7 supplements to our faith

Jesus speaks of the water which he offers becoming like a spring of water inside the believer welling up to eternal life. He compares his water to that which we normally drink.

The seven supplements of faith are like this water, as their adoption in your life will lead to a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

The list of the seven supplements

In the second letter written by the apostle Peter he gives us a list of seven qualities which the believer can use to supplement his (her) faith. These are seven qualities that can add to their faith.,

  1. Virtue
  2. Knowledge
  3. Self-control (temperance)
  4. Patience
  5. Godliness
  6. Brotherly kindness
  7. Love

Peter tells the believer…”for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”.

Background to the seven supplements to faith

Peter starts his second letter by pointing out to the believer that the understanding of God’s doctrines in the Bible is the key to successfully living as a disciple of Christ. The doctrine comes first, then the life based upon the doctrine, follows naturally. In other words, the life of a believer comes from the message of God. The preaching from the apostles is really the message from God to His believers. The apostles were working for God and passing on His message to mankind. The apostles preaching was a logical presentation of God’s doctrines (his message) to the believers so that they may become more like Him, and his son, in character. The ultimate goal was to glorify God.

This knowledge passed onto the believers would encourage and energise them to live a spiritual life in Christ. It would give them strength to overcome the moral corruption of the world in which the believer lives. Peter points out that there is a need but that there is also a danger. The need is for ongoing spiritual growth. The danger is the risk of saying you are a Christian but not practising its principles. In other words, it is all theory but not practice. Consider the words of Peter in chapter one and verses three to eleven. This passage includes the seven supplements to faith.

These are indeed encouraging words from Peter to the believer. He stresses that in order for the believer to be acceptable to God and the Lord Jesus Christ, he (she) must firstly have these qualities and then put these qualities into practice in their daily life. He also points out that these qualities must be increasing as you live your life. If you do these things, he tells the believer that he will be given entrance into the kingdom promised for the future.

These are wonderful encouraging words to the believer. The instructions given are very clear as to what the believer must do and the results of this dedication to God are equally clear.

The seven qualities in a believers life

We learn from the writings of Peter in his second letter that the believer must have seven qualities (supplements to faith) to be acceptable to God and his son, the Lord Jesus Christ. In other words, these are seven important works that must be in a believer’s life. Let us therefore consider each of these seven qualities or works. Firstly, here again is the Bible passage mentioning them with the qualities highlighted:


What is virtue?

You may have heard of the word – but what exactly is “virtue”? It is moral excellence, uprightness and goodness. To have virtue requires strength, Consider these words from 1 Peter chapter 2 and verse 9:

The Greek word that is translated “virtue” in 2 Peter 1:5 is translated “praises” in this quote. This is telling us that for faith to be active in our life it has to produce a praiseworthy conduct in God’s sight. This means that we must be consistent in our life. It is possible for us to be very correct in outward things and yet inwardly we allow ourselves a lazy, undisciplined, impure and even chaotic mind.

If we are to fill our lives with good works we must seek to bring our minds and thoughts under the rule of Christ. It means we are transformed by the renewing of our minds,

and the words of David:

The following words nicely summarise what should be going through our minds. As you read, note the inclusion of the word “virtue”:

If the believer fills his mind with the good and the beautiful then there will be no room for evil. There is a tremendous value in the healthy and the beautiful. To ensure our mind is where it should be, we should lift our eyes to God and keep our thoughts focused on doing His will.

Virtue – an example

In  the book of Proverbs chapter 31 and verses 10 to 31 is the description of a virtuous woman. Please read this passage. It starts with these words in verse 10:

This woman is described as being worth more than jewels. She is very valuable – much more than riches. Who is she? She is a wife who at home has a husband and family. She is described as a person who scheduled time, made decisions, solved problems, was responsible over others and delegated work successfully. She made it her responsibility to care for her household in the best way possible.

Her example is recorded in the Bible for all in the future to see. She is the virtuous woman. She is developing the qualities needed for future work in the kingdom. Jesus said the words:

These words of Jesus show clearly that he expects his brethren and sisters to perform good works that can be seen by the world. Such works are not merely nice thoughts or feelings that we may have in our hearts and minds.  A wise servant of Christ will do good works that will endure into the future. They will not be feeble work that is quickly forgotten.

Faithfulness and loyalty in even small things is a virtue.

We are saved by the life of Christ (Rom. 5:10). We are not saved by our works:

We receive salvation as a free gift from God – it is by grace. But we shall be rewarded or given particular responsibility in His kingdom according to our works

Faith and good works come together to produce a living faith.


Knowledge follows virtue for we need to know how correctly to determine just what are good and praiseworthy works. The believer needs to have a knowledge of God’s will and his ways. It is a necessary supplement to faith. This knowledge is vital to salvation.

The three elements

With this knowledge of God we learn of the three great elements of the complete and rounded life:

To do justice means to live by every word that comes from God. It means to have integrity of character. To love kindness means to be good to our neighbour, loving him as we love ourselves. To walk humbly with God means to do His will, walking carefully and guardedly.

In summary then, to do justly is integrity of character, and to love mercy sympathy of heart, to walk humbly is reverence of spirit. The word of God is the one great steadfast rock for our slipping feet amid the storms and chaos of these times.

The will of God

The letter to the Colossians talks of this knowledge of God:

These words describe the person who responds to the acquiring of a full knowledge of God’s will. They walk in a way that is pleasing to the Lord. They also use that knowledge to do good works which bear fruit.


This knowledge of God is closely connected to being obedient to Him:

Obedience is at the centre of spiritual knowledge. The golden rule for spiritual understanding is not intellect but obedience.

The face of Jesus Christ

The teachings of Jesus all originated from God.

Jesus Christ is the example for us to follow. It we following his example we can learn about the character of God. We can gain knowledge of the glory of God. We also can gain knowledge of Jesus himself:

Self-control (Temperance)

The Temperance, moderation or self-control needs to be added to faith as a working part of it.

Knowledge is of little value if it is not applied. Things learnt must be applied and put into practice. To apply knowledge requires temperance where the believer submits to the teachings and laws of God. He shows self-control in his daily life.

Paul was probably thinking of the Isthmian Games held near Corinth when he wrote:

Paul is talking about a victor at the games, palm in hand and wearing a crown of withered celery. Athletes exercise self-restraint when they train for the track. They do it to win a crown….however. this crown soon withers. However, the believer strives for something more important…..“but we an imperishable”. He also must show self control in his daily life.

Each person has their own personality and will – these can have a strong and subtle power over the person’s intellect. This ability for each individual to think and decide was given to us by God. But he intended it to be used wisely. It was never intended be used without restraint. Sometimes we need to exercise restraint or show self-control. For example, if the doctor has told us to reduce sugar in our diet some people may find it difficult to show self-control and reduce the sweet things they eat. But temperance in this matter is for their long term good. The same can be said for obedience to God. Living a life of self-control and avoiding those things which are contrary to what God wants are for our long term eternal good.


Obedience is essentially voluntary. And being voluntary, our will is free. For to control that free will is not an act of weakness but of strength. Power is exercised by the spiritual over the natural man by “bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5) who learned “obedience by the things which he suffered”.

The will of each person needs to be disciplined. The intellect knows what it must do to be obedient to God but the will sometimes wants to do something else. The disciplined will shows its strength in the way it governs emotions and senses. Since the will is always free, if we are obedient, it is the one supreme gift we can offer to God.

Temperance in they way the believer behaves is attained by strength and control of the will. It requires courage to be sincerely self-denying. The mind that is clean will be on guard against someone else that tries to make right what it knows to be wrong. The will fortified with this knowledge in the mind will stand strong at the first suggestion of wrong doing.

The responsibility for self-control remains on our shoulders. Temperance as a work of faith is not a negative discipline but the expression of a positive purpose.


Patience means endurance and continuance. Self-control, based upon knowledge of the virtues of Christ has to be practised continually, not just spasmodically. This endurance continues even when it is under trial.

When we exercise godly patience we bear trials calmly and remain steadfast in face of adversity or strain. Patience puts the brakes on haste and impetuosity. James writes that we should count it all joy when we fall into divers temptations:

Quite often trials in the lives of believers has revealed unsuspected qualities of rock-like faith and patience. These have enriched their character. Suffering is a proof that we are committed believers of God: though painful in the flesh, it is spiritually profitable.

David’s Psalms reveal regular expressions of a patient attitude.

God’s timing is always right. Our faith is strengthened when we patiently wait on Him.

Paul said: “Be patient toward all men” (1 Thess. 5:14). Impatience is often found connected with  selfishness.

These words teach us that we should overlook the shortcomings of others. We ourselves have our failings which often have to be borne by others. We are perhaps prone to get upset and irritated when others do not do what we think they should do. Yet we can be very tolerant with ourselves.

Patience never gives up – no matter what….it waits. This principle applies to believers who wait patiently for the coming kingdom promised by God.

Hope helps us to move forward patiently into invincible faith, faith that will at last be rewarded by the certainty of sight when all the darkness of doubt, fear and worry will be dispelled for ever. This is what it says of hope in Romans chapter 15 and verse 4:

Paul tells the believer to “run with patience the race that is set before us”. When you read these words you might have expected that energy or zeal would be the key-word, but no; it is patience. Patience is its own reward. It keeps the will steadfast, the mind disengaged, the heart quiet.


Self-control and patience comes from that desire to please God.

Godliness is synonymous with true Christianity. It has qualities of piety, reverence, respect and honour. It calls for a godly attitude coupled with an endeavour to be patient and kind. Faith without godliness is dead.

Paul urges Titus with these words:

We have to do our utmost to let our heavenly Father see that at least we are obedient servants and that we have no need to be ashamed of the way we handle His Word. We can obtain godliness by reading the pages of his word – the Bible. It is here that we can understand God’s purpose.


There is a wonderful promise which the baptised believers are privileged to claim for themselves:

This should surely sum up our attitude to things—that God will always provide us enough for our needs. Godliness in a person leads to great gain.

This is not talking about great gain of money but rather contentment. Worldly riches bring with them no guarantee of a good life. The only thing worth having in our brief life, the only real “gain” in this current life is peace of mind. The believer should be happy with his (her) present state of material possessions because they know that the treasure they truly have cannot disappear.

This is the secret of peace of mind:

The contentment or peace of mind is a state of mind that comes from learning to be godly in the way the believer thinks. This is the glorious secret of God’s plan of which his servants have learnt. Riches and prestige mean nothing. Armaments and political power mean nothing when compared to the power of God.

Believers are to learn godliness. This means recognising that this current world offers very little of value when compared to God. The believers of all people knows that they are not to live exclusively for this life, but…

Brotherly kindness

Any believer engaged in practising and applying Peter’s progressive steps towards Christ-likeness should naturally develop brotherly kindness. The believer will become aware of his own shortcomings and weaknesses and will learn to:

This brotherly kindness relates to that natural liking one for the other, which develops from mutual interests or outlook on life. This is talking about believers whom have turned from  the world and found mutual companionship in God and the Bible. There is a common ground for mutual liking, and in their common acceptance of God’s principles they are drawn to one another,and all normal social barriers were lowered.

Brotherly kindness is another of the works of living faith. It is not a mere formality or politeness but a obvious show of concern for, and generous care for your fellow believers. For those who are baptised, it is a show of kindness to your spiritual brothers and sisters. It involves sensitivity with an anticipation of their needs.

With this quality, those of us who have really suffered at the hands of others should not find it difficult to forgive and are even kind enough to understand those who caused the suffering.

Brotherly kindness can do a lot to help lighten the burdens of others. To make those who are struggling feel that their current problems are not that bad.

Jesus knew how giving warms the heart and satisfies the soul. He always stood with hands that were open—not with hands clenched tight with selfishness, indifference and greed.

We should be kind and generous to the extent of giving over and above that which might be expected of us. Our example can set in place the desire by others to also do the same. A kind word, a friendly greeting, an hour spent with someone who is lonely, can often work wonders. The long road is less lonely when it is shared by companions who are seeking the same destination—as all believers are. The heavy burdens of life are lighter when they are spoken about with others who understand because they have faced similar burdens. The loads are shared through kindness one to another.

Solomon knew all about this:

Brotherly kindness radiates cheerfulness and smiles, friendliness, sincerity, calm courage, goodwill and interest in others. There is a great deal to be said for that person who comes up to you with a genuine kindness.

An example of kindness- Tabitha

Tabitha was a woman of wonderful kindness.

Peter was so moved by what he saw and heard that he that he brought her back to life. This was a powerful witness and many believed because of it.

Caring for others

In relation to those accepted into the kingdom, Jesus said these words:

These words speak of brotherly kindness. In every one of our fellow believers we may see Jesus so that in a sense even the smallest kindnesses which we are showing to them we are showing to him.

Each individual must love the whole brotherhood; and out of this will grow a family affection between members. Be more ready to show kindness and respect than to stand on dignity. Many times Christ had an attitude of service toward those who he came in contact with. He never strove to please himself, but rather he chose to put the needs and feelings of others above his own.

Valuing others better than ourselves is a matter of expressing kindness and humility, and thinking of them first.


The word for love here comes from the original Greek word  “Agape”. It indicates Divine love that aims to provide the greatest good for the other, even if it means personal cost, and self-sacrifice. This type of love is at the very front of anyone living a life committed to Christ. Only when we have learned to fully understand the abundant grace that God extends to us on a day to day basis, in spite of all our short-comings, will we be able to understand the meaning of this term ”agape” or “love”. In addition to understanding it, we should also be able to apply it to others. The love that we receive from God, and the love that we profess to have for Him, should generate in us a desire to extend to others the same experience that we have had.

An attitude of love towards everyone should be the positive outcome of our relationship with our heavenly Father. Tender words and loving deeds should be part of our interaction with others. Jesus has revealed that the work of faith which results in joy is love, that is, not being loved but loving. If we advance spiritually, then our love will naturally grow until it includes all life.

The qualities of true love

The traits of true love are beautifully described in 1 Corinthians chapter 13. The apostle maintains that without self-giving love any sacrifice is valueless, as worthless as the noisy gongs and clanging  cymbals of pagan worship. Works matter more than words. Paul emphasises that even preaching and our understanding of “all mysteries and all knowledge” and even faith itself that can move mountains amount to nothing if they lack love. Giving away all our possessions, piece by piece, including the body itself is profitless without love.

The characteristics of love are long-suffering, being kind in temperament, not given to envy, to conceit or misbehaviour, to self-seeking, bad temper or bitterness. “Love is not easily provoked.” We are perhaps inclined to look upon bad temper as a very harmless weakness. We speak of it as a mere infirmity of nature, a family failing, a matter of temperament, not a thing to take into very serious account in estimating character. Yet, Paul says bad temper is contrary to love.

Love does not worry over wrongs and is always forgiving, trusting, hopeful and patient. A metal mirror gives only a dim reflection. In this life we see God’s truth like that but the time is very near when we shall see clearly and know for certain as God knows us.

Paul wants his fellow believers, his spiritual brothers and sister, to progress in life by growing in love.

They should grow their love so that they have the knowledge and understanding to work out what things will be pleasing to their Heavenly Father.

The seven supplements to faith – In conclusion

The above seven qualities, which Peter lists, are supplements to faith. Each one is important in helping us to be found acceptable to our God.

What a tremendous promise! If we exercise living faith supplemented with the seven works Peter lists, we shall never fall, never give up.