In theological circles there are some technical words that get applied to certain perspectives of theology. I am what is known as a “monergist.” Simply put, this means that I believe God does all the work in bringing about salvation. It is purely by his grace and mercy and there is nothing that we can do to add to our salvation or to bring it about.
Sometimes we also need to talk about what something doesn’t mean. Being a “monergist” doesn’t meant that I hold to some sort of cold, impersonal determinism. It also doesn’t mean that I don’t think we have any responsibility regarding our spiritual lives.
Two things are becoming more clear to me in these days. First, the way salvation works is a mystery. I don’t think I’m ever going to be able to unravel the definite machinations of the how.
This mystery is beautiful and glorious and intriguing and messy.
Second, we have a responsibility to support our faith. Peter writes,
For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love.
2 Peter 1:5–7
This passage starts with a “For this very reason…” The very reason that Peter is pointing to is in verse 4 where he says that we “…become participants of the divine nature.”
The contemporary idea that faith is nothing more than eternity insurance has no place in Christianity.
When we say we are trusting Christ, or following Christ, or that we are “saved,” it means that we are participating with Christ in the divine nature. This is called “union with Christ.”
If we are participating in the divine nature then our lives will begin to look different. I love how Peter says that we must “make every effort to support your faith.” There is a distinction that he makes there. Our faith is not something that we work up, it’s a gift, it’s given to us by God. But then we have a responsibility to do something with it.
Have you known of athletes who are members of the “Coulda Been Great” Society? I sure do. These are athletes that had tons of raw, God-given ability, and yet they did nothing with it. They were given a gift and didn’t develop it.
The same is true of our faith. We are called to act upon our faith. It is to practically change us. Our lives should be different because of our faith.
Do you see the progression here? Take a moment and ask yourself how you’re doing. It’s OK to take a little stock every now and then. Are you supporting your faith by practicing goodness? Pursuing knowledge? Practicing self-control? Enduring? Seeking to be godly? Practicing mutual affection? And, loving?
In many ways you could summarize this with, “Don’t be a jerk.” Or, “Love your neighbor.” Or, “Be a good person.”
This week is the third week of Advent with its focus on joy. The joy of this week is the sure and certain knowledge that our king is coming. The thing is, when our king comes our lives will need to look different. True joy, the joy that goes beyond being happy, is based and rooted in our identity. We experience joy when we are living out who we are.
If your life was marked by goodness, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, mutual affection, and love how much joy would know? How much joy would experience?
My friends, support your faith with your life. Live a life that honors our King and you will know JOY.
Originally published at danielmrose.com on December 17, 2018.