Faith for Everything that God has Promised

Sandeep Poonen

2 Peter 1:4-5 – 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge…
Peter, the uneducated fisherman but inspired by the Holy Spirit, shows me the most amazing benefit of the New Covenant:We can be partakers of the Divine Nature!
How do I partake of (Greek word koinonia also translated as fellowship with) the Divine Nature? Is this the result of years of faithfully living for Jesus? No, the right to fellowship with the Divine Nature is available to all Christians the moment they are born again. When we are born again, we are born of the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit of God comes to reside in our hearts (spirits), and He testifies that we are now children of God (Romans 8:16). So our ability to fellowship with the Divine Nature (the Holy Spirit) begins the moment we are born again through faith.
And what does this fellowship with the Holy Spirit look like? It is feasting on God’s precious and magnificent promises (v4). Like a baby gaining nutrients from its mother’s milk, we as newborn babes must repeatedly feast on God’s promises; this is how we first grow (1 Peter 2:2-3).
 Feasting on the promises of God is what feeds our faith. It is only ON TOP OF THAT FAITH that we apply diligence, moral excellence, knowledge, selfcontrol, perseverance, godliness, brother kindness, and love (2 Peter 1:5-8). We can sometimes think that partaking of the divine nature is reserved for those who first bear these various fruits of the Spirit. But that’s wrong. We have fellowship with the Divine Holy Spirit from the start. This establishes our faith (dependence and confidence in God). And our faith gets stronger as we feast on God’s promises, which in turn gives us the strength for all that we are asked to do (the virtues described in v5-8).
What does this life of growing faith look like? Romans 5:8-11– 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
 This passage gives me three tremendous benefits of the New Covenant established by Jesus. All of these three benefits are accessed by our faith. And none of them are available because of our relative goodness, past family or cultural heritage, hours of prayer and fasting, etc.
  • Justified and reconciled (v8-10)

 This is the first benefit that we have in Christ. And if we read this passage, we see who this benefit applies to: Sinners (v8) and enemies of God (v10).
You can’t get any worse than being an enemy of God. To be an enemy of God is to say through one’s life, “I hate you God!” It is to such evil people that God offers the very first benefit of the New Covenant as a free gift to all who will believe Him: To be reconciled and justified.
Reconciliation with God means that God extends His peace to us. He has always loved us, even though we were enemies to Him because of our sin. And He proved it by offering His beloved and perfect Son Jesus to face the full consequences of our sins. Because of Jesus’s willingness to face the judgment of our sins, peace with God is our first great benefit.
But justification goes further. To be justified is to be counted righteous and morally perfect. This is much more than just being seen as innocent. It is to be perfectly obedient to God as well.
Adam and Eve were innocent when they were first created. And they remained innocent as they spent their first day resting with God (the 7th day of creation). But they were not proved righteous; they were merely innocent. And when they were tempted by the serpent thereafter, they failed the test to be righteous. And with that, they lost their innocence as well.
Jesus was different. He was born of the Holy Spirit, and He lived for over 33 years, and was tempted in all points as we are (Hebrews 4:15). After all of that, God attested to Him that He was perfectly righteous (Romans 3:21-26; 1 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 4:14-5-10).
So rather than expressing being justified as “just as if I’d never sinned,” it is even being viewed by God as “just as if I’d always and perfectly obeyed!”
I believe that embracing our reconciliation and justification in Christ is the BIGGEST step that a Christian ever has to make. We often think that being born again is just the first baby step of a Christian. But this is why the conversions of so many Christians is shallow, premature, or even non-existent. The biggest step of faith that we Christians ever make, is to believe that Jesus loved us and died for us when we were still sinners and enemies of God. We must continue to be established (rooted and grounded) in this love of God shown towards us in the very beginning. If we do this, we’ll easily find the faith required for everything else.
  • Salvation (v9-10)

 Paul’s use of the phrase “much more” in verses 9 and 10 also tells me that if God has reconciled and justified me, then all the more will God save me by the resurrection life of Jesus.
This “all the more” attitude of faith is critical as we seek to be saved from our sins. If God can take us who were His enemies and call us perfectly righteous in Christ (by the death of Jesus Christ), then He can surelyalso save us from the power that our sins have over us (by the resurrection life of Jesus Christ).God’s love was proved to the fullest in the death of His beloved Son Jesus. That was the greatest act of love that could ever be made, and God did just that for us. So we can be sure that He will gladly give us everything else as well (Romans 8:32).
 The gospel of Jesus is that we are not saved by self-denial oryears of penance. We are saved by our continued and persistent dependence on Jesus, seeking that HIS life flow through us, rather than continue to live by our selfish interests and passions (Galatians 2:20-21).
 The story of the ten lepers in Luke 17:11-19 shows us the true virtue of the one Samaritan leper that caused him to be saved as well as healed. All ten lepers received healing as they obeyed the words of Jesus. But after being healed, nine of them continue to pursue their reconciliation back into society (by going to the priest to attest that they were no longer lepers). But the one Samaritan leper set aside his desire to be accepted back into society, and saw a relationship with the living Jesus as far more important. He rushed back to find Jesus, because Jesus was more important than his healing. This is why the one leper received a second blessing from his continued faith in Jesus (beyond just his own healing), namely, salvation!
If we are content with simply being reconciled with God, we will not find salvation from our sins. But if Jesus and longing for His resurrection life to flow through us are most important to us, then we will find salvation from our sins.
  • Exulting in God (v11)

The Christian life is not merely a life of OUR justification and OUR salvation. If it were so, our end would remain selfish and ultimately ugly. No, we must see that the real joy of being a Christian is in our deep rejoicing (exultation) in God on account of Jesus Christ.
 We see this in the story of this one Samaritan leper. He came back to Jesus glorifying God with a loud voice and falling at the feet of Jesus.
 What is critical to note hereis that this was not an obedience to a command. This was the natural response of this one Samaritan.Because we can easily make a formula out of this. Ever since Adam and Eve ate out of tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we humans love to make formulas to determine good and evil. So we can use the story of the ten lepers to make a formula of how we must respond to God. But the result is always death (Genesis 2:17).
Our gratitude to God is not a command to be obeyed. The actions of gratitude must be a RESPONSE to God. And if we cannot find it in our hearts to be grateful to God, then we have not comprehended the love of God ALREADY SHOWN TO US, when He died for us while we were still enemies. We have to go back and meditate on the cross on which Jesus died, and humble ourselves of the deep pride that can think lightly of that.
 We are only able to spiritually progress to the extent to which we recognize God’s love for us on Calvary. All other progress is man-made and will not last in the final day.
 May God help us live this glorious life!