Use Your Knowledge to Edify and Inspire

The following excerpt is from the updated version of the Edwards' sermon "Christian Knowledge." It is contained in the book Many Mansions, Glorious Grace, and Christian Knowledge. You can read Edward's original sermon at The Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University. For the sake of comparison, Edwards original version of this section is also presented below.

 

When it comes to Christian knowledge, converse with others about what you are learning. This is a key point, and an area where we can work and improve. When people converse with one another, they have a tremendous opportunity to improve one another’s knowledge of divine things. But in order for this happen, we must improve our ability to converse about what we are learning. In particular, when you are ignorant of a particular point of divinity, don’t be ashamed to show your ignorance. Admit your deficiency in that area and be willing to learn from others. Those who do have knowledge of the point should be willing to communicate it without pride or flashiness. Christians should be more inclined to enter these types of conversations. When we do, we will edify and instruct one another in amazing ways.


Help others with your knowledge. Never seek knowledge for the sake of applause. Never seek knowledge for the sake of winning disputes. If it is applause and victory in argument that you want, beware. It may not be knowledge that you get at all. Instead, you might be on the path of error to perdition, as is so often the case with the prideful and arrogant who love to show off their knowledge. They travel a dangerous road, and their punishment is deserved. When the prideful and arrogant acquire rational facts, it helps them very little, if at all. Paul teaches that this so-called knowledge does nothing but “puff” them up (1 Corinthians 8:1). To avoid their error, always remember that the knowledge you obtain is meant for the good of others. Use your knowledge of God and his ways to edify, uplift, encourage, and inspire those around you.

 

Edwards Original


Improve conversation with others to this end. How much might persons promote each other's knowledge in divine things, if they would improve conversation as they might; if men that are ignorant were not ashamed to show their ignorance, and were willing to learn of others; if those that have knowledge would communicate it, without pride and ostentation; and if all were more disposed to enter on such conversation as would be for their mutual edification and instruction.


Seek not to grow in knowledge chiefly for the sake of applause, and to enable you to dispute with others; but seek it for the benefit of your souls, and in order to practice. If applause be your end, you will not be so likely to be led to the knowledge of the truth, but may justly, as often is the case of those who are proud of their knowledge, be led into error to your own perdition. This being your end, if you should obtain much rational knowledge, it would not be likely to be of any benefit to you, but would puff you up with pride. 1 Corinthians 8:1, “Knowledge puffeth up.”

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