God's Power Is at Work In You!
November 29, 2021 | Monday of the Week of Advent I
– 2 Peter 1:5-10
5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 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. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was
cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.
In the world of teaching and learning today, we hear a lot about what pedagogues call y “Evidence-Based Teaching.” Basically, it is the use of best practices that have proven effective in the classroom. Students today have so much more to learn, it seems, and they have to learn it faster than ever before. Think about when you were in kindergarten. Were you reading by the end of the year? Today, students are expected to be reading in kindergarten and know numerous words by sight. How they perform by the end of the first year of school is evidence whether the teaching was effective or not.
In Peter’s second letter he took on a challenge that believers still face today. Peter’s concern was that the pure faith in Christ was being obscured among God’s people. This urgent message was a follow up to his first letter where he reminded the Church of their holiness in Christ (1 Peter 1:13). Peter had made it clear that Jesus — the stone that the builders rejected — became the Chief Cornerstone of the Church. Those who follow Jesus are living stones in His holy house (1 Peter 2:4-5).
However, among Peter’s audience, a problem had surfaced when some preachers came along and twisted the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They had been misled with religious-sounding myths and stories, inspired by their human imagination and desires. So Peter wanted to remind the Church of some key teachings of the faith, and the importance of putting what we believe into practice. In essence, he was saying, “Don’t you remember you were baptized? If you do, then show the evidence of your faith.”
Peter put forth two major points in this first chapter: 1) Only faith has power to make a person holy. 2) Faith cannot exist without good works.
We know that faith in Christ is what justifies us and makes us right with God. It’s not by good works that we are saved, but by grace and grace alone. But that doesn’t mean that we ought to sit tight and watch the world go by. We know that our good works don’t save us — but when faith is present, there is a natural outpouring of goodness that is directed to our neighbors.
When a person comes to faith in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit compels us to do good in the world. Martin Luther said it this way, “[Peter] wants to exhort believers to give evidence of their faith by means of good works. For he does not want faith without good works or works without faith. But he wants faith first and good works in addition to and flowing from faith” (LW, Vol. 30, p. 152-153).
For Lutherans, to speak of “evidence-based faith” probably makes our spiritual antennae go up. But Peter is not adding conditions on to our faith. He is simply encouraging the faithful to put their faith into action — not for the sake of salvation, but for the sake of their neighbors who benefit from their goodness and mercy. He spells out how the evidence creates spiritual strength within us:
“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 (2 Peter 1:5-8).
Peter is right. We have been given everything in Christ! Our prayer is that our faith would reach out into the world so that all may know His love, His life, and His salvation. But this all begins and ends in Him. When we hold fast to the promise we have been given, God himself provides the evidence of faith through His will being done in us. Never forget, you are baptized, and God’s power is at work in you!