The First Shepherd – Knowledge

“Fool’s hate Knowledge’’ — Solomon

After their escape from Doubting Castle, Hopeful and Christian began devising some sort of warning sign to be set up in the way to warn other pilgrims against the dangers of By-pass Meadow and its dark defiles and declines to the hold of the Giant Despair. They set up a pillar with the deeply etched words, “This is the way kept by Giant Despair, despiser of the King of the Better Country, and destroyer of pilgrims.” You may be sure this prevented many from going in that forbidden way, and so escaped its dangers.

Now they reached the Delectable Mountains, which Christian had seen in the distance from the top of Palace Beautiful (Isa. 33:16, 17).

Mountains delectable they now ascend
Where Shepherds be, who to them do commend
Alluring things, with signs of caution dear:
Pilgrims are steady kept by faith and fear.

These mountains belong to the Lord of the Holy Hill and are the mountains of Israel in Emmanuel’s Land. The mountain sides were covered with forests, gardens, orchards, vineyards, living fountains of waters and shepherds with their flocks of sheep. The sheep belong to Emmanuel and He laid down His life for them. The mountains are in sight of the Heavenly City. They ask just how far off it is. The shepherds answer, “Too far for any but those who shall really get there!” Then the shepherds told them that Perseverance of the Saints depends on the divine preservation of the saints, which, in turn, is always manifested by the actual persevering of the saints, and that against all temptations, persecutions, heresies and afflictions. Christian then asked, “Is the Way safe, or dangerous?” The answer came, “Safe for those for whom it is to be safe, but transgressors shall fall therein” (Hosea 14:9).

The shepherds who entertained them were Knowledge, Experience, Watchful and Sincere. Now Old Knowledge was, by his flock, held in high esteem. In fact, he was regarded as a treasure. For knowledge is what the under-shepherd needs more than confidence, accomplishment, graceful delivery, eloquence, or polished manners. Here is another picture of the Church of God together with ministers and members nourished with the means of grace. David, himself a shepherd in those mountains and green pastures, declared, “In the midst of the Church will I sing praise unto Thee.” Knowledge dwells in the bosom of the Church.

Of course, Old Knowledge got to be so knowing partly by reading good books, in fact, the best books, which were all he had time for. At first he began as a very poor shepherd, not able to afford many books, so he placed a motto over his library, “Much, Not Many!” The best books are few enough. If a Christian or a Hopeful were to begin by limiting his reading to only “The Treasury of David” and Matthew Henry’s Commentary, he would make a fair beginning at scratching the surface of the best. He would also find himself in green pastures and beside still waters where he would never cease to be fed and refreshed. This man, Knowledge, however, although he was mainly a man of one Book, delighted in any book which competently purveyed true knowledge. He was a student of all knowledge. He loved books on astronomy, birds and poetry. The Book which he always carried in his bosom he knew was written by Him who is Creator of Heaven and Earth, who is Heir of all things and who upholds all things by the word of His power. A favorite book of his, by the same Author, is that of the heavens declaring the glory of God and the firmament His handiwork. Still, our friend Knowledge was a specialist, specializing in one field of knowledge, the knowledge which was his business first, last and always, the knowledge of God, “the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord,” or, as he also put it, “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” Therefore, he was busy making a study of that little Book of his night and day. Every year, to the curio section of his library, he adds to his collection of the latest modem trans-lations of The Book in up-to-date English. But any reading he does in these becomes exceedingly and increasingly painful because they are, all of them, for the most part, such wide and fraudulent divergencies from his Hebrew and Greek Testaments, his Tenach and his He Kaine Diatheke. Knowledge fed his flock out of his own experience, out of the Book as taken, eaten and digested in his own soul. He fed them on the Book as he felt it in the depths of his being, as he felt its rich contents ought to be expressed. He had not only the knowledge, but the feeling of the Book. Then he would convey his feelings with the deepest convictions of the deepest truths.

Also for knowledge of the day, not only the common newspapers and news-magazines will be read, but more reliable and reputable sources, like Human Events. The latter is probably to be found on the tables of Covenant House. These are read, not so much to trace human events, as to check on the latest providences of Him who is the Owner of the Holy Hill, to see how fares His kingdom, how Antichrist arises, progresses and declines, how the One on the White Horse rides on conquering and to conquer, how He, in so many different ways, daily fulfils His word, “Yes, I am coming quickly. Amen!” With all this knowledge to hand, much prayer will be made for distressed pilgrims suffering destitution and persecution.

Christian is happy to have Knowledge for his Shepherd. From the Book in his hand he learns that “the Lord is a God of knowledge” (I Sam. 2:3). He also soon learns to discern one church from another, the true from the false. All to the good, for many can barely distinguish one church building from another. What is that strange title, some wonder, over the portal of yonder church inscribed, Ichahod? Then another church portal is bedecked with a golden Mundane. Another archway is bold with Sacerdotalis, while another is engraved with B’nai Belial. But few today can cipher such riddles. Can you? But that is a true church where the portal arch is deeply etched with, “To Give Knowledge of Salvation unto His People” (Luke 1:77), and where the Sacred Desk has the divine promise carved on it, “And I will give you pastors according to Mine heart, who shall feed you with Knowledge and understanding” (Jer. 3:15).

Close by the Delectable Mountains was another, Mt. Error. It was right opposite Mt. Truth. Situated on top of Mt. Error is the Babylonian shrine of Ecclesiastical Infallibility. It is part of the vast religionem comparativus complex of the restored ancient Temple of Misunderstanding. Just across from it is a cathedral of cubistic architecture dedicated to Theological Indifference, the sacrarium of modem liberalism. Its devotees understand not how there can be men who detest persecution, yet love their enemies or such as differ from them, and still earnestly contend for the faith once-for-all delivered to the saints. The former of the latter say, “They have just got to be narrow-minded bigots.”

On the far side of Mt. Error the height drops down, sheer, to the bottom. “Look over the edge,” the shepherd guides command. The two friends, shrinking from the rim, cautiously and fearfully peep over. Quickly they dart back in horror and shaking like a leaf. For far below they saw many shattered bones on the rocks. Many in the past had gone on ahead in the dark, not realizing the danger, and stepped off into space to their terrible end. Such was the end of Hymenaeus and Philetus with their bemused following. Many have erred concerning the resurrection, especially, like the Sadducees, in denying it altogether. A long line of such Sadducees have gone headlong down the chasm of Mt. Error. What others made the same leap in the dark? Some false brethren, who did not know the Way of Life themselves, who claimed that circumcision and the works of the law were necessary conditions to
salvation. Paul warned them against another gospel of a different kind from what he preached, which certainly would not be another of the same kind as his gospel (Gal. 1:6, 7, Gk.), but would be a perverted gospel, more dangerous than the Judaism (1:13, 14, Gk.) from which he had been called and converted. He called teachers of that perverted gospel “the mutilation faction,” while the Church he called “the truly circumcized” (Phil 3:2, 3, Berkeley). So you see what the whole “mutilation faction” comes to. Or blind guides come around to your door with the line that there is no eternal punishment, no hell, and that after death the impenitent wicked will have a second chance to be saved, which, if they refuse, they shall then be annihilated. O how the wicked could wish that were their end at death! Then they would not be, know nor suffer any more than before they were born! An easy out for them, but in reality an easy slip over the precipice of Mt. Error.

Test the spirits. They are of God who believe that the Bible is the only infallible Word of God; that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, himself God in the flesh; that He was born without sin, of a virgin, was incapable of sin, yet on the Cross was made sin as He bore the sin of many; that He shall save His people from their sins; that He shall see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied; that no man can come unto Him, except the Father draw him; and that the righteous dead shall be raised at the last day. They who believe not or teach not these things are not to be trusted. Errors which deny the deity, doctrine, messiah-ship, person and work of Christ are fatal.