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Standing on the Stairway of Promises

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2 Peter 1:5-11

The Same… But Different #2

You know….The word “amen” is a most remarkable word. It was transliterated directly from the Hebrew into the Greek of the New Testament, then into Latin and  then into English and many other languages.  So it is practically a universal word.

It has been called the best-known word in human speech. The word is directly related—in fact, and almost identical—to the Hebrew word for “believe” (aman),

So, it has came to mean “sure” or truly,” an expression of absolute trust and confidence. When someone believes God, he indicates his faith by an “amen.”  Amen!?  

When God makes a promise, the believer’s response is “amen”—“so be it!”

 In the New Testament, it is often translated “verily” or “truly.” When we pray according to His Word and His will, we know God will answer, so we close with an “amen,”

Which is also why when we used to sing the great old anthems and songs of the faith we would close the song by signing the word AMEN.

The word is even a title of Christ Himself. The last of His letters to the seven churches begins with a remarkable salutation by the glorified Lord:

 (Revelation 3:14). 14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the ruler of God’s creation. [1]

We can be absolutely certain that His Word is always faithful and true because He is none other than the Creator of all things, and therefore He is our eternal “Amen.”

As one Bible text reminds us, every promise of God in Christ is “yes and amen,” as strong an affirmation of truth as can be expressed in the Greek language. It is profoundly meaningful that the entire Bible closes with an “amen.”

(2 Cor 1:20)

20 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ.  And so through Him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.[2]


(Revelation 22:21) “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen”, Which is assuring everyone who reads these words that the whole Book is absolutely true and trustworthy. Amen! [3] { Galaxie Software, 10,000 Sermon Illustrations (Biblical Studies Press, 2002; 2002). }

Today we are going to talk about promises, Amen?!

Peter used a phrase that many of us have heard before.

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.[4]

Exceeding- great and precious promises. [KJV]

What an awesome sound that has! The promises of God are exceedingly great and especially precious, not too mention overwhelming in number.

God's word promises the believer an amazing array of: spiritual, material, physical, emotional, financial, and relational blessings—ranging from: eternal life with Jesus in heaven --- to an abundant life with his people here on earth.

The Bible contains, by one count, 7,487 of these "exceeding great and precious promises." [According to Dr. Everek R. Storms, in Contact Magazine, March 1978]

These promises are a lifeline for the Christian's daily walk with God. The Puritan preacher Thomas Watson wrote:

"Trade much in the promises…The promises are “great supports” to faith. Faith lives in a promise as a fish lives in water." [quoted from Knowing God, J.I. Packer]

The Bible is filled with promises; one of my favorites is found in 2 Peter 1, in the text we are looking at today. In fact, it's more than just a promise.

It's a guarantee! Peter tells believers to add certain characteristics to their faith, and then he asserts boldly...(v. 8) ...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. [5]

In other words, Peter says, "do this, and your life will be both productive and effective for the glory of God." I don’t know about you… But I want my life to be both productive and effective for the Kingdom of God!  (Do you agree with me?  AMEN?

What does Peter tell us to do? He says...(v. 5) For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.[6]   WOW!

Notice how Peter writes these…

He doesn’t write this in just a simple list, like so many other things are written down in the Bible.  Peter writes it as if he is drawing in your mind a staircase with 7 stairs on it… (The Number of completion.)  As you read it you can see a staircase : (Can’t you?) You start at the bottom of the stairs and you take on the first step: Goodness. 

You begin to pray for Goodness to be lived out in your life. You begin to pray that God will make Goodness a characteristic in your life that others can see, that will overflow into every part of your life… This isn’t some syrupy sweet, make you sick, kind of stuff…

This is the kind of Goodness that someone will look at your life and say… “That is a good man”  “That is a good woman”.

 Let me ask you…

Do people say that about you?  Then before too long you take another step up the ladder and you begin praying for knowledge.  Is this just “book-smarts”.  Stuff you get by going to school.  Well, it might be.  But I think it also would include the knowledge you gain about the faith itself. As the old TV show used to say… “Just the facts Mamm, Just the facts!  ”You can have a lot of Goodness running around in your life, but if you don’t know anything your effectiveness is going to be limited.

I love that Peter immediately puts “Self Control right after Knowledge.  Just having knowledge in your life can puff you up and make you utterly worthless to the kingdom. 

I have known so many who have studied the scriptures day and night.  They have read and studied the early church fathers until they could talk to each other on a first name basis.

But when it came to living life in the neighborhood they were wreck.  Had no control over their own desires, over their own tongue, over their own addictions, And…their pride would control their life because they just “Knew It All” and no one could tell them differently.  Yes, knowledge is important, but it is only the second step up on the ladder.

I was reminded Friday, as I did a graveside and was sharing the scripture from 1 Corinthians 13… the part that Paul writes…. Verses 7-9 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; (here it is)     as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.  [7]


Its not real high on the staircase.  Its important… but you aren’t there yet.  You have not arrived!

If you are climbing out of the swimming pool and you are only up to the second step you are still wet.  You aren’t very far.  But after knowledge comes Self-Control We push education pretty hard in our society, don’t we?  Knowledge is definitely a key to many, many doors.  But sometimes education is over-rated!  Now, that probably comes as a surprise from someone who spent 12 years in education after high school to earn 3 more academic degrees. 

I have rubbed shoulders with more arrogance and pride than you would ever want to stomach. Overly- educated people who have not made it past the second step on this staircase can be a total waist of a pile of tuition dollars.

Yes, the education is important!  The knowledge is good.  The understanding is wonderful… But if you don’t get  self-control over all of that education you will alienate everyone around you.  You will become a legalist… pounding out the knowledge you know Or Bible Thumping everyone’s head (if your knowledge is in the Bible)

Knowledge Alone has never saved anyone!  How many pastors have you heard of who have lived a double life and cheated on their family with another woman? 

Did they know better? Of course they did… They probably preached on adultery a number of times. That’s like one Olympic swimmer asking another Olympics swimmer… Why are you all wet?  Duh, I’m a swimmer! Swimmers get wet.  Let me make a distinction for you that you must understand…This word “knowledge” and the word “Wisdom” are totally different  words and have totally different meanings. 

Wisdom is “God Thought” not found in books, lectures, or other lessons learned.  It is a thought process that comes from the mind of God… and something that God offers freely to absolutely anyone who would ask for it.

Do I believe schooling and education is important, absolutely… But don’t stop there.  Make sure you gain an attitude of self-control…an attitude of humility with your education.  Here is a very important key!!!! If you find yourself “showing off” with your education, you have crossed the line. Friend…  Use it for good, not to puff yourself up.

The Next step on the stair case … After Self-Control is Perseverance.  This, my Friend… is the portion of the text that I think begins to separate the Men from the Boys in the faith.  This is where those who are serious begin to shine.  This is the stair-step that we begin to take real notice as a body of Christ, as the world looks on, as the angels in heaven begin to stand up and applaud.  Perseverance. 

What does that word mean?  Words in my Thesaurus for the word perseverance suggest:  insistence, urgency, resolve, determination, firmness.

This is a person who is beginning to use all that knowledge that he has gained in steps 1 & 2 and drills it deep down into the soil of his life.  He has created deep, and profound roots in his life.  This Perseverance step is a tough one.  Because great challenges will come to you as you try to stand on that Staircase-step.

 There will be gale-force winds of temptation.  There will be earthquakes shaking  you with tragedy in your life.  There will be times in your life that will suggest you step back off the staircase and just get off and jump into the slime of doubt, the scum of this world, the muck of ordinariness, a life of mediocrity.  

Christian … Don’t Do IT!  … Stay on the Stairs… Hang onto the rail of Faith. 

This is only for a season.  This condition is not permanent. Your legs are wobbly right now because you are trying to figure out how to stand on this 4th stair… It seems high up in their air, but if you stand there and hold fast, your faith-muscles will build and you will be able to hold fast and persevere.

As your legs of faith become stronger and you can gain confidence in God to hold you up on the staircase.  Once you are firmly planted on that stair, don’t give up.  Don’t stand their forever!  This is not your permanent resting place!

You may now take another step up onto the  Godliness Stair.  The wind and rain and earthquake might still be out there, but you now have the full strength to withstand those attacks.  Purity in your life begins to develop in yet deeper and deeper levels. 

Are you ready to take on more of the way of God in your life? Are you ready to truly walk in his steps?

?Are you ready to make forgiveness a priority in your life?

Let me ask you some hard questions…

Are you ready to let go of the hurts of the past?

Are you ready to let go of the pain that others have caused you?

That father who left your family when you were young…

That Mother who brought into the home man after man like a parade through your life and you had to be relegated to the back of the house… because your life was better not seen and not heard. That sister who stole your boyfriend…That person who molested you…Are you ready to let go of all that anger you have built up inside of you?

What are you gaining from holding on to all of that?  My Brother… My Sister…  It is making you sick?  You have aged well beyond your years in not a positive way.  As you step up onto the Godliness step…  the winds of the enemy are attempting to knock you off the staircase, but you already have perseverance built up from the last step. 

Don’t look down.  Its just like crossing over a rushing river on a wet, fallen mossy log… never look down past the log and into the water below.  Maintain your balance

And Just keep your eyes focused on the log and what is ahead of you. 

Again, I just love that verse Philippians 1:6 (NLT), where Paul says, 6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. [8]

Now that you have your feet solidly standing on the next step… The Godliness step…. you are ready to take the next step up.  Having Godliness moves you towards Brotherly Kindness.  If godliness includes right attitudes toward others, then godly believers must add brotherly kindness (which is also translated “mutual affection” nrsv).

In non-Christian circles, (in Biblical days) this word referred to an affection between family members. What Peter is trying to get across in this step on the staircase is help us to understand this to include the family of believers. It is a term that means we are to have an especially intense love Peter has used the term already in his first letter… in 1 Peter 1:22 where he says 22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart[9]

And the writer of Hebrews says in 10:24-25 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. [10]

This intense love that we are to have for one another is one that we considers others as brothers and sisters.

I think one of the greatest phenomenon in life is watching family- interaction with little children. The brothers and sisters can beat-up each nearly bloody… but just have someone else try to come in on one of their own and the brother who is normally punching out his little sister is right there to protect her with every ounce of integrity a young man can muster.

John explained the connection between godliness and brotherly kindness this way: “Those who say, ‘I love God,’ and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also” (1 John 4:20–21 nrsv).

 This “brotherly kindness (Philadelphia) The word refers to a concerned caring for others. I think that it is interesting that when defining what love is NOT…

Paul puts rudeness on the list. “It is not rude.” The Greek word for rude means shameful or disgraceful behavior. An example of rudeness was taken before the courts in Minnesota. A man fell out of his canoe and lost his temper. Even though the river was lined with vacationing families, he polluted the air with obscenities. Some of those families sued him. He said, “I have my rights.”

God calls us to a higher, more noble concern. Not “What are my rights?” but “What is loving?” Do you have the right to dominate a conversation? Yes, but is it loving to do so? Is it within your rights to bark orders at the clerk or snap at the kids? Yes. But is it loving to act this way? [11] { web page }

All this then leads us to the top of the stairs.  It was Jesus who tried to take Peter to the very top of the stairs after his resurrection… Do you remember?

Jesus yells out to the fishermen in the boat to throw their nets to the other side since they had not caught anything all night long…

And of course the net became so full that they had to call in  recruits Peter recognizes that it is the Master standing on the shore and he dives into the water and swims to the beach.  Jesus has breakfast all ready for the men with some fish and chips (ok, Fish and Bread)…

Then Jesus takes Peter off, alone and asks him some questions… Do you remember what they were?

(Jn 21:15-17).15 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love (Agape ) Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I  (Brotherly affectionately)love You. ” He said to him,  “Feed My lambs.” 16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love (Agape) Me?” me said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You... (have Brotherly Affection for you)” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me? (have Brotherly Affection for Me?)” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep. [12]

While we Christians must exhibit “brotherly kindness” in our dealings with other people, our love must also go deeper. From brotherly kindness, we must add [Agape] love that always puts others first, seeking the highest good of others. The Greek word agape refers to self-sacrificial love.

It is the kind of love God demonstrated in saving us. It is a kind of  love among believers that allows for weaknesses and imperfections, It deals with problems, affirms others, and has a strong commitment and loyalty.

Such a bond or connection  holds believers together no matter what persecutions and sufferings we might face together or individually.  [13]

You see, Peter didn’t get to the place with Jesus in this conversation that he was willing to extend his love to Jesus as a Godly love, but Jesus brought him as far as he was willing to go at that point.  Of course, we also know later, after the day of Pentecost, Peter certainly would have answered differently.  He would have said that he Agape’d Jesus. This is the foundation, Peter says, of an effective and productive life. It just hit me this morning… The last 3 steps on the stair case were the 3 words for Love in the Greek language:

 Storge – family love in Godliness

Phileo – (Philadelphia) Brother Love

And finally…Agape – Other centered-God love

Develop these qualities, and you will accomplish more with your life than you ever thought possible.

I’ve decided to split this message up so, those of you who are concerned that your blanks on the outline are not filled in, you will just have to come back next week to get the rest of the answers.  Next week we are going to look at these 7 steps on the stair case much closer.


Church, As we begin this journey at looking at being The Same… But Different… A transformed life…. we must remember that there is a balance to our quest.

There's no question that we need God's power to become holy. We can't accomplish it by our own strength alone.

But Peter wants us to understand that we do have a responsibility to work at it. Make every effort, he says. Give it all you've got.

Here's the idea:

We do our best, and God gives us the strength to do the rest.  Do you want your life to be productive and effective? Peter guarantees it can happen, but you've got to put the promises to work in your life. Make it your priority to add to your faith, goodness, and to your goodness, knowledge.  To your knowledge, make sure you have self-control. And to your self control add perseverance, and with perseverance add godliness, long with  brotherly kindness, and finally, the top level… the top of the staircase…

As Paul says, without this one, there is nothing… make sure you accomplish love.

 Let these words describe the person you want to be.

If you would….Allow me to give you one more little addition to your assignment. I want to challenge you today to do something very significant in your life. 

It is simple, but so highly effective and it will absolutely revolutionize your life.  I believe God has been waiting to tell you this and it is finally time.  I believe he wants to test you in this… So listen carefully.

You will find this promise in The NT book of James….James 1:55 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.[14]

Here is the challenge… For the next 7 days I want you to ask God for wisdom as you grow in these steps to becoming Christ like. Ask Him when you wake up.  Ask Him when you sit down to eat a meal. Ask him before you go to sleep. Simply ask God for Wisdom. And in the process, maintain your perspective. Remember the wonderful gift of mercy that God has given you, remember the way he saved you and washed away your sins. And remind your self every day of this:

I'm not what I ought to be, and I'm not what I want to be, But I'm not yet what I'm going to be, and by the grace of God, I'm not what I used to be.

By adding wisdom to these promises –your life will take on a new dimension that you have never experience before.  Are you ready to Stand on the Real Promises of God?


[1]The Holy Bible : New International Version, electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984), Re 3:14.

[2]The Holy Bible : New International Version, electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984), 2 Co 1:20.

[3]Galaxie Software, 10,000 Sermon Illustrations (Biblical Studies Press, 2002; 2002).

[4]The Holy Bible : New International Version, electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984), 2 Pe 1:4.

[5]The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (2 Pe 1:8). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[6]The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (2 Pe 1:5-7). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[7]The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), 1 Co 13:7-10.

[8] Tyndale House Publishers. (2004). Holy Bible : New Living Translation. (2nd ed.). Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers.

nrsv Scripture quotations marked NRSV are taken from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyrighted, 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America, and are used by permission. All rights reserved.

[9]The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), 1 Pe 1:22.

[10]The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Heb 10:24-25.

[11] web page

[12]The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Jn 21:15-17.

[13]Bruce B. Barton, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, Jude, Life application Bible commentary (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Pub., 1995), 167.

[14]The Holy Bible : New International Version, electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984), Jas 1:5.

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