How Do Believers Really Know? By Spiritual Insight.


INSIGHT: the capacity to gain an accurate and deep intuitive understanding of a person or thing. (Online dictionary)

1 Corinthians 2:1-12 (ESV):

And I, when I came to you, brothers, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Wisdom from the Spirit

Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor
the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—

10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

How can we know that God is real, that the Bible is true and that we are loved and saved by grace through faith in Christ? How do we know all this and more? How do we know what we are thinking? We know because we know our own thoughts. I know far better than anyone what I am going to do in the next hour. And God knows what God is thinking and what God is doing. Just like the spirit of humans know what humans are thinking, so the spirit of God knows what God is thinking and God has given to us that spirit, His Spirit. There is a spiritual man and a natural man as we see in verse 14. The natural man (person) can’t see or imagine more than his or her world or devices but the spiritual person has the spirit of God. One of the most brilliant scholars in history, John Calvin, wrote these words:

If it be objected, “How can this be known?” I answer, both to disciples and to teachers, God is made known to be the author of it by the revelation of the same Spirit. Moses and the prophets did not utter at random what we have received from their hand, but, speaking at the suggestion of God, they boldly and fearlessly testified, what was actually true, that it was the mouth of the Lord that spoke. The same Spirit, therefore, who made Moses and the prophets certain of their calling, now also testifies to our hearts, that he has employed them as his servants to instruct us. Accordingly, we need not wonder if there are many who doubt as to the Author of the Scripture; for, although the majesty of God is displayed in it, yet none but those who have been enlightened by the Holy Spirit have eyes to perceive what ought, indeed, to have been visible to all, and yet is visible to the elect alone. This is the first clause, that we owe to the Scripture the same reverence, which we owe to God; because it has proceeded from him alone, and has nothing belonging to man mixed with it. (Commentary on 2 Timothy 3)

Look how Paul prays for the saints in Ephesus in chapter one:

17that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. 18I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

Can we imagine living with that kind of knowledge and insight, inside of us, knowing the love of the Father, the rule of Christ and the hope we have?  This is spiritual insight revealed by God’s Spirit within us. It’s God’s spirit that opens our eyes and gives us wisdom.

Is it not true that little children know what their parents are thinking because within these little minds has been formed the love and desire of their moms and dads? How much more shall we, the children of God, know what God is thinking about us and for his creation.

This awareness, insight and knowledge all begin at the cross of Christ. That’s where Paul starts when he says that the cross was central to his life and teaching. We need to bow, kneel before that cross where Christ gave his life for us. That cross to the world represents weakness, defeat and failure. That’s how the world sees it because the world has its eyes blinded by the powers of darkness but the spiritual person sees, in the weakness, the power of God at work. In love and forgiveness the world was changed.

If you are reading this and have any sense of the reality of God then know that comes from God himself by his Spirit. This is truly insight. Thirst for it and for the Christ who makes it possible to us. Let us place our confidence in this Christ so that when he calls us to follow him we will know what it means for our life and our future.

And all of this is made possible by God’s grace operating in the sphere of prayer, obedience, scripture reading, and other spiritual disciplines that create an inviting avenue for God’s spirit.



SO after tearing my meniscus playing basketball I went to the therapist to get my knee fixed. I thought.
She began by saying, “We need to work on your hamstring and your quad and then your calf muscle and then your balance.” Whoa, I thought to myself. What about my knee? Seems that if you work on  discipline to other parts of your leg your knee will actually be better. Yeah, even the balance thing, standing on one leg, helps to strengthen all the parts around your knee and the outcome is a healthier, stronger knee.
Can you see where this is going? People want stronger faith and yet so often don’t want to go through the disciplines to get there. People want to love more and yet are hard pressed to discipline their lives towards love.
So that’s why we are told to read the Scriptures, memorize them, practice them to the end that our faith and our love are built up. That’s why we have the gift and discipline of prayer, to work on our faith and our love to the end that after much conversation with our God we will be strengthened. The discipline of prayer may start out as hard work. Being still before God is often hard work for busy people. But do it as much as you would do physical exercise knowing you will be better for it. You will understand the work of God, and much more the grace of God.I don’t mean a shout out to God once in a while but an intentional approach to God in quiet prayer or just sitting intentionally in silence before God knowing that such silence is a benefit to your spirit.
And then nothing beats practicing love. Forgiving someone, share a kind word with someone, giving up yourself for another who would not necessarily do the same for you. The more we call all practice that kind of grace in this world the closer we will grow to our Master, Jesus. And that is a therapy worth its weight in gold.
So here’s to the spiritual disciplines. I have mentioned but a few.  There are many more.


Sometimes writing a blog can sound a bit too pious like I somehow know the answers on the journey of faith. But it’s not like that. Some days I struggle mightily to be an apprentice to Jesus. For example I give you exhibit A, a recent time in my life that I journaled about.

Sometimes I get tired of being a student of Jesus as an academic exercise in goodness. Sometimes I just don’t want to be loving, or have any more patience. Sometimes I am just annoyed by pretty much everything and everyone. Too many demands and expectations. Too many extra miles to walk in someone else’s shoes. There are periods I would just like to be left alone. Sometimes I just want to be selfish. Not in some licentious way but just quietly minding my own business and saying ‘go away world’.

I wonder if the disciples ever felt like that. Tired of the Samaritans, feeding the thousands of people, storm tossed nights on their fishing boats, everyone pulling at them. I also wonder if maybe Jesus got tired of the whole thing, being fully human and all. I recall him saying that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. If he meant spirit with a small s then I am not sure my own spirit is really all that willing. Paul certainly expresses his own struggles in Romans 7 where he writes that the good he wants to do he doesn’t do and the bad stuff he doesn’t want to do he ends up doing. Maybe Paul got caught up being tired too. Maybe he found himself cranky with those around him pulling on him at every twist and turn in his journey. He does ask rhetorically who is going to save him from the mess and concludes that only Jesus can. I wonder what that exactly means. Cause when I am tired I do not find the strength in myself to even try to be and do good. Prayer doesn’t come easy in these times.

As a retired pastor this may surprise some of you. That’s ok. I’m not feeling all that strong to put on a good face right now. So what to do? You might think I have some spiritual answer at this moment but you’d be wrong. I am just here and all I can do is trust that God in his grace is holding on to me. I have no 5 principles for combatting spiritual fatigue. No ten commandments for being more holy. I just am. At this moment I am waiting on God for whatever comes next. I haven’t lost my faith. I have lost the zeal. So in this experience of being a student of Jesus I think I will just audit the course for a while.