Like Precious Faith - Stir You Up
2Peter 1:12-13 kjv
The Apostle Peter has covered a whole lot of doctrinal ground so far in the first eleven verses. This next section of Peter's "Like Precious Faith" discourse is very important because it grounds us back to the real lives of real people. The "like precious faith" always comes down to connecting real people to the real life real love of a very real God.
Peter had been given a charge by Jesus ( kjv@John:21:15-17); not a charge as in "ok... now you are the top boss", a charge as in "if you love me Peter... feed my sheep".
Feed my sheep what?
Of Present Truth
The truth is that because of the righteousness of God and Savior and all that that has come to mean to me, my present truth is much different than the present truth that I once was part of long ago. I think that Peter would say the same. Even considering the three years that he followed along with Jesus town to town, that was a man without regeneration and the Holy Spirit. So too was I.
In the past, when my faith reached out to love other people, it had a form of virtue and of knowledge and of temperance etc... It was a faith in myself and my abilities, a faith in luck and good fortune, a faith that I somehow would be able to help somebody. You know what? That kind of faith and love worked well for me. It wasn't this kind of faith/love that Peter is describing however.
Back then, I very much questioned God and Savior's righteousness. I wasn't at grace and peace with them, nor any form of religion. I provided for my own life and godliness. My calling was to be the best person I could make myself to be. I knew little if anything about any great and precious promises, and my escape was from divine nature rather than from the world's corruption which I was so eager to partake of. This then was the present truth I had established myself in, and though that present faith and love did often reach out to others, it did not reach out in the same way as now. It had a much different lasting effect (if it had any).
My current present truth is different in every respect. Because of what the righteousness of God and Savior have done to and for me, I have obtained a much different type of faith. THEY have quickened the once dead part of my soul. THEY have brought my soul back into a growing grace and peace with them. THEY have provided all things life and godliness related, called me into THEIR glory and virtue, fulfilled the promise of escape and partaking at great cost to THEMSELVES. This now is my present truth.
And because of this present truth, the faith and love THEY have given to me, I can share with those in need of it as well. What THEY have done now gives me the valor to extend it, to establish it, to sustain it, to advance it forward again. Moving it forward necessitates more and more practical knowledge and discernment that I would not of otherwise had to have. It develops in me a spiritual temperance unlike before, and an enduring patience, and a unfamiliar piety and reverence, along with a brotherly kindness. These things I did not have in me to this living and vibrant extent before THEY did what THEY did to me.
By the end of this diligent effort it presents itself as an AgapeLove like unto Christ's. THEIR work upon me produces THEIR fruit through me. It is clearly a different faith and a different love, and it is not so much what I am sharing as it is what I do not wish to hold back that is coming from THEM. This is the present truth Peter shall continue to remind us about.
The ultimate goal is to be established in the AgapeLove and EpignosisKnowledge of God and Jesus Christ. In order to do that we must recognize and acknowledge who God and Savior are, what THEY have come to do, who we are to THEM in that light (verses 1-4). We must also respond to THEIR considerable influence with all diligence adding these defining characteristics of "like precious faith" to our daily existence, thus allowing Christ's inevitable fruit to increase and abound (verses 5-8). Should we stumble attempting to establish ourselves on this better course (and we will) we know from whom our election and calling comes, how it comes, and that it is immutable; we get back up, repent, learn from our mistakes, move forward towards His loving arms again. This should be our "present truth"!
So if this is our new present truth, is this the present truth that we are currently established in? Why do we not see this established in any considerable form at present?
Quoted resource: strongs 'G4741'
It is interesting how Peter puts this phrase "established in the present truth". It is a compliment, I am sure, that these readers both know and are established in this present at hand truth. At the same time it is curious that in the same breath he is saying it will take him being diligent the rest of his life and beyond to stir this back up into our remembrance. It is kind of a two-edged statement; isn't it?
Is it as easy and frequent as he makes it sound for us not to keep up with this better present truth? Establishment of this type does not seem to carry any permanence to it. My own personal observance of this is that it is quite easy to oscillate and vacillate between the two present states. If I told you any different I would be lying to you. It seems to be part of our fallen nature.
I also fear that alongside of the purer type of present truth over the centuries that we have also developed a institutionalized form of present truth that we often fall back on out of familiarity and public safety. We do "these things" in a lesser way because that is the way others do it, that's the way our denomination has done "these things" for centuries now, it is the only way we know to do "these things". Established? Yes we are. In something similar, but not the same.
Here is part of the problem: we live in a much different age. The saints of that day had the Apostles to establish them from the start. It all was new. There was no model other than Judaism it had to compete with it. Most of Peter's readers were Jewish converts. Most Jews at the time considered Christianity as a compatible sect of Judaism early on. This compatibility soon wore off and it became more and more the problem and hardship that the community was having to address. But, there was no original intent to separate the two until it became too difficult to continue side by side down that path. Peter would be addressing his original readers to overcome these growing concerns in this "like precious" manner with "these things". Theological yes, but in a very organic person to person daily means.
In our day we have over two thousand years of settling. Occasionally there will be a revival or reformation to stir the pot up. For the most part though we are in a state of settling back down into our sedentary forms of worship and faith. Tradition and ritual have taken root and become the trunk. "These things" exist in a more compromised peaceable uninspired form. They are the influence of institution rather than the influence of the righteousness of God and Savior. Peter's counsel to us would be exactly the same. Theological yes, but in a very organic person to person daily means.
The modern problem has gotten worse recently. Affluence has replaced influence. Christians are willing to be virtuous, as long as it has little consequence on their affluence. They are willing to be knowledgable, as long as what they know doesn't set them apart from the world. They are willing to be temperate, temperate as in so not to disturb. Patient, as long as it does not require them to endure. Be pious, in an acceptable impious way. Be kind to brethren, as long as the brethren do not put them in an unfavorable light. They are willing to love, as long as love doesn't mean too much sacrifice. There are entire mega-churches filled with this type of affluent Christian. In comparrison to Christians in less affluent parts of the world, I guess that we all are this type to one extent or another.
What we lack is the influence of Christ, the immediate recognition and living acknowledgement of who He is, what He has done, why He did it, what and how much that is to mean to us. We lack the knowledge and establishment of a better spiritually driven present truth. And I can tell you how it is that we could prove this: our lack of fruit in the EpignosisKnowledge of Jesus Christ. Theological yes, but in a very organic person to person daily means.
The present truth that has established us is one more of emotionalism and self improvement, of relativism and post-modern liberalism, scientific and economic enlightenment, of worldliness and nationalism. The influence of Christ, if ever mentioned, is the influence of a good teacher or prophetic icon.
This is not to mean that the Apostles cannot again regain their establishment. There is the "like (as in equal standing) precious faith" after all, and there is the Holy Spirit; it is just that we have to tune into a different voice and go deep into the scriptures to get back to it. It was Peter's intent by writing these things down that these thing would make it through the centuries to where they could be re-establishing to us. He as much as says so in verse 15. The Holy Spirit had instructed him to do so. The Holy Spirit has seen to it that this writing would stick all this time. In this writing Peter attempts to "stir" us up by putting us back into "remembrance" of these Apostolic faith type things.
Of Stirring Up
This is as good a time for some stirring as any other; is it not?
Who is it that goes about to do this stirring? From day one of the Christian movement it has always been the Holy Spirit. Who has it been that has set about to instruct and put us into remembrance? The same Holy Spirit. So when Peter says "Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance" (verse 13), he is speaking of the work of the Holy Spirit.
John 14:26 kjv
We have not spoken much yet of the Holy Spirit, but HIS role in all this we must now know.
John 16:13-15 kjv
Given the roles indicated here, we can see how essential the Spirit is to the "Like Precious Faith". For instance, take the question of EpignosisKnowledge, from where does this recognition and acknowledgement of God and Lord come? Answer: "he shall teach you all things", "He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you". Take the question of these Agape defining acts of diligence, where do they come from? Answer: "he will guide you into all truth". In fact most all of these actionable items are listed elsewhere as "fruits of the Spirit".
Now before you go thinking that the Holy Spirit has not been doing HIS job, consider that we have an equal responsibility to "walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" ( kjv@Romans:8:1).
Galatians 5:25 kjv
Ephesians 4:30 kjv
1Thessalonians 5:19 kjv
Many of late have claimed to be speaking from or guided by the Holy Spirit. It has become a tired and vacant part of Christianized speech. That is not to say that it does not happen, just that have been burnt by these false claims far too often. This however should not discourage us from the pursuit, the direction of the Holy Spirit is vital to the validity of our "like precious" faith. Discernment of the Holy Spirit is key, distinguishing HIS voice from all the many others out there is the function of the Holy Scriptures; which the Holy Spirit wrote. The best way to know HIS voice is to know and be able to compare it to HIS Holy Scripture.
Even the comparisson of Scripture has its problems. The Pharisees for instance had scripture memorized and had centuries of oral tradition to help interpret it, but were not able to do so when it came to Christ. What it comes down to is a believer's absolute sincerity towards the Lord.
Now you and I are not going to know that other man's sincerity, we are only going to know our own. We cannot trust that man's sincerity in the same respect as we can our own, therefore we must be willing and able to search these things out for ourselves from the Holy Spirit before commiting ourselves to that man's words. This is the opposite of how most Christian's operate nowadays, they place a pastor or evangelist as their proxy in place of the Holy Spirit. This might be why we are seeing what we are seeing from our "present truth".
There should be no doubt at all that a sincere man will be met by the Holy Spirit and answered. You and I must be those sincere men on our own and not take such a meaningful personal obligation inconsiderately. The influence of Christ through His Holy Spirit is for each of us to seek out as individuals first and foremost and then in a congregation of other like-minded sincere brethren; we should hope.
Theological yes, but in a very organic person to person daily means. this is what I percieve Peter to be stirring up into our remembrance.
Person by person, each person is responsible to God for their corresponding sincerity; sincere to the Lord, sincere to themselves, sincere to one another. Sincere as in "Lord... make me right with you", as in "Lord... where am I off?", as in "tune me into to the voice of your Holy Spirit", as in "Lord... may your Spirit guide me into serve you better?".
Person by person, each person is responsible to God to reach HIS love out to others; not with their own love, though that might come alongside of it, but God's love shown in full by Jesus Christ. It is risky business. Who would have thought thought reaching out with God's love would be so often ill received? Valor, knowledge, temperance, enduring, pious, brotherly? You bet, every bit so and more. This is after all a righteous God and Savior influencing us, and this is part of THEIR most righteous way.
Times past, times present, times future, it will always be the same way for sincere born again Christians. We will all encounter the same challenges and same or similar diffculties. How shall we handle these times? Just as the Holy Spirit via the pen of Peter had stirred up the saints of his time, by pointing back to the remembrance of these core foundational "like precious" things.