So I’ve been listening to Mark Driscoll’s Trial series and we’re in 2 Peter now. I was really struck by the message today. Peter opens his letter with a simple statement, but one that is really quite profound:
Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ…
The key phrase here that I love is “obtained a faith of equal standing as ours.” It’s so obvious, but so awesome – we have, purely by grace, obtained a faith as excellent and powerful as that of the apostles and Peter himself. Equal standing! These are the men handpicked by Jesus to follow him around for years, learning at his feet. Peter, in particular, is one of the three closest to Jesus, and ultimately the leader – he got to meet Moses and Elijah at the Mount of Transfiguration, to preach the gospel at Pentacost, and write books of the Bible before ultimately giving his life for Christ – and he says we have a faith of equal standing to his own.
Your first reaction should be, “How?”
We obviously haven’t had the opportunities he had. We haven’t made the sacrifices he did. We, on good days, read the Bible – he wrote some of it. So how is our faith even in the same ballpark as his, much less completely equal?
Because it isn’t our own faith.
Let me repeat that, because it’s a big one:
It isn’t our own faith. It’s Jesus’ faith.
There’s an astonishing doctrine called “justification” that a lot of people kind of gloss over as they’re studying the Bible. Justification is the act of making the unjust into that which is just. This is something that sounds simple, but think about how this would look in a day-to-day example: imagine a judge trying a man for murder, and the jury finding him guilty after monumental evidence is brought against him. The judge hears the guilty verdict, then turns to the man and says “you are innocent, and free to go.” If a judge were to do such a thing, he would lose his seat! But that is exactly what God has done for us.
But how can a just God allow that which is unholy, which is sinful and abhorrent into his presence? If heaven is perfect, then how can we imperfect people get there, regardless of how good or faithful we are? The obvious answer is that we can’t, not on our own. This is where the sacrifice of Jesus comes into play.
The faith we are judged upon is that faith which was given us by Jesus, not our own. His is the only one that is perfect and pure and complete, and not even the apostles could add one iota of worth to that gift. So – do you see now? Regardless of what we do, regardless of who we are or how good or moral we are, we are unable to earn our way even into God’s consideration. It is only by accepting that perfect gift of Christ’s, that which is so far beyond anything we are remotely capable of, that we can stand boldly before the throne of grace and expect anything but eternal damnation.
It’s not you. To think you can add anything to his work is blasphemy. While dying on the cross Jesus cried out that his redemptive work was finished, and who are you to dare say you can add anything more to what God himself said was complete?
That’s justification. We’re all in the same ballpark because that’s where Jesus put us all there. Peter didn’t deserve it any more than you do. Knowing that, how can you not be overcome with hope? With joy? With a complete and total sense of unworthiness and thankfulness?
This is the God we serve, people. How awesome he is!