Life’s Simple Seven! What enables growth?
Knowledge - Focus on what’s true!
There is a website called brainyquote.com. They will provide you with the “quote of the day” via email. Here’s their quote of the day from this past Thursday which of course was Valentine’s Day: Zora Neale Hurston said, “Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.”[i] I didn’t say it had to be good or easily understood. Let’s play a little game. I’ll provide the quote. You tell me who said it! “I want to put a ding in the universe.” Steve Jobs “The brain is a wonderful organ; it starts working the moment you get up in the morning and does not stop until you get into the office.” Robert Frost “Marriage is neither heaven nor hell, it is simply purgatory.” Abraham Lincoln “Don't marry the person you think you can live with; marry only the individual you think you can't live without.” James C. Dobson “I've failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.” Michael Jordan “Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” Albert Einstein Everyone says I'm like the girl next door... Y'all must have really weird neighbors! Kelly Clarkson One more… “Knowledge is power.” Francis Bacon[ii] Sir Francis Bacon was a lawyer, statesman, philosopher, and master of the English tongue. He served as both Attorney General and Lord Chancellor of England. He died in 1626.[iii] That was a long time ago, but there’s truth in his statement. I want us to see knowledge through Biblical lenses.
Turn in your Bibles today to 2 Peter 1:5! Do you need a Bible or a message outline? If you do just raise your hand! (Bryer Largent and Kaden Shields) We started a series last week called Life’s Simple Seven! Seven steps to a better physical life - Get Active, Control Cholesterol, Eat Better, Manage Blood Pressure, Lose Weight, Reduce Blood Sugar, Stop Smoking. There are also seven steps to an effective spiritual life. Find verse 5! Make every effort… The Apostle Peter makes it clear. If you want to GROW in your walk with God then you must make an effort. (Read 5-7) Go back to verse 5.
The Apostle Peter, like Sir Francis Bacon, commends knowledge. Knowledge is good. Let’s look at knowledge from two perspectives: culturally and biblically! First, culturally! We are pressured by our culture. So was Bacon and so was Peter. Notice our list of seven. Actually the list is 8. Faith + seven. Here they are: Faith, Goodness, Knowledge, Self-control, Perseverance, Godliness, Brotherly Kindness, Love! Did you notice that I highlighted faith and love? Why? Because those two words are entirely Christian. The other six are culturally understood. Let’s look at knowledge from a 21st century perspective and then from a 1st century perspective! From a 21st century perspective: knowledge is power! Have you seen this commercial from Farmer’s Insurance? What you don’t know can hurt you! Tell me, if you have a grease fire on your kitchen stove should you throw water on it? NO! Turn off the heat, cover the pan with a metal lid, or pour baking soda on the fire![iv] It’s true, knowledge is power. Have you ever been in a classroom and the teacher/professor asks a question and you don’t know the answer? Greg, would you please come to the chalkboard and work out this math problem as the class watches? Not a problem if you know the formula. It would make me physically ill if I didn’t! Knowledge is POWER! I want the surgeon to know what he or she is doing before they cut! I want to pilot to know the instruments before taking off. I’ll pay the engineer $1000 to fix the machine. $1 to turn the screwdriver and $999 to know which screw to turn! My ice machine was acting funny in my freezer, so I pulled it out. But then, I couldn’t get it to go back in. I kept pushing but it wouldn’t go back in! I checked the owner’s manual and it said, “To insert your ice machine - turn knob ¼ clockwise.” I did. BOOM! It went right in! Knowledge is POWER, baby!
Anyone here like power? C’mon, we all do! With power you can do good or evil. Power can enable you to help or hurt. To guide or manipulate! If you have knowledge it’s easy to think, “I’m powerful, better, or smarter than YOU! Nerds follow this mantra! “I may not be as good lookin as you, but one day you’ll work for me! Nerds rule, man!”
Answer this question for me. Are you smart? OR Are you knowledgeable? I went to a Science Fair Contest this past Thursday night and based on some of the entries I saw a bunch of students are really smart! There are people in this world who are brilliant in their fields. They know allot, however, no one knows everything, except God! You’ve heard of the Library of Congress? The Library of Congress has 22.29 million books. No one has read them all. I don’t care how much you know. You don’t know everything! That’s what makes God - GOD!
There are many websites which will improve your brain function. Luminosity.com / quizwise.com / and allthetests.com. I took a basic knowledge quiz. Here are three of the ten questions. Your answers are T or F! France, Germany and Poland are called the Baltic States. The Seven Years War lasted from 1756-1763.
De Gaulle was chancellor from 1933-1945.[v] I took the quiz and the website sent me these results. “You have correctly answered 5 of 10 questions. On average, 1058 users who took the quiz gave 5.57 right answers. You did just average. You are not smart, nor stupid. If you want, you can read a little more.” I won’t kid you that bummed me out. Knowledge is power. I want to be powerful, but I have to be careful here. We should learn something new every day, but don’t let your knowledge lead you away from God! Let’s go from 21st c to 1st c!
What about knowledge in the 1st century? For them, Knowledge is Salvation! Let’s take a tour! Go back to 2 Peter 1. (Verses 2, 3, 5, 8)
No matter where you are reading from the Bible you need to AIM! Determine the Author’s Intended Meaning! I say it this way. You cannot apply until you know why. So why is Peter writing this letter? He’s WARNING his dear friends! Go to Chapter 2 verse 1! Mark Twain said, “Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.” False teachers were distorting the facts and making up stories. They had a number of topics. Jesus was not born of a virgin.[vi] They deliberately lowered Jesus’ divinity. Jesus did not bodily resurrect from the dead. That’s called Docetism.[vii] Jesus only appeared to have a physical body! And if he didn’t resurrect the first time what makes you think he’ll come a 2nd time. Some teachers taught “Gnosticism” that knowledge leads to salvation. This knowledge is your own. You have figured out how to save yourself![viii] If that’s true then Jesus died for nothing! This is what culture was teaching people in the 1st century. It’s still being taught today!
Culture teaches that Knowledge is POWER. That knowledge is SALVATION. The Bible teaches us the Knowledge is RESPONSIBILITY! Go back to verse 5. The word for knowledge is gnosis - which means “general intelligence.”[ix] You are responsible to know facts about Jesus. I have responses here by children to questions concerning the Bible. How was Jesus born? Their response. Jesus was born because Mary had an immaculate contraption. What were the epistles? The epistles were the wives of the apostles. What was the Golden Rule? Jesus enunciated the Golden Rule, which says to do unto others before they do one to you. Funny! But not really. We are to add to goodness, knowledge. We are to know what the Bible says. The longer we are Christ followers the better we should be at navigating through the scriptures.
But it’s more than that. “Gnosis” also means “a deeper knowledge of Jesus / to discern the will of God.” We have a personal responsibility to go deep with Jesus! The word “know” implies sexual intimacy. I KNOW that person in ways that you don’t. And it better stay that way forever! Growth involves responsibility. We must move past a surface knowledge of Jesus and go deep! How does ONE do that? Take responsibility! Read the Bible on your own! Go to youversion.com or download the “you version” app for your smartphone! Apply what you read. Read deep authors like Strobel and Ortberg. Get in a small group that asks good questions. Questions that make you think and where people hold you accountable to grow!
Greg, truly what’s the point here? There is so much knowledge in this world to be grasped! I was in www.e-sword.net last Friday and a little pop up window came up and said “Did you know?” Isn’t awesome to be in the know? Did you know the new Monopoly game piece is the cat and the iron got the boot! Did you know that there are 70 million Internet users at any given time?[x] Did you know that asteroid 2012 DA14 came incredibly close to colliding into this planet instead of hurling past it? But not every “Did you know” is important. Except this one. Did you know that Jesus Christ lived, walked & talked. Jesus taught, proclaimed and warned. Jesus laugh, cried and ate. Jesus bled, died and came back from the dead.
It all comes down to this. Have you ever heard the phrase, “It’s all in who you know?” I could get something done if I had connections. If I knew Arnold I could get back some stage passes. If I knew Urban maybe I could get some awesome tickets! If you want to get near the Father, you’ve got to KNOW Jesus! Do you?
[vi] MacArthur Bible Commentary, 1933
[vii] Jack Cottrell, The Faith Once For All, 229
[viii] Jack Cottrell, The Faith Once For All, 314
[ix] Logos Bible Software, Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, 2 Peter 1:5
[x] John Fischer, The Catch