The Furnishings of this Faith Top Down
2Peter 1:5-8 kjv
Second sentence. We begin a very expansive section between verses 5-8 now. This may take us more than one chapter to explain but, first I would like for us to see it for the sum of its parts.
In verses 1-4 Peter has laid down the foundations of the "like precious faith" as Peter sees it. In that section it is all about God's righteousness, God's influence on the heart and oneness, God's divine power providing, God's calling and fulfillment of promises. These things make for our escape from corruption and partaking divine nature. This sturdy foundation is God's doing.
Now in verses 5-8 we have a list of items that we are to furnish this building with. These things are God given fruits of the Spirit, but notice each one is lso aan actionable item. In the recognition and acknowledgment of who they are and what they have done, we add these things, making for a fruitful productive faith.
You'll note that the list goes from this same PistisFaith mentioned in verse 1 onward through the list toward AgapeLove. Love is the ultimate destination for the "like precious faith. However, what we call love is most often not the agape form of love at all, as evidenced by our fruitlessness. For instance, our lesser form of love is often not compounded by the addition of virtue. The faith train is attempting to make its way down the tracks toward agape, but it derails at the point of virtue, manliness or valor in the pursuit of God's moral excellence. If not there, it jumps the track at the point of knowledge, or else self-restraint, etc.. on down the list. AgapeLove cannot be agape without having these agape defining traits.
The lesser form of love goes wherever it wants to go, wherever it is comfortable going. It does things just as it always has done, as best as it can think to do, to the best of its own power and resource. There is not much difference between its output and the output it would have had before these God given foundations became an influential part of it. There is very little question why this effort would come up short and fruitless as far as God would view it, because it lacks HIS influence upon it. It lacks these defining traits as listed.
The first and most telling sign when diagnosing our fruitlessness in Christ is our lack of diligence. Diligence means eagerness/earnestness/speed/dispatch. It is not that one does not have faith, it is that they give very little dispatch to the active production of these further things. Faith in Jesus merely for eventual salvation alone is enough for them, nothing broader. Faith like that has difficulty translating into a day to day diligence. Human love, not AgapeLove becomes its export.
Salvation is by faith and faith alone; the sum of all scripture is in agreement. Faith however is meant to be much broader than just salvation, it is to extend into the produce of daily life. It is not that we work to earn or sustain our salvation. It is that we are saved, and so we do all that we can to do with much dispatch in recognition and acknowledgment of the person of our Savior. His love for us is now to be our love for others. His love is defined by this list of actionable items, so then must we define our love with earnestness.
"All" is the key word here suggesting that the Christian should do nothing but these things and do this adding to/furnishing with earnest haste. All is not telling us what specific things to be doing as much as it is how "all" things should be done. All things should be done at all times in this prescribed "like precious" manner.
People are often ask their Pastor "what is God's will for me"? We tend to think in terms of employment or location; perhaps God wants me to go to seminary or bible college or the missions field etc... Before counseling a parishioner one way or the other, the pastor should be looking for signs of these productive faith traits. Does this woman or man show evidence of this "all diligence"? The diligence of adding to their faith these things? A person can be a busybody, but still not be diligent about these things. Are each of these steps evident as established in the heart and being further developed? If not, why should this person be steered toward the pastorate or the missions field etc...? Lord knows, we have enough of those fruitless people in those positions already.
There is a disconnect between what Peter is describing here and these well intended believers Pastors often find. The believer knows that what Peter is saying is important to someone. They do not see yet however how it could be of importance to them, not being in God's direct employ. It is the perception of who and what job titles are in God's employ that is confusing them.
Peter did not address this "like precious" discourse to employed Pastors and deacons and missionaries etc... He addressed this to "all who have obtained like precious faith with us". Therefore, we are all to add these things because we are all in God's employ, and we are all assigned with the task of producing well defined AgapeLove toward each other and the world at large here and now regardless of any job title. We must give all diligence to add these defining things all of the time in all present and future situations. No further delay or commission is yet necessary. If one was ever to be assigned a mission or pastorate, the task at hand would still remain the same, just that much bigger.
Take the word "All". All is not saying come back to this only when we are having personal problems. It is not saying do this only when it is convenient. It is not saying let your Pastor become all of this for you.
Take the word "Diligence". Diligence is not saying when you get around to it. It is not saying that it will be easy. If it was going to be easy to drive faith all the way to agape, it would not require from us valor or knowledge or temperance or endurance or piety or kindness. No diligence suggests that it is going to require an all consuming effort on our part. That is why most all of us never do it.
Part of the problem might be that in our modern theology we see faith as standing on its own, it is what is, it is all that it needs to be. What this faith believes in is very nebulous and what it is willing to achieve is very self-motivated. Diligence does not mean self-motivated, it means motivated by God to the point of self-sacrifice; in the better sense.
Of Besides This
"And beside this" should never escape our notice. This clause does not separate the first idea from the next. It states that because of the first idea (the foundations of 1-4) the second idea (furnishing what the foundations have built 5-8) walks alongside as a companion.
The two could be thought of independent of each other in one sense. The foundation can exist without there being the furnishings of it; we see this all the time. The diligent furnishings can exist without there being the rock solid core foundation of "obtained" belief; we see that also. But when the two entities come together, there is something more substantial than either the of two can supply alone. If allowed to do so, the foundations can influence radical transformation upon the secondary actions. The actions become a more accurate recognition and acknowledgment of the direct object for which both entities move forward - God and Savior. This "and beside this" is what it means to "have these things in you and abound". This "and beside this" is what it means to be "fruitful in the knowledge of Christ", so let us not neglect the "and beside this".
Any person, regardless of their belief in Christ, can make themselves appear virtuous, knowledgeable, temperate, patient, pious, kind, charitable. Their diligence towards these matters can be as extreme as the infamous Pharisee or local zealot.
Any person, regardless of their belief in Christ, can make it appear that they believe in the righteousness of God, the influence and oneness of God, the provisions of, the promises of, the partaking. Their faith can be as extreme and unshakable as the Rock of Gibraltar.
Rare is the person though, except for humblest of all Christians, whom the two entities walk alongside each other with. Now it is not just valor then, it is valor brought upon by the righteousness of God and Savior. It is a valor to see the righteousness take hold, be lived out, presumed and defended.
It is not just GnosisKnowledge then, it is GnosisKnowledge born of the intimate EpignosisKnowledge of God and Lord's righteousness along with grace and peace multiplied. It seeks to know who is who and what is what, how to advance the Lord's banner forward into the spiritual battlefield where the production of AgapeLove stands out.
It is not just temperance, it is temperance backed by righteousness and grace and peace that is born of excellent promises and calling. It is undistracted, disciplined, self-restrained, focused, taking aim to run its course and hit its mark.
It is not just enduring, it is enduring with the joy of righteousness, of grace and peace, of promises and calling, cheerful in the light of such liberating escape. It partakes of a nature so divine, called to a glory and virtue, surpassing any nature it could manufacture on its own. An endurance willing to not only stand for this person Christ but endure for this person Christ in the same fashion that this person of Christ stood up and endured for us.
Shall we continue through piety and kindness and agape? These things are all so much more with the foundations than what we could try to make them without. Favor one side of the "and besides this" and you might be loosing out on a "like precious" experience of obtained faith. The foundations of this faith are like the theology and the sturdy structure behind all things. The furnishings of this faith are like the practical implementations to our daily lives in which to apply it. Together they are the habitat that makes for fruitful produce in the EpignosisKnowledge of Jesus Christ.
Of Being Fruitful
And in verse 8 we come back to "in the EpignosisKnowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ". This is what we are supposed to be fruitful in; all of us.
In the Bible, it was the common everyday people that were shown as our ensamples. Some were nomads tending their herds and flocks. Some were slaves and prisoners. Some were widows or barren. A few were kings and another a queen in a foreign land. There were fisherman, tax collectors and even harlots. Some people were known for their skill at making tents and some for their treasured purple fabrics. These once living examples are our education into who God is and how HE works; through whom HE works.
Do we think our case too difficult for a God and Savior of DunamisPower? Do we think ourselves fortunate to have been saved and leave it at that? Do we think this a different age, distant from the faith and age of clear Apostles? Do we think the many branches of this most holy institution too far apart now that it cannot be stirred back into remembrance though we know and are established in the present truth? Do we think it impossible or unlikely that God would use a common man or woman to stir what Peter had been stirring back up?
Well if we think these things to be so, then there is no use for this discourse to continue. Our thoughts would no longer be biblical, why then even consider this? If however there is even the slimmest of possibilities that these things outlined by Peter are descriptive of God's ways and means, then each of us would have to decide "will I allow for these things to be in me and abound" for the glory of this God and this Savior. If so, then you and I have reason to continue on into this Apostle's discourse "like precious faith".