“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness… For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith…” 2 Peter 1:3, 5
The idea of “adding” something to faith seems out of line with the fundamental Christian doctrine of “faith alone.” Has Peter wandered from the ‘sola fide’ premise that has long served as a bedrock Christian doctrine? Be assured Peter is not contradicting Paul’s teaching that we are saved by grace through faith, and not by works. We must properly understand the context of Peter’s teaching in this chapter. Peter is concerned, not with the matter of salvation by faith, but the faith additives that mark a life lived by obedience because of faith.
Faith is God’s work in our lives resulting in salvation and eternal life. Peter would agree that nothing can be added to achieve our salvation (see 1 Peter 3:1-5). It is by grace through faith – period. However, like James, Peter addresses the issue of genuine faith evidenced by productive action versus a faith without substance or life, which is no faith at all. Peter’s letters all focus on salvation that leads to obedience. He declares that God has, by His divine power, given us everything we need for life and godliness by faith. In other words, how we live our faith out in this world.
We have been saved as visible reflections of God’s glory because we are now new creatures in Christ. The Father has given us new life to cultivate that faith for His purposes. The apostle Paul uses similar language throughout his writings when he says “put on the full armor of God”, or “take off the old self” and “put on the new self”… all actions of obedience because of faith and the Spirit in us.
Faith in action is the defining characteristic of the authentic follower of Christ. Our children and grandchildren may hear us talk about our faith, but more importantly, do they see us live it in the divine power of God? They want to see our talk match our walk.
Throughout this series, we will examine each of these “additives” to faith that Peter lists for effective, productive living—what our talk talks and our walk talks. These are the things that Peter said he would diligently remind us of as long as he lived. We must do the same as grandparents.
Here’s an idea. Consider making a FAITH PLUS chart to use as a teaching tool with your grandchildren. Each week add one of the “additives” on your chart explaining what it means and an example of how that trait was displayed during the week. If you don’t have grandchildren nearby, make a chart you can send to them, and set up Skype or Facetime schedules to work through the chart together.
It is time for us to show that the evidence of our faith is on display in every part of our life. Faith alone gives us our salvation. Faith plus shows the world how that faith changes everything.
A man’s life is always more forcible than his speech. If his life and doctrine disagree, the mass of onlookers will accept his practice and reject his preaching. C.H. Spurgeon