It’s not what you know, but who you know that matters. There’s a real emphasis in 2 Peter 1 on our knowledge of God (v2, 3, 5, 6, 8). Jesus said (Jn. 17:3) that eternal life is all about knowing God and knowing Christ. Christianity is essentially a relationship with our Creator/Saviour/Father. We can, in a limited but true sense, actually know God, and know his Son; we can experience a relationship with him through the gospel.
Peter reminds us that we need to grow in that relationship. It doesn’t just happen automatically – we must make every effort (v5) to add various things to our faith: goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection and love. We must work hard to add these qualities – understanding what they actually mean, and what they look like in practice, and seeking the help and enabling power of the Holy Spirit in building them into our lives in ‘increasing measure’ (v8). Failure to do this will render us ‘ineffective and unproductive’ in our knowledge of Christ, or ‘near-sighted and blind’ (v9), and that’s not a place we want to be!
Peter also encourages us (v10) to ‘make every effort to confirm our calling and election’. How do we do this? Our calling and election rest upon the gracious action of God, and we can do nothing to change that, but we can give evidence of it in our daily living – in our behaviour, our conversations, our decisions, priorities and attitudes. We are to put effort into showing by how we live that we are God’s people.
Being a Christian does involve effort, hard work, determination and perseverance, but that effort is based on, and empowered by, what God has given. He has given us (v3) everything we need to live a godly life – a life centred on him that reflects his character in daily life. He has also given us (v4) ‘his very great and precious promises’ – all the riches of God’s love, grace and mercy poured out on us in the gospel of his Son. The gospel in not ‘cleverly devised stories’ (v16), but is something that actually happened in history; Peter and the other apostles were eyewitnesses – they actually saw and heard (v18) the voice of God declaring Jesus to be his Son. The prophetic message of the Old Testament is fulfilled in Jesus; it is therefore ‘completely reliable’ (v19), and ‘a light shining in a dark place’. Those promises were not of human origin, but were spoken from God by the Holy Spirit (v21).
So, put some effort and energy into growing in your knowledge of the God who has called us by his own glory and goodness, and given us his power and his promises. Who wants to be ineffective and unproductive? Not me!