The Bible is Not a Coffee Table Book

The other day I had to rebuild our front porch. Although the house we bought up here is solidly built, the porch that was original to the house was showing its age. The wood was never treated and the supports were put directly into the ground with no footers. Water damage had eaten away at most of the planks and the porch had a trampoline-like quality to it. I had to take it apart, replace supports and put cement around them. Then I had to replace all the planks. To use Peter’s word in 2 Peter 1:10-11, I made the porch “sure,” meaning I made it solid and reliable. To get it there, I had to work at it.

Peter is telling us that if we want to have real security in our faith, full assurance that our faith is real, we need to work at that, too.

2 Peter 1:10-11
(10)  Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
(11)  For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

That doesn’t mean that we have to work for our salvation or work to gain greater favor with God. God always loves us to His maximum. But if we are going to be convinced of our standing before God, the best way to convince ourselves is to be busy about God’s work. James tells us that faith without works is dead (James 2:20). If you’re struggling with assurance of your salvation, of course counsel yourself with verses of Scripture like Romans 10:11 “For the Scripture saith, ‘Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed [disappointed, turned away].’” But set solid footers to your faith by serving Him. The most insecure Christians I know are Christians who are not regularly in God’s Word for themselves and who are not active in their local church. Nothing will test or grow your faith like service. Either it will challenge you regarding a lack of salvation, or it will challenge you to grow in your faith.

The once up-and-down apostle Peter makes a bold claim in this passage: “for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.” “These things” is yet another reference back to those seven character qualities of the Christian faith. If we are developing those things, we will never fall. We will be rock-solid Christians. Okay, but “never fall?” The picture Peter is painting here is of someone who is sure-footed. Of course we might stub our toe or do an occasional face plant in our Christian walk. Peter’s own life is evidence of that, but those failures did not define Peter’s life and our spiritual face plants don’t have to define ours either. By the grace of God, when we fall, we can also get back up again and keep moving.

I once had a guy challenge me on that phrase “never fall.” He called me aside and said: “You said if we do these things, we will never fall.” I answered: “Yes, that’s what the Bible says.” He responded: “I keep falling,” implying that maybe that verse was wrong. So, I asked him some questions: “Are you reading your Bible every day?” “No.” “Are you memorizing and meditating on Scripture every day?” “No.” “Are you writing down what you’re learning from your Bible reading?” “No.” “Then you’re not doing those things that the Bible says is necessary to keep you from falling.”

Not personally applying Scripture to our lives is like the guy who buys a cookbook but never opens it. He lets it sit on his kitchen counter and then after a week, returns to the bookstore angrily demanding his money back. “This cookbook is no good! I bought it and I’m still hungry!” The clerk graciously refunds the money but has one question for his angry customer: “Did you ever do the recipes in the book?”

We cannot Just let our Bibles sit on a shelf somewhere only to come to out on Sunday for church and we cannot grow in our faith by watching others do the work. We have to give diligence ourselves to make our calling and election sure. The Bible is no coffee table book (a book you put on your coffee table just for display) and the Christian walk is no spectator sport. Both demand action.

[Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash]

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