Saturday, February 16, 2013

From Faith to Love God’s 8-Step Path to Glory



As we begin to prepare our hearts for the Passover wouldn’t it be nice if there was an easy way to take stock of our spiritual progress and to gauge how we’re doing? Did you know that there’s a single passage in the Bible that provides just such a framework? It’s of such great importance that if we are not diligent in applying it to our lives we can become spiritually blinded and unfruitful? Wouldn’t you like to know how you’re doing? Are we progressing as we should or has our spiritual life become stagnant? Are we growing in grace and knowledge or have we gotten stuck somewhere along the way

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Before we look at this passage, notice how the apostle Peter describes the importance of this list and its relevance to our lives -

2Pet 1:8-12
(8)  For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(9)  But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, [lacks vision] and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. (Eph 2:2-9)
(10)  Wherefore the rather, [Therefore] brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
(11)  For so [in this way] an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
(12)  Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.

THE LIST

2Pet 1:1-8
(1)  Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:
(2)  Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
(3)  According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
(4)  Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, [the very character of God] having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (1John 2:16)
(5)  And beside this, [for this very reason] giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
(6)  And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
(7)  And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. (love)
There we have it, from Faith to Love, God’s 8-Step Path to Glory.

This list of character qualities is not presented in a way that suggests a random order. Each quality builds upon the qualities before it. The sequence of qualities begins with faith and ends with love. Each one of these is a quality of God’s character. Each one is a full study in its own right so we won’t be able to get into any depth today but as Peter says, it’s good to be put in remembrance of these things.

2Thes 2:13-14  But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:  (14)  Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
As God is bringing many sons to glory, (Heb 2:10) we have been sanctified by the Spirit and belief of the truth and the goal is to obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ in love. (Php 3:21)

We are to become partakers of the divine nature, as sons and daughters to become one with God and Christ. To be made perfect in one, in God’s perfect love. Let’s see this in Christ’s prayer for us on the Passover -

John 17:20-26 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; (21) That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.  (22)  And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:  (23)  I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.  (24)  Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.  (25)  O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.  (26)  And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.
So we are to become one with God and Jesus Christ and God is love. (1John 4:16) Therefore our spiritual journey should lead us to become perfected in love.

FAITH

When we are first called, it starts with faith; faith in God and a determination to learn and to pursue the truth. Hebrews 11:6 gives us the first article of faith:

Heb 11:6  But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
So this is not a passive pursuit. We must diligently seek him.

VIRTUE

Virtue involves a change in behavior; conforming our life to a code of conduct of moral and ethical principles, moral excellence.

In other words, we recognize our previous behavior as being out of line with this moral code. We repent, we turn from our former way of life and begin striving to make our actions conform to that which is pleasing to God. (1John 3:22)

KNOWLEDGE

Learning the truth is so amazing and awe inspiring that we wonder how we could have ever believed otherwise. How could we have been so deceived for so long?
We need to be particularly careful though that once we know the truth and have increased in knowledge that we don’t get stuck there. It’s possible that we can become vain in our new found knowledge of the truth. Knowledge puffs up but charity (love) edifies. (1Cor 8:1)

Eph 3:13-19  Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.  (14)  For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,  (15)  Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,  (16)  That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;  (17)  That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,  (18)  May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;  (19)  And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. [partakers of His divine nature]

TEMPERANCE (Self-Control)

Gaining self-control is a lifetime endeavor as we struggle to mortify the deeds of the body (Rom 8:13) and to bring our body into subjection, we find that it’s not an instantaneous process but one that requires effort and diligence over time. This is the struggle Paul described within himself in Romans 7, doing those things he knows he shouldn’t and not doing those things he knows he should. We must strive to have complete dominion and control over our minds and bodies for the purpose of perfecting our Christian character, valuing greater the Kingdom of God and pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus above all else. (Php 3:14)

PATIENCE

Many of us have heard the expression, “Oh Lord give me patience, and give it to me now!” Or, “Lord, give me patience, because if you give me strength, I’m gonna need bail money to go with it!”

Patience is something we learn over time. It is knowing that in and of ourselves we can do nothing (John 5:30) but must rely on God to bring it about in His good time. We cannot by our own efforts add one cubit to our stature (Matt 6:27) but must learn to wait on the Lord and His perfect timing and to weary not in well doing in the meantime.

GODLINESS

Piety, devout, reverent and a devotion well-pleasing to God. Godliness goes further than virtue. It is being always mindful of God. If only it could be said of us what is said of Enoch and Noah that he “walked with God”. (Gen 5:22; Gen 6:9; Mic 6:8)

BROTHERLY KINDNESS

There’s an expression in the world that familiarity breeds contempt. Meaning that the more we get to know people the less we like them even to the point of holding them in contempt. But in God’s Church, the more we get to know our brothers and sisters in Christ, and understand the trials they’ve been through and the lessons they’ve learned along the way, the more we enjoy them and learn from them and grow to love them. As we reveal to each other our own weaknesses and mistakes in humility, others find they can relate to it and it draws us together. As James 5:16 says, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.”

Christ gave us a new commandment, sometimes called the 11th Commandment – to love one another (John 13:34-35; John 15:9-13)

CHARITY (LOVE)

It’s one thing to show love to those who are like-minded and share in the values and beliefs we hold dear. It’s yet another thing entirely to love those who are not of the faith, to love our neighbors as ourselves, to show that ‘agape’ unconditional love even to our enemies despite how they treat us and how they trample the word of God underfoot. (Matt 7:6)

When we watch the people around us running to and fro in their quest for gold and in their pursuit of pleasures, trying to impress others, and coping with the pressures of this life but without the solace of God, do we hold them in contempt for their ignorance of God and his ways or do we look upon them in love remembering that we once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the powers of the air, living in the lust of our flesh, and of our minds? (Eph 2:1-3) Do we get aggravated with them, or do we say instead, “there but for the grace of God, go I?” Or “forgive them Father for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) Or “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.” (Acts 7:60)

There will come a time, if we live long enough, when we will be persecuted for no other reason than that we proclaim Christ, we will be hated without cause. (John 15:18-25) How about then? Will we be able to bless them and curse them not, praying for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you? (Rom 12:14; Matt 5:43-44) I dare say that probably most of us are not there yet. I know I’m not.
Luke 6:27-35 (NKJV)  “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, (28) bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. (29) To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. (30) Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. (31) And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. (32) “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. (33) And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. (34) And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. (35) But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.

1Cor 13:1-3 (NKJV)  Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. (2) And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. (3) And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

1John 4:16-19  And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.  (17)  Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.  (18)  There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.  (19)  We love him, because he first loved us.
So as we prepare our hearts to renew our covenant with our God and maker, let’s be diligent to make our calling and election sure and strive to be perfect in love even as our Father in heaven is perfect. (Matt 5:48) For in this way an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.


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Who Am I

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I strive to be as the Bereans spoken of in Acts 17:10-11 receiving the word with all readiness of mind, and searching the scriptures daily, whether those things are so. Check up on me in your own bible. Should you find me in error please let me know immediately. We must prove all things (1Thes 5:21) and rightly divide the word of truth (2Tim 2:15) together lest we be deceived. (Matt 24:24)

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Micah 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

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