“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.” 2 Peter 1:3-4 ESV
So many people these days ignore the first half and last half of these verses and they hold on to the middle section about his promises. They want the resurrection, in other words, without first the death to sin. They don’t want to have to first die to sin. They don’t want to have to obey Jesus. They just want the blessings. They just want the promises of the good stuff.
But, we can’t have the middle part without the rest. For, coming to faith in Jesus Christ isn’t all about just having our sins forgiven so we can escape hell and go to heaven when we die. If we want to have our sins forgiven, we must be crucified with Christ in death to sin, we must be reborn of the Spirit of God, and we must live to him and to his righteousness as our habit.
Knowing Jesus, thus, means we have not only been delivered out of our slavery (addiction) to sin, but it means we have been empowered of the Spirit of God to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to God.
For, we weren’t called of God just to escape hell and to go to heaven when we die. We were called to his own glory (praise, honor, acceptance) and excellence. We were given his grace and his salvation from sin, not just so we would have a free ride to heaven, but so we would partake of his divine nature, and so we escape the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
So, what this is saying to us today is that faith in Jesus Christ isn’t just words we say or some emotional experience or some intellectual assent to who Jesus was and is. It is a lifetime commitment to make Jesus Christ ruler of our hearts and lives, to leave our lifestyles of sin and our self-lives behind us to follow our Lord Jesus in surrender to his will and to obedience to his commands, as a matter of course, as a matter of our daily practice.
And, it is God making us holy, conforming us to his likeness, but we have to cooperate with his work in our lives. And, it is us living for his glory and praise, to do what is honoring to him, and to follow him in obedience, and to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to him. And, he gives us all that we need to do this, so that we do it in his power and strength and not in our own flesh. And, this is for his glory, because it is him working his will in us.
“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 whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.” 2 Peter 1:5-9 ESV
Now what this is talking about here is not works-based salvation. This is not about adding on to our faith the works of the flesh, such as the early Gentile believers in Jesus were being persuaded (some of them) that they had to be circumcised, and that they had to follow Jewish laws, customs, rituals and ceremonies as part of their salvation. We don’t have to do any of that.
What this is really talking about, I believe, is the process of sanctification in our lives of the Spirit of God whereby we die daily to the flesh, and whereby we are growing in the Spirit in maturity in our Christian walks. This is about moving beyond just our initial faith in Jesus Christ to a deeper walk with our Lord and to a closer relationship with Christ. This is all part of our faith walk.
So, as we grow in our knowledge of Jesus Christ, and as we daily put aside the deeds of the flesh, and we follow our Lord in obedience, these are qualities that should be developing in our lives in increasing measure. If these qualities are in our lives, and if they are increasing in measure, they will keep us from being ineffective and unfruitful in our walks of faith with Jesus Christ and in our witness for Jesus Christ and his gospel.
How so? For example, if we are maturing in the area of self-control, we are not going to be out of control and thus ruin our witness for Christ, and we are going to be able to manage our tempers and our tongues and to show restraint where we may not have done so before. And, if we are maturing in the area of godliness, the more we are becoming like Jesus, the more our attitudes, our actions and our words will reflect him. And, the greater will be our passion for him and our witness for him.
But, if we lack these qualities, i.e. if they are missing from our lives, then we are essentially blind spiritually, and we have forgotten that Jesus cleansed us from our sins on that cross. So, either we don’t know him at all, but we just think we do, or we are very immature in our walks of faith, and we have become disconnected with the reality that faith in Jesus Christ is about being delivered out of our slavery to sin so that we can live righteously before God. And, according to scripture, we need to repent and get back on track.
“Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:10-11 ESV
In America, a lot of people claim to be Christians. If you ask people if they believe in Jesus, many people will say “Yes,” especially in what is called the “Bible belt” of the USA. Many people claim to be followers of Jesus Christ, too, but many truly have no clue what it means to follow Jesus Christ. It is more like they think he was a nice guy and that he is a good model to follow, but they can be selective about what they follow or not.
But, this is not something new. I mean, even early on when Christianity was just coming into being, and the church was really just at the beginning stages, already they were dealing with people not understanding what it truly means to be “In Christ,” or what it means to be saved from their sins and to have eternal life with God. And, so much of the writings in the New Testament are written to correct error and to explain these matters in detail so that there would be no misunderstanding of what it means to follow Jesus.
So, after having just given one of those talks, where Peter went into greater detail of what it means to be a Christian and a follower of Christ, he asked those to whom he was addressing these thoughts to be diligent to confirm their calling, to be sure of what that calling is, and to make certain that they truly are in Christ, by faith in him, and that they are really walking the walk.
And, here again we have this running theme all throughout the New Testament which says that our salvation is ongoing. It has a definite beginning, for we were saved (past), but we are also being saved (present) and we will be saved (future) when Jesus Christ returns. So, eternal life is promised to those who are walking the walk of faith. We have to make following Jesus our practice, in other words, if we want eternal life with God.
Thus, the scriptures are real clear that we aren’t saved (past), then we live however we want, and then one day we die and we go to heaven. It is as we walk in the light as Jesus is in the light that we have fellowship with him and with one another who are also in fellowship with him, and that he cleanses us from all sin.
For cleansing of sin is also a process, as is our salvation, and as is our faith, and if we follow our Lord in obedience, then we have the hope of eternal life with God (See: Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Gal. 5:16-21; Gal. 6:7-8; Eph. 5:3-6; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Lu. 9:23-25).
Songs in the Night
An Original Work / December 18, 2013
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:25 NIV ‘84
Lord, I praise You forevermore.
You, my Savior, I now adore.
Hope in heaven awaiting me,
Because You died at Calvary.
I have been forgiven,
And I’m bound for heaven.
Jesus set me free from
All my sin, I say.
I will praise Him always!
Lord, I love You for all You’ve done:
Overcame death, my vict’ry won!
Jesus saved me, and now I’m free!
I rejoice in His love for me.
I will walk in vict’ry!
My sin is but hist’ry!
I am free to please Him
With my life today.
I will love Him always!
Lord, I thank You for giving me
A new life bought at Calvary.
Loving Jesus, I meet with Him.
Tender mercies now flow within.
Lord, I am so thankful;
Through my Lord, I’m able
To sit at His table;
Fellowship with Him.
I will thank Him always!