Rev. & Mrs. Kenneth Fellenbaum

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Milford, Connecticut, United States

Bible Verse of the Day

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Adding KNOWLEDGE to Your Faith

The Apostle Peter exhorted believers to “make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge, and to knowledge, self control…” (2 Peter 1:6). The word knowledge is used several times by Peter in this short letter (see 1:2, 3, 6, 8, & 3:18). Knowledge is something that Christians ought to have and possess “in increasing measure” (v. 8). As in our chosen vocation, we must continually add to our knowledge and grow in it if we want to be effective and productive individuals.

Perhaps you have noticed that the New Testament Epistles generally are about two-thirds doctrine and the remaining one-third consists of practical exhortation. For instance, in the Book of Romans, chapters 1-11 is doctrinal, chapters 12-16 is exhortation. Dr. George Brunk, II, Dean of the Seminary I attended, used to say that this is because “before you can do right you have to know right.” This is why Peter, writing under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, says that we should add knowledge to our faith. It is not enough for Christians to just believe – we need to grow in our faith and knowledge.

The Apostle Paul wrote this to the Christians at Colossae. “We have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way, bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:9-10). Notice that Paul prayed that their knowledge would increase in two areas—about God himself and his will for our lives. Let us focus on these two points:

First of all, the knowledge of God (v. 2-3). The Book of Proverbs states: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline” (1:7). And, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (9-10). Peter at the end of this letter said, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ” (3:18). “How,” might we ask, “does one grow in the knowledge of God?” The way we grow in our knowledge of God is how we grow with anyone – through a relationship. As we get to know God better, we will obviously know more about him. The Apostle Paul had an intense desire to know the Lord better (see Phil. 3:10-11).

Secondly, the knowledge of his will. We learn about God’s will for our lives primarily through the principles that are in his Word; The Holy Bible. In the Scriptures, God has revealed himself to us. Along with his existence, we learn about his character and his attributes. The Bible also teaches us how to live, giving us knowledge and understanding. This being true, we ought to personally study the Bible. It is not enough just to read it – we need to study and meditate upon it (see 2 Tim. 2:15). We should also avail ourselves of the opportunity to sit under those who have been given the gift of teaching. God has given certain individuals special enabling to impart spiritual knowledge. But teachers cannot teach if they do not have willing students who want to learn and develop. Have you grown in your knowledge of God and his Word? Do you know more now that you did last year?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Adding GOODNESS to Your Faith

The first quality that the Apostle Peter said that we should add to our faith is “goodness.” What exactly is “goodness”? The NIV Study Bible defines “goodness” as “excellence expressed in deeds – virtue in action.” God’s goodness is connected in Scripture with his glory: “Our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3). When Moses requested, “Show me your glory,” the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass by in front of you, and I will proclaim my name… I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion” (Exodus 33:18-19). God’s glory and his goodness is shown to us by his acts of mercy. People also demonstrate their goodness through acts of love. How would you know if a person were good unless it were shown through deeds. “Goodness” really is virtue in action. Mother Teresa’s work with the poor and needy in India was an excellent example of what goodness consists of.

Secondly, who possesses this quality? The Apostle Paul, writing to the Ephesians, stated, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)” (Eph 5:8-9). The contrast is drawn by Paul between the “light” and “darkness.” Children of light used to be part of the darkness (sin) but now are to demonstrate the fruit of light which is “goodness.” Instead of “being as bad as we can be” (i.e., Dennis Rodman), Believers are to shine as children of light by depicting “goodness.” Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

Thirdly, we might ask, where does the goodness come from that people of faith are supposed to share? Paul answers this by saying that goodness is a fruit or by-product of the Holy Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galations 5:22-23). Christian character and these virtues are produced by the Holy Spirit. People cannot make these virtues part of their lives without the Spirit being present. If we “live by the Spirit and keep in step with the Spirit,” (verse 25) goodness will be part of our faith.

Fourthly, how much “goodness” is enough? Paul wrote of the Christians in Rome, “I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another” (Romans 15:14). Can others say of us that we are full of goodness, or do we have some room to grow? Remember that Peter said that we should possess this quality “in increasing measure” (2 Peter 1:8). Jesus Christ was and is known for his goodness. He showed this through his many acts of love to those who were sick and afflicted, hungry and needy. His death on the cross for the sins of the world provided the way for forgiveness of sins. As his followers we should portray goodness – “virtue in action” – along with our spoken witness.