Thursday, November 20, 2014, 8:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “Tell Me The Story of Jesus.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Peter 1 (ESV). The Divine Nature Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. Peter addressed these thoughts to true believers in Jesus Christ. Their faith was obtained by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. They did not muster up this faith in their own strength or even of their own initiative. God the Father had to draw them to Christ. Thus, we are saved by God’s grace through faith, and yet this is not of ourselves; not of human works lest any of us should boast (See: Eph. 2:8-10). Our salvation is a gift from God. Even the faith to belief is a gift of his grace. Yet, this does not mean we do nothing, i.e. that we have no participation in this salvation at all. We do! Yet, we do nothing to earn or to deserve our salvation. We don’t earn points with God by following a list of do’s and don’ts. We don’t become “good deed doers,” either, hoping we will gain acceptance and approval from God. Our salvation is a God-thing from beginning to end. Only in the working of the Spirit of God in our lives can we even be saved from our sins. Yet, we must surrender our wills to the will of the Father. We must submit our lives to Jesus Christ in yielding control of our lives over to him. And, we must willingly die with Christ to our old lives of living for sin and self. We must be transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, and we must walk daily in Christ’s holiness and righteousness. Yet, all this is the working of the Spirit of God in our lives as we cooperate fully with that work. Notice the wording in these first few verses here. His divine power has granted to us… who called us to his glory and excellence… he has granted to us his precious promises… through them you may become partakers of the divine nature and escape… You see, it all originates with him, the source for all of this is God, and the power, strength and wisdom to live up to the calling we have received also comes from God. This is not works-based salvation. This is us cooperating with God in his work of grace in our lives. This is what it means to have faith. This is us yielding control of our lives over to him, and it is us saying “Yes” to Jesus in doing the very things he has asked us, called us, and has taught us to do, but all of this is done in Him and is of Him. We just yield control and let him do his work in and through us, but he won’t if we are resisting his Spirit and if we are going the opposite direction. Ok, so many people are teaching that God requires nothing of us and that Jesus does it all. That is not true! If we read the New Testament, chapter by chapter and verse by verse we come to realize that the New Testament tells us over and over again that we should stop doing this and that we should start doing that; that we should put off this, and that we should put on that – not adding human works to our salvation, but cooperating with God’s work of grace in our lives. This is the way in which we “participate” and “partake” in the divine nature, instead of us participating and partaking still of our old sinful nature and of the ways of this sinful world. Jesus called us out of darkness into his wonderful light. He set us free from bondage to sin. And, he will give us all we need to live godly, holy, upright and self-controlled lives, no longer controlled by sinful passions and desires, while we wait for his return. Confirm Your Calling For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Again, what this is teaching here is not works-based salvation. We are not adding fleshly and human works (externals) to the Spirit’s work of grace in our lives in saving us from our sins. This is also not something that the Spirit just does without our cooperation. This is not hands-off! We have to make the effort – not human effort, but we must cooperate with the Spirit of God in yielding to Him in allowing him to do his work in our lives. This is what Paul wrote about to the Philippians (2:12-13). We must obey God by continuing to “work out” our own salvation “with fear and trembling.” This is problematic for some, but it doesn’t have to be, for the next verse explains how it works: “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” You see, this is the work of God, but we must participate with God in that work via submission (honoring God for who he is). What this is talking about, I believe, is our spiritual growth and maturity. As we grow in faith with the Lord in yielding to his Lordship over our lives, his divine character traits will be realized more and more in our lives. I know this is certainly true of my life, and of other believers with whom I have spoken over the years. The more we know Christ, and the more time we spend time at his feet, and the more we walk with him in obedience to his commands, the more we will desire him over and above the things of this world and of this flesh. We will also become so much more sensitized to evil and to worldliness and to the heart of God in understanding what he truly accomplished for us on that cross. We won’t want to indulge in the sinful nature, but we will want to daily yield to the Spirit of God in our lives in letting him live his divine character out through us for his glory. If we lack these godly character traits, or they are at a bare minimum in our lives, because we are filling our hearts and minds with the garbage, philosophies, values and virtues of this sinful world, which is thus reflected in our life choices and behaviors, we will be ineffective and unfruitful in our relationships with Jesus Christ and in allowing him to shine his light out through us. We are both nearsighted and blind, because we have forgotten that Jesus Christ cleansed us from all of that. Why, oh why do we spend so much of our lives partaking in the pleasures of this sinful world and in following after human and/or fleshly desires and passions with little regard for God at all and without thought for why he died for us, and for what our lives are really supposed to look like if we are truly in Christ by his saving grace? A Reminder Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things. For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. Because we are sometimes just plain stupid, we need to be reminded of these things over and over again. As humans, we can be so dimwitted, at times. God did all that he did for us so that we might be delivered out of slavery to sin, and so we might walk in his holiness, and yet we keep going back to what once held us in bondage and we reject what is good and right and holy. It makes no sense, does it? So, we need these reminders to stir us to wholesome thinking and to knock some sense into these brains of ours. We were bought with a price. We are no longer our own masters to do with our lives what we want and desire, but our desire should be for our Lord and for what he wills for our lives. We will all do well to pay attention to what is taught here in scripture with regard to our salvation and with regard to holy living, as well as in relation to what God expects of us as his true followers. He died so we would die with him to sin, and so we would walk in his holiness. He died so we would no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave himself up for us. His grace teaches us to say “NO” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, godly and upright lives while we wait for his return. If we say that walk in fellowship with him, and yet we walk in darkness (continue in willful sin), we lie. We cannot participate in the table of the Lord and the table of demons, too. So, let us take scripture and God seriously and apply the Word of Truth to our lives while we still have today. Tell Me the Story of Jesus / Fanny J. Crosby / John R. Sweney Tell me the story of Jesus, Write on my heart every word; Tell me the story most precious, Sweetest that ever was heard. Tell how the angels in chorus, Sang as they welcomed His birth, “Glory to God in the highest! Peace and good tidings to earth.” Fasting alone in the desert, Tell of the days that are past, How for our sins He was tempted, Yet was triumphant at last. Tell of the years of His labor, Tell of the sorrow He bore; He was despised and afflicted, Homeless, rejected and poor. Tell of the cross where they nailed Him, Writhing in anguish and pain; Tell of the grave where they laid Him, Tell how He liveth again. Love in that story so tender, Clearer than ever I see; Stay, let me weep while you whisper, “Love paid the ransom for me.” Tell me the story of Jesus, Write on my heart every word; Tell me the story most precious, Sweetest that ever was heard.