Today’s morning lesson moved on from the topic of Virtue and moved to the second item in Peter’s list of characteristics that Christian should develop. In fact, Peter’s lesson is that that these characteristics need to exist and abound. They are the characteristics which seem to be basic foundational characteristics. While you might read Peter’s statement to say “If you don’t have them, you won’t make it; I would suggest that we look at it more as “we have already made it and we need to grow or else we will go backwards” No Christian should fail to make it to Heaven but if you are not willing to grow in these characteristics you are so shortsighted as to be blind.
Virtue coming before knowledge makes sense since Virtue is when we say “I will do it ” and knowledge says “This is what I need to do”. Determining to do God’s will and then being taught it has been the way people of faith have always responded. Israel agreed to do God covenant in Exodus 19 and then learned what it was in Exodus 20.
So we see that the second characteristic is Knowledge. A word that contains many meanings. To know something as a fact, to understand something from study or to comprehend something from experience are all types of knowledge and this time, in Peter, knowledge is likely a bit of all: facts, study and comprehension. If we want to know God, we need to know Jesus. This is more than just a fact but an understanding of who Jesus is as well.
We should not think that we have NO knowledge right now, in fact Peter uses the phrases “knowledge of him” and “knowledge of God” in verses 2 and 3 to show that by this knowledge we have those things that pertain to life and godliness, or put simply: “You are Christians because of what you know of God (implied: obedience to the Gospel). That makes sense doesn’t it? Peter couldn’t very well be talking to Christians who had never heard the Gospel and had no knowledge at all of Jesus.
This is in line with the Great Commision of Matthew where Jesus sends the Apostles out to Make disciples, baptize them, and teach them the commandments. (Mt 28) You make a disciple by preaching the Gospel, those that believe and respond are baptized and then taught the other commands (knowledge) later on. Read though Acts 2 and you will see this exemplified. The Gospel preached, the people respond, the disciples are then taught more things to build upon the knowledge they have.
Two points are worth noting about this. One is that we GROW in knowledge and the other is we need certain attributes to be able to gain knowledge.
As we look through the Bible, we see Abraham, Moses and even the Apostles learning more as they spend time with God and/or Jesus. In fact, in a particular stunning example, Luke records two times in Luke 9 and Luke 22 when the Apostles argued over who was the greatest. (I guess some lessons take longer to learn than others). Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 8 that some didn’t even have settled in their mind such a basic concept as there is only one God and idols are not a god at all. Still, patience is needed with these brethren not criticism. We all grow in knowledge and knowledge is not the basis for our Salvation. Some basic knowledge is needed so that we can have faith but, for example, an in-depth study and knowledge of eschatology (some reading this might think “huh? what’s that?) is not needed to get into Heaven.
An attitude that wants to learn is also needed. The humility that children bring to the learning process, as well as the questions is essential. We need to be teachable. Additionally, we need to be quick hearers and slow speakers. (James 1:19) It is hard to learn when you are talking. A third element is to “NOT” know. When we say that we know or understand or see and do not take the time to investigate and study or listen to a teacher, we remain blind. (Many teenagers fit this category) The Pharisees had this problem as well. They thought they were so tight with God that nothing could shake it. They did not realize that they had a bad relationship with him.
So before we get knowledge, we need to realize we are adding to what we have, we should be patient (with ourselves and others) as we learn and we should develop the attitude that says I want to learn, not I have already learned all I need to know.
The sermon is here.