Recipe for a Fruitful, Holy Life

Here are my Bible teaching notes from a popular teaching I taught last year.

I am not ashamed to admit that I like to cook and even bake on occasion. I remember vividly using the Betty Crocker cookbook and following a recipe for peanut butter cookies that had a list of ingredients that you would add one at time to the bowl until you had the perfect cookie dough. The apostle Peter in the cookbook for life sets forth a recipe for a holy, productive and effective life in the service of our Lord Jesus Christ. He lists eight ingredients that are to be added and exercised in our lives that will not only produce a life of effective Christian service but rewards at the bema when Christ returns. 

II Peter 1:3-5 (Amplified)

For His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that [are requisite and suited] to life and godliness, through the [full, personal] knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence (virtue).

    4By means of these He has bestowed on us His precious and exceedingly great promises, so that through them you may escape [by flight] from the moral decay (rottenness and corruption) that is in the world because of covetousness (lust and greed), and become sharers (partakers) of the divine nature.

    5For this very reason, adding your diligence [to the divine promises], employ every effort in exercising your faith to develop virtue (excellence, resolution, Christian energy), and in [exercising] virtue [develop] knowledge (intelligence),

6And in [exercising] knowledge [develop] self-control, and in [exercising] self-control [develop] steadfastness (patience, endurance), and in [exercising] steadfastness [develop] godliness (piety),

    7And in [exercising] godliness [develop] brotherly affection, and in [exercising] brotherly affection [develop] Christian love.

    8For as these qualities are yours and increasingly abound in you, they will keep [you] from being idle or unfruitful unto the [full personal] knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).

    9For whoever lacks these qualities is blind, [spiritually] shortsighted,  seeing only what is near to him, and has become oblivious [to the fact] that he was cleansed from his old sins.

    10Because of this, brethren, be all the more solicitous and eager to make sure (to ratify, to strengthen, to make steadfast) your calling and election; for if you do this, you will never stumble or fall.

    11Thus there will be richly and abundantly provided for you entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

     The eight ingredients to a fruitful, effective and holy life for God are faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, patience, godliness, brotherly affection and love.

     Peter is urging his readers to grow in spiritual maturity. Peter had previously urged the Christian believers in II Peter 1:15,16 “to be holy in all that you do.” God wants us to be useful and fruitful for His holy purposes. “NOW” that you’ve heard these great truths — now that you have everything necessary for life & godliness, now that you have His precious and magnificent promises, now that you have been made partakers of His divine nature and now that you have escaped the corruption in the world…”NOW” in view of these incredible resources, diligently (spoude) cultivate these 8 qualities in your Christian life.

Lets look at this word diligence because it is the word that describes the foundational effort in cultivating these qualities in our lives. Diligence (spoude from speudo = hasten, make haste) refers to eagerness, earnestness,  willingness or zeal. It denotes quick movement or haste accompanying the eagerness, in the interest of a person or cause. Thus spoude can refer to swiftness of movement or action and means haste or speed (like our expression “in a hurry”). It is employed, for instance, to describe the eager swiftness with which the Virgin went toElizabeth after the angel’s salutation and annunciation. It is the word employed to describe the murderous hurry with which Herodias came rushing in to the king to demand John the Baptist’s head. It is the word with which the Apostle, left solitary in his prison, besought his sole trusty, companion Timothy to ‘make haste so as to come to him before winter. The first notion in the word is haste, which crowds every moment with continuous effort, and lets no hindrances entangle the feet of the runner.

It can refer to an earnest commitment in discharge of an obligation or experience of a relationship. Spoude was often used in Greek and Roman literature and found on inscriptions in reference to extraordinary commitment to civic and religious responsibilities, which were frequently intertwined, and also of concern for personal moral excellence or optimum devotion to the interests of others. It has the idea of making haste, being eager, giving diligence, and putting forth effort. The word speaks of intense effort and determination.

Peter is calling for an attitude of eagerness and zeal, an abandonment of sluggishness and self-indulgence. Note Peter’s addition of the little modifier all (pas = the whole amount or quantity, no holding back) to underline the comprehensiveness of the effort called for. Peter says this is so important that one’s effort must be neither half-hearted nor selective. 

There must be an eager, active, intense determination to live a life pleasing to God. The Greek word implies the doing of one’s best, the act of carefully attending to a duty. The Christian life is a very serious business. However, we have made it sort of an extracurricular activity. The present-day thinking is that it is not something to be taken into the business world or the schoolroom or into social life. Rather, it is something sort of like your Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes which you wear only at certain times. However, Peter said that it is something to which we are to give “all diligence” to cultivate these 8 ingredients into a holy, fruitful life.

In the NIV it states to add each one of these ingredients or virtues to the other. The word “add” is epichoregeo in the Greek and according to Vincent’s Word Studies means to develop one virtue in the exercise of another, each new ingredient springing out of and perfecting the other.

Wuest adds that epichoregeo was…

derived from chorus, a chorus, such as was employed in the representation of Greek tragedies. The verb originally meant ‘to bear the expense of a chorus,’ which was done by a person selected by the state, who was obliged to defray all the expense of training and maintenance.” Strachan adds, “It was a duty that prompted to lavishness in execution. Hence choregeo came to mean ‘supplying costs for any purpose,’ a public duty or religious service, with a tending, as here, towards the meaning, ‘providing more than is barely demanded.’ ” Thus, the word means “to supply in copious measure, to provide beyond the need, to supply more than generously.”

It can mean to equip an army with all necessary provisions; it can mean to equip the soul with all the necessary virtues for life. But always at the back of it there is this idea of a lavish generosity in the equipment. So Peter urges his people to equip their lives with every virtue; and that equipment must not be simply a necessary minimum, but lavish and generous. The very word is an incitement to be content with nothing less than the loveliest and the most splendid life.

“Add” is in the aorist imperative which is a peremptory command to carry out this “abundant furnishing” with a sense of urgency. Do this now and do not delay! 

INGREDIENT #1 FAITH 

Biblically, faith is trust, confidence in, or assurance.

 II Corinthians 5:7 We live by faith, not by sight.

Biblically, faith is trust, confidence in, or assurance. God isolates faith, which means “trust,” or “confidence,” as the one of the single most important elements of relationship with Him . That makes sense because we all recognize the importance of trust in our relationships, and we evaluate their quality by how much trust is present. Trust implies something or someone to trust in. To have faith in God is to trust Him, and thus to have a relationship with Him. The more intimate and trusting that relationship, the more mutually satisfying it is for both parties. We cannot love God if we do not trust Him.

“Faith” can also be understood as “confident expectation.” It is looking to the future with confidence because God is a faithful provider of all that we need.

Trust, or faith, is not a power in itself; it requires an object—someone or something to trust in. God is the object of our faith, but to trust Him we must know something about Him, that is, His character and His promises. We cannot really trust anyone unless they express themselves in words, words that arrange themselves in the form of a promise, and one in which we have the confidence that they have the character and resources necessary to keep their promise. Think about it: the better we know God’s character, that is, His willingness to do exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or think (Eph. 3:20-KJV), and the more we know His ability, the more we trust Him and obey Him. When we obey Him, He never fails to prove Himself to us.

So if you feel you do not trust God, ask yourself why. You may find it is because you really do not know God. Remember that getting to know someone takes time. When Jesus was astounded with the disciples for their lack of faith (trust), he said to them, “…Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:40b). The word we need to pay attention to is “still.” Jesus did not ask people to have faith in him when he first met them, but the disciples had been with him for months, and seen him do miracle after miracle. Jesus marveled that they had not built more trust in him during that time. We build trust in God by building our relationship with God. 

INGREDIENT #2  VIRTUE 

Virtue means moral excellence. It is any quality where one stands out as excellent; the ability to perform heroic deeds, the demonstration of virtue by excellence in life and living up to one’s potential and fulfilling one’s purpose with excellency. It is a tapestry of excellence and courage and denotes the courage to excel in life. It is moral excellence that is demonstrated in life. When a Christian lives a life which brings glory to God, he is fulfilling his purpose and thus exhibits “excellence”. True virtue in the Christian life is not “polishing” human qualities but producing divine qualities that make the person more like Jesus Christ. This excellence cannot be produced apart from our faith. In sum arete describes anything that fulfills its purpose or function properly. In this context it means a Christian who fulfills his or her calling.

INGREDIENT #3  KNOWLEDGE

Knowledge) (gnosis) refers to experiential knowledge and not merely to a passing acquaintance. Gnosis is understanding, correct insight, truth properly comprehended and applied and is experienced as one obeys the will of God.

Ginosko refers to the act of acquiring by experience rather than intuitively. The basic meaning of ginosko indicates the taking in knowledge in regard to something or someone. The knowledge however in ginosko goes beyond the merely factual. By extension, ginosko frequently was used of a special relationship between the person who knows and the object of the knowledge. For example, in certain contexts ginosko even referred to the intimate relationship between husband and wife and between God and His people.

Jesus clearly associate the obtaining of gnosis or experiential knowledge with a willingness to obey God’s will. This virtue involves a diligent study and pursuit of truth in the Word of God. This kind of knowledge does not come automatically but calls for obedience. Gnosis involves a diligent study and pursuit of truth in the Word of God and then a dutiful obedience to that truth out of love for the one Who has made us partakers of His divine nature.

INGREDIENT #4  SELF-CONTROL

Self Control (egkrateia/enkrateia from en = in + kratos = power to rule  <> the stem krat- speaks of power or lordship) means literally holding oneself in or the ability to take a grip of oneself. This meaning is essentially that of a modern expression “Get a grip” as the word does speak of the ability to get a grip on oneself, and as discussed below was one the virtues highly regarded by the great secular Greek writers such as Aristotle. Egkrateia has reference to restraining passions and appetites. It points to the inner power to control one’s own desires and appetites, Christ was the epitome of self-control. He was never tempted or tricked into doing or saying anything that was not consistent with His Father’s will and His own divine nature. The Theological Lexicon of the NT says that egkrateia is from kratos, “force”; the enkrates is the person who is master of himself; the akrates is the one who cannot contain himself, who is lacking in power. Socrates made enkrateia the basis and foundation of all the virtues. The (enkrates) person feels their power but resists them.   

Wuest says that egkrateia/enkrateia  means…

holding the passions and desires in hand. The word was used of the virtue of one who masters his desires and passions, especially his sensual appetites. The Greeks used it of the one who had his sex passions under control.

Egkrateia points to an inner power to control one’s old desires and cravings inherited from Adam.. Sometimes saints forget that even though they have been crucified with Christ (Ga 2:20; Ro 6:6) and are dead to the power of Sin in their life (Ro 6:11-), the old desires are still latent and able to be activated in our mortal bodies.

In Peter’s day, self-control was used of athletes who were to be self-restrained and self-disciplined and was crucial to victory in the intense competition of the Olympic Games.

 As used by the Greeks, egkrateia, self control, is the virtue of one who masters his desires and passions, especially his sensual appetites. God designed the human will to control the human mind and body. The concept of “self-control” implies that there is a standard to conform to, and the Word of God provides that standard. Godly self control is not trying to reform the flesh by self-discipline (although self-discipline is important), or overcoming sinful tendencies by outward religious practices. True self-control comes from a combination of free-will decisions and the new nature inside that is trying to reproduce itself in outward man. It is, after all, a “fruit of the spirit,” not a “fruit of the will.” A commitment to self-control without being motivated by love for others feeds prideful ambition and self-glorification. Christians are not to live like unbelievers who indulge the flesh (Eph 2:3). Christians are to control themselves (1 Cor 9:24-27).

INGREDIENT #5 PATIENCE

Perseverance (hupomone from hupo = under + meno = stay, remain, abide) literally means abiding under. The root idea of hupomone is to remain under some discipline, subjecting one’s self to something which demands the submission of one’s will to something against which one naturally would rebel. It portrays a picture of steadfastly and unflinchingly bearing up under a heavy load and describes that quality of character which does not allow one to surrender to circumstances or succumb under trial. The picture is that of steadfastness, constancy and endurance. It has in it a  forward look, the ability to focus on what is beyond the current pressures.

“Who for the joy set before Him endured [verb form hupomeno] the Cross despising the shame” see notes on Hebrews 12:2).

And so hupomone does not describe a grim resignation or a passive “grin and bear” attitude but a triumphant facing of difficult circumstances knowing that even out of evil God guarantees good.

Perseverance is that spiritual staying power that will die before it gives in. It is the virtue which can endure, not simply with resignation, but with a vibrant hope. Perseverance involves doing what is right and never giving in to the temptation or trial.  It is a conquering patience or conquering endurance. Hupomone is the ability to deal triumphantly with anything that life can do to us. It accepts the blows of life but in accepting them transforms them into stepping stones to new achievement.

“Patience” (hupomone) is the quality that does not surrender to circumstances or succumb under trial; it is the opposite of despondency and is associated with hope (1 Thess 1:3). Interestingly, while makrothumia (longsuffering with people) is used of God, hupomone, (patience with things) is not.

INGREDIENT #6 GODLINESS

Godliness (eusebeia from  = well + sébomai = worship) is literally “well worship” which reflects an attitude of one’s life to live with a sense of God’s presence.

To be godly is to live reverently, loyally, and obediently toward God. Peter means that the genuine believer ought not to ask God for something more (as if something necessary to sustain his growth, strength, and perseverance was missing) to become godly, because he already has every spiritual resource to manifest, sustain, and perfect godly living

Godliness brings the sanctifying presence of God into all the experiences of life. Godliness describes a lifestyle of showing reverence for God as we live before others, especially the lost.

Godliness is a right attitude and response toward the true Creator God; a preoccupation from the heart with holy and sacred realities. It is respect for what is due to God, and is thus the highest of all virtues. Godliness is a practical awareness of God in every aspect of life.

Godliness is not talking godly but living godly. Godliness  reflects an attitude centered on living out one’s life in God’s presence with a desire motivated by love for Him and empowered by His grace to be pleasing to Him in all things.   

Eusebeia describes the person who is characterized by a Godward attitude and because of that attitude seeks to do that which is well- pleasing to His Father in heaven. Godliness refers to having the proper attitude and conduct before God in everything.

INGREDIENT #7 BROTHERLY KINDNESS

Brotherly kindness (philadelphia from phílos = beloved, dear, friendly + adelphós = brother) means “fraternal love”, brotherly love (kindness), love of the brethren. Brotherly love normally referred to the love members of a family held for each other (this was the way it was used in secular Greek) and would not normally be used to describe the love between members of different families.In the NT philadelphia is used to describe the love that believers possess for one to another, for even though they were members of different natural families, they were united in Christ and were recipients of family love originating from the Father Who had bestowed His great love on His spiritual children (1John 3:1, cp 1Pe 1:22-). The idea is that one expresses a warm, affection (like brothers should exhibit) with those who are spiritual relatives in the family of God and it manifests itself in acts of kindness (Gal 6:10). Brotherly kindness is a fervent practical caring for others.

INGREDIENT #8 LOVE (AGAPE)

Love is difficult to specifically define. It is the very nature of God, for God is love (1 John 4:7-12, 16b). Love is known from the action it prompts (John 3:16; 1 Cor. 13:1-8). Christian love is not an impulse from the feelings, nor does it always run with natural inclinations, nor is it lavished only upon those things that are naturally liked or naturally found lovely or beautiful. Agape love is an exercise of the will in deliberate choice, and is why God can command us to love our enemies (Matt. 5:44; Exodus 23:1-5). Agape love is commanded, showing that it is related to obedience, commitment and action and not necessarily feeling and emotion. “Loving” someone is to obey God on another’s behalf, seeking his or her long-term blessing and profit. Love energizes faith (Gal. 5:6), and empowers us to give and keep on giving. There can be a cost to genuine love. Love is the distinctive character of the Christian life in relation to the brethren and to all humanity

Agape may involve emotion, but it  must always involve action. Agape is unrestricted, unrestrained, and unconditional. Agapao means “a love, which is awakened by a sense of value in an object that causes one to prize it. It springs from an appreciation of the preciousness of an object and is a love of esteem for the value and worth of an object. It is a love of admiring affection. It is to love with wonder and admiration prizing the worth of the person loved. It means to cherish with reverence and to have an internal feeling of satisfaction, kindness and regard for the beloved person of His affection.”Agape is a love that impels one to sacrifice one’s self for the benefit of the object loved…(it) speaks of a love which is awakened by a sense of value in the object loved, an apprehension of its preciousness.

If these qualities abound in our lives then we will not be 1) useless- argos- describes that which is not working, ineffective, barren, yielding no return or worthless, not accomplishing anything. 2) Unfruitful 3) short-sighted or 4) never stumble means literally to loose one’s footing and so to fall, stumble or “to be tripped up”. To lose one’s footing. All the NT uses of ptaio are figurative and mean to err (wander from the right way; miss the right way; to commit error). Wow what a recipe for life! I think its time to get into God’s kitchen and start cooking!

About goodnessofgod2010

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One Response to Recipe for a Fruitful, Holy Life

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