Last week, we discussed two different ways we learn from the Bible, represented by the two Greek words the Bible uses to describe them: 1.) eido – to learn by observation, reading, and study, and 2.) ginosko – to learn by hearing from God experientially, in our hearts. Both of these ways to know truth are necessary.
Since eido is knowing truth by external, intellectual study or observation of facts and not experiential, it is how we must know truth in the future, because it is trusting God to do what He says He WILL DO. It is as yet unexperienced, visionary knowledge. This is what the Bible calls Hope.
Ginosko is knowing truth by our internal, personal relationship with a Person. It is how we know the present. It is believing in our hearts what God tells us He HAS DONE for us and IS DOING in our lives right now, because we know Him personally!. This is what the Bible calls Faith.
Hebrews 11:1 is the perfect definition of how ginosko and eido work together: “Faith (ginosko) makes us sure of what we hope for (eido) and gives us proof of what we cannot see.” It is our experiential faith (ginosko) that makes our hope (eido) for the future actually our experience right now!
So, “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). Paul says that both faith and hope are operative and necessary, but it is the agape love (the full-on, unconditional, grace of God) that makes both ways of knowing successful in the outworking of God’s plan.
For example, in Philippians 2:13, Paul tells me, “It is God who is producing in you both the desire and the ability to do what pleases him.”. He plainly tells me that God is changing my “want-tos” to actually make me WANT TO obey Him! So, I can follow God, and now I am obeying Him by doing what I want to do! By believing this biblical statement that I haven’t experienced yet (eido), it becomes true in my experience right now (ginosko)!.
Before I began to understand this truth about these two biblical, Greek words, I had two significant struggles with this concept of “How do I know what the Bible teaches?”.
Through the writings of Gary North, Stephen Perks, and Leonard Verduin, I became very interested in discovering God’s biblical pattern for civil government. North and Perks were for a Jesus-is-King style theocracy; Verduin strongly and convincingly, defended political pluralism, as is firmly enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. One’s faith, or lack thereof, is irrelevant, as far as citizenship, responsibilities, and privileges go.
Looking back, I realize that after wrestling with these ideas over a 3-5 year period, I finally found myself believing in a biblical theocracy as God’s plan for civil government, but not an historical one.
This was not my desired outcome, as those who believe in a theocracy are considered to be “kooks,” “religious extremists,” even “terrorists.” However, the bases of these criticisms are the historical examples of the theocracies of Muslim Sharia Law and Middle Ages Catholicism. These are Satanic imitations, not biblical examples with Jesus Himself as King.
As time has passed, some 25 years now, I have seen in my experience how this position, for me specifically, has been proven historically to be true. I have written of my conclusions and how I arrived at them, along with biblical ideas for constitutional change, in my little 73 page book, Let Earth Receive Her King, available free in pdf. (Drop me an email and I’ll send it to you).
My second struggle with understanding biblical truth was over the concept of Evangelical Universalism (EU), i.e., Hell is very real, but it’s not eternal. It is redemptive, not punitive. When a friend gave me a book on the subject, I reluctantly read it with the idea of finding where I disagreed, and then giving it back to my friend, telling her why I didn’t agree. “Thanks, but no thanks.”
My problem was that after two readings, I could find nothing I could disprove. New ideas, yes, but nothing that was immediately disprovable. On the other hand, Jill, my wife, after one reading, announced “I believe this!” Not so fast! I was not about to throw off centuries of orthodox church teaching based on one book..
So, I began a journey of discovery. I was joined by another friend, who, unbeknownst to me, was just starting exactly the same trip I was on. Over a three year period, we took our journey together.
We exchanged relevant books, met for monthly discussions, and just generally explored every facet of EU. On our journey together, we found ourselves coming to the same conclusion, independently of one another, a conclusion I desperately didn’t want to reach. I, who was already floating on the edge of heresy because of my views on the grace of God in sanctification, would now be cast out of polite theological circles for sure
Yes, I finally had to admit, I believed that the concept of EU is The Truth of the Word of God! (John 1:17)!
The Truth came to both of us in our hearts, independently of each other, because Jesus revealed it to each of us (ginosko). This knowledge is even epiginosko, which means not just experiential truth, but foundational, life-changing, experiential truth. And that has been true for me.
My 63 page book on my original experience and a summary of the evidence that influenced me, entitled Limitless Grace, is also available free via pdf. Let me know if you would like it. By the way, my friend who gave me the original, great EU book I read, along with its author, and my study partner in my years-long journey, are all three recipients of these weekly blog postings! Thanks again to all three of you so much!