Some years ago my wife and I went through a very stressful period financially. All we had worked for, home and cars were sold to pay down a debt we could no longer service. It all happened because of a decision I made to gain a greater sense of achievement and success. On the surface looking at our situation you may not have found anything wrong even with what we were doing. So this article is not about the rights or wrongs of achievement or even possessions as such, it is about learning to be a partaker of the “Divine Nature” Second Peter 1:4.
Do you know that everything I had learned was about how to “get” in one form or another? I was in and out of one financial struggle after another never really satisfied with what I had, always wanting more. I applied all the scriptural principles and others to our lives, tithing, offerings and finding people to sow into (with gifts and money etc.) even buying products that would supposedly guarantee our financial wealth. It never once dawned on me that perhaps my attitude was what really needed to change. I wonder how many dear brothers and sisters out there struggle with these same problems. My wife (Anne) and I were not greedy or overly ambitious we weren’t trying to climb to the top of the tree as such; we are, I believe, normal people looking to live normal lives. We trust our leaders, teachers and pastor’s just like most people do. We are generous and love to help people even when things are not so good financially. So we could be seen as average people with normal hopes and ambitions.
There are two primary ways for Gods Children to live in this world both of them depend on a relationship with God the Father. The first is Fathers Family at large (The Church) this is important because it is about relationships as a Family and is the primary way we learn how to live together as Gods children to show the world how a loving people care for each other. The second way (although not separate to) is our individual relationship with Him as our Father. I want to focus on our individual relationship because it is not dependant on others necessarily but fundamentally it should both reflect and impact the greater Family with good at some point. Don’t misunderstand me I believe the Family of God is part of the true point for our remaining in the world after becoming born again but that is for another time.
A little while ago (after we had sold everything) during a time of prayer I asked Father to reveal His truth to me. My intent came from a tiredness of not seeing the reality of His word in my life. Now that’s not to say I wasn’t aware of truth or that I questioned Him (my faith was not in doubt I simply wanted greater revelation of His Truth) but I was becoming more concerned about what I had been taught or what I thought I knew about scripture. That may not be so unique, but from my personal position it began to change my whole outlook on life and my purpose in it. I now began the real journey of salvation that seemingly was hidden from view yet was always there, that may seem a little cryptic but I hope to make it plain as we go along.
Back to Second Peter 1:3-10
According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust: 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.
But he that lacks these things is blind, and cannot see far off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. KJV
So why have I titled this The Good Steward you may be asking? Good question and it is exactly where I want you! This statement about stewardship can only be answered if we understand our position as children of God and what our purpose is now in this world. For me I could not come to terms with spiritual things (godliness and purpose) until I understood some fundamental truths concerning the new creation (sonship, new nature). Up until I asked Father to understand His truth my focus was about me and what I wanted even if it had the appearance of godliness etc. Try as I might I could not make the word of God suit my needs (even though I did not know that is what I was doing). Ultimately all I produced was frustration in my life, complacency, frustration and even condemnation slowly creep in to steel hope, and became prey to deception and hopelessness.
Stewardship isn’t about looking after things for our Father, although it may be a result of it, no it is about the stewardship of our salvation! Have you ever heard that before? Let me say it again “The Good Steward is someone who is Steward over their Salvation!”
Let’s have a closer look at that statement. The last few years the Holy Spirit has been teaching about Fathers nature and what that means to me and what it can mean as I relate to others. It all comes down to revealing His nature in me to impact the world with His purpose demonstrating love and passion for His Children. As we look further into our salvation we begin to understand that Jesus is not only the beginning point but the reason for our continued walk in this world. So it is now possible to see why we are the Stewards of our Salvation, the demonstration of our confession and life is for Jesus to the world. The more this becomes real to us the more we understand about our purpose and the less the world becomes as a focus. Ephesians 5:1 says to be imitators of God as dear Children, verse 2 and walk in love, as Christ also loved us and gave Himself for us as an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour. The deeper implications of this can be discussed at a later date but for now just think about His nature “Love”. It is so profound to me that I can experience God’s love and (this is not fanciful but experiential) know how amazingly passionate He is toward me personally. There is a place of knowing and understanding God’s affection for you it is simply received by believing and allowing Him to embrace you, more on that some other time. Now let’s take the time to go through the verses in Second Peter 2:3-10.
Verse 3: Amplified version
For His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that [are requisite and suited] to life and godliness, through the [full, personal] knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence (virtue). AMP
Let’s quell a myth that some of us have been taught, that is, we by our own ability or effort have to gain anything to walk in godliness!
Question 1- Who gave us the ability to live godly lives?
Answer; For His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that [are requisite and suited] to life and godliness.
Question 2- How is His power applied to live godly lives?
Answer; through the [full, personal] knowledge of Him Who called us.
What I discovered was that my desires began to change as I sort to know truth, my motives and attitude also became affected. I realised that I genuinely wanted to be like my Father, my example, the one I look to is Jesus He shows me the Way The Truth and The Life John 14:6.
Understand it is the Holy Spirit who teaches me or reveals to me the word and its meaning but it never loses sight of Jesus He is always the focus! It also needs to be understood that it was God who called us for His glory in other words He wanted us and made the way possible to choose Him. Because He chose us he also gives us the ability to know and live with Him in His power. All that is required from us is a desire to want to know truth and accept it when it is revealed.
Verse 4 Amplified version
By means of these He has bestowed upon us His precious and exceedingly great promises, so that through them you may escape [by flight] from the moral decay (rottenness and corruption) that is in the world because of covetousness (lust and greed), and become sharers (partakers) of the divine nature. AMP
Here we see that even though we live in the world we are no longer captured by its desires (lusts) or shouldn’t be. We now have the ability to partake of the divine nature. Isn’t it interesting that scripture makes a point about the separation of world (and its things) and the divine nature? Now it is not saying that things of themselves are terrible but it is the lusting for and greed in them that causes the problem so it says to escape or take flight by His precious and exceedingly great promises! It is the moral decay in the world because of lust and greed that causes most problems so here the scripture says to choose the alternative, the divine nature.
First John 1:15-17 Amplified
Do not love or cherish the world or the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world-the lust of the flesh [craving for sensual gratification] and the pride of life [assurance in one’s own resources or in the stability of earthly things]-these do not come from the Father but are from the world [itself]. And the world passes away and disappears, and with it the forbidden cravings (the passionate desires, the lust) of it; but he who does the will of God and carries out His purposes in his life abides (remains) forever. AMP
In pointing out these scriptures it could be misunderstood that I am against the ownership or even the desire of things but this is not what I am inferring. The scripture speaks for itself and quite clearly points out the traps associated with the world and its things. Let me make a point here in regards to the “divine nature” we escape the corruption in the world because of it or more precisely through the precious exceedingly great promises. The question we must ask ourselves is why is this even mentioned and why so adamantly. Let’s continue what John says; all these things (lust of the flesh and the pride of life) are not of the Father STOP!!!
Firstly: What is Fathers ultimate purpose for you, go on and think about it? Answer-to imitate Him. Do I hear you say how? Remember Ephesians 5:1-2 just as Jesus loved us and gave Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour. We can’t give our lives as a sin offering like Jesus but we can give it sacrificially for others.
Secondly: He wants us to look to Him for everything we may need to do His will and also for the provisions needed to live (food, shelter, job etc.).
The way all these things take place is in our everyday life, we are not becoming monks of some sort but as we live our lives we grow into mature sons able to demonstrate Fathers purpose with greater ability and understanding.
Romans 12:1-2 Amplified
I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you]. AMP
Think about this; what if our sacrifice is simply yielding to the Holy Spirit and allowing Him by His power to transform us into the image of Jesus at His pace and timing because He knows better than we do how to do things. What if all you had to do was agree with Him and the word and then offer yourself to the power of His might to overcome all that might confront you. What if it wasn’t about success or achievement but about simply being a son? What if it wasn’t about the souls you won but about revealing love the nature and Kingdom of God? What if all of this had nothing to do with you accept you simply desired to be like Him? What if after all is said and done you became the Gospel without reservation just as you are right now? What if you are what you are by the Grace of God?
No I’m not making excuses for poor behaviour or sinful habits but most of our problems stem from “trying” in one form or another. Everything for and about us is by grace it is all already provided for, finding it (whatever your need) will depend largely on attitude and or intent. Go back up to the scripture we just read and you will see it says “be transformed…… (notice-attitude etc.)……so that you may prove…..perfect will of God [in His sight for you]. When I was trying to get the word of God to fit what I wanted failure or disappointment resulted but when I conform to the word success is the result. Offcourse the focus has changed I am no longer seeking my will but His. I can’t lay claim to some proclamation that I have arrived that would be so far from the truth it would be pathetic, but I am at peace because I know the Holy Spirit is at work in me and through me. I am what I am by the grace of God my Father; I desire to be all He created me to be so I am content but not satisfied. No I haven’t arrived and just like most Children of God I am still walking by faith my expectation is to continue to grow in Christ.
The idea to be a good steward over our salvation comes I think from Philippians 2:12-13 I want us to read this in two different translations.
Therefore, my dear ones, as you have always obeyed [my suggestions], so now, not only [with the enthusiasm you would show] in my presence but much more because I am absent, work out (cultivate, carry out to the goal, and fully complete) your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling (self-distrust, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation, timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ).
[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire] both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight. AMP
Wherefore, my beloved ones, as you always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, carry to its ultimate conclusion [likeness to the Lord Jesus Christ] your own salvation with a wholesome, serious caution and trembling, for God is the One who is constantly putting forth His energy in you, both in the form of your being desirous of and of your doing His good pleasure. WUEST
You notice two things here
- Work out for yourself i.e.; Take an interest or put time and energy into discovering for yourself, participate by becoming involved, look more closely for your personal understanding. We actively take a roll in our salvation giving ourselves to it; not assuming knowing about it is enough.
- Gods power, energy i.e.; Strong’s G1754
From G1756; to be active, efficient: – do, (be) effectual (fervent), be mighty in, shew forth self, work (effectually in). ….. So it is God who gives us the power/energy to work out our salvation and to do what is required to please Him it is truly all by His grace. But it is also God who puts the desires within us in the first place.
It is through the process of working out our salvation we learn what His will/desires are but I also see that we begin to take on His will/desires naturally as we grow and yield to Him throughout our lives.
Revelation is something most of us look for to have more understanding and impact within our homes and communities. The interesting thing for me is that what we think we need may not necessarily be true (revelation) I have found more often than not what I really needed was to simply believe in the word. Our time frames and situations do not necessarily need to be Gods. The process of change (or transformation) in and through our lives is most affective when we simply let God have His way.
Sometimes the most obvious and simplest solution to problems is the one we least want to acknowledge. Let me share a little more about Anne and my story; the options to resolve our financial situation were basically three.
- Do nothing and wait to see what happens (foreclosure)
- Pray and trust some miracle rescues us
- Take action and do something ourselves
After discussing and praying about it, I believe we came up with the answer but it wasn’t easy. Financially our situation was dire we simply could no longer service our debt. We had approached the bank and did all we could to reduce payments even freezing them for a period of time. But this was all only delaying the inevitable wolves at the door. Now obviously the first option was no option at all, we did not want to become bankrupt but to take responsibility for our debt and secondly we did not want someone else having control over the outcome whatever that might be. The second option was a forgone conclusion and never really in doubt, we prayed and prayed and humbled ourselves but no result, at least not miraculously obvious. It was finally the third option that became most evident and what occurred to me was this option not only took care of the non-action but gave us hope.
Firstly it allowed us to take control; we put our property on the market and put a price on it that was probably higher than sale forecasts at the time. This also stoped any immediate foreclosure because we were seen to be doing something to pay the debt.
Secondly it gave us hope that we could start again without bankruptcy problems over our heads and it gave us some peace of mind. This took the weight we were carrying on our shoulders that was crippling and tormenting the relief was amazing. When we sold the home the instant freedom we felt was indescribable and tangible. We weren’t totally free but eventually after selling the cars and with some help from friends it finally happened.
Now my point in sharing this is we could have held out for a miracle, and some might say we lacked faith because we didn’t, but did Father God lead us after we prayed to do what we did? Did a miracle happen after all? I believe so. But I also think we learnt some truths in the process. We would have liked it all to go away as quickly as possible leaving us without having to do anything but where do we learn and grow in that?
Attitude is I believe a fundamental place in our lives that needs to be addressed to really understand how we should see the world and the things (ways) of it.
1 Corinthians 2:5-16
That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:
But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:
Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. KJV
Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. KJV
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths. KJV
Amplified Pro 3:5 Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.
Pro 3:6 In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. AMP
Being a steward of our salvation means quite a few things to us which ultimately translate into revelation. I have found that just by simple observation, many Christians in their walk struggle with their individualism. This is interesting because even though people say they know God loves them struggle to see themselves being uniquely individual and passionately focused on by their Heavenly Father. We have all heard the saying that even if we were the only one left on earth Jesus would have still died for us? But do we really relate to that from God’s perspective? This is important to know because it helps to understand God’s purpose and desires for us as individuals. How we walk and behave will be directly affected by understanding (or not understanding) this basic truth. Fundamentally love is the reason behind all of God’s desires and purpose for us. He offers this to us by His grace, a gift that when received does three basic things;
- Adoption…we are made His Children as joint heirs with Jesus
- Life and godliness…we are given all we need to live eternally with God’s nature
- Purpose…we are given the opportunity to live in this world now for Him
Now I know you could make a point here that I have over simplified things, but for the sake of focus on our individualism as sons I deliberately stripped things down.
Every single person who came to Jesus has a story to tell that is personal and powerful in some way to them. We see from our perspective something of Jesus and His sacrifice for us and this touched us in some way that drew us to making Him our Lord. What many people miss in this is the amazing love that God demonstrates for us we see His love for Jesus but don’t quite get it for ourselves. When meditating on Jesus and His sacrifice we can become emotional to the point of tears and we are genuinely grateful but more often than not we don’t allow ourselves to see beyond the cross to the greater implications of it. We tend to limit our experience to a future of some sort in heaven because of Jesus and we are thankful for that but our lives more often than not remain the same except we now have Jesus as our Lord. Many people struggle with condemnation because they don’t feel they are living up to some expectation God now has for them others may continue to feel unworthy of His love and simply reject His affection for them because of it. Whatever the situation or thought that separates anyone from His love and affection is a lie and needs to be rejected because it in essence denies the sacrifice of Christ’s life on the cross for us. We need to understand that nothing we do or think of ourselves makes God do anything for us thinking this way leaves you constantly seeing things from your perspective and not His. It is when we see from His perspective we begin to understand and our lives truly begin to change. Working out our salvation means we will see from God’s perspective and simply accept it as truth and allow the Holy Spirit to empower you to be transformed remember Romans 12:2 and Philippians 2:12.
Rom 8:1 THEREFORE, [there is] now no condemnation (no adjudging guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live [and] walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit. [John 3:18.]
Rom 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life [which is] in Christ Jesus [the law of our new being] has freed me from the law of sin and of death.
Rom 8:3 For God has done what the Law could not do, [its power] being weakened by the flesh [the entire nature of man without the Holy Spirit]. Sending His own Son in the guise of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, [God] condemned sin in the flesh [subdued, overcame, deprived it of its power over all who accept that sacrifice], [Lev. 7:37.]
Rom 8:4 So that the righteous and just requirement of the Law might be fully met in us who live and move not in the ways of the flesh but in the ways of the Spirit [our lives governed not by the standards and according to the dictates of the flesh, but controlled by the Holy Spirit]. AMP
These scriptures show us that we are free from ever again thinking we are unworthy or can do anything that would get God to move for us by our own effort or will. We now submit to the Holy Spirit and He empowers us to live and experience all that God has for us. As you read on in Romans 8 you begin to see something that has amazing implications for those who are born again (sons of God).
When I am sharing with someone about the scripture or just spending time with them I am not focusing on the situation that surrounds them or me but on Fathers love and what that may mean for them. I may find myself in a situation that means I disagree with their life style or even with what they may believe but that is not what I focus on. I believe Fathers intent is to show forth His love by demonstrating it through me I can’t do that if I put my disagreements or views before love. My life has to be a demonstration of what I believe and I believe that love is Fathers motivation toward us this is demonstrated through the cross of Jesus. He died while we were still sinners in other words he gave His life despite our sinful nature making it possible for us to accept His offer of salvation regardless of our condition. Those who accept His offer receive a new nature, the nature of God by the spirit this is being born again (or born from above) literally born of God. So God as a Father looks upon us (born again) as His literal Children conceived by Him!