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

Walking By Faith

For we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).

We walk by faith, not by sight. This verse is justly famous, used plentifully in sermons and articles and in conversation. The statement gets right to the heart of the distinction between the life of the believer and the life of someone in the world.

Yet, in context, it is an aside explanation. Paul has been talking about the resurrection and the desire believers have to be fully clothed and in the presence of God (2 Corinthians 4:16-5:4). We are to be of good courage despite being absent in the Lord while home in the body, even though we are willing to be absent from the body and at home with the Lord (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:6-8). We walk by faith because we are absent from the Lord.

We recognize that Paul is not trying to say that we literally walk by faith and not by sight. Christians should watch where they are going just as much as everyone else, and need their maps and GPS to know where they are going like others do. Paul’s concern is based in one’s perception of life and where they place their trust. Do they trust in God, that is, to walk by faith, or do they trust in appearances, that is, to walk by sight (Greek eidos, better understood in terms of appearance or form; cf. Luke 9:29, 1 Thessalonians 5:22). Where is our trust really founded?

It is good for us to consider the depth of the power of this verse and the idea behind it. It seems almost customary in our reason-worshiping society to minimize faith and maximize what can be “proven.” We try to make the case that believing in God is eminently reasonable. We try to make the “leap of faith” to be as small as we can.

That may have some value when presenting the message of the Gospel to the world. It is true that believing in God and His work as revealed in Jesus the Christ and in Scripture can be defended by reasonable and rational argumentation (cf. 1 Peter 3:15), but tension remains between reason and faith. In the end, we cannot “prove” God’s existence, the resurrection of Jesus, or any such thing according to standards of empirical science. Even the attempt would be sorely misguided! We walk by faith, and there should be no shame in that.

It does not really take a lot of faith to believe in something that goes along with your way of thinking. It really does not even take a lot of faith to believe in God when things are going well and you believe that you are blessed. It is in the midst of trial and difficulty, be it through physical, mental, or emotional distress, or persecution, or some other such thing, that we demonstrate where we have placed our trust.

It may be true that by all appearances there is no God, there is nothing but suffering and misery, and life is pointless. It is in those times that we must remember that we are to walk by faith, not by appearance.

It may be true that by all appearances the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer. It is in those times that we must remember that we are to walk by faith, not by appearances.

It is entirely true that by all appearances Christians are old-fashioned, believing in a God and miracles and all kinds of things by faith without much physical evidence at all. And that is right, for we do not walk according to appearances, but by faith.

We must trust that if we love God and do the right thing, all things will work out for good (Romans 8:28).

We must trust that if we suffer for doing good, we are blessed, for we are following in the Master’s footsteps (1 Peter 2:19-25).

We must trust that the God who was willing to suffer the loss of His Son is willing to give us all things (Romans 8:32).

It is easy to say that we walk by faith, but it is something entirely different to actually walk by faith. It is always easier to trust in appearances– to place our trust in our own skills, our own ideas, our own attitudes, our own perspectives. We know that Jeremiah says that it is not within us to direct our own steps (Jeremiah 10:23), and yet what do we do in good times and bad? Do we truly depend on God and trust in His ways or do we first try to accomplish whatever we seek to accomplish by our own strengths and only then turn to God when all else fails? Do we seek to persuade men based on men’s standards or do we proclaim only Christ and Him crucified (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:2)?

Appearance always gives reason for doubt, apprehension, fear, misgivings, and excuses. Faith trusts, emboldens, and, ultimately, liberates. Where will we place our trust? Let us truly walk by faith and serve the Risen Lord!

Ethan R. Longhenry