Topic: Theology Passage: 2 Peter 1:2–1:4
Knowledge is Power
Knowledge is power…
Well, the Christian faith places a high value on knowledge, and it is a knowledge that far surpasses military strategy or the business world or science. The bible doesn’t use the phrase knowledge is power, but to know the truth is indeed powerful! Paul describes salvation in 1 Timothy 2:4 as a coming “to a knowledge of the truth…” Jesus said in John 8:31-32, “If you abide in my word you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Daniel 11:32 says, “Those who know their God will stand firm and take action.” A knowledge of the truth is powerful.
On the other hand, the lack of a knowledge of the truth is deadly dangerous - especially for those who claim to be Christian. God says through the prophet Hosea 4:6:
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.
The lazy and daydreaming watchmen of Israel are rebuked in Isaiah 56:9,
His watchmen are blind; they are without knowledge; they are all silent dogs; they cannot bark, dreaming, lying down, loving to slumber.
Ignorance of truth is not bliss. It is disastrous. In the Christian church, there has been a diminishing of knowledge, often in exchange for experience or feelings/emotion. There is a concern of an overemphasis on using the mind to obtain knowledge. I have heard some even encourage people to stop thinking so much sp they can connect with God in their heart. Some of this is in response to an over-intellectual approach to the bible and theology, where it was all about stuffing your head with more information, in order to solve theological riddles and answer questions. But the ditch on the other side of the road is an anti-intellectualism that I think is equally dangerous and perhaps more of a concern in many churches. Have you ever noticed how often people say “I feel” instead of “I think” or “I believe”? [don’t get offended] It is because we live in a time where feelings and emotions are more important than thinking and theological knowledge.
To be sure there is a kind of knowledge that puffs up (knowledge without love and “gnosis” or gnosticism). But a true knowledge of God leads to humility. And I would say what we need is a revival of a desire and passion to know God. I believe what we need is for God to arouse a desire within us to an ever-deepening knowledge of who he is and his ways. Let’s not be satisfied with a surface level, vague, non-specific knowledge of God. Let’s hear and heed the prophet Hosea who said, “Let us know, let us press on to know the LORD.”
And as we see the radical secularization of the culture around us, it should give us an even greater urgency, because the activists won’t rest until their vision for the culture has no resistance. In other words, they want everyone and every organization to embrace their vision of the world. And vague views of God, will not be a bulwark to the coming tsunami. A few years ago, the pastor of a large church in America, was interviewed on CNN and when asked to his views on homosexuality and and same-sex marriage, gave the “non-answer answer”, stating “It’s not our place to tell anyone how they should live. That’s their journey.” The relativizing and secularization of the culture is making its way into the church.
As Albert Mohler said that as the sexual revolution keeps steamrolling through the culture, eventually every Christian institution, every Christian church, and even every Christian will be confronted with the same question this pastor was. And in order to answer and live faithfully, we need to know the God of the scriptures - the Creator, Redeemer, and coming Judge.
Knowledge of God
Well, the text we are going to look at in 2 Peter 1 puts a high premium on knowledge and attaches some remarkable things to knowledge. These are the opening words of this letter, let me read them again:
May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of him who has called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
There are three things that come to us through knowledge of God, and if you are alive in Christ, my prayer is that this would light a fire in you to press on to know the Lord:
- Multiplied grace and peace
- Power to live and be godly
- The experience of the life of God in your soul
1. Multiplied grace and peace comes through the knowledge of God (v. 2)
May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. (v. 2)
Peter is saying (almost in the form of a prayer), “May grace and peace be multiplied to you.” Who doesn’t want that? The word multiplied means “given in fullest measure”. Not just given, but given in the fullest measure. And how is it given or by what means? In the knowledge of God. The word translated knowledge here indicates a “true” knowledge. Not all who claim to know God or have knowledge of God are legitimate. Paul warns Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:20,
O Timothy, guard the good deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge.
Paul is probably addressing the ancient heresy gnosticism (which is still around), which asserts that some have a secret and hidden knowledge that they get directly from God. Paul says it is a false knowledge. So we are after true knowledge, which includes information about God, but it is more than that. And notice again what is multiplied to us in the knowledge of God: grace and peace. Think about how this works. The more I understand and the deeper I know that God is majestic and holy and I am not. Yet God saved me through Jesus Chirst, not because of works done in righteousness, but because of his own purpose and grace (2 Timothy 1:9), you know what happens? Grace is multiplied to me…
Furthermore, the more I come to know the mighty power of God and that not a single sparrow falls to the ground apart from the Father and he knows the hairs on my head, what happens? His peace that surpasses all comprehension is multiplied to me, and I can face all the challenges of life and the insanity in this world with peace and courage. Through knowledge, grace and peace are multiplied to us.
2. Power to live and be godly comes through knowledge (v. 3)
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of him who has called us to his own glory and excellence. (v. 3)
So God has given us power for life and godliness. The word life is speaking of eternal life, but don’t get thrown off by that. This is not saying that we are given all things that pertain to life in heaven some day in the future. No, for the Christian, eternal life begins now. Jesus said, “Whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” And how is our life to be conducted? In godliness or reverence for God. Living our lives before God.
And these things are given to us through the knowledge of God. Which means there is quite a lot at stake. Through an ignorance of God, we forfeit this power for life and godliness. John Piper said, “it is not that knowing guarantees godliness. It doesn’t. But it seems that ignorance guarantees ungodliness. Because Peter says, the divine power that leads to godliness is given through the knowledge of God.” J.I. Packer in his book Knowing God wrote,
Godliness means responding to God’s revelation (knowledge of God in scripture) in trust and obedience, faith and worship, prayer and praise, submission and service. Life must be seen and lived in the light of God’s word, This, and nothing else, is true religion.
Through knowledge, power is given for life and godliness.
3. Sharing in the divine nature comes through knowledge (v. 4)
By which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
This phrase, “partakers of the divine nature” is breathtaking. Let’s see how we get there. Promises are given, they are granted. Now it could be that the promises are given through the knowledge of God (verse 3) or it could be pointing directly back to “the One who has called us to his own glory and excellence”. I am not sure it matters. What do you do with promises? You are to know them, believe them, and live in light of them. Now check this out. The promises are given to us “so that [purpose] through them [the promises] you may become partakers of the divine nature…” We have to know the promises our Promise-Keeping God has made.
Partakers of the divine nature. We need to understand what this is NOT, then what this is. We do not become God, nor are we merged or immersed into God - that’s eastern pantheism or new age mumbo-jumbo. But there is something mysterious and supernatural here. Something that we cannot entirely get our minds around. The word partaker is the Greek word “koinonos” which is similar to the word koinonia, from which we get the word and idea of fellowship - face to face sharing of life together.
Promises are given to us so that through the knowledge of them we may be sharers in the divine nature. A man named Henry Scougal wrote a book in the 17th century that was influential in the conversion of George Whitefield. And I think the name of the book gets at what Peter is talking about here: “The Life of God in the Soul of Man.” Here’s what Scougal said in the book:
True religion is a union of the soul with God, a real participation of the divine nature, the very image of God drawn upon the soul, or, as the apostle Paul said, ‘It is Christ formed within us’” (Galatians 4:19).
And this participation in the divine nature is given to us through God’s precious and very great promises - knowing, believing, and living in the light of them.
Hearing the Word With Faith
I hope that it is becoming clear that this knowledge by which grace and peace is multiplied, power comes to us to live and be godly, and by which we partake of the divine nature is found in the word of God. The connection is this. This knowledge we are talking about comes from hearing the word of God with faith. And faith comes through hearing the word of Christ (Romans 10:17). How do we know God apart from his word? How do we know his promises apart from what he has said? We are left to look inward to our darkened intuition, which often lies to us. Apart from the word, faith starves. Belief is on life-support. Thomas Chalmers, a 17th Scottish preacher said,
Unbelief is an intelligent turning away from the word of God. It is rooted... in negligence.”
And there is so much negligence of the word of God. So many bibles, so infrequently opened in the homes of many Christians. Such disregard of God. And no wonder many professing Christians feel like they are stumbling through life. There are no second-class Christians. But ignorance or what Chalmers called unbelief due to negligence will resign you to live far below your privilege in Christ. So let’s press on to know the Lord. Let Charles Spurgeon spur you on:
Live not in the lowlands of bondage now that mountain liberty is conferred upon you. Press forward to things more sublime and heavenly. Aspire to a higher, a nobler, a fuller life. Upward to heaven! Live nearer to God!
So, what shall we do? I believe you want to press on to know the Lord. That’s why you are here. Let me give you a few points of application.
1. Run to the word… brothers and sisters. Read, meditate, memorize. Hunt for promises like you are looking for hidden treasure. Rid yourself of every excuse for why you cannot! If you say you have such little time to read the word, then you must (MUST) then you must rearrange your life, because this is a must! If you say you do not like to read, repent for such a lame excuse. If you were offered a million dollars if you read through a book in a week and could give an accurate recounting of the story, you would have plenty of incentive to read. There is no more important subject matter to study than theology - the study of God. You live in his world. He sets the rules by which we can live and flourish. We should set out to know him and his ways!
I am going to be sending out a reading plan. I know that can be helpful. And here’s what you do - if you fall behind, no problem. Just start the next day. So… run to the word… AND…
2. And good books. Don’t waste your time on junk. Read books that point you to “the One who called you to his own glory and excellence.” Sometime soon, we are going to be doing a study through JI Packer’s classic book Knowing God. It is a book I think every adult should go through at least once… and maybe about every other year. More information will be forthcoming on that. Ask me, borrow from me, etc.
So, run to the word, and good books, and…
3. Work toward a common confession. In a few weeks, the children ages 6-11 are going to begin a new curriculum called New City Catechism. It is based on a catechism. Don’t be scared by that word. It’s a bible word that simply means to teach or instruct orally. It consists of 52 questions and answers with scripture covering the foundational truths of the Christian faith. And I would like us as a church to go through this together as well. Really good stuff and I think it is increasingly important that we are united in a common faith, a common confession - “this is what we believe!”
Starting in a few weeks, you will begin seeing a question, answer, and scripture in the bulletin and we will quickly go over it during our worship service. Cover Question 1.
I will also send information out for you. The kids will get a book in class and I would encourage you to either download the app or purchase the devotional book so that you can learn and grow together at home as well.
Brothers and sisters, a true knowledge of God is powerful. So…
Let us know, let us press on to know the Lord. (Hosea 4:6)
[because] The people who know their God shall stand firm and take action. (Daniel 11:32)