Be Diligent

April 22, 2016

While recently reading 2 Peter, I noticed that Peter begins and ends 2 Peter with an appeal to his readers to be diligent. To be diligent is “to be especially conscientious in discharging an obligation, be zealous/eager, take pains, make every effort, be conscientious.”1

Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. (2 Peter 1:10, ESV, emphasis added)

Diligence in confirming one’s calling and election has to do with practicing the qualities Peter had just enumerated: faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, endurance, piety (godliness), brotherly love, and love. In fact, the noun form of this word occurs in 1:5. The NASB reads, “Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence…” (2 Peter 1:5, NASB). Clearly, Peter doesn’t want us to be haphazard or careless about Christian living.

Peter ends his letter with another appeal to be diligent:

Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. (2 Peter 3:14, ESV, emphasis added)

If we live in a world that will end, and we await a new heavens and new earth, then Peter wants us to be diligent so that we are prepared for the world to come in which righteousness dwells. The stakes are too high for negligence in the Christian life.

Peter doesn’t just encourage diligence in others. He notes that he will be diligent in fulfilling his ministry as an apostle.

And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind. (2 Peter 1:15 NASB, same word as in 1:10 and 3:14, emphasis added)

It is a mistake to think we are earning our salvation. That somehow, we are attempting to outweigh our bad deeds with good ones. But it would also be a mistake to think that diligence is to be equated with the attempt to earn salvation.

Diligence is an appropriate response to faith. If I trust God, then I must believe that the things of God are of eternal consequence. God must have the first priority in my life as one seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Faith should lead me to be zealous, eager, diligent, and conscientious. Because of the worthiness of God and the eternal

1“σπουδάζω (spoudazō),” BDAG, 939. The Strong’s number for this word is G4704.

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The Resurrection Body

April 15, 2016

Paul’s tour de force on the resurrection is 1 Corinthians 15. It was prompted by the denial of the resurrection by some in the Corinthian congregation (15:12). Paul first gives evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. Paul notes the Scriptures and the many eyewitnesses which include himself. To deny the resurrection is to deny Christ’s resurrection. For Christ not to have been raised, then faith is futile, we are still in our sins, and we are of all people the most to be pitied. But Paul will have none of that: Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. The resurrection of Jesus is connected with the future hope of Christians. Jesus is the basis of our hope.

But questions remain: “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” (1 Corinthians 15:35-58) Maybe the deniers were troubled by these questions. Greeks typically believed in a life after death without resurrection. Many Jews had a crude conception of resurrection. If you died lame or blind, you were raised lame or blind. Paul gives us our best glimpse at the resurrection body.

Paul provides us with an analogy. Our physical body at death is like a planted seed. There is continuity between the seed and the plant to come, but there is also transformation. Paul reassures us that God knows how to create different kinds of flesh for different kinds of purposes, and He can bestow varying degrees of glory. In other words, resurrection is not a mere resuscitation but a glorious transformation.

Paul illuminates by a series of contrasts. Our physical bodies are perishable, but the resurrection body will be imperishable. Our physical bodies face the dishonor of death and decay, but the resurrection body will be raised in glory. We experience weakness now, but we will be raised in power. We have a natural body now. One suited to the current natural world. We will have a spiritual body.

We need to be careful when we see this word “spiritual” that we don’t think immaterial like Casper the Ghost. We need to hold on to the word “body” and remember that Jesus in the resurrection was solid and touchable. The spiritual body will be animated by God’s Spirit and suitable for the transcendent realm of the age to come.

We have to admit the details are few. We still likely have many questions about the resurrection. But the resurrection body is not a mere resuscitation of the old. It is a transformation. It is something more glorious and suited for eternal life with God.

It is enough to trust our Maker. Jesus conquered death in his resurrection. And death will be conquered for each of us in our resurrection. With that hope we live in encouragement knowing that in the Lord our labor is not in vain.


A Man Who Didn’t Trust God

April 1, 2016

Jeroboam son of Nebat was a man who didn’t trust God. He was an official under Solomon and rose to the position of being in charge of the whole labor force of the house of Joseph. One day the prophet Ahijah met him. Ahijah tore his new cloak into 12 pieces and gave Jeroboam 10 of the pieces. Ahijah prophesied that Jeroboam would become King of Israel. He would rule over the ten northern tribes. Jeroboam was given this promise from God:

And I will take you, and you shall reign over all that your soul desires, and you shall be king over Israel. And if you will listen to all that I command you, and will walk in my ways, and do what is right in my eyes by keeping my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did, I will be with you and will build you a sure house, as I built for David, and I will give Israel to you. (1 Kings 11:37–38, ESV)

Jeroboam had to flee from Solomon who made an attempt on his life, but after Solomon’s death, he returned from Egypt and became King of Israel just as God had promised. Yet, Jeroboam worried that he would loose his kingdom because the people must worship in Jerusalem. Because of his lack of trust in God’s sure promise, he rebelled and set up the golden calves in Dan and Bethel and commanded the people to worship there. He established an alternate feast and an alternate priesthood using men who were not Levites.

God warned Jeroboam. A prophet predicted that Josiah would someday offer Jeroboam’s priests on the altar at Bethel. A sign was given that altar would be split apart and the ashes would be poured out. Jeroboam ordered that the prophet be seized, but when he stretched out his hand it shriveled. When the prophet interceded for him his hand was restored. To top it all, the sign came true as well. Certainly, this should have made Jeroboam change his ways, but it didn’t. (1 Kings 13:1-6)

Jeroboam had evidence of great blessing in his life, and God’s sure promise if he but obey. Yet, he turned away—he was a man who didn’t trust God.

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Romans 15:4, ESV)