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His Divine Power Has Given…  2 Peter 1:3

22 Aug

 

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by his own glory and goodness. (2 Peter 1:3)

At some point in our life, we must realize and then admit that God’s calling the shots. He’s running the show. Either He’s in full control or He’s off His throne.

Why would we want it any other way? Deity means power. It’s guided by His glory and goodness.  At some point we’re forced to pray a simple reality: Dear God, be good to me; The sea is so wide, And my boat is so small.[1]

The apostle Paul identifies the divine power referred to here as “the power of His resurrection” (see Phil. 3:10; 4:13). This power is the third resource for godly living that Peter lists in this letter (v. 1). by glory and virtue: These words suggest the qualities of Jesus that attract believers to Him. The glory that John saw in Jesus (see John 1:14) was His authority and power. The glory that Peter saw probably was manifested at the Transfiguration (vv. 16–18). Jesus’ virtue is His moral excellence that continually awed His disciples.

These are unique expressions in the New Testament. The divine power is the power God used in raising Christ from the dead and is that same power is available to the church (Eph. 1:19, 20). This divine power has provided us with the spiritual ability to live a godly life. The divine nature is the nature that characterizes God, the nature that is expressed in holiness, virtue, righteousness, love, and grace (see 1:5–7). By being regenerated with the divine nature, believers can exhibit the same characteristics.

The genuine Christian is eternally secure in his salvation and will persevere and grow because he has received everything necessary to sustain eternal life through Christ’s power. godliness. To be godly is to live reverently, loyally, and obediently toward God. Peter means that the genuine believer ought not to ask God for something more (as if something necessary to sustain his growth, strength, and perseverance was missing) to become godly, because he already has every spiritual resource to manifest, sustain, and perfect godly living.

“Knowledge” is a key word in 2 Peter (vv. 2,5,6,8; 2:20; 3:18). Throughout Scripture, it implies an intimate knowledge (Amos 3:2), and is even used for sexual intercourse (Gen. 4:1) The knowledge of Christ emphasized here is not a superficial knowledge, or a mere surface awareness of the facts about Christ, but a genuine, personal sharing of life with Christ, based on repentance from sin and personal faith in Him (cf. Matt. 7:21).

This call, as always when mentioned in the NT epistles, is the effectual call to salvation (cf. 1 Pet. 1:15; 2:21; 5:10; see note on Rom. 8:30). This saving call is based on the sinner’s understanding of Christ’s revealed majesty and moral excellence evidencing that He is Lord and Savior. This implies that there must be a clear presentation of Christ’s person and work as the God-Man in evangelism, which attracts men to salvation (cf. 1 Cor. 2:1,2). The cross and resurrection most clearly reveal His “glory and virtue.”[2]

Peter is describing the process by which a relationship with Jesus Christ is communicated to the world at large. He says four things. First of all, he says it is His divine power that has accomplished all this. Everyone in the world wants to tap into divine power, to find within himself, in some sense, the divine life, and to tap into that. Or he wants to find it somewhere else, so that he may share in that life. That is the great concern because every man knows that somehow he has the potential to be godlike. That is his desire, if only he had the power to do it. Somehow he senses, think intuitively, that only God can be godlike, and therefore he has to find that godlike spark or life or however it is described either within himself or somewhere else. By so doing, he can then fulfill his destiny.

The second thing Paul tells us is that this divine power has to do with life and godliness. That is, it relates to every area of life. Not only life in the sense of the observable, the visible, the mundane–but also piety (the word Peter uses), godliness, the realm of the Spirit. This divine power, he says, has relevance not only for the here and now, but it has to do with spiritual things as well. That is, it touches all of life.

It concerns the use of our resources now. It concerns the problems that you face right now. This power has to do with issues just like that, not merely things that happen when you are gathered together as a body of believers here, or when you are doing something that is obviously spiritual. Paul is saying that this power has to do with all of life.

Paul identifies this power as “the power of his resurrection” (Philippians. 3:10). It is a power which all true believers possess which enables them, if they choose to count on it, to do “all things through Christ who strengthens” (Philippians. 4:13). Thus any failure to live a godly life is due to our weakness or folly and not to God’s lack of supply. As has been suggested, this power is meted to us as our knowledge of God and Jesus increases.

The Christian life begins with saving faith, faith in the person of Jesus Christ. But when you know Jesus Christ personally, you also experience God’s power, and this power produces “life and godliness.” 

When you are born into the family of God by faith in Christ, you are born complete. God gives you everything you will ever need “for life and godliness.” Nothing has to be added! God never has to call back any of His “models” because something is lacking or faulty.

Jesus Christ is the Messiah of life and godliness. What is meant by life and godliness? It means all things that are necessary for life.

First, life is the energy, the force, and the power of being. The life which Jesus Christ gives is a life of energy, force, and power.  Whatever is necessary for life is given by Christ. He longs for man to live, to have an abundance of life; therefore He gives all things that will make a person overflow with life.

Second, godliness is living like God and being a godly person. It is living life like it should be lived. God gave man life; therefore, God knows what life should be, and above all things life should be godly just like God.

The word “godliness” (eusebeian) actually means to live in the reverence and awe of God; to be so conscious of God’s presence that one lives just as God would live if He were walking upon earth. It means to live seeking to be like God; to seek to possess the very character, nature, and behavior of God. The man of God follows and runs after godliness. He seeks to gain a consciousness of God’s presence—a consciousness so intense that he actually lives as God would live if He were on earth.

It is impossible for that man to despair who remembers that his Helper is omnipotent. What God expects us to attempt, He also enables us to achieve.

Recently while reading J. Sidlow Baxter, I came across this statement. “Far too many Christians live their life on the battery system.” He went on to explain that as a boy he had ridden on battery driven street cars. When the battery was charged all was well; but when it went dead, so was the street car. Baxter goes on to make this comparison: There are Christian believers who seem to run their spiritual life and service on that system. They go to a convention on the deeper life and when they return they are altogether different, for three weeks. Or they read some powerful Christian biography and as they close the book they say, “Now my life will never be the same.” Nor is it, for three weeks. Some Christians go from crisis to crisis, convention to convention, seminar to seminar, book to book, but have a lot of dead spots in between. They seem to rely on these experiences rather than on Christ.

History tells us that when Crowfoot, the chief of the Blackfoot nation in southern Alberta, gave the Canadian Pacific Railway permission to lay track from Medicine Hat to Calgary, he was given in exchange a lifetime railroad pass.  Reportedly, Crowfoot put the pass in a leather pouch and wore it around his neck for the rest of his life — but he never once availed himself of the rights and privileges it spelled out.  What a tragedy it is when Christians do the same thing with the Word of God, using it as a decorative badge of Christianity, but never availing themselves of the wealth of access to God’s thoughts it affords.

Waste of power is a tragedy. God does not waste the great power of his Spirit on those who want it simply for their own sake, to be more holy, or good, or gifted. His great task is to carry on the work for which Jesus sacrificed his throne and his life–the redemption of fallen humanity.[3]

Martin Luther King, Jr.  offered this encouragement, “So I say to you, seek God and discover Him and make Him a power in your life. Without Him all of our efforts turn to ashes and our sunrises into darkest nights. Without Him life is a meaningless drama with the decisive scenes missing. But with Him we are able to rise from the fatigue of despair to the buoyancy of hope. With Him we are able to rise from the midnight of desperation to the daybreak of joy. St. Augustine was right–we were made for God and we will be restless until we find rest in Him.”

Over lunch, British writer G.K. Chesterton once expounded to fellow writer Alexander Woollcott on the relationship between power and authority.  “If a rhinoceros were to enter this restaurant now, there is no denying he would have great power here.  But I should be the first to rise and assure him that he had no authority whatever.” Chesterton’s vivid example is right.  There is a profound difference between power and authority — and Jesus possessed both.

In his book Forever Triumphant, F.J. Huegel told a story that came out of World War II. After General Jonathan Wainwright was captured by the Japanese, he was held prisoner in a Manchurian concentration camp. Cruelly treated, he became “a broken, crushed, hopeless, starving man.” Finally the Japanese surrendered and the war ended. A United States army colonel was sent to the camp to announce personally to the general that Japan had been defeated and that he was free and in command. After Wainwright heard the news, he returned to his quarters and was confronted by some guards who began to mistreat him as they had done in the past. Wainwright, however, with the news of the allied victory still fresh in his mind, declared with authority, “No, I am in command here! These are my orders.” Huegel observed that from that moment on, General Wainwright was in control.

Huegel made this application: “Have you been informed of the victory of your Savior in the greatest conflict of the ages? Then rise up to assert your rights. Never again go under when the enemy comes to oppress. Claim the victory in Jesus’ Name.” Huegel observed, “We must learn to stand on resurrection ground, reckoning dead the old-creation life over which Satan has power, and living in the new creation over which Satan has no power whatever.

Hudson Taylor said, “Many Christians estimate difficulty in the light of their own resources, and thus they attempt very little, and they always fail. All giants have been weak men who did great things for God because they reckoned on His power and His presence to be with them.” Like David, who said, “The battle is the Lord’s” (1 Sam 17:47), we also need to understand that Jesus is our source, and we can be directly connected to Him.

How’s your power source?  Are you plugged in?  In his book Spiritual Stamina, Stuart Briscoe tells the story of a man who bought a new computer.  Bringing his new prize home, he carefully opened the box, gingerly took the machine out, studied its manual, and connected the wires.  Eagerly he flipped on the power switch — but nothing happened.  Puzzled, the man switched the computer off and rechecked all the connections. He rounded up a screwdriver and fastened the wires more securely.  He read again the relevant portion of the manual.  Satisfied that he’d followed directions, he flipped the computer on — and again nothing happened.  As his anger rose the man’s little girl walked into the room.

“Hi, Daddy!” her cheery voice rang out.  “What a pretty computer! Can I plug it in?”

We are not told that Jesus ever taught His disciples how to preach, but He taught them how to pray. He wanted them to have power with God; then He knew they would have power with man.[4]

Two significant points are made, points that are absolutely essential for us to heed if we wish to have real life. Note where life comes from. It does not come from man himself; life is not in and of man himself. Man dies. He is a dying creature, always in the process of dying, always moving onward toward the grave. Man is as good as dead. And in the process of dying, he experiences all kinds of trials and sufferings such as sickness, disease, accident, emptiness, loneliness, corruption, evil, shortcomings, failures, lies, thefts, killings, wars, and death after death of friends and loved ones.

Man has anything but life; at best he only exists for a few years that are ever so short and frail. Where then can man find life? Who has the power to stop the process of death and to deliver us from death? No man has such power. But note this verse: there is “divine power,” the very power of Christ Himself that can stop death and give us life—life abundant, life now and life eternally. This is the power of Christ, the power to save us from death and to give us life and godliness.

Note how we receive life and godliness: by the knowledge of Christ. We must know Christ personally. We must know Him as our Savior and Lord, surrendering all that we are and have to him. We must be willing to walk and share with Him all day every day, serving Him as the Lord of our lives. We must be willing to know Him by living a godly life, by actually experiencing the life of God as we walk day by day.

Christ has called us to glory and virtue. This is the very life to which He has called us: a life of glory and moral excellence both here on this earth and in heaven. We are to live pure and righteous lives, glorious lives; and when we do, He promises to give us a place in the glory and perfection of heaven. Note that this may read in the Greek: “Christ has called us by His glory and virtue.” That is, it is His glory and virtue (moral excellence) that attracts man and pulls man to seek life and godliness in Him.

Allen Gardiner experienced many physical difficulties and hardships throughout his life. Despite his troubles, he said, “While God gives me strength, failure will not daunt me.” In 1851, at the age of 57, he died of disease and starvation while serving on Picton Island at the southern tip of South America. When his body was found, his diary lay nearby. It bore the record of hunger, thirst, wounds, and loneliness. The last entry in his little book showed the struggle of his shaking hand as he tried to write legibly. It read, “I am overwhelmed with a sense of the goodness of God.” Think of that! No word of complaint, no childish whining, no grumbling at the circumstances — just praise for God’s goodness.

God knows what is good for us better than we ourselves. Let us not make the mistake of judging God’s overall plan for our lives by that portion which happened to be revealed today. God has all eternity in which to bring His plans to fulfillment for our lives. Think not in terms of today, but in terms of eternity. After all, that’s where we’ll spend most of our life.

One of the things that impresses me is that when Abraham Lincoln went off to the Black Hawk War he was a captain and, through no fault of his own, when he returned he was a private. That brought an end to his military career. Then his little shop in a country village “winked out” as he used to say, marking his failure as a businessman. As a lawyer in Springfield, Illinois, he was too impractical, too unpolished, too temperamental to be a success.

Turning to politics he was defeated in his campaign for the legislature, defeated in his first attempt to be nominated for Congress, defeated in his application to be Commissioner of the General Land Office, defeated in the Senatorial election of 1854, defeated in his aspirations for the Vice Presidency in 1856, defeated again in the Senatorial election of 1858.

Then 1861, over 100 years ago, found him in the White House as President of the United States. How did Lincoln interpret this strange succession of failures and frustrations which finally culminated in terrific personal victory? He said, “That the Almighty directly intervenes in human affairs is one of the plainest statements in the Bible. I have had so many evidences of His direction, so many instances when I have been controlled by some other power than my own will that I have no doubt that what this power comes from above.”

If we look for it, we can see the goodness of God no matter what our circumstances.

Baseball pitcher Dan Quisenberry was a three-time All-Star reliever in the 1980s. In the winter of ’96-’97 an aggressive form of brain cancer brought him low. Even so, he always emphasized the goodness of God. Following surgery to remove a tumor, Mr. Quisenberry spoke of his gratitude: “Every day I find things to be thankful for. … Sometimes it’s just seeing a little boy on a bicycle. Sometimes it’s the taste of water. It’s hard to explain.” He died in the fall of 1997 at age 45. Mr. Quisenberry’s minister, Ted Nissen, recalled a post-surgery visit. “He was on such a high, talking about how good God had been to him,” he told the Kansas City Star. “He blessed me on that visit.”

I have been shocked by the number of Christian men and women who come to their deathbeds knowing nothing about the God of love and mercy. They have known instead the Judge of impossible standards, and they have been, naturally enough, afraid to meet that God.

When we seek to win others to Christ, we must never think we possess any power in ourselves, or lead others to believe we do, through any air of superiority or lightness as we proclaim the gospel.  We would do well to heed the advice of Dr. Payson, who said,  “Paint Jesus Christ upon your canvas, and then hold Him up to the people, but hold Him up so that not even your little finger can be seen.

A party of pioneers on the Oregon Trail had suffered for weeks from a scarcity of water and grass for their animals. Most of the wagons had broken down, causing endless delays in the stifling heat. A feeling of fretfulness and futility prevailed. Optimism and cheer were gone. Courage was in limited supply.

One night the leaders called a meeting to air complaints. When they had gathered around the campfire, one man stood up and said, “Before we commence our grief session, don’t you think we should at least first thank God that he has brought us this far with no loss of life, with no serious trouble from the Indians, and that we have enough strength left to finish our journey?

The other settlers agreed. After the brief prayer, all that could be heard was the cries of a distant pack of wolves. There was otherwise stone silence around the campfire, because no one had any grievances they felt were important enough to voice. They suddenly realized if they couldn’t be satisfied with what they’d received, they could at least be thankful for what they’d escaped. Thankfulness enabled them to see the mercies of God they had been overlooking.[5]

A teacher asked the pupils to tell the meaning of loving-kindness.  A little boy jumped up and said, “Well, if I was hungry and someone gave me a piece of bread that would be kindness.  But if they put a little jam on it, that would be loving-kindness.”

God provides for us the bread…and the jam!

[1] Breton fisherman’s prayer, quoted in Celtic Blessings and Prayers, edited by Brendan O’Malley, quoted in “Reflections,” Christianity Today, Vol. 44, No. 13.

[2]MacArthur, J. J. 1997, c1997. The MacArthur Study Bible (electronic ed.) . Word Pub.: Nashville

[3] Alan Redpath in The Life of Victory. Christianity Today, Vol. 43, no. 6.

[4] Dwight L. Moody in D. L. Moody’s Little Instruction Book. Christianity Today, Vol. 43, no. 2.

[5] Gregory L. Jantz, Becoming Strong Again (Baker, 1998), quoted in Men of Integrity, Vol. 2, no. 4.

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2022 in Christian graces

 

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