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From the Preacher’s Pen…

You are probably aware that much of the denominational world believes that faith alone, all by itself, just plain old wishful thinking will save you. Hopefully, you also know that the only time the term “faith alone” appears anywhere in God’s word is in James 2:24 where the inspired writer says, You see that a man is justified by works and NOT by faith alone [emphasis added]. While it is also true that no amount of works will earn us salvation, the fact remains that the wishful thinking kind of faith “alone” is useless. So let’s look a bit at some of Gods…

Additions to Faith

The Apostle Peter gives a great illustration of this point and an important lesson for all who claim to have faith in God. Note how he begins his second letter to those who are Christians, like him:

Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,  To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: (2) Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; (3) seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. (4) For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. (5) Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, (6) and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, (7) and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. (8) For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (9) For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. (2 Peter 1:1-9)

To begin with, this is not a lesson for outsiders; those who have no faith in the Lord are not even considered here. Next, he reminds us (verse 4) of God’s promises (precious and magnificent!) and how we escape the corruption of the world by becoming partakers of God’s own nature. At this point, you should pause and re-read Romans 6:2-14 where Paul makes the same point in reference to our baptism not only forgiving our sins but being the point of entry into this marvelous condition as a child of God.

Thus, as those who have been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb of God, we partake of that new life by growing or adding to our faith. It takes effort, applying all diligence (verse 5) means working hard at growing our faith to include these new qualities in our lives.

The additions begin with morality. In a world that brags about how morally filthy it is and encourages you to be that way, too, faith can only grow when we cease to participate in that life. Morality is a standard that only God can set and only by living up to God’s standard can we ever hope to be pure and holy.

To our moral purity, we add knowledge. At first, it might seem strange to begin doing something the right way before we ever know and understand all the reasons behind it. But life works like that all the time. Can you imagine lecturing a child on the physiology of the human body, how balance, walking and running physically work before allowing them to walk? Or imagine teaching a newborn baby all about how the heart works to pump blood just so they can begin using their heart to live? As Christians, we must begin doing the things that are right before God as we continue to learn all the whys of what we are doing.

Knowledge, in turn, feeds right back into controlling ourselves by both avoiding doing wrong and intentionally doing what it right. Our moral excellence is improved by understanding and doing the right things, not just because we’ve been told no, but because we purposefully want to do what is right.

Once you begin to actively do the right things for the right reason, you will discover how easy it is to slip back, to take the lazy way out and do wrong. It takes persistence, perseverance to intentionally keep doing what is right, especially when we see others slack off and encourage us to give up.

It is in that maturity of doing right intentionally that we actually become like God. Not just pure as an infant that’s cleaned by others, but as an adult knowingly, choosing to do right. And now, at last, we can begin to show that same mature love of God to others as kindness and, ultimately, love like God loves us.

So, what if I choose to just have a simple “faith” in God and nothing else? Then, Peter and God say that we are just blind and willfully ignorant.

To be fair to God and His word, don’t be ignorant and don’t forget what God has done for you. Grow up that you might show true appreciation for God’s blessings by being a blessing to others.

— Lester P. Bagley