Grow in Grace
3. Living In Light of His Return
2 Peter 3: 14 - 18
If this is what we say we believe, then this how we should behave. Notice that he calls his readers “beloved,” which reveals Peter’s tender heart for these persecuted Christ-followers. He then tells us to “look forward to these things.” Specifically we’re to set our minds to: “look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”
Because we know this to be true, Peter challenges us with 3 closing conclusions: Be Diligent to Show - Be Discerning to Know - Be Disciplined to Grow.
We recently painted our house. House painting involves 3 different steps. First – the preparation – scraping, sanding and filling. Then the painting of the large surfaces. Then the finishing off and touching up – takes a while because you have to be precise. These 3 phases serve as metaphors to help us understand our passage.
The first challenge is found in the second part of v.14. We could call this the preparation work as the Holy Spirit does some scraping, sanding and filling of our rough edges.
1. Be Diligent to Show v. 14b
To be “diligent” means to be “earnest and eager to do something hurriedly.” The force of this command is something like this: “Be intensely diligent right now!” This same word is used by the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 2: 15: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
Brothers and sisters, let’s not be spiritual slackers or pew potatoes. Peter tells us that there are at least 2 things that the Lord is looking for.
If Jesus were to come back right now, would he find you “in peace”? The word refers to the binding or joining together of that which has been broken or divided.
“A grudge is a heavy thing, rocks in the heart. Hatred turns to bitterness or fear. Fear becomes immobilizing, paralyzing. Bitterness becomes acid that burns us and every one around us. A wound festers until it cripples. That’s not what we were made for – no, not at all. We were made for peace, love and joy. We’re made to breathe, to laugh, and to dance, but it’s hard to dance when our hearts are full of rocks.”
Friend, is your heart full of rocks? When Jesus returns will He find you festering in relationship wars or do you know the peace that comes from forgiveness? Do you have inner peace or are you filled with anxiety? Most importantly, are you in step with our heavenly Father through faith in Jesus Christ?
When Jesus exposes us for who we really are, will He find us “without spot and blameless”? Peter here is not talking about our justification because we have already been declared righteous according to Romans 8:1: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Instead he’s speaking of our progressive sanctification, of our moral uprightness and pursuit of holiness. We’re called to make an intense effort to be morally pure.
Friend, how do you want Christ to find you when He returns? Are you at peace and are you living in purity? 1 John 2: 28 “And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.” After scraping and sanding so that we’re diligent to show, Peter spends a chunk of time painting the next section of this chapter by calling us to…
2. Be Discerning to Know (v. 15 – 17)
There are 3 key ways in which we’re to be discerning. It’s important to keep the context in mind here because Peter is concerned about Christians being swept away by false teachers. Let’s be discerning to know…
A. Our Salvation v. 15
Peter pulls in the Apostle Paul at this point to show that both of them have painted the picture of how God’s patience leads to salvation. I love how he refers to Paul with such tenderness. Romans 2: 4 we see Paul giving an example of God’s patience: “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance.”
This reminds me of the atheist who stood up and publicly denounced Christianity by issuing this challenge: “If there is a God, I will give Him 5 minutes to strike me dead!” He took out his watch and waited. After 5 minutes, he smiled and asked the group, “So if God really exists, why didn’t he strike me dead?” A man whispered, “Just give him time!” Another answered: “Do you think you can exhaust the patience of Almighty God in just five minutes?”
B. The Scriptures v. 16
We’re warned that untaught and unstable people will twist verses for their own purposes and to their own destruction. We must make sure to never twist the Scriptures to get them to say what we want them to say. I find great comfort knowing that Peter thought some of Paul’s writings are hard to understand.
I am so thankful that the Bible is readily available today. I marvel at the determination of men like Tyndale and Wycliffe who laboured to translate the Scriptures from Hebrew and Greek into the language of the day. We are so privileged, aren’t we?
To me the real question is not what version we might be using but whether or not we are craving God’s Word.
C. Our Steadfastness v. 17
We need to be discerning about our salvation and about the Scriptures and then when things get rough we need to remain steadfast. We can make adjustments when we know the truth about our condition. Sleepy believers will fall if they’re not on guard. If we’re not alert we can wreck our faith.
In light of what’s happening in our culture and in our churches - “Which Way, Evangelicals? There is Nowhere to Hide.” “In this season of testing, Christians committed to the gospel of Christ are called upon to muster the greatest display of compassion and conviction of our lives. But true compassion will never lead to an abandonment of biblical authority or a redefinition of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” He’s really calling us to remain steadfast, no matter what happens in our society.
Beloved brothers and sisters, be diligent to show peace and purity. Be discerning to know your salvation, the Scriptures and be steadfast. That leads to the final point, which is really the main point of 2 Peter. This is like painting the trim on the house. It takes time to apply it but it’s so worth it.
3. Be Disciplined to Grow v. 18
In contrast to falling or being led astray, God calls us to grow, which means to “enlarge, add or increase.” Our growth is to be a continual, passionate pursuit. This was introduced in 2 Peter 1: 8 where Peter called us to be “abounding in our faith.” We’re to do it now and keep on doing it.
The best safeguard against falling down is to grow up in your faith. It’s a bit like riding a bicycle. If you stop moving forward, you’ll eventually fall over.
Notice that our growth is to take place in at least 2 areas -
A. In Grace
Grace means favour or a gift given to guilty people. We don’t deserve it and we cannot earn it. Are you growing in your understanding of the unmerited gift of God that not only saved you, but also sustains you? “God’s grace is his active favour bestowing the greatest gift upon those who have deserved the greatest punishment.” God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.
Our salvation comes by grace and so does our sanctification. It’s easy to think that now that we’re saved, it’s all up to us but as Paul said in Galatians 3:3, what was begun by the Spirit must continue by the Spirit: “Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?”
B. In Knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
We’re called to understand the words, works and ways of Christ. As our culture continues to cave in morally and our society slides south spiritually, we must increasingly become people who know all we can about Jesus Christ in order to grow in our relationship with Him. When we do we’ll be able to show the Saviour to a world in desperate need of Him.
I love the four-fold title that Peter gives – “Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” 3 times in this letter - It’s impossible to separate Jesus Christ as Saviour from Jesus Christ as Lord.
We submit to Him as Lord, we love Him as Saviour, we adore Him as Jesus and we worship Him as Christ.
Our ultimate aim and highest purpose is to give our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ “the glory both now and forever. Amen.” “This means that our aim in growing in grace is not so that we can feel happier or more fulfilled or more significant. Rather, our lives should exalt Christ, so that through us others may see how great He truly is.”
Glory refers to His power, majesty and splendour. To give glory to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is to acknowledge that He is God. Isaiah 42: 8: “I am the LORD, that is My name; and My glory I will not give to another.” We’re to give Him glory right now because that’s what we’ll be doing in eternity. To say Amen is to declare that what has been said is solidly and completely true. To pull this passage together we could say it like this:
When you grow, God gets all the glory. If you want to give God glory, then be committed to your spiritual growth.
Harry, the painter, often thinned his paint to make it go further. A church decided to hire him to do some painting outside because he gave the lowest price. Sure enough, he bought the paint and thinned it out with turpentine. Everything went well until it started raining and the thinned paint ran right off the building. As he watched this happen, he got all worked up and fell from the scaffolding to the ground. With thunder booming and lightning piercing the air, he was convicted of his sin and knew God was judging Him. Looking up, he raised his voice to the heavens and cried out, “Oh, God, forgive me; what should I do?” And from above, a mighty voice roared: “Repaint! Repaint! And thin no more!”
Friends, God doesn’t want us to just paint over our problems by trying to make them look pretty.
It’s time for us to repent, repent and sin no more! Let’s not water down God’s Word. What He says, we believe. What He commands, we will do.