Torchbearers for Christ
Monday, December 10, 2018
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In our last message we thought about those things on which the average person might place the highest value. What was most precious to him or her? We felt that such items could include close family relationships, good health, personal possessions, a career or other such benefits associated with the here and now, rather than matters associated with the hereafter. On the other hand, we suggested that while Christians do place great value on present day benefits which are to be appreciated and enjoyed, their greatest treasure lies in their relationship with the Lord Jesus and eternal realities. We thought of two such treasures described as precious in the letters of the apostle Peter; these were the preciousness of the Lord Jesus and His precious blood which was shed for the salvation of sinners. These two matters are a constant source of comfort and joy to the believer.
We come now to two other occasions where Peter uses the word precious to describe matters of infinite value. The first is precious faith which is found in 2 Peter 1:1 and the second is in 2 Peter 1:4, where we read of “exceeding great and precious promises”. As we shall see, these two treasures are closely related. To be a Christian means to have a living faith in the promises of God’s Word. What is meant by precious faith? The word “faith” occurs 245 times in the New Testament. Consequently, it is of utmost importance and we need to understand its significance if we are to have a meaningful relationship with the Lord. The root meaning of the word translated as faith is to have confidence in, to rely upon, to have an assurance, to obey, to trust and to yield ones self to God’s will as revealed in His Word. The word faith occurs only twice in the Old Testament, but its equivalent is the word “trust” which occurs 105 times, having a similar meaning to the New Testament word “faith”.
Thus we see that to have saving faith is far more than a mere belief in God’s existence, although such belief is a necessary starting point. Hebrews 11:6 reads “but without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him”. Faith, then, is the vital element in the Christian life. Ephesians 2:8 tells us that we are saved by faith; we are kept by the power of God through faith (1 Peter 1:5), we live by faith (Galatians 3:11), by faith in the Lord Jesus we are made righteous in God’s sight (Romans 3:28) and by faith we have an assurance of eternal life (1 John5:13). With good reason, Peter describes faith as “precious”. Since faith is so vital to our eternal salvation and Christian living, how is it found? The source of saving faith is explained in Romans 10:17, where we read “So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God”.
It may be helpful if we look at an experience which Paul the apostle had, that illustrates the implications of faith in God’s Word. In Acts chapter 27 we read of Paul’s journey to Rome by sea. A great storm which threatened to sink the ship was encountered; things became so desperate that we are told that “all hope that we should be saved was taken away” (verse 20). In the midst of this crisis Paul received a message from God, assuring him that while the ship would be lost, the lives of all on board would be saved. Paul shared this message with his fellow passengers and expressed his confidence in God’s promise by saying “ of good cheer men, for I believe God that it shall be even as it was told me (Acts 27:25). This is faith in action - a joyful, unshakeable confidence in the promise of a God who cannot lie.
Peter tells us that God’s “exceeding great and precious promises are given to us in order that “we might be partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). God has promised that faith in the person and work of the Lord Jesus can change a sinful man or woman into a “new creation”, that “old things will pass away and all things will become new”. Through simple faith in God’s Word we can receive the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13) who is God’s transforming agent (2 Cor. 3:18). It is a delight to see people who were once alienated and enemies of God (Colossians 1:21) brought from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God and loving the things they once despised or ignored. 
Such is the power of God’s “exceeding great and precious promises”. May we ever be lovers of God’s Word as was the prophet Jeremiah when he said, “Thy words were found and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts”.
This article was written by Pastor Geoffrey Davies. He is a frequent contributor to this column. He lives in Melbourne, Australia, where he pastored a church for over twenty-five years.  Since 1983 he has travelled widely, continuing his ministry of encouragement and Bible teaching.