Summary: Exposition of knowledge
Text: Hosea 4:1-10, Title: Too High for Me, Date/Place: NRBC, 10/7/12, AM
A. Opening illustration: ‘Ignorance of God-ignorance of both his ways and of the
practice of communion with him—lies at the root of the church’s weakness today.’ –Packer, Knowing God.
That Christian minds have been conformed to the modern spirit: the spirit that is, that spawns great thoughts
of man and leaves little room for only small thoughts of God.’” –Thabiti Anyabwile, book What is a Healthy
Church Member, chapter A Biblical Theologian,
B. Background to passage: Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain it.” -Psalm 139:6.
The writer in this psalm was speaking about how God knows every deed, thought, motivation around us,
about us, in us, everything. And to think of a God that is that big, whose knowledge is so comprehensive
and so beyond us, is mind boggling to the psalmist. He says to think of God’s omniscience in its fullness is
too high. We don’t think thoughts that are too high about God too often. The prophet Hosea lived during a
season of spiritual darkness just prior to the captivity of the southern kingdom of Judah. Through him, God
says to the people that they are perishing because of lack of knowledge. Their lack was due to the failure of
the priests and the teachers, and the heads of households had failed to teach them.
C. Main thought: we have looked at several marks of a growing disciple: increasing spiritual fruit, increasing
spiritual discipline, actively sharing faith, and modeling a biblical lifestyle. But another mark of a growing
disciple is that they are increasing in their knowledge of God. And we are going to look at this on two levels.
A. Knowledge about God (v. )
1. Even though the priests and teachers were accused here of failing to transmit the knowledge of God to the
people, the people are held accountable for getting it too. It is both/and not either/or. And remember, the
NT only knows of a kingdom of priests, not a class of them within the kingdom. This passage is set up
like a courtroom, with a charge read from God against his people. The charge is two-fold: no faithfulness
or steadfast love for God, and no knowledge of him. We are going to deal with these in reverse order.
But the scary part of the text is that judgment is coming because of these indictments. It is culpable to not
know a lot of bible. Much of church history, especially controversy and division, is based upon doctrine.
3. Illustration: Sometimes dumb sounds cute: Sixty percent of Americans can't name five of the Ten
Commandments, and 50% of high school seniors think Sodom and Gomorrah were married. Stephen
Prothero, chairman of the religion department at Boston University, isn't laughing. Americans' deep
ignorance of world religions — their own, their neighbors' or the combatants in Iraq, Darfur or Kashmir
— is dangerous, he says. –USA Today, Americans love their Bibles. So much so that they keep them in
pristine, unopened condition.
4. Causes and Results: There are a lot of reasons we are in this predicament. We are not very good at
teaching doctrine. Or maybe better yet, we are not very good at learning it. We feel like it is not really
that important. We don’t know about our doctrinal distinctives. We know that we are not Methodists, but
we are not sure why, nor the differences. Ecumenism and “non-denominational” churches are products
of our culture that doesn’t like dogmatism. We don’t like to study, nor take much time to. It causes us
to lose lots of young people to the faith. It causes us to be weak in our defense of faith against a hostile
world. It forces our children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren to choose between the world and the “faith of
their parents” rather than the faith of God.
5. How to deal with it: we must educate ourselves. A great place to start is historic confessions of faith.
Gloria MacBrayer’s example of keeping a dictionary beside her bible study book. Scott’s example of
getting a theological dictionary of church history. Don’t be afraid of big words. Historic confessions of
faith are great places to start. Books on comparative religions or denominations. There are several good
books out there like the Point/Counterpoint series that deal with areas of belief within evangelicalism and
the different perspectives, and those theologians debating. Own a good systematic theology book (and
a dictionary). Engage in deep conversations about more than football or baseball. But remember last
week’s truth: correct doctrine is practicing the faith.
B. Knowledge of God (v. )
1. God, through Hosea, was concerned about the utter failure of the priesthood to teach, and the people’s to