Partial Knowledge

from Jan 14, 2011 Category: Articles

We live in a culture that is a quick and dirty culture. We want to become mature Christians in five easy lessons. We want to become saints by fifteen minutes a day. We want to have flat stomachs and strong abs by three workouts a week. That may work over a given period of time for your abs, but it’s not going to work for your soul. Attending the school of God takes time and labor and energy and deeply committing oneself to prayer, to the study of Scripture, to fellowship with other believers, to ministry within the life of the church.

We need to listen to Paul: “When I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor. 13:11-13). Paul was the most mature Christian alive in the world in his day, a man who had the equivalent of two doctorates in theology by the time he was twenty-one years old. He was a man who spent years in the desert being instructed by Christ Himself and who was made an apostle for the Gentiles. Yet in his letter to the Corinthians, it is that man who was saying, “Now I know in part.” He understood that even his understanding was limited and not worthy to be compared with what he would enjoy when he entered into heaven.

He uses the image of a mirror which may be somewhat misleading for us. When you look at a mirror that is made with the craftsmanship by which glass is constructed today, sometimes the mirror shows you things more clearly than you would ever notice looking at a person from five feet away. But in those days, mirrors were not quite as brilliant in their reflection as they are today. There was a certain dimness to them, a certain internal distortion, and Paul was saying that’s the way our knowledge is now; it’s partial. We see in the glass darkly. We see in the mirror dimly. But all dimness and darkness will be removed when we enter into glory and we look at things as they are bathed in the overwhelming light that comes from the presence of God.

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