Evidence of Christian Growth

Bible Book: 2 Peter  1 : 5-7
Subject: Christian Growth; Commitment; Mature Christianity
Series: Shoe Leather Christianity
Introduction

Have you ever noticed how many people you know who are literally at the same place today as they were 5 years ago? I read this week that “good” leaders care about those who follow them, but “great” leaders get personally involved in helping solve their personal difficulties. EXAMPLE: Jesus going to heal Peter’s mother-in-law; Paul’s care of Onesimus. True leadership extends beyond formal relationships and official duties. Christian leaders care about the whole person.

Do you feel you are standing still in life, or maybe the “hurrier I go the behinder I get?” It’s as if people unplug their clocks at a certain point in time and stay at that fixed moment the rest of their lives. You are destined to grow, learn, and improve. The biggest room in our lives is always the room for self-improvement.

John Mason said, “If a man stands with his right foot on a hot stove and his left foot in a freezer, some statistician would assert that, on the average, he is comfortable.” Nothing could be further from the truth. God doesn’t want us to live our lives with one foot in heaven and one foot in the world. He wants all of us. There is something significant that happens when we become wholly yielded to Him.

Billy Graham prayed as a young man, “God, let me do something, anything, for you.”

Martin Luther sums up being fully yielded this way: “God created the world out of nothing, and as long as we are nothing, He can make something out of us.”

You can trust the Lord too little, but you can never trust Him too much.

Psalms 84:11: “For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”

“There is a lie that Satan continues to propagate today with signal success in the hearts of countless people. It is the notion that by giving themselves back to the God who made them, and by submitting themselves to His sovereignty, they will be robbed of that liberty which makes life really worth living.” Ian Thomas

The Lord Jesus Christ wants so very much to replace, by His presence within you, all your inherent potential for evil under the influence of the flesh. He offers you instead all His limitless potential for good through the energy and power of His indwelling Holy Spirit.

What is so completely amazing is that God is prepared to be God in you – not figuratively, but factually. You can actually share His life and be transformed into His likeness. This is what is taught in His Word; the absolute truth. However, we in the 21st Century are so influenced by moral relativism, according to the research of Thom Rainer. 65% from the Builders Generation (born 1927-1945) are Bible-based believers who embrace absolute truth. For the Boomers, 46-64 years of age, 35%, and for the Buster Generation (born 1965 to 1983), it drops even lower to a dismal 16% who believe in absolute truth. However, for the Bridgers or Millennial Generation (born 1984 and later), only 4% believe in absolute truth.

It is still true that our belief determines our behavior. Christianity is often a moment of enthusiasm when the wonder of Christianity is realized, and then a failure to work out the Christian life in continuous progress.

How You Finish - End In Mind.

1. Past

The Apostle Peter commences his God-honoring challenge with these words, “But also for this very reason.” This causes us to look back to the PAST. Because of all the God-given blessings mentioned 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. The new Christian should realize that God has provided the believer with the necessary power to live the Christian life, but the believer should not sit back and relax. He has alluded to God’s work in saving us, now he stresses our work in the process of salvation.

2 Peter 3:18, “but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.”

It is true that God has made the provisions that are necessary for the proper kind of Christian growth. He has provided them in abundance, and has made them available to all. This, however, is not complete within itself. It also has pleased God to give man certain responsibilities relative to these provisions. It is possible for man to possess all of God’s basic provisions and still not grow in grace. Man will not grow in grace unless he recognizes and assumes his own personal responsibility in growth. If man fails in his responsibilities, it is his own fault and he will suffer the consequences. There is a human responsibility for every divine provision.

2. Present:

Next, Peter concerns himself with the PRESENT.

“giving all diligence” – suggests the idea of “bringing something along side of.” In this case it means that the believer is to bring alongside of God’s provisions his own efforts and energies that promote growth. You are to apply yourself to God’s provisions. He is to build on the foundation that God has laid.

“diligence” – carries the idea of haste and speed. The matter is too important to be delayed or neglected. The matter of growth demands immediate attention, and it should be pursued with all diligence.

Another idea suggests that of “expending much energy.” No energy is to be spared in an effort to add these virtues to faith.

William Barclay says this word carries the idea of “lending every energy to do this”

The word “give” here implies “adding on your part.” Again, because of all that God has done for you in your life, add, on your part, real effort.

BOTTOM LINE: The Christian life does not merely happen. The Lord gives “all things” essential to life and godliness, but after they are received, God’s gifts must be used to glorify and magnify Christ.

3. Potential:

Next, Peter speaks to our POTENTIAL.

“add to your faith” - The verb “add” is meaningful in the Greek. The word comes from the Greek world of stage and drama. The director of a play not only coached the cast, together with the state, but also paid the expenses the members incurred for giving a performance on stage. In other words, the choirmaster added his financial contribution to the amount the state supplied. This verb “add” then signifies that the believer contributes lavishly to the work of his salvation.

GREAT TRANSLATION – “Because of the provisions that God has lavished upon you, let each believer exert all of his energy, and make haste in bringing his own contributions alongside of God’s, so that there can be a super-abundance of virtues added to the faith, while the believer marches constantly, as a soldier, towards the realization of the moral objectives.”

“Add” – the word has certain lavishness in it. It means to equip lavishly by pouring out everything that is necessary for a noble performance. It can mean to equip an army with all necessary provisions; it can mean to equip a soul with all the necessary virtues for life. But always at the back of it there is the idea of a lavish generosity in the equipment.

So, Peter urges his people to equip their lives with every virtue; and that equipment must not be simply a necessary minimum, but lavish and generous.

I. GODLINESS (PIETY) 6

A. WHAT IT’S NOT

“unholy” (profane) – permitted to be trodden; it has an illuminating background. It was used for ground that was profane in contradiction to ground that was consecrated. Meant there was no sacred enclosure in his life where God could dwell. His body was not the temple of the Holy Spirit; irreligious. Translates outside the temple; not belonging to God.

Wescott sums up the word by saying that it describes the man whose mind recognizes nothing higher than earth, for whom there is nothing sacred, who has no reverence for the unseen. An unhallowed life is a life without any awareness of or interest in God. In its thoughts, aims, pleasures, it is completely earthbound. We have to have a care lest we drift into a frame of mind and heart which has no horizon beyond this world.

Greek word (BEBELOS) is a compound word meaning “to go” – “a threshold”. Meant there was no sacred enclosure in his life where God could dwell.

Hebrews 10:29, “Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?”

B. WHAT IT IS 15

It is the nearest Greek word for religion; it is intensely practical character of the Christian religion. 1. Means to be godly or devout. 2. Godliness cannot be fabricated. 3. We cannot pretend to be godly. 4. The quality of godliness comes from God Himself. 5. We receive it as we are dead to self and alive to God and as we allow the Spirit to live within us. 6. The fruit of the Spirit are attributes of the character of God. 7. The more we are possessed by God (through surrender, we have all of Him, He desires all of us) the more we will act like Him and the more His character will be revealed in our lives. 8.It is more about impartation and not imitation.

This is the principle (virtue) that guided the reformer John Calvin’s life (CORAM DEO), in the presence of God. A Christian practices godliness when he is fully conscious of God’s presence in every circumstance.

TWO-FOLD MEANING OF GODLINESS:

1. EXPRESSES A WORSHIPFUL ATTITUDE IN RELATION TO GOD

A godly person recognizes that God is worthy of worship, but also recognizes the need to be properly related to God. It means a God-likeness; it literally means to worship well – it is the quality of character that makes a person distinctive. 1. He sees godliness as intensely practical 2. He makes the right kind of decisions. 3. He does not look for the easy path simply to avoid pain or trial. 4. He does what is right because it is right and because it is the will of God. 5. It conveys the idea that one who has it properly honors and adores God.

Psalms 4:3, “But know that the LORD has set apart for Himself him who is godly; the LORD will hear when I call to Him.”

In Greek thought, the word “godliness” encompassed all the rituals related to worship and loyalty given to pagan gods; respect toward all that is divine. The early Christians sanctified the Greek definition of the word and directed them at the one true God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Listen to Paul’s instruction to Timothy on this subject of godliness. 1 Timothy 4:8, “For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.”

- Exercise profits a little

- Godliness is profitable for all things

Life that now is

Life that is to come

2. EXPRESSES A WORSHIPFUL ACTION IN RELATION TO OTHERS.

a. GODWARD

Describes the nature of one’s vertical relationship with God.

It involves not only a genuine fear of God but also a deep passion for Him.

Deuteronomy 10:12, "And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”

Is this fear as unsettling as it seems or just a quiet reverence?

Psalms 38:1, “O LORD, do not rebuke me in Your wrath, nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure!”

Someone may say that it is impossible to love someone that you fear.

1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.”

It is true that love overwhelms every fear; still, fear of God and love for Him are necessary aspects of godliness.

I believe that fear of God, together with sincere love for Him, results in godly obedience.

ILLUSTRATE: Janet and our relationship: Genuine Fear and Deep Passion. If I break our covenant, my attitude would probably be, “I had rather die than tell her.”

b. MANWARD

Describes one’s horizontal relationship with others.

1 John 4:21, “And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.”

Mark 12:30-31, “‘And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."

The person of godliness seeks the will of God and the welfare of others.

II. KINDNESS 7

A. GOD’S LOVE DEMONSTRATED.

“brotherly kindness” – a love that seeks occasions to reveal kindness. A love by deliberate choice. The fact that we love each other is one evidence that we have been born of God.

John 13:35, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

It is not one who happens upon a need, but sought an occasion to bless someone. A sincere, un-hypocritical love for others; unfeigned.

1 John 4:20, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?”

1 Peter 1:22, “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart.”

This is a virtue that Peter must have acquired the hard way, for the disciples of our Lord often debated and disagreed with one another.

Romans 12:10, “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another.”

1 John 5:1-2, “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments.”

B. GOD’S LOVE DEFINED

“love” – agape; love that the Holy Spirit produces. The kind of love God shows toward sinners.

Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

It is not the fruit of the Christian, but the fruit of the Spirit.