In the previous post we saw a list of seven things that we are to add to our faith. Before examining what these things are and how we can go about adding them to our lives, we need to talk about faith. Peter is writing to believers in Christ, so he assumes at the outset that they have faith. Faith is the essential foundation for building good character and good relationships.
The book of Hebrews chapter 11 gives a concise description of faith. In verse 1 we find this basic definition: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Some people suggest that faith means “believing without evidence.” In this view, faith is seen as merely a subjective opinion about things that can never be proven. However, this is not the biblical view of faith. Faith in the biblical sense is based on the works of God, including but not limited to creation, the deliverance and preservation of Israel in the Old Testament, and the Resurrection of Jesus in the New Testament. In fact the apostle Paul pointed to the Resurrection, which was attested by many eyewitnesses (1 Cor. 15:3-8), as the evidence that the message he preached was true (Acts 17:30-31).
Faith is the essential starting point for spiritual growth. As the writer of Hebrews says, “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Heb. 11:6). Faith is more than simply believing that God exists, it is also trusting in His character and trusting that He is faithful to keep His promises. As Peter writes in 2 Pet. 1:4, God has given us His wonderful promises so that we can partake of His very nature and escape the corrupting effects of the world. In order to grow spiritually, we must have the faith to hold on to God’s promises in spite of the trials and tribulations that life brings our way.
It is much like entrusting ourselves to a surgeon who is attempting to restore us to health even though they are preparing to cut us open, except that God is more trustworthy than any surgeon. Faith, then, is our response to God’s promises. It is a choice, not a feeling, and it always leads to action. This means that we are not simply relying upon our own efforts in growing spiritually, as though we had the ability on our own power to build our own character and our own relationships based on our own goodness. Instead, we have to come to the point of surrendering to God and accepting His solution for us in sending Jesus to die for our sins to reconcile us to Himself, and in sending the Holy Spirit to be with us and in us to help us grow spiritually.
Peter thus begins with the assumption that the believers to whom he is writing have heard and understood this message, and have repented of their sins and turned to God in obedience to Him and with a desire to please Him. If the reader has not done so, this is the all-important first step in moving towards Christlikeness and in receiving eternal life – the very life of God Himself.
Questions for reflection: Do you believe God rewards those who diligently seek Him? If not, what keeps you from believing that? If so, how are you acting on that belief?