The Apostle Peter makes a declarative, in fact an absolute, statement about what God has given us so that we may grow and prosper as believers in this life. He states in 2 Peter 1:3-4 (ESV):
3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
Peter reveals to us that when we were saved we were given everything or “all things” we would need in order to live a godly life. In this teaching we find the preeminence of the Word of God where the Apostle focuses in on the means by which we may partake in the divine nature, namely “his precious and very great promises”. Did you get that? It is not a mystical experience, a retreat to a nice resort in the wilderness, a pat on the back by the Pastor, hustling for Jesus or anything else that is emphasized here. Instead it is the Word of God as center stage for your matriculation into the divine nature (while that is not the sum total of what we have been given such as the resurrection of our spiritual person and so on, it is underscored here because of its seminal role in the process of our taking part in the divine nature and growing therein).
But before furthering our analysis, as a side note, we must observe that where Peter says “he has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness”, the verb tense for “has granted” is of weighty consequence. Most often with verbs we encounter a past, present or future tense. But here Peter uses none of the three; rather he uses what is called the perfect tense. This tense in the Koine Greek refers to an action in the past that is not intended to be repeated in the future because that past action carries with it permanent conditions which continue on into the present and future. In other words all that needed to be done was done and now we are to simply benefit from its permanent properties. Hence, we are without excuse as to having enough of God’s Word, enough of God’s Spirit, enough of God’s design for the dissemination and instruction of his Word and so on. We cannot plead that our reason for failing to mature has to do with waiting on God to deliver more, he has delivered what he will deliver and we are now to receive it.
The Four Hearts and Their Consequences
As we learned in Part 1 concerning The Parable of the Sower, (Luke 8:4-15), the soil represents the hearts of four different people. The first person’s heart was so hard that it could not even receive the good news of Jesus Christ and as a result the devil removed it from him (and this Evil One does so by whatever means he is permitted with each person) and he did not believe and was not saved. However, the remaining three did believe and were saved and all of them, as the parable teaches, “came to life”.
What distinguishes between the three that did spring to life (again analogous per our Lord for believing the gospel thereby coming to life, i.e. regeneration) is not whether they were saved but to what degree they matured or grew. And what we discovered in the parable is that it is not the deficiency of God or his lack of willingness to nourish and enlighten the believer which causes his spiritual poverty but the condition of his heart.
The Cases of Developmental Failure
Our Lord made it clear that the second and third persons failed to mature because something was amiss with the condition of the soil which is analogous to their heart. One had a heart which was softened enough for the reception of the gospel and limited growth but not too far underneath was hard so as to forbid strong rooting. The other accommodated the presence of weeds and permitted, within the soil (his heart), the growth of other things which eventually served to choke the plant from its full growth. It did bear immature fruit but that is not the divine objective for the believer.
Why did these two fail to develop? Because they chose to allow either the soil itself to remain unattended, hence keeping it hard right below the surface and preventing vigorous rooting or they permitted the presence of other things which crowded and choked their growth. Obviously I am not presenting anything that is difficult to determine but it serves a very crucial point as it relates to the rest of Scripture and particularly Peter’s contention.
If what Peter has proclaimed is true, that we have been given all things (and it is), then we have nothing left to do but benefit from all which God has given. Remember Israel? They had not been given all things; they were constantly waiting for God to advance them and the kingdom. Of course we now know that while God was pouring out and seeking to advance them, they sought to go backwards and failed to yield even to what had been given up to that point. But for us, we need not wait for more. The kingdom has been advanced, the objective conquered, the gifts given, the blessings poured and all we need given has been given! And particularly as it relates to our nourishment, God’s Word stands as not only a daily vitamin but a super-charged super-protein mix for our growth that needs no more additives. I’d call it Miracle Grow ® but I believe that name is already a registered trademark.
However, if our hearts are like the above, no matter how many times a day, now matter how many ways a day, we subject ourselves to the Word of God the best it will render with a heart that is either shallow or dually possessed by wrong things, will merely be intellectually stimulating chatter for our own self-aggrandizing repetition or a nuisance to those other plants which represent opposing values to God’s intents but never will it be what it was meant to be, a nourishing and transforming agent for our lives. And this is what it should be.
This is the emphasis of our Lord Jesus in the parable. As he concludes the parable he makes his point by stating that one does not light up a lamp and then hide its light. In other words Jesus is saying “I did not save you to wither or bear bitter immature fruit” which is akin to hiding the lamp.
Back to Peter
Again, if Peter is true (and he is) then we have only ourselves to blame when we fail to mature. And when we think of all God has given us we must think about ourselves being that plant. Imagine for a moment you are that plant. As a plant what has God given you? For one he has given you his Holy Spirit which abides in you always. As well he has given you his Word and spiritually gifted men to instruct you in it. In other words, believer, God has given you permanent sunshine, rain, clouds and so on; all you need to flourish! And I have listed but a couple of the many things a believer is given the moment of salvation (not to mention justification, positional sanctification, eternal life…).
So if a plant has permanent nourishment and its caretaker lives not outside of the plant but actually inside the plant to insure the plant can receive the food it needs and the plant as been deemed irrevocably the recipient of all good things, what is left to cause the plant to withered or be choked? The only thing left his heart, his volition.
God always gives you opportunity. He does all the work and you do all the receiving but the one thing he does not do is make your choices for you. God does not make the choice for you to mature and then zap you with divine magic to make you do so. He has chosen for you to mature but he will not make the choice for you to produce within your heart the conditions needed to receive and benefit from the nourishment needed to mature. And so, with regard to your heart you have a choice, not just to be saved but to mature. But just like believing to be saved one must put aside personal ascendancy which means deeply tilling our hearts so that it may be uniformly soft and removing those things to which we give life and thereby act to deter our spiritual progress. We must, day in a day out with virgin soil, receive the life-giving, life-sustaining and life-enriching Word so that we may indeed bear mature fruit. The choice is yours to prepare your heart for full maturity or some form of falling short.