Avenues for Epignosis
2Peter 1:16-21 kjv
"For" ties us back into the previous statement, that Peter will endeavor the rest of his remaining time to make it possible, even after his decease, for us to have these crucial foundations back in our remembrance. He will remain diligent to this particular cause "For" or because neither he nor any other Apostle has set out to deceive us. They know what they know because they have seen what they have seen, and their continuing search of scriptural prophecy has made what they know all the more clear. This tells us a lot of what we need to know about the avenues available to us to pursue our further EpignosisKnowledge of Jesus Christ.
I would like to approach this complex section of Peter's "Like Precious Faith" discourse from the standpoint of EpignosisKnowledge. You will recall that Peter has used this word three times connecting it to the multiplication of grace and peace, the receiving of all things pertaining to life and godliness, plus identifying it as being the vehicle in which fruitful abundance is established and maintained. Epignosis is in essence what we recognize the persons, characters and righteousness of God and Christ to be and how we proceed from that to acknowledge this in our daily living. A very important concept for the Christian to get a proper gasp of.
It helps me sometimes, when I am having difficulty determining the direction or meaning of a passage, to do a word study and translate the passage into my own more consumable words. The first passage I was having difficulty with I translated to this:
For we have not imitated plausible but fallacious arguments with the purpose of deceiving you when we declared unto you the miraculous abilities and soon returning presence of our supreme authority Jesus Christ, but were eye-wittnesses of his magnificence.
The main avenue of our Epignosis has to be what the Apostles have declared unto us. Jesus was not attempting to deceive the Apostles; there was no deception on His part involved. He was who He said He was. He accomplished what the Father had sent Him to do. Both the Father and the Holy Spirit gave full confirmation of Him multiple times. His miraculous abilities proved Him. His claims of messianic identity were confirmed upon glorification back into Heaven to the right-hand judgment throne of God. These Apostles were all eye-witnesses of every one of these details. They had not been deceived into thinking this true. It would have been impossible for Jesus to manipulate these physical evidences unless every bit of it was every bit true.
Likewise then, since Jesus did not deceive the Apostles, the Apostles are not imitating the deception of Jesus, nor are they producing a deception of their own; not according to Peter. We therefore have a very substantial base of Apostolic testimony to build our productive EpignosisKnowledge of Jesus Christ upon.
Not only do we have this testimony of the power and coming of Jesus Christ declared by the Apostles, we also have the testimony of the power and coming of Jesus Christ given by the prophets of the Old Testament. You'll remember that one of the most important times Jesus spent with His disciples days prior to His ascension were the days that He went prophecy by prophecy and law by law through the scriptures reviewing what the whole of scripture had said about His person and mission for the disciple's fuller epignosis. It is this epignosis handed to them that they in turn are handing down to us.
Now it is certain that we have not been eyewitnesses to these facts as were the Apostles. Should it matter though who else saw what, as long as this Apostolic testimony and description of the facts and events are true and accurate? Does every single person who has ever lived need to be eyewitness to these proofs before these proofs can be deemed true and reliable? eyewitnesses before every soul that has lived can be held accountable for it? That is what every living soul will have to decide because; that is all the proof that has ever been given us by Jesus Christ.
What is it then that the testimony of these apostolic eyewitnesses is attempting to make known to us?
We have encountered this Greek word before in this chapter when Peter wrote: "According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness " (verse 3). DunamisPower is miraculous ability. Miraculous ability should come as no surprise to us; omnipotence is a defining attribute of God.
People nowadays like to think in terms of supernatural power and natural power. They accept the familiarity of the one in order to reject the unfamiliarity of the other. In actuality these powers are both part of the same thing; they are both together miraculous in one entirety.
When one thinks of natural power and order, consider that it is a result of God's miraculous word "Let there be ", "and there was ", "and it was good ". It is miraculous that natural power and order even exist. Indeed "all things pertaining to life and godliness " have been given by Divine DunamisPower.
In the Apostle's mind, Jesus Christ has proved to be the conduit from which God's miraculous power is coming through. It followed Him everywhere He went. It was exhibited in everything that He said and did. He even shared this ability twice, once with the twelve disciples, once with seventy more. Having witnessed hundreds of physical healings without fail every day for three years straight, having seen extractions of demonic influences without fail, having seen climatic and oceanographic manipulations, having seen thousands of people on a distant hillside feed from near nothing, having even observed resurrection from the dead and ascension into the parted skies into heaven; how could these Apostles not know the conduit from which this unexplainable power was emanating from?
Has this ability evidenced itself in any other person at any other time? Now some would say "that is why I cannot believe in this... because no one else has ever exhibited this... there is no logical explanation as to how it happened". I would say "that is exactly why you should believe in it... because no one else has ever exhibited this... there is no logical explanation as to how it happened... only that it was foretold by the prophets". It would be comical if it weren't so sad how often the Pharisees and Saducees asked Jesus for a sign when they hadn't believed any of the signs surrounding Jesus all of this time.
The Apostles could not stare at each other after seeing what they just seen and explain it as it really didn't happen. Dismissal of the occurrence would not be intellectually plausible. Does the occurrence however need to be intellectually explained by them before there can be an epignosis recognition and acknowledgment in them of whom the conduit was that performed this wondrous event?
"Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance. For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power... " Peter says speaking of DunamisPower. Of all the many things Peter could have set himself to make known to us for our eventual EpignosisKnowledge of Jesus Christ, I find it most interesting that miraculous DunamisPower is the first of two.
What other avenue does he make available?
Quoted resource: strongs 'G3952'
Of all the times this word shows up in the Greek New Testament texts, it is most often associated to our Lord's second coming. What is it that we are supposed to recognize and acknowledge about our Lord by pursuing this given avenue?
I think it says a lot about the person of Christ that He is coming back. It means that everything that He accomplished here the first time is preparatory to a desirable conclusion in the second. He is not done yet!
In other words He didn't leave it as a three-year flash in the pan, here and gone, now it is up to us to figure what it all meant for ourselves. It doesn't mean that he came and visited and we treated Him so bad that HE won't ever come back to us. No, it means that it was all part of a well-designed plan to get us to where He needed us to be in two large comprehensive steps. He could not achieve the second step without having first achieved the first. Come, plant a seed, foster that seed into a mature plant via the Holy Spirit then given it, return in the fall for its harvest. Everything Jesus did on the first visit sets us up for what will be done on the second.
We could go item by item with everything the first visit accomplished. Paul devotes the first two chapters of his letter to the Ephesians to such a comprehensive list of completed tasks ( kjv@Ephesians:1-2). It is an amazing list, highly recommended reading. Let us not lose sight though that those already completed things are preparatory to what is coming next; it qualifies Christ to return as "Victor", "King", "Judge".
Ah, to think how considerable the benefit of partaking in Christ's divine nature has been to me so far, to think beyond that how considerable it will become upon His next return! How is it that so many people think of this Second Advent as a terrible and judgmental thing, when the child of Christ will be transformed by the total image of Christ, seeing Christ in total as He really is? It is because they fear that they are not a child of Christ, and they refuse His influence over them. In that case, and that case alone, the Second Advent is a fearful thing.
These two avenues, Christ's power and Christ's soon coming are perhaps the two quickest tracts toward a true epignosis of Jesus Christ. These are not mean to deceive you; the Apostle is most sure of that. The deceptive heart considers all things impure; not the heart that seeks the EpignosisKnowledge of Christ.
Of "This Voice Which Came From Heaven"
Why would Peter bring this event - on the "Mount of Transfiguration" ( kjv@Matthew:17:1-13) up in this context? Only three of the Disciples even heard it and they were told at the time by Jesus to not speak of it until after His ressurection? What does this have to do with our consideration of epignosis?
It is evidence, at least evidence to Peter's own heart, that God the Father recognizes and now acknowledges HIS son Jesus before these three men (five if we included Moses and Elijah), and is very pleased with Him. Peter did not wish to leave this pleasant state after seeing and hearing this amazing confirmation, but that was not to be. No doubt Peter would want to tell others of this, for surely they would be as convinced of Jesus as he was; yet he was forbidden to do so. In a sense Peter was forbidden to share his peronal epignosis until Jesus had completely shown His.
I can think back on times that I was attempting to make known the power and coming of Jesus to others. Looking back, I see my over-excitement devulging personal glimpses of Christ's awesome magnificience without first devulging the entirety of the work of Christ. It is like putting the cart in front of the horse. What I thought would be most convincing raced past the ears of who it was intended. We each have our personal times when Christ allows us brief glimpses. They refresh us. They inspire us onward to be so much more. There may be a time when it becomes effective to share those tastey personal morsels, but not until the full plate of Christ has been made known and accepted.
If we are talking about becoming more fruitful in the EpignosisKnowledge of Jesus Christ towards others, this consideration might be one of the most important initial lessons for us to learn.
The Father does recognize and acknowledge Jesus to be HIS only begotten son. Not just by voices and prophets and living personal testamonies, but by resurrection and ascension to the right-hand throne.
Of Dawning Light
There is also much to gain in our recognition and acknowledgment of God and Savior via Bible prophecy. It is a defining characteristic that THEY announce what will happen long before it does happen with intricate detail and flawless precision.
Do not get prophecy confused with prognostication. It is not that THEY are predicting what will happen, THEY are telling us. From our vantage point the time train has not arrived at that station; these appear to be predictions. From God's vantage point the station already has existed, that is why the train is going there. These are not so much guesses as they are descriptions of what it looks like when we do approach and arrive at that station. Think of it as a well written travel guide.
Here is another defining characteristic: THEY wrap THEIR descriptions in mystery on purpose. There are several thoughts as why THEY do this. One thought is that if they did unveil the details, cunning men could go in and alter the outcome. I do not believe this explanation; most cunning men are not even paying attention to the already known details. Another thought is that it make it easier for the prophecy to come true when it is vague and nebulous. I do not believe that either; the prophecies that have come true, looking back, appear to be very complex and well detailed and shrouded mainly by the ways that we beforehand tried to interpret them.
The third thought I find the most feasible, it is more long the foundations of what Peter has been teaching us. The proper way to view prophecy is that it first must be received by faith; most people will fall off the wagon right there. To that receiving faith there must be added a valor towards a moral excellence, just as much valor as was required of the prophet delivering the message; the wagon now is almost empty. Then there must be a knowledge, for instance familarity with the prophetic language and established use of symbolism. Then temperance and patience etc... resulting finally at fruitful AgapeLove.
Part of the valor involved is the simple admission that we do not know how all this will come about happening, we only know that it will. It has to, God said it. How do we know it was God that said it? Well because HE has used this man or woman before with complete accuracy; smaller things, more current things. The lines of communication have been established and verified.
Of Private Interpretation
Again, prophecy and prognostication are not the same thing. A prophet does not examine the available evidences and project forward into their future implications. That would be a private interpretation. A prophet does not fear the worst and imagine a way the worst could happen. No, that also would involve his/her interpretation.
One does not set themselves out to be a prophet of Jehovah. Think of a king's official message courier. The king tells him what to say. It is his responsibility now to faithfully execute the king's charge and deliver the exact message as issued verbatim from the king's lips. He must carry the kings message across hostile territory, to ungrateful ears, to sworn enemies, at risk of his own life to suffer whatever response the recipients offer. A king would go through a whole lot of messengers at this rate; it was not an enviable position to have in the king's court. Prophet of Jehovah was an even tougher task than that.
There were times when some of these prophets were directed by Jehovah to lay on their sides in one position for three years, or to eat dung, or to marry adulterous wives to make an analogy. There were times when it was one prophet against eight-hundred false prophets, times when their heads were served to the queen on a silver plate, fierry furnaces and cages of ravenous lions they were fed into. They were despised by enemies and by the nations, by kings God had pared with to protect. Monuments and shrines would be built to them after the fact yes, but only so that their credibility with God would cover up the nation's own incredibility.
This treatment of the Prophets has something to say about the character of God and Savior as well. It says something that most people today are not willing to admit. It is and should be a tremendous sacrifice for any of us to serve this God in any capacity. Compared to God and Savior's sacrifice, our sacrifice pales, there is no comparison only similarity. Prophecy is not a matter of private interpretation because no prophet would sacrifice what they had to sacrifice to predict such a private "interpretation". Likewise, apostleship is not a matter of private interpretation because no apostle would sacrifice what they had to sacrifice to make known what they themselves "interpret" to be true. Evangelism, missions, orphan and widow and destitute ministries, etc... etc... in their purest form all have the very same attribute: sacrifice beyond what we could personally interpret as humanly possible or expected. It says so much about God and Savior that THEY would want it to be this way.
Knowing this about our God and Savior, how then is it best that we respond?
2Peter 1:5-8 kjv
Of "Moved by the Holy Ghost"
Nowadays people are moved by themselves, by ill-conceived passions and private interests, by peer or herd pressure, by habits and traits etc.. This is not new, people have always done this, it is all they can be moved by else they do not move at all. What is new is that, because of the work of Jesus Christ, this is no longer our only option.
It is interesting that the Holy Spirit which now indwells the saint could not be given any man until Jesus had died for that man's sin and raised to the right-hand throne (I speak of women as well).
John 16:7 kjv
Until then the Holy Spirit did have influence with certain men and women such as the prophets, but did not indwell them; HE only indwelled the consecrated national Tabernacle. A few centuries before Jesus the Holy Spirit left His residence in the national Tabernacle for good. Once the redemptive work of Jesus was complete, the man cleansed and changed whole, the Spirit was then sent by the Redeemer Jesus to take up residence in the man.
In the times of old the prophecies did not come by the will of man; not one man, not a group of men, not of mankind. The Holy Ghost or Spirit moved a few men. This has something to say about God and Savior's character also. Why didn't the Holy Ghost move all men instead of a few?
Think of it this way: God has to be very careful how HE proceeds to move because at present man's heart is in direct opposition to HIM. If HE moves to the left, man defiantly moves to the right. If HE sits, man stands. IF HE moves closer, man withdraws away. God acts, man responds in opposition to it. There is no rational method behind it on our part, it's just that the "carnal mind is enmity against God" ( kjv@Romans:8:7).
The prophets however appear to be a slightly different breed, most of them called to be such even before birth. They are men and women no doubt with every human failing as do we, the first to confess that they are of unclean lips, unworthy to stand near to the Lord's most holy presence. Somehow this breed is softer in heart toward God; not perfect, softer. God does not choose to perform this in the same sense as the prophets for every human. The idea is that if HE does this in a few select cases, and has the people in those cases point the masses direct to the anticipated Christ, that Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit will be able to soften the others by the masses.
So when we think of prophets being moved by the Holy Ghost we think of a few select people who have been called forth and softened to be not as resistive and opposing as the rest that will make the tremendous personal sacrifice to get Jehovah's Christ message out and across. This all is the work of the Holy Ghost.
It blows my mind away to think that there is so much to God's plan and approach to us that I have yet to consider. The offense that I take to some of this is quite natural given the carnal state of my mind. I do not always see in part because my mind often refuses to see. All in all now however, because of the work of Christ's Holy Spirit, I know at least that absolutely everything God and Savior have done and their approach towards me for getting it done is nothing but righteous.
This is as good of an explanation for what has caused my faith to be obtained as any I can come up with to date... as if by lots!