The Balance Of Truth And Experience In Christ.
2 Peter 1.
Peter was the leading apostle, a pragmatic character, with a background in the New Testament era’s fishery industry. He was not a thoroughbred theologian like Paul, but nevertheless, in His second Letter, he attempted to differentiate both the necessity for a human experience of spirituality, with its flip-side undergirded by the vibrant truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Peter initially dwelt on the reality of our experience of God’s power, as He called and justified us and gave us everything that is required of us to live godly lives. He did not say that He would provide for everything that we may desire, despite the many burdens in life on this side of heaven, which can be awkwardly frustrating and difficult. But when our focus is in eternity, it makes absolute sense that this earthly interregnum is only a preparation for a time without end (cf., Ps 90:10). Our salvation immediately introduces us into this realm of living a godly life empowered by His Holy Spirit, enabling us to progressively experience His glory (viz., His very personal presence) and His goodness (viz., the totality of His moral attribute), apart from His precious and magnificent promises (2 Peter 1: 3; c.f., Exodus 33: 12-23, esp. verses 19, 22). The objective of all this is to become partakers of His divine nature – to become an effective believer in Christ here on earth (2 Peter 1: 4; c.f., John 17:20-26). It is pertinent to note that Peter was not referring to our status but a change in our morality (viz., having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust). Peter reminded us that as sanctified beings, we are unequivocally responsible to work out our moral and social qualities with God’s enabling (2 Peter 2: 5-7; c.f., Phil 2: 12-13), so that we become useful and fruitful to our Lord. This aim is conditional on our intentional perseverance in seeking for change in ourselves (viz., 2 Peter 1:5-7). Hence, the experiential aspect of being transformed disciples (2 Peter 1:8-11) is to embrace God’s power in us, so that we become effectual followers, who persevere in godliness.
Peter then delved into the truth of the gospel, the foundation of our experiential spirituality, by witnessing to his own testimony to the baptism and transfiguration of Jesus (2 Peter 1:17-18), substantiating further the divinity of the pre-incarnate Christ. His reminder upbraids our natural impatience at listening and grasping what we seemingly already know about the gospel and the Word, but Peter maintained that important issues require to be reinforced by repetitions (2 Peter 1:12-15). The roots of the gospel are too critical and need to be buttressed in safeguarding our theological foundations, especially from one generation to the next, with deliberate perennial reviews. But he did not stop there. He went on to include the prophets in their divine witness of the coming Messiah and His purpose (2 Peter 1:20-21). Therefore, we forsake rehearsing this historical witness at our own peril (2 Peter 1:16; c.f., 1 Cor 15: 12-19). Jesus Christ is Truth personified (John 14:6), and when we are centred in Him and become like Him, our religious experiences will reflect less of ourselves and more of His glory and goodness. John the Baptist modelled and encapsulated for us a piece of daily wisdom: “He must increase and I must decrease” (John 3: 30).