I am overwhelmed by this relationship with God, His love astounds me. The longer I walk with Him the more intimacy He gives me. I have come to see there is no end to the depth of closeness, understanding and friendship with The Lord. One day believers will be completely and perfectly united with Him in New Jerusalem, but now we enjoy and ever growing relationship. As we grow closer to Him, we become more and more like Him.
Do you know how much God loves you? If you say yes, you may understand that He loves you deeply, but I don’t know that any of us can truly fathom the profundity of His love while we are still on this earth. I know that day by day I am amazed at just how intensely and greatly He cares. Peter was writing to dispersed Christians and he wanted them to understand that being so close to God meant something special. Verses 1-2 are the greeting to the letter.
Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:
2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
He told them that even though he was an apostle and a leader of the church, their faith gave them equal standing in the Lord. They were all declared righteous through Jesus Christ. He prayed that grace and peace would be multiplied to them as they came to know God more and more. And that is what happens, the more we come to know who God is, the more we come to realize His great grace. The more we know God, the easier it is to trust Him and have peace so great, the world can’t grasp it.
This relationship means amazing things for us. Verses 3-4 read,
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
God’s power has given us every gift, blessing, and understanding that has to do with living in the Spirit, a God-pleasing life that points to Jesus. God’s promises are not like ours. He didn’t promise us the ridiculousness of rainbows and unicorns that and He didn’t promise us mere ice cream with sprinkles. No, He promised eternal life. He promised salvation. He promised Himself to us. He said, “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6). It is through those wonderful promises that we are able to experience a closeness with God that can only be described as a union of our soul to His; He gave us His Spirit. He lets us partake, that is share, experience, and join in His nature, His character! Jesus last words before His ascension and after He promised the Holy Spirit and gave the great commission to the Apostles were, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20).
Sharing in God’s nature, having His Spirit indwelled in us means we can live out the great commission to Go out and train everyone far and near in this way of life, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and instruct them in the practice of all Jesus commanded (Matthew 28:18-20). Living out our faith means living and behaving as Jesus would, showing His goodness and salvation to the world. It means we are not the same people we used to be and we ought to live as new creations and not like our old selves. Who would want to come to know a god who doesn’t put his power behind His words? God’s power is His Word, it is real, and we are able to live that power through our lives since God has granted us all things pertaining to life and godliness. Verses 5-11 in The Message read,
So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can’t see what’s right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books.
10-11 So, friends, confirm God’s invitation to you, his choice of you. Don’t put it off; do it now. Do this, and you’ll have your life on a firm footing, the streets paved and the way wide open into the eternal kingdom of our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The Christian striving to walk in the Spirit knows it is no easy thing to always choose virtue, patience, kindness, self-control, and love. But she knows that faith in God makes it possible because she joins in His Spirit and not her flesh. The longer she walks in the Spirit, the easier each attribute comes, but it is a constant and continuous endeavor that will be completed only on the day we are taken up to be with Jesus as His Bride.
If we give up, if we decide that we are going to wait for some instant magical change we won’t be exercising faith in God by choosing His way over ours. The people who do not know Jesus will not see Him in us and we will be ineffectual for the Kingdom of Heaven. Giving in to the sins of our past and the desires of the flesh quenches the Spirit. He goes from being a hot and purifying fire within us who speaks to the world by the changes He makes in us to an ember who won’t make changes in us we are not willing to allow. 1 Thessalonians 5:15-24 says it like this,
See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.
23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
But when we choose to let The Spirit purify our old nature, when we choose to partake of God’s nature rather than our old nature, God burns passionately in us. We know Him on an ever deepening level and we know His heart. It is truly miraculous. Such a close relationship with God, one where He shares His secrets, His desire, and His power with us is not exclusive to a few Christians. It is not just for the top echelon. Peter said through faith we have obtained equal standing before God. That intimacy is for all of us who want it. And Peter was in the very top tier of people who could have claimed a higher rank. He was an apostle and He was among the three who Jesus took into His inner circle. Peter, John Paul and James, the brother of Christ were the undisputed leaders of the early church. Peter had seen things with Jesus that only someone in an intimate relationship could be shown. When he preached the gospel to people, he didn’t have to say something he had learned second or third hand. He spoke from his experience. When he declared Christ as the Son of God, he said it because he had been there when God declared it. Verses 16-18 read,
For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.
Peter didn’t have to memorize a special program for evangelism. He spoke from experience, he spoke from his friendship with Jesus. Guess what! We too know God, we too are His friends and we can speak from our experience and knowledge of God. We have God living inside us, His Spirit is sewn to ours. When we share the Gospel, it is first hand because we are sharing how Jesus saved us and how He has made us new. We are able to speak His words because He is friends enough to tell us His plans. In John 15:14-15 Jesus said,
“You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”
Speaking God’s heart, speaking God’s Word is called prophecy. It is a privilege to hear God’s Word and a greater privilege to speak it. It is one we as believers all have. Verses 19-21 describes it.
And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Our closeness with the Lord has several outcomes. We grow closer and closer to Him as Jesus, the Bright and morning Star rises in our hearts. We become more like Him as we choose to let Him conform us to His image. We live out our faith because we share in His nature. We speak His Word by His will, power and understanding and so point the world to Jesus.