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Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries
The Tree of Life is a weekly teaching summary.
The Tree of Life from the week ending 6/20/04
The Illustration of Virtue in Greek Drama. Part 4.
Good Works, Grace, and the Divine Invitation.

We are continuing to study the development of the dramatic seven chorus line in 2PE 1:5-7, "Now for this very reason also, making every effort, by means of your doctrine supply [epichoregeo] virtue, and in [with] your virtue[supply] knowledge [gnosis, referring to Biblical academic information]; and in your knowledge, [supply] self control; and in your self control, [supply] perseverance [endurance or consistency]; and in your perseverance, [supply]godliness [living the spiritual life]; and in your godliness, [supply] brotherly kindness [love for members of the Royal Family]; and in your love for members of the Royal Family, [supply] impersonal love for all mankind."

The importance and the results of this "chorus line" are given in verses 8-11, "For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you."

We begin with the first phrase in 2PE 1:8, "For if these qualities are yours" The word "quality" is the demonstrative pronoun tauta, referring to the qualities and the virtues mentioned in verses 5-7:

1. Virtue (respect, loyalty, devotion).
2. Knowledge (perception of doctrine).
3. Self-control (an organized life).
4. Perseverance (endurance, consistency).
5. Godliness (living the spiritual life). 
6. Brotherly love (love for members of the Royal Family).
7. Agape love (impersonal love for all members of the human race).

2PE 1:8 continues, "For if these qualities [the dramatic seven chorus line] keep on being present within you and keep on increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."We never "arrive"; therefore, we need the second member of our chorus line, gnosis, the perception of doctrine. We cannot afford to ever stop our intake of Bible doctrine, and live on "yesterday's manna," as the children of Israel in the book of Exodus.

The qualities in the dramatic chorus line will prevent you from becoming useless (ineffective) or unfruitful (unproductive). The Greek adjective translated "useless" is argous, which means lazy, inefficient, inactive, careless, indifferent, apathetic, and procrastinating. "Unfruitful" is the Greek adjective akarpous, meaning unproductive, without fruit, and contributing nothing to the instruction, improvement, or comfort of others. In 1CO 14:14, it means to contribute nothing to the support and comfort of others. In MAT 13:22, it indicates that the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches cause the believer to become unfruitful. In JUD 1:12, those without the "water" of Bible doctrine are considered to be akarpos, without fruit. Your priorities and the organization of your time are based on where your heart is. You have to decide what is important in your life and give it top priority as far as how you spend your time.

"They render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." Your whole Christian life centers around how much knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ you have, because the key to the Christian life is proper motivation. Metabolized doctrine of our Lord Jesus Christ gives the believer the proper motivation to live. We must be motivated, not by our love and respect for people, but by our love and respect for the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, the principle of motivational virtue (love for God), must precede Christian service. Otherwise, the believer's production is "wood, hay, and straw," and will be burned up as useless and unfruitful works at the judgment seat of Christ, 1CO 3:11-15. In 2PE 1:9, Peter goes on to say, "For he who lacks these qualities [the dramatic seven chorus line] is blind or short sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins." Here the Greek word parestin with the negative me' indicates that these qualities are not near, are not present, have not been stored up, or have failed to develop. You store up these qualities through your intake of doctrine.

"He who lacks these qualities [the dramatic seven chorus line] is blind [tuphlos, which means blindness or blackout of the soul]." The "moral" cosmic believer is blinded by either arrogance or animosity toward doctrine, or by indifference or apathy toward doctrine. Satan has two distinct systems that he uses against the believer. In the first system, arrogance blinds him; in the second system, animosity toward truth blinds him. The target of Satan's first system is the believer's ego, resulting in pre-occupation with self to the exclusion of reality (as with Satan himself inISA 14:12-14). The target of Satan's second system is truth itself, resulting in antagonism toward Christ, His body, and Bible doctrine. One satanic system emphasizes self over God; the other emphasizes human viewpoint over divine viewpoint. One was developed by Satan before the human race (living for self rather than God). The other was developed by Satan at the fall of the human race (human viewpoint over divine viewpoint).

The Lord Jesus Christ taught that those who were blind were "cleaned up" on the outside but not in their thought pattern, Mat 15:1-20. In MAT 23:24, those who are mentally blind "strain out a gnat and swallow a camel." In 2CO 4:4, the "god of this world" specializes in blinding the minds of those in the world system. 2PE 1:9 continues, "For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short sighted" The Greek word for "short-sighted" is the verb muopazo, which means to be near-sighted, to see dimly, to see only what is near, and to be carnally or earthly minded.

"For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins."The Greek noun translated "purification" is katharismos, which refers to two categories of cleansing:
1. The initial cleansing from sin, which occurs at the Cross, where all our sins were judged.
2. Experiential cleansing and restoration to fellowship by simply naming and citing our sins to God, when we commit sins after salvation, 1JO 1:9.

Understanding katharismos is based upon understanding the grace of God. When a believer is without metabolized doctrine and therefore without the dramatic seven chorus line, he cannot have grace orientation to life.

We read in our next verse, 2PE 1:10, "Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble." The Greek phrase translated "more diligent" is the adverb mallon with the verb spoudasate, meaning to make every effort or to be motivated even more; mallon means "more than" or "much more," and spoudasate means making every effort, doing one's best, and being eager or motivated. The motivation comes from being aware of the predesigned plan of God, the angelic conflict, the distribution of your blessings, etc. It is simply a reference to the believer's priorities motivating him to go on in the Christian life and performing his very own personal drama.

"Make certain about His calling and choosing you" The Greek verb translated "make" is poieisthai, meaning to make, produce, work, accomplish, and perform. We are not saved by works, but that does not mean that we should not have any. There is a warning given to those who react whenever they hear a message that challenges them to produce good works in TIT 1:16, "They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed." The Lord Jesus Christ gave Himself for us, and one of the reasons is so that we can produce divine good, TIT 2:14, "He gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds." Good deeds and works are a part of the election of God.

"For as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble." The Greek verb for "make certain" is bebaian,which means to be firm, steadfast, sure, well-grounded, and unwavering, and in this verse it means to be steadfast concerning God's calling and election. It is the will of God that all believers be motivated by the calling of God and the election of God. When these doctrines become a spiritual reality, you will have great motivation.

We are commanded to "make certain about His calling and electing you." The Greek word for "calling" is klesin,meaning a calling, an invitation, or a legal summons. Klesis refers to the divine invitation to embrace not only salvation, but also the plan of God and your personal sense of destiny, which then results in the execution of your personal drama. You have received an invitation from God to obtain eternal salvation and to have the privilege of bringing glory to Him. All you have to do is learn to love Him, and He will do the rest, ROM 8:28, "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called [the definite article toi plus the adjective kletois, meaning "the called ones"] according to His purpose."

Man has three systems of perception whereby he can perceive and understand-(1) rationalism, (2) empiricism, and (3) faith. Faith is the only system of perception that is non-meritorious; man cannot take credit for his faith. The merit of faith is in the object; therefore, the spiritually dead unbeliever can make a decision to listen to the Gospel, and then believe in Jesus Christ. These positive decisions, made in a condition of spiritual death, are impossible apart from the ministry of God the Holy Spirit. This is called pre-salvation grace, or common grace. The Holy Spirit's pre-salvation ministry consists of the following:

1. Common grace, in which the Gospel is presented and made understandable.

2. The divine call, in which the personal invitation to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ is given to the hearers.

3. Efficacious grace, in which the unbeliever's faith is made effectual.

We can see the power of God the Holy Spirit in evangelism; it is not our job to force the Gospel on others, or try to"drag them across the line." A good soul-winner is not someone who witnesses to a lot of people; it is one who presents the information accurately and properly. God will not hold us responsible for another person's volition. Our job is to present the right information; it is the responsibility of God the Holy Spirit to do the convincing and convicting.

The sovereign will of God and the free will of mankind co-exist in human history by divine decree. However, in spiritual death, the free will of mankind is totally separated from God and totally helpless; therefore, the grace of God is all that can save us. Common grace comes first, then the call of God (mentioned in our main passage), which pertains to election, the invitation of God the Father through the Holy Spirit to believe in Jesus Christ. Thirdly, there comes efficacious grace, the work of the Holy Spirit in making faith in Jesus Christ effective for eternal salvation. This is the invitation called in the New Testament, "the calling of God."

The calling of God is without repentance, ROM 11:29, "For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable." God does not revoke His call, simply because He knows that some will not respond. God never changes His mind; He invites everyone to believe in Christ, 2CO 6:1-2, "And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain-for He says, 'At the acceptable time I listened to you, and on the day of salvation I helped you; behold, now is the acceptable time, behold, now is the day of salvation.'"

It is true there is an acceptance that takes place before salvation, but it is accepting the information that God the Holy Spirit has presented concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. Even when a person receives the information, he still does not have the faith to believe, and therefore God the Holy Spirit makes his faith effectual. JOH 1:12 declares,"But as many as received Him [the information concerning the Lord Jesus Christ], to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name." There is an acceptance that precedes becoming a child of God; we are to accept the information that God the Holy Spirit makes understandable to us, EPH 2:8, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that [grace, salvation, and faith] not of yourselves, it is the gift of God."

The spiritual death of mankind makes it necessary for the grace of God to function on our behalf. There are two reasons why the unbeliever cannot understand spiritual information on his own:
1. He is born in a state of spiritual death, which is total depravity, total separation from God, and total helplessness.
2. He is born dichotomous, which means he has a physical body and a soul, but no human spirit.

The spiritual death of the unbeliever, as a dichotomous being with an old sin nature, makes perception of the Gospel impossible, without the omnipotence of the Holy Spirit working on his behalf. We are totally helpless to understand any aspect of the Gospel, JOB 32:8, "But it is a spirit in man [the human spirit], and the Spirit of the Almighty[God the Holy Spirit] gives them understanding [perception]." Without a human spirit, the individual cannot be guided by God, ROM 8:16, "The Spirit Himself [God the Holy Spirit] bears witness with our spirit [human spirit]that we are children of God." This is why we need to be born again of the Spirit, JOH 3:5, "Jesus answered, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water [the Word] and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.'"

At the moment we personally believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, God the Holy Spirit actually creates a human spirit, a pneuma, to which God the Father imputes eternal life. We call the creation of the human spirit regeneration or being"born again." We are now body, soul, and spirit; we possess both soul life (human life) and eternal life (God's life). The unbeliever in spiritual death has no human spirit; therefore, spiritual death demands an act of grace on the part of God the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit functions as a human spirit for us when we hear the Gospel message, so that we can comprehend spiritual truth.

Again, 2PE 1:10 instructs us, "Therefore, brethren, be motivated even more to make certain about His calling and election." These two doctrines, calling and election, should make us all more motivated. We should be "all the more diligent" to make certain about God's calling in our lives. There are too many Christians who have no motivation, and who do not realize that they have been given a divine invitation.

A believer who is motivated and loves the work he has been given to do, will also have greater blessing and success in social life and other areas, because motivation from one overflows into motivation in another. These positive believers have that great character trait called contentment. In this passage that we are studying in detail, the Apostle Peter is talking about a motivation that is far more important than natural motivation; this is spiritual motivation. Every one of us can and should have this motivation, when we realize the calling upon our life-the divine invitation to participate in the greatest victory ever won.

1CO 15:57 Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

For a more detailed study, order tapes 0190-1173 to 0190-1175.

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