For I would that you knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea…
I. THE KNOWLEDGE OR UNDERSTANDING TO WHICH ASSURANCE BELONGS.
1. Men have two kinds of knowledge respecting Divine things — the one of the intellect alone, which is the fruit of study, just as the natural sciences are; the other a higher knowledge built upon the former, or the former transfigured. It baptizes the understanding with feeling, and the feeling with Divine influences. It is the product of love and obedience more than of inquiry, and is rather the gift of God than the acquisition of man.
2. But although distinguished these are not to be separated. We can possess the lower without the higher, but not the higher without the lower. Intellectual knowledge of the things of God is right as far as it goes. Its objects are true and its apprehension of them is correct. Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing implies an understanding of what is heard. This is the window which admits into the soul the light of heaven; and as the room is lighter if the window be large and clear, so also the spiritual knowledge is likely to be more vivid if the natural knowledge of God's things be abundant. The function of the one is to build the altar, arrange the wood, and plan the sacrifice; the function of the other is to bring the fire from heaven.
3. But this is insufficient, and the super-excellence of spiritual knowledge makes it appear pale and poor in comparison. It is superficial. It does not penetrate down to the heart and will, but lies on the surface of the mind; nor does it pierce beyond the outward aspect of God's truth, and is not in communion with its glory.
4. Look at the texts which explain the nature of the higher knowledge.-11 Corinthians 8:1-3. Its fundamental element is love; love comprehending what the most cultured intellect without love cannot receive. The knowledge which is not grounded in love does not build up, but only puffs up.-2Colossians 1:9, 10. Its nature is spiritual because its source is supernatural, and concerns itself with the highest aspects of God's truth which are hid from the natural man. It is a power which rules the whole man and results in a walk pleasing to God. The highest degree of it, therefore, constitutes the perfection of the religious life.-3Philippians 1:9-11. Here again the chief element is love.
II. THE ASSURANCE BELONGING TO THIS KNOWLEDGE.
1. The assurance is not a property added to the knowledge, but the cream of the knowledge itself, and the higher and more extensive the knowledge the stronger the assurance.
2. Some Christians have an assurance which to some extent is the result of study (Luke 1:4; 1 Peter 3:15). This is not possessed by all the saints. They are not able to impart this assured knowledge concerning things in which they have been but imperfectly instructed. But they have assurance of the greatest personal value. Reasons may be circulated, but not intuitions and experiences. My neighbour must see with his own eyes and feel with his own heart what I see and feel in order to partake of the same assurance. It is a revelation on the one side and an intuition on the other.
(J. Hughes, D. D.)There is no wealth for man's soul like the spiritual consciousness of the glory of the truth of God.
I. BY IT EVERY PART OF OUR INTELLECTUAL AND MORAL NATURE IS ENRICHED.
1. It gives light to the mind, such a light as only comes from the Sun of Righteousness, dissipating darkness, clearing away doubts, solving perplexities that nothing else can remove, so that the man illuminated by it becomes a child of light and of the day.
2. It gives' peace to the conscience, even the peace passing all understanding which the world can neither give nor take away.
3. It sheds abroad in the heart that love which is its true life, the love of God and Christ to man.
4. It gives purity to the life and nobleness to the character, bringing it under the influence of heavenly motives and the Divine operation, so that the man is transformed into the image of God from glory to glory.
5. It gives glory to man hood, making it a partaker of the Divine nature, and enriching it with the prospect of the unfading crown and eternal blessedness.
II. THESE RICHES CAN NEVER PERISH. Other riches may take to themselves wings and fly away, or otherwise disappoint, but the wealth which the gospel gives forms part of ourselves for ever more. Disease cannot affect it; death cannot invalidate its worth; the cares of time and the trials of life only tend to enhance its value and brighten its possession to the soul.
(J. Spence, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;