Last week I shared about the 16 year old girl who kept receiving and abusing grace from her parents as they bought her newer and better cars after each wreck, and compared that to the Father's grace to us and the 'wrecks' in our own lives. From her perspective, daddy was giving her newer and better cars each time she wrecked them, so she felt no obligation to grow as a driver and person with each new grace.
From the father's perspective each car was given in the hopes his daughter would understand grace comes at a price, that having received grace upon grace, she would use grace as an opportunity to grow up.
Promises from God are Grace; His point of view
The promises we receive from the Lord are grace - from Noah learning of a flood but being promised he's be saved if he built a boat, to you or I being told by the Lord that a loved one will make it to heaven - all those promises and every one in between, are examples of grace.
We've been taught a lot about the promises of God from earth's point of view - much like the 16 year old girl only saw her parents' grace from her perspective.
We have been taught the promises of God are received through faith and patience, and that having done all to stand for the promises, we stand. We pick out a scripture, or the Father quickens to us a passage, and we stand. The stories of others who have stood on the promises of God for loved ones, breakthrough, for freedom from fear or healing inspire us - we know about earth's perspective on promises.
Heaven's Purpose for the Promises
Peter said this in his second letter, 1:2-4: "...Grace and peace be multiplied to you...because His divine power (Father's) has given to us ALL things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us to glory and virtue...and has given to us exceeding great and precious promises..."
We know that part don't we? He has given us exceeding great and precious promises!
Why does heaven give those promises? Aren't they so we can receive answers to our prayers? Yes, that is true, but that is earth's point of view. Peter continues: "...exceeding great and precious promises, that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature."
Promises for What?
Just as the parents of the 16 year old girl from last week extended grace upon grace that their daughter might grow as a person, so too does our heavenly Father extend grace "that you might be partakers of the divine nature (become more Christ-like)."
We see promises as answer to prayer; He sees promises as opportunities to become more like Him.
We see promises dangled in front of us like a carrot before a world-weary horse; He says you'd stop seeing it like a carrot if you used the grace of His promises to grow up in Christ instead of just wanting grace upon grace.
In this context (of becoming partakers of the divine nature) Peter goes on to tell us how, in verses 5-10:
"Besides this (receiving promises to be partakers of the divine nature), add to your faith moral excellence, and to moral excellence add knowledge, and to knowledge add self-control, and to self control add consistency, and to consistency addbrotherly love, and to that add unconditional (agape') love. If these things are in you and abounding, they will make you so that you not be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."
None of this is works - works in the Bible is defined as doing good deeds to be seen of men or God.
This is personal development, making hard decisions that are new and scary - changes in the heart, soul, and lifestyle, applying oneself to become more like our Lord.
When Was the Last Time...
...someone taught you we are called to 'glory and virtue' ? Virtue is moral excellence. (II Peter 1:4)
Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words (Vine's) says this of the word 'virtue' being 'moral excellence': "Virtue is enjoined to faith (joins with faith)...and is an essential quality in the exercise of faith."
Moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, consistency (in Peter's day and in the Greek 'patience' meant 'consistency', not 'just hold on a little longer'), brotherly love, unconditional love - all these are also attributes of the Father and our Lord. They are part of the divine nature we are to develop as part of having received promises.
License for Moral Bankruptcy?
Many people are taking the grace teaching to an extreme in earth's point of view, like the 16 year old girl using her parents' grace as an excuse to justify not growing and maturing, as a license for sin. They teach grace means never having to say you're sorry for a sin, no repentance, no sexual limits, all is well with however you want to live and love God.
They fail to understand or choose to ignore the Father's purpose in giving grace was that we might grow as human beings to be more Christ-like. We are called to glory and virtue - moral excellence. That is not works, not religious law, but a higher way of living.
When the Lord said in Isaiah 55:8 "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.", He wasn't saying we cannot attain to such things.
NO, the previous verse, v7, makes it plain His statement is an invitation to leave our ways and thoughts and come up to His higher ways and thoughts and live in them:
"Let the wicked forsake his ways, and the unrighteous (forsake) his thoughts, and let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon."
"For as the heavens are higher than your ways and thoughts, so are my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts higher than your thoughts..."
Let us therefore receive the precious grace of the Father, which cost Him and the Lord Jesus so much to be able to extend that to us, as a means to leave our ways and thoughts, and come up to His ways and thoughts.
Let us not be as a 16 year old reckless girl who sees how far daddy will let her go; rather as maturing children who out of love and admiration for their Father (and big Brother, so to speak), rise to the occasion that grace affords, learning to walk in higher ways and thoughts.
Make decisions based on His higher ways.
Some thoughts this week, blessings,