It is possible to know a lot about God without really knowing much of anything at all.
A person can be an unbeliever and have an extensive understanding of biblical doctrines, be orthodox in all his opinions, and yet not ever really have tasted or enjoyed or delighted in the gospel, the Savior, the glory of God.
Jonathan Edwards once put it like this,
“The knowledge of a thing is not in proportion to the extensiveness of our notions, or number of circumstances known, only; but it consists chiefly in the intensiveness of the idea. Thus it is not he that has heard a long description of the sweetness of honey that can be said to have the greatest understanding of it, but he that has tasted. If a man should read whole volumes upon this one subject, the taste of honey, he would never get so lively an apprehension of it as he had that had tasted…”
There’s knowing and there’s knowing.
There’s a knowledge that is basically useless even if extensive, and a knowledge that is worth more than gold, even if it just a start.
And obviously, as people who study our Bibles and go to church and spend a lot of time thinking and talking about God, we want to know which kind of knowledge we have. There’s no fool like a fool who doesn’t know he is a fool, after all.
Jonathan Edwards suggests four different ways of evaluating which kind of knowledge you have.
Does the knowledge you have about God change what is going on in your heart?
This is something only you can really know, but are you different deep down than you were before? Is there peace, joy, hope, love? Or just a plastic smile?
Does the knowledge you have about God purify your life?
I once heard someone say he doesn’t ask people what they are learning from the Bible, but how they are changing from what they have learned. That is because, spiritual knowledge is a practical knowledge.
Does the knowledge you have about God produce joy in your mind?
We are not talking about curiousity here, but delight. “The believer,” Edwards explains, “is filled with joy because he is pleased and delighted with the sight. The knowledge itself is a sweet sort of knowledge to him. He loves to view and behold the things of the Spirit of God; they are to him the most pleasing and beautiful objects in the world. He can never satisfy his eyes with looking on them, because he beholds them as certain truths and as things of all the most excellent.”
Does the knowledge you have about God puff you up or make you more humble?
This is essential! Those who really see God for who He is see themselves for who they are, and there isn’t anyone, who has seen himself for who he really is, who walks away proud of himself. The only people who think much of themselves are people who don’t know much about themselves, and that’s because they don’t know as much about God as they might think.