Two kinds of knowing

As I’ve been reading John I’m seeing two very different kinds of knowing—two types of confidence. On the one hand, we see the religious elite of Jesus’ day who were confident because of their doctrinal traditions, education, and position. On the other hand, we see Jesus’ confidence coming from His identity and relationship with His Father. We see this contrast in the passages below.

First, the Pharisees knew that Jesus was a sinner because He violated their interpretation of the Law:

16 Then an argument broke out among the Pharisees over the healing of the blind man on the Sabbath. Some said, “This man who performed this healing is clearly not from God! He doesn’t even observe the Sabbath!” (John 9:16a TPT)

24 So once again they summoned the man who was healed of blindness and said to him, “Swear to God to tell us the truth! We know the man who healed you is a sinful man! Do you agree?” (John 9:24 TPT)

This is a perfect example where certainty can lead us astray. Even though the Pharisees knew Jesus was a sinner, they were terribly wrong. Even though doctrinal correctness was a high value for them, they clearly didn’t value what God valued. They based “knowing” on their interpretation of Scripture, but missed what Scripture was actually saying to them.

Then, we see Jesus’ knowing in contrast:

15 The Jewish leaders were astonished by what he taught and said, “How did this man acquire such knowledge? He wasn’t trained in our schools—who taught him?”

16 So Jesus responded, “I don’t teach my own ideas, but the truth revealed to me by the One who sent me. 17 If you want to test my teachings and discover where I received them, first be passionate to do God’s will, and then you will be able to discern if my teachings are from the heart of God or from my own opinions. (John 7:15-17*)

14 Jesus responded, “Just because I am the one making these claims doesn’t mean they’re invalid. For I absolutely know who I am, where I’ve come from, and where I’m going. But you Pharisees have no idea about what I’m saying.  (John 8:14*)

The Pharisees were baffled about where Jesus got His authority because it didn’t come from their religious system. Jesus’ confidence came from His identity and intimate relationship with His Father, and by doing His Father’s will.

How do you and I know if something is true or not? Google it? See what our favorite preachers have to say about it on YouTube? According to Jesus, these opinions matter little. It’s a heart issue more than a head issue. If our heart is open and ready to do what God’s says, and if we’re in continual relationship with Him, we will know whether something is right or wrong.

That sounds scary to people who want to stay in control.

Jesus tells us we will know because we follow Him and have learned to recognize His voice. Notice the highlighted phrases below:

But the true Shepherd walks right up to the gate, and because the gatekeeper knows who he is, he opens the gate to let him in. And the sheep recognize the voice of the true Shepherd, for he calls his own by name and leads them out, for they belong to him. And when he has brought out all his sheep, he walks ahead of them and they will follow him, for they are familiar with his voice. But they will run away from strangers and never follow them because they know it’s the voice of a stranger.” (John 10:2-5*)

This kind of knowing is the hallmark of the New Covenant (Heb.8:7-12).

As a leader, my task is to teach people how to think, not what to think. And we learn how to think by being in relationship with Jesus via the indwelling Spirit who teaches us all things (John 14:26). He teaches us His Word.

It’s not that we don’t need human teachers, it’s that our primary source of knowing must come through Holy Spirit revelation, not through clever arguments (if you can be talked into something, you can be talked out it, too). So, my job as a leader is to equip those in my care to be in relationship with Jesus and learn how to hear His voice. And I will know whether or not I’m accomplishing this task by how much they’re growing up into Christ (Eph.4:11-16).

One more thing about thinking we know something. The religious elite thought Jesus was arrogant for calling Himself the Son of God because their hearts were closed to anything outside of their preconceived ideas about what their Messiah should be like. Their doctrines put God in a box and that made them blind (John 9:39-41).

Jesus’ confidence was not arrogance because God had revealed His identity to Him: “My beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased” (Luke 3:22). Jesus’ confidence came from intimate relationship with His Father and revelation of His identity and purpose: For I absolutely know who I am, where I’ve come from, and where I’m going.”

This kind of knowing doesn’t come from studying a book, getting a degree, or agreeing with the religious majority (almost everyone was wrong about Jesus). We simply don’t have a natural mental grid for this kind of knowing (1 Cor.2:13-14). This knowing is only found in relationship with the Living Word—Jesus Christ.

But the beautiful thing is, He’s 100% available to us…right now…because He lives in us!

We need to repent. But “repent” (metanoeō) doesn’t simply mean to “change your mind,” like changing one’s opinion about something. It means changing your mind for His mind—putting your mind on the potter’s wheel, to be re-shaped and re-formed, until it takes on the mind of Christ (1 Cor.2:16). 

So, it might be a good idea for us to ask ourselves, what kind of “knowing” do I put my confidence in?

* The Passion Translation. All Emphasis added.

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 39 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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8 Responses to Two kinds of knowing

  1. AfroLatino says:

    As a leader, my task is to teach people how to think and not what to think! Well said, Mel.

    Thank God for all the leaders with this mindset.

    God bless

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks, AfroLatino. Honesty, it took me years of frustration and failure to learn this. The hardest thing for a good leader to do is to learn how to let go, not control or manipulate, and still lead those in his or her care. We must put all our motives, desires, fears, etc., on that potter’s wheel with everything else! Only Jesus can show us how, and He does it by working on us as much as on those we lead. 🙂

  2. Dan LaChance says:

    I feel your message is spot on. Thank you for teaching us the importance of relationship with our Lord and Savior. I also appreciate your emphasis on HOW to think rather than WHAT to think. Keep up the good work!

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks Dan! Relationship with Jesus is everything. For everything of value flows out from that relationship, not from what we think we know or from our personality, gifting and abilities.

  3. This is beautiful, Mel. You’ve nailed it and stuck the landing. Well done.Locally and in the blogging world I encounter a lot of fear about false teachers and bad doctrine and while there are indeed a few hills worth dying on, fear is a liar and often misplaced. I keep coming back to what Jesus said about call no one teacher, rabbi, father, because you have but one teacher, one Father. When our heart is right, when we are busy knowing Him, we are not vulnerable to the whims of culture or doctrines, and all these alleged “false teachers” have no power over us.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Amen, IB. Fear has no power over us. It’s time Christians stopped being “chicken little” about what might be wrong with the world (and stop demonizing any teaching that disagrees with theirs) and let His love cast out all their religious orphan-hearted fear. Like you said, false teachers have no power over people who are following Jesus and hear His voice.

      There seems to be an obsession with “last days” and false teachers. I grew up on this stuff (Hal Lindsey, “88 reasons why Jesus will return in 1988,” etc.) It’s like a religious addiction that takes over believers! But what if Jesus doesn’t return for another 1,000 years? And we become like the Ephesian church (Rev.2:1-5), who got good at finding false teachers but they lost their first love. Jesus told them (and us) to repent and go back and do the first things. Paul seemed to think that without love, a love that only comes from intimate relationship with Jesus, we have absolutely NOTHING of value (1 Cor.13:1-3). Let’s stop being noisy gongs, biting and devouring one another, abdicating our role as sons and daughters of our heavenly Father and start being about our His business. Just saying…. 🙂

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