Chewing on the opening verses of 2Peter this morning. And I know Peter the apostle wasn’t talking to Peter Parker (aka Spiderman for those of you with no connection to the Marvel universe), but what comes to mind as I hover over these verses is something that Parker’s uncle Ben said to him, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Now the apostle wasn’t addressing superheroes. Rather, he writes to flesh and blood people like himself who had “obtained a faith of equal standing with ours” (1:1). They had believed in the same Christ. Bowed at the foot of the same cross. Had been cleansed by the same blood. Credited with the same righteousness of Christ. Filled with the same Spirit. Had the potential to walk in the same newness of life.
In fact, says Peter, they had been granted “all things pertaining to life and godliness” (1:3). For they had been given “exceedingly great and precious promises” (NIV) so that through them they could become “partakers of the divine nature” (1:4).
What great potential! To walk in newness of life. To participate in the holy and divine!
What great power! And with that comes great responsibility.
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. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. . . . for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.
(2Peter 1:5-8, 10b ESV)
“Make every effort to supplement your faith.” That’s the command to obey. Pursue virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love.
Not that we need to, or are even able to, merit God’s grace by our works. But without taking what we have been gifted with and making some effort to work it, without some holy determination to do and pursue holiness, we can frustrate and fall short of the potential of grace.
We need to own the responsibility and make the effort. Because Peter seems to be saying that there is no such thing as standing still or maintaining status quo. Rather, if we are not, by His grace, power, and precious promises, making the effort to move forward, we will certainly end up going backwards. We will become ineffective and/or unfruitful in our knowledge of the saving work and sustaining power of our Lord Jesus Christ.
And so we make every effort to supplement our faith. We’re not to “lose a minute in building on what we’ve been given” (MSG). Not because we’re required to undertake noble pursuits in order to merit or keep our salvation. Instead, we’re eager to respond to the promises of such a great salvation. We have a sanctified curiosity that wants to try out the power of the new life within us — knowing we’ll trip and fail along the way, but never content to go back to the old way of life.
And we believe God’s promise that “if you practice these qualities you will never fall.” Sure, we’ll always be “practicing” this side of heaven–perfection awaiting us on that day when we are free of the flesh and before Him face to face. But as long as we keep training ourselves for godliness (1Tim. 4:7-8) our faith won’t atrophy, and it will keep us from becoming ineffective or unfruitful.
Great power in Christ? Yup, so says the Spirit through Peter this morning.
Great potential for Christ? Yessir! Divine nature be real! That we might be effective and be fruitful.
Great responsibility through Christ? I’m thinkin’!
All because of grace. All for His glory.