So, having blogged about how it is possible for one who has answered the call to heaven to lose out in the last topic we looked at the logical question becomes how do we avoid such an end? Since God loves us and wants us to succeed and gain the crown offered (James. 1:12; 1 Pet. 5:6-7; Rev. 2:10; 20:4-6) he leaves us in no doubt as to how to be successful. It is through character development.
Peter wrote to the Christian Church in his day on the subject and gave them a simple plan for Character development and success. His words are found in 2 Peter 1:4-8:
Through these he has given us his precious and wonderful promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, seeing that you have escaped the corruption that is in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, you must make every effort to supplement your faith with moral character, your moral character with knowledge, your knowledge with self-control, your self-control with endurance, your endurance with godliness, your godliness with brotherly kindness, and your brotherly kindness with love. For if you possess these qualities, and if they continue to increase among you, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in attaining a full knowledge of our Lord Jesus, the Messiah. (ASV)
Let’s have a look at each of the character traits Peter mentions:
Faith: Faith is the first virtue mentioned. Fortunately for us we have a definition of faith in the bible itself. That definition is found at Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the assurance that what we hope for will come about and the certainty that what we cannot see exists.” Biblical faith isn’t really blind. It has a foundation on which it is build. That foundation is two-fold, creation and God’s word. More and more as technology makes it possible for scientists to peer into creation the more it is being discovered that the universe isn’t as haphazard as it as first seemed. There is evidence of order and design. Thus we find scientists from at least two disciplines, astronomy and microbiology embracing the theory of intelligent design and risking damage to their careers in the process. Such evidence of design forms a foundation for belief in a creator, one who has some care for his creation given all the things which have to be just right for us to have this home we call earth in the first place.
The second layer for the foundation for faith is God’s word. Since the creator went to all the trouble it took to make this earth and make it just right for our habitation it only makes sense that he would also care enough to communicate with the intelligent part of his creation. The Christian Bible, which is made up of the Jewish Torah in its entirety and the Christian writings, purports to be that message. When compared to all other such works it is by far superior. Its accounts match with what both ancient historical sources recount and archeological discoveries. More and more the latter are revealing the Bible to be a book with a sound footing in the realities of the time. The candor of its writers also reveals it to be a book which we can place our confidence in. Thus it completes the foundation for Christian faith.
In the rest of the eleventh chapter Paul emphasizes for us the difference between belief and faith, though the same Greek work is used for both. Faith is active. It is belief applied. Time and time again Paul drives the point home with numerous examples making the entire chapter one every Christian should read regularly. So the footstep follower of the Master doesn’t just sit on his or her call, she or she acts on it, first through character development. We’ll see why later on.
Moral Character: The word used here is aretē (ἀρέτη G703). As I gleaned my way through the lexicons I have the meaning which really stuck out was virtue in every sense of the word. The word manliness was also attached to it in one lexicon showing that this is virtue built on courage and moral fiber. Thus moral character is the quality of doing what is right, even when everybody around one doesn’t. The Christian doesn’t seek the easy way out or to conform to the notions of the day as to morality. The genuine Child of God sticks to his moral requirements no matter the pressures brought on him or her to compromise. So courage is an essential part of Christian virtue, especially when exercising faith in God and his precious promises. It is easy to see why Peter would say to add to one’s faith virtue.
We’ll see you again dear friends and readers for our next post in the series.