Partakers of the Divine Nature

by Mike Ratliff

[3:1] See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. [2] Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. [3] And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. (1 John 3:1-3 ESV) 

The way things worked out today (Sunday, November 26th, 2011) I found myself visiting another church this morning other than my own. This one is somewhat larger than the one I usually attend and is quite a bit closer to where I live, but we drive the extra distance because it most definitely “worth it.” On the other hand, there were certainly our Brethren in the Lord at the Church we visited today and even though I missed being with the local body of believers a few miles away at our church, we were with God’s people. What was I sensing? What was that “thing” that enabled us to fellowship together even though we were not known among them nor did we know anyone except those who invited us. It is that we are all partakers of the same divine nature.

2 χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη πληθυνθείη ἐν ἐπιγνώσει τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ Ἰησοῦ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν. 3 Ὡς πάντα ἡμῖν τῆς θείας δυνάμεως αὐτοῦ τὰ πρὸς ζωὴν καὶ εὐσέβειαν δεδωρημένης διὰ τῆς ἐπιγνώσεως τοῦ καλέσαντος ἡμᾶς ἰδίᾳ δόξῃ καὶ ἀρετῇ, 4 δι᾽ ὧν τὰ τίμια καὶ μέγιστα ἡμῖν ἐπαγγέλματα δεδώρηται, ἵνα διὰ τούτων γένησθε θείας κοινωνοὶ φύσεως ἀποφυγόντες τῆς ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ ἐν ἐπιθυμίᾳ φθορᾶς. (2 Peter 1:2-4 NA27)

2 Grace and Peace be multiplied to you by the knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord, 3 as his divine power has given to us all things for life and godliness through the knowledge of the one who called us to his own glory and virtue 4 through which precious and great things promises have been given to us, that through these you may become sharers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption which is in the world through lust. (2 Peter 1:2-4 Possessing the Treasure New Testament v1) 

Most of us read these opening verses in 2 Peter as if it is just part of the greeting, but if we go back just one more verse to v1 we read:

1 Συμεὼν Πέτρος δοῦλος καὶ ἀπόστολος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῖς ἰσότιμον ἡμῖν λαχοῦσιν πίστιν ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν καὶ σωτῆρος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ

Peter calls himself a slave (δοῦλος) and apostle (ἀπόστολος) of Jesus Christ and addresses this epistle “to the ones equally precious with us having obtained faith by the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ.” Where is true Christian unity found? Is it in overlooking doctrinal differences or is it in having the very same faith received or obtained by the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ? If we go back to 1 Peter and if we go deeper into 2 Peter we will clearly see that Peter had no problem in pointing out that there were false prophets and false teachers polluting the Church causing disunity. However, those who have this faith here are unified in Christ while those who follow after those false teachers will prove that their faith was not real and, hence, will find themselves outside the Church.

In v2 we see that grace and peace flourish in us as our knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord increases. This knowledge, ἐπιγνώσεως or epignōseiis, is the Dative, Singular of ἐπίγνωσις or epignōsis. This is not a superficial knowledge or a mere surface awareness of the facts about Christ, but a genuine, personal sharing of the life with Christ, based on repentance from sin and personal faith in Him (Matthew 7:21). Christianity is not mystical religion, but is based in objective, historical, revealed, rational truth from God and intended to be understood and believed. As we learn God’s good doctrines and “know” our Lord deeply as Peter did and as he commands us all to do, then our knowledge will also grow deeper and, therefore, so will peace and joy via God’s grace.

The divine nature of which we are partakers is rooted in this in this life, not some mystical experiences. Nor is it found in following some man’s earthly ministry. We see this so much with those celebrity preachers all around is in our time.

My brethren, this season of thanksgiving and the celebration of the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ can be very distracting for getting us to place our focus on what is going on all around us rather than on our Lord and His glory. I am sure you are aware that there is nothing worthy found in the things of this world nor is there anything of eternal value there. Let us keep our eyes on our Lord as we worship Him from grateful hearts for being the author and finisher of our faith and for completing the work, calling all who are his to faith.

Soli Deo Gloria!

4 thoughts on “Partakers of the Divine Nature

  1. Amen, Mike – good to have you back, too!

    Our sermon yesterday was from Romans 14:10 – 12 and we were reminded that we all have areas where we weak in our faith and strong in our faith – not right or wrong. And we have not authority, insight, purity, nor occasion to judge the motive or eternal destiny of another. We do have commands to judge doctrine and the actions of others. But on the day when the entire world is judged by the Lord, we will not be looking down our nose at anyone because they don’t see things our way.

    Soli Deo Gloria!

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