Monday, February 6, 2012

Add to your goodness: Knowledge

We've been working through Peter's list in his second letter of how to be fruitful Christians - and how to be ready for the coming of Jesus.

2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
 5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.
 10 Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

We talked about starting with faith - and to that faith, adding goodness - shaking off our grave clothes. The next step is add to your goodness, knowledge. That same word in English was used in verse three:

2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 

However,  that word is epignōsis . As it's used in the New Testament, it means precise and correct knowledge of things ethical and divine according to Strongs. The tense in verse 3 is the perfect tense. This has already been done for us. Basically, it's saying that our belief is based on true knowledge of our savior, and that God did that for us. In verse 5, add to your goodness, knowledge, a different word is used: gnōsis . According to Strongs, it means,
1) knowledge signifies in general intelligence, understanding
a) the general knowledge of Christian religion
b) the deeper more perfect and enlarged knowledge of this religion, such as belongs to the more advanced
c) esp. of things lawful and unlawful for Christians
d) moral wisdom, such as is seen in right living

In other words, learn what pleases God. It's a step beyond that knowledge that leads to saving faith. This is a step toward sanctification - the process of becoming Christlike. It's kind of like as in Hebrews 6:1: Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity.

So, where does that kind of knowledge come from? From God's word, of course! Why does goodness come before knowledge? My guess is that we will not have time for God's word if our lives are filled with things of the world. When Jesus called Lazarus from the tomb, what was the first thing that had to happen afterward? Lazarus had to be loosed from his grave clothes.

So, how do we add knowledge? We dig into God's word - and keep on digging. Just as we need to eat every day to feed our physical bodies, we need spiritual nourishment every day, too.

A question - just for my own curiosity. Do you find it easier to believe in prophecy if it is for the distant future? For example, is it easier to believe that God has a purpose for the Tribulation to come (the Day of the Lord) than that He had a purpose for the Holocaust in the 1940's?

OR - a different question - Is it easier to believe in the literal plagues that lead to the Exodus of Israel from Egypt than that the plagues to come, possibly on our near horizon, are also literal? In other words, is it easier to believe in things that don't really affect us?

Just curious. You can answer here or you can send me an e-mail.

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