The necessity of ever increasing faith

 "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these [His power and a true knowledge of Him] He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust" 

"Now for this very reason also [as a result of what God has done], applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self control, perseverence, and in your perseverence, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love" 

"For IF these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" 

"For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his former purification from his former sins" 

 Reading the above passage in 2 Peter chapter 1 as of recent, I noticed something unique about the passage above I had not formerly noticed. That both in the opening paragraph and the summation are the words true knowledge emphasized. As we can see above in the former, it is a true knowledge of who Jesus is which has allowed us to be partakers of everything we need as believers- everything that concerns this present life and our need to become godly citizens. In short, this means that those who call themselves His have no excuse for falling short of what God desires for them as He has provided everything they need in this present life. This is also reiterated in 2 Timothy 2:19 where it states; 

"The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness." 

 Now we know that in this age and other ages there are many people who claim to know God, but despite this they do not have a true understanding of His will and work at all, but rather a warped view of truth and therefore cannot as the 2nd reference speaks, be useful or fruitful in their so-called service to Him. The real Christian life starts and ends with a true understanding of Christ, not anything that falls short of that or even exceeds this. This is also reiterated by John the apostle in 1 John  1:9 where it sates; 

"Anyone who goes to far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son" Once again, we see here that there is a true knowledge and then an opposing knowledge of Christ that is false and does not coincide with the truth, nor encompass real faith in Jesus Christ. Simple enough. 

 Now look above again in the first paragraph and notice the other place a similar phrase is used. Twice the words "has granted to us" are used, again speaking to that which God has done within those who have a true knowledge of Him. The progression of these likeminded statements would be ordered something like this: 

1. An individual comes to a true knowledge about who Jesus Christ is and what He has done in history past. 

2. As a result of this revelation, this same individual recognizes that through Jesus everything they need for this life and living a godly lifestyle has been provided. 

3. Everything provided is given through precious and magnificent promises. 

4. That every individual professing Christian is called upon to embrace (believe by faith) the promises of God if they are to become godlike in character and escape the corruption that is in this world through lust. 

 Now the above truths have been made abundantly clear in the passage above. But if for some reason some are prone to forget this or who might minimize them, the following warning is given in verse 10: 

"Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom will be abundantly supplied to you" 

 I suppose the reverse could be said as well, if you lack the character qualities above in verses 5-7. Just as their are very specific truths that encompass the faith once delivered, so are their various practices that echo those beliefs in those who have a true knowledge of Him.  

In the Beginning, God

 Some time ago I met a man who exclaimed in urgency, "Believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ" and thou shalt be saved." Actuallly I think I heard this refrain quite a few times before I actually did believe upon Him, and a few more before I understood the ramifications of that belief. But what I came to understand is this…..that God Himself had done something on my behalf, that I had a responsibility to believe this by faith and then subsequently live my life forward by faith in Him. Just as that was true for Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, it's just as true for you and me today. 

As in the days of Noah, man

 We live in days reminiscent of the days of Noah. Days as normal as ever or so we like to think, and yet destruction was and is likely right at the door. And as you might recall, it was not those who sat around casually as if all was well who were spared by God, but those who knew the times in which they lived and were prepared for them. 

In the end times, God

 In this season God is working, but for the most part in ways most of those who profess Him fail to see or are willing to acknowledge. The primary reason for this is simple: most of those in this world either no longer acknowledge Him or those who profess to believe in Him either do not recognize the promises He's given, refuse to believe those promises or warp His promises into something He never said or intended His people to trust in. Although God has allowed these warped understandings of Him and what He has done to continue for many a season (often as a judgment upon those who embrace them) a season is coming and is now here where time is running out and many will be caught unawares and why- because they chose to prefer the alternate to the true, what they personally prefered verses that which they knew would cost them their lives. 

As of first importance, God

 Three things every Christian ought to know are these:

  • Everything that God has intended in creation and up until the fulfillment of the ages will be accomplished- perfectly. 
  • God Himself is using all of the difficuties, sufferings and even evil in this world to accomplish those ends. 
  • As the difficulties escalate, the cost to us personally will rise dramatically

Case in point. 

 Whether one is willing to admit this or not, there are some professions which God has never sanctioned for a Christian and which are contrary to the desires He has for His children. I am not saying that their are never exceptions but that because He has called us to live separate from this world their are simply occupations that do not coincide with one's faith and practices in Christ. At one time those might have been relegated to a small list of things, but today's evil is so rampant and so extensive that many of this world's occupations are littered if not entirely taken over by evil agendas and compromising positions. One simply cannot participate in these occupations without compromising their faith in Christ, or worse, promoting an altogether antichrist agenda. As an example, we have thousands upon thousands of professing Christians attempting to enter into various fields of teaching and education around the globe. Whether you trust me or not, even a cursory search of where these teaching agendas originate ought to make one think twice about participating. None of them have God's intentions even remotely at their center and even the so-called "Christian" schools are just businesses using Jesus' name to their own ends. In reality, no "Christian" school even exists, only people can be Christians and just because the Bible or spiritual things taught or discussed does not change these facts. To believe any such thing as a Christian school to exist is to believe a lie and be deceived to one extent or another. To believe a Christian needs to attend or pay money to learn how to live as a Christian is even more silly. And finally, to believe God is actually glorified or honored when professing Christians sell their spiritual gifts to their brothers or sisters for money (whether that be through books, conferences or by being a paid professional Christian) is simly ridiculous. I promise you this. God has never once desired any of His children to become what has been termed a "professional Christian" of any variety, nor has He ever told anyone to go build some religious institution or empire and rule over it and His people. This is the work of an enemy and those who remain within these places will perish along with them.  

 Now whether you agree with my paragraph or not isn't necessarily relevant now. But I assure you of this, we need not fret as we see the escalating calamity coming our way as Peter says in 1 Peter 4:12;

"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice in exultation" 

 The fact is, we've been living on easy street for way too long here in America and our spiritual lives and testimony are suffering greatly as a result.   Don't think for a minute that prayers to "spare America" or "make America great again" even register in heaven. Are these what Jesus died for? Did Jesus die so you and I could live a happy selfish care free life? God forbid our Savior be reduced to this. 

God is closing the doors and turning back time

 For many years I found myself questioning the purpose of the imagery found in the book of Revelation and specifically in relation to the battle of Armageddon. It's as if all of our grand technology either gets wiped out or disabled and the armies of the nations have to come and battle against the Lord in hand to hand combat. Now whether you persoanally subscribe to such a literal scenario is not my point. What is important is to recognize that in this juncture of history God is intervening, He is beginning to set things in order, even things which seem adverse to us and which would cause His people to suffer. The very things He allows, whether that includes an economic crash, a third world war, the loss of personal freedoms or Christians becoming the targets of this worlds hostility- ALL of this is for our own good, IF we acknowledge it coming from Him and prepare ourselves beforehand. Otherwise, God's sleeping people will be taken by suprise and perish in the war just as in any other.  

Our responsibilities

1. Recognize God's actual promises (What a true knowledge of Him promises) 

2. Believe in these promises (as a means of becoming useful and fruitful) 

3. Reject all counterfeit promises (the means whereby I keep myself separate and sanctified) 

True and False Promises

 Just as there are truths and lies within any segment of the societies with which we reside, so are there truths and lies within the framework of what is called "Chistianity" or better yet, "Christiandom." I use the latter term to denote the totality of what is being called Christian throughout the world, whether it be true or false. 

 The verses above in 2 Peter make it quite clear that there is a standard of living to which all professing Christians ought to seek and will seek, that is, if they have really been born from above. These people will not merely have a right and true knowledge of God's character and Person, but will also to one degree or another exhibit the character traits of Jesus Christ Himself. In short, there is no such thing as a Christian who either fails to:

1) Exhibit these traits (diligence, moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love) 

2) Are increasing in these qualities

 The proof of this is easily seen in verse 1:8 where the phrase neither useless and the word fruitful are used. To be neither useless means to be useful, just as fruitful would relate the the bearing of fruit (which all of the above qualities represent, ie; fruits of the Spirit. The warning in verse 1:9 and the admonition in verse 1:10 are for those who had seemingly forgotten these necessities, as are the reminders so often reiterted by Peter the apostle. Just as in days and seasons past, God's people regularly either forgot the many blessings bestowed upon them by Almighty God, took them for granted or simply stopped following His direction for them (which led to idolatry). Whether the professers amongst Christiandom recognize this or not, this is exactly where we find ourselves today. 

True Faith

 True faith originates with God, is about God and must have only His ends in sight. Just as we have received Christ Jesus the Lord (by faith), so must we walk in Him (in regular dependence upon Him through His promises) by faith. This faith has absolutely nothing to do with our desires, what we aim to do for Him or whatever we might utilize in our service to Him. 

 Now if we look over the following chapter of this letter we find a progression of error that follows the warning below and goes something like this (1-9)

 Peter's reminder was exclusively the content of the truth, that which he says is not one any man's particular interpretation (2 Peter 1:12; 20, 21)

1) But false prophets arose (2 Peter 2:1)

2) False teachers among the true saints (2 Peter 2:1)

3) Many people will follow the false prophets (2 Peter 2:2)

4) These professors will be exploited (2 Peter 2:3)

5) These professors will be judged (2 Peter 2:9)

 Contrary to those who exhibit the quality character traits above which prove good fruit, the people who follow these false prophets and teachers participate in the truth being maligned (2 Peter 2:2) because they embrace what is sensual (what tickles their senses) verses what is true objectively (known through the prophetic words of Scripture and the testimony of the apostles and prophets themselves (2 Peter 2:19-21; 3:2). It seems apparent that the reason Peter was constantly reminding them of these very things was because some were straying from both the sure testimony of the apostles as well as the foundation of the Scriptures themselves. Verses 2:12-19 lists a littany of various forms of disobedience (equates to ungodly living) and this as a result of their failure to believe in the promises of God which:

6) Allow them to become partakers of the divine nature

7) As a result of 6, escape the lusts that are in this world,  many of which are expressed within 2:12-19 above. The verdict upon those who once seemed free from this world's lusts only to return to them is thus;

"For it would have been better  for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them" (2 Peter 2:21, 22) 

….and the admonition to those who continued in faith (obedience)-

 "You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, (that these false teachers will arise and mislead many into sin) be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfatsness, but grow in the grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity" (2 Peter 3:17, 18) 

 As God Himself uses the escalating difficulties of life and an ever increasing hostility among unbelievers in general toward those who believe, the division among those who cling to the truth and those who cling and tout lies will become all the more apparent. This will necessitate closer relationships, more mutual sharing and a likely return to more smaller and spontaneous gatherings for fellowship. This will also likely necessitate having to abandon certain occupations, superficial relationships, even familial ones, and everything not directly associated with our service in Christ. 

 This is what I would like to discuss next, the cost of being an equal member of the body of Christ and how embracing this truth personally will affect both the household of faith and those we long to aid with the truth. 

*see part 2