As we’ve reviewed in the posts, Faith is and Don’t Leave Your Faith All Alone; faith is dynamic in its working. Faith uses the conduit of love to express itself. Faith without corresponding action is dead. Faith and patience work together to obtain the promises of God. We read that it is impossible to please God without faith, and we read that faith is the substance of the things we eagerly anticipate. We know from Romans 1:17 that faith is so powerful we are to live by it. We have a relationship and fellowship with God through faith. We obtain the promises of God by it. We act on it, share it, and identify ourselves by it.
In this post, we’ll see that faith is also a key to our ability to increase in the knowledge of God. I’ve got to admit that I have been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to write a post on 2 Peter 1:1-11. These scriptures are my absolute favorite verses in the Bible. To me, these verses are such nuggets of goodness; they are the sweetest comfort to my soul. They embolden me and fill me with hope.
1 Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: 2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
There is so much of God’s grace described in these scriptures. So much of His loving kindness and tender mercies are expressed through these words. It would take several blog posts and a couple of books to begin to explore it all. For the sake of this post, we’re going to focus on verses five through 11.
Leading up to verse five, Peter explains that God has provided for, and has given to us, everything that pertains to life and godliness, and that obtaining everything that pertains to life and godliness is received through the knowledge of God. In other words, the more you know God, and the more you become familiar with who he is (his character) and how he operates. The more you become familiar with who God is, the more you begin to experience the things he has provided that pertain to life and godliness. Peter also explains that we are called to glory and virtue, and it is through the exceeding great and precious promises of God that we become partakers of God’s divine nature. Then Peter writes that we are to add different characteristics to our faith, diligently. The first thing we are to add to faith is virtue (moral fortitude), then to that, we add knowledge (awareness gained through experience). To knowledge we are to add self-control (the ability to control oneself, particularly one’s emotions and desires or the expression of them in one’s behavior, especially in difficult situations). To self-control we are to diligently add patience (maintaining eager anticipation despite contrary circumstances or a seeming delay). To patience we are to add godliness (character and conduct determined by the principle of love or fear of God in the heart), and to godliness we are to add brotherly kindness (from the word philadelphia, meaning kindness based on a common spiritual life). Lastly, to brotherly kindness, we are to add love, which is the fullness of God’s character that is undiluted and unrestrained. Notice that we don’t need to add anything to love because love is perfect on its own.
These characteristics or virtues build on each other. However, this is not an all or nothing exercise. Each one develops within us in degrees. The more we exercise them, the stronger they become, as we grow from faith to faith and from glory to glory.
As we’ve read, we make the exceedingly great and precious promises, that God Himself has made available to us, our own and realize them in our lives by faith. Not only that, but we are to add virtue, knowledge, self-control, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love to our faith. Our trust or faith in God matures as we add these characteristics to it. When these characteristics are in us and are abounding, then our knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ will never be fruitless or empty. Why are these characteristics so important? As a contrast, Peter writes that when these characteristics are missing from a person’s faith, they have obscured vision and are unable to see clearly. They don’t remember who they are (in Christ Jesus), and they go back to their old nature, slip back into old habits, and forget that they are new creations in Christ Jesus. When these attributes are so prevalent in us that they become part of our character, they stabilize us. They keep us from falling and from slipping back into old habits. They keep us active and engaged in the things of God. Lastly, according to verse eight, if we diligently add these attributes to our character, not only will we never fall, but an entrance into the everlasting kingdom of Jesus will be ministered to us! What a promise!
I think of the characteristics of faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love as fertilizer. They, individually and collectively, create an environment that enables the Fruit of the Spirit to grow in our lives. Faith is the starting point. Faith is the anchor. Trusting that God is, and trusting in His Word, provides the determination and confidence that we need to add all the other virtues to our character. The more we mature in these characteristics, the more we experience God and Jesus Christ, our co-laborer. We get to know him, and how he operates, and our degree of knowing him manifests itself by the emergence of the Fruit of the Spirit. In the next post, Faith and The Fruit of the Spirit, we’ll look at Galatians 5:22-26 and explore faith as it relates to the Fruit of the Spirit.