Faith: Herd immunity
Our culture tells us that COVID-19 is the invisible enemy. But we know this is merely a smokescreen. The real invisible enemy is the one who was cast out of heaven. He continues to wage war against Almighty God wreaking havoc in the lives of saints and sinners. One of the most effective tools of the devil is twisting the Word of God.
This was central to the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. The first recorded words of Satan are, “Did God really say ...” In the earthly ministry of Jesus He often used the phrase, “You have heard it said, but I tell you ...” Thousands of years had passed since the giving of the Ten Commandments. Jesus, the Incarnate Son of God, restored clarity to the Words of God.
The challenges continued following Jesus’ ascension. The letter of 2 Peter was written to address this very concern. Peter’s first letter was written to bring encouragement to believers in the region of Asia Minor. His second epistle was written shortly before his death. As you might imagine, the thoughts and concerns shared in this second epistle were near and dear to Peter’s heart.
Peter opens with a description of The Privilege of Faith. Peter was writing to a group of believers. Their faith (their salvation) came through the provision of grace - the righteousness of God through Jesus Christ. There is nothing we can do to earn or deserve grace - it’s a gift.
In the verses that follow, Peter reminds his readers regarding The Power of Faith. He describes it like a math equation: God’s divine power + God’s very great and precious gift = our participation in the divine nature. Our sin is forgiven by the blood of Jesus, it’s a work of grace. But our victory is gained through the divine power residing within us. Christ in you, the hope of glory in the person of the Holy Spirit.
Yet in verse 5 Peter challenges his readers regarding The Progress of Faith. Progress is not a gift, it requires every effort. Grace is a gift; faith is a manifestation - an expression of progress. But how do we measure progress?
“By adding to our faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is near-sighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.”
Peter concludes his introduction with a reminder of The Prerequisite of Faith. Peter’s letter is to individuals and to church families. Now is the time to get on track. Now is the time to confirm your calling and election. I don’t believe that Peter is calling into question the eternal destiny of believers who lack progress. I do believe he is warning believers that lack of progress is a sign of sliding back.
"In the last days perilous times will come. People will be self-centered, ungrateful, unforgiving and treacherous. Having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people."
Peter is promoting heard immunity. As the body of Christ, the church, grows into maturity, we gain a power to recognize and repel the virus of doctrinal error. Today is the day to press into all God has for us.
“To throw off every weight that hinders us and every sin that entangles us.”
Tim Walker is pastor at Faith Assembly of God Church in Pine River.