4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
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1:4 Great and precious promises refers to the numerous offers of divine provision found in Scripture. These promises offer us the glory and virtue of Christ as the basis for our growing participation in the divine nature. We have Christ within us, as He promised (see John 14:23), to enable us to become increasingly Christlike (see 2 Cor. 3:18). Because we have become new creatures in Christ, we have already escaped the corruption (the moral ruin) that is in the world through lust (perverted desire). We should make our escape from this world evident to all by our godly behavior and the renewing of our mind (see Rom. 12:2). These promises are the fourth resource (vv. 1, 3) upon which believers may draw for sustaining help.
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
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The way of peace is to not be anxious about anything (6), not being careless but free from the strain which turns so easily to distrust, and to bring every request to God, by prayer (proseuchē, prayer in its devotion) and petition (deēsis, prayer in its personal detail) with thanksgiving, for appreciation of past mercies stimulates to trust for future ones. Paul’s own prayer life alluded to in 1:3–5 is an excellent example here. The garrison of peace is afforded by the peace of God, which He gives to us and which transcends all understanding, transcending all our mental capacity to grasp and to appreciate (7). This will guard (phroureō, to stand guard, to protect) your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, as in the very abode of peace. The discipline of peace follows naturally from the thought of the garrison. Finally, concerning every occupation of the mind comes the reminder that inward peace is not preserved by feeding the thoughts upon the unwholesome. Whatever is true, . . . noble (worthy of respect) . . . right . . . pure . . . lovely (winsome) . . . admirable (in good repute), and in the widest range, whatever is excellent (morally) and praiseworthy, this and this alone is suited to their minds (8). Disciplined minds will find the path of daily life set forth in the teaching and practice of Paul himself, and in this path they will prove the reality of the presence of the God from whom all peace comes. Thus both the first and second sections of this chapter close with the wonder of the divine companionship.
If they are earthly, even the most stable conditions prove transient. Circumstances shift, setting security adrift. Like Paul, we must anchor our peace in a conviction of God’s sovereign love. Not only is He worthy of our praise, He is open to our petition. Jehovah is not just Lord of history, He is Father of our hearts. The Heidelberg Catechism puts it this way: “I trust him so much that I do not doubt he will provide whatever I need for body and soul, and he will turn to my good whatever adversity he sends me in this sad world.” Here alone will we find the Rock on which to found our peace.
Heidelberg Catechism, Q/A 26.
Adam T. Barr
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
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“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” —John 3:16
Christianity’s greatest contribution to humankind is the sharing of the good news summarized in John 3:16. This central message of the Bible portrays Jesus and our redemption through his blood. Finally, once and for all, he dealt with the issues of our guilt, our loneliness and our alienation from God. Through his atoning death and resurrection, he opened up heaven for everyone who follows him.
With this truth, Christianity provides a revelation as to the meaning of life and the existence of universal morality. Without that revelation, it’s very difficult to have any sense of life’s meaning. You end up like Albert Camus, who said in the opening paragraph of The Myth of Sisyphus, “Why should I or anyone not commit suicide?” In short, Christianity explains why not. Because of God’s profound love for us, we are able to relate to him and others in a healthy and deeply meaningful way.
—Adapted from interview with Dr. John D. Woodbridge