Friday, May 17, 2013

I started a more focused journey towards grace when I read.....

...... 2 Peter 1: 1-11 (Contemporary English Version)
(vs 1) "From Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ.  To everyone who shares with us in the privilege of believing that God our Savior Jesus Christ will do what is just and right and fair.  I pray that God will be kind to you and will let you live in perfect peace!  May you keep learning more and more about God and our Lord Jesus.  We have everything we need to live a life that pleases God.  It was all given to us to share in His wonderful goodness.  God made great and marvelous promises, so His nature would become part of us.  Then we could escape our evil desires and the corrupt influences of this world.
 (vs 5) Do your best to improve your faith by adding goodness, understanding, self control, patience, devotion to God, concern for others, and love. 
(vs 8)  If you keep growing in this way, it will show that what you know about our Lord Jesus Christ has made your lives useful and meaningful.  But if you don't grow, you are like someone who is nearsighted or blind, and you have forgotten that your past sins are forgiven.
 (vs 10) My friends, you must do all you can to show God really has chosen and selected you.  If you keep on doing this, you won't stumble and fall.  Then our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will give you a glorious welcome into His kingdom that will last forever."

These verses leaped off the pages to me when I first read them because of the plain, direct, challenging and seemingly personal shout out to me they were doing.  I especially noticed verses 5, 6 and 7 as a kind of "7 steps to growing your faith" prescription or direction that was tailor made for me.  I wanted to improve my faith.  I wanted to grow more godly.  I wanted to draw near to God so that He will draw near to me.

So, I bought a notebook to start writing in.  As I would read and make my way through this passage - I would go in depth and study words, I would reference a concordance, a Bible dictionary and a commentary to help me understand the words I was reading and where else they were used in the Bible.

I really didn't know what I was getting into - all I knew was this was what I needed to learn and incorporate into my life.

So, I got up early, opened my Bible, and with my empty notebook, a pen, Strong's concordance, a Bible Dictionary and a commentary on the New Testament, I started with verse 1: "Simon Peter, a bond servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ"  (NASB).

The first word that stuck out to me was faith: It comes from God.  Not just from God but because of God, because He is righteous.  Identifying that He is righteous doesn't take long for me to look at me - the opposite of righteous.  Without faith.  Without God there is no faith.  I need faith.  I want faith.  But I am reading here that I have been given that from God - His gift, to me. 

The verse says more than that though.....this faith come also from our Savior, Jesus Christ.  It's like a double whammy.  God, the eternal, heavenly being that is in heaven - whom man has not clearly seen.  But also from His Son, Jesus Christ - also God, but also man - He took on the form of a man and lived on this planet.

I think of God and I think of Jesus from what I read in the Bible and know, believe and sort of get to understand that He is just, right and holy.  Jesus demonstrated this in His years on earth.  As He walked, talked, listened, lived His life - there were people around who developed faith in Him. 

Jesus was then crucified, buried, but rose from the dead - seen again by hundreds of people amongst whom He told that He was going to prepare a place for them: heaven. 

His life was recorded and written of in the Bible and passed along to generations - we have that today and by reading it, believing it and trusting it - God gives us faith: in Him, in Jesus Christ.

But I then I saw the earlier part of the verse " those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours...".  Wait a minute, I have the same faith that Peter had, that the disciples had, that the early believers who saw Jesus all had.  Peter is writing the letter to people of whom some may have seen Jesus, but I'm sure there were many that didn't see Him.

I'm someone that hasn't seen Jesus.  Everyone else alive today has not seen the Jesus as He was when He walked on earth about 2000 years ago.  And yet, the faith given, by God, by Jesus - to those alive then to personally witness it - is the same faith given by God and Jesus to me today.

This faith is eternal, this faith is powerful, this faith is personal.  That is awesome to me.  I don't understand it, I don't get how it works, I just believe it.

I was started into this study, hooked already.  I wanted more......

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