Welcome back for week two of our series, called “A Recipe for Fullness of Life – A Not So Secret Sauce.” In this series, we are discovering that even though the fullness of life can seem difficult to obtain and can even feel like the best kept secret, the full life God wants for you is actually more accessible than you may think.
How do we get the fullness of life? How do we feel complete, and whole, not so broken? I can tell you this, it’s not by having stuff, or more money, or a better career. The fullness of life can, yes seem like a closely guarded secret that only the most holy individuals are privileged to know. And I’m sure we all know someone who seems to have that – they have such a peace about them, they’re filled with such joy, their faith is strong that nothing seems to really bother them or shake their world.
But a vibrant life of faith is not just available to an elite group of Christians who hold all the secrets. But how did they get there? How do we get like that? Well, God actually wants all of His children to live the full life He has for them, so He’s given us very clear instructions in the scriptures for how to have that. And it starts with getting connected to Him.
We looked last week into a passage from 2 Peter where Peter offers what is essentially a recipe for us to follow in order to experience the full life God has for us.
2 Peter 1:3-4
3 By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. 4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.
This is how much God wants you! He doesn’t want you to be broken and messed up by this world. So He calls you into His Kingdom, to know Him, and then He goes and gives promises of love, joy, peace.
5 In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises by adding to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.
So he’s talking to Christians, people who have faith. And even though we have faith, we can get distracted by all the riches of this world and forget what Christ has done for us. So to not let that happen or to get us back on the right path with God, we’re looking closely at the ingredients for the full life that Peter mentioned.
Last week, we looked at the first ingredient for the full life God intends for us to have. Goodness. Peter called us to add goodness to our faith, real and intentional acts of pure goodness that will be blessings to everyone around us. Remember we are God’s masterpieces, and He made us all with unique gifts to fulfill the good things He planned for us. So let’s add generous goodness to our daily lives.
Today, we’ll take a look at the next ingredient that Peter tells us to add, which is knowledge.
Knowledge is essential for any kind of cooking endeavor. So let’s just have a little fun because if you are going to be even a half-decent chef, then you should know some of the basics of cooking. So, today we are going to test some of your culinary knowledge with a simple quiz. Are you ready? Here we go…
- How many ounces are in a cup? 8 ounces
- Marinating is soaking an item in a combination of wet and dry ingredients to provide flavor and moisture. True
- Hummus is made from what type of food? Chickpeas
- What beans are used to make baked beans? Haricot Beans
- Allowing cooked meats time to rest allows the natural juices, which are being drawn out to the edges of the meat during the roasting process, to return to the center of the food item making it juicier when cut. True
- Mor-el is a variety of what? Mushrooms
- What “b” is a cooking technique involving pouring fat or juices over, particularly meat, during cooking in order to keep it moist? Basting
- What is the name of the hottest pepper in the world? Carolina Reaper
The Greek word that Peter uses for his recipe is the word gnosis. This word is best translated as knowledge, doctrine, or wisdom. The truth is that our world lacks wisdom. Few people have actually done the hard work of gaining knowledge about the things of God – those things that actually matter.
But Peter believes that adding knowledge to our faith is a formula for spiritual growth. I believe he’s right according to the book of Proverbs in the Old Testament.
Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Solomon, the author of Proverbs, known as the wisest man ever, says that true knowledge comes from a fear of the Lord or another way to say it would be to have respect and admiration for who God is, and for the incredible power that God holds as the Creator and sustainer of all things. A proper understanding of who God is and our position before a holy God is the foundation of knowledge. He is Creator and we are creation. He is divine and we are mortal.
It is similar to a healthy relationship that develops between an infant and their parents as they grow. When a little baby comes into the world, they literally know nothing about anything. They have to develop all kinds of knowledge from scratch. Part of the parents’ job is to help guide their children through the ins and outs of life. For an infant to learn best and grow the most, they have to have a respect for their parent. So, when that parent tells them not to touch the stove, they listen. When that parent has to pull them back from the barking dog, they respond. Each time, they are learning. Each time they are being shown that they are limited in their knowledge, and in danger of harming themselves without the parents’ loving lead.
In this short verse in Proverbs, we are given a choice to fear God and gain wisdom, or to reject God’s instruction for our lives and ultimately become a fool.
POINT #1 – DON’T BE A FOOL
No one wants to be a fool, not intentionally anyways. However, when we convince ourselves that we don’t need God, that we have it all under control, we already know everything, there is no space left in our hearts and minds to receive from God.
A wise person feels the weight of a situation that’s not easy to navigate on their own and out of respect, fear, and reverence for God, turns to Him for guidance. Navigating a messy relationship. Navigating a job loss. Navigating wounds from past abuse. Raising children. Handling a diagnosis. Healing from loss.
When we try and go it alone, we find ourselves further complicating things, and the Bible would then call us a fool. But the result of the full life of God is making the right choices in the middle of circumstances that are not easy to navigate on our own.
We receive this knowledge from God in many different ways. First, we have been given instruction and guidance within the scriptures. The Bible is God’s authoritative word to us, and it speaks to every kind of life experience, that we might know how God wants us to live. Second, we receive knowledge through Godly counsel. When we surround ourselves with people who love God and live with wisdom, they too can help us experience the full life of God.
The problem is that many of us have access to knowledge, but choose not apply it to our lives. We have all the resources we could ever need to make the right choice, but many times we ignored them.
When we despise wisdom and instruction, as the Proverb says, we neglect a major ingredient in the recipe of the full life. But by adding knowledge to our faith, we allow it to transform us.
POINT #2 – WISDOM IS KNOWLEDGE APPLIED
Knowledge is information. Wisdom is transformation. Wisdom is when knowledge moves from our heads to our hearts, to our actions, to our responses. Wisdom is when we put the knowledge in to practice. James, Jesus’ brother, talks about the need for the knowledge of God to move us to action.
22 But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. 23 For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.
James is talking about how we receive the Word of God. We are called to be doers of the word and not just hearers. But when we hear God’s word, and do not do what it is calling us to do, we are like a person who looks in the mirror, turns and immediately forgets what they look like.
Look, we don’t read the Bible for information. We read the Bible for application. When we forget what the scriptures have revealed to us, then there is no application and therefore no transformation.
There are these times when I’m reading scripture that something jumps out at me and cuts me to the core. And I sense conviction because the passage reveals something within me. Not long ago, as I was preparing for a bible study, and came upon the 1 John 2:24. I had been in a spiritual slump and felt like I was unsure how to restore my connection to God. I read, “So you must remain faithful to what you have been taught from the beginning. If you do, you will remain in fellowship with the Son and with the Father.”
I’m sure I had read this verse before, but it was like I was reading for the first time and it completely made sense. Instantly, I sensed God speaking to my heart and revealed why I had been so stagnant. I had been neglecting the simple disciplines in my life that I had begun when I first became a follower of Jesus. These were the things I did to build a foundation of faith. Things like setting a specific time every day for intentional prayer and reading the Bible, surrounding myself with other believers, and confession of my sin.
This knowledge was something I had to act upon. I could have easily felt the spirit’s nudge to action and then moved on with my day without ever making changes. That would be like seeing myself clearly in the mirror of God’s word and then leaving without doing anything about what I have seen.
It’s the same with us coming to church. Jesus knows the people that come to church and leave and say, “That was a great message, some good teaching. I really heard the word this Sunday.” But in their hearts, they plan on doing the exact same things they did before coming in here. They’re not planning on taking the word He’s giving us and actually letting it transform them.
If we don’t take the knowledge of God’s word into our minds, then let it transform our hearts, then what are we? The bible calls us fools, a person who acts unwisely.
What do we do if we feel like we don’t have the wisdom we need to navigate the ups and downs of this life? What do we do when we feel like we lack the knowledge we need to grow in our faith?
Just a few verses before James gives us the mirror illustration, he answers this question.
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
In order to add knowledge to your faith, all you have to do is simply ask.
POINT #3 – ASK THE CHEF
Far too many of us see prayer as a last resort and not a first response. Really, we should be praying before the insistent even happens. But we try to work things out in our own strength, and forget to come to the very One who made the world and who made us. God is not some kill-joy who is up in heaven somewhere, with all the answers for the full life, just hoarding them all to Himself. The Bible says that God gives generously, and He is more than willing to give us wisdom if we ask.
God is the one who inspired Peter to write the passage that lays out the recipe for a faithful life. He has given us all we need to live a godly life – add to our faith, goodness and throw in a touch of knowledge that is applied as wisdom in our lives. And when we get lost, confused, or need direction, then all we have to do is ask…the one who knows how to cook up a holy life.
Truth is, true knowledge begins with a proper understanding of our position before a holy God. So as we take Communion today, I’m asking you to remember who God is. Recognize and admire His power. When we start there, we begin to live with the kind of wisdom that changes the course of our lives.
Then when you sit down, would you take a moment to just come before Him and tell Him the areas of your life that you need His direction?
We don’t pray to inform God. We pray to involve God. God already knows what’s going on in your life. He is waiting for you to ask for His help.