Summary: A vast infinite reservoir is what we have to dip into with our finite little minds while we recognize the importance of knowledge, we must also recognize its immensity and our limitations.
When Julia Ward Howe toured a battlefield during the Civil
War her heart was heavy for things were not going well for the
union cause. The soldiers were trying to keep their moral up by
singing snatches of then popular army song-John Brown's Body.
Mrs. Howe's minister, James Freeman Clark, urged her to write
some good words to that stirring tune. The next morning she leapt
out of bed and poured out unto paper the words that had formed in
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are
stored. He hath loosed the fateful lightening of his terrible swift
sword. His truth is marching on.
The song was published in the Atlanta Monthly, but nothing
came of it for a year. Then Chaplain McCabe learned it by heart
and taught it to those in Libby Prison. Soon the whole prison
echoed with this stirring hymn. Lewis Dunnington writes, "From
that moment, the Battle Hymn Of The Republic took wings and flew
through all the camps of the army. Soldiers sand it in bivouac at
night. They sang it on the march. They sang it rushing into battle.
And where it was sung, it did more than many men for victory. It
gave discouraged men the certainty that His truth is marching
Nothing is so necessary as for a soldier to know that he is
fighting for the truth. It is not enough to be brave and courageous.
He must also be right and just. A brave man pursuing a wrong
course is a curse to himself and all in his way. Peter commands
those who would be soldiers of the cross to hasten to be heroic. Be
diligent in adding to your faith virtue, and that means manly
courage and boldness. Now Peter does not stop there, and we dare
not stop adding either, for Peter says go on to add to your
boldness-knowledge. Unless we are equipped with knowledge our
boldness can be dangerous, and it can do harm to the cause of truth
rather than aid it in marching on. Zeal without knowledge is a vice.
John Brown wrote, "Without appropriate knowledge, with due
consideration, a man with the best intentions may do evil rather
than good; and after running himself out of breath, find that it
would have been his strength, his duty and interest, to have stood
still. This was the case with Paul. He thought he was doing a great
service in persecuting the Christians, but he says after his
conversion that he did it in ignorance. Jesus said that those who
crucified Him did it in ignorance, and he said to His disciples that
will think they are doing God a favor by killing them. Ignorance is
no friend to God or man, and to be bold but ignorant leads only to
folly. No general wants courageous soldiers who do not know how
to use their weapons. A brave man who is not trained is of less value
than a coward who knows what he is doing.
On the other hand, no soldier wants a brave general either who
has no sense of judgment. Never was there a greater demonstration
of boldness and bravery than when 600 English cavalry charged the
Russian battery at Balaklava. It was a wholesale sacrifice of
heroism to no purpose. The poet described it-
Stormed at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of death,
Into the mouth of hell.
"Grand, terrific, magnificent!" Exclaimed the general. Thank
God we have no such general in Peter. He commands us to be bold,
but not for boldness sake as an end in itself. It is of value to have
blind zeal that courts martyrdom. Peter demands that his troops be
equipped with knowledge. Peter stresses knowledge so much that
you would think he was an ex-professor rather than an
ex-fisherman. His reference says to knowledge are as thick as
commercials around station breaks.
There is no other chapter in all the Bible that so stresses
knowledge. Paul comes close in I Cor. 8 with 5 references. That is
what Peter has here also, but all 5 of Paul's are on the Greek word
gnosis, which simply means knowledge, but 3 of the 5 Peter has here
are epignosis, which means full knowledge. We are in the great
knowledge chapter of the Bible, and the fact that Peter makes so
much of it tells us 2 things quite clearly.
I. KNOWLEDGE IS IMPORTANT.
It is important to the Christian life, and to being a successful
soldier of Christ, and for the same reason it is important in every
other realm of life. No-how is the key to success and effectiveness.