Are you growing as a child of God? How much have you grown spiritually since you first obeyed the good news of the kingdom? In 2 Peter 1:5-7, the apostle Peter sets forth a list of eight qualities for the Christian to acquire. The qualities listed are faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love. He goes on to reveal that, “if these qualities are yours and are increasing (growing, abounding), they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the full knowledge of our Master Jesus, the Messiah” (2 Pe. 1:8). Who wants to be ineffective or unfruitful in their walk with the Master of heaven and earth? Do you?
The first of the eight traits Peter encourages us to use as the building blocks of our growth in the Messiah is that of “faith” (2 Pe. 1:5). One is hard pressed to find any aspect of godly growth and living that does not in some way fit into one of these eight categories of thought and behavior. I suggest that Peter places each of these qualities in the order that he does for a reason. Each of the eight is a prerequisite for the one that follows it, but it is not that we move from one quality to another. Even after we have reached the final “step” of love, we must continue to grow in all eight characteristics listed.
A good working definition of faith is that of taking God at His word. Luke records Paul explaining to the sailors, “I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told” (Ac. 27:25). Paul had been given an inspired message about the results of the journey, and he fully believed in God and in the words of God. Many individuals believe in God (in His existence), but how many actually believe God? Trust is a good synonym for faith. I may believe in God and in certain facts about Him, but I am I willing to take refuge in Him?
In the eleventh chapter of the letter to the Hebrews, we are given a wonderful list of examples of faith in the past. It is important to note that the writer emphasizes how each of these saints of faith acted without physical sight of the promises. They obeyed God out of their faith in Him and in His words (cf. Ja. 2:14-26). The chapter opens with this powerful description of faith’s strength: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of matters not seen” (He. 11:1). Faith is looking at the evidence that exists, and then believing and obeying God without having to see Him or the promises. As Paul observed to the Corinthians, “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Co. 5:7). The power of our faith allows us to see the invisible (He. 11:3, 27). The living faith of the child of God is looking to the reward of God Himself (He. 11:26-27).
How important should faith be in our lives? To begin answering that question, we need to also ask ourselves, “How important is pleasing God?” The Hebrew writer reveals that “without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him” (He. 11:6). Please note again the way proper faith is more than just being a theist; true faith in God’s sight is a faith that possesses a deep confidence in Him and in His revealed will.
Faith is listed first in Peter’s list because it is so foundational to every part of the life of a Christian. Faith, along with hope and love (see 1 Corinthians 13:13), is an immense motivator and manifestation of God in our hearts and lives. We repented of our sins initially because of our faith in God’s word (cf. Ac. 17:30-31). By faith we responded properly to the good news of King Jesus by being immersed into Him and into His death (cf. Ro. 6:3-6). Faith is what will continue to cause us to serve God and to show His love and spread His reign in this world.
Since faith is important to pleasing God, we need to find out how to increase our faith. What is the source of faith? How do we cause our faith to grow stronger and deeper? In discussing the rejection of the Messiah and the need for spreading the good news about Him, Paul explains, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Ro. 10:17). The word of God is the source of our faith in God. If faith is taking God at His word, then it should not surprise us to learn that faith originates from the word of God.
If you want a faith that is alive and vibrantly growing, then spend time reading, studying, and meditating on the words of the mind of God in the Bible. One cannot skip time in God’s holy word and expect to grow in their faith. Soon His words will dwell in us richly and our hearts will be so full of His grace, that we will be teaching and admonishing one another with thankfulness in our hearts to Him (cf. Co. 3:16).
Peter starts this letter by referring to the great amount of treasured promises God has made to us (2 Pe. 1:3-4). These promises give us the privilege of partaking of the divine nature and fleeing from this corrupt world of sin and death. It is upon the foundation of these promises and privileges that Peter exhorts us to grow in our faith and the other seven characteristics.
“Therefore, brothers, be all the more energetic to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly granted to you an entrance into the unending kingdom of our Master and Savior Jesus, the Messiah” (2 Pe. 1:10-11).
Gantt currently resides with his wife and two children in Elk City, OK. He has been preaching in some form since 2007, and is currently the preaching minister for the 2nd & Adams congregation in Elk City.