Growing precious faith.
2 Peter 1vs3to11
I have often preached that I believe in the power of the Gospel for it is the power of salvation to change people.
However, I must admit that there are cases where it seems that the gospel has little change in a person’s life. The question we have to ask is why?
The Bible gives a clear answer to why this happens. And it is found in 2 Peter 1:3-11.
Before we get there let’s look at what’s happing in this book. Peter is writing a letter to the church at large addressing two rising heresy’s that are coming into the church being antinomianism and Gnosticism.
Gnosticism at its heart has a self-worship that hopes for self-improvement through special spiritual knowledge that you can only get if you are spiritual enough
At the heart of antinomianism is that I can sin as much as I want to because God is gracious and always will forgive me no matter what because He is forgiving. This leads to rampant “do it my way” lifestyle. This is a rejection of the gospel and an insult to the death of Christ!
It is to this background that peter writes the words found in 2 Peter 1:3-11.
Last week we looked at how Peter shows that we have a precious faith, a faith that is rooted in real life truth that is unique and to be treasured.
This week we will see that you do not need special knowledge to grow simply to apply your faith in real world truth to see you grow into what God wants from you.
Going back to the original question; why is it that we as those who have heard the gospel; who have been changed by faith in Jesus; why is that we can live lives of defeat and lack the power that should be ours as children of God?
Well to put it in the words of Peter some have failed to develop in their faith and been “Shortsighted or blind”. They have failed to apply the faith that God has planted in them, either due to laziness or simply apathy; whatever the case they have run short the work of God in their life.
The reality is that you and I as believers in Christ have everything we need for a godly and good Christian life. Faith has started the growth that we need. And it is as we apply our faith that we see the growth that we so desire.
However, if we want to grow add to your faith:
I love this word in the Greek add to your faith manliness… the inherent meaning here is that which gives someone his worth. Virtue is not a word thrown around that much in the world we find ourselves because so many lack it as a character trait. It is commonly known as goodness.
This is a moral excellence that does not look down on others, it simply is due to the nature of that person. They are good. We need to be adding to our faith a goodness.
A faith that does not produce some change within us, is a useless faith. Therefore add to your faith virtue.
Add to your faith strong courageous virtue. A goodness that is willing to stand up for what it believes.
To grow effectively you need to be able to stand up for what you believe in to your faith add courage that has goodness at its core.
This virtue is only possible if we add to it
This is a knowledge of the will of God. Again not a pie-in-the-sky knowledge; it is a knowledge rooted in who God is and what he wants from our life.
Faith is the ground level, a good moral compass will enable us to stand up to accusations and give us conviction. But Without us adding knowledge to our faith and conviction we are shallow and have no focus.
Another way of saying what Peter is saying is in the exercise of your virtue, or the exercise of your courageous goodness, add discernment.
In other words stand up for your faith, be courageous about your faith, but also have the discernment to know when there is no need. The bible is full of example of this Jesus himself says do not throw pearls before swine. Proverbs 25 says do not argue with a fool lest he think himself wise in his own eyes.
Our courageous goodness needs bounds. Sometimes us Christians can be so courageous to stand up for Jesus that we in fact do damage to the name of Christ rather than honour it.
This is a knowing of the will of God in a situation. And that is so important for our spiritual growth.
It has been said that the church is 1000miles wide but only an inch deep. We have to know that any significant growth in our faith will only come from us having a deep knowledge of it.
Next we must add to our knowledge
When you grow in your knowledge of God and discernment, make sure that you are adding self-control to that. This applies to all areas of life. So often we see self-control as someone who doesn’t take seconds at the dinner table. But this is a self-control that embraces all aspects of life. A control of what we say, what we fill our lives with.
It is so easy to be puffed up on knowledge, to be arrogant about our goodness and to be judgmental in our faith, that is why we are called to be self-controlled in the way we live out our lives.
Our faith is stunted if we are not able to reign in our body and its desires. God has given you the power to overcome.
We have fallen into the trap of thinking that we are simply animals and therefore cannot control our desires. I want to say that You have the Spirit of the Living God in you and you can overcome any sin that has you entangled. Not by your strength but by His!
He has given you all you need so that you can add self-control to your knowledge.
Stop living in defeat; live in the victory that Christ has won for you on the Cross!
Add self-control to your knowledge.
Next to your self control add
4. Patience Endurance
perseverance here is the word for long suffering . So to your ability to control yourself add to that perseverance, which is profoundly practical advice. In face self-control only comes from perseverance.
Think about the Spiritual habits, such things are developed by perseverance. Self-control without perseverance is a fad at best.
I have found this with any exercise program etc, we give up and so our self-control has no lasting effect.
You might find yourself caught in a struggle with a certain sin; the reality is that you might stumble, don’t give! Persevere!
Anything of value takes us to give all of our effort to it! Don’t give up on the first try. Maybe for you its reading your bible regularly, don’t give up, keep on persevering even if you miss a couple of days, pick up again and persevere.
You want to know the difference between those who truly succeed and those who fail. Those who succeed persevered at what they put their minds to.
So add to your self-control a will to long suffer, to persevere through the hard times and the test and the failures you might be facing
Next to your perseverance add
To your perseverance add godliness, this is a holy worship of God, living in holy fear of God. Once again we can persevere and be self-controlled in our perseverance, however, if we are not adding worship to that we are merely legalists. Thinking that somehow we can win God’s favour.
If we truly understand grace, our perseverance and self-control will be full of worship, for we will know that they come from God alone.
It amazes me how quickly we can fall into the trap of making our disciplines an end in themselves. Rather than a pursuit of the one we love!
I have seen it at the college with guys who start out because they have a love of God and at the end of the day they are there just to get a degree. They have forsaken Godliness in the pursuit of a piece of paper.
I wonder if we have abandoned seeking God for simply doing stuff to make ourselves feel better.
David was called a man after God’s own heart not because he was perfect, but because in all circumstances he wanted to know and love God!
Next to your Godliness…
6. Love for the brothers
The word here is Philadelphia, which means a love aimed at brothers and sisters. Peter is saying to your worship of God add a love for your brothers and sisters. Now this is to the family of God in other words fellow Christians.
This is the second last step. Add love for each other to your worship. I believe that true worship of God is loving (and a deep loving) our fellow Christians.
I read this last week a blog of a woman how explained why she left church and the ministry and ultimately it was a rant on the hypocrisy of the people of the church and being hurt by the church. She stated how she didn’t need church because she has her own way to worship God.
The problem is that if we cannot love God’s people how can we say that we love God. John says in 1 John 4:20
“Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.”
If you want a faith that is developing and growing start loving God’s church!
This is where we develop our worship of God by loving others. Most of the time this is done through difficultly.
This finally leads to us adding
7. Love for everyone
Finally add agape to your love for your fellow Christians. Or love for everyone, seeing everyone better than yourself and wanting the best for others over yourself.
The final step in growing our faith is extending our love!
This is deep sacrificial love that strives for the best of others even at the expense of self. This type of love is the ultimate expression of our faith because it is rooted in what Christ did for us; while we were still sinners Christ died for us.
It is the love of Christ in us that motivates the love for others. With the same love that we have received from him we love the world.
You see it is as we move our faith along that there is progress and that progress is growth and that growth has impact.
Don’t be short sighted in your pursuit of God ensure that you are adding to your faith virtue (goodness) and to that, knowledge; to that self-control to that perseverance to that godliness to that love for the church and to that a love for everyone!
Let’s be a generation of believers who are truly passionate about what we believe!