Knowledge vs Experience

Ephesians 3:19 AMP [That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!

Do you find that spending time alone each day with the Lord in the Word and in prayer to be difficult? If so, you do not know experientially the love of Jesus as deeply as you should. After getting married, just reading your spouse’s love letters will hardly be satisfying! Once you taste Jesus’ indescribably sweet love you will look forward to communing with Him daily.

After having repented of our sins and iniquities we will realize the incredible love of our Savior and be drawn into His love like no other love we have ever experienced. Paul prays that we will be able to comprehend with the saints the limitless love of Jesus that surpass knowledge. Paul admonishes followers of Jesus to be filled with all the fullness of God. As many have said, this is the purpose of all communion. This singleness of focus is the journey that will bring us to maturity in Him.

  1. The sturdy Oak tree

To be rooted in love pictures a sturdy, growing Oak tree that sinks down a tap  root that holds it in place to withstand hurricane force winds and fierce floods.  Even so, the Christian life is a living, growing relationship with God. Love is the first-listed fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). If you are walking in the power of the Holy Spirit, love will manifest in your life. Conversely, if you are not growing in demonstrable love for God and others, you are not walking in the Spirit.

We need to be very realistic in applying Paul’s point here. Some come into the Christian life from an upbringing where love was nonexistent. They have known only anger, abuse, and fear. But, when they hear about the love of Jesus on the cross, they trust Him as Savior, and they step into a brand new incredible relationship. But since they have never experienced genuine love, they shrink from Physical touch. Paul’s words here suggest that they must begin to sink down that tap root into God’s love and build a foundation centered on loving and trusting God. Love must become the motive for all that they think and do.

Too often new believers are directed into acquiring Bible knowledge. But,  knowledge without love only feeds pride (1 Cor. 8:1). Paul says that if we have all knowledge, but do not have love, we are nothing (1 Cor. 13:2). God is to be our focus. By focusing on Him alone we will become like Him. That’s where loving others comes into play.

Unfortunately new believers are also often pushed into working for the Lord. But if such service is not rooted and grounded in love, it profits us nothing (1 Cor. 13:3). At the heart of loving God is dying to self, and none of us dies to self without a struggle. Just as the test of a tree’s roots is a strong storm, so the test of your love is when these sorts of trials hit.

  1. Comprehending Christ’s love does not come naturally.

“To be able to comprehend,” or, “to have the strength to grasp” this immense love of Jesus is not a humanly attainable goal. We must have the Holy Spirit’s help. This is a lifetime quest; thus, we can never say, “I’m there!”

  1. Love matures in community.

Paul prays that we may be able to comprehend with all the saints this measureless love of Jesus. Quite often we grow in love when another believer demonstrates the love of Jesus to us during a time of distress or need. Sometimes we grow in Jesus’ love when we have to work through relational difficulties with another believer. Any love that is merely theoretical and has not been tested in difficult relationships will not stand the test. Genuine love must be worked out with people. That requires that we grow in patience, kindness,  forgiveness, humility and self discipline.

  1. Knowing Jesus’ love is the journey of a lifetime.

Paul writes (3:18-19), that we may be able to comprehend “what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge” It is a deliberate paradox. We can know something of His great love, and it is definite knowledge, not just speculation. But, in another sense we can never know it completely, because God is infinite.

The measurements that Paul gives emphasize the immensity of Jesus’ love. You can go as far as you can, and you still will not have explored all that there is to know of Jesus’ great love.

We can never get to the end of such immense love! We need to ask “Do I know His love experientially more today than I did a year ago?”

The ultimate goal of knowing Jesus is, “that you may be filled to all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:19). Paul is praying that we will attain to spiritual perfection, having all that God is to fill us to overflowing. As our capacity to receive His beautiful character grows, He keeps filling us again and again. So we should join Paul (Phil. 3:14) in pressing “on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Application Questions

Knowledge gained through experience is far superior and many times more useful than bookish knowledge. Mahatma Gandhi. Do you think most people would agree with this? Do you? What Scriptural support can you give?

How can a person from an abusive background learn to trust and love God?

Why would Albert Einstein say “The only source of knowledge is experience”.

Can that idea apply to the Christian also? Do you have Scripture for your opinion?

How does walking in the power of the Holy Spirit relate to experiencing Jesus’ love? Support your position with Scripture.

Additional Scriptures

Philippians 3:8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,

10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;

John 10:14 “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me,

John 17:3 This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

1 John 2:3 By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him;

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 This is the true God and eternal life.

Quotes about experience 

He knows the water best who has waded through it. Danish Proverb

That learning which thou gettest by thy own observation and experience is far beyond that which thou gettest by precept; as the knowledge of a traveler exceeds that which is got by reading. Thomas à Kempis





Unusual Encounter

I had gone to Walmart to buy several tubes of grape juice. But I forgot my glasses which I need for reading and couldn’t see the ingredients list. Quickly looking around I saw two girls shopping on the opposite side of the isle so I stepped over and asked for help. They graciously stopped to help me and I was embarrassed when I realized I had picked up a tube of orange juice instead. So we went back to the juice case and picked up a tube of grape juice and one young lady read the ingredients list to me. I thanked her and they went on their way.

My home town population is less than 20,000 but we do sometimes see strangers. The two girls who helped me were unusually tall, wore different colored patches of frizzy hair and they had on boots up to their knees. Their other clothes were unremarkable although a bit like a thrift store. Yet they were courteous.

When I got home I asked the Holy One what the significance of that encounter was. The girls acted as one when helping me choose the right product so I surmised that they may have been lesbians. But I’ve never been one to prejudge others; I enjoy those who are different from me. That’s part of my qualification as a carrier of the Good News to other peoples and cultures.

The precious Holy One whispered that He would like me to pray for the two young women, so I spent some time searching the Spirit’s heart for them and then speaking to their hearts. I asked the Holy One to reveal Jesus to them through dreams and other encounters. I dispatched angels to send them other encounters with believers and in whatever other ways He thought best. I also asked the Holy One to put a cloud of protection around them to put the enemy in confusion while He works in their lives. What an honor to partner with Him in His incredible love for the people around us every day.