“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better,” Ephesians 1:17
I’ve always loved that prayer by Paul for the Ephesians, and for us as believers. Of all the things that Paul could ask for, he asks that we would be able to know Father better.
Knowledge, in the Bible, is of two parts – intellectual comprehension (wisdom) and experiential understanding (revelation). The two always go together. One part devoid of the other is incomplete knowledge and often leads to error.
Intellectual comprehension is the easy piece, it is what we most commonly associate with the word “knowledge.” Intellectual comprehension is what most of us were taught in school. It is the ability to “wrap our minds” around an idea, to cognitively grasp a concept.
Experience is something we tend to shy away from in most Christian circles. It is viewed as subjective emotionalism and, therefore, prone to abuse. But that isn’t what Paul says. He says that revelation is necessary in order to know God and, by extension, love Him.
Revelation means “to reveal,” or “to take away the veil.” Revelation is when we encounter something that has always been there, but we were ignorant of it. It is when Holy Spirit makes something real to us, when we understand with our hearts and not just our heads. Experiential knowledge is life-giving, as when Adam knew his wife and she conceived. Experience creates space within us for new and abundant life. Experience makes sterile and impotent theology into a vibrant relationship.
Experience isn’t everything, but it IS something. I’m of the opinion that we should seek to experience what we know as diligently as we seek to learn new things. We need both in order to thrive and advance in our love of God.