How to Know
There is a popular way of thinking that is expressed in ways such as the following:
"Well, I guess we just can't know...we'll have to wait until we get to heaven to find out."
"After all, it is all a matter of interpretation."
"Who am I to judge what someone else believes?"
Often I hear this kind of thing from people who rarely if ever open a Bible. While it is true that we cannot know all things in this life, yet there are many things that we can know if we are willing to seek God's truth. In fact, God tells us that all that we need to know, we can know:
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”
II Timothy 3:16-17
Often people don't know because they don't want to know. With knowledge comes responsibility, and taking responsibility can be hard. Understanding and obeying God’s word can make us unpopular and can cause us to suffer loss. The way that we live will certainly have to change in many ways. Change can be uncomfortable. But Jesus Christ left his “comfort zone” and, out of love, suffered for us.
It should be obvious that God wants us to know many things. If not, why would he have given us this very large book called the Bible, filled with thousands of instructions?
God wants us to know and he wants us to be made free by this knowledge:
“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
God pleads with us to understand, but sometimes people don't know because they literally love not knowing:
“Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets: She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying, How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.”
Sometimes people don't know because they are learning in the wrong way:
“Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
II Timothy 3:7
God wants us to be certain:
“Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge, That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?”
"It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.”
If you knew that there was buried treasure worth fifty million dollars in your back yard I suspect that you would be motivated to get a shovel out and do some digging. But the treasure in God's word is worth infinitely more than this and he wants us to search for it with similar diligence and passion:
“My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.”
God tells us that if we love his word and keep it close to our heart, meditate upon it, and obey it, then we'll come to know more than our own teachers and those who have come before us:
“O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts.”