by Steven Chan
The church in Klang desires to be a Growing and God-glorifying congregation.
The Bible teaches all disciples of Christ to grow spiritually as individuals as well as to contribute towards the growth of the body of Christ of which every disciple is a member.
Here’s why. It is because God wants us to successfully enter “into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (1:11)
In that epistle, the apostle Peter was not writing about the entrance into the body of Christ here on earth. One is added into the body of Christ (His church) when one obeys the gospel by being baptized into Him (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:47; Rom 6:3-5; I Cor 12:13; Gal 3:26-28). Rather, Peter was discussing about baptized believers not losing their faith and missing the entrance into heaven at the second coming/revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Pet 1:3-9). The apostle Peter referred to it in 1 Peter 1:4-5 as the living hope “reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time .” In Heb 9:28, the Bible says: “so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”
Indeed God has given us some very precious gifts as highlighted by the apostle Peter in his second epistle to those who have “obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ”:-
- God has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us (1:3)
- God has given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, (1:4)
Indeed, “for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”(John 3:16-17)
In view of the precious promises from God, the Bible tells us in 2 Peter 1:5 that “ for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith”.
In other words, if one really wants to enter kingdom of God reserved in heaven, one should not be contented with just having faith in Jesus Christ even though faith is a necessary condition for salvation. The bible says “faith alone” is insufficient to ensure our salvation: “Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead….For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”(James 2:17, 26).
God wants us to “add to our faith”. That is we are to grow in our faith . We are not to remain at faith only. We need to add other attributes to our faith. Such additions are necessary so that we do not stumble in our walk with God; it will facilitate our entrance into the everlasting kingdom of God:
“Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”(2 Peter 1:10-11)
So, what are we required to add to our faith?
The Bible tells us: “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness.”(2 Peter 1:5-9)
We are to add or grow the following attributes in our lives if we want to gain a triumphant entry into the everlasting kingdom of God:–
- Add Virtue: translated from the original Greek word “arête” which according to Vine’s Dictionary, “properly denotes whatever procures pre-eminent estimation for a person or thing; hence, “intrinsic eminence, moral goodness, virtue”. This refers to the attribute of having the courage of our conviction to speak the truth in love and to live in accordance with the truth. Peter and John exhibited this virtue in Acts 4:18-20: “And they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:13-14: “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.”
The lack of this virtue is the reason why some will end up in the lake of fire, the second death (Rev 21:8) – because they are “cowardly, or fearful”.
When we don’t have the moral courage to acknowledge Jesus and His teachings, we would be guilty of shrinking back from confessing Christ (Mark 8:38; Heb 10:38-39). The absence of this important virtue is a major reason for “unfruitfulness and barrenness in one’s life”.
- Add Knowledge: translated from the Greek word, “gnosis” which according to Vine’s Dictionary, primarily “a seeking to know, an enquiry, investigation” denotes, in the NT, “knowledge,” especially of spiritual truth. This refers to increasing one’s knowledge of God’s word and the practice thereof, such that one becomes “skilled in the word of God such that one’s senses are trained so as to be able to discern both good and evil” (Heb 5:12-14). Indeed, we should not be guilty of “having a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.”(Rom 10:2) for “God’s people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”(Hos 4:6). But knowledge alone is insufficient because the Bible warns that “knowledge puffs up, but love edifies”(1 Cor 8:1)
iii. Add “self control or temperance” translated from the Greek word, “enkrateia” which according to Vine’s Dictionary, is better rendered “self-control”. Not just the abstinence from intoxicating substance but the controlling power of our will must be brought into subjection always to the paramount will of God. “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any” (1 Cor 6:12). So, one must hold back one’s “passions and desires” and bring them under subjection to Christ (2 Cor 10:5). One who follows the teaching of the Spirit of God will make every effort to bear the fruit of that compliance with the teaching of the Spirit by manifesting “self control” in all aspects of one’s life. Lack of self-control resulting in “hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions” are “works of the flesh” (Gal 5:20)
- Add patience: translated from the Greek word, “hupomone” which according to Vine’s Dictionary, lit., “an abiding under” (hupo, “under,” meno, “to abide”), is almost invariably rendered “patience.” It refers to perseverance: to stay the course even under the most challenging and adverse conditions. According to James 1:2-4, patience (continuing enduringly and persisting at all times and especially under trials) is needed to make us “perfect and complete”: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” The danger to our hope is that of “giving up” when the going gets tough. The Bible encourages us to keep on keeping on: “Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise” (Heb 10:35-36).
Unfortunately, we have seen many falling by the wayside for lack of patience or perseverance. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”(1 Cor 15:58). Never, never, never, give up your faith or hope in God!
- Add godliness: translated from the Greek word, “ eusebeia” which according to Vine’s Dictionary, is “from eu, “well,” and sebomai, “to be devout,” denotes that piety which, characterized by a Godward attitude, does that which is well-pleasing to Him.” The Bible says in Titus 2:11-13: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” We must decide not to be conformed to this world but to be transformed into the image of Christ by being determined to, at all times, do that which pleases God, out of respect of God as well as love for Him (Rom 12:1-2; 2 Cor 5:9; Heb 12:28-29; John 14:15)
- Add brotherly kindness: translated from the Greek word, “philadelphia” which according to Thayer, refers to “the love which Christians cherish for each other as brethren”. Our Lord commanded in John 13:34-35: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Our faith in God cannot be lived in isolation, away from our association with fellow believers. Jesus adds to His body of fellow believers so that we may be able to help support each other so that all may grow up into Christ (I Cor 12:12, 18; Eph 4:11-16)
So, we are under charge by God to bear one another’s burden (Gal 6:2), encourage one another (Heb 3:12-13) and we are not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together for the purpose of stirring one another unto further love and good works (Heb 10:24-25).
This is because of our “love of the brotherhood – the strongest attachment to Christ’s flock; feeling each as a member of your own body.”(Adam Clarke). Have we grown or developed this important attribute?
vii. Finally, add love: translated from the Greek word, “agape”. This is the love for God and for our fellow men. The Bible says in 1 John 4:16: “And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” In Mark 12:29-32, Jesus highlighted the necessity of loving God and our fellow men when He answered: “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. 30’ And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Love is the distinguishing mark of the Christian as it best characterizes our heavenly Father (John 13:34-35; 1 John 4:16); it is also the motivating force for the Christian (I Cor 13; 2 Cor 5:14). The apostle Paul wrote in Col 3:14: “But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.” This love is shown by our deeds: “let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:18)
We can grow by constantly “feeding on the word of God” :”Therefore, laying aside all malice, all guile, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, 2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious” (1 Peter 2:1-3).
This consumption of the word of God is not merely the reading and studying of the Word but also “ingesting” (swallowing and absorbing) it so that it affects/influences all our thoughts and mind (Psa 119:9-11) such that it can then produce in our conduct the fruit of the Spirit (Rom 8:6-9, 12-15, 26-27; Gal 5:16-18).
James used the word “implanted” word of God, translated from the Greek, “emphuto”, which means according to Vine’s Dictionary, “rooted” (from emphuo, “to implant” – James 1:21), the “rooted word,” i.e., a word whose property it is to root itself like a seed in the heart.” The seed (the word of God – Luke 8:11) that is sown in the heart needs to grow roots deep into the heart and then it ought to produce the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23) as God gives the increase or causes that growth through the transforming power of His word, which is the sword of the Spirit (1 Cor 3:5-9; Eph 3:16; 6:17): “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”(2 Cor 3:18).
Let us be diligent and commit ourselves to grow unto maturity (i.e. unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ – Eph 4:13) through “living by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matt 4:4) and allowing it to transform our lives such that we become the “fragrance of Christ” among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.(2 Cor 2:14-17). Remember that we will be judged by what we have done and not by what we know (Rev 20:12).
Let us grow in our faith and add all the necessary attributes of transformed lives so that we may not stumble and thereby may gain successful entrance into the eternal kingdom of God.