By Roland W. Keith
We are called to Christ through the gospel, being sanctified by the Spirit and our belief in the truth (II Thessalonians 2:13-14). It is in Christ that we are able to escape the corruption of the world and the wages of our own sins. It is in Jesus Christ that all of God’s promises are fulfilled, and it is in Him that we find our sins forgiven and are granted eternal life in heaven (II Peter 1:3-4). In his second letter Peter wrote, “But according to His promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by Him without spot or blemish, and at peace” (II Peter 3:13-14).
As Christians we are the recipients of God’s great gifts, which are beyond value. We, in fact, become children of God (John 1:12). And, as His children we are called to be obedient to the Father’s commands. As members of God’s family, we are given certain tasks with attendant responsibilities toward other Christians, the lost of the world, and even ourselves. Paul told the Philippians to workout their own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). He also instructed them to “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:13-15).
In like manner Peter told his readers to confirm their own calling with diligence, practicing those things they had been instructed in, which were able to provide them entrance into the eternal kingdom (II Peter 1:10-11). Through His Son, Jesus Christ, God has provided us with a path to heaven, and a roadmap to get us there. However, it is up to us to travel the road in accordance with the directions we have been given. That’s our responsibility. We have to take advantage of every opportunity to do the works of God and make every effort to live according to God’s word, beginning with the first commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40).
One of the most important responsibilities we have is to study the word of God (II Peter 3:18; II Timothy 3:14-17). It is through our knowledge of the word that we learn exactly what it is God wants us to do, how we are to do things, what we are not to do, what is to be gained or lost, what God has done for us, and how God will use us to do even more. It is more than a mere guide book, however. It is a life book. It is a spiritual survival manual that teaches us how to survive in a hostile world. What is sin? How do we avoid becoming its victim? How can we help others? To what extent should our efforts reach? What do we do if we are rejected? How do we grow stronger? How do we worship the Lord? What does He expect of us? The Bible answers all of these questions and many, many more.
Our confidence in the Bible is not based on blind faith, but rather it is an informed decision, based on reliable data. When we read the scriptures, we are reading eyewitness or firsthand accounts of the events and the people involved. We learn of all their triumphs and losses. We are acquainted with all that they achieved, what they gave up, what they believed, why they believed it, and why they were willing to sacrifice everything to not only gain it for themselves but to share it with others. Paul likened the Christian life to, among other things, an endurance race. A race that can only be finished if we look to the prize in faith (Hebrews 12:1-2). It is a race that requires preparation, endurance, determination and discipline (I Corinthians 9:24-27). It is a race that we run with others, but every man and woman must finish on his or her own. To begin we must know how to enter the race and what the rules are for running it. To finish it we must be determined, we must be confident, and we must faithful.
All those willing to enter the race and run according to the rules, who refuse to fall by the wayside, are promised a victory wreath (I Corinthians 9:24; Acts 2:39). What then are some of the rules? We must have faith in the One Who is asking us to run and believe that He is able to deliver what He has promised. In addition, as Peter wrote, “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. 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. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall” (II Peter 1:5-10).
All successful long-distance runners have certain qualities, and so do all those who succeed in gaining eternal life. Peter defined a lot of the characteristics of a successful Christian in the above verses. He also warned against turning from the way: “For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: "The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire” (II Peter 2:20-22).
Just as a runner prepares for a marathon, the Christian must prepare for a life-long commitment. When we accept Christ and turn to Him in obedience we become a new creation. As members of His kingdom we become God’s ambassadors to the world (II Corinthians 5:17-21). This is no small responsibility, nor is it a task without its perils. As Peter noted we can rejoice in our salvation, but it will not be without trials, including the testing of our faith (I Peter 1:6-7), but for those who endure there awaits a crown of glory (I Peter 5:4), and a home in heaven: “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:1-3).
We do not know how much we may have to endure. We do not no how long the Lord will tarry, nor how long our own lives will be (II Peter 3:10; I Thessalonians 5:1-6), but we do know as long as we walk in the light we will be safe. In his first letter Peter wrote, “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as He Who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy." And if you call on Him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (I Peter 1:13-19).
Those who prepare for action desire to live in peace, to help those around them and to bring others with them into the light while maintaining their own separation from the world (I Thessalonians 5:12-14; II Corinthians 13:11; James 1:27), all the while trusting in the Lord to hold them up (Jude 1:24-25). The faithful know that by following in the footsteps of Jesus and by living their lives according to the qualities He set forth He will sustain them in their election, rescuing them from every trial they face, enabling them to meet the responsibilities of their lives as Christians, and guiding them to the narrow gate that leads to heaven (II Peter 1:10; 2:9; 1:11). For those who are serious about their salvation and that of others, today is the acceptable day of the Lord. It is the only day that we are guaranteed. Are we living up to our responsibilities today? As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Working together with Him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says, "In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you." Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (II Corinthians 6:1-2).
Hi! I'm Roland. I began writing after retiring from the Navy in 2015. I believe that we each should strive to learn from one another, by sharing our thoughts and ideas. As a writer my goal is to help other seekers of truth to find and grow in Christ.