Andrew laughed and responded with a friendly slap on Secundus’ back. “Growing up with Peter was quite an experience. I could tell you story after story of his successes and his failures. Actually, he would tell you the same stories himself, but he would leave out the successes and focus on his failures. He always says we learn a lot more from our failures than we ever do from our success.
“My big brother has really changed as the Spirit has grown in him. His experience being Jesus’ disciple completely altered the trajectory of his life. Before he was a disciple of Jesus, he was a disciple of Peter. And yes, I hear many of our new followers calling him, “The Great Peter,” but trust me, he called himself that many times over the years.”
Andrew paused and thought for a moment, then continued, “He is more reflective now, and slower to speak. He has a calmness about him I never saw before the Spirit arrived.”
Secundus interrupted and said, “Are you saying his biggest changes have come after Jesus left, not during his time with Jesus?”
“Oh, please hear this my friend, Peter did change, some, while he was with Jesus, but he has been and is still being transformed now that the Holy Spirit lives in him. Before the Spirit, Peter tried so hard to change himself, in order to please Jesus. He gritted his teeth and tried to will himself to follow Jesus’ teachings. And because he has such a strong will, he was able to change, some.
“But his true transformation has been from the Holy Spirit.”
Secundus asked, “Is that why all of you say so often, ‘This isn’t a self-help program?’”
Andrew laughed and said, “That’s it. We can accomplish some change on our own, and we should. We should make every effort to add to our faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.”
Secundus jumped in quickly and said, “You know I heard Barnabas say, ‘Grace is not opposed to effort, it’s opposed to earning.’ And your brother quoted the apostle Paul as saying, ‘Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.’ That’s what you’re talking about, right?”
Andrew smiled and said, “You really have been listening, haven’t you! But please be sure you see the distinction between working out your salvation versus working for your salvation.”