CHRISTIAN MATH - ADDITION
2 Peter 1:5-8 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In the verses previous to our lesson text, Peter told his fellow Christians that the grace and peace, which was multiplied to them, came through the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ our Lord. Included in this grace and peace, Christians will find all things that pertain unto life and godliness. Through the knowledge of God's word, they had learned of the promise of salvation through Jesus Christ. By believing and obeying God's word, they had escaped from a worldly life being driven by covetous lust, and became partakers of a spiritual life through the promise of eternal salvation.
Peter then told them, and tells us today, that sufficient knowledge of God's word does not stop when one partakes, or becomes His child through the initial acts of faith and obedience - belief, repentance, confession, and baptism. Beginning with their knowledge and faith, they obeyed God's plan of salvation and were baptized into the body of Christ. However, Peter indicates, that the learning process is not to stop with faith, but is to continue with additional acts of obedience. Christian life, while here on earth, is to be governed by a progression of knowledge resulting in the accumulation of Godly principles of conduct, all of which begins with faith. Verses five through seven, of our lesson text, give us a simple mathematical formula. Christian math is simple and easily understood by the average reader or hearer of God's word. One does not have to understand algebra, trigonometry or any other advanced math sciences. The basic knowledge of addition is sufficient for us to know what God requires of His children. Addition, as defined by Webster, is the joining or the accumulation of numbers, things, or parts in order to arrive at the sum, total, or answer. Notice how Peter uses this mathematical function.
Peter states the Christian formula to spiritual success as follows. Knowledge and faith will bring one to the point of becoming a Christian. The initial acts of obedience, noted above, will put one into the body of Christ. However, when Peter says, And beside this (Vs.5), we know that the faith that brought us thus far is not sufficient. We are to accumulate other Christian attributes through the addition process. Add to your faith, virtue. Virtue is the excellent character, which causes one to be a good neighbor and a good citizen in both civil and spiritual matters. Virtue, to the Christian, is also the courage necessary, not only to trust in God, but to uphold His will at all times, and to eagerly share it with others through our conduct of life. Add to virtue, knowledge. A continual study of God's word will increase our knowledge. The word used here includes the wisdom to effectively apply the knowledge gained, through our study, to our everyday lives. It also includes additional knowledge, over and above that which we needed to become a Christian. Knowledge is essential because it allows us to grow from a babe in Christ to a mature Christian.
To knowledge, temperance is to be added. Temperance, as a Christian characteristic, allows a life of self-control. Moderation is to be exercised in, not only the use of the physical blessings of life, but also the desire for their possession. Patience is to be added to temperance. Without patience it is not possible to endure the trials and tribulations of life. Christians find patience by working through the trials resulting from their faith (See James 1:3-4). To patience, add godliness - a deep reverence for God that develops the desire to praise Him and be obedient to His will. Following godliness, we need to add brotherly kindness, which is the deep love expressed toward fellow Christians. And, finally, add charity - the love we should have for, and demonstrate to, all mankind, and in doing so, we fulfill the commandment of Jesus, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself (Matthew 22:39).
The answer to this arithmetic formula Peter gives us is found in verse eleven following our lesson text - when these Christian characteristics are added to our lives the sum total will be eternal salvation - the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.