Yes, you are here upon this earth. Now What? That is, what is the purpose of your life? People can spend their entire lives looking for the answer to that question. So, how would you answer it? Why are you here? I would suggest ALL of us are created to know and to enjoy God. I know. For some of you with a church background, this echoes of certain catechisms you might have been taught as a child. Count yourself blessed if you have such familiarity because it’s an essential question to ask. And, of course, how you go about answering that question is just as important. I’m pondering anew this age old question because I am starting a sermon series on 2 Peter beginning this Sunday, Oct.18th. One prominent theme in this book is that of knowledge (2 Pet.1:2-3, 5, 8), and, our need to grow in this knowledge (2 Pet.3:18).
Knowing About vs. Knowing Of
Knowledge is such a vast subject. Regarding knowledge, what is Peter’s concern? Well, certainly, knowledge has an object. We might ask Peter, “knowledge of what – what would you like us to know?” I don’t think Peter’s concern is to fill our minds with facts. Not that kind of knowledge. You see, there is a difference between knowledge about and knowledge of. I suggest Peter’s main concern is knowledge of, that is, He wants us to have an experiential, ongoing, growing, intimate knowledge of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ (1:2). J.I. Packer in his class book with the title “Knowing God” expounded upon this in greater detail than I have space for here. Packer concurs that “One can know a great deal about God without much knowledge of him.” Then, of our fascination with theology, he says this is “very fine – yet interest In theology, and knowledge about God, and the capacity to think clearly and talk well on Christian themes, is not at all the same thing as knowing him.” (Packer: Knowing God, p.26).
Do You Know God?
So, friend, I gently ask you, “do you know God? Do you know Jesus? Do you have a growing experiential knowledge of God? Remember, we are on this earth to know and to enjoy God. If we fail to know Him, we do not have eternal life for Jesus Himself said, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3). Let me just suggest a few thoughts/applications in this area of knowing God in a growing and experiential way.
– First, knowledge of God, while something we pursue, is at its core, a gift of God in and through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Peter tells us we have “obtained a faith . . . by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet.1:1), and, this knowledge we have of God brings about an “abundance” (NIV) a “multiplied” (ESV) experience of grace and peace (2 Pet.1:2). This, I would suggest, is a very economical way of saying the knowledge of God we are to grow in, comes to us in our initial and ongoing response to the Gospel pronounced by and embodied in Jesus. He keeps coming to us. We are to keep coming to Him, responding by faith, knowledge, and other virtues, to all that He is and all that He gives. In short, this is a very real, live, ongoing RELATIONSHIP Peter is describing. We are to deepen in this relationship. That is why we are upon this earth.
– Second, as one reads the overall context of I and II Peter, we need knowledge of God in order to stand against our enemy the devil, and, his many false teachers. This knowledge of God and of Jesus then, is not just remembering ideas about them, but it is an active knowledge that remembers them, walks with them, and relies upon them. I can ascribe to all sorts of ideas/facts (i.e. “knowledge”) about God, but unless these ideas/facts drive me deeper (“grow” in grace and knowledge – 2 Pet.3:18), I’m not very likely to stand in the midst of trial. I am on this earth to know and to enjoy God. Our enemy will do all He can to distract you from this truth or to deny this truth.
– Third, and I take this from the Apostle Paul – I may have certainly come to “know” God at a point in time (my regeneration/conversion), but I still long to know Him. Paul’s heart-felt cry in Philippians 3:8-10 has never ceased to move me: ” Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness. I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself.” (MSG: Philippians 3:8-10). One vocational hazard of being a Pastor is that because of our constant study (a wonderful privilege!), we typically know much about God. But . . . because of this, if we are not careful, we can unconsciously begin to think we know God more than we really do. There can be a quiet growing gap between our head and heart knowledge of God. God, help us to grow in the grace of knowing You. This is why I am upon this earth.
What the World Needs Now . . .
– Finally, our friends, family, co-workers, the world at large, all need to see people who truly know God, who truly know why they are here upon this earth. Because He is infinitely glorious, we will never know God perfectly or exhaustively, but we can know Him accurately. He gives us knowledge of Him through both general (Ps.19:1-2) and then special revelation (John 5:39-40; 2 Pet.1:16-21). The reason the world needs to see people who truly know and enjoy God, is because much of the people in this world have forgotten why they are here. It is our joy, privilege, and responsibility to show by our lives, we follow a God who is well worth knowing. We know why we are on this earth. God who wants us to know and enjoy Him more than He wants us doing “religious” things apart from this personal knowledge of Him (Hosea 6:6). Please, do not read this blog, or, go about your life without satisfying your hunger and thirst for meaning/purpose apart from a personal growing knowledge of God our Creator, through faith in His Son Jesus. As we will see in the weeks to come, Peter reminds us of many false teachings/teachers that do all they can to distract us from knowing and enjoying God. But if we are followers of Jesus, we know better. Because with joy and humility, we are learning to know and enjoy our God. I need to constantly remind myself of this (2 Pet.1:12ff). How about you? Yes, you are obviously here upon this earth. Now what?