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PURSUING HOLINESS

A Journey Shared

Our pursuit of holiness is enhanced by God’s presence along the way BY MAJOR CLARENCE BRADBURY

Bible Study: 2 Peter 1

O

ur family always approached winter vacations with great anticipation. Those long trips south gave us time to strengthen our relationship. The more effort we invested in planning the journey, the more delight we experienced together. Sometimes we encountered difficulties, but where we were heading made it all worthwhile. Likewise, the life of holiness is a journey with God. It requires planning, includes its share of challenges and offers incomparable joy along the way and at the final destination. In one chapter, Peter gives us what may be the most comprehensive view of the holiness journey in the entire Bible. His holiness audit is a measurement of our S.I. (spiritual intelligence). It begins with faith in God and culminates with loving like God. As a spiritual realist, Peter stresses diligence in godly living. The essence of his message is in verses 3-7. It is about applying holy habits to the precious faith (see verse 1) and precious promises (see verse 4) God has invested in us. Gratitude for grace is demonstrated by growth in grace. We deepen our intimacy with God who grants the ultimate privilege (this side of Heaven) to share

his nature of holiness and love. In verses 8-11, Peter says this kind of living results in spiritual productivity and eternal rewards. The rest of the epistle amplifies and supports the first 11 verses. To conclude our studies, we focus on verses 10-11. READ—Take time to re-read all 11 verses. Compare translations for verses 10-11 and note all the words that stand out to you. Exposing the wealth of these expressions may inspire you and your Bible study/ travel group to new discoveries (see the recommended resource by Alan E. Nelson). REFLECT—Examine the notes you made during your reading. Did you include the first word in verse 10, ‘therefore’? This is Peter’s statement of conclusion. The expression “make every effort” is linked with the immense potential for holy influence (see verses 5-8) and with the looming danger of becoming useless, fruitless, nearsighted and forgetful (see verse 9). Peter calls us to a fervent eagerness “to confirm your calling and election” (see verse 10). Consider these questions as you examine this phrase: 1. Is Peter saying that salvation rests on your performance alone? Look at these verses that speak of the basis of

our salvation—John 3:16, 36; 5:24; Acts 16:31; Romans 4:5; 10:8-17. Now look at 2 Peter 1:8. The principle that settles us on our journey is momentum, or forward movement. When we lose momentum we become uncertain, we stumble and fall into error—even apostasy. Spiritual growth provides the momentum and confidence we need for a successful journey. 2. How secure are you in your relationship with Jesus? On what do you base that security? 3. Are you open to honest evaluation? Try “The Journey” personal evaluation tool provided below. Seek out a soul friend with whom you can share the results of your assessment. In verse 11 we find inspiration in our destination. In ancient Greece, a victorious general or athlete was rewarded by the knocking of a hole in the city wall to provide an entrance for the celebrity. That’s what God does for victorious Christians. Sure, it’s possible to get into the eternal Kingdom by the skin of your teeth, like latecomers to a party, but what spiritually intelligent believer wants to live with a “definite maybe” concerning their destiny? RESHAPE—We stumble when we become preoccupied with other things and lose sight of our destination. We do not stumble when we pay attention to where we are stepping. In light of this study and your self-examination, identify and practise one holy habit that will boost your spirituality. RECEIVE—Too much self-examination can depress and defeat us. Take time to be reminded of God’s grace and power (see verses 2-3) to lead us to his eternal Kingdom.

Resources

• Spiritual Health Assessment, http:// alanenelson.com/files/PDF%20Files/ The%20Journey2009.pdf • S piritual Intelligence by Alan E. Nelson, Baker Books, 2010 • L ifesigns by Henri J.M. Nouwen, Doubleday, 1986 Major Clarence Bradbury, D.Min., is co-ordinator of mentoring and web facilitation at The Salvation Army Jack McDowell School for Leadership Development, Atlanta.

Previous articles in the Bible study series can be viewed at Salvationist.ca/pursuingholiness. Salvationist I February 2012 I 23

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