Graham Cooke said, “We’re saved once, but we get redeemed from our old ways every single day! We’re learning how to be a new creation.” This is critically important to understand if we’re going to walk in what God intends for us. While Paul said “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith” (Eph.2:8), he also said, “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”(Phil.2:12).
Let’s look at what Peter says about working out what God has worked in us:
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 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. (1 Pet.1:3-4 TPT)
This passage pretty much sums up God’s redemptive plan for you and me. He has already deposited everything we will ever need to experience Christ’s life in us. Paul said it this way: “you are complete in Him…” (Col.2:10). This means that there is nothing God is ever going to add to you, now or in the future. You could say it this way: everything you will ever need is already living in you as latent potential in Christ.
All of God’s promises to us are “yes” and “amen” IN Him (2 Cor.1:20). “In Christ” is not some theoretical or legal position; it means we’ve been invited into an ongoing cooperative relationship with Him called “abiding in Christ” (John 15:5-12). This is how we “participate in the divine nature.”
Next, Peter tells us to add to our faith the following virtues:
5 So devote yourselves to lavishly supplementing your faith with goodness,
and to goodness add understanding,
6 and to understanding add the strength of self-control,
and to self-control add patient endurance,
and to patient endurance add godliness,
7 and to godliness add mercy toward your brothers and sisters,
and to mercy toward others add unending love. (2 Pet.1:5-7 TPT)
But then he goes on to say that even these godly characteristics are actually already residing within us:
8 Since these virtues are already planted deep within, and you possess them in abundant supply, they will keep you from being inactive or fruitless in your pursuit of knowing Jesus Christ more intimately. 9 But if anyone lacks these things, he is blind, constantly closing his eyes to the mysteries of our faith, and forgetting his innocence—for his past sins have been washed away. (2 Pet.1:8-9 TPT*)
Notice Peter is saying “these virtues are already planted deep within.” But many Christians seem to look at this admonition as something we must obtain, as if we didn’t already possess them.
Understand that this is a very different thing than trying to learn principles to become a better person. These are not character traits we can learn. You cannot imitate them; you can only incarnate them.
So, it’s not by trying harder that we develop these godly virtues from without, but we’re learning how to walk out what’s already been deposited in us from within. Because, upon closer inspection, we see that these virtues are fruits of the Spirit:
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Gal.5:22-23 NIV)
Sadly, the following point is not emphasized in modern Christianity. You cannot produce the fruit of the Spirit without Holy Spirit’s work in you. And that only happens in intimate relationship as you abide in Him. Yet, much of what I see that passes as Christian discipleship is nothing more than programmed learning that can be done quite satisfactorily without the Holy Spirit. But this won’t sustain a vibrant faith because it’s not empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Here’s what Graham Cooke said about the importance of abiding in Christ through the Spirit with regard to our Christian experience:
“Abiding recreates our internal place of seeing, and knowing, and speaking, and alignment with who God is for us. It’s the best and fastest way to become transformed, simply because it’s totally relational. When we’re not abiding, we’re relying on external things like meetings and programs, rather than the inner power that we already possess in Jesus. It leads to comments like, ‘We had a great meeting, and God really showed up!’ As if He doesn’t show up in everyday life?” (Graham Cooke, “The Place of Abiding” *)
Let me be very clear. What is foreign to authentic, transformational Christianity is living out our lives apart from being in daily communion with the Holy Spirit. As Jesus said, apart from abiding in Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). But we seem to think we can.
Anything outside of this ongoing interaction with Jesus through the indwelling Spirit is empty religion, no matter how good it may look. It’s nothing more than man’s creation.
Summarizing, while we’re saved once by grace through faith, our redemption is ongoing. We’re given the Holy Spirit to walk out this redemption—our transformation—so that we can experience all the promises of God meant for us. And He’s with us, in us, 24/7, to do just that! He will make sure all that was deposited in us becomes actualized in our life experience—that is, if we don’t keep “closing our eyes to the mysteries of our faith.”