2 Pet. 1:5-9
So we’re continuing in our study of the Christian virtues. The list in Galatians is a great one, but it’s not the end-all and be-all of what type of people we’re supposed to be. There are several such lists in the N.T., such as today’s passage. For the next couple of days we’re going to explore the virtues listed here that Galatians doesn’t mention.
We need to note first of all that this is not a “first, second, third” type of list. It’s not as if the Christian is supposed to master the first one, then move on to the second one, etc. I’m never going to have goodness “down,” so to speak, at least not in this life. But we're supposed to continually examine ourselves to see if these characteristics are increasingly showing up in our life.
So we know what “faith” is (simple belief in Christ), and we already talked about goodness as an aspect of the Fruit of the Spirit. So what’s next on the list?
Knowledge!? I guess that’s just a relational knowledge, like “I know my friends and family,” right?
Um, no, that’s not the sum total of what Peter’s talking about. He’s also talking about knowledge of certain facts and truths.
Please don’t misunderstand me. Yes, we need a relationship-type knowledge of Jesus as a person: I know my wife, I know my friends, I know my family, etc. But that’s not all there is to it.
Because there’s a lot of false information out there about God in general and Jesus in particular, we need to know certain facts about him. There are certain things we can say about God which are true and others which are not true. Cults like the L.D.S. Church and Jehovah’s Witnesses (yes, I’ll use that term) claim to know Jesus as well, but the Jesus they know is not the Jesus of the Bible. Jesus is not the spiritual brother of Satan. Jesus is not a created being like Michael the Archangel. Jesus is much more than a prophet sent by God.
This also applies to the rest of the truth found in Scripture. If you don’t know about the Bad News found in Genesis chapter 3, then the Good News (again, there’s information involved) has little meaning. There’s a reason why he included all the stories in the O.T. about the failures of Israel. The prophets predicted certain facts about the Messiah, facts which Paul used again and again in trying to witness to people who were familiar with these facts.
The very book in which today’s passage is located, 2nd Peter, is specifically written to warn against false teachers. In order to refute these characters and what they’re selling, we need to have more in our arsenal than “The feeling in my spirit is that they’re wrong.”
Is there such a thing as cold orthodoxy, in which we focus on facts about God to the neglect of the relational side of our faith? Absolutely. But every age of the church has its own dangers, and I think to warn excessively against this one would be like warning against polio. It seems that in every age the church sounds the strongest warnings against those dangers which are least imminent.
Is this like the other virtues that the Spirit cultivates it within me? Yes. But it also entails systematic and comprehensive study of God’s word. That means you start on a plan to read it from cover to cover (I have some handy ones on the sidebar of the blog). You place yourself under the Bible teaching of a pastor who cares about the truth found in Scripture. You might even want to start a daily devotional—if you don’t read this one on a regular basis, then find another one.
As you read and study his word, you’ll find the relational side will grow stronger as well. The God found in the Scriptures will become more “real” in your daily life. I can personally testify to it.
Father God, as I read your word, please use it to draw me closer into your Presence. As I examine your word, use it to examine me. Please.