Monday, November 28, 2005

2 Peter 1:1-11

In this second letter to followers of Jesus in Asia Minor, Peter wrote to bolster both the foundation and practice of faith. Some in the early Christian communities had begun to teach two perspectives that deviated from true belief and practice. That is, some held that Jesus had given only partial knowledge of God and spiritual realities. Extra, even esoteric or secret, knowledge was necessary for truly spiritual life, and such knowledge came from sources other than the life and teaching of Jesus. Additionally, some contended that, once the gift of salvation in Jesus had been experienced, conduct did not matter. The “spiritual” person could behave in any way he or she chose because salvation had been already given; it could not be earned by right behavior in life.

Peter countered both perspectives squarely. From his own relationship with Jesus – while Jesus had walked the earth, and after Jesus had risen – Peter bore witness that Jesus “has given us everything we need for life and godliness.” There is no need for extra, esoteric sources of ideas in order to know God and spiritual realities clearly and confidently. Jesus communicates God to us intimately, uniquely, truly, and sufficiently, that we may really participate in the life of God and manifest the character of God in our life.

Therefore – and we should fully mark the strength of Peter’s transition in verse 5, translated in the New International Version as “For this very reason” – we should live a robust life in Jesus. This is a life not limited to mere beliefs, or hedged assent to vague ideas about God and Jesus – as if this could be real faith in Jesus! This is a life of true faith. In true faith, our beliefs about God and his purposes specifically and sufficiently root in Jesus himself. In true faith, our beliefs then body forth in qualities and actions characterized by goodness, self control, perseverance, godliness, kindness, and love.

In short, God has given us new life: new knowledge; new perspectives; new direction; and new purpose. Therefore, live this new life to the fullest extent possible. Where can we find out the “what” and “how” of this life? Look to Jesus, to his life and teaching, for he is truly divine and human, and by the power of the Holy Spirit we need no other to live into what God has made us.

Gregory Strong

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