For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge. 2 Peter 1:5
The journey begins with faith – belief in God and trust in his saving power. But just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead (James 2). So, Peter says, add goodness to your faith. But goodness is more than just doing all the right things and avoiding the bad. Goodness is actually striving to become more like God – to exhibit His character, to love as He loves, to serve like He serves, so forgive as He forgives.
Knowledge in an interesting virtue to throw into this list. We don’t typically think of knowledge as being important for the children of God. Knowledge is not mentioned as a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5) whereas many of these others are. Paul claimed that the only important knowledge was that of Christ and him crucified (1 Corinthians 2). In fact, Paul, who was an ivy league scholar and professional lawyer, dismissed all this earlier knowledge, all his past credentials, as nothing more than a pile of dung (Philippians 3).
To make the matter more interesting, consider the present author – Peter. VERY different than Paul. Peter was a fisherman – which means that he would have ended his schooling at about a 6th grade level. Sure, he knew the Hebrew Scriptures, but not all the ins and outs of religion and philosophy like Paul did. Peter was a blue collar, working class Jewish male. His knowledge was limited to say the least.
And this is evident all throughout the Gospel accounts. Peter (and the other apostles, to be fair) is constantly rebuked by Jesus for his lack of faith and understanding.
In Acts, however, we see a very different portrait of Peter. He is now able to weave together sound, logical, and persuasive sermons convincing crowds of thousands that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. What made the difference? Well, it had to do with two things: 1) The resurrection of Christ which solidified his faith and which led to 2) the pouring out of the Holy Spirit.
When you trace the knowledge the Peter displayed in Acts and his letters, it begins and ends with the Holy Spirit.
Add to your goodness knowledge.
There are a lot of good, faithful people in the church. Unfortunately, I don’t know nearly as many people who I would consider good, faithful, and knowledgeable. Many churches are drowning due to an epidemic of biblical illiteracy. Christians are losing touch with the Scriptures – the very Scriptures that contain “everything we need for life and godliness…” (2 Peter 1:3).
There’s a problem when a culture loses touch with its stories. That culture loses its identity, its sense of uniqueness, and its sense of cohesion. Those stories of the Old Testament were written for our own learning (Romans 15:4). And the Gospels are the stories of Jesus himself, passed on to us so that we might believe and be saved (John 20:30-31).
And knowledge doesn’t even have to be just biblical knowledge. What happened to the great thinkers of the church who were pioneers in math, biology, astronomy, physics, art, music, philosophy? Why is worldly knowledge considered a bad thing in the church? Are we afraid that people will educate themselves out of their faith? Then we aren’t preparing them well enough.
In his book Beautiful Outlaw, John Eldredge explains that we can know a lot about the personality of an artist by what he/she creates – whether art, music, or literature. He uses this premise to gain a better understanding of the personality of Jesus, which can sometimes be lost in the written text. Along this same premise, shouldn’t Christians be the ones with the greatest desire to KNOW something about creation? If creation is infused with the heart, soul, and personality of the Creator (Romans 1:20), then Christians have every reason to lead the way in knowledge of the universe.
I think the church could use more good, faithful, knowledgeable people in it. For in the discovering and sharing of knowledge we can all grow closer to the one who made it all.