II PETER 4
In this first chapter of II Peter, he is giving a list of characteristics which he emphasizes are essential to the complete Christian personality. In our last essay, we talked about virtue as the moral basis for all Christian behavior. However, Peter says that these essential characteristics result from exercising your faith, and one cannot have very much faith in something they know little about. So Peter’s next important attribute is “knowledge”. If you have true faith in God and are motivated by virtue, which is wanting to do the right thing, then this should drive you to want to know God and what His will is. The Hebrews writer says that one who comes to God must believe that He IS. That means to know what it means to be GOD. To really know God is a constant quest. Cursory reading of the Bible will not give you a true knowledge of who God is. You must spend much time in thought, study and prayer to have your knowledge of God grow, and it will never end.
The bane of Christendom is people who are members of some church group and rest their salvation on that membership, but they never really know God. Their knowledge is superficial and consists mostly of the rules and rituals that their church group teaches. However, to be a true Christian, you must know Him personally, and that knowledge comes from searching His word and talking often with Him as your Father. Only a personal relationship with Jesus Christ can make you a member of His family. Simply being on the role of an organized church won’t do it. The reason we do not take the story of the Christ to the world is because those who consider themselves Christians are ignorant of the grace and glory of God and of the wonder of His forgiveness through the sacrifice of His Son on the Cross. Knowing the facts is not enough. Only when your desire to be righteous drives you to search the Book for the horror of sin and the wonder of His grace in forgiveness, can you KNOW the Father. That is what Peter means when he adds knowledge to the list of Christian ideals.
Many intellectuals in our society are agnostics or atheists. Most of them do not want to believe in a God who is beyond their logical mind and not provable in their sophisticated laboratories. One cannot believe that which he does not want to know. So, again, we see that knowledge grows out of virtue. To have virtue means to have a strong desire to know what is right and to do it. As we found in our last essay, Peter’s definition of Virtue was a strong moral discipline that causes the person who has it to want to do what is right. Those who do not want any knowledge of that which imposes discipline upon the animal desires of our human self, and demands a self-sacrificing standard in our relationships with our fellowman, cannot be real Christians, for those are two of the essential standards one must meet to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
God is infinite, so the knowledge of Him is endless. This means the Christian must be in constant quest for the knowledge of the Father. This is what spiritual growth is and this is essential for one who wants to live the Christian life.