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A Godly Man is a Man of Knowledge

June 18, 2011

The first characteristic of a godly man, according to Thomas Watson, is that he is a man of knowledge.  At first this might seem like Watson is saying that a godly man must primarily be theologically astute.  While theological knowledge is implied here, it definitely does not encompass the whole of saving knowledge because anyone can be theologically informed without being godly.  In fact, a lot of people who call themselves Christians live their lives fooling themselves that they are godly because they have grasped a few theological concepts while at the same time rejecting the authority of the God they claim to know.  It is one thing to know about God, another thing to know God as he truly is.  As Watson puts it, “There is a great difference between one who has read of a country, or viewed it on the map, and another who has lived in the country, and tasted its fruits and spices.”  The man who has truly tasted of the goodness of God in Christ will possess a godly knowledge.

It is a grounded knowledge:

It is a knowledge that is informed by the Word of God and brought about by the work of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus chastises his Jewish kinsmen in John 5 for searching the Scriptures to find eternal life not realizing that those very Scriptures bear witness to their Messiah who is standing right in front of them.  In one sense these Jews knew God but their zeal for God did not accord with right knowledge (Rom. 10:1-4).  But in another sense they were rejecting him because they were rejecting the one sent from God.  Their knowledge was not grounded in the Word of God.  They were blinded by their own expectations of a Messiah who would deliver them from earthly oppression and set up an earthly kingdom in Israel.  They had set their hope in Moses, but it was Moses who was accusing them.

It is an enlivening knowledge:

John the Baptist was described as a “burning and shining lamp.”  The work of the Spirit in the life of John resulted in a deep affection for his Messiah and a willingness to forsake all worldly comforts in order to prepare the way for him.  Here we must be careful to maintain a proper balance.  There are those who have a deep affection for God but it is not grounded in the Word of God.  They are tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine because their minds have not been trained to discern truth from error.  Such a person is like an untrained hunting dog chasing every car that passes while neglecting the pheasant in his own back yard.

It is a transforming knowledge:

When we have a true knowledge of Christ and we view him in all of his beauty and splendor we actually partake of his divine nature.  Second Corinthians tells us that “with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.  For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”  We become what we behold.  The spiritual man, when he spends his days gazing at the perfections of God, revealed in his Word, is transformed more and more into his likeness.  Many Christians will say that they are seeking to be like Christ yet spend no time meditating on his divine attributes revealed in the Scriptures.  Oh how we could be changed by the holiness of Christ, the authority of Christ, the judgment of Christ, the love of Christ, the goodness of Christ, the omniscience of Christ, the unchangeableness of Christ, the righteousness of Christ, the eternity of Christ, the dual nature of Christ, and on top of all of this the manifold perfections displayed perfectly in the work of the cross.

Conclusion:

Watson has a lot more to say to us about a godly man’s knowledge.  But my question for us is simply this: do you know God as he has revealed himself?  Have you fashioned for yourself a god of your own understanding?  Does the knowledge of God that you possess result in affection for Christ that leads to transformation?  To know God is to know his Son and to know his Son is to know the Scriptures.  Let us be people of the book and search the Scriptures in order to find Christ.

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