April 30, 2023 | Jess Rainer
Passage: 2 Peter 1:5-11
HGTV in High School - When I played high school football, every Saturday morning I would wake up, eat my bowl of cereal, and then go crash on the couch. It was my way licking my wounds. Before I hit the couch, I would always go to the TV and turn it on by hitting the button. I don’t know if this was just our TV or they were all like this, but it would take a minute to fully turn on. This was before all the smart TVs – this was a tube TV. By the time I hit the couch, the TV would be on. There was one Saturday, I hit the couch and I noticed the TV remote was not in its spot. I was so spent from the game the night before, I decided to just watch whatever the channel was on. It just happened to land on HGTV. My dad walks in and asks, “Why are you watching HGTV?!” And my response was simple: I couldn’t find the remote. My dad loves to tell this story to demonstrate my extreme laziness. I personally like to tell the story because I think I demonstrated some foresight. I was watching HGTV before HGTV was cool. But regardless, I wasn’t going to get off that couch that morning. I wasn’t moving. That kind of life is not an option for a follower of Christ. We don’t have the option to do nothing.
In our passage today, Peter answers the un-asked question, “What do I do with my precious faith?” If you missed last week, we talked about our calling to make our faith the most precious thing in this world and cling to it. Christians were not called to just cling. We are called to move. We are called to be light. I like how one pastor put it: “We are the light bulbs of our neighborhoods; God is the distant generator of electricity; and the cables that carry the power are God's promises.” Last week was about knowing the preciousness of our faith. Today is about what we do with our faith. Here’s what we see from the passage: It matters if your faith moves forward. We continue today in our Sermon Series: Grow in Grace. Go ahead and open up your Bible to 2 Peter 1. This is our second of six weeks in 2 Peter. As a reminder, we learned in 1 Peter what is means to have hope and have it fully. Now, in 2 Peter, we are learning what it means to grow in that hope and grace. Read 2 Peter 1:5-11. If it matters if your faith moves forward, then here’s what we see in verses 5 through 7: You’ve got to move.
1) You’ve got to move. (vs. 5-7) Let’s break down verse 5. How does it start? “In view of all this,” 5 In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, The logical question when we read that phrase is “in view of what?” Well, it’s everything we talked about last week. The idea that our faith must be precious and we must cling to the promises of our faith. And that God gives us everything we need to live this life. In view of all that, what do we do? What does it say? “make every effort to respond to God’s promises.” Did you catch that? “Make every effort…” Let me ask you a question: Do you have the option to grow in your faith? It’s a bit of a trick question. First, what do I mean by grow in your faith? To put it succinctly, it means becoming more like Jesus. It means seeing more of the fruit of the Spirit in your life. So, do you have the option to grow? Think about it… you do have an option to grow or not because it is possible that your faith isn’t growing. If it’s possible that your faith doesn’t grow, it means that there is the option to not to grow. But when you read God’s Word, do you have an option or not to grow in your faith? No! What did Peter just say? Make every effort! If you are making every effort at something, it’s bound to happen. Our only option as followers of Christ is to grow in our faith. And there are plenty of reasons why it’s the only option. We’ll get to a few of them in minute. But here’s what is clear: Passivity never leads to a godly character. Illustration: Thunder Over Louisville -- Car Towed. It was never an option that my car would have stayed exactly where I left it. We have to view our faith like this!
What Peter goes into next is a list of 8 virtues that should be part of our faith. And it’s all apart of moving forward. It’s the call to move forward – to move onward. It’s call to never satisfied – that you always want more of God. 5 In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. Now, I know it’s easy to stand up here and say “Go do it? Go grow in your faith!” But if I stopped there, it would not be wise of me. Because a lot of you may be sitting there going, “That sounds great. How do I do all of that?” When we started 2023 as a church, one of desires of the elders was to do the basics really well. That includes prayer, evangelism, and discipleship. We are going to start some new initiatives as a church around those three fundamentals. ANNOUNCEMENT: 1 on 1 Discipleship Program - There will be more details to come, but if we are truly called to move forward in our faith, then as a church, we are going to help you. Peter, in his letter, then shows why growth is part of the Christian faith. What we see, starting in verse 8, is your movement is useful.
2) Your movement is useful. (vs. 8-9) If I were to ask all of you the question, “Why did you become a Christian?” I think I’d get some really good responses: “I didn’t want the penalty of my sin” “I didn’t want to go to hell” “I want to be in heaven” “I want to be with God forever” Those would all be good. What if I asked, “What’s your purpose as a Christian?” I don’t think we think about the second question as near as much as the first question. The Christian life was never meant to be a “one-and-done” experience. The Christian life was designed that our salvation is the beginning. That’s what Peter writes in verse 8: 8 The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. The more you grow in the virtues in verses in five through seven, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of Jesus. The NLT puts this verse in a positive, where most translations put this verse in the negative. Look at how the ESV puts it: “For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” I like how the ESV puts verse 8 because it frames the situation in a slightly different way. The ESV lets us know that…Spiritual idleness is not an option. Doing nothing is not an option because doing nothing leads to spiritual ineffectiveness. There is no spiritual neutral. Illustration: Glenda’s Long Swim (Taken from Piper sermon). “Last week I read a true story to the boys entitled Glenda's Long Swimin "The Incredible Series." Glenda and Robert Lennon were four miles off the coast of Florida fishing alone from their yacht. Glenda decided to take a swim and soon found the current had carried her too far out from the boat. Her husband, hearing her cries, without thinking dove in and swam to her, but then realized they were both being carried out. He was a champion swimmer, but not she. They made a plan. He would swim against the tide to keep the boat in view until the tide ceased and he could reach the boat. She should save her strength and just float with the tide and he would come and get her. He fought the tide for six hours and just as the boat was about to disappear on the horizon the tide turned and his strokes carried him to the boat exhausted. The sun had set. His searching was futile—he could not find his wife. The next day on one last effort of search, the search party found his wife—twenty miles out and still alive. It was an incredible story.” “What it illustrates is this: Christians who just float never stay in the same place. Christians who disobey verses 5–7 and do not apply themselves with diligence to bear the fruit of faith drift into great peril. We must strive even to stand still, the tide of temptation is so strong.” If they both floated, they both drowned. But even though his swimming gain little ground on the boat, he was at least able to keep the boat in sight.
And that’s what Peter says in verse 9: 9 But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins. When you stay idle, you lose sight of your past salvation and your future steps. Spiritual growth leads to spiritual clarity. Do you feel like you’ve spiritually lost sight? If you don’t see what’s ahead, stop and look at what you are doing right now. Are you making every effort to respond to God’s promises? Are you floating or swimming? Your spiritual movement matters. It matters if your faith moves forward. Here’s where we are so far in this passage: You’ve got to move. Your movement is useful. And here’s where we end: Your movement says a lot.
3) Your movement says a lot. (vs. 10-11) If you read verses 10 and 11 quickly, you could misread what Peter says. Here’s what this verse is not saying:
- You work to earn your salvation
- Salvation is free gift that must be accepted
- It’s also not saying that you have to work to keep your salvation
- What does Philippians 1:6 say? 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.
What is verse 10 and 11 saying then? Let’s read them: 10 So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. 11 Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. When you grow in your relationship with Jesus – when you continue in the process of sanctification – when you move forward in your faith – it becomes the evidence of your salvation and faith. Someone who claims Jesus Christ as their Savior, Lord, and Treasure will demonstrate that claim through the actions of their life. What Peter jumps into following these verses is about the false teachers who claim Christ but don’t live Christ. We’ll cover that next week. For now, what we can see in these verses is that the movement of your faith says a lot.
The movement of your faith is assurance
The movement of your faith is knowledge
The movement of your faith is confirmation
The movement of your faith is doubt-reducing
I’ll say it this way: The antidote for spiritual doubt is your appetite for serving God. One of the frequent questions I’ve had over the years of ministry is “What do I do with my doubt?”
- Having doubt is a good sign
- People don’t doubt what they don’t believe
- In order to doubt something, you have to believe it’s possible
- Movies love to demonstrate this -
- The movies that play on fear of what’s possibly gain traction in the box office
- The movies that are so far in left field don’t have staying power
- No one is panicking about the possibility of sharknadoes
- Do you desire to serve God?
- Is there a part of your life that wants to please God and bring Him glory?
- Someone who doesn’t believe in God doesn’t want to bring glory to God.
It matters if your faith moves forward. It’s what God wants for us. It’s what God uses for His kingdom and His glory. It’s what provides the assurance of our faith. It matters greatly. I’ll close with this…Spiritually, where are you right now? I don’t ask that question in a condescending or guilt-inducing way. That’s not my heart’s motivation. I ask it because I don’t want you to be spiritually laying on the couch or drifting in the ocean. Just pause for a moment and reflect. Take a deep breath and ask yourself, where am I spiritually right now? Ask yourself, “Am I moving?” I want you to do think about because I want the best for you all. I don’t want you to unknowingly be drifting away. I want you to enjoy the daily walk with God. I want you to see life in a way that is eternally minded. I want you to find that peace and rest that only comes from the Holy Spirit. I want you to live this life in the way that you are designed to live. It’s all for you and your benefit. Here’s one thing I know: I’m not laying on that couch watching HGTV anymore! What a terrible life if I would have just stayed there for good. I never would be here with you all. I never would have found my wife and met my children. There is so much good ahead if you simply get up and move. God has incredible plans ahead for you. Swim towards Him and enjoy it!!
The body of Christ, the church, must be diligent in recognizing false teachers and doctrine while trusting the Scriptures and recognizing true ministers of the Word. By learning to recognize false teachers, Christians will also be able to identify those who teach truth and by living into that truth they can grow in the grace of God and Christian virtue.