Mr. Standfast

"Nothing taken for granted; everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace." G. K. Chesterton

June 01, 2004

A Meditation on 2 Peter 1:1-11


Gee but it's good to be blogging again. I had a relaxing few days, and it was probably good for me to be away from blogging a bit. I spent a lot of time lazing about, a little time messing around in the yard, and a little more time watching the Indy 500. The funny things is, I don't know a thing about racing, but still there was something hypnotically fascinating about watching the cars go round and round!

This past week I finished up my Bible-regimen of reading a single chapter of The Gospel of John for seven days in a row, then moving on to the next chapter for the next seven days, etc. It's something I'd heard recommended by John Macarthur. So it took twenty-one weeks to read through to the end. It was definitely a fruitful practice, but now I want to move on to something else. Since it's been some time since I've read the OT in any kind of methodical way, that's probably next on the agenda.

As for devotional reading, I've been parked in the first eleven verses of Second Peter, chapter 1. What wonderful words are here. I've got it into my head to try to memorize them, but these resolutions of mine often disappear as quickly as rainbows. We'll just have to wait and see.

But this morning I'd just like to point out one thing. Notice how often Peter uses phrases that begin with the preposition through or by, phrases which indicate the cause or source of something. These are very revealing. So, right in the greeting Peter says of those to whom he is writing that their faith is "through the righteousness of our God and savior Jesus Christ." Then, in the very next verse he says, "Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord."

Notice that: the grace and peace come through knowledge of God. Then, in the very next verse he says that we believers have everything we need for life and godliness "through our knowledge of him who called us by his glory and goodness." In fact, this idea, the importance of the knowledge of God and of Jesus for the stability of our faith and our growth in godliness is the theme of 2 Peter.

In verse 5 to 7 there is a kind of template for Christian growth. "Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly-kindness; and to brotherly-kindness, love." Well, there is much one can say about this wonderful litany, but I quote it here only to give the context for Peter's remarks in the ensuing two verses.

In verse 8 he says, "If you have these qualities in increasing measure they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." Knowledge again. A Knowledge that is effective and productive. A knowledge that bears fruit.

Apparently, there is a kind of knowledge, even if it be a knowledge of Jesus, that is ineffective and unproductive. It is a knowledge without application. Knowledge that does not result in godliness, and is (I surmise) not based on faith. Perhaps it isn't an "increasing" kind of knowledge. Or perhaps its that kind of knowledge that an old friend of mine would have called, disparagingly, "head-knowledge" (as opposed to heart-knowledge). My grandmother might have called it "book-learnin." I might say that it is knowledge for its own sake, or knowledge that only engenders intellectual pride and arrogance, not knowledge for the sake of growth in godliness.

So grace and peace come through knowledge, and all that we need for life and godliness come through knowledge. Finally, in verse 9, Peter adds another brush-stroke to his picture of those who lack such knowledge. They are not only ineffective and unproductive with regard to the qualities associated with life and godliness. They are also "near-sighted." In other words, they see only their immediate or temporal circumstances, and not the eternal context. And they lack this eternal perspective precisely because they lack knowledge. And then Peter says something very interesting. He says that such a person, a person lacking knowledge, "has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins."

Isn't that interesting? If we are not growing ("increasing") in our possession of the qualities listed above, including knowledge of Jesus Christ (and all that he has done for us), we will forget! We will forget the sufficiency of His grace toward us. We will forget what he has done for us. And in forgetting, we become near-sighted, overwhelmed by the immediate circumstances, frustrated and unfruitful in our Christian life.

So what should we remember? We should remember Jesus. What, most of all, should we remember about Jesus? That His death for our sins, in our place, makes a way for us, an entrance into fruitful living now, and eternal glory in the hereafter. These things we must remember. This is the primary content, the sum and substance, of the knowledge through which we are able to grow, to have grace and peace and indeed everything we need for life and godliness.

Praise the Lord!

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