Today’s readings.. (Job 16,17), (Habakkuk 3), (2 Peter 1,2)
The marvel is – that although one has read the Bible over a great number of years one still comes across things one has not really taken notice of before. The opening words of Peter’s second epistle caught our attention “to those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours.” The point does not stand out so much in the AV as the ESV.
How great was Peter’s faith now – as he reflects back on his life’s experiences. In v.16-18 he reflects on the incredible experience on the mountain when his Master was transfigured before him and 2 fellow disciples; he declares, “we were eye witnesses of his majesty.” Yet we know that not long after, in the panic that followed his Master’s arrest, Peter’s faith collapsed.
Faith is a quality that is proved by actions as we saw emphasized by James in his epistle. Those who are not conscious of the need to develop a real active faith, would not be impressed by the urgency of the words of Peter in his second epistle. He writes, “You …having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire … make every effort to supplement your faith with …” [1 v.4,5] and there follows a list of the qualities of character which enable faith to grow. Have a look at them! Then he says, ”if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful….” [v.8] Unfruitful in what?
Do we appreciate the point here? Peter writes of the danger of being “unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” But he is not talking about intellectual knowledge. The Gk word here is epignosis and Paul uses it in Romans 1 v.28 “and since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind …”
Peter uses it again in his 2nd chapter, expressing his dismay that there is no growth in their awareness of God’s presence and oversight of their lives. He writes (v.20), “For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.” (See also the next verse!) Peter is referring to what we might term ‘heart knowledge’ as distinct from ‘head knowledge.’ Both are essential, but, dare we say, ‘head knowledge’ is easier!
But do not miss the point Peter makes in v.9 – what the failure of ‘heart knowledge’ causes! Such a person “is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore brothers (and sisters) be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.” Then our faith will have some comparison to Peter’s and v.11 will be true for you as it will be for him..