The Christian life is often compared to a race (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). But allow me to share with you another analogy. It is like rowing upstream in a boat against the current. If we slacken, we will not remain stationary but be swept downstream; we may even lose control and hit some rocks or the river bank, tossed by swirling, turbulent forces of rapids.
In our journey upstream, various crises, trials and temptations assail us, threatening to impede our progress towards the intended destination―our heavenly abode, a place of eternal rest. For until the day we leave this earth, we will have to constantly face the onslaught of the world, our flesh and the devil, all conspiring to derail our entrance into the kingdom of God.
For the Christian life is not passive but active. If we think that, once we have received God’s grace, we can afford to be complacent, merely rest on the imputed righteousness of Christ, happily go on our way and do nothing, why are there so many references on active faith?
Work out your faith with fear and trembling: Philippians 2:12-13
Keep striving: Philippians 3:12-14
Run the race with discipline so we won’t be disqualified: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Bear fruits that befit repentance and don’t rest on your spiritual laurels: Luke 3:8
Narrow and hard is the way to life: Matthew 7: 13-14
Holiness requires effort; confirm your election: 2 Peter 1: 5-8, 10
Continual growth and progress in the Christian life is the sure way to keep us from stumbling
For he who lacks these things * is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins (2 Peter 1:9).
This reminder about how we were saved from our wretched state of sin and damnation is essential. Why? Then we will be motivated to develop these various spiritual qualities * (2 Peter 1:5-7) in our life. Now, it does not mean that we can be good through our self-effort. Rather, we are to humble ourselves, seek God’s grace and work out our faith in cooperation with God (Philippians 2:12-13).
How do we know that Peter is referring to the possibility that a believer might fail to enter the kingdom of God?
Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things * you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 10-11).
The implication is that if we are not diligent in making spiritual progress, we might stumble and hence fail to enter the kingdom of God. The connecting word ‘for’ shows us that spiritual diligence and entrance into God’s kingdom are linked.
* 2 Peter 1:5-7 (the need to develop faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love). This whole list of positive qualities in this passage is termed “these things”.
conclude, the Christian life can be compared to a journey upstream in a boat. We have to actively row against the current. Continual progress is the
sure way to keep us from stumbling, thus ensuring we will safely get to
heaven, the place of eternal rest and reward.
Acknowledgement: Thanks to David Straight for sharing his work on Unsplash. The first two pictures of the lady rowing the boat and rapids are shared by him.
GROWING IN GRACE
Peter: "Make every effort to make your calling and election sure so that you will not fall." What does this mean?
IMPLICATIONS THAT WE CAN’T AFFORD TO IGNORE
Many believers cruise along in life, happy in the knowledge that they are saved by grace. But we often fail to see the many obstacles and pitfalls we will inevitably encounter in our faith journey—such as temptation, deception, spiritual warfare and complacency—all of which will inevitably present challenges.
Faith: Active, Not Passive
“It would not be difficult to point out at least twenty-five or thirty distinct passages in the Epistles where believers are plainly taught to use active personal exertion, and are addressed as responsible for doing energetically what Christ would have them do, and are not told to “yield themselves” up as passive agents and sit still, but to arise and work. A holy violence, a conflict, a warfare, a fight, a soldier’s life, a wrestling, are spoken of as characteristic of the true Christian.”
― Dr Michael L. Brown
To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.
Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:1-11 (New King James Version)