians 2:8-9) But true salvation works in us the desire to do more.
So what exactly are these good works? What is this lack of knowledge that can destroy us?
First are those things that we learn of through the life of Jesus Christ and His followers. The New Testament is written to teach us of our salvation. But also how to live a saved life.
We are called to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind. And to love our neighbors as ourselves. (Mark 12:30-31)
And in this confusing world, we need to be aware of God’s will and desire for our lives so that we can obey Him. And this means, going directly to the source.
Too often we are told something by a preacher or respected leader that sounds good. So we follow along. But how often do we actually verify that this message is actually in accordance with the Bible? I would venture to guess, not often. I know I didn’t.
When I no longer had a spiritual guide (no pastor, no Christian mentor, no church) I was forced to look for answers directly from the source. And I was astounded at how we have been led astray in this modern world.
But God warned us.
How often did the Bible speak of false prophets or false teachers? There are at least 14 Bible verses that speak of false teachings. Clearly He was aware that we may be led astray. It has happened numerous times to God’s people in both the Old and the New Testaments.
After all, Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44).
Some of the lies will be obvious. (God is a woman. There are more than two genders. Jesus was only a man.)
But he also likes to twist the truth just enough to turn us astray. (God is love. God just wants us to be happy. Jesus was all about peace and love.) While these things are true in essence, they are being used to accept sinful lifestyles. Ignoring the command to rebuke the sinner. (2 Timothy 4:2)
We need to be aware of the world around us. And how it is twisting the Word of God to fit social justice, peace, or any other modern ideal.
So what can we do?
First, stay in the Bible. Read it often. Or listen to it on audiobook. Attend church (whatever way that may be).
And question everything.
I urge you to take everything you hear worth a grain of salt. Do your own research. Use the Bible to discern God’s will in everything. If you are studying the Bible daily, God’s vision for the world we become much clearer than what we see through our sinful eyes.
And lastly, pray. Because we are living in a world that has rejected Jesus as its Savior. And it wants you to see the world as it does.