Should anything be added to faith?

Here, then, we stand face to face with something that is very necessary as an emphasis at this present time. There are two errors into which we always tend to fall. We go on repeating in every age the experiences of the first Christians that are depicted in the New Testament — the errors of extremes. There are those of whom I have been speaking who think that by their own efforts they can make themselves Christian, that by adding these virtues [2 Pet. 1:5-7] to their natural life they can fit themselves to stand in the presence of God. And on the other side there is the error of passivity. This is the error of saying, ‘Of course one can do nothing; salvation is of Christ; and therefore any effort or any attempt at spiritual culture, or any effort to discipline the Christian life, is wrong, and means falling back on works, and trying to justify oneself by works.’ To go to one extreme or the other has always been the tendency, and you have these two errors described in the New Testament itself.

On the one side there are those who preach justification by works, and on the other those who can be described as antinomians, and who say, If you are saved, you are saved, and your actions do not matter at all. These are in both instances contradictory to the teaching of Scripture, and upset the balance of its teaching. Let us, then, follow the logical order and sequence that are indicated by the Apostle. God gives the inward capacity which makes everything possible; without that we can do nothing and we are not asked to do anything. But, having been given, and having received that gift, then nothing is more important than that we should give ourselves with all our energy to spiritual culture and to the development of the Christian life. In other words, we can translate this fifth verse like this: ‘For this very cause, therefore, do you on your part supply in your faith, virtue’ and so on. That puts it perfectly, as if Peter were saying, I have already told you what God has done on His part; now, because of that, do you, on your part, supply in your faith virture and so on.

D. M. Lloyd-Jones, 2 Peter, (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1983), 24-25.

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