There is an ancient legend of a dispassionate young man who approached the Greek philosopher and casually said, “O, great Socrates, I come to you to learn wisdom and knowledge.”
The muscular philosopher led the young man down to the sea, waded in with him, and then dunked him under the water for thirty seconds. When he let the young man up for air, Socrates asked him to repeat what he wanted. “Knowledge, O great one,” he sputtered with a smile.
Socrates’ strong hands pushed him under the water again, only this time a little longer. When Socrates let him up, he asked. “What do you want?”
Between heavy, heaving breaths the fellow wheezed, “Knowledge, O wise and wonderful….”
For the third time Socrates jammed him under the water for almost a minute. “What do you want” the sage asked as he brought up the young man.
“Air!” gasped the youth” I need air!” ”
To which Socrates replied, “When you want knowledge as much as you just wanted air, then you will have knowledge.”
Our word of the week is learning.
The Bible puts a great deal of emphasis on our need to learn. The word in its various forms is used over 63 times. The word knowledge is found 164 times. And the word “know” appears 372 times in the New Testament alone.
But how do we learn? How do we acquire spiritual knowledge and wisdom?
(1) Learning begins with Bible Study. There’s no way around it. We must get into the book! We must read it. Study it. Meditate on it.
After receiving the law, Moses took the book of the covenant and read it to the people” (Ex 24:7) After entering the promised land, Joshua gathered Israel and read to them the word of the law of Moses (Joshua 8:34-35). And following the Jews’ return to their homeland from Babylonian captivity Ezra, the scribe, assembled the people and “read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.” (Nehemiah 8:8)
Reading the Bible is fundamental to learning about Jesus. The apostle Paul both affirms this and admonishes us with these words: “…how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery, as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ…” (Eph. 3:3-4)
(2) We learn through personal experience. Our intellectual knowledge should lead to experiential knowledge. The Bible says that even Jesus, “though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered” (Heb 5:8).
As we follow the teaching of the Bible, we will grow closer to God, feel His presence and experience His peace. The Bible says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:6-7)
(3) We learn through synthetic experience. In other words, we learn through the experiences of others. The Old Testament was “written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Rom. 15:4) The experiences of Israel serve as powerful examples and teach great lessons even in the 21st century (1 Cor. 10:1-13).
We learn by listening to godly parents, like Timothy learned from his mother and grandmother (1 Tim. 3:14-15). We are exhorted to learn from the influence of the apostles. In Philippians 4:9, Paul wrote, “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” And we learn by heeding the counsel of those who are older and spiritually mature. “He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed” (Prov. 13:20)
Learning is fundamental to your discipleship. Jesus invites us, “Come, learn of me!” (Matt 11:28)
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman