No doubt you have heard, as have I, some incredible promises. There are the glowing promises made by advertisers of what miracles their products can work for you if you will only buy them. Sometimes these advertisers are forced to stop making the claims because the authorities have investigated them and found them wanting. We hear extravagant promises made all the time from politicians who know when they make their promises that they have neither the means nor the intention of delivering on them.
In the second epistle of Peter, in the very early verses of that letter, there are made “precious and magnificent promises.” (1 Peter 1:4 NASB).
“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” (2 Peter 1:3-4 ESV).
God has granted to us “all things that pertain to life and godliness.” These things come to us “through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.” Through that granting that comes to us through the knowledge of God, we are the happy recipients of “his precious and very great promises.”
What do these promises mean to us? Are they just there for us to enjoy? Is there any response expected of us? If so, what should be our response to these “magnificent” promises? Of course, as with all our interactions with God, there are certain appropriate responses called for in view of what He has in store for us.
“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.” (2 Peter 1:5-7 ESV).
Peter says that there are things to be “added” (KJV) to our faith. Faith is the foundation of the Christian’s life. Onto that foundation there are to be added all the qualities of character that make us well rounded individuals – people who are increasingly becoming more mature and more like our Lord.
These things are: “virtue” (“moral character” (ISV) or “[moral] excellence” (NET), knowledge, self-control, patience (or steadfastness), godliness, brotherly affection (or kindness) and love. Peter concluded his list of what sometimes are called the “Christian graces” or traits of character of the Christian with some more promises.
“For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
That may not be strictly a promise, but it is an assurance of a desired outcome in our lives. The promised results are, obviously, conditional. “If” we add these things to our faith, here is what will result. In order for us to be effective and fruitful we must add these qualities to our lives. There is simply no other way for us to achieve anything worthwhile in our lives than to add these traits of character.
Other promises found in this text are;
“Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:10-11).
Again Peter admonishes his readers to not just be diligent in the application of these instructions to their lives, but to be “all the more diligent” to do so. And again, notice the conditional nature of these promises. First he says that “if you practice these qualities” you will “never fall.” Here is the true “perseverance of the saints.” The attainment of fruitful, productive maturity and the assurance of a continuing, secure relationship with the Lord both depend in large measure on us.
We do have the promise of the Lord that no external power can take us from Him.
“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” (John 10:28-29).
But the promise Peter conveys here is an “if” promise – meaning that the blessing to be received is contingent on our practicing the qualities of life prescribed in the preceding verses. “If” you do these things. The Christian cannot idly sit in a pew and expect to ever receive what the Father desires to give him unless he diligently strives to grow as a Christian.
Peter concludes with another conditional promise. “For,” he says, “in this way” – if you add these qualities – “there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” You supply the virtues, God will “richly provide” the entrance! In other words, we will not “just squeak by” into eternal life! It will be abundantly supplied to by a loving Father! We can rely on His promises. He always makes good on them!
The eternal kingdom spoken of here is obviously the eternal destiny of the redeemed ones. It is a never ending, joyous and glorious eternity in the presence of God and of the Lamb where the rule of God is completely honored. It is the culmination of all God’s plans for his creation with those who have been faithful to Him sharing together with Him in the great victory over every enemy. What a glorious day that will be!