The Path to Understanding

“The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever” (Psalm 111:10).
While watching television this morning far from home, a commercial came on in a language I did not know. I was struck by how odd the pictures seemed, and how little sense I could make from them. No doubt they were consistent with the message being spoken, and if taken all together would be informative, entertaining and motivating. But I could not take them all together. Only the pictures were available to me and without more information understanding was impossible.
It does not surprise us that, in general, understanding and knowledge are dependant upon the use of our senses. They give us the necessary information. The more senses we can bring into play, the more quickly full knowledge is gained. We recognize some things by sight alone. Others require the additional data of sound, smell, feel, or taste. Even when one sense may provide identification, one or more of the others may confirm it or give more detail.
But what about those matters not subject to our physical senses? Some things cannot be seen, touched, smelled, tasted, or felt. Can we know nothing of these? Is it impossible for us to identify or recognize them? Must we only speculate about their existence, or even deny them altogether? Scientists, philosophers, and theologians have insisted that not only can we accept the existence of such things, but that evidence and even proof of them may be found.
An example of such knowledge is provided by the field of astronomy. Before telescopes of sufficient power to see the limits of our solar system were available, scientists sought additional planets. One was suspected and its orbit postulated based on the behavior of other observable bodies. It was proposed that their movements could best be explained by the existence of an unseen planet of particular size and position. As instruments were developed, this planet, with exactly the predicted characteristics, was eventually “discovered” by empirical means.
This same phenomenon is evident in the intangible values and characteristics that make up so much of human personality. One cannot see love. But one may see what love causes people to do. One cannot see joy, but its existence is evident in the smiles, laughter, and excitement of happy people. An “unknowable” thing may be comprehended by observation of its effect upon other, visible, things.
This obviously applies especially to our knowledge of God. He is invisible, unseen, and unseeable by men (1 Timothy 6:16). Yet we see what he has done, from the beginning of all things till now. The evidence of God’s existence is so great that the Bible says unbelief is possible only through willful denial.
“For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:20,21).
One of the great blessings we have is the ability to know God. No man has seen God, but we have learned of him and can comprehend him through faith. Jesus declares him to us in his life, his nature, and his teachings (John 1:18). Great men and women of faith have enlarged upon this testimony, providing even more evidence to support our belief and obedience. The Hebrew writer, after reminding us of many such heroes, exhorts, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).
The evidence of our senses is only one path to knowledge. Other, greater comprehension may be gained by deduction, inference, and faith. Let us not limit our wisdom by failing to use all the means granted to us. Rather let us heed the divine invitation, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

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