A Corrupt Knowledge of God Destroys Men

A Corrupt Knowledge of God Destroys Men which is why Jesus chose unlearned fisherman who had never been under the schooling and theological prism of His day.  For the religious institutions of Christ day were steeped in the traditions of man which were in collision with the principles of heaven.  All of the manners of the church leaders were vain and worthless because they trusted in their own works, they trusted in their own studies and writings and constantly lowered the value of God’s word beneath their own traditions.

“He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.  Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.  For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.  And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. Mark 7:9″.

The humble, unlearned men He (Jesus) selected to be witnesses of his miracles, and to bear a pointed testimony in the future in regard to the things which they had seen and heard, which testimony would possess a power that would move the people, and convince the understanding of those who would not steel their hearts against evidence. The testimony of these faithful disciples, especially their epistles, would be indeed needed for those of future generations who would believe on the name of Christ.

Jesus did not go to the schools of the prophets to select his disciples, nor to the wealthy and honorable of the earth; neither did he select the leaders of the Jewish people. None of these would have followed Christ with unquestioning obedience. They would have too many considerations of their own at stake, to follow the humble man of Nazareth. Their pride and lofty aspirations would incline them to make the work of salvation an entirely different thing from what Christ would make it. They would never consent to unite in so humble a mission, and, to outward observation, so unpromising an enterprise. They would seek to make the religion which they should adopt outwardly attractive, while the motives and actions of the people would remain untouched. Christ presented no inducements of worldly honor, riches, or glory. Those who followed him must do so without worldly inducements.

This was a time of general and dense moral darkness among God’s professed people. The words of the prophet correctly describe their state: “This people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me; but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men.” “For the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes; the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered.”  Jesus did not select these unlearned fishermen because he was opposed to education and knowledge. He knew that knowledge, pure, correct, and unmixed with the precepts of men, could not be found to exist in the hearts of men instructed in the schools of the prophets, or among the teachers of that time; for darkness had covered the men of wisdom, as they had united with the spirit of the world, and were in pursuit of its honors. He chose men of humble life and simple habits, who were acquainted with privation and hardship, for such alone could accomplish the work he had for them to do as his disciples. These hearts, uncorrupted with the love of worldly riches, and not aspiring for the honors of the great and exalted of the earth, could be impressed with the beauty of truth, and inspired with the love of mercy, righteousness, justice, and true holiness.
Jesus, the majesty of Heaven, who united with the Father in the creation of the world, could himself become the instructor of men called to a holy work. He could qualify them to become fishers of men, and to be co-workers with him in the salvation of the fallen race. This knowledge would be free from corrupting error. It would come from above, not from beneath. The faith and destiny of future generations were dependent upon correct knowledge being obtained through these followers of Jesus, who were to attend him in his work and mission. These fishermen were to fulfill their commission with wisdom, perseverance, fortitude, and energy, in accordance with its magnitude. Having been instructed by the great Teacher, and guided continually by wisdom from Heaven, they would have power over the most intelligent and cultivated minds of the world. How important that their instructions be free from all superstitious customs, and precepts of men!

Their knowledge should come direct from the great Source of truth. The faith and practice of the Christians of future generations were to be molded, in a great degree, by the testimony of these humble men, made mighty through the power of God. The lives and testimony of these men would be studied by the world. When Jesus called these humble men, saying, “Follow me,” they were filled with awe and amazement that he should notice them, and honor them with the privilege of being near him, and beholding his mighty works.
The words of Jesus, in his lessons of instruction as he speaks by the seaside, in the synagogues, in the fields, or upon the mountain, are clothed with a living reality. He selects figures and objects with which all are familiar, and frequently that which is seen and transacted in their sight at the very time he is speaking, to make his discourses more impressive, and that the minds of the weakest may comprehend his meaning. His illustrations are frequently drawn from nature, and are so beautiful in their simplicity that the mind becomes attracted, and with intense interest hangs upon the words of the divine Teacher. He does not aspire to words of lofty eloquence. He could command these as readily as he could the plain, simple, touching language, in which he preferred to clothe his ideas, that the common people might understand his lessons of instruction.
Jesus was acquainted with hearts. He knew that those who had advantages and ability, and who were seeking for worldly wisdom, would have no place in their hearts for the heavenly knowledge he came to impart. The knowledge obtained at the schools seldom makes men wise unto salvation, and obedient to the divine will. These attainments do not generally have an influence to increase humility, and to make men feel that they belong to God, to render back to him the talents he has lent them, with principal and interest. Scholars too often become self-sufficient and independent, and cherish exalted views of their own abilities, as though under no obligation to the Giver, to return them back with usury. God will require all that he has given them. He has made them for awhile stewards of privileges and gifts, to prove them, and to try them, whether they will love and reverence the Giver, or will make these blessings bestowed upon them prove a curse to them, by idolizing and making them the cause of withdrawing their affections from God.
Jesus will accept the intellectual who have power of influence and of talents, if they will accept the light he brings them, and follow in a course of humble obedience; but many will not do this. They do not choose the simplicity of Christ. Worldly attractions eclipse the beauty and power of the truth. Many of the worldly-wise men see nothing in Christ, that they should desire him. They behold him at his first advent as a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, practicing self-denial, self-sacrifice, and humiliation. They do not discern that they have had any part in thus making the life of Christ undesirable. They do not discern that their sins have laid upon him the weight and burden which bring to him the grief he carries. They are blinded by the god of this world, and know not the things which make for their peace.

Thus saith the Lord by the holy apostle:  “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness; but unto us which are saved, it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? for after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are; that no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption; that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”
The humble fishermen, whom God called to follow him, were the very men he could use best for the accomplishment of his work. Their habits were not conformed to the customs and fashions of the world, and they had not cherished the bigotry of the scribes and Pharisees. These men, humble though they were in the eyes of the world, were the men especially chosen by the Saviour of the world. They possessed candor of sentiment, and their conduct was marked with equity and benevolence. They had hearts that were not hardened by blind prejudice. They could, like their divine Master, feel for the woes and sorrows of others. This class he could instruct, and present ideas which would not be forgotten by them, but be preserved for the benefit of future generations.
Jesus taught the people at Capernaum in their synagogues upon several successive Sabbaths. They were astonished at his doctrine; for his lessons of instruction were given with power. Here he cast out devils with his divine power. These demons, in a most public manner, entreated him not to disturb them. Said they, What can we do to resist thy power? Has the time come now to destroy us? “I know thee, who thou art, the Holy One of God.” Demons were unable to resist the power of Christ. They surrendered to him, and in the presence of the astonished multitude, acknowledged him to be the all-powerful Son of God. The devils spoke through the mediums whom they had power to control. The ones possessed, in a most marked manner, spoke the words of the evil spirits which controlled them. These persons so peculiarly afflicted had no knowledge of Jesus.

They could not of themselves understand Christ’s mission to release the captives, bound by the power of Satan, and finally accomplish his work, and destroy him who exercised this power over human beings, and who had the power of death. The demons understood this far better than the scribes and elders, with all their learning and knowledge obtained in the schools of the prophets. They did not receive Christ, nor see anything desirable in him or his kingdom. The multitude listened with amazement to the words of command from Christ, silencing the demons, that they should not make him known, as he delivered the suffering subjects bound by their power. The people said among themselves, “What a word is this? for with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out. And the fame of him went out into every place of the country round about.

Christ performed a miracle upon Simon Peter’s wife’s mother, rebuking the raging fever, and it immediately left her, and she rose from her bed of suffering, magnifying the Lord for his mercies. She then prepared food for Christ and his disciples; for they were weary and hungry. Thus she ministered unto those who had ministered unto her. Those who had afflicted and diseased ones, brought them to Christ, and he had pity on them all. He healed them of their divers diseases, by laying his hands upon them. Those who had been possessed of demons were delivered by his divine power. As the devils were cast out, they made great outcries, declaring, “Thou art Christ, the Son of God.” While his own people refused to know him, and rejected him, demons knew him, and yielded to his authority. Many who were brought to him by others, because they could not come themselves, were restored, and walked away to their own homes, to publish to the care-worn watchers, relatives, and friends, the great work which had been wrought for them by the power of Jesus. Physicians could find but little work to do in the cities. Those who had suffered many things of many physicians, and had not been made any better, but rather worse, applied to Christ, the great Physician, and were perfectly restored in a moment of time.
After the toil and burdens of the day had reached far into the night, Jesus sought a season of repose. But his rest was short. Long before day, he arose and went into a solitary place to pray to his Father. His fervent petition was borne upon the air to the ears of Simon and others who had been searching for him. Guided by the voice of the earnest petitioner, they found his place of devotional retreat, and related to Jesus that there was the greatest anxiety among the people to be with him, and listen to his words, and continue to experience his power in curing their sick and delivering those who were oppressed by Satan. Simon expressed the earnestness of the people: “All men seek for thee.” Not only the poor and afflicted, but those who had wealth, and who were the honored of the earth, sought Christ. They entreated Jesus to remain with them, and in no case to leave them. But he informed them that he had the same work of mercy and love to perform in other towns and cities. For this purpose he had come into the world. He could not abide with them; for in thus doing, others would be deprived of his ministry.

Christ preached in their synagogues throughout Galilee, healing the sick, casting out devils, comforting the afflicted, and relieving the despairing. While many, bearing their burdens of those diseased, were pressing through the multitude, to Christ, for him to heal them, there was an unusual commotion among the people. The pressing multitude gave way, falling back. A leper, who was a most loathsome spectacle, was making his way to Christ. Some thought to turn him back from approaching Jesus, as they feared that the people might become infected. But he was as one who neither saw them, nor heard them. The expressions of loathing that came from many lips, did not move him nor turn him from his course. He had but one object in view. His eye saw only the divine Son of God. His ear heard nothing but the voice that was speaking health and happiness to the unfortunate and suffering.

As he came into the presence of Jesus, his pent-up feelings, which had been of hopeless despair and agony, now found vent, as a ray of hope lighted up his terrible darkness. He wailed out to Christ his beseeching cry for pity and mercy. He had been loathed and shunned by his fellow-mortals. He had been separated from his family, and was mourned for by them as one far worse than dead. His case had been pronounced incurable. In the greatest humility, he prostrated his consuming, dying, and yet living, breathing, body at the feet of the only One who could save him. His earnest cry to Christ was, If thou wilt, thou canst save me–even me, corrupted and loathsome as I am. Thou canst make me clean. “And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.” The eager multitude now lose their terror, and again venture to draw nigh to Jesus, to behold this new and wonderful manifestation of his power. But Jesus had no sooner spoken the word of life-giving power, than the half-dead body of putrefaction was changed to healthy flesh, sensitive nerves, and firm muscle. The people witnessed this transformation with speechless amazement and awe.
Jesus charged the cleansed leper not to make known the work he had wrought for him, saying, “See thou say nothing to any man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.” Accordingly the now happy man went to the same priests who had previously examined him, and whose decision had banished him from his family and friends.  {1Red 73.1}
Joyfully he presented his offering to the priests, and magnified the name of him who had restored him to health. This irrefutable testimony convinced the priests of the divine power of Jesus, although they still refused to acknowledge him as the Messiah. The Pharisees had asserted that his teachings were directly opposed to the law of Moses, and for the purpose of exalting himself; yet his special directions to the cleansed leper to make an offering to the priest, according to the law of Moses, evidenced to the people that these accusations were false.