“This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance” — 2 Peter 3:1 KJV
As I continue to give my brief take-always from some of my favorite books and authors, I am reminded of how important it is for us to stir up our minds. I am far from an intellectual giant, but even with my dyslexia I have worked very hard to obey Paul’s exhortation to his young student, Timothy:
“Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.…” — 2 Timothy 2:15
One of my favorite books of the last 15 years is Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey.
I have read this book cover to cover at least twice, listened to it on CD while driving, and have read certain chapters multiple times. She sheds great light on the ethos (characteristic spirit) of the great Awakenings in her Chapter, When America Met Christianity—Guess Who Won?
Her basic premise is that America’s two Great Awakenings fostered some unhealthy focuses for the church at large. These focuses were:
— An intense emotional conversion experience
— A celebrity model of leadership
— A deep suspicion of theological learning
— An individualistic approach to faith and to viewing the church
In Pearcey’s view all of this had far reaching effects, resulting in an anti-historical and anti-intellectual attitude still common among many everyday Christians. At the dedication of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College, Charles Malik warned:
“The greatest danger besetting American Evangelical Christianity is the danger of anti-intellectualism.”
In the last years I have attempted to read a variety of books and have spent hours studying God’s Word. I read slowly. I underline. I make my personal iconic notes which I know will impact and direct me. I look up the meanings and the pronunciations of new and difficult words. All of this does not come naturally for me, but I choose to be purposeful and tenacious in my study. I say this because many of the men I work with have similar challenges, yet it is so rewarding to see these guys work diligently to read and grasp truth! Even more fulfilling is seeing these guys make strong efforts to use their new-found knowledge in conversations with people inside and outside the Church.
“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge,… 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.” — 2 Peter 1:5, 8 ESV
The fourth element of Jesus’ greatest commandment is directed toward our mind,
“And He (Jesus Christ) said to him,” ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’” – Matthew 22:37 NASB
With our minds we can expand our knowledge as Christ-followers (Romans 15:14)
With our minds we can gain knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18)
Knowledge is indispensable with regard to living the Christian life (Acts 17:30)
We know that Jesus Himself grew in knowledge and wisdom (Luke 2:47&52).
Jesus had to learn the Torah like every other Jewish boy. He also had to learn reading, writing, and arithmetic. Jesus obviously excelled, as evidence by the fact that He impressed the religious leaders with His answers at twelve years of age. But Jesus had to climb the learning ladder just like we do.
Let’s briefly look at what Luke records about our young Lord:
“Everyone who heard Him was amazed at His understanding and His answers. … 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” — Luke 2:47, 52 NIV
“Understanding” is the word “synesis” in Greek, which means a “running together.” This is where we get the word “synthesis,” which means the combining of ideas to form a conclusion and/or a mode of operation. It includes the both/and rather than the either/or. Christ was able to connect the dots from the knowledge that He gained from Torah.
He also grew in wisdom, which means He had a broad base of intelligence and was able to use knowledge in a diversified manner applying it to various circumstances. Christ chose not to operate out of His omniscience in His humanity, but rather chose to apply Himself both in learning and in obedience.
Look at Hebrews 5:8, “Even though Jesus was God’s Son, He learned obedience from the things He suffered.” (NLT)
Think about three ways you are intellectually stretching yourself and seeking to apply what you learn into your daily experience? I’d love to hear what you are learning!
Perhaps this week you would choose to do one of the following?
— Make an effort to read a commentary on a book in the Torah, that is, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, or Deuteronomy.
— Read the first 11 Chapters of the book of Genesis using the Henry Morris Study Bible—that is just the first 53 pages. You will be so enriched you won’t be able to contain yourself☺!
— Read the first 5 Chapters in Nancy Pearcey’s book, The Total Truth in the next two months (Pages 1-178) Underline and mark up your favorite sections and write down any questions, thoughts, or insights. Who is someone you could share this rich truth with?
— Finally, here are three books you might consider reading: Chase the Lion by Mark Batterson; Death of a Nation, by Dinesh D’Souza, The Jefferson Lies, the book cover has a picture of Jefferson winking.
I hope you take me up on one of the above, and if you do, let me know!
Much love in Christ,