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Knowledge vs. Communion

We’ve heard many people (pastors and laypeople) drawing a distinction between knowledge of God (i.e., doctrine, theology, etc.), and personal intimacy (i.e. communion) with God.

They’ll say: What’s the goal (or what’s more important) - knowledge about God, or fellowship with God?

Essentially, they’re making a distinction between facts and experience.

But this is a really bad distinction, and simply a false dichotomy.

Random thoughts to throw out:

You can’t meditate or commune on what you don’t know.

God didn’t reveal himself through a personal experience, but through revelation.

A lot of this comes from the contemplative movement.

Catholic mystics -- Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, etc.

The devotional movement of quiet times with Jesus.

It is an extremely popular movement right now in the Evangelical church.

It’s further catalyzed by a lot of modern forms of so-called worship music (i.e., Bethel Music, Jesus Culture, Hillsong, etc.), where personal experience is lusted after. 

It’s sappy romanticism designed to fabricate a sense of closeness.

It aims to alter the mind and bring a person to a different plane of experiential existence.

This is Eastern mysticism plane and simple-- It’s all an attempt to tap into the deity and live life in a more intimate, experiential way with God.

The problem is it’s not biblical.

These aren’t biblical categories, nor realities in which any of the biblical figures (or writers) walked in.

This approach also burdens people with a lot of  unnecessary guilt, because it’s an approach that measures maturity in Christ by a subjective sense of closeness.

So if you’ve not prayed (or done devo’s) for the day, you’re now on the outs with God. So you have to work hard to get back in close. But this is not biblical. It’s based on personal experience, where your own subjective emotions are dictating your relationship/position with Christ.

Ultimately, This diminishes the objective work of the cross, and functionally ignores the power of what God did to bring you to a truly right relation with Him.

Further, if a proper knowledge of God is unnecessary then why the details on how to approach God in temple worship.  Good way to die, i.e. Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire not commanded.

So often we end up hearing that God “showed me” or “told me.”  But when compared to clear teaching of WOG it falls short.

-- Will not truly sustain in the midst of trials.  i.e. 1 Peter 1 “..... in this you rejoice….”

-- Ignores clear commands such as being a doer and not merely a hearer.

-- An improper grasp of what “worship” means.  Too often a feeling or sense of “closeness.”

Proof texts:

Colossians 1:9-14

Paul doesn’t talk in experiential (or emotive) categories, but moral categories.

If we’re going to use the language of “communion,” it should be understood as obedience.

The closest Paul gets to communion with God language, is when He uses the phrase “in Christ,” which isn’t an experiential reality, but an objective reality.

You exist in a sphere dominated by the virtues and character of Christ.

Your life becomes inhabited by his standard of what life is.

But the whole point of the passage is to say that knowledge necessarily presupposes a proper “walk” before God. Without a right knowledge, you won’t walk in a right relation to Christ.

Philippians 1

1 Corinthians 8

The very first thing to do is not communion but to add knowledge.  If this is skipped then everything that follows falls on its face.

An entire psalm devoted the power and purpose of WOG (119)

vs 9.

vss 23-24

vs 27

John 8:30 with 31

The better you know God as revealed in WOG the better you will live under His gaze.  You will know how and why you do things. You will walk in a manner consistent with your position in Christ.  You will pray in accordance to His will and therefore have confidence in the prayer. You will be stable and not tossed back and forth.

So knowledge vs. communion (e.g., communion, fellowship) is a false dichotomy.

The Bible doesn’t speak about a relationship with Jesus in terms of intimate communion, but our relationship is defined objectively by truth.

The goal isn’t intimacy, but maturity-- this is what brings pleasure to the Father. We are to walk in a manner worthy of our calling, which is the clear burden of Christ Himself.

So knowledge is a necessary prerequisite, but a prerequisite (not to personal, subjective communion), but maturity.

We need to abandon this notion of a mystical (experiential) relationship with Jesus. 

There’s absolutely nothing biblical about it.

It creates a lot of untrue guilt, and distracts from the true desire of Christ-- which is maturity in Him.


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