Know the Lord


Elder Mark Green

From The Primitive Baptist, Christian Pathway, Gospel Appeal December, 2015


He tells us he believes the Bible, and will stick to the Bible, and says to me that he wants me to show where Christ has made known to any man that he should go out and teach men to know the Lord Priscilla and Aquila taught the way of the Lord What is it to teach the way of the Lord more thoroughly but to teach people to know the Lord? Then, they are to take the gospels the good news, the good tidings. What are the tidings? a Saviour is born that shall be a joy to all nations; and you tell me that is not teaching about the Lord? You had better look up your Book, my brother. [Mr. H. Clay Yates, a Cumberland Presbyterian minister, from his debate with Elder Lemuel Potter in 1885 on Foreign Missions]

It seems that Mr. Yates, like many men, had great difficulty in discerning the difference between knowing the Lord and knowing about the Lord. It would be easier to understand this confusion bad not the Lord himself been so very plain about it "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou host sent" (Jn.17.3). He equates knowing the Lord with having eternal life; one is the same as the other. If that is the case, then John the Baptist knew the Lord when he was in his mother's womb, and David knew him while yet on his mother's breast. They manifested joy and hope while in an infantile situation too young to know anything about the Lord from an intellectual standpoint. So, we must conclude that later in their lives their parents may have taught them to know things about the Lord, but they could not teach them to know the Lord, since they already knew Him.

Mr. Yates points out that Priscilla and Aquila taught Apollos the way of the Lord mow thoroughly, and uses this as an instance of teaching a man to know the Lord. However, if a man is taught something "more thoroughly" (or more perfectly, to use the scriptural phrase), Own it is obvious from the language that we already knew something about that subject, Apollos was a man mighty in the Scriptures, who manifested great zeal in the service of the Lord; but he was in error on certain points of doctrine, and so this couple taught him where he was in error. Is Mr. Yates saying that a man who was a zealous and sincere preacher of the gospel was not yet born of the Spirit, that he was not in possession of eternal life? If Apollos was already born again, then these saints did not teach him to "know the Lord?

"What are the tidings? A Saviour is born that shall be a joy to all nations; and you tell me that is not teaching about the Lord?" Certainly, Mr. Yates, that is teaching about the Lord. That is the point upon which we are insisting; but we deny that it is teaching a man to know the Lord. To proclaim the facts regarding the Person and work of the Savior is to teach people about Him; but in all our teaching about Him we do not change the hearts of the hearers. We may instruct their minds, but we do not quicken their souls; we do not give them eternal life.

Mr. Yates takes a "jab" at Elder Potter, saying, "You had better look up your book, my brother." Perhaps Mr. Yates was the one who should have done the looking up to ascertain the real meaning of the verses to which he referred. He needed to learn the difference between teaching someone to know the Lord and to know about the Lord.