Back in the late 80’s Bo Knows ads featured my favorite athlete, Bo Jackson, whose seemingly superhuman feats awed both baseball and football fans for years: Bo could do anything.
But saying “Lord knows” (2Pe 2:9) seems like such an understatement … His understanding is infinite. (Ps 147:5)
YHWH is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient: infinitely present in all places at all times, infinitely powerful, infinite in knowledge and wisdom. (Is 40:28) How can He try? or learn, or hope or grow? We can’t measure anything about Him. Saying He “knows how” suggests He developed a capability or acquired a challenging skill … an anthropomorphism that just won’t fly; He’s infinitely infinite.
God has always known everything about everything (Ac 15:18), so saying “the Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished” (2Pe 2:9) is indeed stating the obvious. But it’s evidently an obviousness worth pondering.
God knows how … knows how to deliver the godly, those that are becoming more and more like Himself, out of temptations: He doesn’t spare us life’s trials and testings but forms us into His likeness through them. God knows how … and He does it with style. We count it all joy to be His workmanship (Ep 2:10), growing stronger under His loving hand and watchful eye through all our difficulties. (Ja 1:2-3)
But this omniscient, omnipotent God also knows how to reserve … to preserve, keep in store … the unjust, the biased, who judge inconsistently and selfishly … setting them aside unto the Day of judgment when He will expose all wickedness for what it is, and deliver them over to be punished. God knows how … and He’ll do it in righteous vengeance. (He 10:30-31)
God is good; God is just; God is faithful: I rest in His perfect knowing, in His faithful timing, in His awesome, righteous power.
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Holiness isn’t popular, yet only the holy will see God (He 12:14): He calls us to godly fear in perfecting it (2Co 7:1), continually cleansing ourselves of all uncleanness, all filthiness of the flesh and spirit. What does this mean? How do we do it?
Holiness is about our heart’s alignment with God’s Law, Torah, the law of love (Mt 22:37-40); it’s God’s measure of how disposed we are to seek His pleasure, of our inclination and tendency to love others as ourselves in deed and in truth.
So how would we live if we cared deeply for God and others? Perfecting holiness is striving every day to live out our answer to this question, exercizing our inner selves, training our souls in godliness, purifying our spirits in seeking and obeying the truth through the Spirit unto authenticity and love (1Pe 1:22), seeking the pleasure of God and the good of others in every thought and choice. It’s continuous improvement for life. (Php 3:14)
Thankfully, the pursuit of holiness is itself the work of God, to make us increase and abound in love toward others, so that He may stablish us unblamable in holiness before Himself. (1Th 3:12) As we wrestle this out in daily life He strives in and through our striving (Col 1:29), ensuring our victory (1Co 15:57): He will be glorified in and through us. (2Th 1:10)
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God says to us, “But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.” (1Pe 4:7) If God was exhorting saints to prepare for the end of the world two millennia ago, then we are at a loss; the world didn’t end then and it hasn’t since. Immediate context provides precious little help in interpreting, so we turn to the broader context of Scripture for insight.
The fact that God pleads with us to not expect Messiah’s return before the time (2Th 2:1-3), suggests God isn’t warning us that the end of the world is upon us; there must first come a falling away, which we still have not seen.
The key here appears to lie in the word end, which may convey the idea of a goal or purpose or final result. (Ja 5:11) If we understand it this way, God is telling us that the goal or purpose of all things, the reason everything happens, is at hand, or obvious, or readily perceived. This purpose is repeated in many places, as in the immediate context, “that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” (1Pe 4:11)
God is evidently telling us that we should be sober, prayerful, thoughtful, deliberate in our actions because He intends to glorify His Son Jesus Christ in and through everything. Though sin should grieve us, we need not fret and worry and stew over rebellion, blindness and brokenness all around us, or try in any way to control any of it; God will glorify Himself in and through all. (Ro 11:36)
Rather than letting corruption steal our joy, we should be thankful in and for all things (Ep 5:20), knowing that our God works all things together for good to those who love Him (Ro 8:28), and allows all for a purpose: to glorify Himself. (Ps 46:10)
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