Before any building or structure is built it is necessary to begin with a good solid foundation. In Matthew 7:24-27 Jesus spoke of this in His Sermon on the Mount. He explained that one who is wise will be sure to build his house on a solid rock foundation; but one who is foolish will build on the sand. One will withstand the rain, and the floods and the wind, while the other will fall. Any builder with common sense knows the importance of this.
But what is true in the physical world is also true in the spiritual sense. If one intends to build the Christian life, the proper foundation must be established first. In II Peter 1:5ff Peter, by inspiration, teaches us some important things that must be a part of any Christian’s life if he is to stand the wind, the rain, and the floods that we will have to face in the affairs of life. These things are to be “added” (KJV) or “supplied” (ASV). And the very first thing Peter tells us is, “And giving all diligence, add to your faith…” (II Pet. 1:5).
Why did Peter start with faith? Simply because faith is the foundation on which the entire Christ life is to be built. Faith is taking God at His word. Faith is complete trust in what God has spoken. Faith says, “Speak Lord, for your servant hears” (I Sam. 3:9-10). Faith does not question God nor try to improve on what God has said. Faith never says, “I know the Bible says that, but…”
The writer of the book of Hebrews identifies faith in this manner: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). Robert Young, in his Analytical Concordance to the Bible, defines the Greek word that is translated “substance” in this passage; he says it means “what stands under.” Thus faith is the foundation, that which “stands under” and supports everything the Christian is supposed to be.
Thus we see why Peter starts with faith as he shows us how to build the Christian life. Why is it that some never grow or mature as Christians? Why is it that some make only minimal progress in becoming strong Christians? Why is it that some give up and fall away from faithful service? Why is it that some become strong, dedicated servants of the Lord, while others seem to never “grow in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ”? (II Pet. 3:18). While many answers may be suggested, I believe the fundamental reason starts with the foundation. The Bible speaks of “little faith” (Matt. 14:31), “dead faith” (James 2:14), “shipwrecked faith (I Tim. 1:19) and “strong faith” (Rom. 4:20). Only one with a “strong faith” like the faith of those listed in Hebrews 11, will ever be successful in building the type of life Peter describes in II Peter 1:5ff.
How strong is your faith? Are you working diligently at building the Christian life? “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). So study, meditate, and walk by God’s word (Psalm 119:105). Build a strong foundation, and then build the Christian life on that foundation.
Paul M. Wilmoth