2 Peter 1:3b

Sermon preached on March 18, 2018 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2018. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at http://www.cantonnewlife.org/.

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

The old saying,

"Ignorance is bliss,"

isn't always true. What you don't know can hurt you. When the space shuttle Columbia was launched in mid-January 2003 a piece of foam that was insulating the external fuel tank broke away and hit one of the leading edges of the shuttle's wings during takeoff. High speed cameras recorded the incident and when the video was reviewed hours later it was decided that it didn't cause any damage. The crew aboard the Columbia wasn't even told about the problem. But the reality was that the foam had made a hole in the wing. During re-entry hot gasses got into the interior of the wing, burned up parts of the hydraulic system which meant that the shuttle couldn't be controlled properly. The loss of control meant that some unprotected areas of the shuttle were exposed to so much heat that they melted and the orbiter broke up. All seven astronauts perished.

There has been some speculation that the crew might have been able to be rescued by another shuttle if the problem of the foam hit had been understood properly. But it was not to be.

In some circles in Christianity there are people think that doctrine is bad. They believe that as a Christian you shouldn't be that concerned about doctrine but you should rather focus on the 'spiritual', you should concentrate on being in touch with the Spirit, whether through the Spirit talking to you, or leading you by your feelings or instincts. They will tell you that if you focus too much on the Bible, you're guilty of 'bible-idolatry', that the Bible has become an idol to you, and that you by focusing on the Bible you're worshipping the Bible rather than worshipping God. They might even quote the verse that says, (1 Corinthians 8:1)

"Knowledge puffs up,
but love builds up."

They will tell you they don't like creeds, catechisms or anything of the sort. Some will tell you the only creed they have is,

"Jesus is Lord."

How should we respond to this? It's certainly true that knowledge can lead to pride. It's also true that some people can know a lot about the Bible and not live it. All the knowledge they have doesn't translate into holy living.

But the misuse of the great gift of knowledge doesn't mean we should shun the gift. Neither of those things mean that we shouldn't pursue knowledge and use it properly. One of the main activities Jesus engaged in during His earthly ministry was teaching. He sought to bring people out of ignorance into the light. One of His methods of doing that was through teaching. He also commanded His disciples to teach others. In Matthew 28:18–20 He said,

"All authority in heaven and on earth
has been given to me.
Therefore go and
make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name
of the Father and of the Son
and of the Holy Spirit,
and teaching them to obey everything
I have commanded you."

The apostles took this to heart and one of their main activities was teaching. In Acts we see that they taught others about Jesus. The apostles told their successors to focus on teaching. In 1 Timothy 4:13 Paul told his son in the faith,

"Until I come,
devote yourself to the public reading
of Scripture, to preaching and
to teaching."

Indeed, several of the leading offices that Jesus gave the church involve teaching. In 1 Corinthians 12:28 the apostle Paul wrote,

"And in the church God has appointed
first of all apostles, second prophets,
third teachers,
then workers of miracles,
also those having gifts of healing,"

The offices of apostle, prophets and teachers—all of them involved teaching. The fact that those offices were listed before miracle workers or healing show how important teaching is. Ephesians 4:11-13 shows how essential teaching is for the body of Christ. Paul wrote that Jesus,

"gave some to be apostles,
some to be prophets,
some to be evangelists,
and some to be pastors and teachers,
to prepare God's people
for works of service,
so that the body of Christ
may be built up until we all reach
unity in the faith
and in the knowledge
of the Son of God and become mature,
attaining to the whole measure
of the fullness of Christ."

2 Timothy 3:16–17 also commends teaching from Scripture. It says,

"All Scripture is God-breathed
and is useful for teaching,
rebuking, correcting and
training in righteousness,
so that the man of God
may be thoroughly equipped
for every good work."

Teaching, doctrine, knowledge is vital to the Christian life.

As Christians we are told to hold on to the apostles' teachings. In 1 Corinthians 11:1–2 the apostle Paul wrote,

"Follow my example,
as I follow the example of Christ.
I praise you for remembering me
in everything and
for holding to the teachings,
just as I passed them on to you."

2 Thessalonians 2:15 adds,

"So then, brothers,
stand firm and hold to the teachings
we passed on to you,
whether by word of mouth or by letter."

We should also remember that one of the qualifications for the elders of the church is that they be able to teach. (1 Timothy 3:2)

The reason that teaching is emphasized so much in Scripture is because

it's through our knowledge of God that we become like Him.

Our text says, (2 Peter 1:3)

"His divine power has given us
everything we need for life
and godliness
through our knowledge of him
who called us
by his own glory and goodness."

It is through our 'knowledge of him' that we receive everything we need for life and godliness. The Puritan Thomas Adams writes, (2 Peter, p. 30)

"We have considered the fountain, let us come now to the conduit, the means or meritorious cause, through which all these precious gifts are bestowed on us. This ever-flowing and over-flowing conduit is Christ, in whom dwells all fullness, Col. 1.19) Now for us, the more capacious [roomy] a vessel of faith we bring, the greater measure of grace we shall receive."

The more faith we bring to God, the more grace we receive. Faith itself is a gift from God. The greatness of our faith is directly tied to our knowledge of God. We see this in Hebrews 11:11–12,

"By faith Abraham,
even though he was past age—
and Sarah herself was barren—
was enabled to become a father
because he considered him faithful
who had made the promise.
And so from this one man,
and he as good as dead,
came descendants as numerous
as the stars in the sky and as countless
as the sand on the seashore."

Abraham knew certain things about God, about His power, about His faithfulness—that enabled him to trust and stand on God's promises. Our faith is increased by knowing more about God.

Indeed, knowing God is one of the great reasons we are here on this earth. J. I. Packer writes, (
Knowing God, p. 29)

"What were we made for? To know God. What aim should we set ourselves in life? To know God. What is the eternal life that Jesus gives? Knowledge of God."

To prove his point Packer quotes John 17:3 where Jesus prayed to the Father and said,

"Now this is eternal life:
that they may know you,
the only true God,
and Jesus Christ,
whom you have sent."

Packer continues,

"What is the best thing in life, bringing more joy, delight, and contentment than anything else? Knowledge of God."

Packer then quotes Jeremiah 9:23–24 which says,

"This is what the Lord says:
'Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom
or the strong man boast of his strength
or the rich man boast of his riches,
but let him who boasts boast about this:
that he understands and knows me,
that I am the Lord,
who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,'
declares the Lord."

Packer asks,

"What, of all the states God ever sees man in, gives him most pleasure? Knowledge of himself."

Hosea 6:6 proves this. It says, (CSV)

"For I desire faithful love and not sacrifice,
the knowledge of God
rather than burnt offerings."

This means that knowing God should be the great aim of your life.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones writes, (Expository Sermons on 2 Peter, p. 14)

"What is it as a Christian I should desire above everything else? It is not to have certain experiences; it is not that I may be better than I used to be; it is not that I am to hold certain views of life and the world and society and various other matters. The supreme objective of the Christian man is to know God… What is the summum bonum of the Christian life? … To know God!"

But how do we come to know God? The answer is that

we must seek to know God as He is, as He is revealed in the Bible.

Many people today don't even try to be led by the Word when it comes to God. You hear people referring to God as 'her'. In some books that claim to be Christian, that claim to draw people near to God, God is not presented as He is in the Bible. Instead they'll give you a different image. People shouldn't just make up things about God and we shouldn't be misled by them. J.I. Packer writes, (Knowing God, p. 37)

"we must say that knowing God involves, first, listening to God's Word and receiving it as the Holy Spirit interprets it, in application to oneself; second, noting God's nature and character, as his Word and works reveal it; third, accepting his invitations and doing what he commands; fourth, recognizing and rejoicing in the love that he has shown in thus approaching you and drawing you into this divine fellowship."

In our text we see that Peter tells us certain things about God—that He wants us to be holy, that He has great power, that He gives us everything we need, that He has called us by his own glory and goodness.

These truths should help us to have great faith.

Knowing of God is so practical.

If we know that God has given us everything we need for life and godliness, it can help us in many ways.

First of all, it shows us that we don't need to seek help anywhere else.

The king of Judah, Asa, was worried when Baasha, King of Israel, moved against him and started fortifying Ramah. Asa, instead of relying on the Lord, sought assistance from the King of Aram.

God has everything we need. We seek our strength in Him. We never have to help him out, no matter how impossible it seems that His promise can be fulfilled. We don't have to be like Sarah, who gave Hagar to Abraham because it seemed like God couldn't fulfill His promise.

Secondly, if we know what God is holy and He wants us to be holy and has given us everything we need for holiness,

it will help us resist the ungodliness of the world.

The world wants Christians to be like them. It wants us to stop speaking against sin. It wants us to embrace its sin.

But if we know that God is holy and He wants us to be holy, we will fear God and see through the lies of this world. Romans 8:13 says,

"For if you live according
to the sinful nature,
you will die;"

Knowing God is holy will make us resist evil and not give in to it.

Our text also tells us He has called us by His own glory and goodness.

What does that mean? Lord willing we're going to look at that next week. But for now it's enough for us to know that we are Christians because God called us and that He is sovereign in salvation. As Peter H. Davids writes, (The Letters of 2 Peter and Jude, PNTC; p. 170)

"This 'knowledge' of Jesus did not come through their personal investigation, but because Jesus himself 'called us.' He took the initiative."

We love Him because He first loved us.

This will help us praise God and Him alone for our salvation.

The apostle Paul tells us that if we're going to boast, we need to boast in the Lord.

Yet today we see so many professing Christians boasting about themselves. Everything about our salvation is from God, even faith (Ephesians 2:8-10), yet as human beings we tend to glory in ourselves.

John Calvin, speaking about the knowledge of God, writes, (Institutes of the Christian Religion. 1541 edition, p. 1)

"The purpose… is to show not only that there is one God whom all must worship and honour, but also that he is the fount of all truth, wisdom, goodness, righteousness, judgment, mercy, power and holiness. We must learn, therefore, to expect and ask these things from him, and with praise and thanksgiving to acknowledge that they come from him."

Knowledge of God is so important for Christians.

For you who are not Christians,

you, too, need to know about God.

As I've said some people imagine God as a grandfather like figure who would not cast anyone away from Him.

You need to have understand that that is not true. God hates sin. God is just. Sin must be punished. Jesus died for sinners. Only in Him can you have life. If you don't go to Jesus, you will be lost. Revelation 6:15–17 tells us about the effects of the opening of the sixth seal,

"Then the kings of the earth,
the princes, the generals,
the rich, the mighty,
and every slave and every free man
hid in caves and
among the rocks of the mountains.
They called to the mountains
and the rocks,
'Fall on us and hide us
from the face of him
who sits on the throne and
from the wrath of the Lamb!
For the great day
of their wrath has come,
and who can stand?"

They won't be ready. Will you be? Go to Jesus. He's your only hope.