God's Provision for Pratical Christian Growth - Part 2

Bible Book: 2 Peter  1 : 5-7
Subject: Christian Growth; Discipleship; Following Jesus; Christian Living
Series: Shoe Leather Christianity
Introduction

Practical Christianity requires cooperation with God and the application of spiritual diligence and discipline. The foundation of our personal relationship with Jesus Christ is based on faith. This speaks of our initial acceptance of God’s grace as offered in the gospel. Now, Peter speaks of building on faith.

Where there is life, there must be growth. The new birth is not the end; it is the beginning. God gives His children all that they need to live godly lives, but His children must apply themselves and be diligent to use the “means of grace” He has provided. Spiritual growth is not automatic.

Peter listed 7 characteristics of the godly life, but we must not think of them as 7 beads on a string, or even 7 stages of development. The word translated “add” really means “to supply generously.” In other words, we develop one quality as we exercise another quality. These graces relate to each other the way the branch relates to the trunk and the twigs to the branches. Like the “fruit of the Spirit”

(Gal. 5:22-23), these qualities grow out of life and out of a vital relationship with Jesus Christ.

It is not enough for the Christian to “let go and let God,” as though spiritual growth were God’s work alone. Literally, Peter wrote, “Make every effort to bring alongside.” The Father and child must work together.

Philippians 2:12: “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

“work out” – means to continually work to bring something to fulfillment or completion. It cannot refer to salvation by works, but it does refer to the believer’s responsibility for active pursuit of obedience in the process of sanctification.

Philippians 2:13: “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”

Although the believer is responsible to work, the Lord actually produces the good works and spiritual fruit in the lives of believers. This is accomplished because He works through us His indwelling Spirit.

“to will and to do” – God energizes both the believer’s desires and his actions. God’s power makes His church willing to live godly lives.

“for His good pleasure” – God wants Christians to do what satisfies Him.

In verses 2 & 3, we have the divine provision and enablement given the believer in salvation, an inner dynamic, the divine nature which impels to a holy life, giving both the desire and power to do God’s will. In vv.5-7, we have human responsibility, that of seeing to it that the various Christian virtues are included in one’s life. The divine nature is not an automatic self-propelling machine that will turn out a Christian life for the believer irrespective of what that believer does or the attitude he takes to the salvation which God has provided. The divine nature will always produce a change in the life of the sinner who receives the Lord Jesus as Savior.

But it works at its best efficiency when the believer cooperates with it in not only determining to live a life pleasing to God, but definitely stepping out in faith and living that life in dependence upon the new life which God has implanted in him.

STATED FACTS:

1. Faith does not exempt a man from works.

(It is not faith and works; it is a faith that works.)

2. Salvation is a work of grace.

3. Sanctification is a will to grow.

I. THE CHARACTERISTICS OF A GROWING LIFE Verses 5-7

A. COMMENCES WITH THE CHALLENGES. 5

“for this very reason” – because of all the God-given blessings in vv. 3-4, the believer cannot be indifferent or self-satisfied. Such an abundance of divine grace calls for total dedication. Because of the new birth and the promises, we have a part to play. It emphasizes that the gifts spoken of in v.4 are to have their logical outcome in character.

“giving all diligence” – making maximum effort. The Christian life is not lived to the honor of God without effort. Even though God has poured His divine power

into the believer, the Christian himself is required to make every disciplined effort alongside of what God has done.
Colossians 1:28-29: “Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.”

v.28 “perfect” – complete, mature, to be like Jesus

v.29 Paul gave the effort to serve and honor God with all his might. “Labor” – refers to working to the point of exhaustion.

“Striving” – gives us the word "agonize" and refers to the effort required to compete in an athletic event. At the same time, he knew the effective striving or work, with spiritual and eternal results, was being done by God through him.
1 Corinthians 15:10: “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”

“add to your faith” – to give lavishly and generously. To fit out the choir with additional supplies. Providing more than is barely demanded; to provide beyond the needs.

EXAMPLE: Johnny Hunt Sermons

In Greek culture, word was used for a choirmaster who was responsible for supplying everything that was needed for his choir. Word never meant to equip sparingly. God has given us faith and all the grace necessary for godliness (3-4). We add to those by our diligent devotion to personal righteousness.

B. CONTINUES WITH THE CHARACTERISTICS Verses 5-7

1. VIRTUE 5

Moral power, moral energy, or vigor of soul. It is a power that performs deeds of excellence. It meant that God-given ability to perform heroic deeds.

That quality of life which made someone stand out as excellent. Remember, energy which Christians are able to exhibit, as God exerts His energy upon them.

When anything in nature fulfills its purpose, that is “virtue” – moral excellence.

EXAMPLE: The land that produces crops is “excellent” because it is fulfilling its purpose. A Christian is supposed to glorify God because he has God’s nature within; so, when he does this, he shows “excellence” because he is fulfilling his purpose in life. In this context, the right conduct under discipline, good habits are established and fleshly desires are dissipated.

2. KNOWLEDGE 5

Understanding, correct insight, truth properly comprehended and applied. This virtue involves a diligent study and pursuit of truth in the Word of God. It refers to the ability to handle life successfully. It comes from obedience to the will of God.
John 7:17: “If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.” It is the ability to apply to particular situations the ultimate knowledge which wisdom gives.

3. SELF-CONTROL 6

“holding oneself in”; a Christian is to control the flesh, the passions, and the bodily desires, rather than allowing himself to be controlled by them. The ability to take a grip of oneself.
Proverbs 16:32: “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.”

Proverbs 25:28: “Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.”

The virtue of one who masters his desires and passions, especially his sensual appetite. The Greeks used it as one who has his sex passions under control.

Virtue, guided by knowledge, disciplines desires and makes it the servant, not the master, of one’s life.

4. PERSEVERANCE 6

Patience or endurance in doing what is right, never giving in to temptation or trial. It is that spiritual staying power that will die before it gives in. It is the virtue which can endure, not simply with resignation, but with a vibrant hope. To remain under trials and testing in a way that honors God. Not merely endurance of the inevitable, for Christ could have relieved Himself of His suffering; but the heroic, brave patience with which a Christian not only bears, but contends.
Hebrews 12:2: “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Jesus persevered so that He might receive the joy of accomplishment of the Father’s will and exaltation.

5. GODLINESS 6

“God-likeness”; literally means “to worship well.” It described the man who was right in his relationship with God and with his fellow man. It is that quality of character that makes a person distinctive. He lives above the petty things of life, the passions and pressures that control the lives of others. He seeks to do the will of God and, as he does, he seeks the welfare of others.

We must never get the idea that godliness is an impractical thing, because it is intensely practical. A practical awareness of God in every aspect of life.

6. BROTHERLY KINDNESS 7

It pictures someone with a heart overflowing with love that seeks occasions to reveal kindness. A love by deliberate choice. A mutual sacrifice for one another. The fact that we love our brothers and sisters in Christ is one evidence that we have been born of God. A sincere, un-hypocritical love for others.

7. LOVE 7

Agape love, the kind of love that God shows toward lost sinners.

1 Corinthians 13 love is the love that the Holy Spirit produces in our hearts as we walk in the Spirit. (Gal. 5:22;

Romans 5:5)

CONCLUSION

Because we have the divine nature, we can grow spiritually and develop this kind of Christian character. It is through the power of God and the precious promises of God that this growth takes place. The divine “genetic structure” is already there; God wants us to be “conformed to the image of His Son.” (Romans 8:29) The life within will reproduce that image if we but diligently cooperate with God and use the means He has lavishly given us.