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by Samuel Kuo

Scripture reveals to us that at one point in Jewish history God lamented, “There is no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land” (Hos 4:1). He further mourned, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hos 4:6a). Note that these grievances were not directed at the entire world; they were specific charges against God’s chosen people. God had an expectation of His beloved people, and they did not live up to it. Rather than walking in His ways, they betrayed the true and living God to join themselves to idols, harlotry, and wickedness (Hos 4:2,12). No wonder God’s “heart churns within [Him]” (Hos 11:8).

The apostolic church also stressed the importance of growing in spiritual knowledge. In the middle of a discourse concerning Jesus Christ as our High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek, the author of Hebrews digresses to reprove the members for their declining faith. The author bemoans, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God” (Heb 5:12). It is clear the apostles also had expectations of the members. A lengthier time in Christ should naturally beget knowledgeable and mature believers—believers who would be able to instruct others. Instead, the members remained unskilled in the word, unable to discern, and dithered on the elementary principles of Christ (Heb 5:13–14, 6:1). The way the author continues also suggests these believers had regressed to the point of being borderline apostates (cf. Heb 6:4–8).

The people of God were “destroyed for lack of knowledge.” What about us? What are the things that we must know to ensure our salvation? Do we lack this knowledge? Do our children lack knowledge? Does our church lack knowledge? God was pained over that generation. How does He see ours?

The members of the apostolic church were admonished for their anemic growth. What about us? Are we growing in spiritual knowledge? In all of our years in Christ, have we graduated from milk to solid food? (Heb 5:12–14).

These historical incidents are not isolated cases. In fact they can be, and are, repeated in the church today. They thus highlight the great importance of a continual and comprehensive religious education for all believers. Clearly, it is not only for children, but also for adults. It is not only imparted in church classrooms, but also in the home. It is not only church workers who instruct, but parents are key in the molding of spiritual environments for their children.

Religious education is not only about imparting knowledge as an end-game. The knowledge eventually percolates into all aspects of living out our life for Christ. For how can we love someone we do not understand? How can we obey what we do not know? And how can we share what we do not comprehend? The foundation of all of these practical manifestations of faith is knowledge and understanding. Therefore, indeed, “Let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD” (Hos 6:3).