2 Peter 1:5-7 ESV
Imagine being handed the keys to a new house. It is yours as a gift. You can move in and enjoy it. But you have to live in it; you have to furnish it. But that is also no problem. You have a line of credit to purchase everything you need; again, it’s a gift. This is what we enjoy because we are in the Lord Jesus Christ. “This is a very good beginning, but it is not to be rested in, as if we were already perfect.” [Henry] In other words, we must live the life of faith that God has called us to, as set forth in 1:4.
I. Foundations of this command
A.The necessity of a proper order of experience in the Christian life
1.We need to possess spiritual life before we can live a spiritual life. This is a failure of most current emphasis on spirituality.
a.Those who attempt to live the Christian life without a vital union with Christ will surely experience frustration, because it requires supernatural power.
b.The apostles always teach a life of godliness from the foundation of justification by faith. The gospel begins with life, and then tells us how to live.
c.Peter is speaking of adding qualities to one’s faith. But first and foremost, you must have a living faith in the Lord Jesus Christ! You can’t add to something that isn’t there!
2.What Peter says here is connected with his remarks in the preceding verses. Here is the sequence of thought: “because all things necessary for life and godliness have been given to us, for this very reason, add….”
3.The logical goal of grace received is grace reigning (cf. Rm 8:4).
a.God has called us to holiness (cf. 1 Pt 1:15-16). The Father wants his regenerate children to display his character (cf. 2 Pt 1:4). God is not desperate to get a rowdy bunch of worshipers who care nothing about the God whom they claim to worship. He saves and changes people who delight in holiness.
b.Christianity is different from legalism, because it sees the necessity of God’s supernatural grace at every point. It is different from lawlessness, because it sees grace changing hearts and lives.
Illustration: God gives us a new house, and he surely expects us to live in it, but he also wants us to use it to display his surpassing worth. But we can only do this as we rely on his grace to “pay the bills for the upkeep”. We are new people, but our resources are insufficient. If we try to do it on our own, the house starts to run down (cf. 1 Cor 3).
B.The attitude required to obey this command—zeal.
1.Zeal is earnestness, fervency or enthusiasm. We could translate this command like this: “making every zealous effort, add….”
2.Zeal is not taken seriously in our day. Instead, laziness permeates our culture. “What is the least that I can do and keep my job?”
Apply: Each of us should ask ourselves, “Am I becoming godlier? More than that, am I making every effort to be more Christ-like? How much progress have I made this year? How much progress has our church made? What can we do in Christ’s strength for his glory?”
II. The explanation of this command
A.The meaning of “add”
1.“This word… was used for fitting out the chorus in connection with the Greek plays. It was a word that was used to describe the action of one who paid the cost of supplying, or fully furnishing with everything that was necessary, the chorus, which was always such a vital part of a Greek play.” [Lloyd-Jones, p. 25]
2.We are to fully furnish or abundantly supply our faith with the following seven qualities. God wants us to be extravagant in drawing upon the saving riches of Jesus to be a person who attracts others to his Son.
B.The scope of this command
1.The character our faith should show
a.Goodness – This means goodness in action; the practice of concrete deeds of excellence. We should be reflecting Christ, who lived a life of goodness (Ac 10:38). The point is that our faith is to be positively active.
b.Knowledge – We need knowledge of God’s will, of what he wants us to do. We need this knowledge to avoid false zeal. Involvement in activity is not the same as working for Jesus Christ. To gain this knowledge, we must be avid readers and students of the Scriptures. Our Bibles should be well-worn from fellowshipping with God in the Word.
Comment: The evangelical community has been filled with activism—but of what kind? The creed of some has been “do, don’t think.” Of course too many react to that by having the opposite creed, “think, don’t do.” We ought to be “think in agreement with the Bible and do.”
2.The attitudes our faith should display
a.Self-control – This is bringing the emotions and will under the control of godly thinking (cf. Rm 12:1-2). It is “submission to the control of the indwelling Christ.” [Green]
b.Perseverance – This attitude springs from faith, knowledge and practical experience of God and his ways (cf. Rm 5:3). God wants us to go forward with him, though greatly opposed. We can expect the adversary to hinder us (1 Th 2:18), but God expects us to persevere through hindrances and hardships. Some times the way gets very rough, and that is when perseverance must kick in.
Illustration: Climbing up the “Bubbles” by Jordan Pond in Acadia National Park
3.The relationships our faith must develop
a.Godliness – Preeminent must be our relationship with God. We are to be people walking in fellowship with our Father in heaven. We are not to be godly in order to be mere knick-knacks on display. Godliness is for the purpose of walking with God.
b.Brotherly love – The assembly or family of God’s people is the community where love is to be shared (1 Pt 1:22; Heb 13:1; 1 Th 4:9; Rm 12:10; 1 Jn 5:1).
c.Love – The love in Christ’s new community is to overflow to all people. Christ sends us on mission to be instruments of his love (Mt 5:13-16; Gal 6:10).
Apply: These are not optional qualities! This is a command. Fill out your faith with every one of these seven qualities. We hear much about “spiritual disciplines” in the emerging church. It would be better to see these qualities of faith in Jesus Christ emerging from the church.