“Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have.” II Peter 1:12 ESV
As my first year of blogging here about the Word of God has concluded, I thought it best to look back over this year and see just what God has done in my life and the lives of those of you who read. In doing this I wanted also to reexamine why it is that I write, or maybe even why you should read. Throughout this year-long journey one thing has become overwhelmingly evident. In order to effectively preach the Word, even in written form, one must spend time in the Bible daily, soaking up every message, every passage, every theme so that these truths may be passed on to others, specifically you.
It’s often easy to get frustrated through a medium such as an internet blog, because of the distance between myself and those of you who read and also no doubt the irregularity with which some pass by here, so much so that admittedly I’ve sometimes wondered is this making a difference. God often reminds me the answer to this question is unequivocally YES! because everything written here is a lesson I’m being taught. I’m likewise encouraged by God’s promise that His Word will not come back to Him void, “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11 ESV Through this promise, I’m increasingly encouraged by the emails or messages that you send that tell me how God is working in your lives, perhaps even through some posts written here and that’s what makes it all worth it.
It’s far too easy to allow the enemy to trick my mind into becoming cynical and thinking that no one really wants to hear the Word of God speak to their lives. That those who receive this blog, via email, Twitter, Facebook, or a simple Google search already know the Truth, so why then would they need to read the words written here? The answer is so simple and it’s why Peter is writing to the churches of Asia Minor in the verse from his epistle above. It’s why the Apostle Paul wrote his monumental letter to the church at Rome. (Romans 15:15) To remind you. Most likely those of you who are reading this have heard the Truth. You have been preached and taught the Gospel, yet each one of us no matter how spiritually mature, no matter the level of education in theology, pastors, teachers, preachers, or those of us who slumber in our contentment with spiritual mediocrity, all of us need reminded of the qualities necessary in the Christian life. So that is why I write, to “stir you up by way of reminder” that perhaps God may use these words to ignite a fire within you to “equip you” and “build up the Body of Christ until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:12-13 ESV
So with this in mind, let’s briefly examine those qualities of which Peter reminds the churches. Beginning in II Peter 1:5 faith is the first characteristic that we see. This is faith in Christ as Savior. Faith that results in being justified, faith that Christ will complete the good work He has started in each of us who follow Him as Lord. But that faith needs supplemented, this is a quick reminder that life doesn’t end at the point of salvation, it begins. Your learning, your growth, even your faith, doesn’t stop, it is constantly progressing. Peter instructs us to supplement our faith with virtue. This isn’t a haughty proud look at me quality of moral goodness like the Pharisees might’ve had, but a genuine reflection of the Holy Spirit working in you. It’s putting to death your old desires and passions that you had prior to your profession of faith, just as Romans 6:12 ESV says, “Let not sin reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.” Be virtuous, seek to live pure. Build upon your faith with a desire to do good, serve God, become involved, that others might see the virtue supplied by God shining forth in your life.
But I want to remind you, do not merely let your faith carry you into service, grow also in the knowledge of God. This is Peter’s second supplement to faith (vs. 6). If you have faith in Christ, not only should you have a desire to do good and serve but also a desire to learn more about Him. Study the Scripture, soak in His Word, meditate on it daily. “But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” Psalm 1:2 ESV In this way you won’t be “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, [or] by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” Ephesians 4:14 ESV Don’t be a reed tossed in the wind, be an oak tree solidified by the knowledge of Biblical truths. Know what you believe and why. Desire solid food and be not merely satisfied with milk. I Corinthians 3:2, Hebrews 5:12-13
Yet be reminded also Christian, to add not only virtue and knowledge to your faith, but develop self-control. Peter’s third quality instructs us that once we have a virtuous desire to do good and we are increasing in our knowledge of God it becomes increasingly more necessary to develop self-control. The Apostle Paul discusses his level of self-control in I Corinthians 9:27, “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” The worst thing we can do as Christians is to bring shame to the name of Christ. When we make our profession of faith, become involved in service through our desire to do good, increase in our knowledge of God, self-control becomes so paramount. A desire should grow so strong within us to not only walk in a manner worthy of our calling so that we won’t cause others to stumble, but to control ourselves, flee from sin, lest we bring shame to Christ.
The fourth quality that we need to be reminded of is steadfastness or perseverance, which Peter mentions in vs. 6. Nobody said walking the Christian life was going to be easy, in fact quite the contrary. It is hard and there will be trials and tribulations. We are constantly bombarded with not only spiritual attacks, but attacks on the flesh that seek to cause our stumble and fall. This race is a marathon and it requires endurance (Hebrews 12:1), yet endurance requires nourishment through daily feeding on the Word of God and seeking Him daily in prayer. “…so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.” John 6:57 NKJV
Be reminded also to add to your faith with godliness. “For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” I Timothy 4:8 ESV Godliness should become a way of life for all those that profess Christ as Savior. We’ve heard the familiar verses of, I Corinthians 10:31, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God”, and Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Don’t just trivialize them, live them.
Finally be reminded of brotherly affection and love that Peter speaks of in vs. 7. The Apostle Paul affirms this in Romans 13:8 ESV, “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” Love is the fulfillment of the law, the commandments that we’ve been given to follow, not merely the 10 that were etched in stone, but every Biblical command that we can find is fulfilled to the letter by love. To actually “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” Matthew 22:37 ESV and to “love your neighbor as yourself” Matthew 22:39 ESV is so vital to our lives because everything depends on these two commands.
So I write to remind you Christians, of the faith you have and to add to it with virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness and brotherly affection and love, so that you may be sanctified. I write to edify you that you may desire that Christ complete the good work in you and that you not be satisfied with the mediocrity of the world. To walk worthy of the manner in which you were called that we all may mature to the “measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” I write to remind you to seek those things in heaven not things of this earth that fade away so temporally like vapors or dust in the wind. Be reminded Christians, and live for Christ.
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 ESV