By O. C. Birdwell, Jr.
In a series of articles we are looking at the seven characteristics, commonly called “graces,” which Peter commands to be added to our faith (2 Pet. 1:5-9). Knowledge is the second one given and the one for this week’s study.
The word “knowledge” is from gnosis which means, “primarily a seeking to know, an enquiry, investigation, denotes, in the N.T. knowledge, especially of spiritual truth . . . ” (W.E. Vine). In this quotation from Vine, let us underline and place a special emphasis on his words, in the New Testament knowledge is especially of spiritual truth. Let us remember that we are not instructed to add just any kind of knowledge to our faith.
One’s initial faith must be predicated upon knowledge.
Paul said, “So belief cometh of hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). Hearing the right thing (the word of Christ) brings about the knowledge essential for faith in Jesus as the Son of God. Yet, there is further knowledge which must be added to one’s faith. This knowledge may come after one becomes a child of God and relates to the growth and development of the Christian. It is this further knowledge which Peter enjoins upon us in 2 Peter 1:5 to which we are directing our attention at this time.
Knowledge that is added to our faith also comes from hearing. The Great Commission was, “Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: . . . ” (Matt. 28:19, 20). Baptized people are to be taught to observe what Jesus commanded. After about 3,000 were baptized on the day of Pentecost, the account says that they “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching . . .” (Acts 2:41, 42). We, presently, have inspired teaching by the apostles and other New Testament writers. It is contained in the book we call the Bible. This written teaching which instructs us is what the early disciples heard presented orally. We read, hear read, study, and apply the Scriptures. Paul said, “Study to show thyself approved unto God . . .” (2 Tim. 2:15). Knowledge is added to our faith through such study.
Knowledge that is to be added to our faith is knowledge of spiritual truth. The Bible is the only source book. Let commentaries, workbooks, study guides, film strips, etc., serve only as aids. The Bible alone should be the text. It alone is authoritative.
This knowledge is essential in teaching others. Paul wrote, “And the things which thou hast heard from me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2). Here so briefly and simply given, are qualifications for a preacher. One must be faithful, with a knowledge of inspired Scripture, and with the ability to teach. If one is faithful with adequate knowledge, the ability to teach may be much more readily attained. Special “teacher training classes” often overlook the most important element – Bible knowledge. Generally the best teacher training classes are not in the use of aids or in the employment of gimmicks, but in a textual study of books of the Bible, Proper Bible Division, Old Testament Studies, The Life of Christ, The Journeys and Teachings of Paul, The Scheme of Redemption, and other such Biblical themes. Too many want a quick dose of “teach me to teach,” as though such can be given with a hypodermic needle. Knowledge comes by reading, discussion, meditation, and application. Include in this listing fervent prayer, and one might even obtain wisdom along with his knowledge.
Guardian of Truth XXVI: 6, pp. 86-87
February 11, 1982