Peter is one of my favorite Bible characters. Maybe it’s because he’s so relatable. He messes up. Then he messes up again. At times, his faith is so evident—like when he cut off Malchus’ ear in an attempt to prevent the arrest of Jesus (John 18). Yet, at other times (in this case the very same night!), he denies the Lord he was just attempting to defend—not once or twice but three times. It seems like Jesus and his purpose were a mystery to Peter. He was quick to act and speak, but his understanding of the true ministry and mission of Jesus was lacking. However, by the time Peter wrote his second letter to the persecuted believers, he referred to Jesus as “our God and Savior Jesus Christ.” After witnessing Christ’s death and resurrection, Peter had a full understanding of Christ’s mission on earth.
It makes me think about often I respond the same way. With the benefit of history and God’s Word, I have a clear understanding of all that Christ has done for me and what is required of me in return. I have a head knowledge of what to do, but my heart response doesn’t always match up. Many days my life doesn’t look very changed by the truth I know and, like Peter, I mess up again and again.
Peter was challenging his readers in the same way. He wanted them not just to KNOW the truth about God, but to LIVE it out. And I love that Peter doesn’t begin this passage with something they need to do. Instead, he starts by reminding them what God has already done for them. My striving will never work. Only Jesus can guarantee my salvation.
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.
(2 Peter 1:3-4. ESV)
In the verses 5-7, Peter shares a progressive list of qualities that should be the natural outpouring of a heart devoted to following Christ. I love how each quality builds on the next–our foundation of faith should ultimately result in love for others.
I also love that Peter starts this list by saying “make every effort” but concludes by reminding his readers that Jesus has called them and ensures their salvation. As believers, we are called to know Christ and grow in our faith and knowledge of Him and show His love to others. Peter is clear that the consequences of not doing so are dire: ineffectiveness and unfruitfulness (2 Peter 1:8) If my faith is not bearing fruit, something is wrong. But Peter is also clear that these qualities are not prerequisites for salvation. They do not secure or ensure my salvation; they will be the natural outpouring of a gracious heart that seeks to know God.
Father, like Peter, I have so many flaws and imperfections. Help me to continue growing in my understanding of your great love and sacrifice for me. May my life be characterized by faith in You, growth that makes me more like You, and a love for others that represents You.