The Experiential Nature of the Knowledge of God

And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. (Genesis 3:7 KJV)

As a young boy, I often heard preachers say, “God’s Word does not only inform you but transforms you.” This simple truth of the informational and transformational dimension of God’s Word is surprisingly simple and profound. The knowledge of God transforms us; it changes our experience in both natural and spiritual matters.

We can trace the experiential nature of spiritual knowledge back to the Garden of Eden. In the Garden, God warned Adam and Eve that they would know evil if they disobeyed and ate from the forbidden tree. This knowledge of evil transcended an intellectual awareness of evil; it was a total experience of what evil is, including how it feels like. When they ate the forbidden fruit, they immediately felt, for the first time, shame and fear, which were not merely thoughts but emotions. That knowledge of evil manifested as the feeling of shame, fear, and exposure.

Spiritual knowledge operates in us in two stages. The first stage is informational, where our intellects know or become aware of reality. At this stage, knowledge exists in us as thoughts: we are aware of something. When we read the Bible or listen to a sermon, that knowledge is first informational; it lands on our intellects, and we are aware of what is written or spoken. So intellectual knowledge is not wrong or bad. It is the landing page and the springboard for transformational or experiential knowledge. Please do not assume, as I did as a young Pentecostal, that scripture revelation bypasses our intellect. It does not. Rather than avoid the intellect, the Spirit uses the intellect as the first touchpoint for knowledge to prepare for the next stage.

The knowledge in our minds diffuses in our being to influence and transform our minds, feelings, bodies, personalities, actions, words, and circumstances. Consider how the evening news can evoke depressive feelings—you saw something, become aware of it in your mind, and that thought changed your feelings. I cannot tell how that works, but therein lies the mystery of knowledge. God made us that way, knowledge beings. So, The Spirit of God will take the knowledge of God you have heard to make you know faith, joy, peace, healing, and prosperity. He sent His Word so that we may know it (informational) and then be transformed by it (be healed, changed, delivered) (Psalm 119:20). 

Consequently, God’s ultimate purpose for the scriptures is not intellectual knowledge. He wants us to experience Him. But to be transformed by the scriptures, we must first be informed. This informational knowledge is the means to the transformational.

Meditate

What is the difference between the informational and transformational knowledge of God?

Apply the Word

While Pentecostals often seek experience without thorough informational knowledge, the non-Pentecostals are often full of informational knowledge without experience. Avoid either of these extremes. Be full of the informational and let it produce the experiential.

Pray

Ask the Spirit, often called the Spirit of knowledge, to teach you how to enter divine experiences by the knowledge of the Word.

Read & Watch

The mystery of spiritual knowledge
The Quality and Quantity of the Knowledge of God
The Knowledge of Good and Evil
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