2nd Peter and Deconstruction, Part 4.
With our thoughts on Easter, we can easily call to mind the divine power our Savior has for the work of resurrection and for the work He does in our lives to transform us into His image, even enabling us to participate in His divine nature.
“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (2 Peter 1:3-4 NIV).
The point of deconstruction or a faith crisis is to get to the bottom of what has caused our doubts, our anger, our despair, our difficulty in knowing what to do, and in recognizing how we now feel about God.
We must spend time discovering where we are in our faith, and then discerning what to do about it. The first three posts have dug deep to see what is going on with our faith.
If God’s divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life, why do we feel as if we have nothing? Why does it seem as if our prayers have not been answered? Why does God feel so far away that we no longer speak to Him?
If grace and peace are ours in abundance, why do we feel so agitated and at war within ourselves? Why do we feel no evidence of God’s grace?
Why? Because we don’t know the Lord as thoroughly as we need to know Him.
Not the leader who lied about us to all our friends; not the legalistic Christian college we went to; not the insensitive small group leader who ignored us, our questions, and our deeply felt needs, focusing instead on her clique; not the pastor who doesn’t see us.
How intimately do we know Him?
To be in any relationship, we must seek to KNOW the other.
The Lord seeks us. He knows us intimately. And so now, WE must gain knowledge of Him, His ways, His words, His preferences, and His instructions.The Lord seeks us. He knows us intimately. And now, WE must gain knowledge of Him, His ways, His words, His preferences, His instructions. #KnowingGod Click To Tweet
What God offers us is a living hope in a hard world. No matter the difficulty, He extends grace toward us in Christ. He is the means of inner transformation when life is hard. Christ knows. He lived among us.
Seeking to KNOW the other is what one does when one is falling in love.
We want to know everything about the Beloved. We want to know how the Lord thinks, what He prefers, and what pleases Him.What God offers us is living hope in a hard world. No matter the difficulty, He extends grace toward us in Christ. He is the means of inner transformation when life is hard. Christ knows. #KnowingGod #LovingGod Click To Tweet
This is all about love, God’s love. Are we falling in love with Him? Or are we flailing our way through a lovers’ quarrel?
My period of difficulty, my time of questioning God in 1994-95, was a lovers’ quarrel.
We had been taught by a legalistic Christian leader who is no longer in the ministry. As a result, when a flood and seven years of trial brought financial calamity, one tragic accident after another, children being harmed, salary frozen for eleven years out of fourteen, etc, etc., I became mad at God. We had been taught wrongly that if we tithed, which we did, nothing bad would ever happen to us.
So, we were unprepared for all we now faced. Our tragedy also involved many people of similar belief judging us, for we must have done something wrong for God to have allowed all of this to happen to us.
We felt defeated, betrayed, lost, cut loose, disenfranchised. We felt on the outside, far and oh so very far away from all that was good. I felt embarrassed shopping at the Food Pantry.
Being responsible parents, we were still attending church every week, bringing our kids to Sunday School, etc. But I felt numb, lost, having no clue of what to do. We were surely outside of Christendom.
And then a guest preacher arrived.
His topic was about dealing with calamity. What?! We perked up.
My husband and I held hands as this preacher began. As he was listing all kinds of calamities that might befall Christians, he said THE WORD, THE HORRIBLE THING THAT HAD HAPPENED TO US.
I squeezed my husband’s hand, and he squeezed mine back tightly. We didn’t look at one another, lest we tip off the gossips, we just kept our hands locked together. The corner of my lips tipped upward the tiniest bit possible for rejoicing silently in church. Jesus had just met our need. He had informed us that we were not outside of Christendom. We had just been taught wrongly. For ….
BAD THINGS DO HAPPEN TO CHRISTIAN PEOPLE.
WHAT HAPPENED TO US AND WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU ARE BOTH COMMON TO OTHERS, BOTH CHRISTIAN AND NON-CHRISTIAN.
We walked out smiling and thanked the guest preacher profusely at the door.
The Lord still loved us. We hadn’t been chastised through this tragedy, rather, we had been called into a season of growth and reliance upon the Lord.
We needed to come to know Him better. Sound familiar?
Since He already loved us enough to die for us to pay the penalty of our sins, and He knows us even more thoroughly than we know ourselves, WE are the ones who now need to invest ourselves in seeking to gain knowledge of HIM. We must come to know Jesus better, He, the One Who “called us by His own glory and goodness.”
The God of the universe sought us out. He called us. What are we going to do about that?
We are called to seek and to know Him in this relationship. How do we come to know Him?
2 Peter 1:2 informs us that: “Grace and peace are OURS IN ABUNDANCE THROUGH THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD AND OF JESUS OUR LORD.“
This is knowledge (epignosis) that is only acquired by thorough and active participation in knowing Christ and behaving as a follower of His, thus changing our behavior and conforming to Him.
Our faith isn’t merely about head knowledge. It is personal. It is about our transformation. We are to become personally involved in seeking to know God, Jesus our Lord, and the Holy Spirit.
This is our lifelong walk of faith, to seek intimacy with Him, seeking to know Him.
But why do we seek Him after all that He has allowed to happen to us, after so many times we felt as if He didn’t even care? Because, we clearly do not know Him well. God’s grace toward us in Christ is the means of transformation when life is hard. Bitterness and anger don’t transform us into the kind of people who are strong, who have conquered and overcome trials, who gain wisdom as a result.
No, God with us is what makes us into the people we were meant to be.
Through our knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, grace and peace are gained.
Grace is defined as the spontaneous, unmerited gift of God’s divine favor in the salvation of sinners, and God’s divine influence operating in individuals for our regeneration and sanctification. We are changed by our increasing personal knowledge of the Lord. God’s grace is at work in us.We are changed by our increasing personal knowledge of the Lord. God's grace is at work in us. Grace is the spontaneous, unmerited gift of God's divine favor in the salvation of sinners like us. #grace #KnowingGod Click To Tweet
He wants us to know Him intimately, participating in the life of faith in Him, cooperating with the changes He is sparking within us for our growth by the power of His Holy Spirit. He has sought us for all our days, and now He wants us to return again to seek to truly know Him, too.
If you’ve ever fallen in love, you know that “getting to know you better and better” phase of early love. This is exactly what the Lord wants to walk through with us daily. He is the Lover in pursuit of us.If you've ever fallen in love, you know that "getting to know you better and better" phase of early love. This is exactly what the Lord wants to walk through with us daily. He is the Lover in pursuit of us. #bgbg2 #LovingGod Click To Tweet
He knows us thoroughly, but do we know Him? Have we acquired a knowledge of Him that motivates us to participate in all the life changing behavior and faith-filled life toward which He directs us?
Do we want to know Him more intimately? If so, are we seeking to learn more about Him from the Bible, God’s Word? The Scriptures are the source material. Here is where we search.
What is this fuss about needing the Bible?
The Bible is our most reliable way of coming to know the Lord. How can we obtain this knowledge/epignosis? In our Bible reading and investigation of meaning of the Biblical terms used, we seek to know the Lord better. The Scriptures bring to us knowledge of the Lord, which brings transformation. Not only do we have grace and peace from the Lord in abundance, but also we have these as well:
“His divine power has given us EVERYTHING WE NEED FOR A GODLY LIFE THROUGH OUR KNOWLEDGE OF HIM who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His VERY GREAT AND PRECIOUS PROMISES, SO THAT THROUGH THEM, WE MAY PARTICIPATE IN THE DIVINE NATURE, HAVING ESCAPED THE CORRUPTION IN THE WORLD CAUSED BY EVIL DESIRES” (2 Peter 1:3-4 NIV).
This is the great treasure we find when we dig deep into the Bible and its meaning. Ask God to help you to understand. Talk with others about what you’re learning. Consult those you trust when you run into something you don’t understand.
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105 ESV).
In what ways has your life changed as you have come to KNOW the Savior? In what ways have you escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires?
HERE’S WHERE I GEEK OUT.
Skip this part if you’re happy with the Bible study tools you currently own.
If you’ve never ever read the Bible before, the New Living Translation will be easy to understand as you explore the Bible. Here’s the translation in paperback for only $5; and here it is in hard cover for only $15.
To study the Bible and dig deeper, we must remember that it was written in ancient languages: Classical Hebrew / Biblical Hebrew (Old Testament) and Koine Greek (New Testament). Biblical Aramaic was used in the books of Daniel and Ezra.
There are books and sources that make it easy for us to examine the original languages. These sources provide simple tools that give us definitions that are clear, such as my inclusion of the original language word for “knowledge” as used here, which is epignosis (Koine Greek).
Here are a few easy-to-use study tools:
- The Complete Word Study New Testament, available for between $10 and $20, uses KJV, simply open your own Bible in your preferred translation and use it side by side with the KJV.
- The Complete Word Study Old Testament, available for $30 to $45, uses KJV, same as above.
- Additional tools are Expositor’s Bible Commentary by Kenneth L Barker and John R. Kohlenberger III, Zondervan, $49. And one final tool The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.
- You could also buy Logos Bible Study Software, which is quite expensive, but worth it if you’re totally geeked out about wanting to really, REALLY dig in, OR if you’re a leader in your church in need of a thorough study tool. All the tools you need are within this software program.
AN EASIER WAY, if you prefer: An ESV Study Bible contains all the tools you need, even offering word meanings throughout. This is my go-to Bible, though I do use all of the tools named here. You can also find more information online then ever before. Use free reliable sources like Blue Letter Bible and Bible Gateway, my favorite site.
I am a Bible Gateway Partner and Affiliate, one of many bloggers on the Blogger Grid, #bgbg2.
My blog is also available on the BG² portfolio at: https://www.biblegateway.com/blog/bloggergrid/.
My Twitter account @MelindaVInman is on the Bible Gateway Twitter List: http://bg4.me/1DNKdv2.
Amen. The more I read the Bible, the more I know Him. Having a deep relationship with God is comforting. Thank you Melinda for your messages and your love for the Lord.
Thank you for your kind encouragement, Melissa. I love writing about the Bible. It is essential in the life of every Christian, and its words draw people to Christ.
Melinda, this article nails why I wrote the devotional on the names of God. It’s not enough to believe what others tell us about God, because all too often their personal biases influence what they communicate. We need to know what God says about Himself, else how will we get to know Him? Not know about Him, but know Him.
Thank you for sharing these critical truths!
Ava, as always, your comments supplement these blogs with an even wider viewpoint on study and tools of study. Thank you for adding your expertise here. Every comment blesses and helps.
I love spending time reading about and talking with God. It is the best way to get to know Him better. There is so much to learn about Him. Thanks for your wonderful encouragement. Happy Easter
Thank you, Yvonne! For your kind words. Knowing the Lord is a source of overwhelming joy and trust and confidence in Him.
I love this and love that you geek out over tools to explore the Bible more deeply. I love tools, too! “The Bible is our most reliable way of coming to know the Lord,” as you say. Whatever we can do to make this better and stronger is a GREAT thing.
I agree 100%, Jessica! The tools are essential, and they must be accurate. This is why I favor these particular study tools!
Sorry to hear about your “Christian” experiences a couple decades ago, Melinda, and I’m glad God gifted you with His message of truth and hope. Yes, Bible study is the best way to get to know God but it’s easy for some to set the Bible aside and rely solely on people to learn what they know about our loving, merciful, and gracious God. Learning more about Him, and loving Him more, is what we all need for real transformation and Christian living. I think one of the most dramatic changes in my life as a result of knowing God and allowing Him to work in me has been the transformation from pride and arrogance, to humility and a much more healthy perspective of who I am in light of God and others. May I allow Him to continually change me as I get to know Him more.
Yes, Stephen! Thanks for commenting. This is my Fourth week of emphasizing the importance of knowing God, of investing our time and our thoughts in seeking to know him better. Knowing who God is and increasing in our knowledge of Him throughout our lifetimes is essential, for it deepens our love of Him and changes our lives as the Holy Spirit convicts and works in us. I so agree with your comment!
Melinda, I have thoroughly enjoyed this series and this one really struck a cord with me. I’ve often thought about that phrase in 2 Peter 1, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life….” Every-thing we need, not everything we want or what we think we need. And not for our own agenda but FOR a godly life. I pray to desire to know the Lord more intimately day by day.
Yes! Thank you for commenting, Karen! And it’s all available through our knowledge of Him as we seek to know Him better and more intimately and more deeply. The Word of God and the work of the Holy Spirit deepen our knowledge, thus deepening our love of Him and our faithfulness to Him.
I’m sorry you had such a bad experience with your church and leader(s) in the past, Melinda. You have certainly endured more than most. I especially like this: “The Lord still loved us. We hadn’t been chastised through this tragedy, rather, we had been called into a season of growth and reliance upon the Lord.” I’m glad you have that perspective and it is clear to me after having read many of your blog and social media posts that this testing and growth is not only for you and your family, but also for us. You have been a great encouragement to us all.
Thank you, Stephen! You’re so right. When our calamities began it became clearly that the humility learned and the lessons absorbed required us to be transparent for the encouragement of others. If the LORD could get us through hardship and heartache, He can most surely help others as well.