From Knowledge to Knowing

What is the difference between knowledge and knowing? Webster's online dictionary defines knowledge in this way - "the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association..." It can also be defined as, "the sum of what is known, body of knowledge..." The word knowing is defined - "having or reflecting knowledge, information or intelligence."



From these definitions it would seem to be the case, we can all have some sort of knowledge about many things. I know that two plus two equals four. I also know, water is made up of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. However, knowing two plus two equals four does not mean I know how to do math. Nor does knowing water is made up of hydrogen and oxygen make me hydrated. Knowledge that becomes knowing is a direct result of acting on that knowledge. 

To take knowledge from our heads and make it a part of our lives takes effort. We are not sponges. We do not absorb knowledge and have it make us into a super human computer. We have to do something with the knowledge. Knowing what a number is, and a few, often quoted facts, does not mean we know how to add, subtract, multiply and divide, let alone do more complex functions, like algebraic equations and geometric formulas. To take this step from knowledge to knowing we have to learn. We must sit under the tutelage of one who knows and understands mathematics in order to come to a point of knowing it ourselves. 

water fountain

In a similar fashion, knowing what components make up water, does not give me the hydration so important for life. I must take the water and actually drink it. That is the only way my body will obtain the life giving qualities that water has. 

In our lives as Christians, we come to have a body of knowledge. We know the Bible is God's word. We know from various passages in scripture of God's love, justice and mercy. We also know about Jesus; His birth, life, death, and resurrection. But how to we take knowledge in our spiritual lives and making it knowing?



Anyone can have knowledge of God. Plug the word God into Google and see what comes up. However, having knowledge of God does not mean you are a person of faith. I have knowledge of Allah, but I am not a Muslim. I have knowledge of Buddha, but I am not a Buddhist. So what takes us from knowledge to knowing, when it comes to faith?  

Belief is not the result of an intellectual act, but the result of an act of my will whereby I deliberately commit myself.
— Oswald Chambers - My Utmost for His Highest - December 22nd

I personally believe that when we do as Oswald says in the above quote, we go from knowledge to knowing. When we apply our will and deliberately commit ourselves to God in a relationship we no longer have knowledge, we know. How does this take place? In a supernatural way, through the Holy Spirit. 

In Biblical times, the word know was associated with sexual intercourse. It implied intimacy. A person who has sex with another in this fashion, goes from knowledge of that person to knowing that person in an intimate way. One of the issues with sex outside the parameters of a committed relationship is the inability to truly know each other. This might partially explain why so many relationships fail. The partners involved have never gone from knowledge of each other to knowing each other. 

The type of knowledge that we want to have of God and of His son Jesus is an intimate one. We want to commit ourselves to Him in a deep, vulnerable way, so that we no longer just know facts and statements made about Him, but the deep inner layers of the Almighty Himself. This is not an intellectual act, other than the thought, "I want to commit myself to God." It is an act of the will, just as much as saying "I do" is an act of the heart. 

For example, read the following verse.

Shout for joy, you heavens;
rejoice, you earth;
burst into song, you mountains!
For the Lord comforts his people
and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.
— Isaiah 49:13 (NIV)

In the midst of chaos, I can read that verse and with the eye roll of a junior higher think, "Yeah, right."



Or, I can commit my will to believe and suddenly it becomes the firm, heart felt statement of, "Yeah! Right!" Now, I get it. God really does comfort and have compassion. I know, because I know (intimately), that He will comfort and have compassion. I have felt it and I have seen it. 

Do you see what happened there? I went from knowledge to knowing. I committed myself to believe the promises in His word and His response to my commitment was to draw me into the deeper knowing of Himself. 

It is God and His Spirit who take us from knowledge to knowing - knowing Him; His mercy and grace; His long suffering and goodness. Merely reading, gaining knowledge and nodding our heads that we believe does not a believer make. It is our act of the will, our choices day in and day out, moment by moment that move us from rote belief and knowledge to true, heart felt faith; to knowing God.