The Christian Life Begins With Faith
2 Peter 1:1-5a
Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ to them that
have obtained a like precious faith with us in the righteousness of our God and
Savior Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied in the knowledge of
God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that his divine power hath granted unto us all
things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that
called us by his own glory and virtue; whereby he hath granted unto us his
precious and exceeding promises; that through these ye may become partakers of
the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world by
lust. Yea, and for this very cause adding on your part all diligence, in your
faith supply virtue... (ASV)
This Faith Is In A Person
Peter addresses this letter to them that have obtained a like precious faith with us in the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. The faith that Peter's readers had was not just some "better felt than told" emotional concept, but instead a deep-rooted system of belief in God the Father and God the Son. Those of us today that choose to adopt this system of belief as our own will also have access unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness..., but only if we have a true knowledge of God and the Savior. The grace that pardons and sanctifies us will only come through this true knowledge. This knowledge will additionally bring the peace of conscience, reconciliation with God, and calmness of life in the face of trials.
This Faith Involves God's Power
We will be properly spiritually supplied through God's power. He manifests that power through the Word. It is through the Word that we come to believe that God's revelation is sufficient for our every spiritual need. God guarantees our access unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness..., which is our assurance that every need will be supplied. In this context "'life' refers to the spiritual vigor that the soul possesses; 'godliness' to the conduct necessary to preserve and maintain it." (Woods)
How will we be supplied? Through the knowledge of him that called us by his own glory and virtue..., that is, through the knowledge of Jesus Christ. In John 17:3, Jesus prayed that "all flesh may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you sent." In the previous verse Jesus indicates that He had been given all authority, which includes the ability to give eternal life. God's power, through Jesus Christ, is the guarantee of our faith.
How will his "own glory and virtue" call us...? The resurrection of Christ from the dead indicates God's omnipotence and Christ's "glory and virtue." It is by the Word of Jesus Christ that the call goes out for those with open minds. (See Eph. 1:17ff.)
This Faith Involves God's Promises
The glory and virtue of Christ grants us "precious and exceeding promises." These promises are precious because of what they mean to our soul. They are exceeding because they include forgiveness, peace, the promise of eternal life, and a chance to be partakers of the Divine Nature. As partakers of the Divine Nature we become partners with God, His Son, and His Spirit in their Holy Character. It is only by partaking in this Divine Nature that we are given an escape from the corruption of the world.
This Faith Involves Our Participation
Because of the importance of obtaining the exceeding and precious promises, we should be adding on (our part) all diligence. The Greek word for adding (pareisenegkantes) literally means, "bringing in by the side of." The message to us as followers of Christ is clear: God supplies the exceeding and precious promises and He expects us to bring along side some things of our own. Of course our paltry contributions will not measure up to God's, but nevertheless they are necessary. The very fact that we are to "give diligence to add..." implies that there is something in addition to that which God has supplied which He expects us to supply. Time and again we see that God's promises are conditional and we must add our part to His part to make the promises functional.
What does this "diligent adding" involve? It is the express purpose of this series of articles to teach exactly what God expects us to "bring alongside" His promises to make them function on our behalf. The foundation of our participation in "the faith" is our faith. We must pursue these virtues diligently. Diligence involves an alignment of priorities and a tenaciousness of spirit. We must be focused on the goal and pursue it until it is accomplished.
The Hebrew writer (Heb. 11:6) says, that "without faith it is impossible to please God." Faith is the foundation on which all the other virtues are built. Faith must be more than just mental assent or it would not support the weight of the other virtues to come. It must be a lively, working faith, which will grow to become a system of belief that will not be compromised regardless. Paul told the Philippians, "Work out your own salvation... For it is God which worketh in you." (Phil. 2:12,13.) As with any building the ground must be prepared before the foundation can be laid. It is up to us to provide God with a place to build. The parable of the Sower (Mt. 13:1-9, 18-23) relates the types of ground that are available. What type are you?
The seven characteristics that follow must be supplied alongside our faith for our faith to operate properly in conjunction with God's promises.
(Editor's note: The preceding expository article comes from "Bible Insight" edited by Carey Dillinger and is a part of a series by him and other writers. Carey contacted me several weeks ago and suggested that we might be interested in publishing these articles. The series is quite good and Lord willing, Expository Files will be using these articles in future issues. Carey and the other writers have given their permission.
By Carey Dillinger
From Expository Files 7.5; May 2000