Tucked away in the first chapter of 2 Peter are profound teachings that relate directly to the themes we have been discussing. I firmly believe that one of the chief reasons so many Christians seem so powerless to effect positive change in their lives stems from the fact that they don’t understand the full extent of what Christ accomplished in his mission here on earth. Let’s take a look at what Peter tells us:
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in world by lust.
Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge; and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness; and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.
For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or shortsighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.
Therefore, brethren, make certain about his calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble. For in this way entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you. [2 Peter1: 2-11]
In the first section of this passage, Peter reminds us that grace and peace in our lives comes through knowledge of God and Christ. Then he makes an amazing statement. He tells us that Christ, through his divine power, has granted us everything pertaining to life and godliness. He has already given us all we need to become whole in Christ and live a life of holiness. All we have to do is, with empty hands and an open heart, reach out and receive it. Further, Peter goes on to tell us that through believing and appropriating the promises made by Christ, we may become partakers of the divine nature.
Do you really realize what this means? Do you see the profound reality that Peter is putting right before our eyes? We, even as limited, fallen, and broken humans, can partake of the nature of God Himself. When I truly reflect on this statement, I tremble in awe.
In the next section, Peter lists for us the virtues that grow out of living from this divine nature. They are:
Even superficial reflection will tell us how much better our lives, and our world, would be if we would but just make these principles and integral part of our daily lives. If we looked to these virtues as the guiding factors in determining how we lived, life would truly be filled with peace and grace.
In the third section, Peter asks us to be honest with ourselves. He asks us to deeply reflect on our calling, the fact that we are the chosen ones of Christ. Do we really want the kind of life Christ is offering us? Are we willing to make the necessary sacrifices? Are we willing to be led and formed into an image of godliness through the power of the Holy Spirit? If we answer in the affirmative, then we can be assured that we will not stumble. Does that mean life will be without problems? Emphatically no. Does that mean we will never have to struggle with our lower nature, the world, or ourselves? Of course not.
What Peter is saying here is that if we live our lives according to the nine virtues he outlines, we will never stumble, and we will never fall. We will ultimately succeed in growing to be more Christ-like in thought, word, and deed.
Let’s take a look at the same passage, this time from Eugene Peterson’s The Message:
Grace and peace to you many times over as you deepen in your experience with God and Jesus, our Master. Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received! We were also given absolutely terrific promises to pass on to you – your tickets to participation in the life of God after you turned your back on a world corrupted by lust.
So don’t lose a minute in building on what you have been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can’t see what’s right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books.
So friends, confirm God’s invitation to you, his choice of you. Don’t put it off; do it now. Do this, and you’ll have your life on a firm footing, the streets paved, and the way wide open into the eternal kingdom of our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ.
I think Peterson’s version drives Peter’s message home in a clear, concise manner. Whichever version you prefer, the point is the same. God, in his infinite grace and wisdom, has already provided everything we now need or ever will need in order to live a godly life. Through the successful mission of Christ, his life, his death, his resurrection, and his ascension, we are not only justified in the sight of a Holy God, we are also empowered to live as new creations, capable of far more than we can ever imagine. We can, indeed, walk in Christ’s victory and operate in this world as more than conquerors; we can truly become everything that God intended for us to be and carry out our mission of being Christ’s agents here on earth; agents in carrying forward the Father’s kingdom agenda.
In the words we often use here at LifeBrook: God has provided for us all that we need in order to become the optimal versions of ourselves for the glory of God and the benefit of others.
As Paul so aptly put it, through the completed work of Christ we have been blessed “in the heavenly realm” and are capable of becoming “living epistles.” This is the true message of the gospel – indeed, good news.
Let go of limited thinking and come to expect God’s best because that is what He wants for you. He wants you to become the absolute best version of yourself, growing increasingly in the image of Christ. Begin to see the future with faith, hope, and vision. With diligence, let the Holy Spirit help you to create new wineskins of thought. Keep in mind that God can’t pour new, creative thoughts into your old limited wineskins. It is primarily for this reason that Paul stresses the need for tearing down “strongholds” that we have erected in our minds. Viewed from a basic perspective, a stronghold is an almost automatic mental/emotional response that has become a deeply ingrained part of us.
When life presents you with problems, many times there is nothing you can do about it. However, you can have complete control over your response to any problem life sends your way. You can have greater peace of mind if you just choose to have the right kind of thoughts. Focus your entire being on finding solutions, rather than wallowing in the problems at hand.
Work diligently to find your Inner Light, that still, quiet part of your being that serves as the Holiest of Holies where you and God connect. Once you find this sacred sanctuary, continue to take proactive measures to deepen and maintain your contact with this sacred aspect of your being. The more time you spend in “sacred silence,” the better. In addition to reducing stress and helping you to relax, you will also become more centered and focused. Important spiritual traits will begin to flow out of the sacred silence and into your everyday life; traits such as improved concentration and mindfulness, attention to detail, and emotional balance.
Scripture tells us that God has graciously provided everything we need to live a rewarding, fulfilling life. What we have to understand is the fact that most of this has been provided in the spiritual realm. That’s why Paul can make a statement like “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” Our task is to place ourselves in a position where we can bring these blessings out of the spiritual realm and into our daily lives. This is where the classical spiritual disciplines come in. By practicing the disciplines we position ourselves in a state of receptivity.
(c) L.D. Turner 2011/All Rights Reserved