Based in St. Cloud, Minnesota, Growing in Grace is a blog by Pastor Matthew Molesky. His posts explore the Bible, theology, ecclesiology, culture, books, family, and life.

Reading as the Path to Two Kinds of Knowing

One of the great joys of reading, and reading various works, is when the Spirit connects the dots between those points of what we're mulling on. Just such a connection happened last week as I was reading (and memorizing) the Bible, and Geerhardus Vos's work, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 3: Christology

One of my tools for Scripture memory is the Fighter Verse program, and this past week was a passage from the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthians.

You know the generous grace of our Master, Jesus, the King. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich. (Holy Bible: New Living Translation, 2 Co 8:9)

Paul's aim with this sentence, in context, is to get the Corinthians to consider the state of their own tangible generosity toward others by considering the wondrous generosity of Jesus in his incarnation, and subsequent crucifixion and resurrection. As I memorized the passage, turning it over and over in my mind, I kept coming back to his presupposition, "You know..." What exactly does that mean?

This word in Paul's usage can mean the kind of knowing that is intellectual. Here is a piece of data, and I know it. But most often, it refers to the kind of knowing that is experiential. As in, "Do you know Susan?" "Why yes, I do, quite well, actually." 

So that what Paul is saying and presupposing is,

"You have experienced the generous grace of Jesus. Far beyond mere facts about what this has meant for you, it has changed your life. It has transformed you in many and varied ways."

Which caused me to reflect and call to mind, "Have I?"

What a wonderfully helpful encouragement! Paul's presupposition is spurring me on to making sure I match the description that he is assuming! In other words, I am provoked to bring to mind the various ways that the grace and kindness and favor of Jesus has transformed my experience of living, to take stock of its ripple effects throughout my existence. This is a very good thing for me, because I am prone to melancholy, and need reminders to see the immensity of grace operating in my life, to move me towards thanksgiving to Jesus.

Huh. To Jesus...

Something else began to happen. Pondering this generous grace got me thinking of its source, so that I was now pondering the knowing of Jesus himself. And it was in this state of musing that the connection between points of my reading occurred (I know, you thought I'd forgot about that by this time, hadn't you?). For as I considered my King, I read this from Vos about him...

We find the following elements in the name Jesus:
(1) He is deliverer from the oppression and anxiety of sin as guilt, the reconciling high priest.
(2) He grants the space in which the happiness of man exists as the King conquering all enemies and saving His people.
(3) He does this not as mere man but as "Jehovah of our salvation," both according to His deity and according to His humanity. The thought that He has earned salvation is not exclusively present in the name Jesus, but also certainly the thought that He applies it. That is, the name has not only a general but also a particular meaning. In the fullest sense, it can be used only by the elect: "He will save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21).

These three points have been feeding me for the past week. How glorious are these truths that are bound up in the name of our King! And, from Paul, and his encouragement and what I learned there, we apply this: it is not that we would merely know these intellectually - that you understand them, and can explain them, and even get excited about them. No (!), there is more than that. 

Not merely, "Do you know this?"

But more importantly, "Have you experienced this!?"

For I want the experience of Jesus as my reconciling high priest, delivering me from the oppression and anxiety of sin as guilt.

I want the experience of the happiness that floods into my life when I hold fast to the King's conquering and saving work for me, and my brothers and sisters in him.

I want the experience of the peace that would guard my heart and mind in Jesus, because he has not only earned salvation, but he has applied it. Hallelujah, he has saved his people - even me! - from their sins.

And it all came from reading.

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