Ron Graham was called home on March 14, 2013. He began writing this commentary before his death and had asked me, Nathele Graham, to continue his service to our Lord by finishing what he began.
But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18a).
Knowledge is a good thing and we begin gathering knowledge when we enter into this world. A newborn baby cries and begins to gather knowledge. He learns that his parents will answer his need and help his discomfort when he cries. As the child grows, more knowledge is acquired…how to walk and talk. If that child does not begin to grow and use knowledge, his parents worry. We can get a long way on the amount of knowledge we obtain while just living day-by-day, year-by-year.
Knowledge is continually imparted to us. Gathering knowledge is just natural to a child. So it should be with knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Proof of His love is everywhere we look and if we don’t see Him we are blind. Once we are born into God’s family, we need to grow in our knowledge of Him. Our knowledge of God’s ways needs to be cultivated, and then we need to live according to His Word so grace will also grow.
Peter understood the need to grow in grace and knowledge. He walked with Jesus and saw the miracles, which Jesus performed. Most of us can identify with Peter because of his enthusiasm, followed by his failures. The years that Peter was with Jesus watching and observing were important to his growing and gathering knowledge, but it wasn’t until Peter finally understood Jesus’ words that he became the man Jesus knew he could be. His knowledge of God and His ways finally were combined with living out that knowledge, and that is when Peter began growing in grace. Sometimes, like Peter, we require knowledge bumps to finally get a particular bit of knowledge. But knowledge of Jesus Christ will elude us at every turn of life unless we actually delve into our Bibles.
Peter began his second epistle this way:
“Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of our God and our Savior Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord” (2 Peter 1:1-2).
Peter understood that knowledge of God and of Jesus brings grace and peace to a believer. Where does that knowledge come from? There are plenty of folks who claim knowledge in this area; they think they know who Jesus is. They attend worship services on Sunday mornings and there they receive a few minutes of instruction of biblical stories, and sometimes Jesus may even be mentioned. But that’s not all there is to obtaining the true knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Sunday mornings are good places to whet your appetite for knowledge, but an in-depth study seldom happens in our pulpits today. Knowledge of Christ comes from studying the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) and then applying that knowledge to our everyday life. The more we learn and the more we rely on Jesus for everything the more peace we will find. Even when things seem to go wrong, our faith and knowledge of Christ will give us peace.
Scripture isn’t always easy to understand. Speaking of Paul’s epistles, Peter says:
“As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16).
The word “wrest” comes from the Greek word: strebloō which means: to twist, to torture, put to the rack, metaphorically to pervert, of one who wrests or tortures languages in a false sense. If due diligence isn’t taken in studying Scripture (Peter states that Paul’s epistles are Scripture) their meaning will be twisted.
“Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness” (2 Peter 3:17).
Yes, it takes a conscience effort to study and learn, but the Holy Spirit will lead you in your study if you allow it. If we don’t have solid knowledge of God’s Word we can be led astray. There are many men and women who spout very nice sounding ideas, but they teach heresy. How can you know truth from lies? Pray and allow the Holy Spirit to guide your study. When I truly wanted to know what God’s Word said, I fasted and prayed for three days while I read my Bible. When I came across something that I didn’t understand, I prayed. The Holy Spirit opened my understanding and taught me His truth. You can learn too, but it takes diligence on your part.
“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity” (2 Peter 1:5-7).
Do you see how knowledge grows? First faith. That is where we begin our Christian walk. In faith we accept Christ and that faith should make a change in how we live. Virtue (moral goodness in feeling and action) should follow. Add to virtue knowledge and so on. It is a matter of building upon a foundation of faith. Can you imagine what a Christian with solid knowledge of Christ can do? I can. I read my Bible and see the actions of Peter, James, Paul, and all of the others who had faith in Christ and gained knowledge. They shared their faith and we are the beneficiaries of that most valuable knowledge.
As we study the gospels we learn a lot about knowledge without grace. The Pharisees had much knowledge. They studied the Jewish Law – both written and oral. They were able to point out another person’s sin, and were also able to justify their own. They tried time and again to find reason to discredit Jesus. On the other hand, Jesus always showed grace and mercy to the common people. Jesus healed the sick on the Sabbath, ate with sinners, forgave sin, and many other acts of kindness. No wonder the Pharisees were out to get Him! Jesus had a lot to say to them and their lack of grace:
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Matthew 23:27-28).
Ouch! This is just a small portion of His speech to them. These men had lots of knowledge, but they had no grace.
What is grace? It comes from the Greek word, “charis” and means: “that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech, good will, loving-kindness, favor: of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting His holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues.”
This sounds like something everyone would want. When we study and know God’s word our values change. As we grow in grace the things we once saw as important will take a second seat to things of God. Grace will grow and His peace will be in us.
In his letter to the Philippians, Paul touched on this:
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
If our thoughts are on things that are godly we won’t dwell on, or be tempted by, the evils of the world. Our life will reflect Jesus and be filled with grace. As we study about our Lord and Savior and His grace and mercy we learn to acknowledge Him in all aspects of life. Thus we gain a knowledge that sets us apart.
“Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:10-11).
We must be diligent in our study of God’s Word. Continual and diligent study produces knowledge. His grace is imputed to those who will diligently seek Him. Do you strive to grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord? The choices you make will determine your growth. If you choose to prayerfully study His word rather than reading a secular book, the Holy Spirit will lead you to a deeper knowledge. Your heart will be turned to Him and your desire to please Him will grow. As His grace and knowledge grows in you, you will turn away from worldly pursuits, which lead to sin. What better way to seek Him than by studying His Word and acknowledging Him with our praise and worship?
[Jesus said,] “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
To know His commandments we must prayerfully study His Word and gain knowledge. Then we need to make a choice to keep His commandments in how we live our lives every day. By this we will grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Do you love Him? Then keep His commandments and grow in grace and knowledge.
God bless you all,