Saturday, August 20, 2016, 6:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Draw Me Close.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Peter 1:1-11 (ESV).
Equal with Ours (vv. 1-4)
Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:
May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
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.
Peter’s letter was not addressed to a particular locale where believers in Jesus Christ were meeting, nor was it addressed to a specific gathering of the church. Instead, he addressed his thoughts here to a precise group of people who were probably scattered over many lands and locations. This group was described as “those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.”
This faith he spoke of was a faith equal in value, honor and status as to that of the apostles’ faith. So, what made it equal? For one, it came by the righteousness of Jesus Christ. We don’t muster up this faith in our own flesh, but it is a gift of God to us (Eph. 2:8-10), yet one we must appropriate to our own lives. We can do nothing in our flesh to earn or to deserve such a great salvation. Only through the blood of Jesus Christ, shed on a cross for our sins, can we have such faith, be forgiven of our sins, be set free from slavery to sin, and become servants of Christ’s righteousness. Only in the power and working of God’s Holy Spirit within us can we die with Christ in death to sin and be resurrected with Christ in newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Only by the Spirit of God can we put to death the misdeeds of our human flesh and walk in the Spirit.
So, how else was it equal? It was also equal in benefits. When we have this kind of faith, which originates with God, we are all set free from slavery to sin, and we are all set free to become slaves (servants) of righteousness. Our sins are forgiven, our debt paid, and the Holy Spirit comes within us to dwell, and to empower, strengthen, counsel, teach, lead and guide us in the way God has planned for us. By the power of God, we are all able to now walk (conduct our lives) in the Spirit and no longer according to our human flesh. The benefit we reap leads to holiness, which results in eternal life with God (Ro. 6:22-23).
Lastly, I believe, it is equal in genuineness. In other words, he is not speaking to those who merely make a profession of faith in Christ, nor to those who merely attend meetings of the church on a weekly basis in a specific location, and so they call themselves Christians. He is also not speaking to those who have merely acknowledged who Jesus is and what he did for us, or who just prayed a prayer to receive Christ, but who never truly were born anew of the Spirit, because they were led to believe that merely repeating certain words guaranteed them an escape from hell and the promise of heaven when they die. No, he is speaking to those who, by faith, were crucified with Christ in death to sin, and were resurrected with Christ in newness of life, and who conduct their lives (lifestyles) no longer according to their human flesh, but who, by the grace of God, are walking (living) in the Spirit and to righteousness. He is speaking to those who have repented of their sins and who have turned to follow our Lord Jesus in obedience, and in surrender to his will for our lives.
Be Diligent (vv. 5-11)
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. 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.
Now Peter makes it clear, though, that this equal faith does not mean equality of measure of faith or maturity in faith, nor does it suggest that we are all perfect, and that we have no room for improvement. We all do, I believe, have room to grow and to mature in our faith. It, as well, does not guarantee we will never fall into temptation or that we won’t ever get lazy or complacent about our walks of faith. So, that is why we must be diligent and persistent in our walks of faith, so that we don’t become disinclined (unenthusiastic or unwilling) to persist in following our Lord in obedience.
I believe a lot of people who profess to know Jesus Christ do not persist in their faith, i.e. they are not diligent in confirming their calling through the practice of goodness, integrity, righteousness, honesty, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, and brotherly love, etc., because they have been convinced that these are not necessary or required of them. They have accepted the notion that they can just pray a prayer and they now have their ticket into heaven, and that nothing can take it away from them, even if nothing in their lives ever changes. They forget, or else no one ever told them that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, and that genuine faith is continuous faith.
We are not called of God just so we can escape hell and go to heaven when we die. We are called to his own “glory and excellence,” i.e. to his honor and praise, and that we “may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire” (vv. 3-4). In other words, God called us that we might become holy, set apart (unlike, different) from the world because we are becoming like Christ. In our new lives in Christ, God created us to be like him in true righteousness. Our new lives in Christ are to be for his honor and praise. He has called us to his own moral excellence, perfection, goodness, and uprightness, etc. And, he will give us all we need to live godly and holy lives, and to walk uprightly.
We need to be maturing in our walks of faith with Christ, growing in our understanding of who God is and all that he has for us to be and to do. Daily, by the Spirit, we must be putting to death the misdeeds of the flesh and walking according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God. We need to be putting on these virtues listed for us here – all in the power and working of the Spirit of God within our lives, as we yield control of our lives over to God, and as we cooperate with the Spirit’s work of grace in our lives. If these qualities are ours and are increasing, they will keep us from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Draw Me Close To You / Donnie McClurkin
Draw me close to You
Never let me go
I lay it all down again
To hear You say that I’m Your friend
You are my desire
And no one else will do
‘Cause nothing else can take Your place
To feel the warmth of Your embrace…