Knowing enough but not knowing everything

Knowing enough but not knowing everything

You can know true things about something and yet not know everything about it. I know a fair bit about gardening, for example. I love seeing things grow. I have been enjoying picking mangoes and figs from my garden lately, and I have a fair idea how to grow most vegetables. I know the basics about gardening and soil and watering and fertiliser. But there is a lot I don’t know as well. I often come across some kind of insect that I don’t recognise. I have had plants die for not much reason. I have had to look for advice from garden centres or the internet when I get stuck on some problem.

Likewise, we can know true things about God without knowing all there is to know about God. The disciples in Matthew 14 are a great example of this. After seeing Jesus walk on water and then calm a storm, they fell down and worshipped him. They called him the Son of God. After such a long time, they had understood something important. Their master was God; for you only worship God. They had got it.

Yet they didn’t understand all that much if you think about it. In the following passages, we see them misunderstand that Jesus needed to suffer. They were concerned that the Pharisees were offended by Jesus. They made foolish suggestions at the transfiguration. In so many ways, the disciples didn’t know very much. What they did know was correct but not exhaustive.

The truth is that we don’t need to know all that much to be saved. You don’t need to answer a quiz or get a theological degree. You simply need to know you are a sinner in trouble with God and call out to God to save you. You need to know Jesus is the only way to be saved and trust in his work through his death and resurrection. That’s it. Think of the people who were converted at Pentecost in Acts 2. They were Jews who heard one sermon from Peter and saw the sign of speaking in tongues. And they believed and were in! If you interviewed them afterwards, could they have explained the Trinity to you clearly? Could they describe the exact theology of the atonement to you? Probably not. And that’s fine. They are saved even though they didn’t know all there was to know.

This doesn’t mean that you should be happy to not know very much about God! All new believers strive to know more. Those believers in Acts 2 spent each day listening to the apostle’s teaching and discussing it. We can always learn more. As a preacher, I often preach on texts I already know pretty well. I am always learning more and seeing more implications. This side of heaven, we will never know all there is to know about God.

Why does all this matter? It matters because you can be confident that what you know about God and Jesus is true. Sometimes Christians feel ill-equipped to answer the questions others ask. That’s understandable, but there will always be questions you won’t be able to answer. You can be confident that Jesus is who he says he is and that he died for your sins.

It is good for us not to know everything. It keeps us humble. God is bigger than us. There will always be mysteries and things we are not sure of. We can be sure of what Jesus did for us, for God has revealed it to us clearly in the Bible. That’s a great gift.