Saturday, August 24, 2013

2nd Peter 1 - Fruitful vs. Barren

"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." (2 Peter 1:8)
Peter is back talking about the knowledge of God that is the knowing of God kind of knowledge. He also gives us this promise, that if we apply diligence to our faith and build, layer upon layer, upon our faith the virtues of life he previously mentioned, then we will be neither barren or unfruitful in our walk with Christ. The Christian walk is meant to be a walk forward; a walk of progress towards the image and likeness of God. Paul says of us, "For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren." (Romans 8:29)

This is the journey we are on, to become progressively more and more like Jesus, both in action (outwardly) and thought (inwardly). This growth occurs as we add those qualities of life that Peter mentioned and that, through faith and diligence, those things increase in our lives. For those who practice such a lifestyle find a life that is full and productive. The Greek word used here for "barren" means to be inactive, idle, or slow and the word for "unproductive" means to be without fruit. None of us wants this for our lives, but it takes diligence and faith; it takes an intentional walk forward into obedience to the things God has for us.
"For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins." (2 Peter 1:9)
The picture Peter is drawing is of one who is trying to see life through a window where all things are occluded by the filth of the window, or as one who has willing shut their eyes lest they should see reality as it really is. There are many reasons for this blindness, some choose it willingly others submit to it by remaining in their prisons where they can no longer see the sky. Some are just too focused on themselves to actually look out and see the Kingdom to which they have become members. What ever the reason, they no longer look forward and their salvation from sin no longer holds any importance to them. If we find ourselves one of these people then we need to wake up and remember that our salvation and the forgiveness of our sins was meant to be the start of a grand adventure with Christ, not just a moment of life that we experience and then move on from as if nothing has changed. We need to once again grasp the importance of that event and begin to live in its reality, journeying forward to God and to His likeness.
"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" (2 Peter 1:10)
What a promise! To live a life no more to stumble! Everyone is looking for something simple they can do to improve their lives and here it is: practice these things and you will never stumble again. Of course, its not as easy as that, it takes effort, work, discipline, and faith, but it is possible by the grace and mercy of God and, along the way, if we do stumble, there is always the mercy of God to forgive us and restore us to the path of life. When Peter says to "make certain" our calling and election, he uses a Greek word that means to make "stable, steadfast, and sure." It is not as if our election and calling are ever in question or are uncertain, but it is in regards to the steadiness and firmness of our lives: living some days as if we are called and others as if we are not. Some days walking in accordance with our calling and election and other days stumbling badly as if our calling and election were failing us. The goal of all discipline is to produce a walk that is stable, sure, and firm; a walk that is certain. We should never doubt our calling and election by God and our walk should express the same; certain in our confidence and certain in our walk.
"for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you." (2 Peter 1:11)
It's hard to think that there will be differing rewards in heaven. We like to think that we are just as "good" as everyone else and that, if any deficiencies are found in our life, that God will understand and overlook our deficiencies since, after all, we are made of flesh. It is true that, all those who place themselves into the Father's hand are secure. For Jesus said, "My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand." (John 10:29) However, not all will arrive at heaven the same, some with rewards awaiting, and others arriving having suffered loss. "Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. If any man's work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire." (1 Corinthians 3:12-15) The choice is ours. Either to take our salvation for granted and to be content with escaping hell, or to apply diligence to receive heavenly rewards when we finally arrive at our homes in heaven. So how will you live your life today? In slothful squandering of the opportunities that God has given you or by living in light of the precious gift you have received in the forgiveness of sins and in a determination to live forward to the honor and glory of God? Which will you choose today?

David Robison

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