Thursday, March 24, 2011

Knowledge as Submission by Andree Seu

"Knowledge as Submission"
By Andree Seu

A very helpful book in understanding how it is that we humans “know” anything—and supremely, how we know God—is Esther Lightcap Meek’s Longing to Know.

Meek demystifies the enterprise of knowing God by demonstrating that in an important sense it is on a continuum with knowing our auto mechanic. It is the same kind of ordinary knowing—and draws on the same kinds of very human activities—as the knowing that we experience in relation to the man who changes our oil.

There are many little disparate bits of accumulated data that go into knowing our auto mechanic, some of them empirical but some of them extremely subtle, intangible, and unquantifiable. You see the kind of work he does on your car. You have conversations with him and get a “feel” for the man. The initial feeling you have is either confirmed or contradicted over time and subsequent dealings with him. Maybe he is a better man or mechanic than you thought at first; maybe he is not as good.

So knowing is making sense of a jumble of varied information. In the case of the auto mechanic, it is the eureka moment when we have finally put all the clues together and “get” who this man is. Knowing God is like that. We have wrestled with such random facts as (1) our sin, guilt, faults; (2) finding ourselves on a planet with mountains and stars around us that need an explanation; (3) a Bible that offers explanation. And out of the wrestling comes the belief that the God of the Scriptures fits the clues together best.

I am terribly oversimplifying this. I have left out the crucial part that apart from the Holy Spirit we cannot put these clues together. That is the not-ordinary component of knowing. God is able to give a person profound assurance of His reality even if the person is lousy at putting clues together.

An insight in Meek’s book that blew me away is the idea of submission as the final and indispensable step of knowing. This is as radical as it is wonderful because we don’t usually think of “knowing” in the same breath as “submitting.” We think they belong to the two unrelated categories of mind and will. That’s because we have a hangover from ancient Greek philosophy that conceives of “knowing” as a purely cerebral activity, and activity demanding no commitment on the part of the knower.

Once we have struggled a while (in some cases, a whole lifetime) with all the jumbled “clues” of our existence, and a coherent pattern finally jumps out at us (by the enlightening of the Holy Spirit), the pattern exercises a kind of authority over us. It’s do or die time: Will I submit to what I can no longer ignore?

There will still be “gaps” in the pattern. (Possible example: If God is good, why do children die? Why didn’t He answer that prayer?) But once we see the overall “pattern,” and it is a compelling one, the gaps no longer threaten. They are merely not-yet-seen portions of the tapestry.

What Meek has done most for me is to remind me that I do not really know God—and I cannot really say I have faith in Him—until I have submitted to what I learned about Him in His Word. That is the final and indispensable act in the process of knowing. We “submit” to our claim that we know that our mechanic has changed the oil; we do that by paying him and driving off 10 hours to Michigan. Not dissimilarly, we “submit” to our claim that we know God by living as though His promises are true and will hold us up. (This is the punch line of this column.)

I sometimes shudder to think of the days when I knew the theology and could talk the talk, but I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I had actually trusted God in an active way. Without that knowing breaking into doing, all I had was yards and yards of good chain, with a rotten link at the end of it.

Jesus was more succinct. He said, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46)

[Andree Seu writes for WORLD Magazine]


  1. Thanks, I appreciated this. It kind of goes with what I was speaking to the Lord about last night –concerning knowledge and revelation of the things of God and His word.

    I think it is VERY important for Christians to know what they believe and why. I do not debate other Christians any more about doctrines, etc. they need to find out for themselves and stand on the truth of the word.
    When the Lord teaches or shows me something I don’t have the need (anymore) to run out and publicize it on my blog or tell everyone everything I have experienced concerning God. Since all of Gods people are on different levels and growing differently, many are not ready to know or even to hear about what I may know. Does this make sense Tim??

    I like to share information but I am not a teacher; who the Lord holds to a high level of accountability. If people would only let the Holy Spirit teach them, and not men, they wouldn’t experience what my friend is going through now, always questioning.

    Patience and persistence in seeking the Lord is also important.

  2. I know that the Lord has raised up teachers to instruct and strengthen the Body of Christ, but ultimately each believer must go to the Lord and let the Holy Ghost teach them.

    I have learned the hard way that just because the Lord revealed something to me, it does not mean that everyone is able to receive it. We are all on different timetables, we each have a different measure of faith; some people are on milk and some people are on meat; some people are saved, but they are not yet dissolved into Christ and surrendered to His Lordship.

    With time, dying to self and the help of the Holy Ghost comes wisdom.

    It is with time that we become timeless.

    "Christ plays in ten thousand places."

    --Gerard Manley Hopkins

  3. Wow!SUBMIT is the key word. Great stuff. My Prayer: "May we be led by the Spirit dear Lord. and When we say, "YOUR WILL BE DONE." May it by faith through your great grace be done. Amen.

  4. I know there are "called" teachers and then there are people who are just puffed up with knowledge. Unfortunatlety there are plenty people who will follow them and get derailed.

    Eph 4:14 That we [henceforth] be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, [and] cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

    I pray that my friend will come to her senses and quit seeking here and there for knowledge and wait on the Lord.

  5. "In patience possess ye your souls."

    "Be still and know that I am God."

    Elijah heard the still small voice.

    Christians need to stop being so busy, busy, busy about so many churchy church things and hunker down and be alone with the Lord so that HE can teach them. We must be about our Father's business and not about our own selfish busyness.

    Selfish busyness is idolatry; doing our Father's business comes through submission. Submission means DEATH TO SELF. Oswald Chambers would call this "interior martyrdom". So be it.

  6. Amen, listening to that still small voice. here are 2 notes I'd like to add: One on submission and the other to Sarah when she said she didn't "have the need to run out and publicize..."
    Oswald Chambers writes (MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST, JUNE 18) "be determined to recklessly abandon yourself, surrendering everything to Him. It is only through abandonment of yourself and your circumstances that you will RECOGNIZE Him. You will only recognize His voice more clearly through recklessness - being willing to risk your all." (END QUOTE).
    I personally admire and am mentored by Tim's complete recklessness and abandonment = submission of his will to His Master's will..of himself to the Lord....
    2. For Sarah: I understand your point exactly about not having the need to share your life etc.. BUT.... please read this extract I found in my devotions this morning that I feel the Lord might have for you. from Bob Hoeskstra.. day by day grace: Day By Day By Grace
    Bob Hoekstra
    March 25, 2011
    Once More on the Resurrection and Sanctification
    For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us. (2 Corinthians 1:8-10)
    Our passage speaks again of the Lord's resurrection power operating in our daily Christian lives, in the process of sanctification and spiritual growth. The setting in which the Lord did this resurrecting work was in the midst of trials while Paul and his team were serving God.

    Paul did not want other believers to be unaware of his difficulties. "For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia." Too often, we are tempted to keep our struggles totally private. Thereby, we rob glory from God when He delivers us. Also, we keep others from learning important lessons that come from watching God fulfill the faithful promises of His word."
    God bless his saints...

  7. Hi Traveler, thank you for sharing that, I appreciate it. I will mediate on it.

    I do agree and I know there are things to be revealed that will glorify God that he would have me share, when the time is right.
    In Christ, Sarah

  8. For sure, Sarah... Thanks for your insight. God bless you,
    In Christ

  9. Submission is a real tough nut to crack for many people. Submission to the Lord is the narrow path. It is very difficult. We should meditate on what happened to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane; He was in such horrible anguish that he sweat blood. Jesus submitted to His Father's will and died on the Cross for the Sin of the world.

    I have submitted myself to the Lord and He has had me hitchhike throughout the United States for most of the past fifteen years. Once in a while, someone will pick me up on the road and say, "You must really like to hitchhike." No. Sometimes I dislike hitchhiking and sometimes I hate hitchhiking. But this is God's will for my life. It doesn't matter if I dislike, hate or love something; my Father's will cuts through everything like a hot knife through butter. So be it.

    My life is very simple: I obey the Lord or else He chastens me. Submission and obedience; submission and obedience. My Father has had me do some difficult things that I didn't want to do--but I have never had to sweat blood.

    Submission to my Father's will puts to death my selfish will and I become stronger spiritually (it is not me that lives, but Christ within me).

    Glory to God in the Highest!