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#2 Adding to Faith

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ADDING TO FAITH

(A Godly People – Series in II Peter)

Westgate Chapel 3/18/01                                        2 Peter 1:5-9

PROPOSITION:  The call to every believer is to add to their faith, with every human effort, those qualities of the Christian life that we are to have in increasing measure if we are not to be blind, near-sighted, and forgetful of what it is we were saved from.

I.    introduction

-     LAST Sunday we launched a new series of sermons from 2 Peter, entitled “A Godly People.”

-     PETER writes this letter to small clusters of Christians in Asia Minor who were living in a world that was hostile to the faith.

-     THEY were dealing with persecution and attacks from the outside world.

-     BUT on top of that there is now a threat to the very salvation of those believers from within the church itself.

-     AND the source of this threat is false teachers that have infiltrated the church.

-     THEY are leaders whose very lifestyle and teaching was threatening to destroy the work of God.

*     They distorted and twisted Scripture to suit their own purposes.

*     They had eyes full of adultery and never stop sinning.

*     They treated sacred and holy things flippantly.

*     They were arrogant and self-willed.

*     They rejected all authority.

*     And they were leading these Christians astray by their example.

-     THAT is why I have entitled this sermon series on 2 Peter, “A Godly People.”

-     THIS series is so timely.

-     YOU see, I am right at the beginning of some very exciting research on what a true follower of Jesus is supposed to be.

-     WHAT does the Bible say about being a disciple of Jesus?

-     RIGHT before Jesus left this earth, in Matthew 28:18, He told us that our #1 task was to make disciples….who would be taught how to obey ALL that He has commanded.

-     I WANT to research what the church of Jesus has done with that command down through the last 2000 years.

-     I WANT to hear from Him about what and how He wants us to go about that right here and right now….especially those of us Pentecostals, who claim to have access, through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, to a special enduement of power.

-     THE condition of the church of Jesus today tells me that for all of our hard work and sincerity, we are missing this issue of being disciples of Jesus who “obey all that He has commanded.” (Matthew 28:20)

-     BUT I am excited about what He is going to show me and what He has in store for us over the next few years as we become intentional followers of Jesus.

-     RITA and I have been here for 13 years this Sunday, but I have to tell you that I am more excited about what the Lord is doing right now, and where I believe He is taking us as a fellowship than I have ever been.

-     I AM confident that there is a better, a stronger, and a more victorious life in Christ available to us than the Pentecostal church has been experiencing for the past fifty years.

-     I SENSE more hunger in you for that victorious life than ever. I know that is the case in our family.

-     I BELIEVE that with God’s continued blessing our best days in Christ are ahead.

-     BUT that is going to take more than having great services or prayer meetings.

*     Charismatic and Pentecostal churches have been having great services for decades, only to walk out the church door and fall into all kinds of sin.

-     IT is going to take more than signs and wonders.

*     Many of the greatest Pentecostal men and women of the last hundred years, used of the Lord in miracles and great power, ended up with shameful lifestyles.

-     IT is going to take more than organization.

*     The church in the United States is better organized than ever in its history.

-     IT is going to take more than going to another Christian seminar or reading another book.

-     WELL, what it is going to take Pastor?

-     IT is going to take “adding to your faith.”

-     AND a collective gasp goes up from every Evangelical Christian in the world!

-     THAT is heresy Pastor!

-     YOU can’t add to your faith.

-     DIDN’T Martin Luther, the great Reformer of the 16th century, say that we are saved by “faith plus nothing?”

-     YES he did, but the Reformer’s have been exaggerated…and their teaching has been twisted by the same false doctrine that was tripping up the Christians in Peter’s day.

-     YOU cannot “add to your faith” for your initiation into the family of God.

*     Faith in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection alone is what saves you from your sin.

*     Faith in Jesus alone is what cleanses you from the stain of your past.

*     Faith in Jesus alone is what makes you a new creation, and gets your name written in His Book of Life.

-     THE Reformers were right. There is nothing you can do to add to faith alone for your initiation into the family of God.

-     BUT after your initiation into God’s family, the rest of your life is to be invested in “adding to your faith.”

ii.   every effort

-     TURN with me please to 2 Peter 1:5 (page 1204).

-     BUT let’s begin reading at verse 3, where we left off last Sunday,

      “His  (Jesus) divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. (4) Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” (2 Peter 1:3-4)

-     THESE two verses speak of our (the Christian’s) participation, through faith, in “the divine nature”…and how that accomplishes our deliverance from the corruption of the world.

-     NOW, that is the part of our Christian life that is all from grace…God’s grace.

-     GRACE is that power of Jesus at work in us, without which we would not survive one second.

-     DON’T ever loose sight of those promises that are by grace!

      “…if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)

      “…if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

      “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9)

      “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, (2) because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2)

      “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?…(37) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:35)

-     THESE are just a sampling of those very great and precious promises.

-     AND the false teachers in the churches of Asia Minor were likely quoting them all.

-     BUT God’s power, and His grace, and His great and precious promises to us are only part of the story of being a disciple of Jesus.

-     IN 2 Peter 1:5, the apostle goes from very great and precious promises straight into…

      “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith…”

-     FIRST, “this very reason” is the phrase that points us back to the verses directly preceding.

-     WHAT is the reason that we “make every effort to add to our faith?”

-     IT is God’s grace towards us.

-     THE motivation and power for the Christian life is precisely the grace of God for us demonstrated in each one of those very great and precious promises.

-     “MAKE every effort!”

-     THE Greek for “make every effort” literally means “to bind all of your energies.”

-     PETER is talking about binding all of our energies to, of making every effort for this Christian life because of God’s grace.

*     We readily “make every effort” for our careers.

*     We “make every effort” for our relationships, when it is something we want.

*     We “make every effort” for our hobbies and interests.

-     BUT here, Peter tell us that the only way to live the Christian life…is to “make every effort” for God’s grace in our lives.

-     AND what is it that these energies, this effort is to be focused on, as we bring ourselves alongside of God in our own spiritual development?

-     EVERY effort is to go into “adding to our faith.”

-     THE Greek word for “adding,” comes from a term used in the Greek arts where a benefactor would come alongside a theatre company and give everything he had to get them the best of training and the best of equipment to be and do their best.

-     IT was a costly endeavor. It was never miserly.

-     AND in this rare New Testament setting the apostle Peter uses this term to describe how it is up to us to come alongside the God of all grace, in His preparation, training and equipping of our lives…..energetically giving everything we have in and for the process.

-     THIS alone is New Testament Christianity.

-     A CRITIC of an earlier century once described Christianity as “an initial spasm followed by chronic inertia.” 

-     TO avoid this inertia a true follower of Christ has to always adding to their faith.

-     HUMAN effort is indispensable, even though it is woefully inadequate.

-     THEN what follows in 2 Peter 1:5-7 is a list of qualities that are evidence that Jesus is at work, and you and I are adding to our faith by any and every means at our disposal.

*     The means is usually the disciplines of the faith…that is the place where God’s transforming grace is poured out.

*     And the disciplines are nothing except the effort we put into pursuing, drawing near to, Jesus.

-     SO, through our participation in the disciplines of the faith, we look to add to the faith that saved us…

1.   GOODNESS

•     Peter loves this word, goodness.

•     It is a very practical word.

•     It comes from a Greek word that means “excellent and proper fulfillment.”

•     In other words, the “excellent and proper fulfillment” of fertile land is to produce crops.

•     The “excellent and proper fulfillment” of a Dodge Viper is to drive fast and safely.

•     So, goodness, for a follower of Christ, are the attributes of Jesus manifest in you and me in the practical everyday events of life…..acquired by being near Him.

•     It is what we were designed for….it is the fulfillment of our lives in Christ.

-     Loving your wife, or husband.
-     Being compassionate with the people around you.
-     Living in truthfulness.
-     Having integrity in your business dealings.
-     Leaving a generous tip at the restaurant.
-     Being kind to others.
-     Being joyful.
-     Speaking only good of others.

•     It is the stuff you were created for in Christ Jesus.

•     It is going to take some effort on your part to add this goodness to your faith.

2.   KNOWLEDGE

•     To your goodness, add (give your energies unstintingly to) knowledge.

•     And the word Peter uses for knowledge is the practical living kind.

•     Several of our ministries are focused on this kind of knowledge.

-     Growing Kids God’s Way.
-     Basic Training.
-     Cleansing Stream.
-     New Heart.

•     It is the discretion to know the right thing to do in any given situation.

•     It is making simple but practical right choices in the day-to-day.

•     It is going to take some effort on your part to add this knowledge to your goodness.

3.   SELF-CONTROL

•     The literal translation of the Greek for this word is “the ability to get a grip on yourself.”

•     The false teachers were saying that as long as you knew God it didn’t matter how you lived the rest of your life.

•     Peter says, no! You must add to your knowledge, self-control.

•     Self-control extends over the whole of your life and mine, and is being in control over your passions rather than having them master over you.

•     Notice that it is not the elimination of your passions. That is Buddhism.

-     It is not the passion for food that is the sin…but when it masters you.
-     It is not the passion for personal peace that is a sin…but when you use illegal substances or people instead of Jesus to find it.
-     It is not the passion for a hobby that is the sin…but when the hobby controls you, your time, and your checkbook…instead of being a minor part of your life where you celebrate God on a golf course, or playing ball, or riding a motorcycle.
-     It is not the passion for physical intimacy that is the sin…but when that passion controls your waking moments and/or directs you outside of God’s provision.

•     Again, the means of self-control is the grace of God discovered only in an intimate relationship with Jesus.

•     But it still takes huge effort on your part to get that close to Him.

4.   PERSEVERANCE

•     This is the courage to deal with all that today might bring, unmoved and confidently pressing into the future Jesus has just for you.

•     It is not the absence of feeling in the pain and suffering of life.

•     It is not a fatalism that stoically accepts the good and the bad of life.

•     It is not a resignation or withdrawal from life.

•     It is a confidence that God has a plan and holy purpose for my life and is working it out in all the pieces that make up that life.

•     It is based on the promises of God.

•     It is living in the light of eternity rather than basing all my hopes in the here and now.

•     Therefore, I can and will press on.

•     Do whatever it takes to add to self-control, perseverance.

5.   GODLINESS

•     Very simply this is living life looking both ways.

-     Living in reverent awe of who God is…in the fear of the Lord.
-     And living with care and consideration of others.

•     Add this godliness to your perseverance.

6.   BROTHERLY KINDNESS

•     Some brands of spirituality excludes people as unwanted intrusions, or distractions.

•     Peter says, true discipleship only happens when you add to your godliness, brotherly kindness.

•     We show the legitimacy of our birth into God’s family by how we treat His family.

7.   LOVE

•     This is the quality that crowns Peter’s list.

•     It is the word, agape.

•     It is the love that originates in God (John 3:16).

•     But it is also the kind of love that we are to have as we lay our lives down for one another (I John 3:16).

•     It is the deliberate and sacrificial commitment to the highest good of the one who is the object of agape love.

•     Add it to brotherly kindness.

 

iii.  increasing measure

-     NOW, Peter goes on in 2 Peter 1:8 and says,

      “For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

-     IF these qualities are your possession. If you are making them your own….worked into your character by grace…in ever increasing measure!

-     THERE is no place in the Christian life for letting up saints!

-     THE minute you let up, get comfortable, figure you have arrived….at that very moment atrophy sets in.

-     PAUL writes,

*     In Romans 12:1,

      “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-- this is your spiritual act of worship….and be (being) transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

*     In 2 Corinthians 3:18 he writes,

      “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

-     IF this consistent spiritual growth is not taking place…this stagnation in your life is going to keep you from being effective and productive in your intimacy with Jesus.

-     IN other words, the absence of these qualities in your life is a roadblock to drawing near to Jesus.

-     AND if there is no intimacy between you and Jesus the grace will not be there for victory and power and to apply the precious promises, no matter how loud you may quote them.

-     YOURS and my knowledge of Jesus is our only hope for salvation, abundant life, victory and productivity.

-     SO, the solution to the difficulties of your life is to draw near to Jesus through the disciplines of the faith…and make every effort, put a lot of energy into adding these qualities to your faith.

-     EVERYTHING you need is in Him to do all of this.

iv. alternative blindness

-     THEN, lastly, Peter tell us what the alternative is to adding to our faith…in verse 9,

      “…if anyone does not have them (the list of qualities), he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.”

-     NEARSIGHTED.

*     Got his or her eyes fixed on those things of this world that are here and now.

*     Doesn’t understand or see true and eternal spiritual realities.

-     BLIND.

*     Remains under the control of the gods of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4).

*     Totally vulnerable to the enemy’s assault.

-     HAS FORGOTTEN HE/SHE HAS BEEN CLEANSED.

*     Has deliberately put out of his mind the fact that he has been cleansed from past sins…so as to easily return to them.

v. conclusion

-     SAINTS! It is time for us to add to our faith….in the power the indwelling Holy Spirit.

-     AND it is time to do it with all the energy and effort we have.

-     THE secret is not to tackle the individual elements of Peter’s list.

-     THE secret is to pour your energies into drawing closer to Jesus….and then watch for and be aware of the elements of the list as evidence of His work in you.

1.   Goodness.

2.   Knowledge.

3.   Self-control.

4.   Perseverance.

5.   Godliness.

6.   Brotherly love.

7.   Agape love.

 

 

 

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