For most of my life, I struggled over the matter of my faith. Specifically, I felt like there was something bad wrong with me when I didn’t have enough, and that there was nothing to be done about it. Then I heard a story about Corrie Ten Boom which perked up my ears, and I really began looking to God’s Word for answers.
When Corrie was a child, she had major anxieties about what it would be like to die. Her main concern was whether she would have enough faith to face death when the time came.
Her father talked with her about it and asked her if she remembered the last time she boarded a train to go visit relatives. She said that she did remember. He then asked her who was responsible for providing her ticket to her. She answered that her father was.
Finally, he asked her to remember when it was that he actually handed her the ticket. She said that is was not until she was actually about to step up onto the train. He told her that God would also give her the faith to die when the time actually came for her to face that experience.
God would give her the faith she needed. She would not have to manufacture it from within herself. God would give it to her.
Sometime after hearing that story, I read 2 Peter 1:1-9, and I was amazed to learn that Papa Ten Boom had been right on target. Faith truly is a gift from God–not something which you and I must create for ourselves.
Verse 1: “Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.” (NASB)
Did you see that!? “. . .to those who have received a faith. . .by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.”
Not to those who have manufactured enough faith from within, but to those who have RECEIVED it through the righteousness of the Father and the Son. And it gets better from there.
Verse 2: “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord;” It isn’t that you and I are responsible for multiplying grace and peace in our lives–they are being multiplied for us. By whom? By the Father and the Son.
Verse 3: “. . .seeing that His divine power has granted us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” It is not through our own efforts that we are alive or are able to live godly lives–it is by Jesus’ power, and then only because we were called by virtue of His own glory and excellence. It is all about Him.
Verse 4: “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 the world by lust.” All of the foregoing has been provided so that you and I can be “partakers of the divine nature.” The only reason we can boast of that is because Jesus promised that it would be ours–not because of any merit or effort on our parts.
So there it is. What the Father and the Son have provided to us, beginning with faith itself. It is not OUR faith. It is the faithfulness of the Father and the Son living in and through us.
To make very sure that we are encouraged, Peter tells us that we have everything we need for life and for godly living. It is all because Jesus promised it, and Jesus always keeps His promises.
That is God’s part in equipping us to live for Him. Now comes our part.
Verse 5: “Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence (virtue), and in your moral excellence, (supply) knowledge;”
NOTE: The word “knowledge” in verses 2 and 3 is translated from the Greek “epignosis.” It means the comprehension and understanding of God’s divine revelation to man. And the word “knowledge” in verse 5 is from the Greek “gnosis,” which means general knowledge such as we learned in school. “Epignosis” is about our relationship with God and “gnosis” is about our intellect.
Verse 6: “. . .and in your knowledge (gnosis), (supply) self-control (temperance), and in your self-control, (supply) perseverance (patience), and in your perseverance, (supply) godliness;”
Verse 7: “. . .and in your godliness, (supply) brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, (supply) love (charity).” (NASB)
So then, after we have appropriated all that God provides (verses 1-4), it falls on us to apply what we have been given by adding moral excellence –a pure heart. Then in a systematic building block approach, we are to consecutively add intellectual knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness (phileo) and finally love (agape).
I have to ask myself: How often have I tried to generate more faith from within myself rather than praying and trusting God to give me the faith which I need?
And again, I ask myself: How often have I prayed for God to give me more patience, etc., rather than disciplining myself to produce from within that which God’s Word says I am to supply?
So what if we do supply what we are supposed to supply? And what if we do not supply it?
Verse 8: “For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge (epignosis) of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
So, if we add to the faith, grace, peace and divine nature God has given us what is our responsibility to add, then we will not only have deep personal knowledge of Jesus Christ, but we will also be useful and fruitful in the body of Christ.
Verse 9: “For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.” (NASB)
If we do not add to what God has given us with what we are supposed to add, then it means we have become absent-minded regarding the great redemption which Jesus purchased on the cross. Or at least we have taken it for granted in the most despicable way.
So then, there is actually an exam written into this passage. Do I really take my salvation seriously and keep it fresh in my memory or not?
If I do, I will be constantly working to grow in areas of moral excellence, knowledge (intelligence), self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and agape love.
If I do not, I will be content to remain stagnant and of no real use in the body of Christ.