(Edited with permission)
“According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue” II Peter 1:3.
Recently, I have been memorizing this Bible verse. As I read the surrounding Scripture, I am deeply impressed by Peter’s message. Several statements stand out which we could look at, but one that seems especially important to me is found in verse 11— “If ye do these things, ye shall never fall.”
Do we really understand what “ye shall never fall” means? The Bible promises that if we follow its teachings we will never fall spiritually. Do I believe this? Do you? What does it mean to fall? And what is it that we need to do in order to avoid falling?
Let's read the text first (II Peter 1:1-11). And as we read, notice the words “through” and “whereby”.
“Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us ‘through’ the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied unto you ‘through’ the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, ‘through’ the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: ‘Whereby’ are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world ‘through’ lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. ‘Wherefore’ the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
The first through is found in verse 1. “To them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ”. This tells us that true faith does not happen apart from righteousness. We cannot say that we have faith and are Christians if we deny God’s righteousness or if we do not live according to His holiness. A person of biblical faith is a person of righteousness—Jesus Christ’s righteousness.
Another important teaching which we see in verse 1, is that the Christian faith is obtained. We are not born with it. We cannot say we are Christians simply because we were born into a Christian home, or because we were baptized in a Bible-believing church. Faith must be obtained by personally accepting God’s righteousness and then living by it. Faith is not inherited; but rather faith is obtained: by personal choice, by personal repentance, and by a personal acknowledgment that we were born with a sin nature—in complete and absolute need of redemption. We must be born again by God’s Spirit in order to be a part of His Kingdom and to spend eternity someday with Him.
The second through is found in verse 2. It says: “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord”. Grace is the kindness God shows us to save us from sin and hell and to fill us with power to live a godly life. Peace speaks of tranquility, harmony, and rest in the soul. This verse tells us that if we want grace and peace, we will find it through getting to know God. The more we know God, the more grace and peace we will receive. The only way to know God today is by reading His Word and allowing His Spirit to teach us from the Scriptures. The Bible is the only book that reveals who God is. The more I absorb God’s Word, the more I know Him.
The third through is found in verse 3. It says that “all things that pertain unto life and godliness” are given to us “through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue”. The Bible says that we have been given absolutely all we need to live a godly life. This tells us that we have no excuse for living the Christian Life without having victory over sin. God has provided everything—all the instructions and all the power—in order for us to live victorious and abundant Christian lives (John 10:10). Through His Son, His Spirit, and His Word, He has given us absolutely everything we need to know in order to live above bitterness, above unforgiveness, above immorality, above every sin which we could possibly consider.
It seems too good to be true, but it is true! The Bible says that we are “more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Romans 8:37). We must believe it. We do not need to be saved just by the skin of our teeth, so to speak. We have been rescued to live full, abundant lives that radiate God’s glory and love to others. Am I living this way? What about you?
We have been rescued to live full, abundant lives that radiate God’s glory and love to others.
This verse says it again. All these things come through knowing Jesus Christ. Essentially, everything we need for an abundant Christian life is found in the Holy Bible, the written Word of God. We are deprived of nothing. The Bible informs us how to be saved, how to find forgiveness for our sins, and how to forgive others. It teaches us how to relate to our parents, our children, our siblings, our neighbors, our enemies, and our government. It shows us how to deal with real-life problems. No matter how young we are, how old we are, who we are, what job we have, or where we find ourselves in life (1 Corinthians 7:20-22), the Bible has everything we need. If we read it, believe it by faith, and obey it, we will find this to be the solution to all of life’s problems.
Going back to 1 Peter 1, the word “whereby” in verse 4 also means through (or through which), and it refers to the previous verse. Through God’s Word we receive great and precious promises through which, in turn, we share God’s nature. This is pretty amazing! God loved the world so much that He gave us every resource and all the power we need for our daily life. And not only this, He also enables us to share in His divine nature. We are able to reflect God’s love, holiness, and righteousness in practical ways. Mankind was created in God’s image, then sin marred that reflected image. But today we can be restored to again reflect God’s divine image and character, by having a changed heart and life through a relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ.
As we read through these verses, we notice that Peter is trying to impress us with the idea of building up or adding on as we move from verse to verse. Faith comes through God’s righteousness as we understand His Word. After faith comes grace and peace, plus everything in God’s Word that enables us to live a godly life. Along with this comes God’s great promises and the sharing of His divine nature.
We read in verse 5: “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue…” As we keep reading, we continue to see this idea of adding on, building up, and moving forward in maturity. In fact, he concludes the whole letter with the same thought: “Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (3:18). The Christian life is much more than simply getting saved. It involves constant growth, constant upward movement, and constant renewal. Romans 12:12: “...be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God”.
So, to our faith we must add virtue; to virtue, knowledge; to knowledge, temperance; to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity or love.
Verse 8 is another of those astounding statements which we must believe by faith, since it is humanly impossible outside of God’s enabling power— “If these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ”. If faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, and so on, are in us and abound, we will be diligent and fruitful in knowing Christ. In other words, there will be no hindrance in getting to know Jesus, nor in bearing godly fruit.
Do I want to know Jesus? What about you? If our answer is yes, then these things need to be a part of our life. Verse 9 is clear that if we lack these things, we are blind and shortsighted. In fact, we have forgotten the great miracle of cleansing that God performed in our life at conversion. When we fail to grow in our Christian life, when we fail to add on to our faith, when we fail to “build up ourselves on our most holy faith” (Jude 1:20), then we lose purpose in life, we lose victory, and possibly we may even lose our faith in the end. Constant diligence is of the essence.
In fact, verse 10 brings this out. “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall”. It is a promise. If we are diligent, we will not fall from the faith. If we are diligent, we will be fruitful and more than conquerors. And in the end (verse 11), “an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ”; as Revelation 21:7 also says, “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son”.
Why do we keep searching everywhere other than God’s Word for the answers to our many problems…?
Through His Word: God has revealed Himself, He has given us all the instructions and advice we need to get through life, He has given us the power to be more than conquerors, and He has given us great and precious promises for this life and the next. What else do we think we need? When we experience trouble or grief in life, why do we turn elsewhere for advice, comfort, or help? Why do we keep searching everywhere other than God’s Word for the answers to our many problems, when that is where they actually are?
Once, after being abandoned by many followers, Jesus asked His disciples, “Will you also go away?” And Peter said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:67-68). When we have trouble in life, when we fear, when we think we are starting to fall away, then we should come to Jesus, the Christ of the Bible. He has the words of eternal life.
The next time you are tempted to give up, the next time you feel that your temptations are too overwhelming, or the next time you start thinking that Satan is getting the upper hand in your life, remember that according to God’s Word we have this promise—that IF ye do these things ye shall never fall. Instead of accepting the lie of Satan that it is no use to keep going or that it is no use to keep trying, let us embrace this TRUTH and draw near to God through the reading of His Word and believe what He tells us.