The Foundation of Knowledge

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; but the foolish despise wisdom and instruction (Proverbs 1:7).

The LORD by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens (Proverbs 3:19).

There was a time in the past when, on the whole, a defense for the idea that a Higher Power/a greater Intelligence/a supernatural Creative Being was behind the creation of the heavens and earth and their constitution was not necessary. There would not be much disagreement about the premise even though the particular nature of such a Being was disputed.

But such a defense is necessary today. It has become quite popular and stylish in many circles to entirely reject the notion of a Higher Power. Development of new scientific models and theories have been greatly over-extended and pressed into the cause of denying the supernatural. More than ever before, some humans think that they can explain away the way things are in an entirely “natural” way.

But can they really? Sure, they can create a model where, in theory, the spark of life began and developed through mutation and natural selection. In such a view human beings chance upon things called consciousness and reason. They start pondering questions of existence and the nature of things. In such a view, sadly for humanity, there is really nothing to ponder. There is no real “reason” for reason, no greater consciousness. Their mental development is an interesting evolutionary accident that has no meaning whatsoever, because meaning really does not exist.

Does that make any sense? Not really. Furthermore, it leaves very important and fundamental questions unanswered. Too many who protest the realm of the supernatural still use the grounding and foundations that come with belief in a Higher, Intelligent Power.

Think about it for a moment. If there is no God who created all things by wisdom, how can there be anything abstract? Some philosophers today are trying to come up with a system of ethics without a religious/supernatural foundation, but they will inevitably fail in so doing, because if there is no greater structure in existence– no meaning or Source of meaning– who is to say what is right or wrong? What are “right” and “wrong” anyway if there is no sense of justice in the cosmos, for there is no conscious Power out there? How can we expect anything to be invested with any meaning if there is no greater Consciousness to uphold the idea of meaning, or idea at all? Why should we invest science and reason with trust and confidence if, in reality, there is no greater Power or form of organization out there? If there is no Source of reason, how can anything really be “reasonable”?

Our society’s spiral into relativism suddenly becomes quite explainable. If there is no God there is no Power out there to define anything. In such a circumstance, anything goes. This is true anarchy and true chaos, for there is no Power to order anything. “Right” and “wrong” are whatever you want to define as “right” and “wrong.” What is “reasonable” is what people decide to agree upon is “reasonable.” Might– however expressed– makes right. Despair, depression, and frustration are not far behind. We were not made to live in a meaningless world where anything goes.

This is all folly. We can know for certain that there is a greater Power than ourselves, the God who is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe (Genesis 1:1-2:3, Hebrews 1:3). There is “right” and “wrong” because He has established His holy standard of justice in the cosmos (Isaiah 30:18, 42:4). He is the God who made man in His image (Genesis 1:26-27)– spirit (John 4:24) and consciousness, therefore, come from Him. He has created the universe in such a way so as to be understood by His creation (Romans 1:19-20); this is not a mark of the lack of a God, but in fact the hallmark of God, for if there were no God, why would we expect anything in the universe to be comprehensible at all?

These were things confessed by those of old who sought greater knowledge of the way the physical universe works. It has been forgotten by too many today, not because it has been falsified, but because of the rebelliousness of the heart and the arrogance of the mind of man. Those who are truly wise understand that the reverence of God– confession of the Higher Power and submission to Him– is the beginning of knowledge, and that everything makes sense because God made it so as to make sense.

Let us not be deceived by man’s foolishness. There is a Creator God who has revealed Himself through Jesus His Son and we do well to learn of Him and seek His will (John 1:18, Galatians 2:20). Let us be firm in our confidence in the existence of God and conduct ourselves appropriately!

Ethan R. Longhenry

Work and Effort

For what hath a man of all his labor, and of the striving of his heart, wherein he laboreth under the sun? For all his days are but sorrows, and his travail is grief; yea, even in the night his heart taketh no rest. This also is vanity. There is nothing better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and make his soul enjoy good in his labor. This also I saw, that it is from the hand of God (Ecclesiastes 2:22-24).

For better or worse, man was made to work (Genesis 2:15). The world is full of the evidence of the “business” of mankind, and the work cycle will continue until the Lord returns.

It is within the heart of man to work. Not working– and not wanting to work– is an aberration (1 Timothy 5:8, 2 Thessalonians 3:10). Work provides people with a level of purpose and meaning along with the paycheck to pay for life’s necessities.

Unfortunately, too many labor under many false pretenses about human effort. From a young age we are told that we can make something of ourselves and that we should find work that empowers us or helps us find meaning. We should try to find some job with lasting value. Every employer tries to find some way to make the effort of their employees fit these bills.

The difficulty is, as the Preacher indicates, that human effort is ultimately vain. Things that people make break or perish. Accumulated wealth goes to children or others. You can work at a job for years, retire, and eventually be forgotten. In the end, it will all burn up (2 Peter 3:9-10).

Meanwhile, how many find themselves at 25 or 35 in the job of their dreams as a young child? Not many. Instead, cold, hard reality has set in, and how many suffer great distress and discouragement because of broken promises or failed dreams?

This is why the Preacher’s message, while disconcerting, needs to be heard. We are not promised that our work will be ultimately meaningful. Instead, we must find value in our work. We must find some way to enjoy what we do. We spend far too much of our time and effort in our short lives at work to do otherwise!

We must also realize that work is the means to an end, and is not the end all and be all of existence. Serving God serves that purpose (Galatians 2:20, Ephesians 2:1-10, Titus 3:3-8). We must find enjoyment in work and enjoyment in the rest of life. Does this mean that we might have to change jobs? Perhaps. But most times it has less to do with the job and more to do with our perspective on the job. Let us lay aside our pretensions about our effort, find value in our effort, and do all things to the glory of God!

Ethan R. Longhenry