Saturday, July 27, 2013
A Mighty Chorus of Holiness
2Pet. 1:4 Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature.
2Pet. 1:5 For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge,
2Pet. 1:6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness,
2Pet. 1:7 and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love.
2Pet. 1:8 For if these things are yours and are increasing among you, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This section of Scripture is an invitation into the holy life -- the calling for each and every single follower of Jesus Christ. God's desire for all of his children is that they become "participants of the divine nature." This is laid out for us in verse four, but then the following verses take us into an account of how we grow, ever reaching to higher heights of our faith. Barnes says, "We should add one virtue to another, that we may reach the highest possible elevation in holiness.” Each virtue becomes a voice in what will become a mighty chorus of holiness in our own lives. Too often we have thought that once we have experienced entire sanctification that we have finished the journey, but in many ways that is only the beginning. Just as the analogy from marriage, once we step into that marriage relationship we are completely and totally married, but we also know that the relationship between husband and wife will continue to grow and flourish throughout a lifetime together. Therefore as we live the sanctified life we must have ever increasing participation in God and this is accomplished through the practice of these virtues.
Just imagine the single voice of faith. The voice sings out that it believes in God and trusts in God -- but it is a single voice. Next, that faith must become lived out in acts of goodness. Suddenly the solo voice becomes a beautiful duet and the two voices play off of one another as they bring a balance to the spiritual life, but this is not enough. The duet continues as the person grows in grace and takes time to become a student of God. Whether this is study of God through intimacy in a relationship or the study of the incarnate "logos" of God revealed through the written word, it all leads to knowledge and suddenly there is a beautiful trio of sound. This addition of knowledge here is extremely important because of the infiltration of gnosticism in the day of the author. There were those who believed that knowledge as a solo would separate them from the evil physical world. No -- knowledge without faith and goodness is nothing and the foundation must begin with faith.
The chorus of holiness continues to build as we add to our lives the voice of self-control. Self-control becomes the bass voice, one that provides a protective lower barrier to the activities of life which can drag us down and out of our relationship with God. And that is why the next voice must be added, the one of endurance for unless self-control has endurance it will not sustain us when the temptations occur. We are in this for the long haul. We need to be breathing the very air of God for the song to be beautiful and to endure throughout our lifetime.
Now, add to that chorus the voice of godliness. Somehow I imagine this to be a beautiful soprano voice which from time to time sings out clear above the rest in a way that energizes the entire chorus, sparking the song onward into a beautiful tapestry of rich glory. The song becomes more and more glorious -- like when we hear the "Hallelujah Chorus" and somehow we believe that we have experienced heaven on earth! There is something transcendent about that song -- and so the chorus of our lives transcends the things of this earth as we participate in the divine nature. This is holiness and when the world experiences our song they too are drawn to the author of our faith.
But this is not the end for while we have heard the mighty chorus there are two more voices which must be added. Tucked in the midst of it all is the voice of mutual affection. It may not be the most beautiful voice in the entire chorus -- it may actually be the inclusion of a voice which is weaker than the rest, but is strengthened by its inclusion. It is a voice that reaches out to other brothers and sisters who are growing in their faith and loves them deeply. No matter how strong or weak their voice, no matter how on or off key -- they are drawn into the mighty chorus of holiness for the chorus is now so strong that they will blend in and have the joy of experiencing that transcendent love of God.
The final voice is added to the mighty chorus for as we learn to have mutual affection for one another we become consumed with the overarching divine nature -- love. And suddenly the entire chorus is drawn into a holy hush as in unison we sing the amen of God's pure nature -- holy love.
May it be so, Lord Jesus!
Lord, I am overwhelmed by your song today. Amen.