ADDING TO YOUR FAITH (Part 1)

    The basic question we have been dealing with in this series of articles is, “What does God expect of a Christian after his/her conversion?” Since we’ve now talked about our personal responsibility to grow spiritually, and part of that growth is to produce fruit in our lives, then we must now ask the question, “What happens if we sin after being baptized?” To properly respond to the question, we must again turn to the Bible and identify the will of God concerning the subject.
    First, read Proverbs 6:16-19 and consider how much our sins hurt God. Secondly, consider the price God paid to redeem us from our sins (1 Peter 1:17-19). We can quickly conclude that sin is a very serious problem – even for a born-again Christian! Yet, God also knows that we are going to stumble from time to time because we are human. He knows this because He also knows the devil is going to continue to attack us. But there is hope! What does 1 John 1:7-10; 2:3-5 teach us? The implication is that even as Christians, we may sin. Yet, if we do sin, then we need to repent! Back to our main question, “What does God expect?” He expects us to remain faithful (Revelation 2:10) and to avoid all forms of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22). So, how can we do that? How can we strengthen ourselves to withstand the attacks of the devil? How can we avoid falling into temptation? God has given us the answer: we need to strengthen our faith (2 Peter 1:5-11), we need to fortify our defenses against the devil (Ephesians 6:11), and we need to lean on Him to help us (Psalm 56:11)!

Strengthening Our Faith

    Let’s take a deeper look at the passage of the first point, strengthening our faith – 2 Peter 1:5-11. Read the passage and identify the seven “ingredients” or elements that Peter says we are to add to our faith. Now, think about it this way, to make a cake, we need a recipe, right? We add some ingredients together and the result is something appetizing. Or perhaps, think of it as bricklaying. As we add one upon another it builds up into something useful and solid. Our faith functions in a similar way. We have a recipe in the Bible with the basic components for Christian, spiritual maturity. These components help us to strengthen our faith in God, which helps us defend ourselves.
    What are the various Christian “ingredients”? The first is VIRTUE. What is that? It is sometimes translated as “moral excellence”. In this passage it is used to mean “value, worth, courage”. What this implies is, we must confess our faith, not hide it nor be ashamed of it! Read Matthew 5:16; 10:32 and Romans 1:16-17. When faced with obstacles while striving to walk in the light, we need this attribute in order to keep our faith. We need courage!
    The second element listed is KNOWLEDGE. What kind of knowledge are we talking about here? Spiritual knowledge. The kind that only comes through studying the Bible, the only way to know the will of God. Go to John 8:31-32 and fill in the blanks, “If you abide in My _____, you are My _____ indeed; and you shall know the _____, and the ______ shall make you _____” . Knowledge is so very important! What more does the Bible say about knowledge in 1 Timothy 2:4; Proverbs 1:7 and 10:14?
    Can we obtain knowledge of mathematics, science, or language without regular study? Absolutely not! The same applies to the Bible; we must study it if we want to grow spiritually. Here are some practical advice points for studying the Bible:
1). Set a regular time everyday. Pray before, during, and after studying the Bible.
2). Have the right attitude and humility in the study of the Word of God.
3). Memorize Scripture regularly (Psalm 119:11).
4). Consider all that the Scriptures teach about each subject (Psalm 119:160).
5). Let the Bible explain itself. The Bible is its own best commentary!
6). If possible, use more than one translation of the Bible.
7). Study the context, and don’t take a passage out of its context. The context includes the verse itself, the verses before and after, the book, and the rest of the Bible that deals with the subject.
8). Recognize figures of speech, The whole Bible was not written to be interpreted literally. Some parts are figurative or symbolic. (cf. Revelation 1:1,19-20).
   Peter goes on to add more elements on top of knowledge, but let’s focus on these two first! Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is one’s faith. Next week, we’ll focus on adding a few more elements to our spiritual defenses. God bless! – TS