“….continue to 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.”
2 Peter opens with a burst of good news. Called by God’s glory and goodness, he has also provided everything we need to live lives of godliness. But there is some “fine print” in Peter’s letter that gives us pause.
Yes, God has a role in our salvation. But so do we.
Let’s say that you were given a membership to LA Fitness. And you are so excited! Finally that six pack you see in all the ads can be yours as well. The gym is wonderfully equipped with everything you need to get that body of yours in tiptop shape. There’s just one catch. You have to show up and use the equipment to get results. Merely having the membership card gets you nothing, unless you take advantage of what the gym has to offer.
Just so the Christian life. We have been given everything we need for life and godliness. But like the gym, we have to make an effort to maximize what God has given us.
And so Peter suggests a list of qualities that are meant to grow and expand as we “work them out.” Faith can emerge from goodness, and goodness can lead to knowledge, which in turn encourages self-control. And soon perseverance and godliness and mutual affection and love are evident in the way we live our lives.
Furthermore, our knowledge of Christ is not just dry facts and figures, but flesh-and-bones-life-lived that is effective and productive.
Who doesn’t want that?
This Sunday, Rob Lister will be preaching through this list of qualities, reminding us at the same time that we are not alone in our effort. God is working right alongside us, turning us into the persons we were made to be, steering us in the path of his will to fulfill his good purpose.
John Piper says:
In every single case, I am working. I am willing. I am serving. I am putting sin to death. My will is engaged. But in every case, my will is empowered by another will, the will of the Spirit, the will of Christ, the will of God, the will of grace.