Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Steps Towards the Everlasting Kingdom

I am Your servant;
Give me understanding,
That I may know Your testimonies.”
Psalm 119:125

Have you ever come across a section of biblical text and thought, “If I just could understand what the real knowledge behind these passages are, then I may have a chance at starting to apply them in my life.”? Today I had that experience as I read the 2 Peter verses I have copied for you below:

...His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust...for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:3-10


In an attempt to come to a better understanding of this text and to apply it in my own life, I decided to go to my Greek New Testament word study and see what I could find out about the words that God puts before us in this passage as steps that come in succession of one another on a path by which we “will never stumble” and also be given an ample “entrance...into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” I don't know about you, but if I can understand more fully how to take the steps that keep me on that kind of path, I want to know more about it and how to most accurately place my feet on those steps.


So, here are those steps defined in their original Greek:
  • faith (pístis) – a persuaded consent to believe in something that holds divine truth
  • virtue (areté) – a personal excellence that is a product of the divine work of God by salvation therefore giving a person his/her full worth and efficiency
  • knowledge (gnósis)- a clear and exact knowledge which has been gained through personal experience
  • self-control (ěgkratěia) – temperance, meaning habitual moderation especially in the indulgence of appetites and passions
  • perseverance (hupomoné) – a personal quality that does not surrender to circumstances but rather puts one hope in something beyond them
  • godliness (eusébeia) - a life that is morally good, not by following commands but rather by making ones like an on-going act of worship and lived out true religion
  • brotherly kindness (philadelphía) – the acts lived out towards loving others who share a common bond of faith
  • love (agápē) – charity directed towards someone who has been ascertained as needing something from another because of their lack which has been made apparent


The scripture here makes sure to start out by saying that the pursuit of these steps must be done in a diligent manner, meaning that we must be steady, earnest, and energetic as we pursue each one and move on upward the incline towards God's kingdom. In then thinking about this progression with a diligent heart at the core of the driving force to propel our lives on, let us look at the progression in its expanded form:


...after you have been persuaded in the solid belief that Jesus alone holds all divine knowledge, then realize within your heart and soul that your personal best can only be produced through the work of the cross and the salvation you have been given – nothing else; from there allow God to teach you through the personal and intimate experiences He provides you to bring you into complete relational understanding of His word; it is then through these experiences that you develop habitual control of your sinful desires which in the past lorded over you and constantly tore you apart from God; in then making that move you will find that your circumstances no longer have a hold on your heart, but instead your heart becomes steadfast in the hope of the promises God has yet to come; this release then leads to a life directed by worship instead of worries; from there it becomes easier to see the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ because you have no needs of your own which immobilize you and that is then the position from which you are given the eyes of God to look out upon the needs of others, to discern the real lack in their lives that need to be tended to and from which you can give without hesitation because you know your supply is from the One who controls the bottomless storehouses of heaven.

This is the way God commands us to live if we never want our lives to be unfruitful or shortsighted. We are a living testimony for the Lord each day when we choose to live in the manner God has prescribed for us by taking these steps and progressing closer and closer to His kingdom - they are not steps taken once and then forgotten behind us though.  Rather these steps need to be taken each day and each morning we must put at the forefront of our mind that we are determined to walk up them again once more from the bottom to as close to the top as our day allows us. But the movement upward is not a task for the faint of heart or those who are not fully committed to the climb. The key to making these verses in 2 Peter real in each of our lives is a committed daily discipline to keep going, to not give up when we take a step back, but to keep our eyes focused on the hope of the kingdom of our Savior Jesus that does not disappoint and that will be waiting for us one day while we have been diligent in our steps to towards God's kingdom.

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