Sunday Sermon: ‘Under Construction – What Happens After Revival?’ pt 2

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Last week we began a study of the first chapter of Peter’s second epistle. I entitled my message – ‘Under Construction – What Happens After Revival?‘ The reason I gave it that title was to direct our thoughts as to what we should be doing as believers now that the Holy Spirit has spoken to our heart about things that need to be changed in our lives. Should we go back to business as usual? Should we expect to experience an emotional high for a few moments or maybe even a few days but then settle back down to who we were before all of this began? That’s the easiest thing to do, but that’s not God’s will.

2 Peter 1:1 Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: 2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,

3 According as his divine power hath given unto us – all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

That’s a large portion of scripture with a lot to say and so let’s try to break it down some so that it might be easier to understand.

What? Why? How?

One of the most effective ways for me to study scripture is by asking certain questions. As I have studied Peter’s words I have asked three questions: What? Why? How? Last week I endeavored to answer the question ‘What?’

What?

What is it that Peter is trying to say to us? I believe that a big part of what Peter is saying has to do God’s will for our lives. Peter tells us that God wants us to live a virtuous life. Some translations say that God has called us ‘by’ His glory and virtue. I believe that Peter is also saying that God has called us ‘for’ His glory and virtue. Consider what Peter says in 1 Peter 2.

1Peter 2:9  But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

That phrase ‘shew forth the praises’ means – demonstrate or declare the virtue of God. As believers, we are representatives of God to this world. We are a city set upon a hill. Virtue means goodness and moral excellence. Godliness is the word we might use. We have been called to live godly lives in order to declare to the world the moral character and greatness of God. Peter tells us in 2 Peter 1 that God has given us exceeding great and precious promises that contain the power of God so that we might be able to escape the corruption of worldly lusts and become a participant of God’s own nature. In other words – live a Christian life.

Why?

That Christ-likeness would be God’s will for our lives should not surprise us; however, there are some, who profess to be a believer, a Christian, and yet they do not seem very interested in pursuing this goal. To become more like Christ is not at the top of their ‘To-Do’ List. Instead, they seem to be content to continue to live on in their sin. So I will ask the question for all of us – ‘Why should I be concerned with becoming more like Christ?’

5   … giving all diligence, add to your faith…     The word ‘diligence’ means – with eagerness and haste, strive for these things. It’s the same thought that Paul had in mind when he wrote to the Philippians – “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Php 3:14) It’s like a runner stretching for the finish line in order to win the prize. That’s the way God wants us to live the Christian life.

10  Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to The thought here means – ‘endeavor with diligence and labor for this goal.’ It’s the same word that Paul used when he wrote 2 Tim 2:15: ”Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” With sincere intensity and effort, work at being a qualified worker.

Let me share with you some reasons why this should be important to us.

1. Evidence

2 Peter 1:10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:

Peter is saying, ‘Make haste in confirming that indeed you are truly saved.’ John Piper writes, “The danger described in these verses is not the danger of slipping into the kingdom with no rewards. It is the danger of not being saved at all. When Peter says, “Be zealous to confirm your call and election,” he means that our lack of diligence in Christian gracesmay be a sign that we were never called and are not among the elect.”

We learn from Matthew’s gospel that one day, at the day of judgment, some who think they are a Christian are actually going to hear the Savior say – ‘Depart from Me…I never knew you.’ (Mt 7:23)

Peter is not the only NT writer that encourages us to do this. Consider these words:

2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

What is a reprobate? A reprobate is someone who after examined, fails the test and therefore deemed unapproved. Paul says, ‘Scrutinize yourselves to verify that indeed you are a genuine believer.’ By implication he is saying that there are some who are not.

James 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

James is not saying that a man is saved by his works, but that works, or Christ-like character is the result of a true salvation experience. ‘Fruit’ is another word that we might use. Someone who is truly saved is going to bear some kind of spiritual fruit.

1 John 3:1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 2  Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3  And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

6  Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. 7  Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. 8  He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

John is not saying that a believer reaches a point of sinless perfection, but:

a. There is a desire for purification   Vs. 3

b. Because there is a desire for purification, there will be a change in lifestyle.  vs. 6-9

c. Anyone who continues to habitually life a sinful lifestyle does not know God. They are not a genuine believer.

These are strong words. They may be troubling words to some. Yet they are very important words. The Bible is very clear that when someone is born again of the Holy Spirit, that individual begins a process of changing and developing as a believer. 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Some believe that a better translation would be – “all things are becoming new.” Perhaps somethings become new instantaneously and other things become new over time, nevertheless, a new birth means a new life. And so Peter says –

2 Peter 1:10  Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

As one translation puts it – “work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Live a life that gives clear, undeniable evidence that indeed the Spirit of God lives within you. And if you cannot, then there is good reason to doubt the genuineness of your salvation.

2. Effectiveness

2 Peter 1:8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.

First I want us to consider the shame of a careless Christianity. Peter says that we are ‘barren and unfruitful.’ Paul teaches us in 1 Cor 3:15 that such may be saved, ‘yet so as by fire.’ However, there is a loss of effectiveness in their Christianity. The words literally mean ‘worthless and lazy.’ Jesus rebuked the wicked and worthless servant in Matthew 25. Peter says that this kind of Christian has lost of vision of eternal things and has forgotten the preciousness of being forgiven of his sins. The writer of Hebrews tells us –

Heb 10:29  Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

In contrast, consider the glory of a fruitful Christianity.

2 Peter 1:3 …hath called us to glory and virtue. (by His glory and for our glory  see Rom 8:17-30)

Peter writes in vs. 8  – ‘For if these things be in you’. What are ‘these things?’

5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

Seven characteristics of Christ-like character. Note – ‘add to your faith.’ According to Paul in 1 Cor. 3:11-15, faith in Jesus Christ is the foundation and on that foundation a man builds his life.  (See also Eph 2:8-10)

Virtue – moral excellence as opposed to sinfulness. ‘Clean up your act’ is a way that we might say it. This involves every area of our lives. Even non-believers and atheists believe that a professing Christian should live a virtuous lifestyle.

Ephesians 5:3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 4 Neither filthiness, (obscene) nor foolish talking, (silly talk – humor over what should be shameful) nor jesting, (cleverly disguised evil speaking – double meaning with an evil intent) which are not convenient: (fitting) but rather giving of thanks.

Knowledge – godly wisdom

Temperance – self control

Patience – patient endurance

Godliness – Godlikeness

Brotherly kindness – care and concern for others

Charity – agape love

Something very important to note is that Peter begins with ‘faith.’ A relationship with God begins with faith. Paul explains this well in Ephesians 2:8-10

Ephesians 2:8  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9  Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.


2 Peter 1:5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue …

Note the little phrase ‘add to.’ Those two words seem pretty simple, yet they tell us something that really paints a beautiful picture of what it is that God is trying to accomplish in our lives.  As many of you know, the New Testament was originally written in Greek. The Greek language is a very complex and explicit language. By ‘explicit’ I mean that it is capable of giving us a tremendous amount of detail as to what the writer is trying to say.

From the Greek word that is translated as ‘add to’, we get certain English words such as – chorus, choral or choreographer. Culture and fine entertainment was very important to the Greeks and so they build great amphitheaters and produce elaborate plays and productions. They would build great scenery and train actors and actresses to play various roles. But in addition to the scenery and acting, they would include elaborate choruses of trained singers. Often times, these choral groups would be formed at the expense of a private citizen who would take it upon themselves to not only find great voices, but to work with them and teach them how to sing in harmony and help affect the mood of the play. Although we rarely every pay much attention to the background music in a movie, we all know that it’s very important in setting the mood and conveying the message. The person who did this was called a ‘choregeo’, from which we get the chorus or choreographer. This title was also used of someone who would outfit an army for battle.

So what does this mean? Peter is telling us that we should ‘add to’ our faith, these certain Christ-like characteristics that will equip us to live a Christ-honoring life and to be useful in the kingdom of God. Our character and conduct should be like a well trained choral group that adds a sympathy of godliness to our profession.

Now this is all very elementary stuff. This is Christianity 101. Yet it’s surprising how few Christians there are who seem to take their relationship with Christ seriously. Many seem to be content to believe that they are saved and growing as a believer is way down on their list, even if it is on their list at all.

When I read this passage from 2 Peter, I asked myself (3) questions:

1. What? – Escape the corruption of worldly lusts and become a partaker of God’s divine nature

2. Why? – Because it gives me assurance of my salvation and effectiveness as a believer

3. How? – If you’re someone where today and you’re thinking, “Pastor, I’m very serious about my relationship with Jesus Christ. I not only want to be confident as a believer, I want to be productive. But I am struggling with my old nature. How do I grow as a believer and become more effective?”

How?

2 Peter 1:2  Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, 3  According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:


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