Made Alive By the Spirit: The Pneumatology of Galatians (pt. 1)

windIn Galatians Paul spends a great amount of time explaining justification. That is to say, he argues that people are declared “right with God” as they place their faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. In this way, Paul lays the ground work for the Reformation doctrine of Sola Fide: By Faith Alone are we saved.

In Galatians 2:16, he writes,

A person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and no by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

And again in Galatians 3:10–14,

For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse…but the law is not of faith, rather…’Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’–so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

However, this leads to the question, for those justified by faith, what does Paul say about sanctification? If salvation (in this case, righteousness) has nothing to do with personal holiness or obedience, how does Paul’s gospel restrain anyone from gross immorality or ethical indifference? His answer is the Holy Spirit. And in systematic fashion he unfolds in Galatians a powerful description of what the Spirit does in the life of the believer. While Paul does not undertake the task of providing a comprehensive pneumatology, he does provide a rough outline of the Spirit’s work from conversion to consummation, with the absence of the gifts of the Spirit.

In what follows, I will outline a brief pneumatology from the book of Galatians. Here is the outline. I will tackle three of these today and three in the next week or so.

  1. Born of the Spirit (4:29)
  2. Received the Spirit (3:2–3, 14)
  3. Alive in the Spirit (5:5, 25)
  4. Walk in the Spirit (5:16)
  5. Desires of… Led by… Fruit of the Spirit (5:17, 18, 22–23)
  6. Walk in the Spirit (5:25)

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Preparing Your Heart for the Lord’s Supper

10In the crush of modern living (i.e., busy, scattered, fatigued, etc.), adequate preparation for the Lord’s Table is often overlooked. Combined with hearts that naturally pull away from grace and truth, growing Christians must take time to prepare for the Lord’s Supper. Time is needed to reflect on who God is, what Christ did, what you need to confess, and how you need to put to death sin in your life.

Still, even if time is made, some may wonder: How should I prepare my heart?

I was thinking about that as I preached on this subject on Sunday, and this is what I shared with our congregation. I pray it might help you as you prepare for the Lord’s Supper—this Sunday or the next time your church takes communion. 

How do you prepare for the Lord’s Supper?

When God descended on Mt. Sinai, he told the Israelites to take three days to prepare themselves for his arrival (Exod 19:10). Likewise, when the children of Israel entered the Promised Land, they took three days to prepare for their entrance (Josh 3:5). So it is that the people of God, whenever they entered God’s holy presence, must purify themselves (cf. Leviticus 8–9).

In the New Testament Jesus picked up the same idea. When he celebrated the Passover, he went to each of his disciples and washed their feet (John 13). Though Peter objected at first, he learned the Master must wash him in order for him to abide with Jesus. Just the same, when Paul spoke of taking the Lord’s Supper, he addressed the need to consecrate ourselves for communion (1 Cor 11:17–34). Continue reading

Aesthetics Is Not Optional

Why aesthetics?

Aesthetics is kind of a funny word.  Using it in casual conversation could easily gain the charge of being esoteric (another funny word), but indeed, the word and its employment are essential for the Christian.

Even those who have never dabbled in the academic discipline of aesthetics are being shaped by someone to think about beauty, art, and culture.  It may come from the paintbrush of Thomas Kinkade or the pen of Wendell Berry.  The source does not make someone an aesthete.  We all assign beauty to certain things, and thus we should learn what the Bible thinks about beauty and how it plays a formative role in the believers salvation and sanctification. Consider four reasons why aesthetics is so vital for the Christian.

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Lottie Moon: Sovereign Suffering and Sanctification

In China (1873-1912)

When Lottie arrived in China her attitude was not so Christ-like.  Raised in a home of great means and education, Lottie displayed great sophistication and intellect.  However, she also held a racial superiority over the Chinese, a way of thinking prevalent in the slaveholding South.  As a result, she entered China very prejudiced against the people she was going to reach.  Her own words reveal the darkness of her enlightened heart.  Reflecting upon a visit to Shanghai, she says, “Where the Caucasian goes he carries energy and an inferior race [the Chinese] is aroused by the contact” (368).

Yet, Lottie’s Darwinian view of the Chinese would soon be crushed in the hands of the great potter and reshaped for more useful service.  Like Peter and the other disciples, her four decades in China purified her for more useful service to the king.  For Lottie, and for us, discipleship is not a point in time, but a process of sanctification and greater obedience to God and His Word.  God certainly used his word to refine Lottie, but he also used painful circumstances.  There were at least 3 events that made her a more usable disciple.

Edmonia’s Return.  First, within five years, Lottie’s sister and partner in gospel ministry returned home.  After suffering severe ailment for two years in China, she would be afflicted in her health until the day of her death.  Despite her illness, she was a constant supporter of Lottie’s, maintaining a regular correspondence with her and the mission board.  Nonetheless, in time, her ailments became too severe and in January 1909, she put a gun to her head and committed suicide.  While the tragedy struck only 3 years before Lottie’s own death, assuredly the troubles Edmonia felt half-a-world apart would have grieved Lottie for years prior.  She missed her sister deeply and when her pen reflected about her personal struggles often she recounted the loneliness she felt after her departure.

Crawford Howell Toy.  Second, Lottie Moon’s relationship with C.H. Toy served as a severe disappointment for Lottie.  In 1877, when Lottie Moon returned with her sister to the States, she rekindled a relationship with her former teacher from the Albemarle Female Institute.  Like Lottie, C.H. Toy was educated, sophisticated, and a product of the Antebellum South.  He had received his masters from the University of Virginia.  After which he taught at Lottie’s school, before receiving his ordination in 1860 from John Broadus.

Toy himself for a season was a strong proponent of missions and even sought to go to Japan for missionary work.  Yet, his steadfast pursuit of missions would soon change towards a more academic route.  Toy’s personal testimony is a sad one, because when he went to Germany for doctoral studies, he returned steeped in the liberal influences of the day.  And it appears that he sought to influence Lottie Moon, as well.  After Lottie’s death, it was noted that she had quite a collection of books in her library devoted to the errors that Toy supported.

Still during all these doubtful seasons, Lottie remained hopeful.  While the Baptist papers disparaged Toy and Southern Seminary removed him from the faculty for his heretical views, somehow, Lottie Moon remained hopeful that some kind of marital union was still possible with Toy.  Alone on the mission field, without her sister, Moon surely fancied the idea of a partner in marriage and ministry.  However, in 1881, these hopes would be finally dashed.

In that fateful year, two of Toy’s students, T.P. Bell and John Stout, were rejected from missionary service because of the views they held concerning the Scriptures.  Under the influence of his teachers in Germany, Toy had developed a system of thought that denied the historicity of Genesis 1-11 and other portion Scripture that related to science, history, or geography.  In this way, Toy denied Scripture’s full inspiration and with it, he denied its truthfulness and ability to speak about all matters of life.

Such news caused a crisis in Lottie Moon’s life.  Her immediate reaction was to leave the mission field and to go to Harvard, the school to which Toy was now employed.  But shortly, she reconsidered.   Nettles again is helpful, “It was at best impracticable and at worst disloyal to her Redeemer.  The critical need for laborers in China, the fatigue and debility of her missionary colleagues, and the clarity of God’s prerogative over her life, as well as her increased love for the Chinese people, shoved aside this last shot at romantic and domestic fulfillment” (380-81).

Think about it: Here is an unwed women, whose intellectual gifts were shaped by Toy and who was deeply enamored with him.  Yet, she rejects the joys that she could attain in this marriage, because she counts faithfulness to Christ as more valuable.  And I think, it was this decision that God used to solidify Moon’s lifetime of service in China.  For her this decision to abandon the love of her life set a course for Lottie to abandon herself to the bride of Christ in China. This is how disciples are made.  What we affirm on paper means nothing until we are put into the trials of life—personal allegiances are often some of the most difficult trials.

Halcomb. A third development during this time was the defection of another missionary on theological grounds.  In 1886, N.W. Halcomb resigned his post because of a theological struggle with the Deity of Christ.  Lottie worked relentlessly to convince him from the Scriptures of Christ’s eternal and divine nature.  But despite her best intentions, prayers, and efforts, Halcomb left the field, depleting the number of laborers in China.  You can imagine the effect this had on Lottie Moon, both in regard to her spirits and in regards to her commitment to the pure gospel of Jesus Christ.

It seems that in these three trials, God showed Lottie Moon the folly of intellectual attainment and the radical need to simply follow him.  She had lost much to serve him in China, and yet she did not go unrewarded.  Despite the loss of a sister, the loss of a spouse, and the loss of a co-laborer, she never lost the one thing she must retain—her faith in God and passion for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We also see in her life the relationship between doctrine and missions.  There are many today who would want to minimize the importance of doctrinal precision, saying that: “All that matters is ministry or mission.  Do evangelism, preach, pray… don’t bother yourself with doctrine.”  Yet what we see in Lottie’s life is that in at least two instances doctrine destroyed missions—this was the case with Toy and Halcomb.

This is true at the level of churches and denominations, but it is also true individually.  If you are going to grow in Christ, you must rightly understand his Word.  Emotions, feelings, and experience can only carry you so far and for so long. No true disciple of Christ can sustain a lifetime pursuit without a growing knowledge of God in his word.

God’s Goodness and Mercy

Reflecting on the tragedies in Lottie’s life, it is evident that God was in control of them all.  Nothing happened to her that God himself did not ordain and use for her sanctification and greater service. As with Joseph in Genesis, what men and devils meant for evil, God meant for good.  Through pain, he purified Lottie.

This is a vital lesson for any Christian, but especially for those who are going onto the mission field.  Unless believers learn to see all things–good and evil–as sovereignly ordained by God and thus merciful provisions from the Father’s hand, it is unlikely that such ambassadors of Christ will endure the onslaught of afflictions that can easily overwhelm.

May Lottie’s experience steel those who are suffering to endure, and may we learn from her what she surely learned–to trust God’s goodness in good times and bad.  He is working all things for the good of those who are called according to his purpose (Rom 8:28).

Soli Deo Gloria, dss

Spirit-Empowered Service is a Mark of True Obedience

For the first thirty-four chapters in Exodus, the people of Israel are consistently stiff-necked.  Their speech is marked by grumbling; anxiety, fear, and accusations characterize the disposition of their hearts; and more than once Moses has to intervene on their behalf to protect them from God’s wrath.  However, after Moses returns from Mt Sinai, something surprising happens.  Instead of being disobedient, breaking God’s word, as they do with the Golden Calf, they are now remarkably obedient.  In fact, chapters 35-40 repeat again and again, how Israel has fulfilled all of God’s words.  Instead of having hard-hearts, their hearts are ostensibly willing (cf. 35:20-29).

It is striking to see how this people has changed.  Which makes me ask: How?  How did they become obedient?  And how should their change–I don’t want to say conversion because Psalm 95 tells us that most of these Israelites died in their unbelief in the wilderness–impact the way we understand God’s work in our lives today?

Today and tomorrow, I will point out two things in the text of Exodus that show us what impacted their hearts to make a change.

The Power of the Spirit

One of the main reasons why Israel expresses obedience is the work of the Holy Spirit, equipping and enabling Israel to make the tabernacle.  Now, the work of the Spirit in Exodus is not quite the same as the gift of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament.  The Spirit is not regenerating and dwelling in these saints, so much as he is empowering them to work.  Nevertheless, with that caveat in place, the Spirit effects obedience as he equips these Israelites to carry out the functions of building the tabernacle.

This Spirit-caused change is seen when we compare Israel’s idolatry in Exodus 32 to their God-directed service in Exodus 35-40.  In Exodus 32, idleness at Sinai led to idolary, but with the Spirit (and just as important, as spirit-filled mediator in Moses), God moves Israel to heed God’s word and build God’s place. Thus, we see that obedience–if only external and temporary–is accomplished by the Spirit.  We see this in Exodus 35:30-35.

Then Moses said to the people of Israel, “See, the LORD has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every skilled craft. And he has inspired him to teach, both him and Oholiab the son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan. He has filled them with skill to do every sort of work done by an engraver or by a designer or by an embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, or by a weaver–by any sort of workman or skilled designer.

Clearly, the tabernacle of God could not be completed by men, as men.  They needed God’s help.  Thus, the skill, intelligence, knowledge, and craftsmanship in all sorts of design-work was necessarily given by the Holy Spirit.  I think, by extension, we can say that everything God commanded required the work of the Spirit.  Just the same, for God to be pleased with our works, it requires faith (Rom 14:23; Heb 11:6), and what does Galatians 5:22-23 say?  Faith is a fruit of the Spirit.

So here is the point: All Israel’s skilled hands were gifted by the Spirit.  Thus, every inch of the tabernacle and all its component parts were made by men, but not without the Spirit.  God’s dwelling was a Spiritual creation.  In trying to understand the relationship between God and man in this setting, I would propose that its construction must be analogous to inspiration. Just as the Spirit inspired the prophets and apostles, so that the minds and hands of free men could write exactly what God wanted—without error; in the same way, God’s spirit guided men to make his dwelling place.

To say it another way, in one sense, Moses, Bezalel, and the skilled workers built the tabernacle; but in another more ultimate sense, God himself built the tabernacle.  Since everything was done according to his word and by his Spirit, the obedient Israelites worked exactly as God intended.  In true Spiritual freedom they built God’s dwelling place.

So now lets go back to the original question: What caused Israel’s obedience?  My answer is that it was the Spirit.  Though, there are other factors, without the Spirit there would not be the ability or the willingness to fulfill God’s word.  But with the Spirit, stiff-necked Israel is able to obey God’s word “perfectly.”  That is, God is totally pleased with the tabernacle to the point that his Spirit descends upon the man-made tent as soon as it was completed.

Traversing the Covenantal Divide

So how might Christians apply this reality today?

Fast-forwarding these realities to the New Covenant, we need to realize that the scope and locus of the Spirit is wider and closer, respectively.  As to the former, the Spirit now works in all nations and in all peoples.  He is no longer restricted to Israel.  Rather, He  is given to everyone for whom Christ died.  Likewise, his work is more interior.  He no longer works externally on those people whom God has chosen for service (think of Saul); rather, he circumcises the heart, indwells the believer, and saves all those in whom he dwells.  He does not simply gives gifts; he is the down payment for salvation.

In this way, Exodus shows how the Spirit effects obedience, but in the whole canon of Scripture, we find that the testimony of God is that the Spirit works in greater ways today.  For in Israel, the same hands that built the tabernacle were attached to bodies that died in the wilderness because of unbelief.  Not so today, the Spirit saves eternally.  While David feared losing the Holy Spirit in Psalm 51, that is not a fear New Testament believers should ever have (Eph 1:13-14). In all, while there is continuity between the people of Israel and the church, there is greater discontinuity.

With all that said, as we return to the question of obedience, it is clear that the Spirit is the responsible party for our faithful service. With the tabernacle, the people were moved, led, guided, directed by the Spirit of God, and thus they were able to obey fully because God enabled them to obey and do the work.  Today, it is still the Spirit who causes us to walk in the statutes of the Lord (Ezek 36:26-27), and indeed if there is or will be a change in our lives, it is because of the power and influence of the Spirit.

Let us pray unto the Father to pour out his Spirit in our lives and in our world, so that Christ would be reflected in the lives who have been purchased by his blood.

Soli Deo Gloria, dss


What Can Make Me Walk Away From Sin?

[This article was originally featured in our hometown newspaper, The Seymour Tribune].

“What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”

Encapsulated in these words is the profound truth that the God of heaven and earth has made forgiveness possible through the death and resurrection of his Son.

But this raises a question: “If Jesus’ blood can wash away my sin, what can make me walk away from sin?” On this thanksgiving weekend, I give thanks for my forgiveness, but I wonder out loud, “Is the Christian life only about getting a ticket into heaven? Or does how I live matter?” Let me answer in two ways.

First, those who have had their sins washed away are those who have been born again. And as 1 John says, those who are born again must practice truth, walk in light, confess their sins, strive to obey God’s commandments and turn from sin. In his epistle, John does not teach perfectionism. He simply asserts that those who have been forgiven will lead transformed lives.

Second, when someone’s sins are washed away, the Holy Spirit gives that person a new appetite for Christ. This is what it means to be born again. Whereas before, this person might see Jesus as irrelevant or unattractive, now, in Christ, the same person sees Jesus as the most attractive person in the universe. Obeying God’s commandments is not burdensome because they love God and his Word. In truth, those who are forgiven delight in God, God’s Word and God’s people.

Such an experience is recorded in the Psalms: “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” David’s words express the Christian’s heart. Those who know God’s pardon, simultaneously have a passion for his presence. While the blood of Christ washes away our sin, it is his beauty that makes men and women walk away from sin.

What about you? Have you beheld Christ’s beauty? Or have you encountered only the ugliness of some false imitations? Don’t be fooled. Christ is gloriously beautiful, to those who have eyes of faith. Don’t miss him because of a bad experience. For he alone can wash away your sin; he alone can make you whole again; he alone can make loving him an easy duty; because he alone can show you his beauty.

Soli Deo Gloria, dss

What God Commands, He Gives: A Reflection on 2 Peter 1:3-11

Augustine once said, “Command what you will, oh God, but give what you command.”  This prayerful axiom is an incredibly important lesson for Christians to learn: That the God who demands perfect righteousness supplies all that he demands.  This is the good news of New Covenant.

2 Peter 1:3-11

One place where this truth becomes evident is in a passage of Scripture that at first sounds like we, the Christian, must make every effort to generate virtues to add to our faith.  The passage is 2 Peter 1:3-11, and the problem is discerning where the good works in verses 5-7 come from.  From God or from us?

First lets read the passage and then notice four textual clues that show us that God is the supplier of the good deeds he calls us to.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Four Clues 

There are at least four clues from the text that the imperative “to supplement” (epichorēgēsate) in verse 5 is not something we do on our own, but rather, as is true in all biblical Christianity, God is always at work in us to will and do all that he commands of us (cf. Phil 2:12-13).  Let’s consider them together.

First, in verse 3-4, Peter gives the wonderful promise that God gives us everything we need for life and godliness.  Therefore, prior to calling for “works,” he points to the boundless reservoirs of grace already available in Christ–and make no mistake, the resources of grace are not a substance acquired from God, but rather the spiritual favor and power that comes from a covenantal union with Christ.  Accordingly, from a genuine knowledge of God in Christ and from his never failing promises, all that the passage calls believers to do is premised on the fact that he has antecedently provided that which he calls (cf John 15:5; Rom 8:32).

Second, this general principle of the imperative following the indicative–which is a most valuable lesson for interpreting the NT epistles and for understanding gospel-powered obedience–is followed up by a more specific textual link between verse 3 and verse 5.  In verse 5, Peter calls Christians to add knowledge to their faith, and virtue.  Later in 2 Peter 3:18, he will close with the command to grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  But both of these commands follow from the explicit reality, that God has made himself known to his elect exiles (cf. 1 Pet 1:1).  This is seen in 2 Peter 1:2, where Peter greets his audience as those who know the Lord and are growing in that knowledge.  And in the next verse, he explains that knowledge of God is the instrument by which God supplies the believer with everything they need for life and godliness.

Third, in verses 5-7, when Peter commands us to add to faith, virtue, knowledge,  self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love, there is noticeable move from faith to love (cf. Galatians 5:6), and maybe even a more defined progression from faith to love, through virtue, knowledge, self-control, etc–though it would be hard to make the ordering normative, as much as it is descriptive.  Nevertheless, the main command to supplement these characteristics is retained from verse 5.  Thus, in the process of adding all of these characteristics, comes the necessary dependence on God’s promises and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Furthermore, verses 8-9 serve as an evaluative tool to discern if indeed we are walking in the Spirit, if we are experience the power of God in our Christian life.  They invite the Christian to do a spiritual inventory and to take stock of what is there.  If fruit is lacking, the imperative does not say to go out and find self-control (which is a fruit of the spirit, Gal 5:22) or to self-generate knowledge (which also is a gift, Prov 2:1-7), or to find endurance from within.  Rather, a poor inventory, calls the Christian to go back to the beginning: To believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  From that place of abiding belief, the believer looks to the promises of God and finds help in time of need and promises from God for life-change.  Thus, the evaluation does not call for works divorced from faith, but faith that overflows in good works.

Fourth and last, in verse 10-11, we see Peter’s eschatological promise that those who do these things prove their election in this life.  Genuine believers will be kept from falling and their entrance to the eternal kingdom will be well-furnished.  To stress the point in question, we do not provide an entrance ourselves to heaven, nor are we the ones who are responsible for finding riches to add to that entrance.  Rather, in Christ and through a lifetime of faith in his gospel that overflows into all the attributes listed in verses 5-7, God gives to the believer knowledge, godliness, and love–to only name a few.

Does This Promote Laxity in the Believer?

This heavy emphasis on grace and provision could easily promote laxity, but that would be to misunderstand the point.  God does not motivate with fear; he motivates with fullness.  For those who are full of love (for God and others), they cannot but do all that God commands.  Remember, under the New Covenant, the commandments of God are not burdensome, for those who have been born again.  For those who see the commands of God burdensome, they are either trying to complete them in their flesh, or they do not have any spiritual power with which to complete them.  The result is disinterest and spiritual burnout.  The collective effect of this are bloated church rolls with names of people who had a religious experience but who never experienced the power of conversion.

The Bible motivates obedience differently.  Just as God gives eternal life, he gives good works for the believer to do (Eph 2:10).  He bears fruit in the life of his Spirit-filled saints (Gal 5:22-23).  He gives spiritual gifts for the purpose of edifying (not dividing) the church (1 Cor 12-14).  And he puts desires in the hearts of his saints that he intends for them to pursue with vigor (Ps 37:4; Ezek 36:26-27).

All that to say, what God gives to the believer is not simply the capacity to do good; He gives the will and the power (Phil 2:12-13).  He doesn’t save people for them to do nothing. Born again believers grow and mature–at different rates and with different results.  But all spiritual children grow to look more and more like their Father in heaven.

Returning to our text, Christians’ entrance into God’s kingdom (at the end of the age) will be richly provided, because God has supplied them with the sanctifying fruits of knowledge, godliness, and love.  Still, while such things are provided by God, they still must be exercised by the believer; hence the serious charge to make ones calling and election sure.  Do not be lethargic.  Press into these realities.  Exercise the life God has given to you for the greater display of his glory!  And still, with that balance in place, at the end of the age, all that the believer has done in his obedience is attributed primarily not to deserving children of God, but the amazing grace of God, and the fact that he supplies all that he solicits.

Conclusion: God Supplies All That He Solicits

In the end, 2 Peter 1:3-11 does not promote a system of faith in God plus good works by man.  Instead, the true believer is walk by faith in all ages of their life, from faith to faith, they are to add virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love, so that their faith is not unadorned (cf. James 2).  Moreover, they are to add to their faith these things, because God has provided them in abundance for the believer, and such is the call of all genuine disciples of Christ–to do all that he instructs–so that we might be more like him.

May we not be afraid to evaluate our lives by 2 Peter 1:5-7, and when we find ourselves lacking–and we will–may we go back to the gospel promises found in verses 3-4 before working harder to do better.  The richness of our heavenly homecoming is not based on how much good WE do for God in this life, it is how much GOD has done for us as we trust in him day-in and day-out.  God calls us not to create these good deeds but to walk in them.  So walk in a manner worthy of gospel, letting your faith grow into all manners of Christ-exalting love.

Soli Deo Gloria, dss