Lessons From Smart Guys

If you spend more than three minutes with me, you’ll come to the solid conclusion that I’m not particularly smart. In fact, you may come away from a conversation with me actually feeling dumber.

Now, lest (isn’t that a great word?) I be accused of playing the false humility card, let me clarify. I’m not a complete moron. I did well in college. I don’t go around sticking forks into plugs. But if it came down to me and Jonny-Smart-Guy in an intellectual showdown, I’d lose.

For the past five months I’ve been studying at the Sovereign Grace Ministries Pastor’s College and have had the opportunity to be around some genuinely smart people. I’ve been taught by first-rate biblical scholars, men who are intimately familiar with all of scripture and know the finer points of Greek and Hebrew. It probably wouldn’t be a good idea to challenge any of these guys to a Bible triva-off.

There seems to be an idea floating around in idea-world that guys like this don’t really love God. They’re so full of doctrine that there’s no room left for loving Jesus. How can they love God with all that cold, dry doctrine in their head? Just give me experience with Jesus, not any dogma. You get the point.

The critics should spend some time with these guys and then reevaluate their position. The truth is, these men are passionate about Jesus precisely because of their deep knowledge!

They know the contours of the Old Testament. They see the big picture of God’s redemptive plan revealed throughout all of scripture. They understand the connections between Matthew and Genesis, and don’t get freaked out by long genealogies. They are precise in their knowledge of scripture, and it’s this precision that causes their love for Jesus to burn white-hot. It’s their understanding of the animal sacrifices in Leviticus, and the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53, and the bloodied Savior hanging on a cross that causes them to weep as they consider the cross. They love God because they know God.

After all, it’s hard to love somebody that you don’t know.

And so I want to be like these men. I want to grow in my knowledge of scripture. I want to know it well, intimately, intricately. Not for the sake of knowledge accumulation. For the sake of loving Christ more deeply.


  • Jim Brown says:

    Yes, and the desire to learn more about God comes from the love of God, prompted by the Holy Spirit. Long genealogies are not interesting to everyone as the body has different parts each with a purpose, an eye is not an ear and so on…
    God bless,

  • Ron Reffett says:

    Hey Stephen,
    I agree, it seems like the church is a 1000 miles wide and 2″ thick..very shallow. I liked what you said about having knowledge for the sake of loving Christ more as opposed to just gaining knowledge. You’re right, we can’t love someone that we don’t know. It would be like knowing all the information that you could gain about your wife without a relationship with her, it would be again, rather shallow.
    This was a great post, it makes me want to attend the Sovereign Grace Pastor’s College!…If only there were one in Ohio!!!
    Ron Reffett

  • megan says:

    “They love God because they know God” Good stuff.

  • Ian Hall says:

    “They love God because they know God.’ I make the same point regularly to my own congregation. Nothing increases a believer’s love for Christ more than an understanding of the scriptures. In them we learn of Him and as we learn ever more of Him our love for Him grows ever more settled and strong.

  • ianmcn says:

    I’ve known very smart, theologically solid people that are deeply in love with Jesus, and I’ve known very simple believers who are deeply in love with Jesus. I have also known each of the opposite extremes!

    To use myself as an example (the one person I can and should judge!): I take pleasure in understanding things, I like to know things and be able to explain things – but sometimes, knowledge can come an idle for me. It can become more about what I know and can explain about Jesus than about Jesus himself. I read the bible not to get to know Jesus better, but so I can understand a particular doctrine better. Suddenly my reading becomes much more cold, detached and clinical. I’m not absorbing wonderful truths about my saviour, I’m processing doctrines and theories. I have nothing against good doctrine, I totally agree that we need to devour our bibles, as it’s the key way of learning about the object of our worship – but we must make sure that our knowledge doesn’t take his place. I believe abundance of knowledge can be just as damaging to our relationship with God as lack of knowledge – it’s ultimately an issue of where your heart is, not where your head is.

  • Stephen Altrogge says:

    Ron – At times I feel 1000 miles wide and 2 inches deep! I need grace to dive deep.

    Megan – So glad you enjoyed it.

    Ian Hall – That’s such a good point to emphasize to your congregation. As we grow in our love for the scriptures we grow in our love for God. Our love grows strong and ‘settled’ as you say.

    IanMcn – I agree. It is so easy to let knowledge replace love. I don’t think this should turn us away from the scriptures, but should cause us to repent of our cold hearts and ask God to stir up our hearts again.

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