The Gospel as Participation in the Divine Nature

Posted by on March 17, 2013 in Deification, Exegesis, Featured, Galatians, Gospel, Holy Spirit, Imputation, Incarnation, Justification, Law, Love, Paradigms, peter, Sola Fide | 316 comments

No lengthy preamble this time, you people know what I’m trying to do here.

If St. Peter believed that we inherit eternal life by the extrinsic imputation of an alien righteousness received through the exercise of a passive and non-contributory faith alone, the concomitant good works of which play no causal role in our final salvation, then for some reason he failed to mention it.

If, however, he believed that the way to be granted entrance into Christ’s eternal kingdom is by the indwelling Spirit making us partakers of God’s very nature, such that we can add to our faith the love of God and neighbor by which the law is fulfilled, then call me cray-cray, but it seems to me he’d say something like this:

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (II Pet. 1:3-11).

Some noteworthy points:

1. The intersection between God and man is not merely covenantal-slash-stipulative, but follows the pattern of the Incarnation, according to which the Son partakes of human nature so that humans can partake of the divine nature.

2. Peter’s list of virtues that must be “added to faith” — culminating in love — is similar to Paul’s insistence that what avails for justification is “faith working through love,” and James’s teaching that we are “not justified by faith alone,” but by faith and Spirit-wrought works. Indeed, sola fide could not be more roundly denied than it is in these passages.

3. The one who fails to supplement his faith with other spiritual fruit is said to be “blind,” despite his “having been cleansed of former sins.”

4. The connection between “practicing these qualities” and being “richly granted entrance into the eternal kingdom” is conditional (as seen from the phrase “if  you do… then  you will be granted”), and corresponds to Paul’s formula already considered: “If you sow to the Spirit, you will reap everlasting life.”

So yeah, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the actual words Peter wrote correspond pretty closely to the gospel he believed. . . .

316 Comments

  1. (Jew-Baiting can work in both directions, ya know.)

    So can Christian baiting.

    SS said, and I quote:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ex863pm0j3A?Watch. Listen. Learn of the rotten fruit your church has produced over the centuries.

    In addition, my response is perfectly Biblical:

    1 Thessalonians 2:14-16
    King James Version (KJV)
    14 For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen,

    even as they have of the Jews: 15 Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men:

    16 Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.

    That is what St. Paul said, inspired of the Holy Spirit and it is etched in the Word of God.

  2. Eric,

    That is true. But there is no arguing with the Word of God.

    1 Thessalonians 2:14-16
    King James Version (KJV)
    14 For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen,

    even as they have of the Jews: 15 Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men:

    16 Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.

  3. Jason,

    I’m sorry for the trouble I’ve caused. I actually admire SS knowledge of Scripture. I thought I could learn something from talking to him.

    I know that the topic is packed with emotional content. As a result, it has become taboo to broach it. But Scripture can not be broken. Scripture is the Word of God. And Scripture tells us that the Jews killed our Lord. Yes, the Romans executed Him, but it was at the urging of the Jews. If the Jews had let up even a little, the Romans would not have crucified Jesus.

    In addition, it is true that Jesus died for our sins and therefore, we are all guilty of His death. But not directly.

  4. +JMJ+

    De Maria wrote:

    Wosbald wrote:
    .
    (Jew-Baiting can work in both directions, ya know.)

    So can Christian baiting.
    .
    SS said, and I quote:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ex863pm0j3A?Watch. Listen. Learn of the rotten fruit your church has produced over the centuries.

    My point exactly. You don’t have to take the bait.

    “The first step in avoiding a trap is knowing of its existence.” – Thufir Hawat

    Peace out, yo.

  5. Does that mean that you do not believe that God has chosen the unbelieving Jews over Christians? Or are you playing with words? Say it directly. Because this is how you responded to Wosbald.

    Demaria,

    I simply said that God has made a promise to the Jews, and that the promise more specifically is made to those Jews who turn to Messiah and embrace Him. They are the remnant He has reserved unto Himself and this is clear from Romans 11.

    I didn’t say He had done away with the Jewish people. But He has done away with the Jewish religion. Do you deny it?

    True Jewish religion, by my understanding at least, no offense to any jews reading, involves embracing the Yeshua HaMashiach, for as He Himself said “Salvation is of the Jews”

    Regarding your quote of Phil 3: there Paul is speaking of his life as a Pharisee, not as a Jewish believer in Christ. Of course he considers it all as dung. But that does not mean that it is dung if faith in Messiah is present. If what you imply here is true: Paul should have never circumcised Timothy, never taken a Nazirite vow to shave his head (see Acts 18, 21) and never submitted to James in doing so.

    That God is not a respecter of persons does not imply once again, that there are no God approved distinctions between persons. A jewish believer is accepted by God, so is a gentile (a christian). Again, there is no jew, nor greek, nor male nor female. Does being a believer mean that you are no longer male?

    2. And the Apostles did not cling to their Jewishness as evidenced by what St. Paul said in the previous example.

    Did not cling to their Jewishness? I think not. Why then did they worship in the temple? Why then was James the Just known as a Jew zealous for the law, as are described the ‘many thousands of jews’ who were zealous for the law in Acts 21?

    These are the same Circumcisers who were later repudiated for wanting to continue in circumcision and the ordinances which Christ crucified to the Cross:

    Wow, this one’s a beauty. Talk about a flying leap, very acrobatic. This is mere assertion. How can you assert something like this, offer zero support for it, and expect to be taken seriously. You lose all credibility here in my view.

    You quote Peter from Acts 15. Why don’t you quote James’ conclusion, for it is he who issued the final verdict as the leader of the church:

    “19 Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, 20 but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood. 21 For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.”

    Were these 4 things given ‘dung’ to James as well?

    Then you understand that Jews who do not believe in Christ have no place in the Church (i.e. Body of Christ), is that right

    Of course, I have never asserted any different. It is your misunderstanding and lack of comprehension that is to blame. Or maybe your quickness to attack a straw man, I don’t know.

    There is no male or female where it comes to salvation in Christ. We are all married to Christ, male or female. Do you understand that?

    Romans 7:4
    Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.

    THAT is why there is no more male or female in Christ.

    The question was: “is your wife no longer a female if she’s a believer?”

    The question wasn’t “is your wife still married to you if she’s a believer?”

    You build and take down a straw man again. So I will ask you again:

    Does the fact that your wife is a believer negate her being a female? Of course not, she remains a female. Likewise, the distinction between Jewish believer and gentile believer remains, and this to God’s glory. The common bond between Jew and Greek, male and female, is that we are all saved by faith(fulness) to Christ.

    Yes, he did. And we can see that in the Catholic Church today. For as you have shown, the foundation of the Church is Jew. But try to find them now, if you can. Those who Jews who became Catholic considered their Jewishness dung. And those Gentiles who became Christians likewise considered their Gentile heritage dung. They became one in Christ.

    Try to find them now? You must be kidding. My friend, there are 100,000 jewish believers in Christ in Israel today. A multitude of these are not converts but identify themselves fully as Jews, and rightly so.

    So far, it is your theology which is baseless. There is nothing in Scripture which supports your idea that the Jews are somehow to be exhaled over other Christians.

    I don’t support the idea of ethnic superiority at all. But I do point to the promises of God to the Jewish remnant that He has reserved unto Himself in Romans 11. You seem to be in massive denial over this.

    When St. Paul appointed Sts. Titus and Timothy to Bishopricks, he appointed them to the highest office in the Church. Even the Pope is a Bishop. Even Jesus is a Bishop.

    And your point is? I’m very happy for Titus and Timothy (a half jew by the way). My point is that it beggars belief, that any church that claims to be the one true church, would not have any Jewish believers and leaders proper in their midst. James, John, Peter, Jude etc were are all Jewish believers and leaders. Where are the Jewish leaders now in your church? They are nowhere to be found. Your only policy is ‘converts only’ please. An unbiblical stance. A biblical church that would tug at the heart of any seeker today, would include BOTH Jew and Gentile in its leadership.

  6. In order to convert them to Christ. However, he did not say that Jewish converts would become the leaders of the Church in perpetuity. That is the claim you are making to which both Wosbald and I are objecting

    You had earlier asserted that Paul was finished with the Jews in Acts 13.

    When I pointed you to just a few verses forward in Acts 14, and asked you why then did Paul preach to Jews in Lyconium if he had resolved to ignore them, you answered the above.

    And in so doing, you make my point: which is that Paul was NOT done with the Jews in Acts 13, as per your claim.

    Your second sentence about leadership has nothing to do with my original question to you about your claim that Paul was done with the Jews in Acts 13.

  7. Demaria,

    I will give you the link again here and assure you that English is spoken. Will you listen to what two of your own catholic priests are saying? Can you do that?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ex863pm0j3A?Watch.

    No Demaria, we all killed Christ. Both Gentile and Jew. In your sinfulness, before you were saved by the blood of Christ, you trampled on Him. So did I. Your mindset, which has been present in catholicism from the very beginning, is a fundamental stumbling block to the peace that God in Christ calls us to. I pray that God would open your eyes to the depth of the sinfulness of all mankind, jew and gentile alike, for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

  8. For the Natural Man investigating the historical evidence for any culturally-continuous custodians of this ‘Jesus of Nazareth’s’ legacy, Messianic Jews might well be the lowest on the list as far as Motives of Credibility go . (For myself, I would go one step further and say that if I wasn’t Catholic, I wouldn’t see any point in even being Christian. Though I might consider going to the Jews if I were investigating becoming OC Jewish, I would be much more likely to go Hindu.)

    Re the bolded above. Could not disagree more. Here I’ll summarize it pithily for you: when asked about the existence of God, British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli said “I do believe” and when asked if he could adduce any evidence for his belief, he said “The Jew”

    Talk about MOC….

  9. I know that the topic is packed with emotional content. As a result, it has become taboo to broach it. But Scripture can not be broken. Scripture is the Word of God. And Scripture tells us that the Jews killed our Lord. Yes, the Romans executed Him, but it was at the urging of the Jews. If the Jews had let up even a little, the Romans would not have crucified Jesus.

    In addition, it is true that Jesus died for our sins and therefore, we are all guilty of His death. But not directly.

    Jesus tells you that if you are angry at your brother without cause, you are in danger of the fire of hell, the same fire that a murderer would face. You and I are no less guilty than the Jews who wanted Christ crucified. Let us rejoice then, that the Lord prayed that they be forgiven, thereby teaching us how to deal with the ugliness of sin in our midst, yea, even in our own hearts.

    I greatly value the EO tradition which teaches us to pray:

    “Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me , a sinner”

  10. De Maria,

    You can’t just make an across-the-board comment that the Jews killed Jesus. SS is right that we all killed Jesus. Our sin drove Him to the cross.

    Furthermore, the New Testament is clear that in the events of the crucifixion itself, it was certain Jewish leaders who “pulled the trigger” and gave Him over to the Romans. When the NT uses phrases like “the Jews conspired to kill Him” or other such things, you can’t impute the guilt of direct involvement in the crucifixion to all of the Jews because the NT also praises the faith of Peter, Mary, James, John, and many others who were themselves Jews!!!! And none of them handed Jesus over to the Romans.

  11. De Maria–

    When we speak of the involvement of “the Jews,” we speak of the participation of a handful or two of Jewish leaders a couple thousand years ago in the death of Jesus, himself a Jew in every way (except for believing himself to be God).

    When we speak of the complicity of thousands or even millions of Protestants and Catholics in the persecutions, pogroms, and episodes of genocide (including haShoah, the Holocaust) against the Jewish people, we speak of an entirely different thing.

  12. SS–

    Just a couple of points:

    1. Rabbbinic Jews adamantly refuse to consider Messianic Jews as actual Jews. They have absolutely no access to the “Right of Return” (Aliyah). One of the few things one cannot do as a Jew these days is to believe in Jesus as the Jewish Messiah, to believe in Christ as God. You can have syncretistic beliefs (with Buddhism, Hinduism, etc.) and retain your Jewishness. Heck, you can be a functional atheist and retain it. But you cannot be Messianic.

    2. Being 100% opposed to anti-Semitism as Christians in nowise means that we shouldn’t remain anti-Judaism in its rejection of its rightful Messiah. I have nothing against the Hebrew ethnicity and nothing against Jewish believers as people. Nonetheless, I am called by Scripture to reject what developed into Rabbinic Judaism, which has always had as one of its firmest characteristics, a willful opposition to Christian claims for Christ. Messianic Judaism, in order to remain orthodox, must reject a great deal of Rabbinic Judaism, including large portions of the Talmud (the Mishnah wasn’t written down till 200 C.E. and the principal Gemara, not for three hundred more years).

  13. Robert, you make an important point above (bolded), I hope it doesn’t get lost in translation.

    Eric, yeah I agree. On your first point, Joe Shulam was actually beat up by thugs one day in Jerusalem, simply for believing in Jesus (in addition to being thrown out of his home by his family when he was a teenager for the same reason). When a number of his friends saw what had happened, and found the men that attacked him, they said just tell us yes, and we’ll take care of them. And he said in their presence, all bruised, “Let them go, I forgive them”.

    The Spirit of God is blowing where it wills these days, as always. And so many of those that resist Messiah are seeing events happen around them. One of their big Rabbis shocked everyone on his death bed saying Yeshua is the Messiah. The veil is still there, so is the blindness, but you know what, something is happening over there.

    On your second point, I don’t think we have to be anti anything, just simply pray and live it out, as Joe is doing. We too were once blinded and convinced of our position. Just look at a militant Dawkins or Harris, or Hitchens and their foaming at the mouth, it’s no different. I don’t accept the talmud or mishnah or gemara as supernaturally inspired. But that doesn’t mean I won’t study them to get into the mind of the Jews of the time. This is sort of the exercise D.A. Carson did with Justification and Variegated Nomism. His conclusions are priceless to my beliefs…. More on that later.

  14. SS–

    I have a healthy respect for the courage and integrity of Messianic Jews.

    I know I have “J & VN” around here somewhere. I’ll try to put my hands on it and read Carson’s contribution.

  15. Jason

    1. Again, I like your style of setting us up to read Peter (although on this one could we not play back Paul to you in exactly the same way?!)

    2. Peter’s words are inspired, and I have commented elsewhere about ‘performative commands’ (speech-acts) which God uses, which His apostles used and which His preachers use (in such places of course as preaching is taken seriously) to bring about what He wants.

    3. We humans are virtually incapable of performative commands (I can only think of two effective ones, but the centurion understood them well). But we should not as a consequence allow in the creeping notion of synergism (our actions instead of God’s promises). This can only lead to semi-pelagianism or the like

    4. Synergism brings about a ‘reductio ad ME absurdum’ by which I mean we are first awed with a glorious picture of God in Christ, we then study what we are called to do in response, we then reflect on our failings in that regard; we are then mesmerised by what the church tells us we can do to undo our failings (the sacraments); we are then defeated by scratching ourselves, our own absurd self – we have lost the wood for the trees; we have lost the sunlight for the trees. No wonder when mother comes along and tells us all will be well, we yield

    Harsh?

  16. I agree with your take on 2 Peter 1:1-11. This led me to consider the Catholic Church but I am now attending the Anglican church. It is quite an struggle to read the word or align my life with it after 50 years of Evangelical gospel teaching. Bonhoeffer’s ‘cheap grace’ and ‘cheap faith’ (the very life blood of the Evangelical gospel) are not sufficient to sustain me in the day to day service to God required by a faithful reading of 1&2 Peter. May God help us all.

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