We are admonished by the apostle Peter to “add to our faith” certain divine attributes, calling this procedure, “partaking of the divine nature.” Yes, right now, we are to do this. When would he expect us to add these things–after we die? No, “now is the acceptable time.” Now is the only time. Whatever we humans are going to do in our fragile fleeting existence on this planet, we better do it now.
And some of us have been called to “partake of the divine nature.” “Something (or Someone)” is pulling us, leading us, and yes, even commanding us to seek a higher path. And so we seek that better way. And some of us begin to see that that better way is Christ, for He is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14: 6).
And some of us now are seeing that we are to become like Him. That is right. For we are told by the apostles to “let this mind be in you that was in Christ” (Phil. 2: 5). And, “Let us go on unto perfection” (Heb. 6: 1). In fact, the Savior Himself commands us to “be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5: 48). “Perfect” here is from the Greek word meaning “full spiritual maturity.”
Our perfection, our maturity in the Spirit, is the main reason that the scriptures of truth have been preserved for us. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God…that the man of God may be complete (perfect), thoroughly equipped for every good work” (II Tim. 3: 16-17 NKJV).
So how do we arrive at perfection (completeness)?
Our completed growth in Christ is brought about by adding to our faith the attributes of the divine nature that Peter admonishes us to do.
Compared to instant messaging and world wide telecommunications and instant mashed potatoes, the steps toward full spiritual growth and ultimately maturity in Christ take a long time. “Instantly” is not in God’s vocabulary. That is one of the main paradoxes in this modern age. Everything happens in the blink of an eye, except the growth of God’s Spirit in a human being.
We are given but a short space of time here on earth. Our time on the planet is short lived. The older we get the faster our allotted time runs out. And most fritter their precious moments away on ludicrous pursuits. But those that Christ has chosen will redeem the time, “that they may be made perfect in one (John 15: 16; 17: 23).
Spurred on by the Spirit, they will study, dig, and search out the truth as to what this life is all about. And when they find out that life is Him, His plan and purpose, and His ballgame, then they will commit themselves to Him–though it take a lifetime. They will endure any hardships along the way. That’s the way the elect are built; it’s in their spiritual DNA. They will endure all things.
And their studies will lead them to that attribute of the divine nature called in the English language “patience.” But in the Greek (G5281), the word means “endurance, steadfastness, constancy…a patient enduring; sustaining; perseverance” .
This word is from the verb (G5278) “to endure.” I Corinthians 13 lists the attributes of agape love, God’s nature that is to be matured in us. It “endures all things” (v. 7).
What things? We are admonished to “endure to the end” and be saved (Matt. 10: 22; 24: 13). Trials and tribulation will be endured by the elect. Christ describes the treachery of the world at the time of the end of this age. “Brother shall betray brother to death and the father the son.” Children will betray their parents unto death. And ones He has chosen to become fully matured in His image–they will be “hated of all men for My name’s sake–but he that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved” (Mark 13: 13). This is the patience/endurance that Peter is telling us we need to add to our faith.
Because this patience, this endurance, this perseverance that we must maintain speaks of a time of trials and tribulations, and persecutions and betrayals. As God begins to squeeze the evildoers, they will lash out at the righteous. We have to know that this is coming.
“Tribulation Worketh Patience”
“Tribulation worketh patience.” Or, tribulation brings about patience. Or, more clearly put, trials and tribulations are the very thing that fashions endurance, which is definitely a big part of God’s nature. Without trials, patience/endurance will not be formed in us. And without this endurance factor in our spiritual lives, we will not fulfill our calling as His sons and daughters. For the law of harvest reads, Each seed bears its own kind.
After we are “illuminated” by the light of God’s truth, He has the adversary, the devil, present trials and persecutions to us, to which we will endure “a great fight of afflictions” (Heb. 10: 32).
In fact, Peter warns us about these afflictions. “Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you” (I Pet. 4: 12). It is not a strange thing at all, but part of the plan of God for our perfection. It is in the script. Already conceived by Him and written down. After all, Christ is “the Author and Finisher of our faith.” And all the additions to that faith (Heb. 12: 2). Yes, and in that same verse, it tells how Christ “for the joy set before Him, endured the cross.” As our example, He has endured all the sufferings before us.
These “fiery trials” that will try us will come, and we must endure it, for we are “partakers of Christ’s sufferings” (I Pet. 4: 13). These sufferings are those trials we endure for His sake. These are “also the afflictions Christians must undergo in behalf of the same cause for which Christ patiently endured” (Thayer’s Lexicon).
So we see that “patience” is much bigger and much more profound as we discover its meaning in the inspired scriptures of truth. We now see that it is an attribute of God’s presence, and we should seek to understand it according to God’s thought of what it truly is.
Patience is enduring the sufferings needed to bring God’s plan to full fruition. Enduring at all costs in the face of hardships–God did that first. It is His “divine nature” we are to add, after all. He did it first. He endured the insolence of one of His created angelic beings to provide the sufferings for us all. He endured the old nature, especially of His chosen people Israel (12 tribes), witnessed in the Old Testament. He endured the shame of their sins and whoredoms.
And now He asks us, the little flock, who He knows will answer the call, for He has chosen us–He asks us to add this part of His wonderful divine nature–patience, endurance.
Us enduring, enduring, enduring the sufferings entailed in these finite earthly decaying mortal bodies. As one of their own poets said, enduring “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.”
We now have been called into the “fellowship of His sufferings,” taking part of the same things He endured (Phil. 3: 10).
Agape love endures all things. Like putting up with the evil men in control of this world system–that’s part of enduring the sufferings. Wanting to do something immediately to banish the evil and injustice from this earth, and knowing that we now must wait on Yahweh–who will do this–but in His own time, according to His timetable. That’s part of the sufferings.
Enduring. Continuing undaunted in our pilgrimage to the City of Immortality. Unwavering. Stedfast. Unswayed by the temptations to tarry here or take respite there.
Enduring by faith, entrusting our whole earthly existence on the seemingly impossible assumption and belief that somewhere an invisible Creator has life all mapped and charted for all of us.
And that He has sent us out on this dangerous dark sea, as we trust this invisible Spirit as our Captain to guide our hands on the rudder and sails, believing that He will somehow lead us through the angry storms and deposit us in a warm protected harbor where a wave is a mere warm froth lapping at our toes.
And so we wait. And endure all things, trusting the Captain by trusting His word, which is the blueprint, the Plan and Purpose.
Kenneth Wayne Hancock
1. Thayer’s Lexicon (http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G5281&t=KJV).