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“According to” works / “Basis of” works

April 22, 2010 Leave a comment

I have posted elsewhere regarding John Piper’s “future” justification. If you read Piper’s writings on the topic, he leans very heavily on the idea that the phrase “according to” means something completely different than the phrase “on the basis of” when it comes to our works and justification. He has to lean heavily, because without such a distinction he is guilty of muddying the gospel.

Here is how he argues in his book The Future of Justification:

Now we are in a better position to comment on Romans 2:13 where Paul says, “It is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.” Again, as we saw with verses 6–11, Paul does not say how being a “doer of the law” functions in relation to being justified at the last day. At least the same four possibilities that I mentioned above exist, plus one more: Doing the law could be (1) the basis of justification in a meritorious way; or (2) it could be the basis as Spirit-wrought fruits of faith; or (3) it could be, not the basis, but the evidence and confirmation of faith in another basis, namely, Christ who cancels the debt of all sin; or, extending that last possibility beyond forgiveness, (4) it could also be the evidence and confirmation of faith in Christ as the one in whom not only forgiveness but also divine righteousness is counted as ours. Or (5) Paul could be stating a principle that he affirms but that he believes never comes to pass for sinful people. Thus, John Stott says, “This is a theoretical or hypothetical statement, of course, since no human being has ever fully obeyed the law (cf. 3:20).”

What is not said in verse 13 is that people are justified “by works.” Paul does not use the phrase ej x e[ rgwn (“from works”), which I take to be roughly what is usually meant by the English phrase “on the basis of works,” as opposed to the phrase “according to works” (kata; ta; e[ rga auj tou` ).*** Paul is clear that “by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:20). Rather, he says, “We hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (Rom. 3:28). Does this mean that the statement “It is . . . the doers of the law who will be justified” (v. 13) only expresses a principle of doing over against hearing so as to remove the objection that the Gentiles don’t have access to “hearing”?

Given the demands of the flow of the argument in Romans 2:6–16 which we saw above, I doubt that we can press this statement very far for the defense of justification by works. Paul makes a statement that in this context functions as a principle (doing, not hearing, will matter at the judgment), rather than a declaration about how that doing relates to justification—let alone whether the doing of Christ may supply what our doing lacks. The verse was not written to carry that much freight. However, the verse does raise the question that must be answered: How does the obedience of the Christian relate to his justification?

***[footnote] Wherever the phrase ej x e[ rgwn is connected to justification in Paul, the point is that justification does not happen this way. Rom. 3:20; 9:11, 32; 11:6; Gal. 2:16; 3:2, 5, 19; Eph. 2:9; Titus 3:5. In Matthew 12:37 and James 2:21, 24–25, justification is said to happen “by your words” (ej k . . . tw` n lov gwn sou) or “by works” (ej x e[ rgwn). Other contextual factors incline me to take Jesus and James to mean not that justification is “based on” our deeds the way our justification is “based on” Christ as our righteousness, but rather that our deeds confirm our faith in Jesus so that he remains the sole basis of our acceptance with God, in the sense that his death alone covers our sins and his righteousness alone provides all the obedience that God requires of us for God to be totally for us—the perfect righteousness implicitly required in the phrase, “God counts righteousness apart from works” (Rom. 4:6). It is likely that Matthew and James are using the word dikaiov w differently than Paul is (just as Matthew and Paul use kalev w differently, Matt. 22:14; Rom. 8:30). So, James and Matthew may also be appropriating the phrase “from works” differently than Paul. While Paul chooses to never employ that phrase in reference either to present justification or future judgment, James and Matthew, without differing from Paul conceptually, employ a phrase that Paul wouldn’t to say something (conceptually) that Paul would. I am not saying that there are distinct and uniform usages of the two phrases ej x e[ rgwn and kata; ta; e[ rga. The latter can carry the sense of “on the basis of” at times, though not always. Therefore, we must draw our conclusions concerning Paul’s understanding of the function of works in relation to justification not merely from the phrases themselves, but from the wider teaching of the apostle as well.

How I See Works Relating to Justification

Let me declare myself clearly here: I believe in the necessity of a trans- formed life of obedience to Jesus by the power of the Spirit through faith as a public evidence and confirmation of faith at the Last Day for all who will finally be saved. In other words, I believe it is actually true, not just hypothetically true, that God “will render to each one accord- ing to his works [ta; e[ rga auj tou` ]: to those who by patience in well- doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life” (Rom. 2:6–7). I take the phrase “according to” (kata; ) in a sense different from “based on.” I think the best way to bring together the various threads of Paul’s teaching on justification by faith apart from works (Rom. 3:28; 4:4–6; 11:6; Eph. 2:8) is to treat the necessity of obedience not as any part of the basis of our justification, but strictly as the evidence and confirmation of our faith in Christ whose blood and righteousness is the sole basis of our justification. How this is the case, while justification is by faith alone apart from any basis in that very obedience, has been one of the main themes of my preaching and writing for the last thirty years.***

***[footnote] See most fully my extended treatment of this issue in The Purifying Power of Living by Faith in Future Grace (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 1995). See also “The Pleasure of God in Personal Obedience and Public Justice,” in John Piper, The Pleasures of God (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 2000, orig. 1991), 233–257; “Fighting for Joy Like a Justified Sinner,” in When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2004), 71–94; What Jesus Demands from the World (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2006), especially 174–180, 242–248; “Letter to a Friend Concerning the So-Called Lordship Salvation,” http://www.desiringGod.org/ResourceLibrary/ Articles/ByDate/1990/1496_Letter_to_a_Friend_Concerning_the_SoCalled_Lordship_Salvation/

So you can see what a lynchpin Piper’s interpretation of “according to” is. You can access the PDF from the link above to read more on pp 116-120.

However, Piper’s interpretation of the phrase “according to” does not stand the test, and as a result, his view of the final judgment has serious problems.

Richard Gaffin tries to argue, on the basis of the grammar involved in a similar Pauline statement, that works are not the ground of judgment: “It is not for nothing, I take it, and not to be dismissed as an overly fine exegesis to observe, that in Romans 2:6 Paul writes, ‘according (kata) to works,’ not ‘on account of (dia),’ expressing the ground, nor ‘by (ek) works,’ expressing the instrument” (By Faith, Not By Sithgt [Carlisle: Paternoster, 2006], 98-99; similarly, Venema, Gospel, 266). Though Gaffin’s comment concerns Paul’s statement in Romans 2:6, at the same time we find the same prepositional combination with the accusative in John’s statement in Revelation 20:12e, the only difference being in the use of the singular and plural pronouns (cf. Rom 2:6). Gaffin argues this point because he wants to preserve sola fide in the judgment of the works of the believer. Relying upon the analysis of Ridderbos and Murray, Gaffin’s finer point is that the judgment kata works is “in accordance with” the works, and such works are synecdochical for faith in Christ (see Herman Ridderbos, Paul: An Outline of His Theology, trans. John Richard de Witt [1975; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992], 178-81; Murray, Romans, 78-79).

Yet can such a fine distinction be supported by the grammar alone? The use of “dia” with the accusative means “because of, on account of,” and the use of “kata” with the accusative means “in accordance with, corresponding to” (Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar beyond the Basics [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996], 368-69, 376-77). One must ask, what difference exists between the two? In fact, when we delve more deeply into the significance of “kata” with the accusative, we find that “often the noun that follows kata specifies the criterion, standard, or norm in the light of which a statement is made or is true, an action is performed, or a judgment is passed. The prep. will mean ‘according to’, ‘in conformity with’, ‘corresponding to.’ This use is common in reference to the precise and impartial standard of judgment that will be applied at the great Assize (Matt. 16:27; Rom 2:6; 1 Cor 3:8; 2 Tim. 4:14; 1 Peter 1:17; Rev 2:23)” (Murray J. Harris, “Prepositions and Theology in the Greek New Testament,” in NIDNTT, 3:1200). Pace Gaffin and Venema, their argument apparently fails to account for judgment kata works for the wicked. This point seems to be borne out by Paul’s own use of kata, as he says, “He will render each one according to [kata] his works” (Rom. 2:6), but this rendering kata works is for both the righteous (v. 7) and the wicked (v. 8). According to Gaffin’s interpretation, are the wicked judged according to their works, but are they not the ground of their condemnation (see 2 Cor. 11:15)? Again, note how Paul uses kata: “Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due [to de ergazomeno ho misthos ou logizetai kata charin alla kata opheilema]” (Rom 4:4; see also Brian Vickers, Jesus Blood and Righteousness [Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2006] 95; Yinger, Paul, 21-26, 89-90, 135-136, 175, 182, 186). Judgment therefore is indeed kata (in accordance with, or on the basis of) works – the evil works of the unbeliever and the good works, or righteousness, of Christ.

“Justification: Understanding the Classic Reformed Doctrine” p. 315

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John Piper’s Justification According to Works

November 6, 2009 35 comments

I have been thrust into a study of the final judgment. It started when I read a post over at Bring the Books: If You Are Late to the Discussion. It is a summary, taken from Christianity Today, of John Piper and N.T. Wright’s views of justification. My study began when I commented that, given Piper’s view, he was the exact wrong person to be defending justification against Wright – and my comment was met with strong criticism. Here is Piper’s view:

Piper: Present justification is based on the substitutionary work of Christ alone, enjoyed in union with him through faith alone. Future justification is the open confirmation and declaration that in Christ Jesus we are perfectly blameless before God. This final judgment accords with our works. That is, the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives will be brought forward as the evidence and confirmation of true faith and union with Christ. Without that validating transformation, there will be no future salvation.

I do not believe Piper’s view is biblical. There is no “future” justification in addition to “present” justification. They are the same. In the words of Robert Reymond: “Justification possesses an eschatological dimension, for it amounts to the divine verdict of the Eschaton being brought forward into the present time and rendered here and now concerning the believing sinner.” (A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, p743).

Piper cannot consistently believe the above statement and also believe that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1) because he believes our salvation must await validation, determined by our works, on the last day.

Another consequence of Piper’s view is that he must deny justification by faith alone. I understand that he does not believe he denies it and in fact has written a whole book on it, and I thank God for that, but that just means he is inconsistent. Given that “present” justification is different from “future” justification, we can say that “present” justification does not matter because it does not determine who is going to heaven to spend eternity in paradise with God and who is going to hell to burn forever. “Future” justification is what determines our fate, and thus, “future” justification is what matters.

That being said, Piper does not believe that faith alone determines our “future” justification (keep in mind there is actually no difference between “future” and “present” justification). He believes that both our faith and our works determine our “future” justification. Granted, he does not view them equally – he believes in a sort of chain where our works connect us to saving faith which then connects us to Christ’s righteousness. But that means that it is not faith alone that unites us with Christ. Both our faith and our works play a determining role. Thus both our faith and our works are the instrumental causes of our justification.

You may say that’s unfair, that my logic must be wrong, that there’s no way Piper believes that. Well, let me offer some biblical support for Piper’s view. James says: “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone(2:24). Clear enough, and if there’s any chance I have any Roman Catholics reading this, I’m sure you’re shouting “I told you so” from the rooftop.

But Brandon, you may object, James is not talking about the same thing as Paul. James is talking about our justification before men, about evidence that we look at to estimate if someone is justified. We can’t look into someone else’s heart to see if their faith is genuine. To us, faith is invisible, so we must look at the fruit of faith. I agree! But Piper does not. Piper does not believe James is talking about how we view each other here and now. No, Piper believes James is talking about the final judgment:

Several times Paul listed certain kinds of deeds and said, “those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10). In other words, when these deeds are exposed at the judgment as a person’s way of life, they will be the evidence that their faith is dead and he will not be saved. As James said, “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). That is what will be shown at the judgment. (Future Grace, p366, emphasis added)

He also says:

How then can I say that the judgment of believers will not only be the public declaration of our differing rewards in the kingdom of God, according to our deeds, but will also be the public declaration of our salvation – our entering the kingdom – according to our deeds? The answer is that our deeds will be the public evidence brought forth in Christ’s courtroom to demonstrate that our faith is real. And our deeds will be the public evidence brought fourth to demonstrate the varying measures of our obedience of faith. In other words, salvation is by grace through faith, and rewards are by grace through faith, but the evidence of invisible faith in the judgment hall of Christ will be a transformed life. (Future Grace, p364)

So Piper necessarily denies justification by faith alone, as James makes very, very plain. Yet Paul disagrees: “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.”

If you disagree with the conclusion, I would honestly love to hear why, because I cannot come to any other conclusion. (If you do comment, please do not simply list quotes of Piper affirming “present” justification through faith alone – please actually demonstrate how the points above do not lead to the necessary conclusion).

Update:

R.S. Clark recently taught on the invalidity of a “two-stage justification.” Expostion of the Nine Points (pt 9)-A Two Stage Justification?

I asked him how his teaching relates to Piper:

As to Piper, he’s just flat wrong and he needs to repudiate this teaching. It’s contrary to the Reformation, to the Reformed confessions, and to the gospel.

Related Post:

For Further Reading:

What is Saving Faith – Quotes

December 2, 2007 2 comments

Some quotes from Gordon Clark’s “What is Saving Faith?”

*quotes are not continuous even though they may appear to be because of the formatting, sorry

Forward by John W. Robbins:

Perhaps the world is not responding to the churches’ message because the message is garbled. Neither the churches not the world knows exactly what to do to have eternal life.

The head/heart dichotomy is a figment of modern secular psychology, not a doctrine of divine revelation. St. Sigmund, not St. John controls the pulpit in nearly all churches.

As for having a “personal relationship” with Christ, if the phrase means something more than assenting to (believing) true propositions about Jesus, what is that something more? Feeling warm inside? Coffee has the same effect.

To understand the doctrine of justification by faith alone, one must understand the doctrine of faith, as well as the doctrine of justification. Err on either doctrine, and one errs on the doctrine of justification by faith alone.

Many people, including many teachers in conservative churches and schools, are offended by the simplicity of the Gospel, and add to the statements of Scripture.

Belief is not enough, they say. In order to be saved, one must do more than believe; one must commit, surrender, trust, encounter, relate, or emote.

Faith is assent to a proposition, and saving faith is assent to propositions found in the Bible… Truth is propositional, and one is saved and sanctified only through believing true statements. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing comes by the Word of God.

Preface:

The motivation for this study of the nature of faith is the edification of Christians: “Let all things be done for edification.” (1 Corinthians 14:26).

Saving faith is a species of faith in general. Faith is not limited to Christian faith. Jewish faith, Islamic faith, and even secular faiths are faith.

Chapter 3

On page 426 and following, Price notes that in religious circles belief in is of more importance than belief that. The latter is a more secular concept; and the devout insist that there is a great difference between them. Philosophers, on the other hand, usually think not, and attempt to reduce in to that. However, as Price ntoes, even secularists use belief-in. A blind man believes-in his dog. Englishmen used to believe-in the British Empire. Some parents believe-in a liberal arts education for their children. Women’s lib believes-in killing babies. Can these beliefs-in be reduced to beliefs-that? For example, belief in the Loch Ness monster simply means someone believes that there is such a creature. The Tories of the nineteenth century did not believe in Gladstone; that is, they did not believe that he was a good prime minister.

Chapter 4

Somewhere in a discussion on faith, the Romish view of “implicit” faith should be considered. When an Italian or Irish peasant asserts that he believes whatever the Church teaches, though, of course, this knowledge of what the Church teaches embraces no more than one percent of the Tridentine confession, he is said to have implicit faith. Even an educated Catholic, a professor of philosophy in a secular university, did not know the essential element that makes baptism valid. But all such people profess belief in whatever the Church teaches. Protestantism has always rejected this proposition as absurd.

It should be clear that no one can believe what he does not know or understand. Suppose a person who knows no French is told, “Dans ce roman c’est M. DuPres qui est le meurtrier”: Can he believe it? If he could, it would greatly ease the work of foreign missionaries: They could preach to the Chinese or Bantus in English without having to spend years learning the native language. But in reality no one can believe what he does not understand, even if it is expressed in his own mother tongue.

When one author constantly criticizes other authors (as Clark is doing in the book thus far), the reader may be repelled by the negativism. Let it be repeated that contrasting views bring both sides into sharper focus. And not only so, the writer criticized may set forth some very acceptable material.

Chapter 5

James 2:20 is a puzzling passage. He speaks there of a dead faith and describes it as a faith unproductive of good works. Precisely what a man of dead faith believes is not too clear. One thing, however, is clear: The word faith here cannot mean “personal trust” in the sense that some popular preachers impose on it in distinction to belief. “Dead trust” would be an unintelligible phrase. Clearly James means a belief of some sort; and the only belief James mentions is the belief in monotheism. Islam therefore would be a dead faith.

Chapter 7

Faith “is not only assensus axiomati, an assent to a Gospel-maxim or proposition; you are not justified by that, but by being one with Christ. It was the mistake of the former age to make the promise rather than the person of Christ, to be the formal object of faith…” (Manton) The mention of the person of Christ is pious language. Similar expressions are common today. One slogan is, “No creed but Christ.” Another expression, with variations from person to person, is, Faith is not belief in a proposition, but trust in a person.

Thou this may sound very pious, it is nonetheless destructive of Christianity. Back in the twenties, before the Methodist Church became totally apostate, a liberal in their General Conference opposed theological precision by some phrase centering on Christ, such as, Christ is all we need. A certain pastor, a remnant of the evangelical wing of the church, had the courage to take the floor and ask the pointed question, “Which Christ?”

Belief is the act of assenting to something understood.

Chapter 8

Justifying faith is a species of faith, and if one does not know what faith in general is, one cannot know what the faith is that justifies.

Apparently, then, there are two kinds of assent. All faith is assent; but justifying faith is a different variety of assent. What this difference specifically is, Owen does not say. He indeed says the difference does not lie in the object of the faith, the proposition believed, but in the nature, or psychological characteristics of this particular type of assent. We would like to know what this different psychology is.

It is to be feared that some notion of “species of belief” has been confused with “species of believing.”

He objects to identifying the object of faith with Christ’s promise of forgiveness. Instead he maintains that Christ himself is the object of justifying faith. Although this sounds very pious, Owen and others might not have said this, if instead of the term faith they had used the Scriptural word believe. When we believe a man, we believe what he says. Not does it help Owen’s view to insist on the Scriptural phrase, believe in Christ, as something essentially different from believing Christ. As we said before, believing-in a man may indicate a willingness to believe what he will say in the future as well as what he has said in the past.

Chapter 9

Some authors and many preachers contrast trust in a person with belief in a proposition. They often disparage “intellectual belief.” They must then disparage all belief, since there is no other kind.

Unfortunately, the confusion as to kinds of faith soon reappears (re: Hodge). Of course, Jewish faith is not Islamic faith, nor is either of these Christian faith. One might also list political faith and a faith in AT&T stock. But this is not a difference in the definition of faith: It is a difference in the object or propositions believed. They are still assents. Many theologians fall into this confusion.

Chapter 15

Some people find a great difference between believing a person and believing in him. There is no doubt a difference, but it is quite different from the difference these people think they have in mind. Attentive readers who read their publications will conclude that they very likely have nothing in mind, for they regularly avoid stating what the difference is. Let us use a human example, for if we begin by talking about believing in God, our sense of piety may deceive us. Any ordinary instance will do. I meet a stranger on the plane and we begin to talk. His conversation indicates that he is a chemical engineer. Somewhere along the line he remarks that a certain chemical process does so and so. I believe him; I accept his statement as true. But I do not for that reason believe in him. He may be a scoundrel. Occasionally engineers are. On the way home I sit next to a very good friend of longstanding. He is a lawyer. He tells me about some legal matter. But now I not only believe this one statement: I believe in him because I believe that anything he will tell me in the future, especially if it concerns law, will be true. I believe he always tells the truth and always will. Of course, since he is a sinner, he may make a mistake. But when we believe in God, we believe that he will never make a mistake. To believe in is simply a reference to the future beyond the present single statement.

To believe in is equivalent to believe that. To believe in Christ Jesus simply means to believe that Jesus died and rose again. In John especially to believe in and to believe that are constantly used interchangeably.

Berkhof cited some references to support his contention. But Romans 3:22 does not support him. It merely mentions, in four words, “faith in Jesus Christ.” The immediately following words are “to all who believe.” What they believe is more explicitly stated in 3:25, which Berkhof also lists. The phrase is “through faith in his blood.” Clearly this is not baldly literal. Blood is a symbol for the atonement. It cannot even be restricted to Christ’s death, for the Pharisees themselves believed that Christ died. What the Pharisees did not believe was the significance of Christ’s death, namely, that he paid the penalty of our sin. Verses 25 and 26 are the best summary of in the New Testament of the core of the Gospel: the doctrine of justification by faith; and this doctrine – a set of propositions – is the object of belief.

Chapter 16

“As a psychological phenomenon, faith in the religious sense does not differ from faith in general… Christian faith in the most comprehensive sense is man’s persuasion of the truth of Scripture on the basis of the authority of God.” (Berkhof)

Categories: books, theology Tags: ,

Knowledge and Understanding

November 28, 2007 Leave a comment

I just wanted to share a few verses that emphasize the role of knowledge and understanding in the Christian’s life.

Romans 10:1 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them (unbelieving Jews) is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

-The unbelieving Jews had zeal, but no knowledge

Romans 15:14 I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.

1 Corinthians 1:4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge

2 Corinthians 2:14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.

2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ

Ephesians 1:16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you

-having the eyes of our hearts enlightened is equated with receiving wisdom and knowledge through revelation

Ephesians 4:11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

-we are all called to mature manhood/womanhood – which is categorized here as resisting false doctrine, which means we must know and understand true doctrine

Phillipians 1:9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment

Colossians 1:9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

Colossians 2:1 For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. 5 For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.

-we are to strive for full assurance of understanding, we are to know the mysteries of God – not leave them as mysteries. Again, this is important so we do not believe false doctrine (plausible arguments).

Colossians 3:10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

-our sanctification is characterized by a mind that is being renewed, by learning

1 Timothy 2:3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

-being saved is characterized by having certain knowledge

1 Timothy 6:20 O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” 21 for by professing it some have swerved from the faith.

-we are called to discern between false knowledge and true knowledge

2 Timothy 2:24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

-again, conversion characterized by knowledge

2 Peter 1:2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

2 Peter 3:17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

Ephesians 4:17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.

1 John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.

Colossians 4:3 At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— 4 that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.

-the mystery of Christ is made clear, it does not remain a mystery

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind

these are just a few I came across that I thought were helpful to reflect upon