The opening verses of 2 Peter are, for me, among the most inspiring found in Scripture. A reminder that our salvation is so much more than just fire insurance. Not that I want to minimize the fact that we have escaped judgment for our sins because the wages of our sin, death, have been paid in full by Another. That, in and of itself, is enough to evoke eternal praise and thanksgiving. But if we only think about the outcome of faith in terms of what we have been saved from and not what we have been saved for, we’re missing a big part of the picture. It’s much more than just what has been taken away–the debt, guilt, and shame of our sin–but just as much about what has been given.
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
(2Peter 1:3-4 EV)
Everything pertaining to life and godliness, miraculously gifted to us. Far more than having just escaped death, we have been given all the tools to do life as God intended. To do it, as Jesus promised, “abundantly” (John 10:10). Literally to live life to the full, experience it “over and above.” And far more than just having suppressed the old nature’s tendency toward sin, I have been given a new nature, one that can fully enter into godliness. God-likeness! That’s what’s been put on the table for our attaining. Not that we become God, but that we can become more and more like Him in all His holy excellence. Having escaped the corruption in the world because of sin, we have been set up to be partakers of the divine nature. And, as I’m reminded this morning, partakers partake.
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
(2Peter 1:5-7 ESV)
“Make every effort to add to your faith.” Huh? I love the way my senses are jarred by the juxtaposition of effort and faith. It’s easy to think about faith as being mutually exclusive of effort as we have been saved by faith alone, not as the result of any works, or effort (Eph. 2:8-9). But here we are told to supplement that faith by earnestly striving. A reminder that while we don’t work for our salvation we are exhorted to work in order to maximize our salvation. To take the seed planted and do our part to see it bears fruit. To take the “things that pertain to life and godliness” which have been given to us and see that we actually partake of the divine nature.
And so ours is to waste no time building on the foundation. While the faith that saved us was a gift from God, we are to supplement that faith with the provisions promised us by God.
Thus, with holy determination, and through Holy Spirit enabling, we seek to add to our faith with virtue, desiring to imitate all that comprises the excellencies of our great God’s nature and character. With that desire we seek to know Him through His word. Not just knowing about Him, but to, through the Scriptures, increasingly gain Spirit-illuminated insight as to the mind and heart of Christ. And that mind becomes the basis on which we bring our members into line. With discipline and Spirit-empowered determination saying no to the flesh and wanting only to walk in step with the Spirit. And self-control will result in steadfastness. As He who redeemed us is faithful, we will also prove to be faithful, not easily shaken regardless of what life throws our way.
And from this “passionate patience” (MSG) will emerge the likeness of God. The work He began in us to form His Son in us will take shape and become increasingly evident. We will progress from being only imitators of Christ to Christ living in us and through us. The glow of His glory starting to show in our countenance. And where God is formed, affection for God’s people is grown. And through lovin’ on the household of faith, the love with which God loved the whole world will supernaturally pour out of our lives.
Kind of an exciting journey if we’re willing to enter into it. If we heed Peter’s encouragement to make every effort to supplement our faith. If, as partakers of the divine nature, we earnestly seek to partake.
May it be so among His people.
Because of and by His abundant grace. All for His eternal glory.