Sermon Series on 2Peter – ‘A Perambulation through (2) Peter’
Sermon No. 3 Date:25/9/16 Preacher: Rev. Adrian Hallett
Reading: 2 Peter 1: 3-11.
Title: ‘Got it, Grow it!
Peter’s concern is to be able to equip his readers, and therefore you and me, to be able to stand against false teaching from within the church, particularly those false teachers who deny the Second Coming of Christ.
He does this by reminding them and us of the foundations of our faith. He checks the foundations so he can build us up in the Christian faith.
So, we have looked at the foundations of the Christian faith, and last week just how precious this faith is. We see that Peter`s aim is to build on the sure foundation of their faith.
This week in verses 3–10, he talks in terms of “adding” to their faith. “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith”…..
In other words, having checked the foundations, having reminded them of their foundations, he now says build on it……”add to your faith”.
Foundations are fit for only one thing, to be built on…..foundations are laid to be added to. Foundations on their own, although essential, are not very attractive. In any building the foundations have to be there…..not even visible, but if they are there, something beautiful and pleasing to the eye can be built upon, then – added to.
That’s the picture Peter is painting for us here. The essential foundations of your faith are in place. They are safe, they are secure, they are sound – they are not visible, but you know they are there. Now build on them – add to your faith. Build something beautiful and attractive on those foundations.
Seven things he says they are to add to their faith.
Goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, Godliness, brotherly kindness and finally love. A daunting list! A strong exhortation – “make every effort”.
The Greek word there means “speedy diligence” – “doing the best you can”. For the believer, and this is the reason why Peter is using it here, “speedy diligence” means quickly obeying what the Lord reveals as His priority. It elevates the more important over the important. The believer does so with “earnest swiftness – with intensity”. In other words, the foundations are all important. Yes, but what is more important…….what the Lord`s priority for your life is, that you add to your faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, Godliness, brotherly kindness and love.
Peter is saying “You have got it, now grow in it”. You have got the foundations in place, now add to them. Have something to show for the foundations of your faith.
As I said, a daunting list, with strong exhortation from Peter. Almost makes you want to give up before you start! Sounds as though we are being urged to haul ourselves up by our bootstraps….by our own efforts. Except for one thing!
One vitally important thing. Nowhere in the New Testament are we ever asked to do anything without first of all it being emphasised and repeated what God has done for us in Christ. The Christian in is “to do” because of what God “has done”. Better still; the Christian can now do, because of what God has done.
Now it is absolutely essential that we understand that and grasp its full significance.
I say that because it is so easy to misunderstand that exhortation of Peter.
I remember a friend of mine who attended his local church where the vicar, sad to say, did not know the Lord or have any understanding of the Gospel.
Whenever the vicar preached on passages like this, or say, the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians, my friend said it was like being back at school. An exhortation by the headmaster to be “more Christian”. To the vicar, to be a Christian meant that you had a general belief in God and then you strived to add goodness, knowledge, self-control etc. etc.
In other words, an exhortation to live a certain type of life, to make you more “Christian”. Now that is a travesty of the Gospel. It is a complete denial of the Gospel.
The Gospel is not an exhortation to action or conduct or behaviour. Before a man is called upon to do anything, he must receive something.
Before God calls a man to put anything into practice, he has made it possible for man to put it into practice.
You cannot address an appeal to a dead person. Waste of time and effort. Before we came to Christ we were spiritually dead. When we come to Christ……when we are born again by the Holy Spirit of God, we are spiritually alive. Whereas before we were dead, we are now alive in Christ. Before there can be any activity there must be life, there must be ‘muscles’ and the Christian has been given spiritual ‘muscles’ – everything needed to live out the Christian life has been given to us.
Let me take you now back to the series we did on Colossians. “Living out the risen life”. Paul saying exactly the same as Peter “become what you are”. Paul was stressing that we are complet that we are complete in Christ. It is not Christ plus anything – we have all we need in Christ. If you add anything to him, you destroy the gospel. You may remember my analogy of the new car – a gleaming sports car, perfectly designed in every way. Somebody comes along and says ‘Nice car Adrian, but its missing something – Four wheel drive’. Ridiculous! Add that to that sports car you would ruin it. Everything is in place for that cat to perform as it was s=designed to be. All that is needed is for us to get in and turn the key. I came across another analogy the other day which I think is making the same point in slightly different way. This one must be better than mine, it comes from Dr. Lloyd-Jones no less! He suggests the analogy of a farm. There is a sense in which the Gospel is like a farm that has been given to us. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God……….’ (Eph 2 v. 8).
We are given the farm………..all the equipment, the machinery the seeds. What we are called upon to do is farm. No good telling a man to farm if he hasn’t got a farm. He is incapable of doing anything.
But, we have everything we need – having received all that is necessary. We are called to farm. But even then we are reminded from scripture that it is “only God who makes things grow” (1 Co. 3 v.7) The farmer may do all the hard work. Plough and harrow and toil the land, plant the seed, but if the climate isn’t right – if it’s too hot, too cold, too much rain, not enough rain, too much sun, not enough sun, nothing is going to grow.
But the picture Peter is painting for us is different for us. Because you ‘have received a faith as precious as ours’ (2Pet.1;3), and ‘because he has given us his very great and precious promises’ (2Pet.1:4) and because you ‘participate in the divine nature’ (2Pet.1:4), then, says Peter, everything is in place for growth to take place. It’s a natural, inevitable process. That’s why he then exhorts them to add to their faith, goodness, to goodness, knowledge and so on.
But we need to be aware of two errors we can so easily slip into – two extremes:
Activism – works. As though it’s all down to us We have touched on this already. Thinking that by our own efforts we can strive to add these virtues to our lives, and that somehow this will make us more acceptable to God.
Passivity – the opposite extreme, thinking that we just have to sit back and do nothing. The danger of thinking that as salvation is all of Christ, he has therefore done it all for us. There is nothing that I need to do, nothing I can do to earn this salvation which is the gift of God. Any attempt on our part to add to our faith, smacks of works. We are saved by grace not by works. So sit back on your spiritual sun lounger and let God do his thing!
Both these extremes are wrong. So let’s note very carefully exactly what Peter is saying here: God gives us the power, the inward capacity, which makes it all possible. Without that we can do nothing, nor are we asked to do anything.
But, having received that power, that gift of God, there is nothing more important than we should give ourselves with all our energy to the development of our Christian life. God has done his part, now, because of that, you, on your part, supply in the faith given to you goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance etc. Perhaps best summed up in the title of this sermon: ‘Got it, grow it!’
I had hoped to look at all these virtues this week, but I wasn’t sure you were ready for hour long sermons just yet! We will have a look at those over the next week or so.