Fount of Every Firm Foundation - The Aerial View
2Peter 1:1 kjv
Of the Like Precious Faith
In this "Foundations Of The Like Precious Faith Series" commentary we will be exploring 2Peter chapter 1. This is the Apostle Peter's "Like Precious Faith Discourse". We will explore it in-depth by isolating certain key foundations that each of us could apply to our daily walks.
To begin, I would like to establish the sense from which his discourse flows. All these things to follow in this discourse flow from the "righteousness of God and our Savior" in verse one. Sure, one could attempt to manufacture these foundations on a smaller human scale. Perhaps by so doing they would derive some personal benefit. To obtain the fruitfulness envisioned by Peter however, Peter intends for these foundations to be the direct influence of God and Savior's righteousness upon us. Divine righteousness is the ground on which these foundations are to be planted. From that firm planting comes a different type of fruit, one that is much more tangible and abundant.
What is the "like precious faith"?
What is the cause of "like precious faith"?
How is "like precious faith" obtained?
Once we receive "like precious faith", how are we to respond?
- "God, and of Jesus our Lord" in verse 2 referring back to their full mutual disclosure of righteousness.
- "the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue" verse 3, again referring to their righteousness, but expanding it by giving it eternal direction.
- "nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" verse 8 referring to God's intended righteous effect upon man.
What shall our response then look like?
Think of "Like Precious Faith" as being a similar faith to that of the original Apostles. There is even the suggestion in the language that it is on equal standing with the Apostles. We believe in the same Jesus. We have obtained this similar faith by the same means. This faith has a similar effect on us as it did them. The fruit of it is similar across the board and across the ages.
This is not to say that we are on the same logistical level as the Apostles. It is not to mean that we are apostles in the same grand sense as were those Apostles having been the very first. It does mean that as far as cause and effect and substance our faith is part of the same abiding vine. "Can be" is key here because not all forms of faith in Jesus Christ today are equal, not as we ourselves make it. Only those forms made from the same "obtained" substance as the Apostles can be equal.
The initial root cause of the like precious faith is very well stated by Simon Peter, it is the "righteousness of God and Savior". The combination and interplay of the two persons is very important to our consideration of God's righteousness.
Before the appearance of Christ, the broadest appreciation of the righteousness of God was only hinted at by the prophets. In other words, Christ is the full embodiment or disclosure of God's righteousness. Once Christ did appear, one could look back at all that God had done up to this point and see the full declaration of God's righteousness. Now that Christ has appeared, one can look forward to the remaining prophecies and see the full declaration of God's righteousness.
Jesus said "he that has seen me has seen my Father " ( kjv@John:14:9). Until then "neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son " ( kjv@Matthew:11:27). Oh, they may have known something about HIM by historical experience or by covenant, but nothing on this level of righteousness. And it is this level of revealed righteousness alone that now causes such a thing as "like precious faith".
The mechanism behind obtaining "like precious faith" is the same for us as it was for those early Apostles. In the Greek, the concept is that the "like precious faith" is received as if by casting lots. See, in the Hebrew culture lots were not considered a game of chance as it is with us, it was a means of divining God's will. God's will steered the verdict of the lots to its proper conclusion. Raised in this Hebrew culture, Peter would have understood this mechanism in the same way. If he had meant to say something different he would have used a different word. We receive this similar faith as if by the casting of lots: God's decree of verdict.
When was Peter's lot cast? Was it the moment Andrew introduced him to Jesus there by the boat? Was it long before that? Was it from before the beginning?
When was Paul's lot cast? Was it when he was struck from his mount by a flash and clap of thunder on the road to Damascus? Was it long before that? Was it from before the beginning?
What of the other disciples? What of the publican, the prostitute, the woman at the well? When was the lot cast for any of us?
None of these people were looking for it, none expected for it to come to this, none of them deserved for this to have come, nor did it come as a result of their own intellectual pilgrimage; neither any of ours. How else could it be described and better than "it was received as if by lots"... plain and simple.
The answer to this is best explained in the word translated to English as knowledge. This word in the Greek is not what English readers would first expect the word knowledge to mean however. We would expect knowledge here to mean intellect or rational reasoning or scientific inquiry and deduction. The proper Greek word there would have been "gnosis". Peter didn't use the word "gnosis" because in truth it is not anything like that. The word gnosis used only once by Peter in verse 5. The remainder of the time, three times, Peter uses "epignosis" which has more to do with a recognition and acknowledgment.
One can recognize and acknowledge something without being able to yet intellectualize or prove it. Gravity, for instance, had long been such an epignosis to scientists, recognized even though they could not begin to scientifically explain it. In chapter context this epignosis relates to three specific things:
So then we respond by recognizing and acknowledging this righteousness of God as having its own righteous effect on us.
Up until verse 5 this discourse has been all about God and Savior, what their righteousness is and what it has provided for the saint. Having now provided grace and peace, all things pertaining to life and godliness, a calling to virtue and glory, promised escape from corruption and the partaking of divine nature, righteousness produces now a well grounded response in the heart of the saint ("and besides this").
Notice how the importance is placed on "how to do" rather than "what to do"? The influence of righteousness verses 1-4 is now made evident by the faithful, courageous, rational, temperate, patient, moral, kind, sacrificial responses of the saint. Each item compounds upon the next bringing about an uncommon fruitfulness in all that the saints sets about to do. Importance is also given to the "how much" and "how often" as indicated here by Peter's use of the phrase "giving all diligence add ".
So please now let's remember Peter's stated goal in writing this. It is likely that these are all things that we already know (verse 12). Perhaps we are even comfortable with ourselves having performed a certain measure of this. Yet, despite how we each feel about our progress in this, Peter feels that the priority (verses 12-15) placed upon his remaining life is to put us into a further remembrance of the loftier heights and deeper depths of these very things. This should prove to us the importance of getting this single matter straight.
Peter claims that a person who is lacking these things is "blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins" (verse 9). Many a faithful man is brave, many are knowledgeable, some temperate, some patient, or pious or kind; in their own sense. Many a faithful man seeks to muster up much more of his courage, search out even more knowledge, establish greater self temperance, be of the mind to endure, set a more pious example, strengthen the bonds of fellowship; in their own sense. However, many a faithful man is still barren and unfruitful also (verse 8) even with these dressings intact. This is because as faithful men we tend to go about these things by our own sense, short-sighted and or blind of the influence of God's righteous sense.
It goes to follow that this man would be this other thing because he is not under the full influence of God and Savior's righteousness, not recognizing nor acknowledging, not escaped, not partaking and therefore not diligent in the same apostolic way about these particular manners.
Rather than lack these things, Peter exhorts us instead to "give diligence to make your calling and election sure" (verse 10). A blind man has either confused his own righteousness for God's and in that become diligent, else confused God's righteousness as requiring no responding effort on his part and thus has neglected due diligence. Both men might be certain of their calling and election, yet neither man has brought their beliefs and diligence into the direct light and correction of God's actual righteousness. Should either man then be as certain as he is?
There is also the type of blindness that comes from not having any certainty as well. Uncertainty leads to doubt, fear and cowardice, slow or incorrect discernment, works based justification, things opposite the list of responding diligences according to Peter. Uncertainty is an upstream battle for the uncertain believer all the way up, and he may well end up in no particular place or position when all is completed. Such a person does not yet recognize nor acknowledge the true righteousness of God brought about to us by our Lord Jesus. They are instead rowing frantically against it.
Certainty comes by diligence then, the diligence of remaining under the Lord's light, and the certainty of His righteousness.
For a moment think of this assurance in terms of Peter as he walks away from the house of a troubled Christian that he has tried to counsel. He asks himself "how do I know that this man has like precious faith"? Many a pastor has asked this same question many a time. The answer is either:
- No, there is reason to worry about this neighbor's faith, he does not see the same effects upon him. In fact he sees the opposite: doubt and timidness and recklessness and intemperance and desperation and ungodliness and selfish accusation from him.
- Yes, he can be certain that this man has "like precious faith" because he sees the effects of God's righteousness upon the man. He sees the responding forms of virtue and knowledge and temperance and patience and godliness and kindness and agape love beginning to sprout from what was once this neighbor's previously rocky heart.
The answer is plain and simple that we are not going to know this man's condition unless the fruit of this diligence is evidenced in him. Has this man or woman obtained and built themselves up in this righteousness? They say that they believe in Jesus but, do they recognize and acknowledge the righteousness of God and Savior enough to be affected in full by it?
Of Making the Election and Calling Sure kjv@2Peter:1:10-11
- It is not God who needs to be convinced that a person has diligently made themselves worthy of His calling and election because:
- No man can make himself worthy of God's calling and election. Only the effects of God's righteousness can do that, and that as if by lots. kjv@Titus:3:5
- God called and elected the man long before the man ever set out to achieve any form of worthiness, again as if by lots. kjv@Romans:8:30
- Can God's call and election ever fail? No Sir! Why then would God need convincing of that?
- Neither is it the man who needs convincing of his worthiness of God's calling and election:
- He knows himself not worthy, especially the more epignosis of God's righteousness he receives.
- The importance here really must be given to the epignosis of God's righteousness rather than the proving of himself to God of his.
The abundant entrance spoken of in verse 11 is one that is a direct consequence of the righteous "righteousness of God and Savior's" influence. It is the recognition and acknowledgment of this that multiplies spiritual grace and peace. It is divine power then that lends "all things pertaining to life and godliness". Escape has been purchased and the means of partaking secured as promised beforehand. How could any eternal entrance be anything less than this? How could such an eternal entrance be more abundant? It all comes down to and back to the righteousness, that is the fount from where all spiritual things including faith like the apostles' are obtained.
The opposite of obtaining these many foundations and elements of faith is by means of our own righteousness. Should we would seek to come to a grace and peace with God on our own terms, provide for ourselves what is required in life and godliness, make for our own escape, partake of our own better nature, it would not ever mean the same thing. Were we to add to this our own manly valor, knowledge, temperance, endurance, piety, community and charitable love; this would be blindness and shortsightedness. Such a pursuit leaves us barren and lacking fruit in the acknowledgment and recognition of whom better God and Savior are, whom they better intend for us to be. There would be no assurance of our calling and election because it is not the measure of God and Christ's righteousness getting us there. We would have called and elected ourselves, it would be our own measure; which often falters. There would be no abundance surrounding our eternal entrance. Abundance on a human scale perhaps, but nothing towards entering the eternal kingdom.
No, "like precious faith" cannot be based upon our righteousness, no matter how righteous or how devoted to the service of God our own righteousness thinks that it might be. I am afraid, though, that this is the manner in which we most often approach our Christian faith. It is as if to say yes Christ is righteous, but now it is time for us to be righteous by our own effort and summoning in like manner. There can be no doubt why it is that we Christians remain fruitless in this time of great opposition. Nor can there be any doubt as to why Peter is having this discourse with us even centuries after his decease. It is because of our tendency to fight this fight by our power and righteousness and not by God's.
So now friends we have a top down aerial view of Peter's first chapter, his discourse on the "like precious faith". Having the better sense of its flow and direction, now we can begin digging into the particulars of this faith.