But for those of us who may feel like “Johnny- or Susan-come-lately,” living in an age far removed from those days of Christian beginnings, it seems hard sometimes to imagine ourselves as having the same potential as those early heroes of the faith. We know that Christ gave the parable of the harvesters (Matthew 20:1-16) showing that those who enter the work “late in the day” are equally due reward, but can those of us living in later ages, “late in the day” as it were, ever really have the kind of faith we see in Hebrews 11, the “Faith Hall of Fame” chapter, for example?
The answer is actually a resounding Yes! We have it on no less authority than the apostle Peter that we are, in fact, on equal footing with the New Testament disciples. How can this be? Notice what Peter wrote at the very beginning of his second letter:
“Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:1 ESV).
This verse is not quite as clear in the NIV and most earlier versions, but the expression translated “equal standing” in the ESV, Holman and other newer translations is isotimos from isos or “equal” plus time the “price,” “value” or “merit” of something. The expression is used only this once in the New Testament, but its meaning is clearly something of equal value or honor – something regarded as equal to something else of the same kind. The expression was used in ancient Greek to speak of foreigners or outsiders who were given citizenship equal to that of native-born individuals.
Now this does not necessarily mean that we presently have the same amount of faith as Peter and the other apostles, but that our faith is of equal value – equally usable and of equal potential. Peter tells us that we have the same source of equal faith that he and all the early Christians had – God Himself. If there was ever a verse showing that faith is a gift of God for which we are all equally eligible, this is it. Peter clearly puts you and me on the same page as himself – it’s not just that we share the same faith in terms of our beliefs, it is that we can have faith of equal standing and potential through God’s help. That is an empowering and tremendously encouraging understanding if we can come to grasp it and live by it. The only real question is, how much do we want to realize our full potential of faith?