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Bible Search
The Necessity of Knowledge (2 Peter 1:5)
Growing by Addition
The Necessity of Knowledge
2 Peter 1:1-5
 
Do any of you remember what the items in the picture on the screen were?  Maybe this one?  They are SRA cards.  Science Research Associates Inc. was founded in 1938. Early on, it had a trade and occupational focus.
 
But by 1957, it moved into individualized classroom instruction with the iconic SRA Reading Laboratory Kit, a format that later translated to mathematics, science, and social studies.
 
SRA cards, like the ones pictured, were these large boxes filled with color-coded cardboard sheets. Each sheet included a reading exercise for students. Each student would have an independent topic, and would work on it independently of the other students in the class, consulting with the teacher only if they got stuck.
 
The student would then follow up with multiple choice questions. As the child moved ahead, he or she would advance in difficulty as they passed the tests. 
 
The McGraw-Hill Company now owns SRA Reading Laboratories and they are still available for teachers to use in the classroom.  I was on their web-site this week and noticed a link for users to post that was titled, and I quote, "fond memories" of SRA. I've got news for them:  There aren't any!  I don't have any fond memories of SRA!
 
And to be honest, it wasn't the reading that bothered me.  I've always loved to read.  In fact, we had to log the books we read in 2nd grade and I read over 1,000.  So reading was no problem.  It was the testing I hated!  Nobody likes tests! 
 
But the tests were important because they evaluated the growth and progress we were making in our education.  To be honest, as an elementary student, I couldn't have cared less about my growth and progress.  But those who were responsible for me knew that was important. 
 
In that same vein of thought, I don't know that there are very many Christians who give too much thought to their growth and progress as a Christian.  We certainly don't take much time to evaluate our maturity in any tangible fashion. 
 
But God is interested in us becoming like Christ and He's given us some ways to evaluate our progress.  In several places in the Bible, there are some lists, some characteristics of Christ-likeness given to us.  And just like in SRA, we can lay His answer sheet down beside our life and see how we are doing.
 
One of those lists is found in 2 Peter 1 and it is a mathematics exam.  It tells us there are some things that need to be added to our life so we can be like Christ.  The equation begins with faith.  To put that in Biblical terms, that means our progression into Christ's likeness begins with salvation. 
 
We realize we are sinners in need of a Savior and that Jesus is Who He claimed to be as the Son of God, and as such, is uniquely qualified to offer us forgiveness from sin and right standing with God.
And in an act of faith, we acknowledge our sin, profess our faith in Him and that brings us into a right relationship with God. 
 
Then Peter says, once you are in possession of "faith", there are some things that need to be added to that faith that will bring an outward expression to this inner faith decision.  They are designed to produce the likeness of Christ in us.  They are
 
verses 5-7 
 
Now, as I mentioned last week, the order of these characteristics is intentional.  They build upon one another and draw from the previous one and as they combine, there begins to emerge this transformation in our life as old things pass away and everything about us becomes renewed and changed and transformed. 
 
Last week, we looked at virtue and defined it as a lifestyle of Biblical ethics made possible through the  energy provided by God Himself.  It is not just the attitude that desires to do the right thing, it is the power to do the right thing as well. 
 
So this placement of virtue in the first position means that everything else that follows will be influenced by the presence of virtue, this attitude of moral excellence that results in the power of God flowing through my life.
 
Today, we come to the addition of knowledge. And once again, I think it important that we back up for a few moments to see what the Old Testament has to say about knowledge. 
 
1.  The Background
 
Biblically speaking, the subject of "knowledge" is not only vast, it is comprehensive.  Forms of the word appear almost 950 times in the Old Testament alone and has a much broader sweep than the English word.  
 
It includes things like perceiving, learning, understanding, willing, performing, and experiencing.
 
We read about men and women who "knew" God and adults who know what it is to lose a child or experience guilt and judgment.   You can know how to play the harp and distinguish between good and evil.
 
The word is so broadly used, on one end of the spectrum it can speak of merely being acquainted with someone all the way to the other end where it describes a sexual relationship.
 
It also describes the relationship between God and man.  The Lord knew Moses by name.  He knew Jeremiah before He was formed in His mother's womb. He knew Abraham while he was living in the land of Ur.  He said to Israel, "I know the plans I have for you."
 
And those same uses carry over into the New Testament as well. So what kind of "knowledge" does Peter have in mind when he writes this command to add knowledge to our virtue and faith?
We'll develop a definition in just a moment, but for now, it is the knowledge of God, revealed through His Word, that results in God's blessing.
Now to understand the necessity of that knowledge, let's look at a statement found in
 
Hosea 4:1-10
 
The statement I want us to see is found in verse 1 and again in verse 6 where God says of the nation of Israel, there is no knowledge of God in the land, they are destroyed for lack of knowledge and they have rejected knowledge. 
 
And just to be clear, when verse 6 says God will "reject you from being priest for Me", He's talking about the nation of Israel as a whole.  His design was for them to be a priest to the nations.  They would stand between God and man and represent both. 
 
They understood God's grace and mercy and righteousness, and they could sympathize with lost humanity and God's intention was for them to stand as shining examples of God's blessing on righteousness.  But they have failed, and failed miserably.

And God is basically telling them they are unusable in the condition they are in.  They have refused and ignored God's knowledge and now they are paying the consequences in His blessing being removed. 
 
There is no truth or mercy in the land.  There is instead swearing and lying, killing an stealing and adultery.  There is no restraint.  Instead, there is bloodshed upon bloodshed and the nation mourns. 
 
 
 
Does that sound familiar?  As I prepared these notes this week, in my mind were the images from Las Vegas, Nevada where 59 people lay dead and over 500 more injured.  And God says, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge, and because you have forgotten God, I have forgotten your children."
 
I couldn't help but think about the fact that this festival they were attending was held on the evening of the Lord's Day, and I think it safe to say that not one person who was killed in that crowd would have died had they been in church that evening.
 
Hosea says, "There is no knowledge of God in the land".  That is a reminder that God is the Source of all knowledge.  Now obviously, there is lots of information in the world. All the experts think they know how to fix the problems of the world.  But the answers we need the most, we can't come up with on our own.   
 
Human wisdom is woefully inadequate when it comes to answering questions like, "How did we get here? Where do I go when I die? What is the meaning of life? What is the reason for my existence, and how can I do what I was made to do?"
 
Only God's knowledge, God's wisdom can answer those questions.  After all, as Proverbs 9:10 tells us, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding”.  Job said a similar thing in chapter 28, verse 28 of the book that bears his name when he said,   
 
"Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding" (Job 28:28).
 
To put it in New Testament terms, he's describing
salvation, which is the greatest blessing of all.  Saving faith includes both fearing God and departing from evil.  So you can only begin to gain Godly knowledge when you fear God by trusting in Him and repenting of your sins.
 
As long as you have only human knowledge, you cannot know God or His wisdom because there is no relationship with the source of that knowledge. 
Without that critical first step, there is no relationship to the Giver of all wisdom and understanding.
 
Read the Bible, and you will encounter verses that tell us that all the “treasures” of wisdom and knowledge are “hidden” in God the Father and Jesus Christ.  And wonder of wonders, God wants to share that wisdom with us!  He wants to show and reveal great and mighty things to us. He wants to tell us deep and secret things that the average person will not have access to.
 
And not only will God give you His knowledge, but He will also make sure to give you the understanding of that knowledge and the wisdom to be able to actually use it! All of this can be given to you free of charge.  All you have to do is be willing to seek after it, and then seek to fully understand it and how it can apply to the different areas of your life.
 
That's one of the reasons why atheism is such a mystery to me.  God, being the generous God that He is, even gives some knowledge to those who rebel against Him.
 
 
Did you ever consider the fact that a secularist or atheist uses his God-given sensory organs and his God-given mind to argue against God. It’s a strange conundrum. If the atheist were successful in arguing against God, he would lose the only rational basis for trusting his own thoughts and perceptions.
 
It's just as foolish as someone who argues against the existence of air, then uses the air to voice his argument. The very fact that he is able to state his position demonstrates that it is wrong.
 
Likewise, the atheist uses his God-given mind and God-designed senses to argue against God. But if God didn’t exist, then there would be no reason for the atheist to trust his own senses or his own mind. There can be no doubt that God exists because God is the source of the very things he uses to argue against God. 
 
Now, as the source of all knowledge, God has chosen
to reveal that knowledge with us in a variety of ways.  But there is one primary way and that is His Word.
 
That's what motivated David to say, in Psalm 119:10-12:
 
With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You. Blessed are You, O Lord! Teach me Your statutes.
 
 
 
 
Later, in the same chapter at verses 127-130, he wrote,
 
Therefore I love Your commandments more than gold, yes, than fine gold!  Therefore all Your precepts concerning all things I consider to be right; I hate every false way.
 
Your testimonies are wonderful; Therefore my soul keeps them. The entrance of Your words gives light;
It gives understanding to the simple.
 
So God and His Word are the source of true knowledge and that's fairly easy to determine.  If you need information on any subject in life, then find what you need in God's Word that does not change and is settled forever in heaven.
 
But even more to the point, we can look to the Living Word, Jesus Christ Himself.  Listen to what He tells us in
 
John 8:31
 
Jesus is  telling us that if we will “abide in His Word”,  then we will have the ability to know the truth, and then the truth will be able to make us free. In other words, if you are willing to abide in the Bible, which is His Word, and seek to understand what you are reading, then you will be fully loaded with an incredible amount of knowledge and truth covering everything you need to know about life. 
 
And that is the knowledge we are being told to add to our faith.  He's talking about Scriptural knowledge.  So what is
 
2.  The Definition of Knowledge
 
Knowledge is what allows us to develop Christ-likeness through the ability to collect, remember and access the information God provides us through His Word.  Or as I said a moment ago, it is the knowledge of God, revealed through His Word, that results in God's blessing, and God's blessing is only found in being like Christ. 
 
At the moment of our salvation, we come to God not only lost, but ignorant.  And the solution to our ignorance is having our minds transformed with the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ and that knowledge comes only from the Scriptures and is communicated through the Holy Spirit. 
 
 Basically, knowledge is being acquainted or familiar with the facts.  If you have a knowledge of accounting, you are familiar with the principles and laws and facts that go along with that particular subject.  And generally speaking, that knowledge is gained through experience. 
 
It might be from the classroom or hands-on experience, but the familiar is gained first-hand.
 
Now, that brings up a vital point.  Spiritually speaking, we need to keep in mind that there are
two kinds of knowledge. There is information, which we might call head knowledge, and there is information plus experience that we could call heart knowledge
        
 
 
 
Think about that in terms of salvation.  In order to be saved, you must receive Jesus Christ by confessing your sins and acknowledging Him as Savior and Lord.  And once you've done that, you give evidence to that experience's reality by putting off the ways of the flesh and the world and putting on Jesus Christ.
 
But it's possible to have that information and never experience the grace of God in the new birth.  You can have head knowledge, but no heart knowledge. 
 
A lot of people do that in the area of personal stewardship.  They can understand the principle of the tithe and how to figure 10 percent of their income and how God says if a man doesn't tithe, he's stealing from God. 

They can know that tithes and offerings are God's chosen way of financing His work and ministry through the church. 
 
They can know God has asked us to prove His faithfulness by giving and see if He won't open the windows of heaven and pour out so much blessing we can't receive it all. 
 
They can know all of that and have head knowledge about tithing and know all the scriptures and even believe that God commands us to do it.
 
But until you participate in it, you will never know experientially about God's blessing.  But once you get under the glory spout where all the blessings come out, then the knowledge is really yours.  But until you do, it's just "book learnin'!"
 
And once you have it, you can use it.  Remember, it's purpose is to develop Christ-likeness.  So how did Jesus use knowledge? Well, from the life of Christ, let's look at
 
3.  The Example of Knowledge
 
I will just warn you, if you set out to study the references of what Jesus "knows" or "knew", you are in for an overwhelming time in God's Word!  And there are lots of examples of His knowledge that are exclusive to Him. 
 
For instance, there are lots of places where Jesus knew what people were thinking and responded to their thoughts and intentions.  He had a way of "knowing" things supernaturally that we don't have the capacity to comprehend or experience. 
 
But there is an example of His knowledge that is given so we can do exactly what He did and if we do what He did, we'll have the same results He experienced.  It is found in Luke 4, and it is the account of His temptation in the wilderness after His baptism. 
 
Luke 4:1-13
 
Now there's a lot of good preaching in this text, but I just want to draw your attention to three verses.  Notice,
 
verse 4, 8 and 12 
 
Three times, the devil tempts Jesus.  He tempts him to distrust God's love, distrust God's plan, and trust God presumptuously.
But with every temptation, Jesus answered by quoting Scripture. 
 
Question:  So how did Jesus know Scripture, and how did He know which Scripture to quote at the appropriate time?
 
Someone says, "Well, He was God.  He wrote those Scriptures!"  That's true, but He didn't live His life on earth as God.  He lived it as a man.  In fact, Paul told the Philippians that He took upon Himself the exact form of a human in every way. 
 
So He didn't live His human life as God; instead He lived it as a man full of God.  Listen to His words and you will hear Him saying, "I can do nothing of Myself.  I only say what God wants Me to say.  I only do what God tells Me to do."
 
So in this temptation, He is showing us how a man can take the knowledge that God provides and use it to make right decisions and resist temptation and enjoy the blessing of God. 
 
But that still doesn't answer the question about how He knew the Scriptures.  Well, I think I can help you with that.  Let's back up to
 
Luke 2 and see what it says beginning in
 
verses 40
 
That one verse and that one sentence covers the first twelve years of the life of Christ.  Now, from earlier chapters we already know Jesus was an infant in Bethlehem, and a young child in the house and then down in Egypt.
Then this verse tells us about what happened after they returned to Nazareth for the next 12 years.  
So verse 40 covers birth to twelve. Twelve years He lived as an infant, as a little child, as a child, and as one who was on the verge of what the Jews considered to be adulthood at the age of twelve.
 
Then verses 41 down into verse 51 cover an incident that happened when He was twelve.  Then verse 51 and 52 cover from twelve to the beginning of His ministry at age 30. So verse forty covers twelve years.  And then you have an incident at the age of twelve that goes down into verse 51, and then verses 51 and 52 cover the final eighteen years until He reached thirty and began His ministry.
 
Now this is all we know about the first thirty years of His life and it's all covered in two verses, with one specific incident sandwiched in between.  But, even though they are brief, they tell us quite a lot.
 
First of all, verse 40 tells us "The Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon Him." 
 
Now what that verse tells us is that Jesus developed just like every other human child.  He went through all the developmental changes of childhood.   There is physical growth and there is spiritual growth and it is described as becoming filled with wisdom.  So the very wisdom and mind of God is being poured into His mind.  
 
Now catch what's happening:  He became "filled with wisdom".  That means it came upon Him gradually. He didn't understand everything when He was an infant. 
He didn't understand everything when He was a toddler.  He didn't understand everything when He was a little child or a child. But by the time He reached this age of twelve, the fullness of the wisdom of God as to His identity and His mission and the truth of God had come to fullness in His mind.  So by the time Jesus is twelve years old, as a sure 'nuff, 100 percent human, He thought like God thinks.  He was full of wisdom.
 
All the stuff about Jesus doing miracles as a toddler and making birds out of clay and bringing them to life is nonsense.  The Bible says He grew as a child.   
He appeared on the outside to be like any other normal, developing child in every way.  But inside, His brain was developing and as it developed it became capable of receiving more and more of the understanding of the wisdom of God so that finally when He was twelve He grasped it and He thought God's thoughts.
 
Then, verse 41, we have the incident with Jesus being separated from His parents and they find Him at the temple with the teachers.
 
Remember, He is twelve years of age.  He is on the verge of Jewish adulthood. He is now operating with the fullness of the mind of God.
 
When his parents find him, verse 46 tells us He was 
"Sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them, and asking them questions."
 
This is a traditional typical scene, teachers seated in a circle surrounding the students. And please notice, Jesus is "sittin gin the midst of the teachers".  
His posture is not of a teacher, but of a student.  And notice, He was listening and asking questions. Is that not an amazing scene?  Jesus, begin filled with the wisdom of God sits at the feet of those who are discussing the Scriptures that He recorded and he is listening and learning.
 
By the way, this is the only time ever in the gospels that Jesus is the learner.  He is the student here, but He will never be the student again.
 
Remember, He's been growing. He's reached the point where He understands the mind of God. He understands the wisdom of God.  So He's not asking for answers, but He's listening to how they understand the truth of God.  He has a consuming desire for it.  He has a hunger for discussing the truth of God.
 
Then notice, verse 52
 
This is a reference to His adult years after the incident in Jerusalem, from 13 to 30.  And notice,
 
verse 52
 
He grew as an infant, He grew as a young Child, He grow as a teenager, and now here we see Him as an adult and He's still growing. 
 
He is growing stronger physically in stature, still getting a greater grasp of divine truth and growing in spiritual favor with God because of the continual triumph over temptation, because of the continual victory that He wins and growing also in favor with men because of the wondrous perfection of His life.  He grew spiritually, physically, intellectually, and socially.
 
So you ask, how did Jesus know the Scriptures?  How did He know how to respond to Satan?  How could He just pull those verses and quote them and use them appropriately?  Simple:  He was a student of God's Word.  He was a lifelong learner. We see it in every stage of His life.
 
So let's draw from that
 
4.  The Application of Knowledge     
 
Let's bring this into focus:  When Jesus next appears on the stage, eighteen years later, He will begin His ministry and right off the bat, He will be led into the wilderness to be tempted. 
 
And that will be just the beginning.  For the next 3 1/2 years, His will be a life of temptation.  He was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 
 
He was the same way everybody is tempted in all the stages of life.  He was tempted, through every means that the enemy, the world, the flesh, the devil could use.
 
And just as Satan tempted Jesus in the same way he tempts you, he will also try to tempt you in the same ways He tempted Jesus.  He wants you to distrust God's love, to distrust God's plan, and then to trust God presumptuously. 
 
So how do we defeat Satan?  How did Jesus defeat him?  He also learned by experience. 
 
Listen to Hebrews 5:8 it says, "He learned obedience from the things He suffered."
 
What does that mean?  I think as He was growing up He was suffering the onslaught of temptation.  Remember, He was tempted in every way a human could be tempted. 
 
He was tempted as an infant the way infants are tempted, to be selfish, to be impatient.  He was tempted the way children are tempted, to be selfish and impatient and to have trivial and superficial thoughts and to be disrespectful and so forth and so on.  He was tempted the same way young people are tempted and the same way adults are tempted. 
 
Surely, in eighteen years of knowing the answer to everything, He must have been tempted to be impatient with the stupidity around Him. He was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.  It was through those temptations over which He triumphed that He experientially learned what it was to obey God. 
 
So He had a developmental process going on by which in overcoming temptation He developed spiritual strength in the matter of obedience.  And as a part of that learning process, He relied on the unchanging Word of God.  That's why He was so interested in it.  That's why as a 12-year old He sat at the feet of the teachers and asked questions.
 
He knew a day was quickly approaching when He would need what He was learning and absorbing. And when the time came, and temptation stared him in the eye, He could with confidence say, "It is written".
Listen: when Satan challenges your loyalty to God and your confidence in God's love and your confidence in God's plan, and when Satan challenges your will to act in a...in a proper manner toward God's promises, what's going to anchor you is your knowledge of the Word of God and your devotion to obey it.
 
The same thing, Jesus shows us here a pattern to follow in our own struggles.  Trust God's love.  Trust God's plan.  Don't presume on His promises and His grace.  And you do that by being anchored in His Word.
 
So how are you going to get to know God's Word?  First, get to know Him through a personal relationship by becoming a Christian.  Then, take advantage of every opportunity you have to study God's Word. Be a student of the Word of God.  Be a lifelong learner!  Do it on your own, do it with others in Sunday School and discipleship training and Wednesday night, do it through the preaching on Sundays and Wednesdays.  Do it for the rest of your life!
 
And as Peter says in our text, do it with diligence. 
 
To your faith, add virtue and to virtue, add knowledge so that your life will be a reflection of Jesus Christ Himself.  After all, if Jesus needed to be a student, don't you think you do to?
 
Let's pray.
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