In the articles over the past two weeks, it has been asserted that the Bible is a collection of writings that can be understood. I would like to further assert that it is a collection of writings that MUST be understood and not only understood but CORRECTLY understood. Yes, as mentioned previously, Peter tells us that it does contain within it some things that are hard to understand (2 Peter 3:14-16). While this is true note that he did not say impossible, just hard. The sentence that follows these verses (2 Peter 3:17-18) Peter warns them that there is a real and present danger of being led away with the error of the wicked. His remedy to avoid this danger is to grow; grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord. As we continue this thought below we are going to focus on the aspect of growing in knowledge, for this is how we come to understand God’s Word…even the hard parts.
Since we are already in 2 Peter lets turn to the first chapter and make a couple of observations from verses five through eleven. Here Peter provides a list of characteristics that a Christian should pursue with diligence (verse 5 and 10). The definition for diligence provided in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary is: ‘steady, earnest, and energetic effort: devoted and painstaking work and application to accomplish an undertaking.’ Let’s take a minute to break down this definition. First note that the effort put forth must be steady; there must be consistency and longevity to our effort. Second, it must be an earnest effort, a serious focused effort. Third notice that it includes energetic as a characteristic of the effort to be put forth; not a lazy half-done effort. Finally take stock that the work to be done is to be devoted and painstaking…a focused concentrated effort that leaves no stone unturned not part unfinished. Setting our eyes on verse five we can observe that the third characteristic, the one following faith and virtue, is knowledge. We must apply the full definition of diligence to our pursuit of knowledge…our pursuit of God’s truth. Verses eight through eleven show us the outcome of applying full diligence as well as that for not. If we abound (overflow) in this pursuit, we shall be fruitful for our Lord. If we slack in this pursuit, we are shortsighted and blind regarding all that God offers. If we pursue all these characteristics, knowledge included, our election is sure, we will not stumble, and an entrance into the everlasting kingdom will be made for us.
Because of the great importance the pursuit of accurate correct knowledge of God’s Word plays in our ultimate hope for the salvation offered in Christ, Paul penned these inspired word to young Timothy. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God a worker who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” Note, here is that word ‘diligent’ again. If you have the King James version in front of you it instead has the word ‘study’. The Greek is most accurately translated to word that relate to an individual putting forth there best effort…thus diligent. However, diligence includes study but is not exclusively study, after all if I am to apply my best effort to a task I best have studied all there is about that task. What is Paul urging Timothy to be diligent about; be approved by God and the way to accomplish this is by handling the Word of God accurately.
Consider the amount of tireless effort that many individuals put into the pursuit of a degree in their chosen field. Many individuals do not stop with the first degree, but continue to drive forward higher and higher till they obtain a Ph.D. Even after the years in an educational setting is behind them many career fields require an individual to complete continuing education year after year in order to keep their knowledge fresh and shape. It is with this same drive and passion all professing to desire to know God’s truth should pursue it. We should pursue it like our lives depend on gaining an accurate understanding and with that accurate understanding we make proper application of that knowledge to our lives.
Wait…our lives do depend on it…our eternal lives.
(Carl Hartman is the Minister at Main Street Church of Christ in Lockney)