To Be Sure

Saturday, June 07, 2014, 7:19 a.m. – the Lord Jesus put the song in mind, “To Be Like Him.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Peter 1:1-11 (NIV).

Grace and Peace

Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

Do you, like me, often or sometimes kind of skim over the introductory remarks to these letters? When I do that, I think sometimes I miss a lot. There is much meat right in these first few sentences. For one, this is just one of many New Testament scriptures which declares Jesus Christ to be God. He is the second person of our triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He is our GOD AND Savior (and creator) Jesus Christ. Amen!

Next, or I should say prior to that declaration, we understand from what is written here that this letter is addressed to believers in Jesus Christ. They are described as those who, through Jesus Christ’s righteousness, have received a faith as precious as ours. I am not sure that everyone understands that even the faith to believe in Jesus is a gift from God, and not of ourselves. It is a gift we must receive and appropriate (seize; adopt) to our lives. Yet, it is only because of God’s grace to us in offering us the gift of his great salvation, and the gift of faith, that we are able to believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives.

Grace (favor; kindness; blessing) and peace (wholeness; completeness; fullness) are to be ours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. So, what is this knowledge? It is not just book smarts, I can tell you that. This knowledge is not just knowing about God, either. It is an experiential knowing through having a personal relationship with him. This type of knowledge is also not gained just from “being saved.” This knowing of God/Jesus comes from spending time with him, sitting at his feet, listening to him speak, and through doing what he tells us. Through our times of getting to know our Lord, and through time spent in his word, in prayer, and in obedience, we learn to know his will, his promises, his blessings, and his heart. And, when we truly know him in this way, we do experience his blessings, and completeness in him, in abundance. Oh, what peace!

Everything We Need

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

When we accept God’s invitation to his salvation by faith, the Holy Spirit of God indwells us. When he comes to live within us, he also empowers, strengthens, gives wisdom, guides, counsels, encourages, comforts and directs us in the way of holiness. He teaches us all things about Jesus Christ, and he gives understanding into Christ’s teachings (his word). So, God’s divine power, which also now dwells within Christ’s followers, truly gives us everything we need for a godly life. So, we have no cause to ever feel as though we just can’t help but keep sinning, or to feel still trapped by sinful habits which entangle us. Jesus Christ died to set us free. He conquered sin! He liberated us from what once enslaved us! So, no more excuses! He has given us everything we need to live godly lives in this world.

So, what is the catch here? What I mean is, how do we tap into these divine resources? We have to know him experientially, personally, and first-hand, first of all through our decisions to believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives, and second of all through growing in our knowledge and understanding of who he is through time spent with him in his word and in obedience and surrender to his will. We won’t even know what all he has for us if we don’t get to know him. And, we can’t live godly lives free from the corruption in the world caused by evil desires if we don’t obey what we know of him, but instead we go our own selfish ways and do what we want to do, even giving way to evil desires.

I still remember the first time I understood Ephesians 4 about the put offs and the put ons, and how that was a remedy for sinful habits. Awesome! If we just stop stealing, we are just a thief between jobs. We have to get a job and then give to the poor. We have to become something else. Instead of lying, we have to tell the truth. Instead of committing adultery, we have to be faithful. Instead of gossip and slander, we have to speak kindly to our neighbors. Coming to know Christ means we put off our former lives of living for self and in sin, we are transformed in heart and mind away from sin and to God, and we put on our new selves, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See vv. 17-24; cf. Ac. 26:16-18; Tit. 2:11-14; Ro. 6-8; Gal. 2:20 & 1 Jn. 1-5). All this is the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives as we submit ourselves to his will and we cooperate with his work.

I believe so many followers (or professors) of Christ continue to flounder in sin because they don’t truly know God. Either they just think they are saved, but they are not, or else they just have not been taught or have not come to realize all they truly have in Christ, and so someone (Satan) has convinced them they can’t help it or that it is ok because grace covers it all. Yet, we have been called of God by his own virtue, moral excellence, perfection, uprightness, majesty, substance and essence of all that he is and does, and it is through these that he has given us his very great and precious promises. He promises us eternal life. He promises us he will never leave us or forsake us. He promises us that his divine power has given us EVERYTHING we need for a godly life. And, He promised us that his death on the cross paid it all so we could go free, and the list goes on and on. We are not lacking anything in Christ in order to live godly lives free from the control of sin. Amen!

Add to Your Faith

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

When we are instructed here to add these things to our faith, this is not promoting works-based salvation. This is speaking of our spiritual growth as followers of Christ. We are not born again and then it stops there until we get to heaven one day. We continually grow up into Christ just as a newborn baby grows into adulthood. So, this is merely encouraging us to grow and to develop into mature followers of Christ – all in his strength, power and wisdom within us. We must be purposeful about this. It does not just happen. We must daily submit and surrender to our Lord, learn at his feet, and obey what he shows us.

Confirm Your Calling

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Why is this important? For one, I believe it is because many people have bought into a false gospel that got them “saved” so they could go to heaven one day, but that gospel did not teach them that coming to Christ means death to sin, and it means living godly lives, pleasing to God – again, all in the power and working of his Spirit within us, and not in our own flesh. When Jesus called Paul to preach the gospel, he was told that he was being sent to open eyes that are (spiritually) blind, to turn them from the darkness of sin to the light of Christ (of truth), and from the power of Satan (and the control of sin) to God, so they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are being sanctified (purified) in Christ (See Ac. 26:16-18). This is the essence of the gospel. God has called us out of the darkness of sin into the light of his truth, which is that he has given us everything we need to live godly lives and to say “No” to worldly passions and desires (See Tit. 2:11-14).

To Be Like Him / An Original Work
March 16, 2014 / Based off Scripture

Crucified you are with Jesus.
To be like Him, oh, you’ll be,
Because He died at Calv’ry,
So from sin you’d be free.
Oh, what joy He brings into your life,
Giving life with Him endlessly.

Oh, what plans He has for your life.
Share the gospel faithfully.
Show the people He loves them.
Now His witness you’ll be.
Tell the world of sin about Jesus,
How He died for them on a tree.

Purifying hearts, He saves them,
Who believe on Christ, God’s Son.
Turning now from their idols,
New lives they have begun.
Jesus saves from sin; we’re forgiven.
Over sin, the vict’ry He won!

When He comes again to take us
To be with Him evermore,
There will be no more crying.
Gladness will be in store.
Heavens joys will now overtake us:
We’ll be with our Lord evermore.