3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (ESV)
2 Peter 1:3-11
Gift and Command: 2 Peter 1 (Part 1)
“O Lord, command what you will, and give what you command” – Augustine
One of the most difficult things for us as believers to understand and embrace is that God’s absolute, unshakeable promise to work His will in our lives means we need to exert ourselves in working out God’s will in our lives.
We tend to see the gift and the promise in tension with the command, and more often we believe one trumps the other. Many hear the promise and “rest in it,” making no great effort to grow in holiness. Others hear the command and believe (and fear) that obedience is our unaided duty – perhaps in response to grace, but never fully empowered by it. But 2nd Peter 1:3-11, like many other passages, proclaims both these to be true, consistent, and in harmony with one another.
God has given us “all things that pertain to life and godliness…For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith…” The “all things that pertain to life and godliness” must include virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love, since Peter clearly sees that these “pertain to life and godliness.” These have been granted to us. “For this very reason”-–that is, because these things have been granted to us-–we must go and get these things.
The command is built on grace–God gives, and in fact has already given, that which He commands. And the grace implies a command–God has given them to us, and therefore we need to go and get them. Our entrance into the Kingdom, the confirmation of our calling and election, and our ultimate effectiveness and fruitfulness in our knowledge of Christ, are conditional on us possessing the virtues Peter lists. We must “make every effort” to combine these with our faith. This is the command. And they have all been granted to us. So every born-again believer will indeed demonstrate these qualities.
Our effort is guaranteed to succeed. Our perseverance is dependent upon our effort, and it is granted as a gift by God. Therefore, let us be diligent in pursuit of our final salvation, not because it is in doubt, but because our very pursuit proves that it is not in doubt.
(This was originally posted on the Biblearc blog by Andrew Bywaters on April 9, 2015.)