You Have It All

The author of 2 Peter writes at the very start of his epistle:

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, 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 if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:3-11; emphasis added)

Peter reminds his readers that God has given them everything they need for life and godliness (vs. 3). This cannot be overemphasized. We already have everything we need. There is nothing else to find, nothing to add, nothing to build. There is no mystery waiting to be solved before you can live a powerful Christian life. No door to be unlocked. No secret handshake. No special prayer, no special diet. Nothing at all: because God has done it all for you already.

Remember, Jesus paid everything on the cross. You’ve got nothing else to buy. You don’t owe a thing. Even the tip is covered. There’s nothing left that you need to do. You don’t even need to wash the dishes. You don’t contribute to your salvation in anyway and nothing you do can add to your tab. Recall what Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans:

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:1-11)

And yet Peter speaks of growth. How does that work? Perhaps an analogy might be useful. Imagine that a friend has given you a fully equipped and crewed airport, a Boeing 747, a stack of instruction manuals, unlimited jet fuel, and flying lessons. You now have everything you need to fly anywhere in the world. But it might take you awhile to figure out how to do it. That’s what it is like to be a Christian. You have everything you need, the Holy Spirit is indwelling you and is your constant companion. And yet you have the potential for growth. How does that work?

Spiritual growth is NOT a matter of memorizing rules and filling in boxes. Spiritual growth will NOT lead to health and wealth and happiness.

There are no shortcuts. There is no magic elixir. You’ll still get flat tires, the flu, and your kids will probably mouth off to you now and then. The path to maturity is long and arduous (Matthew 7:13-14), requiring a lifetime of trials. And again: you’ve got everything you need already. God’s Holy Spirit lives inside of you. Think of the implications. How can you have God inside of you without that having a rather profound impact on how you live? It is heretical to imagine that you need some person to lead you to a right relationship with God. You already have a right relationship with God! Remember: Jesus already paid the ultimate penalty. Paid it in full. No book or speaker, no pastor or teacher, can take the place of God in your life. Each of us must relate to God individually, and each one of us will grow whether we have some human being guiding us or not. As the Apostle John wrote: “you do not need anyone to teach you.” (1 John 2:27)

In a biological sense, growth is spontaneous and inevitable; without it, death just as inevitably results. The writers of scripture did not lightly choose the word “growth” for describing the process of the Christian life. For instance:

He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.

Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade.” (Mark 4:26-32; see also 1 Corinthians 3:6-7; 2 Corinthians 10:15; Ephesians 4:15-16; Colossians 1:6-12, 2:19; 2 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 Peter 2:2-3; 2 Peter 2:2-3; 2 Peter 3:18)

So, at the beginning of his letter, Peter lists eight processes that are linked intimately to one another in spiritual growth.

They are:

1. Faith
2. Goodness
3. Wisdom
4. Self-control
5. Perseverance
6. Godliness
7. Brotherly Kindness
8. Love

Sounds remarkably like something Paul wrote:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Since God the Spirit lives inside of you, you’ve already got all that. Nothing you need to run out and buy. You’ll never run short. So again, never forget:

 This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel
after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds
and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
No longer will they teach their neighbor,

or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more. (Hebrews 8:10-12)

You really, really do have everything you need. Metaphorically, stop hopping about looking for your glasses. They’re right there, on top of your head.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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