Wednesdays with Watson is a weekly reading taken from my favorite Puritan writer, Thomas Watson. This week’s selection is taken from The Godly Man’s Picture.
As we would prove ourselves to be godly, let us labour for this good knowledge of the Lord. What pains men will take for the achievement of natural knowledge! I have read of one, Benchorat, who spent forty years in finding out the motion of the eighth sphere. What pains, then, should we take in finding out the knowledge of God in Christ! There must be digging and searching for it, as one would search for a vein of silver: “If thou seekest her as silver…” (Prov. 2:4).
This is the best knowledge. It as far surpasses all other as the diamond does the crystal. No jewel we wear so adorns us as this: “she is more precious than rubies” (Prov. 3:15). “Man knoweth not the price thereof;…the depth saith, It is not in me: and the sea saith, It is not with me.…It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire.” (Job 28:13-16) The dark chaos was a fit emblem of an ignorant soul (Gen. 1:2)—but when God lights up the lamp of knowledge in the mind, what a new creation is there! Here the soul sparkles like the sun in its glory.
This knowledge is encouraging. We may say of the knowledge of nature, as did Solomon, “He that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow” (Eccles. 1:18). To know arts and science is to gather straw—but to know God in Christ is to gather pearl. This knowledge ushers in salvation (1 Tim. 2:4).
Question: But how shall we get this saving knowledge?
Answer: Not by the power of nature. Some speak of how far reason will go if put to good use; but, alas! the plumb line of reason is too short to fathom the deep things of God! A man can no more reach the saving knowledge of God by the power of reason, than a pigmy can reach the pyramids. The light of nature will no more help us to see Christ, than the light of a candle will help us to understand. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: neither can he know them” (1 Cor. 2:14). What shall we do, then, to know God in a soul-saving manner? I answer, let us implore the help of God’s Spirit. Paul never saw himself blind—until a light shone from heaven (Acts 9:3). God must anoint our eyes before we can see! What need did Christ have to bid Laodicea to come to him for eyesalve, if she could see before (Rev. 3:18)? Oh, let us beg the Spirit, who is “the Spirit of revelation” (Eph. 1:17). Saving knowledge is not by speculation—but by inspiration, “the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding” (Job 32:8).
We may have excellent notions in divinity—but the Holy Ghost must enable us to know them in a spiritual manner. A man may see the figures on a [sun] dial—but he cannot tell how the day goes unless the sun shines. We may read many truths in the Bible—but we cannot know them savingly until God’s Spirit shines upon us: “the Spirit searches all things, yea, the deep things of God” (1 Cor. 2:10). The Scripture reveals Christ to us—but the Spirit reveals Christ in us (Gal. 1:16). The Spirit makes known that which all the world cannot do, namely, the sense of God’s love.