Do you know what the Bible says? Do you know yourself because you have spent your life finding out, or do you only know what someone else has said it says? Even in a court of law hearsay is inadmissible; how much more important in matters of eternity that we know personally, for ourselves, what God says? Salvation is by faith, but because we may be relying on others too much, I fear that many of us no longer know what following Jesus really involves.
“Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (II Peter 1:10-11)
Christianity involves so much more than a simple sound bite; if it didn’t, God would not have provided us with a comprehensive Holy Bible comprised of no fewer than sixty-six individual books. Yet today, we expect to understand Christianity by listening to a radio program or from the occasional church visit, and it simply isn’t enough. Just the second letter of the disciple Peter, for example–in several verses of the first chapter alone–provides so much more information about how we should be living than most of us realize:
“But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if THESE THINGS are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks THESE THINGS is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do THESE THINGS you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (II Peter 1:5-11)
This sounds complex, so let’s break it down:
To faith, add virtue,
To virtue, add knowledge.
To knowledge, add self-control.
To self-control, add perseverance.
To perseverance, add godliness.
To godliness, add brotherly kindness,
To brotherly kindness, add love.
That’s the “THESE THINGS” mentioned above. What are we told about THESE THINGS?
–If THESE THINGS are ours and abound, we will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ [our faith will be active–it will be producing results for Christ and His kingdom!].
–If we lack THESE THINGS, we are shortsighted, even to blindness, and have forgotten that we were cleansed from our old sins.
–We are to be even more diligent to make our call and election sure [we must not assume, not take for granted that we belong to Jesus] for
–If we do THESE THINGS we will never stumble,
And so, an entrance will be supplied to us abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I can’t explain in great detail what “an entrance supplied…abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” means–BUT I KNOW THAT I WANT IT! I don’t want to be wondering when I get to the moment of my death if I really belong to Jesus–I WANT TO KNOW–I WANT TO KNOW THAT I KNOW HIM–and I want to have certainty that whatever it involves, an entrance into His everlasting kingdom will supplied to me abundantly! To that end, maybe I should know what the items on the THESE THINGS list actually mean?
Faith–“Being persuaded, faith, belief. In general it implies such a knowledge of, assent to, and confidence in certain divine truths, especially those of the gospel, as produces good works.” Do I even have a real, genuine faith?
Virtue–“excellency, being pleasing to God.” Am I living virtuously?
Knowledge–“To know experientially; present and fragmentary knowledge.” Am I making it my business to study the Bible faithfully so I can know more and more of what God has told me–or am I basically ignoring it?
Self-control–“Continence, temperance.” Am I living a temperate, self -controlled life?
Perseverance–“Patience; endurance as to things or circumstances ; refers to the quality that does not surrender to circumstances or succumb under trial.” Am I persevering under difficult circumstances and trials in my faith?
Godliness–“from to worship well…has the general sense of a pious life or a life which is morally good.” Am I living a pious life?
Brotherly kindness–“The love of Christians for one another, brotherly love out of a common spiritual life.” Do I love the people of God?
Love (agape)–“Benevolent love…Its benevolence, however, is not shown by doing what the person loved desires but what the one who loves deems as needed by the one loved.” Do I evidence a God kind of love that does what is good for others?
(All definitions from Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study New Testament)
These are merely seven verses of what God has told us in one chapter of one book of the Bible!
So, do you know God’s Word? Can you honestly say you understand everything God says about following Christ? Or do you have to conclude that you might have been negligent? If so, add to your faith virtue–being pleasing to God–and to that, add knowledge (get going–start studying!)–that you may not be unfruitful, that you may not stumble, and that an entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ would be supplied to you abundantly!
Help me be even more diligent to make my call and election sure, so an entrance will be supplied to me abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen!