Leadership Letters
Leadership Letters

Writings on Christian leadership and leader development by Malcolm Webber

July 2013
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The Purpose of Biblical Knowledge is That We May Know Him!

Malcolm WebberMalcolm Webber

Our knowledge of the Word of Truth has many God-ordained purposes, some of which are as follows. Firstly, our knowledge of the Word of God, by the revelation of the Holy Spirit, should lead us into the personal experience and knowledge of God.

We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true… (1 John 5:20)

Then, our knowledge of the Word will help us to understand and articulate that experience.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:16-17)

Finally, our knowledge will guard our experience by protecting us from false influences.

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! (Gal. 1:8; see also Acts 17:11; Ps. 19:11a; 119:11)

But our knowledge was never intended to supplant our experience.

We must possess both the knowledge of the Word of God, and personal fellowship with the God of the Word. Those who have knowledge without experience will be fruitless and dry, their lives satisfying to neither themselves nor God. But those who seek only experience without the Word, often end up in a state of vague disorientation, being led more by impulsive flights of fancy than by Divine inspiration. Let us have both knowledge and experience. Then our knowledge will lead us into true fellowship with God. In turn, our experience of God will lead us into a deeper understanding of His Word.

Here is the balance of the Christian life. The Word of God leads us to God, who in turn will reveal His Word to us, which points us again to Him and deepens our fellowship with Him. Thus we experience genuine spiritual growth and maturity. This is true knowledge and true experience. True knowledge of the Word will always lead us into personal experience of God; and true experience will always point us to, and be in accord with, the Word of God.

So we see that knowledge is to work in harmony with our personal experience of God. But our knowledge was never intended by God to be a substitute for our experience. We must not let it become this in our lives.

If we approach the Word of God striving after knowledge either for the purpose of self-promotion in the eyes of men, or to learn how to live the “Christian life” apart from a living union with Him, then its study will not profit us. But if we approach His Word as babes, with surrendered hearts, sincerely seeking to know Him, then God will reveal His Word which in turn will reveal Him and bring us into personal fellowship with Him. It will be this fellowship with God – and not only our knowledge about God – that will be the source of all joy and fruitfulness in our lives.

But if you, like many in this hour, have allowed your knowledge to become a substitute for heart-experience in your life – if you have used the Word to give you knowledge to live the “Christian life” apart from a lively fellowship with Him – then please have the honesty and the spiritual courage to admit your need and your true lack. Stop the religious charade. It is often hard for men and women who have spent their lives in their own “religious education” and who may even have prominently taught others, to admit that the bulk of their endeavors has produced little but wood, hay and stubble. Nevertheless, if you refuse to acknowledge your need, you will hinder God from coming to you and bringing you to a place of genuine fellowship with Himself.

Christianity is the restoration of man to realized fellowship – to intimate union – with his God. If we are not pursuing this supremely and experiencing this genuinely in our lives, then we are not pursuing Jesus but some other religion of man. Furthermore, it is not true knowledge we possess, but some other kind.

We realize that by some this attitude will no doubt be seen as denigrating the Scriptures. This, however, is not to denigrate the Scriptures, but to exalt them. What greater praise could be made of the Word of God, than to declare that, by the revelation of Holy Spirit, it contains the power to lead a man to the simplicity of a true fellowship of love with the infinite God and Creator of all things?

Oh, Holy Scriptures! Oh, glorious Word! Oh, precious gift of God to men! Thou that would lead us into the very Presence of the Infinite One, who alone is able to keep us from falling and to present us faultless before the Presence of His glory with exceeding joy. Oh, faithful Word; if only we will, in child-like simplicity, believe and obey thee! How well Jesus’ words to the religious experts of His time are fulfilled in this our shallow day of sophisticated theological dryness:

You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life. (John 5:39-40; cf. Acts 13:27)

When these same religious leaders confronted Peter and John after the day of Pentecost, they perceived that by their standards the two Apostles were “unschooled, ordinary men.” Yet, marveling at their boldness and the spiritual authority with which they spoke, they recognized the true source of their spiritual wisdom and power: Peter and John “had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13; cf. Mark 3:14; John 15:27).

The early apostles received their motivation to preach, their qualification to preach, and the content of their preaching, not from formal, didactic religious training but from their years of personal fellowship with Christ. Certainly Jesus did spend a lot of time teaching His disciples, but at the heart of their “Christian life” (and also at the heart of His teaching to them) was their daily walk with Him, their constant communion and fellowship with Him, their years of personal experience of Him.

They beheld Him; they touched Him; they talked with Him; they lived with Him; they loved Him; and they experienced His love for them. That fellowship was the simple source and nature of their “Christianity”, and of all their future ministry to others.

Furthermore, they went preaching the Gospel not just for the purpose of giving their hearers a collection of information about the principles of Christianity, but also to bring them into the real fellowship with God they themselves enjoyed. When they presented the Gospel they sought to make known to the people not just the Doctrine of Christ, but also “the power and Presence of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 1:16; cf. Matt. 22:29). That was their stated purpose in preaching the Good News!

God’s ultimate aim for His people is that they know Him, and love Him, and experience Him and enjoy Him.

Jesus’ longing is that His people see Him, hear His voice, taste Him and touch Him (2 Cor. 3:18; John 5:25; 10:3, 27; 1 Pet. 2:3; 1 John 1:1-3). Obviously the experience we are speaking of here is not an outward physical one but an inward spiritual one. Yet, to our spiritual senses, it is just as tangible and just as real. Our calling is not just to a legal relationship with our God, but to an experienced fellowship.

Do not settle for less than what God has intended for you from all eternity. Anything less is a bowl of pottage, a morsel of meat. Anything less is Christian existence and not Christian life.

Let us give up our Christian existence, and embark upon an experience of Christian life! Let us embark upon an experience of true Christian leadership.

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