Epignosis: You’ve searched the scriptures… now come to know Me
The past few weeks we have been working through 2Peter 1 where Peter tells us that ALL WE NEED is found in coming to intimately know the Father and the Son by way of experience.
It is through this experiential knowledge that His grace and peace is lavished upon us.
It is this experiential knowledge that is the focus of our great and precious promises by which we become partakers of God’s nature!
It is in partaking of this Divine Nature that we are glorified!
Romans 5 tells us that all who have believed into Christ have been justified! This means that all of life from the point of our salvation until our eyes meet His – is a life whose sole purpose is the work of glorification.
Now, all of this, as we know, is facilitated by the inward work of the precious Holy Spirit of God WHO HAS BEEN GIVEN to us!
Peter told us, that because it is God Who has given us all of this and is in fact the One Who is at work in us that we should pour ALL OUR EFFORTS into being conformed into His image or – as Peter said it, producing fruit or as Paul says it here in Romans – become glorified.
We ended last week with a warning to not grow dull of sight by forgetting that we have been cleansed of our old sins AND we closed out with a brief teaching on what it means to be foreknown of God and called by Him.
If you do not remember any of that, you may want to go back and revisit it and then listen to today’s teaching again with that knowledge fresh in your memories.
When we talk about relational knowledge we mean just that, but because it is such a pivotal aspect of our salvation – it is in fact the means by which our faith is a relationship and not a religion, it seemed best to me today to spend some time helping you to better understand it.
The word is epi-gnosis which is a compound Greek word.
Gnosis simply means knowledge, but with the prefix epi, it becomes more intensive than simple knowledge.
Let me be clear. The knowledge Peter was talking about and which the New Testament often refers to is MORE than academic knowledge.
Knowledge, academic knowledge puffs up. It fills you with INFORMATION for REGURGITATION but it does not make you wise for living.
This academic knowledge is more common and so it was in Jesus’ day.
You remember the time the Jewish leaders were questioning Jesus’ authority and He replied like this – it is found in John 5:35-40, and it starts with Jesus talking about the authority and testimony of John the Baptist.
“(35) He was a lamp that was burning and shining, and you wanted to rejoice greatly for a short time in his light. (36) “But I have a testimony greater than that from John. For the deeds that the Father has assigned me to complete – the deeds I am now doing – testify about Me that the Father has sent Me. (37) And the Father Who sent Me has Himself testified about Me. You people have never heard His voice nor seen His form at any time, (38) nor do you have His word residing in you, because you do not believe the one Whom He sent.
(39) You study the scriptures thoroughly because you think in them you possess eternal life, and it is these same scriptures that testify about Me, (40) but you are not willing to come to Me so that you may have life.”
The academic knowledge was that which could be gained by study of the scriptures, yet the knowledge that leads to life requires an encounter with the One the scriptures reveal!
That was Jesus’ day and academic knowledge is still used and taught as a substitute for relational knowledge in our day. Yet we have an even bigger problem in our day and that is a reliance upon our emotions. How we “feel” about a truth substitutes for truth itself.
Now this is easy to see in the insanity of our modern culture, but it is and has been true of the body of Christ, even ourselves in varying degrees for some time.
Our study on church structure and male leadership in the body of Christ is always a quick and easy “go to” for an example. There were MANY mixed feelings. Hurt feelings. Angry emotions – all of which creates roadblocks to what the scriptures actually say.
If you remember, we made the decision – way back then – to honor the word of God and cultivate a deep and honest desire to KNOW God for Who He really is, rather than just looking for Him to be Who we want Him to be.
I remember I used the example from C.S. Lewis’ novel, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I looked it up for you so I could read it. You may remember that in this story there were some children who had found a magical land through the back of a wardrobe and that land, much like the real world of WWII they came from, Narnia was at war. The villain was the evil witch and the hero (who was to represent Jesus the King) was Aslan the lion.
It goes like this…
“They say Aslan is on the move — perhaps already landed…He’s the King. He’s the Lord of the whole wood, but not often here, you understand. Never in my time or my father’s time. But the word has reached us that he has come back. He is in Narnia at this moment.” Then Lucy (one of the children of earth) asks Mr. Beaver, “Is Alsan a man?” “Aslan a man!” said Mr. Beaver sternly. “Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the woods and the son of the great Emperor-beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion — the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
Eternal life is found in knowing the Lion, Who is often not what you thought He would be.
So the word epi-gnosis is more intensive than gnṓsis (G1108), knowledge, because it expresses a more thorough participation in the acquiring of knowledge on the part of the learner.
In the NT, it often refers to knowledge which very powerfully influences the life we live in Christ.
It is a knowledge which requires and provokes personal involvement.
Sometimes in scripture it shows the relationship of the Christian to the object of their knowledge, Who is God.
Here are some passages like that…
“(15) For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, (16) I do not cease to give thanks for you when I remember you in my prayers.
(17) I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, will give you spiritual wisdom and revelation in your growing knowledge of Him, (18) – since the eyes of your heart have been enlightened – so that you can know what is the hope of His calling, what is the wealth of His glorious inheritance in the saints, (19) and what is the incomparable greatness of His power toward us who believe, as displayed in the exercise of His immense strength.
(20) This power he exercised in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms”
Colossians 1:7-12, epignosis The effective prayer for those living out the love of God
“(7) You learned the gospel from Epaphras, our dear fellow slave – a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf – (8) who also told us of your love in the Spirit.
(9) For this reason we also, from the day we heard about you, have not ceased praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, (10) so that you may live worthily of the Lord and please Him in all respects – bearing fruit in every good deed, growing in the knowledge of God, (11) being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might for the display of all patience and steadfastness, joyfully (12) giving thanks to the Father Who has qualified you to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light.”
Ephesians 4:11-16, epignosis Through God’s ministers
“(11) And He Himself gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, (12) to equip the saints for the work of ministry, that is, to build up the body of Christ, (13) until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God – a mature person, attaining to the measure of Christ’s full stature.
(14) So we are no longer to be children, tossed back and forth by waves and carried about by every wind of teaching by the trickery of people who craftily carry out their deceitful schemes.
(15) But practicing the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Christ, who is the head. (16) From Him the whole body grows, fitted and held together through every supporting ligament. As each one does its part, the body builds itself up in love.”
In Col. 2:2, meaning the discernment which comes in connection with possessing salvation which helps in determining the moral conduct.
Colossians 2:1-5, epignosis The goal of the Christian life and a means of avoiding being decieved
“(1) For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you, and for those in Laodicea, and for those who have not met me face to face.
(2) My goal is that their hearts, having been knit together in love, may be encouraged, and that they may have all the riches that assurance brings in their understanding of the knowledge of the mystery of God, namely, Christ, (3) in Whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
(4) I say this so that no one will deceive you through arguments that sound reasonable. (5) For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your morale and the firmness of your faith in Christ.”
You see that KNOWING Jesus in this way – through experiencing Him relationally, we will be able to sidestep false knowledge or lies which would mislead us and cripple our faith.
1Timothy 2:1-6, epignosis God’s desire for all humanity
“(1) First of all, then, I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanks be offered on behalf of all people, (2) even for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.
(3) Such prayer for all is good and welcomed before God our Savior, (4) since He wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (5) For there is one God and one intermediary between God and humanity, Christ Jesus, Himself human, (6) Who gave Himself as a ransom for all, revealing God’s purpose at His appointed time.”
2Timothy 2:20-26, epignosis as a reward for repentance and a means of escaping the power of the enemy
“(20) Now in a wealthy home there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also ones made of wood and of clay, and some are for honorable use, but others for ignoble use.
(21) So if someone cleanses himself of such behavior, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart, useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.
(22) But keep away from youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faithfulness, love, and peace, in company with others who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
(23) But reject foolish and ignorant controversies, because you know they breed infighting. (24) And the Lord’s slave must not engage in heated disputes but be kind toward all, an apt teacher, patient, (25) correcting opponents with gentleness.
Perhaps God will grant them repentance and then knowledge of the truth (26) and they will come to their senses and escape the devil’s trap where they are held captive to do his will.”
An example of what is happening now in the church all over the world is found in 2Timothy 3:1-9, epignosis roadblocks to…
“(1) But understand this, that in the last days difficult times will come. (2) For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, (3) unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, savage, opposed to what is good, (4) treacherous, reckless, conceited, loving pleasure rather than loving God. (5) They will maintain the outward appearance of religion but will have repudiated its power. So avoid people like these.
(6) For some of these insinuate themselves into households and captivate weak women who are overwhelmed with sins and led along by various passions. (7) Such women are always seeking instruction, yet never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. (8) And just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these people – who have warped minds and are disqualified in the faith – also oppose the truth. (9) But they will not go much further, for their foolishness will be obvious to everyone, just like it was with Jannes and Jambres.”
Titus 1:1-3, epignosis Through preaching…
“(1)From Paul, a slave of God and apostle of Jesus Christ, to further the faith of God’s chosen ones and the knowledge of the truth that is in keeping with godliness, (2) in hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before time began. (3) But now in His Own time He has made His message evident through the preaching I was entrusted with according to the command of God our Savior.”
Heb. 10:21-27, – epignosis Apostasy is the rejection of this knowledge
“and since we have a great priest over the house of God, (22) let us draw near with a sincere heart in the assurance that faith brings, because we have had our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water.
(23) And let us hold unwaveringly to the hope that we confess, for the One Who made the promise is trustworthy. (24) And let us take thought of how to spur one another on to love and good works, (25) not abandoning our own meetings, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and even more so because you see the day drawing near.
(26) For if we deliberately keep on sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth, no further sacrifice for sins is left for us, (27) but only a certain fearful expectation of judgment and a fury of fire that will consume God’s enemies.”
And most recently in 2 Peter 1…
2Peter 1:2-9, epignosis The road to Christ being formed in us
“(1) May grace and peace be lavished on you as you grow in the rich knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord!
(3) I can pray this because His divine power has bestowed on us everything necessary for life and godliness through the rich knowledge of the One Who called us by His Own glory and excellence.
(4) Through these things he has bestowed on us his precious and most magnificent promises, so that by means of what was promised you may become partakers of the divine nature, after escaping the worldly corruption that is produced by evil desire.
(5) For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith excellence, to excellence, knowledge; (6) to knowledge, self-control; to self-control, perseverance; to perseverance, godliness; (7) to godliness, brotherly affection; to brotherly affection, unselfish love. (8) For if these things are really yours and are continually increasing, they will keep you from becoming ineffective and unproductive in your pursuit of knowing our Lord Jesus Christ more intimately. (9) But concerning the one who lacks such things – he is blind. That is to say, he is nearsighted, since he has forgotten about the cleansing of his past sins.