Saturday, November 11, 2006

Adding Knowledge

The next thing we are to add is knowledge.
This month I'm meditating on what it means to add "knowledge" to the virtue which I am to supply in my faith. Last month we learned that virtue is a visible, observable righteousness, not just an inward goodness. When it comes to the word knowledge, it seems almost too simple to spend time on. However, there has been a great deal of philosophical debate over the years as to what true knowledge is. Knowledge as it is used in the New Testament includes the following ideas: to understand completely, verified , observable knowing. It implies a relationship between the thing known and the knower. Kittel says it is an obedient and grateful acknowledgement of the deeds and demands of God. He also says it develops in the life of the Christian as lasting obedience and reflection
With these thoughts in mind then, what is involved in the diligence of providing our faith with knowledge that has been added to virtue? First it seems to me we need to develop the desire for knowledge. Paul said in Philippians 3:10 that he wanted to know Christ and the power of His resurrection. He said this after he said that he counted all things as loss that he might know Him. Secondly we must spend time in His word. God has revealed Himself through His living Word and it is there that we get to know Him truly. Jesus said in John 17:17, "Thy word is truth." Knowledge of the kind spoken of in scripture is knowledge of the truth. God's Word provides that truth for knowing. As faithful men we must make it our priority to provide our faith with knowledge. If this has not been one of your goals, why not make a commitment to move in that direction today.

Adding Virtue

The first thing we are to provide in our faith then is virtue. But what is virtue? Doing some digging into what this means, I discovered that the word implies moral goodness or excellence. It is the characteristic of being outstanding morally – being eminent. It implies the working of divine power in a person. John MacArthur describes it this way, “…the God-given ability to perform heroic deeds. It also came to mean that quality of life which made someone stand out as excellent. It never meant cloistered virtue, or virtue of attitude, but virtue which is demonstrated in life. Peter is here writing of moral energy, the power that performs deeds of excellence.”
Why would moral goodness or excellence be the first trait that should be provided to our faith? It seems to me that without such virtue, our faith appears worthless. As James tells us, "faith without works is dead." What good is faith if there is no virtue in the life? Also, virtue provides a better soil in which faith can flourish. By this I mean that as a Christian, our faith is better able to produce its normal results when the life is not hindered and distracted by moral failures and weakness. If we are to be diligent in adding virtue to our faith, that means that during each day as we are out and about interacting in our world, we need to make sure that virtue is at the top of our list. When we are at work, we should be virtuous in all we do. When we are at home, our wife and kids ought to be able to see that virtue is outstanding in our life. It should show up in the attitudes we display when helping with the dishes, interacting with the children or making financial decisions. Do we have the courage to turn off the TV when the programs are not characterized by virtue? How can we add virtue to our faith? We do this by learning to be obedient to the Word of God and His Spirit. As we read and understand God's Word, the Spirit shows us where we are failing to live up to who we are as Christians. As He reveals these things to us, we need to repent and take steps to change our behavior or attitudes. In this way we are adding virtue to our lives. As we learn to live this way, we will become increasingly sensitive to areas where virtue may not have its proper place in our lives.

Adding to our Faith

It dawned on me that my last post on perseverance was the latest in a series, but the series started in my other blog. In order to bring some consistency to all of this, I’m going to repost the first parts of this series here.
I’ve been meditating recently on 2 Peter 1:5-7. My goal is to post what God teaches me through this passage. The verses read this way in the NKJV. “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.”
The first thing I’m challenged with is the requirement of diligence. According to an online dictionary, diligence is the earnest and persistent application to an undertaking, steady effort, attentive care and heedfulness. According to 2 Peter 1:5-8 we are to give diligence to add to our faith. This tells me that it will not take place "automatically". Of necessity there will be effort required and that effort will have to be earnest and persistent. In other words we are not to begin the task and then let it just fizzle out. It is something we are to give our attention to so that we achieve the desired results.
What is it then that we are supposed to be doing? We are to add various characteristics to our life and this passage implies a step-wise sequence. To "add" in this case means "to supply". We are to add or supply these traits in our faith. When we are asked to supply something, it is important to take the responsibility to follow through. If someone asks us to supply the pop for a picnic, we need to think through how many people are going to be there, what flavors might be needed and whether we will need to bring ice and glasses. It doesn’t do any good to think that through if we don’t go to the store and actually buy the stuff we need for the picnic. And then buying it doesn’t do any good if we don’t bring it so the people can enjoy it. In the same way we are to supply our faith with certain things. We need to be diligent about examining our life and providing these characteristics in the appropriate measure as they are needed. In addition, there is a specific sequence here and so it is important that we pay attention to the significance of that sequence. I’ll try to follow through in subsequent postings as I work my way through this passage.