In Pursuit of Relational Knowledge – Pt. 2
For several weeks now we have been focused upon some words in 2Peter 1 which addresses the believer’s growth in Christ.
One thing which stands out as you go through that 1st chapter of 2Peter is the absolute necessity of knowing Christ intimately. To not just know ABOUT Him, but to know Him intimately which is gained by relationship.
That this is the ongoing push of the Christian life is seen in 2Peter 1:8 which says,
“(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 Christmore intimately.”
The Greek word epignosis is defined as meaning a knowledge gained by interaction with God which very powerfully influences the life we live in Christ.
Knowing Jesus both intimately and relationally has a profound effect on our development into His likeness. In effect, it is to abide In Him and have His words abide in you. It is a knowledge which requires and provokes personal involvement. As such the pursuit of this knowledge is driven by a hunger for God.
We’ve spent some time developing our understanding of what scripture means by relational knowledge, but a picture is worth a thousand words so to speak so we have used Jesus’ Own words to define its meaning in practical terms in John 5:39-40,
“(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.”
Last week we looked Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:20-30 which offered another visual of what it means to come to Him instead of just reading ABOUT Him. Jesus said, the only ones who could come to KNOW the Father were those Jesus chose to reveal Him to. Then He said,
“(28) Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (29) Take My yoke on you and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (30) For My yoke is easy to bear, and My load is not hard to carry.”
This intimate knowing of the Father THROUGH the Son BY the Spirit is the kind of knowledge the leaders of the early church prayed their fellow believers would pursue and acquire.
“(2) My goal is that their hearts, having been knit together in love, may… have all the riches that assurance brings in their understanding of the knowledge of the mystery of God, namely, Christ,”
So far what we have seen is that stirring up our ardor for God by remembering all He has done was a key to this relational knowledge as was gratitude.
Also coming to know Jesus deeper and more relationally is made possible by the believer’s honest faith in Christ being manifested in the fruit of love for the brethren.
You want to know Jesus in a way which will impact your living, then don’t just sit on the relational knowledge of Him that you already have! LIVE IT OUT!
We wrapped up last week by my giving you a short list of things you can do ON PURPOSE to actively live out your love for your brothers and sisters in Christ.
1st – prefer them
2nd – honor them
3rd – live for them and their benefit
4th – NEVER owe them – pay what you owe!
5th – give self sacrificially to them
6th – seek God for grace for them
7th – pray and intercede for them
This week, as we continue to do as Peter encouraged us and pursue an intimate, relational knowledge of Jesus, we turn our attention towards His ministers.
Turn with me to Ephesians 4, which is just one of several passages which touch on the fact that anointed teaching of Jesus’ ministers is intended to produce the result of relational knowledgein the saints.
“(11) And He Himself gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some as pastor-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.”
Also Titus 1:1-3,
“(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.
So placing yourselves under anointed teaching, will lead to this relational knowledge.
Now let me be clear as to why I say anointed teaching and what that means.
By anointed I mean – led and inspired by the Spirit.
What I DO NOT MEAN is engaging, entertaining, witty, catchy, fun…etc.
Paul said that he was not an eloquent speaker himself in 2Cor. 11:5-6,
“(5) For I consider myself not at all inferior to those “super-apostles.” (6) And even if I am unskilled in speaking, as is the case, yet I am certainly not so in knowledge. Indeed, we have made this plain to you in everything in every way.”
Paul, when informing Titus and Timothy regarding those to appoint as pastors in the churches, he tells them they must be able to teach – however, he NEVER said they were to be good or entertaining speakers – only that they were able to explain the truth because they themselves knew and lived it!
Also, by anointed I mean – it has to come in a relational way as a result of it being relational knowledge in the one speaking.
Sadly, those in today’s world who attract the greatest following and who receive the greatest outpouring of funds are often those who invest very little in terms of real biblical knowledge which leads to relational truth.
More than not these are often those who promise much regarding the flesh but who encourage and challenge those who follow them with very little in regard to eternal life.
Now, when I say, in order to glean relational knowledge from good teaching yourself you must place yourself under their teaching – I mean you must diligently place yourself in a position to hear with the 4th heart of Jesus’ heart soil parable.
One who hears, accepts, treasures in their heart and seeks to obey what they hear.
Now I am going to say something which, as a teacher and Pastor I do not like to mention, but it is a piece of the puzzle that often gets overlooked.
One of the ways you place yourself in a position to receive relational knowledge from a minister is to give into that minister’s life.
It is presented in scripture as an exchange. Paul said,
“if we have sowed spiritual things into your lives you ought to sow natural things into our lives.”
Galatians 6:6-8,“(6) Now the one who receivesinstruction in the word MUST
Everyone say MUST!
They …MUST share all good things with the one who teaches it.
Then Paul breaks into a statement which is often seen and used outside of this context of giving to the natural support of Ministers, and which isn’t surprising because it begins with the words “don’t be deceived”. Why would he say that unless he knew it was likely to happen?
“(7) Do not be deceived. God will not be made a fool. For a person will reap what he sows, (8) because the person who sows to his own flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap ETERNAL LIFE from the Spirit.”
Those words are stout!
This passage is often used in regard to God’s general judgment of mankind, and while that is A truth, it isn’t the truth of this passage in context. It isn’t what God was expressing through Paul in these verses.
He was specifically talking about those who receive of a minister’s ministering and yet, do not give to their support. God says that such people are deceiving themselves, sowing into their self-focused lives and that God will cause them to reap corruption.
That’s serious guys.
Regarding the same matter of giving to the support of God’s special Ministers Paul said in 1Cor. 9:6-11,
“(6) Or do only Barnabas and I lack the right not to work? (7) Whoever serves in the army at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its fruit? Who tends a flock and does not consume its milk?
(8) Am I saying these things only on the basis of common sense, or does the law not say this as well?
(9) For it is written in the law of Moses, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.”
God is not concerned here about oxen, is he? (10) Or is he not surely speaking for our benefit?
It was written for us, because the one plowing and threshing ought to work in hope of enjoying the harvest.
(11) If we sowed spiritual blessings among you, is it too much to reap material things from you?”
This is a longstanding truth, even before the law, and Paul draws a clear line between the Old Covenant support of the priest and the support we under the new covenant must supply to our Ministers in this same passage.
“(13) Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple eat food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar receive a part of the offerings? (14) In the same way the Lord commanded those who proclaim the gospel to receive their living by the gospel.”
Now it is true that Paul did not make use of this with the Corinthian Church but he did with other churches and in fact in his second letter he asked them rhetorically if he had robbed from them by not requiring that they give.
In fact, he went so far as to say that he had robbed from other churches that he might serve them for free.
You see the Corinthian Church was a relatively wealthy assembly of believers in comparison to the other churches and one thing that has been true since Paul’s day is that those who have money are most often the most stingy with their money. They are also often the most suspicious of those who ask for it.
Since he was an apostle and beginning a new work there in that area he and Barnabas initially chose rather to forgo they’re right and the command of Jesus so as to not create a hurdle before these people in their coming to and developing In Christ.
The sad truth is that this is STILL a problem and no where is it more problematic than with those who claim to be spiritually rich. When we were rubbing shoulders more with those in the ‘grace movement’, we saw this ugly truth. They claimed freedom, but in reality they were bound to the same corruption of sowing to the flesh Paul mentioned earlier in Galatians 6:7.
Example of ‘A Grace Place’… would not tithe or give, but would take Teri and I out to lunch. Some said they didn’t have the money to tithe and yet, even they took us out to lunch after church and spent in total over $100+ between themselves and us and ironically they could not see the contradiction.
Difficulty of New Covenant tithing… New wine in old wine skins. We should give MORE not less. The principle is – those who are forgiven much love much. Therefore, following through on the same heart principle those who are deeply blessed spiritually should give liberally.
Now we just got done reading in Nehemiah two weeks ago in our Wednesday night’s trek ‘Thru the Bible’ how the people delighted in their priests and so they gave to their support liberally.
Their ability to receive spiritual aid and enlightenment was directly tied to the liberality in which their hearts led them to give.
Paul draws a tight line between giving and growing in Christ in 2Cor. 9:6-10,
“(6)My point is this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. (7) Each one of you should give just as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, because God loves a cheerful giver.
(8) And God is able to make all grace overflow to you so that because you have enough of everything in every way at all times, you will overflow in every good work. (9) Just as it is written, “He has scattered widely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness remains forever.” (10) Now God Who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will provide and multiply your supply of seed and will cause the harvest of your righteousness to grow.”
That is part of walking in love with your brother and owing them nothing which we mentioned earlier.
You are to remain in a position of not owing them, but rather giving to them and in this case, if you do not it is a form of theft, for you have received from them, but are not giving in return.
This is NOT just true in regard to your Pastor, but to any minister who ministers to you.
Teri and I give to several ministries who we listen to and are blessed by regularly.
Lastly, Heb. 13:5-17 tells us to listen to, submit to, honor and obey our spiritual leaders.
“(5) Your conduct must be free from the love of money and you must be content with what you have, for He has said, “I will never leave you and I will never abandon you.”
(6) So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, and I will not be afraid. What can people do to me?”
(7) Remember your leaders, who spoke God’s message to you; reflect on the outcome of their lives and imitate their faith. (8) Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever!
(9) Do not be carried away by all sorts of strange teachings. For it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not ritual meals, which have never benefited those who participated in them. (10) We have an altar that those who serve in the tabernacle have no right to eat from. (11) For the bodies of those animals whose blood the high priest brings into the sanctuary as an offering for sin are burned outside the camp. (12) Therefore, to sanctify the people by His Own blood, Jesus also suffered outside the camp.
(13) We must go out to him, then, outside the camp, bearing the abuse he experienced. (14) For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.
(15) Through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, acknowledging His name. (16) And do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for God is pleased with such sacrifices.
(17) Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls and will give an account for their work. Let them do this with joy and not with complaints, for this would be no advantage for you.”
The word leaders or rulers means those who go before and lead the way. Spoken generally of those who have influence and authority in the church.
Now that this could be, and at times has been, taken too far in the churches is a solid fact! Sadly such is the basis for why many reject it today. Many Christians have been misled and even abused by tyrannical church leaders who not only overstepped their bounds, but they also demanded a mindless following. To make matters worse, all too often these same heavy handed leaders failed to keep the very things they demanded out of others.
Peter, in his first letter addressed this by telling the pastors to lead by example, and not to be heavy handed, remembering that they are only stewards over God’s sheep.
Nevertheless, bad examples of leadership is no reason to abandon leadership altogether. Such is an unbalanced and immature approach to life. The obedience and submission spoken of here is regarding their teaching of the truths in scripture and their directions in how they are kept.
This does NOT place them as a replacement for the Holy Spirit in your life, nor does it always make them right.
This is why the early church always had multiple pastors over each assembly. No one man will ever get everything right and so it is an advantage to have more than one who must work together in the Word.
This also does not give them authority in your personal lives as a dictator.
Let me offer you an example.
For a spiritual leader to speak into your world and tell you they are concerned about someone you are dating and considering for marriage is both good and acceptable. If the leader tells you NOT to marry them, they are stepping over the line UNLESS you are about to marry a non-believer.
One issue is ambiguous and the other is clearly stated in scripture.
So submission and obedience to your spiritual leaders, honoring them in word and action is part of YOUR stewardship regarding those God gave you to lead you. If you fail to do this, you also limit the good, beneficial and healthy effect God designed them to have in your life!
Now you might ask, how did we get derailed into talking about giving? Well, you cannot expect to receive what God has for you from those spiritual leaders in your life if you fail to honor what He tells you to do in regard to them.
So you want to grow in relational knowledge – listen attentively to your teachers, obey those who have the rule over you and invest in them by giving to their support.