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, 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. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 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. For whoever lacks these qualities is so short-sighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practise these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Divine Power For Change
Because Jesus dwells within a follower of Jesus, they have divine powers. These divine powers are not selfish powers that manipulate things for their own satisfaction, but these powers work in us for good. The beginning for all valuable life change is the relationship that we have with Jesus. I am struck by how the New Testament, and these verses in particular, emphasize the role of knowledge in a relationship. As a relationship deepens we have more understanding of the person with whom we are connecting. This is true of all relationships, but is especially important to grasp in our relationship with God. As we study theology, read the Bible, and prayerfully converse with God, we are transformed by the knowledge that comes to us in those situations. The promises Jesus has made to us are grand and far-reaching. He promises that we will be capable of great acts in his name and he promises that we will have great words to say. However, many of us are content with being ‘barely’ Christian, and so we do not experience the level of change that he has promised.
We are all held back because of our struggles with sin and self-image. However, if we grasp that it is not about us (either our inadequacy or our capability), we will trust God to do more in and through us. Peter lists a gradation of steps from faith to love, but the truth is that the believer has all these qualities within them. The form of speech Peter is using does not highlight progression of one to the other but it just highlights that all these aspects of personal virtue should be increasingly apparent in the Christian life. Faith can be seen as foundational because it follows God even when the emotions or reason pull away from God. Love can be seen as the pinnacle, because love holds all things together and is the greatest Christian virtue. Brotherly affection is also a kind of love, but there is a love that Christians express which transcends other loves. Agape is not a technical word for this love, but the Bible often uses the word agape when referring to it. This is because agape was the broadest expression of love and most naturally encompassed the other loves.
People who do not strive to know Jesus and then see change in their lives have not seen the point of what it means to be Christian. Jesus has chosen us to be in a relationship with him. A lack of life change shows a lack of understanding of the life we should be living. Those who insist they are ‘safe’ because they said a prayer once, but exhibit no change, ought to revisit the idea that they are safe. This passage, among others, would indicate that if you see no growth you may not have been born again into the life that Jesus has for you.
Father, may we be transformed as we experience the divine nature of Jesus and His transforming power. I know that I have traveled so far, but then I have become more aware of how little I know and how much I can grow. Keep me on the journey to maturity that you have laid out for each one of us. Let me encourage others to keep walking too.
- What enables the Christian to grow?
- Why do some people treat Christian growth like something extra for over-achievers?
- How would you talk with people who are not growing?
- If you use the list in this passage as an assessment tool, how would you grade your growth in each of these areas?
- What plan could you make to be further trained in growing to maturity?
It is through God’s divine power that we are able to grow in our faith. Part of how this plays out is in our efforts to grow in our knowledge of Him (studying His word, fellowship with Him, etc.), practically living our new life through loving others and in godly character. They are all interconnected. A true relationship with God necessitate real knowledge of Him which must result in a change of character and behavior. Without the last bit, one must question whether there is true relationship or not.
I think many professing Christians have the tendency of viewing our salvation only in futuristic terms. We are saved from hell and we will try to be decent people and enjoy life until we get to go enjoy a better one. However, this is in stark contrast with the Bible’s emphasis on the present realities of salvation. We are saved from our sin and this world so that we might be God’s ambassadors in the world. We are not saved so that we do not go to hell. We are saved to have intimate relationship with God and fulfill the purpose of God’s creating of us: to love Him and love others. To miss this is to miss out on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus and one must throw out most of the Bible to justify this.
Sometimes lack of growth is not because the person is unregenerate, but because there is a lack of understanding and/or sin impeding his effort. It is when people submit to God and draw near to Him that they see growth.
I am encouraged when reading this passage because I know that a few years ago these characteristics of growth were not near as evident. I think my steadfastness to continue to act our my belief in God’s promises and purpose is where I am being challenged the most right now.
It seems that the biggest struggle within the American church is that we have sold the gospel to appear cheap and easy. This, in my opinion, leads to spiritual growth appearing to be only for “super-Christians.”
The argument is often tossed out, “Oh, but no one is perfect!” and yet, God said, “Be perfect, for I am perfect.” When we belong to Christ, we are no longer enslaved to sin! That doesn’t mean that the struggle is absent, but now we have the God-given ability, in Christ, to choose holiness in the midst of the struggle.
I recall a documentary in Christian Missions class where Muslims in other countries are being told by some missionaries that they can and should “accept Jesus in their heart” while still living as a Muslim, in order to protect themselves from persecution. How could this be? How could we encounter Christ and be the same? Why would anyone truly free want to continue living in what once enslaved them?
For people who are not growing, I would ask them what their greatest desire is, and what they consider to be their life. Colossians 3 tells how Jesus IS our life! Our greatest desire should be to know Him and to make Him known. If it’s not, we should be in desperate prayer for God to set a fire down in our soul. Nominal Christianity must never be an option. Salvation is free, but it was not cheap. We were bought with a price. We were purchased with the precious blood of Christ. Now, we have the great privilege of being conformed to His image! Let’s embrace that and become spiritually mature by reflecting Christ, our perfect example.
This is a GREAT passage! It seems complicated and deep, but that is not bad, that is part of what makes it great I think. I find it cheering that verse 8 is so straight forward. If you want to be used by God, if you want to be fruitful..here’s the recipe, the solution, the answer! Yet it’s not an “easy” quick fix sort of thing..Yes we have everything we need to be godly in this life at all times and in all possible situations, but this is not because of some plan we’re holding onto, through knowing Him! By His power He is causing us to know Him more and in Him we find what we need to resist that temptation and take that step of faith..it’s an on-going reliance, an on-going lean-to, look-to..we are partakers of Christ (Heb. 3:14), the word “divine” shouldn’t be even in the same sentence with “human,” considering how debased we all are in sin apart from Him, and yet we’re partakers of Him, we share in His life, His life is our life. No mistakening…Can it be true?
Jesus Christ is the one that enables us to grow so that we can be partakers of the divine nature. I don’t know why we treat Christian growth like something extra. It could be possibly because of the culture of Christianity that is in America. When you strive for something like this, you are usually outed as the goodie-too-shoes. People don’t like it when they see someone doing what they know that should be doing. If you bring something up in a group of people saying we shouldn’t do something, you are look at as the bad guy. I don’t know why we think Christian growth as an extra.
Knowing me, I would wonder if they are saved or not. I would question them about salvation and then show them these verses to show them they have the power through Christ to grow.
Further growth in my life can just getting into the word. The more I let the Word sit, the more it seems to build up to a point where It’s a big burden to read the Word.