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Sermon November 4, 2018

Princeton Presbyterian Church (EPC) Sermon # 1373

November 4, 2018 2 Peter 1:3-11

Rev. Dr. Ed Pettus

(This is an extended outline, not a verbatim transcript.)

 

By His Divine Power”

 

 

I’ve been a Christian for roughly 40 years of my nearly 59 years. I’ve read a lot of Scripture over those years. At the very beginning it was like being a sponge soaking up the living waters of things I knew nothing about or of which I had distorted views. Over time I have read for growth, for information, for deep critical study, for preaching and teaching, for devotion, and for transformation. There has always been something pushing that reading, giving energy to it, and I could not always give voice to that energy or conviction. There are many places where the Bible speaks to our desire to know and love God and know and love His Word. I can only explain it by affirming the divine power of God through the Holy Spirit. Today we take a look at 2 Peter, one of the texts that reveals this power of God to lead us to participate in His divine nature.

 

  • God’s Divine Power

 

3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature,

 

When we read the first part of verse 3 we cannot help but be thankful to God for what God has done for us. It is by God’s divine power that we have everything we need for life and godliness. What we need for life is the same as what we need for godliness, that is, Jesus Christ. We needed salvation. We needed to be made right with God, to be justified by His death and resurrection. We continue to grow right with God in sanctification as the Holy Spirit and the Word leads us to greater godliness. And one day, because of the promises of God, we will share in Christ’s glory. All of this and more is granted by God. It is all a gift for which we are grateful and by which we live.

We know all this also because of the knowledge we have been given by God. He has written His word in our hearts. He has graced us with the knowledge and faith in Jesus Christ. This is done by the power of God. This power is God’s strength and ability to produce and effect His purposes. Interestingly it is the Greek word dunamis from which we get dynamite. That is the power of God which provides us life and godliness, knowledge and a call to glory and excellence. It is the power in God’s promises that also enables us to escape the corruption of the world and to share in the divine nature of God.

 

  • Partakers of Divine Nature

 

he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

 

What God has given by His divine power enables us to take part in God’s divine nature. Imagine that, we take part in God’s very life, in His character, in who God is. It also means that we are able to escape the corruption of this world. The word that Peter uses to talk about the corruption in the world is a word that denotes internal decay. In essence the world and its ways are rotting away, but we can escape that decay by participating in God’s will – God’s divine nature. Peter saw this decay in his time, some 2,000 years ago; I cannot imagine what he would think about the world today! We can certainly see it now. I could stand here every week and list the signs of decay in the world. Not in the decay of the earth, but the world, the moral fiber, the consciousness of society and culture, the things of the world like desire, lust, pride, and so forth. Because things are in such decay and corruption, we have all the more reason to be reminded of all that Peter and the entire Bible reveal about Jesus and ourselves and the world.

 

We may now participate in the divine nature. We are participants in the kingdom of God. We become children of God who play in a different kind of playground. We are citizens of heaven and a part of the priesthood of all believers. God has invited us into a new reality, a reality we discover, a reality revealed to us as we read and study the Bible, by getting to know Jesus Christ, by keeping the Lord always before us, by serving the Lord. God has invited us into this realm and said: “Make yourself at home, you have everything you need right here.” We have been asked to participate in the life of God. This is a life that does not decay, but lives forever. Being participants in the divine nature means that we share with God in his glory.

 

So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, 3for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ who is your* life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory” (Colossians 3:1-4).

 

God has given faith, grace and peace, in the knowledge of Jesus. His power grants us everything we need for our life and for our walk of faith. He has given us promises that enable us to escape the corruption of this world and, most of all, to participate in the divine nature.

 

 

  • Our Faithful Effort

 

5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith...

 

We respond by giving thanks, but also to make every effort to grow. God gives us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of Christ. Our response? Thank you, God, for these gifts, for this word, for that teaching, for this work, for that call. Thank you. And the more we give thanks, the more gifts that come. But we do have work to do. We make an effort to build upon what God has already done. Yet, even our effort is God’s gift. When we come to know Jesus Christ we want to know more. We want to have this living water. We want the bread of life. We want the Word that tastes sweeter than honey. We also want to avoid that corruption that plagues the world. So John tells us in 1 John 2,

 

Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; 16for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live for ever” (2:15-17).

 

As Paul tells us to seek the things that are above so too does Peter tell us to do something. Verse 5 begins with this phrase: “For this very reason…” For what reason? Because God has given us everything we need, because we have knowledge in Jesus Christ, because we have received promises, because we are now participants in the divine nature, for all these reasons…make every effort to support your faith. Make every effort. Grace is not opposed to effort. Grace is opposed to earning, thinking that we can earn our salvation, but not opposed to the effort to grow in Christ since we have already been given everything we need in Christ. Peter tells us to make every effort, every effort to support our faith. Work at it, give it energy, time, devotion, love, discipline, obedience. This is no insignificant matter, but our very life, because Christ is our life.

The same was said about God’s word when Israel was preparing to go into the promised land:

45When Moses had finished reciting all these words to all Israel, 46he said to them: ‘Take to heart all the words that I am giving in witness against you today; give them as a command to your children, so that they may diligently observe all the words of this law. 47This is no trifling matter for you, but rather your very life; through it you may live long in the land that you are crossing over the Jordan to possess’ (Deuteronomy 32:45-47).

 

God’s word helps us to fulfill the word from Peter to make the effort to support our faith. We read and study God’s word that we might grow in Christ, know Christ, and know what it means to be participates in the divine nature.

 

 

  • Qualities of the Christian Life

 

supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 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.

 

Eugene Peterson says it this way: “So don't lose a minute in building on what you've been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others” (The Message, 2 Peter 1). Let me make a few quick comments on each of these qualities:

Faith is to lead us to...

  • Virtue – goodness, integrity, honesty, and moral character

  • Knowledge – notice all the uses of knowledge in this passage, knowledge of God in Christ (2, 3, 8), knowledge of these qualities of life (12).

  • Self-control – not just our own efforts to control our selves, but fully reliant on the work of the Holy Spirit within us to be controlled. Our control is not our own, but also a gift of God. “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Cor. 5:14-15 ESV).

  • Steadfastness - Patience, persistence, endurance

  • Godliness – Christ-like, holy, righteousness

  • Brotherly affection – care for one another, compassion

  • Love – faith, hope, and love, the greatest of these is love (1 Cor. 13), above all – clothe yourselves with love (Col. 3:14)

 

These are the qualities of the Christian life. This is how we conduct ourselves as a way of life. These attributes are linked together like a chain. They build upon one another and are linked together to make a certain quality of life and faith. It begins in faith and ends with love.

 

  • Remember the Good News of Forgiveness

 

9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

Now, if anyone does not have the qualities of the Christian life given in these verses, then they show themselves to be blind and with amnesia. If we make this effort then we will be in good shape…as Peter puts it: we will be effective and fruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if we make no effort and we lack these things, then we are short sighted and blind and forgetful of what God has done and provided for us. What I think we tend to do is to think that God is just going to drop every insight into our lap, but what we find is that with no effort to see, we become more blinded by the deception of the world. Our effort in faith is to grow in the knowledge of Christ until our eyes are opened to see the truth – much like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus on Easter Sunday. Their eyes were opened and they recognized Jesus as the risen Lord.

 

 

We have not been invited to sit down and watch but to live in obedience to God’s word, building our faith, making the effort! One of my favorite scenes from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies is the two pirates in the row boat and one is supposedly reading the Bible but he cannot read, so his response to the other pirate who points this out is that you get credit for trying. Make the effort!

 

Desire and effort get us on the journey as participants in the divine nature. Obedience leads us into the transformation we seek and that transformation in turn makes us more obedient. But it takes desire and effort to become the obedient followers of Jesus.

 

We have been chosen to participate in the life of God, in the kingdom of God. Make that call and election sure by building up our faith. We like to be selected, picked to play on the team, and God has chosen us to be his own. God has chosen us to come to know Jesus Christ his Son, personally and intimately, not just a knowledge for the head, but a knowing in the heart and soul. We are not just after information about Jesus, but transformation in Christ. We are participants in the divine drama, in the kingdom, in the story of God’s people today. Let us make every effort to support our faith: in prayer, in scripture study, in worship, in love, in peace and grace, in every way we can imagine to actively participate in the life God has given us in Christ Jesus our Lord. Receive God’s gift as a participant in the divine nature by the power of God. Amen.