12. TRANSFORMATION: What Does it Mean to be a mature Christian Disciple? -- 2 Peter 1:1-11

David Virtue david at virtueonline.org
Fri Oct 6 20:43:40 EDT 2017


TRANSFORMATION: What Does it Mean to be a mature Christian Disciple? --
2 Peter 1:1-11

By Ted Schroder
October 8, 2017

Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously
given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who
invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received! We were also
given absolutely terrific promises to pass on to you -- your tickets to
participation in the life of God after you turned your back on a world
corrupted by lust.

So don't lose a minute in building on what you've been given,
complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual
understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder,
warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and
developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your
lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its
reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. (2 Peter
1:3-8, The Message)

Who wouldn't want to be a person described in those terms: a person of
faith, good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline,
passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness and generous
love? What would the world be like if we were all like that? What would
the church be like if we were all like that? Peter is claiming that God
has given Christians all that they need to become spiritually mature.
But Christians must actively pursue spiritual maturity if they expect to
be welcomed into God's eternal kingdom. These two statements appear to
be mutually incompatible. On the one hand we say that all Christian
character is from God -- a free gift of God's grace in Jesus by his
Spirit. On the other hand we say that it depends on our effort, that we
have to do something ourselves if we are become Christlike. How do we
hold these two truths together in our understanding and in our behavior?

A mature Christian disciple will become like Jesus through participating
in his life of the Spirit. This life of his Spirit has been given to us
by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to
God -- Jesus. His divine power has given us everything we need to become
people of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness, self-control, hope, humility and prayer. He has given us his
very great and precious promises of enabling us to share in God's own
nature, so that we may reflect the family likeness more and more.

This requires us turning our back on the corruption of the world. The
ancient world was haunted by the conception of corruption -- decay.

Change and decay in all around I see:
O Lord who changest not, abide with me.
(Henry F. Lyte)

The transitoriness of life, the pointlessness of it all, oppressed many
of the best thinkers in antiquity (as it does today). Tragedies such as
the massacre in Las Vegas remind us of the evil that can possess a man's
soul and inflict untold horror. Death can pursue us suddenly and without
warning. Peter tells them that there is a way of escape -- through Jesus
Christ. Live for eternity not for the passing world. Reject all that is
contrary to Christ. We are not to go along with the immoral and
extravagant behavior that is so much part of our culture, our media, and
our recreational life.

Because of this call from Jesus to follow him and share in his life of
the Spirit we are to make every effort, to add to our faith the goodness
of Christ -- the character of Christ, his excellence as a human being as
seen in his life and ministry. Spiritual growth is not a matter that the
Christian can treat lightly. It is not an option for the believer. It is
a goal to which we need to give ourselves body and soul, every day of
our lives. Christianity is not just an intellectual belief but
Christlikeness.

What is the right biblical balance between what God does in us by his
Spirit and what we must do by our own effort? Both are necessary. "Work
out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in
you to will and to act according to his good purpose" (Phil 2:12-13).

Douglas Moo, in his commentary on these verses describes the problem.
Some Christian teachers put great stress on what God is doing in us.
They say that what we should do is only receive passively what God is
doing. Our job is to "let go and let God." But there is another side to
the picture. We have a part to play in becoming like Jesus. There are
other Christian teachers who tend to present the Christian life as kind
of military boot camp. Our job is to go out and discipline ourselves,
work hard, take orders and live up to Jesus' expectations. That can be a
guilt trip. The balance is to be found in both the divine and the human
side. God makes us like Jesus and also we ourselves have the
responsibility to become like Jesus every day.

We cannot live as God wants us to without the power of the Holy Spirit.
We cultivate the power of the Spirit through reading the Scriptures
which are inspired by the Holy Spirit. We draw on the power of the
Spirit through prayer in the Spirit, and allowing the Spirit to pray in
us and for us -- the Spirit intercedes for us. We immerse ourselves in
the power and presence of the Spirit in worship and in fellowship with
others. These are the means of grace God has provided for us to enable
us to grow in grace. Just as an athlete or a musician has to practice in
order to perform well, we have to give priority to building into our
lives our relationship with God.

There are many things we can do to mature in our Christian character.
The chief thing to do is to remain connected to Christ. If we want to
bear the fruit of the Spirit we have to be connected to the True Vine.

Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way
that a branch can't bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to
the vine, you can't bear fruit unless you are joined with me. I am the
Vine, you are the branches. When you're joined with me and I with you,
the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant.
Separated, you can't produce a thing... This how my Father shows who he
is -- when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples. (John
15:5-8, The Message)

Are you connected to the true vine? Does the Holy Spirit witness to you
that you are God's child? The fruit of the Spirit -- the virtues Peter
and Paul list --are the only satisfactory evidence of being a true
Christian disciple. Where there is no fruit to be seen there is no vital
spiritual life. The secret of bearing the fruit of the Spirit is close
communion with Christ. It is to pour out your hearts to Christ as to
your chief companion and best friend, to keep his words continually
before you, and to make them the guide of your actions and the rule of
your daily conduct and behavior. Then the fruit will supply the best
evidence to your own hearts that you are real, mature disciples of
Christ.

"For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a
rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus
Christ."

END



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