Thursday, December 26, 2013

Faith Works!

I'd like to address the claims some people make, who say that being saved by grace through faith in Christ means we don't need to do anything.  They say that God does not require any outward or external changes, and it is only the heart that He is looking at.

They claim it is legalism to preach on the need for godly attire, as I have done in Garments of Godliness and Godly Attire and Adornment -- Seven Divine Revelations.  They also say it is legalism to preach that anyone who refuses to be conformed to the image of Christ this way will miss heaven and not see God's face.   They charge that it is "another gospel" any time we say obedience is required in any area, such as I have written about in my articles Is Tithing Required?, Keeping Sundays Holy, and The Lord's Day

Although I have already refuted such claims in many other blogs already, such as the ones above and others that I will list below near the end of this post, I would like to make it clear once again that faith works.  If you have true, saving faith, it will be evidenced by your works.  It must show on the outside, and if it doesn't, then it's not saving faith.  Yes, grace works!

Circumcision was the Main Heresy Paul Refuted
Although the word "legalism" or "legalistic" is not even in the Bible, people use the apostle Paul's epistle to the Galatians as the basis for their claims of legalism.  Yet in order to properly understand Paul's letter, we have to read it in context.  That letter was correcting a specific error, namely the false teaching (heresy) that says you must seek to obtain justification through the law by circumcision, in addition to your faith in Christ.

He specifically addressed the practice of Judaizing, which means to compel Gentiles to live like Jews. That is what he rebuked Peter for doing (Gal 2:14). The Greek word "Ioudaizo" in that verse means "to live like Jews."  In other words, Peter was compelling or forcing Gentiles Christians to adopt the Jewish customs or way of life. He did so by by beginning to draw back and separate himself from the Gentile Christians who had not been circumcised.

Yet Paul specifically and primarily addressed circumcision as one thing that Gentile Christians must never be forced to do, which would be a sign that they had converted to Judaism. In fact, the word "circumcision" occurs six times in that epistle and "uncircumcision" occurs twice (Gal. 2:12; 5:2,3,6,11; 6:15). He also alluded to circumcision indirectly in another instance by suggesting that the proponents of it should emasculate (castrate) themselves (Gal 5:12).

Paul's main point in this epistle was: "Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace." (Gal 5:2-4)

We are free from ritual or ceremonial laws, such as circumcision. We are free from Jewish customs, such as observing days and months and seasons and years (Gal 4:10).  We are free from all mixtures of Judaism.  In fact we are dead to the Law and cannot be justified by observing it.  We are not trying to attain our goal by human effort (Gal 3:3). We are not endeavoring to keep up the law of Moses in conjunction with the gospel of Christ.  We are justified by faith in Christ alone.  But we must not receive the grace of God in vain. It is not a license to sin -- to do what God has commanded we must not do or to neglect what God has commanded we must do.  I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.

Paul says elsewhere, "Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God." (1Co 7:19; cf., Ro 2:13 and 2:26).  What matters is the keeping of God's commandments.  Paul never said we are excused from keeping God's commandments.  He and the other apostles like John and James taught this in their epistles, as Jesus also taught in the gospels.

We Must Preach the Whole Counsel of God
We must preach the whole counsel of God, not just the popular topics.  In Paul's final meeting with the Ephesian elders, he told them, "For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God." (Act 20:27). 

Preach Against Sin
We must preach against sin, just as Jesus and the apostles did (Mat. 12:31; 18:21; Mark 3:29; John 1:29; 5:14; 8:7,11,21,34,46; 9:41; 15:22,24; 16:8,9; 19:11; Acts 7:60; Rom. 3:9,20; 4:8; 5:12,13,20,21; 6:1,2,6,7,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,20,22,23; 7:7, 8, 9, 11, 13, 14, 17, 20, 23, 25; 8:2,3,10; 14:23; 1Co. 6:18; 7:36; 8:12; 15:56; 2Co. 5:21; 11:7,29; Gal. 2:17; 3:22; Eph. 4:26; 1Ti. 5:20,22; Heb. 3:13; 4:15; 9:26,28; 10:6,8,18; 11:25; 12:1,4; 13:11; Jas. 1:15; 2:9; 4:17; 1Pe. 2:20,22,24; 4:1; 2Pe. 2:14; 1Jn. 1:7,8; 2:1; 3:4,5,8,9; 5:16,17; Mat. 7:23; 13:41; 23:28; 24:12; Rom. 6:19; 2Co. 6:14; 2Th. 2:3,7; Heb. 1:9; 1Jn. 3:4).

Preach Repentance
We must preach repentance, even as they did (Mat. 3:2, 8,11; 4:17; 11:20, 21; 12:41; Mark 1:4,15; 6:12; Luke 3:3,8; 5:32; 10:13; 11:32; 13:3,5; 15:7; 16:30; 17:4; 24:47; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 5:31; 8:22; 11:18; 13:24; 17:30; 19:4; 20:21; 26:20; Rom. 2:4; 2Co. 7:9,10; 12:21; 2Ti. 2:25; Heb. 6:1,6; 12:17; 2Pe. 3:9; Rev. 2:5,16,21,22; 3:3,19; 9:20,21; 16:9,11).

Preach on Hell
We must preach on hell, even as Jesus and the apostles did (Mat. 5:22,29,30; 7:19, 21-27; 8:12; 10:28; 13:42,50; 18:9; 22:13; 23:15,33; 24:51; 25:30, 41-46; Mark 9:43,45,47; Luke 12:5; 13:28; John 15:6; Jas. 3:6; 2Pe. 2:4, 17; Jud 1:11-13).

Preach on Righteousness, Self-control, and the Coming Judgment
We must preach on righteousness, self-control, and the coming judgment as they did (Acts 24:25; also see Mat. 5:20; 7:2, 12; 10:15; 11:22,24; 12:36,41,42; Luke 6:37; 10:14; 11:31,32; John 3:19; 5:22, 24, 27, 29, 30; 8:16; 9:39; 12:31; 16:8,11; Ro 1:18; 2:1-8, 12; 3:4; 11:22; 1 Cor 11:31-32; Eph 5:6; Col 3:6; 2 The 2:12; 5:9; Heb 6:1-2; 10:26-31; Rev 11:18; 16:5; 19:2; 20:12-13).

Preach Holiness
We must preach on the need to pursue holiness, without which no man will see God (Heb 12:10, 14; Rom 1:4; 12:1; 2 Cor 7:1; Eph 1:4; 2:21; 4:24; 5:27; Col 1:22; 1 Tim 2:8; 1 Pet 2:5,9; 3:5; and 2 Pet 3:11).

Name Specific Sins
We must name sins that will land people in hell, as they did (Mat 5:22, 27-48; 7:1; Rev. 2:4,14,20). And Paul gave a partial list when he wrote in Galatians 5:

"Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." (Gal 5:19-21). Also see my article, Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven.

Your Body Matters
To those who say that what a woman wears externally does not matter, and that jewelry, makeup, and other artificial adornments are not a problem for Christians to put on their bodies, this is what the Lord says.  He says the "property of Jezebel" that the daughters of God are wearing just like the world are not pure.  They are not of God.  Jezebel "painted her eyes and adorned her head" to make herself sexually attractive, in order to deceive and seduce men, probably in the hope that Jehu would not kill her (1 King 9:30b).  That is impurity.   It is also sensuality, since it lends itself to exciting sexual desires.  And it can also be idolatry, since they love those things of the world that they wear, just as the men likewise love them.  They do not want to part with them.  And it also causes men to idolize women, as if they were goddesses, because of the way they are artificially adorned with worldly things.  It also leads to lust and envy, as well as carousing, and "things like these."  Paul clearly forewarned us that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God; they will miss heaven.

To those who insist that the property of Jezebel is not impure, sensual, or idolatrous, I say that you are badly mistaken.  Don't you know where all those worldly things originally came from? Do the research as far back as you can go, and see for yourself. Those things were introduced into the world by satan through his angels.

The apostle Paul wrote:

"May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it." (1 Thes 5:23-24)

"And do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God." (Rom 6:13)

"Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship." (Rom 12:1)

"Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience." (Col 3:5-6)

"Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body...Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body." (1Co 6:13,18-20)

Paul explicitly taught that we must keep our bodies holy and pure.  These days it is popular to eat things that are considered "natural" and "pure".  There's nothing wrong with that.  But we must not neglect the more important matters in the sight of God, and that includes keeping our bodies holy and pure.

The Spirit of Truth Guides Us Into All Truth
The problem is that the Church has become so worldly that it is no longer able to correctly recognize as sin the worldly practices it has embraced.  Now when most people read the Word of God, they read it through a filter.  Some of the filters we use are the opinions of men, such as a commentary or our pastor. Other filters include our neighbor.  We look to our left and right and see that everyone else is doing it, so it must not be a sin.  Yet we must never read the Word of God through any filter, but let it speak for itself.  Open your Bible, shut out all the other voices, bind every lying spirit in Jesus' name, and ask the Holy Spirit to show you the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth.  I assure you that He will do so, because He is the Spirit of Truth, Who guides us into all Truth. The Lord always leads His sons and daughters into all Truth, just as He has done for those to whom He has given revelations by the Spirit, calling us back to sound biblical doctrines that have been lost or abandoned by the Church.

Two such sisters I know, whom the Lord called back to Himself from the world are Racheal and Zipporah Mushala from Zambia, Africa.  I have published their testimonies of the visions, dreams and revelations they received from the Lord after they were baptized with the Holy Spirit.  You can read those testimonies in Rachael Mushala Testimony of Hell and Zipporah Mushala Testimony of Hell

Rachael Mushala
Rachael says, "I don't know why people call godly attire legalism, when clearly the early church taught this, according to Paul's letters. The same Paul who wrote about grace also gave us LISTS of people who won't enter heaven. The lists in 1 Cor 6:9-11 and Eph 5:5 are just two examples."

"Paul wrote in 1Corinthians 6:9-11, 'Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.'"

"He also write in Ephesians 5:3-5, 'But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.'"

She continues, "Yet there are actually numerous lists that Paul wrote, so how can we say that telling people not to do the listed things is legalism? And its no different when it comes to godly attire. It's all what God requires from us. We understand that we are not justified by our godly attire, but rather by our faith in Christ, which we express by being obedient.  Like the Bible says, faith without works is dead.  So how can we say we have accepted Jesus as our LORD, when we can't even show obedience to what He wants?"

She goes on to say, "I don't believe those who say 'it's only about the matters of the heart,' because what is in the heart is what is expressed on the outside. These are God's expectations from us, and we have to honor them, inside and out. I don't see how you can be pure within, but look impure on the outside.  We are written epistles, so how will the world see our Light, if we look the same as they do while claiming to be different inside?  This is something that’s hard for many to accept, and that’s why they keep calling it works doctrine. But if God expected this from early Christians, then the standard is still the same. He does not change."

Zipporah Mushala
Her sister Zipporah Mushala, who has seen a man of God in hell for relying on his obedience to the Law, states: "God does demand righteousness from us. For example, in Galatians 5:24, Paul said, 'And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.' On the matter of the Lord looking on the heart of man, Jesus said that what is in the heart is what shows itself outside.  He said,  'The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil.' (Mat 12:35)."

Obedience is Essential for Disciples
Here are just some of the other blogs I have written, which provide a clear and biblical response to the concerns that my obedience doctrine is legalism, especially the first two in the left-hand column:

Is Obedience Optional?
The Law of Christ 
The Law Fulfilled in Us
The Law Established Through Faith
The Cost of Discipleship
The New Covenant
Costly Grace
Deleted Scriptures in the Bible?
Did Jesus Nail the Law to the Cross?
The Obedience of Faith
Is Practical Righteousness a Lost Truth?
The Law is Good if Used Lawfully     
Striving to Enter the Kingdom of God
Aim for Perfection
Righteous Deeds and White Robes
Doing What is Right
Your Rewards Are Based on Your Practice
Partaking of the Divine Nature
Walking in the Perfect Will of God
Pressing on Toward the Goal
Obedience by the Spirit
What Then Must We Observe?

Putting it All Together
Dear friend, we are saved by grace through faith, not by works, but obedience is required of every disciple who claims to follow Christ.  We must preach the Word of God as it is written.  We must not dissect it into little pieces and give people what their itching ears want to hear.  We must preach the whole counsel of God, not just the popular topics.  That means that in addition to preaching the true gospel of salvation by grace through faith, we must preach against sin, which includes preaching repentance. It is always, "Repent and believe the gospel!" We must preach the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and not only that He is our Savior.  We must preach on hell. We must preach on righteousness, self-control, and the coming judgment.  We must preach holiness.  We must name sins that will land people in hell.

The devil hates it when we preach like this, because it destroys his works, and keeps people from being deceived into hell.  It brings Light into the darkness, and the Light dispels the darkness. It's the heart of Jesus, and it brings true salvation to mankind.

Since the devil hates all of this, his strategy is to lie and call this "legalism" or "another gospel" of works. He will try to say that this will not be popular, and nobody will ever want to get saved this way. But Jesus never preached what was popular.  He always preached the Truth, and warned that it is a narrow Way, which few will find (Mt 7:14).

If you struggle with what I have just presented, and you are still not sure about things like tithing, keeping Sundays holy, or godly attire and adornment, then you need to seek the Lord about it with all your heart.  Ask Him to show you these things in His Word.  Ask the Spirit of Truth to guide you into all Truth, and He will. If you really want to know the Truth at any cost, you will find it.  If you have never been baptized with the Holy Spirit, then you need to pray for that and receive it.  He will give the Holy Spirit to His true children who ask believing.

Remember that faith without deeds is useless (Js 2:26).  Grace really does work, and faith works, too!

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. "Faith Works" image courtesy Media Machine.

Author's note:  If you enjoyed this post, you may also like Godly Attire and Adornment -- Seven Divine Revelations, Garments of GodlinessIs Tithing Required?, Keeping Sundays Holy, and The Lord's Day, Is Practical Righteousness a Lost Truth?  Practicing Your Righteousness, The Ways of Life, Zipporah Mushala’s Second Testimony of Hell, Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven, Abominations in the Sight of GodPleasing the Lord, Holding Fast the Faithful Word, Led by the Spirit, No Flesh Will Be Justified by Works and the other posts available through the links on the Home page.  You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." 
Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Him.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.


Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

God Has Not Rejected His Jewish People, Has He?

The Dohány Street Synagogue in Budapest, Hungary
Some of you may be aware that Hungary has a large population of Jews.  Today, the estimated population of Jews living in Hungary is around 120,000,with 110,000 mostly concentrated in Budapest.  In fact, the Jewish synagogue in Budapest, known as the Dohány Street Synagogue, is Europe's largest.

Since I have lived in Hungary for nearly five years as a missionary to Eastern Europe, in June of 2012 I had the privilege of visiting that synagogue in Budapest, as well as the Jewish Heritage Museum, and the Jewish sector of Budapest. You can read more about that tour of mine in my Hungarian Jewish Heritage article. Next to the nation of Israel itself, the countries with the highest population of Jews are first and foremost the United States, then France, Canada, Russia, Argentina, Germany, Brazil, Australia, and Ukraine.  Hungary is fairly high in the ranking beneath those countries.

We know from Scripture that the apostle Paul always preached the gospel first to the Jew's when he entered a city.  And he wrote, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile."  So it seems that we should also have that same heart!

However, I have discovered that Jews are accustomed to antisemitism from Gentile people, which is racial prejudice against them.  In fact, I was surprised to learn that antisemitism is quite common among Christians! Jews often seem surprised when Christians treat them with love and respect.  Yet that should not be! God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew, so why should we?  As the apostle Paul said, "For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen." (Rom 9:3-5).  The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Hebrew patriarchs. And of course, Jesus Himself is a Jew!  He loves the precious Jewish people and wants to save them, too.  For Paul also said, "This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus." (Eph 3:6). 

At The Dohány Street Synagogue, June 2012
I have developed a blog called Yeshua the Messiah.  On this blog, I share my testimony, Why I Trust in Yeshua, and I write various evangelistic articles that help to show from Scripture that Jesus Christ is the Jewish Messiah.  Some examples are Yeshua Ha'Maschiah in the Tanakh, The Brit Chadashah is Jewish, YHWH as Both Father and Husband to the Hebrews, Is the Trinity Originally a Hebrew or Christian Concept?, Yeshua is Yahweh, HaShem - The Name, and The Amazing Sign of Yonah. Although I have tried to develop the blog in a way that is somewhat culturally relevant for Jews, using some of their linguistic expressions and preferred ways of writing the name of God, we would like to clarify that we ourselves have not become Messianic Jews.

As the psalmist said, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: 'May those who love you be secure.'" (Ps 122:6)

Please Pray for the peace of Jerusalem and the salvation of the Jewish people.  And please use the Yeshua the Messiah blog yourself, as you share Jesus with your Jewish friends and loved ones.

Attribution notice:Most other Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, unless otherwise noted.

Author's note I invite you to see these related articles of mine: Why Paul Lived Like a Jew Among the Jews, Deleted Scriptures in the Bible?, Keeping Sundays Holy, and The Law Established Through Faith. You can access the Main Directory of this blog at the Home page for Working God's Way, and you will find my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus Christ personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what the God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.


Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_______________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Partaking of the Divine Nature

I'd like to discuss the subject of partaking of the divine nature, which is one that is misunderstood by some people. There are those who think it means we become little gods when we follow Jesus.  Others may incorrectly believe that this is all automatic, and happens without any participation on our part.  So let's see what the Scriptures say.

He Has Granted Us Everything
Paul said, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,” (Eph 1:3).  Paul was clear that God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.  We know that's a gift from Him that we cannot earn.

Peter also said, “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.” (2Pe 1:3).  This is similar to what Paul said, in that by God's power's, He has granted us everything pertaining to life and godliness.  All of this comes through the the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence, which is our Lord Jesus Christ. 

It's so amazing to realize that He has given us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, and everything pertaining to life and godliness!  All of this is by His glorious grace, and was paid for by the precious blood of Jesus Christ that He shed for us on the cross. It's one more reason to rejoice in the Lord and be thankful! 

Becoming Partakers of the Divine Nature
Not only has God done all of that for us, but He has also granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature.  Peter said, “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.” (2Pe 1:4)

What did Peter mean when he said we become partakers of the divine nature?  Here is the divine nature Peter meant:  moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love.

“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. 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.” (2Pe 1:5-8)

Participation of the Disciple is Required
These qualities or virtues don’t just happen in your life automatically. Peter said that God has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature.  Therefore, it is by His precious and magnificent promises that you may become partakers of the divine nature.  You must claim those promises and apply them, which requires diligence and practice on your part. Peter said you must "make every effort" to add these virtues into your life. 

It is up to you to be diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you, which means you must confirm it.  Peter said,  “… be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you …” (2 Pe 1:10). This diligence requires participation on your part.  You may be called and chosen well enough, but you have to make certain about His calling and choosing you. You have a choice to practice these divine virtues or not. That’s why Peter said, “…as long as you practice these things…”  He also said, “Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless,” (2Pe 3:14).

You've got to grow in godliness.  You’ve got to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord.  As Peter said, “…but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” (2Pe 3:18).  The verb “grow” requires participation and action on your part.

Rewards and Punishment
There are either going to be rewards or loss, depending on whether or not you participate with the Lord and practice these virtues.

Rewards to those who do practice these things diligently and grow
Peter said, “Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.” (2Pe 1:10-11)

He said you will be useful and fruitful: “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.” (2Pe 1:8)

Peter said you would be in peace, spotless and blameless: “…be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless,” (2Pe 3:14).  That's how the Lord will find you during your life and at the end of your life.

Loss and punishment to those who do NOT practice these qualities or lack them
Now I'd like to talk about what happens if you lack these qualities in your own life or do not practice these virtues.

Peter said, “For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.” (2Pe 1:9)

This means that you are spiritually blind and near-sighted.  You are not walking correctly anymore when you are blind. And as a result of that,  by implication, you fail to "make certain about His calling and choosing you." (2Pe 1:10). 

The Greek word for “certain” is “bebaios, which means stable (literally or figuratively): - firm, of force, steadfast, sure.” (Strongs)

So if you lack these qualities, you have failed to make your calling and election sure, stable, firm, and steadfast.  Therefore your calling and election is actually uncertain.  You may have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord Jesus, but if you again become entangled in those defilements, your last state is worse than before. 

“For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them.” (2Pe 2:20-21)

If you lack these qualities, you are headed back into being entangled by the world’s defilements.  And for anyone who ends up like that, it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them.  The punishment will be far worse than for those who never knew the way of righteousness.

Be careful you are not led away by the error of wicked, lawless men and fall from your own safe position: “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness,” (2Pe 3:17).  Are your spiritual leaders teaching you this?  Are the preachers you listen to on the radio and TV preaching this?  What about the authors whose books, blogs, and articles you read?  And the videos you watch?  Beware of error, especially in this regard.

Putting it All Together
So we know that God has indeed given us everything we need for life and godliness, and that through His very great and precious promises, we may become partakers of His divine nature.  That means we can think like God, talk like God, and act like Him in moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love.

But this requires participation on our part.  It doesn't happen automatically.  You have to be diligent to make your calling and election sure.  You've got to make every effort to confirm it, by developing these virtues in your life. Then you'll be useful and fruitful.  You'll be found by the Lord in peace, spotless and blameless, and you will receive an abundant entrance into the kingdom of heaven.

You participation is necessary in order to avoid falling from your safe position. If you lack these qualities, you develop spiritual blindness and near-sightedness. You can no longer see the long-range rewards awaiting those who endure to the end.  You must be careful that after you have escaped the defilements of the world that you don't become entangled in them once again, or else your final condition will be worse than the first.  Beware of who you follow, because there are many wicked and lawless men teaching their own errors to others, and leading them down to destruction.  Don't be deceived into hell.  If you gave your life to Jesus at one time, and then drift away, it would be better for you not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to you.

That's why you need to repent of every sin, to the extent that you lack these qualities, and ask the Lord to forgive you.  Ask Him to cleanse you, making you spotless and blameless.  Ask Him to apply the cross to your earthly sin nature, and begin to apply His very great and precious promises of holiness, righteousness, and truth to your life, so that you may live in a way that is pleasing to Him.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. "Grow in Godliness" image courtesy of Act Like a Man.

Author's note:  This message has been beautifully expressed in a couple of poems my young daughters have written, called Perfect for the King and Reward of the Overcomer.  I encourage you to take a moment to read those.  And if you enjoyed this post, you may also like Godly Attire and Adornment -- Seven Divine Revelations and the other posts available through the links on the Home page.  You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."  Some related articles I recommend are:

Doing What is Right Righteous Deeds and White Robes. Godly Attire and Adornment -- Seven Divine Revelations
Is Obedience Optional? The Cost of Discipleship Your Rewards Are Based on Your Practice
The Law Fulfilled in Us The New Covenant Deleted Scriptures in the Bible?

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Him.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.


Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
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Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.