Should You Run From Jesus Always?

Jesus Always - September 30th

Knowledge, experience, perception and the Presence of Jesus.
Part III - What is knowledge? (Draft)

Let's move on and look at the third paragraph of the September 30th Jesus Always devotion. This one goes into more detail about knowledge. (All quotes are from the 2016 edition of Jesus Always by Sarah Young, page 285)

First Two Sentences:

"'Knowledge' is a very rich word. Some of its meanings are: awareness acquired by experience or study and the sum of what has been perceived, discovered, or learned."

In the introduction (page xii) Sarah Young states: "I include scripture in the devotions (indicated with italic), and each entry is followed by three or four Bible references." Based on this, italic is used to identify scripture quoted in the devotions. Nothing is said about any other source being quoted. Well, I've searched the scriptures and I cannot find anything like what is in italic in the above quote from the September 30th devotion. What I do find, in an online search, is that the second part of this definition comes from secular dictionaries and secular behavior science.

My guess is that Sarah Young made an error and forgot what she wrote in her introduction. However, that does not mediate the problem that many of her readers will take this definition of knowledge as coming from scripture. How does scripture actually define knowledge?

Scripture does not include a verse that says, "This is the definition of knowledge." However, it does say a lot about knowledge.

For example, we see in scripture that knowledge and a true understanding of God are related: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge." (Proverbs 1:7). The word "fear" does not mean "dread" or "terror." This "fear" is respect, reverence, and desires and actions to live in obedience to His law.

We also see that knowledge of God is not just knowing about God, it involves putting that knowledge into action. We must be doers of the word (James 1:22)

The Old Testament... Knowledge is not the possession of information, but rather its exercise or actualization. The New Testament emphasizes that knowing God is not simply an intellectual apprehension, but a response of faith and an acceptance of Christ. - Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology

While Sarah Young's definition of "knowledge" reflects an intellectual knowing gained through study and experience. The Biblical definition, on the other hand, includes more than just knowing, it involves putting that knowledge into action. In other words, it includes a response to knowledge. If we don't respond, we are not actually believing, and so we do not have knowledge... or it might be better said, we do not accept what we've learned as true (since we don't act on it) and thus we are not accenting it as knowledge.

Another Biblical fact is that all human knowledge is flawed. But, more than that, human knowledge on its own is opposed to God, and as a result is no knowledge at all.

"O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly [Godless] and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called 'knowledge' -- which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith." - 1 Timothy 6:20-21

So the Biblical definition of "knowledge" is different from Sarah Young's secular definition. Let's continue and look at the rest of this final paragraph of the September 30th devotion.

The Final Three Sentences

"So knowing Me involves awareness of ME--experiencing My Presence. It also involves perceiving Me. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, but you can know Me through perceiving the Light of MY Glory!"

This final quote highlights a characteristic of Jesus Always I find to be totally absurd -- Jesus quoting single words. In the above the words "awareness" and "perceived" are in italic, indicating they are quotes from scripture. To understand a scripture quote you need to read it in its context. What is the context of these quoted words?

My concordances, for both the King James (Strongs Exhaustive) and NASB (Zondervan Exhaustive), show that the word "awareness" never appears in scripture. The word "perceiving" is used three times in scripture in both the KJV and the NASB. So at least it is used somewhere in scripture. By why claim these two individual words as quotes from scripture... in particular since one of them never appears in scripture?

But let's continue. There are more serious problems. First the one actual quote from scripture, "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers." This is a quote from 2 Corinthians 4:4. Here is the complete quote:

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. - 2 Corinthians 4:3-4

What are unbelievers blind to? The gospel. It is the gospel that brings light into darkness, and unbelievers cannot see the light of the gospel. They have been blinded by Satan.

So the problem is that unbelievers cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ. What is the solution to that problem? Paul gives the solution in the next verses:

For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. - 2 Corinthians 4:5-6

Paul preaches "Christ Jesus as Lord." That is the solution, proclaiming the gospel... preaching the Word. "Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." (Romans 10:17). And then how is the darkness lifted? Not through Paul's preaching, but by God. It is God who saves. Redemption is a sovereign work of God.

What Does Jesus Always Say?

Jesus Always says that we can know Jesus "through perceiving the Light of My Glory!" What does that mean? I don't know, but it does not sound like anything I've ever read in scripture, so I know it is not Biblical. Once again it can mean what we personally would like it to mean. Here is what I think it means:

Since "perceiving" is something we do with our senses, Jesus Always is saying we need to have a physical experience of the Light of Jesus' Glory. (Notice the capitalization of "Glory" indicating New Age teaching.) So what is being said here is that we need to have an experience similar to Sarah Young's experience described in Jesus Calling:

"When I prayed for myself, I was suddenly enveloped in brilliant light and profound peace. I lost all sense of time as I experienced God's Presence in this powerful way." - Sarah Young, Jesus Calling, 2004, pages x-xi

It appears Jesus Always is teaching that to have an awareness of Jesus, we need to experience His Presence (notice the New Age capitalization of "Presence), meaning we need to have a physical experience... or maybe at least an internally perceived experience of god being Present within us.

Biblical Awareness Of God's Presence

In the book "Should I RUN From Jesus Always?" I talk about the Biblical understanding of the presence of God. God is always present everywhere. We are never out of the presence of God, and God is continually and sovereignly acting. What we talk about as the "presence of God" is our being aware of God acting in our lives, our community, the world, and history. This is a different kind of awareness than Jesus Always is talking about.

An excellent example of God's presence is the Book of Esther. God is never mentioned. Prayers, the Temple, nothing religious is mentioned. Yet we see the amazing providence of God working throughout this book. Except verse 4:14, which may be an allusion to God actively working (And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?), the participants in the story seem to be unaware of the presence of God that is so obvious to us.

Compare the presence of God in the Book of Esther with how the presence of Jesus (God) is described in Jesus Always and you see two different things... two TOTALLY different things. Jesus Always is talking about a direct awareness of god through the perception of our senses or feelings. Biblically, an awareness of the presense of God comes from knowing Him (through scripture), obedience, serving Him and experiencing trials, and as a result of these having knowledge of His providential actions.

Conclusion

As you can see, there is very little that is good... that is Biblical in this Jesus Always devotion. This is because Jesus Always has its foundation based on New Age theology and teaching, not the Bible. The conclusion? RUN from Jesus Always! This IS NOT a Christian devotional.

Go to: Part 1 (Jesus Always September 30 | Part 2 (Jesus Always September 30th)

 

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