Christian, Are You Swimming Or Floating?

by Kevin Burton

   Yesterday on Page 7 we tried to keep up with the apostle Peter as he exhorted believers to grow in their Christian character.

   We looked at 2 Peter 1: 5-7, which in

the New King James version reads, “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.”

   From there Peter talks about incorporation of these attributes.

     “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,” (2 Peter 1: 8-10).

  John Piper, the writer on, draws a sharp contrast between those who follow Peter’s words and those who don’t. He starts with a true story about swimming from The Incredible Series.

   “Glenda and Robert Lennon were four miles off the coast of Florida fishing alone from their yacht. Glenda decided to take a swim and soon found the current had carried her too far out from the boat. Her husband, hearing her cries, without thinking dove in and swam to her, but then realized they were both being carried out.”

   “He was a champion swimmer, but not she. They made a plan. He would swim against the tide to keep the boat in view until the tide ceased and he could reach the boat. She should save her strength and just float with the tide and he would come and get her. He fought the tide for six hours and just as the boat was about to disappear on the horizon the tide turned and his strokes carried him to the boat exhausted.”

    “The sun had set. His searching was futile; he could not find his wife. The next day on one last effort of search, the search party found his wife, twenty miles out and still alive. It was an incredible story.”

   “What it illustrates is this: Christians who just float never stay in the same place,” Piper writes. “Christians who disobey verses 5–7 and do not apply themselves with diligence to bear the fruit of faith, drift into great peril.”

    “The effort towards virtue, knowledge, self-control, patience, godliness, brotherly affection, and love is not dispensable icing on the cake of faith. If Robert had not swum with all his might, the yacht would have gone out of sight, and he and his wife would have drowned.”

   “We do not judge a person’s genuineness by how close he is to heaven but by how hard he is stroking,” Piper writes. “The evidence that God’s power has been given to you by faith, is that you are now making every effort to advance in the qualities of Christ.”

   “Verse 8 makes explicit the warning I have sounded: ‘For if these things are yours and abound, they keep you from being ineffectual and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.’”

   “Verse 9 describes what has happened in the person who quits swimming and is not pressing forward in Christ’s qualities. ‘For whoever lacks these things is blind and shortsighted and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.’”

   “The problem with the person who does not strive toward all the fruit of faith is that he is blind in two directions,” Piper writes. “When he looks to the future, it’s all a haze, and the promises of God are swallowed up in a blur of worldly longings. I think that is what it means by ‘shortsighted.’”

   “And when he looks to the past, the forgiveness that made him so excited at first is well-nigh forgotten, and all he sees is an empty prayer and a meaningless ritual of baptism.”

   “In other words, just as in verse 3 the power for godliness flows through knowledge of God, so in verse 9 blindness to the past and future work of God blocks that power and leaves us limp in the water, drifting toward destruction.”

   “Verse 10 makes crystal clear what is at stake in such blindness and powerlessness and fruitlessness: ‘Therefore, brethren, be the more zealous to confirm your call and election.’ The danger described in verses 8-9 is not the danger of slipping into the kingdom with no rewards. It is the danger of not being saved at all.

   “When Peter says, “Be zealous to confirm your call and election,” he means that our lack of diligence in Christian graces may be a sign that we were never called and are not among the elect.

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