Saturday, March 24, 2018

Believing Peter

It's in Peter's second letter, just after the brief introductory remarks. Peter says,
His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
Like many verses in the Scriptures, this one is hard to really come to grips with. When we sin, do we think to ourselves, but I had everything I needed for godliness, and still, I chose this sin instead? Despite our having everything we need for life and godliness, sin feels inevitable, at times irresistible. 

Much of the life of discipleship to which Jesus has called us (the life of the Jesus follower) is letting the truths of God really sink in. It takes time to believe the Bible. I mean, to really believe it. To "know it in your knower," as my old pastor, Phil Strout, used to say. So that the new truth, the Bible truth, replaces the worldly presets that have governed our thinking (and knowing) up till now. That was the way of thinking that belonged to the "old self," as Paul might have said (see Colossians 3). But now we are a new creation! Do we believe it?

"Everything we need for life and godliness." This is a word, of course, for the church. The Christian alone does not have everything he needs, for he does not have the Body. This is a partial answer to the question, what are these things that we (the church) have now that we need for life and godliness?

We have, first and foremost, Jesus, our savior, intervening for us even now at the right hand of the Father (Romans 8:34). We have the Holy Spirit, the very spirit of God (the motive force of our sanctification as believers), living and abiding within us (John 14:26). And we have one another: the church, the body of Christ. This is the reason that the author of the Letter to the Hebrews says, "keep on stirring one another up to love and good deeds." (Hebrews 10:24)

The life of discipleship is the working out of what God has worked in. The transformation begins inwardly and is progressively "walked out." This is the ordinary way of sanctification. It means believing the Scriptures and living out our believing. Does Jesus say he will be with us always? And do we believe it? Does he say he will give us rest? Do we believe it? Does he say, the poor in spirit are blessed? Do we believe it? Are we walking and talking as if we really do believe Jesus?

Or, for that matter, as if we believe Peter (who believed Jesus)? "You have everything you need for life and godliness." It is the calling of the church, which is to say, of every Christian, to believe it and to walk it out.