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Sermon - October 19, 2014

Princeton Presbyterian Church (EPC)                                                           Sermon # 1186

October 19, 2014                                                                                            2 Peter 1:1-15

Dr. Ed Pettus

 

“Making Every Effort”

 

            Today I want to simply outline this passage from first Peter and look at it through the themes that it yields.  The first point reveals what God has done for us.  Second, how we respond to what God has done.  Third, two options are present, God’s way or our way.  Fourth, we are encouraged to choose God’s way.  The final point is a reminder to make every effort for God’s way. 

            What God has done, our response, two options, and choose God’s way.

 

Let’s look at each point of the outline in more detail.

 

What God has done for us (2 Peter 1:1-4)

Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith as precious as ours through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: May grace and peace be yours in abundance in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature. 

 

This passage we are working with today deals with building up our faith and our spiritual life by using what God has given us.  The letter begins with the greeting of grace and peace, words loaded with theological meaning, Christian code words, concepts we learn in our knowledge of God and of Jesus.  Grace – the unmerited favor God gives us in Christ, and peace – shalom in the Hebrew, wholeness, contentment, and rest. 

Peter encourages us as he reveals what God has given us already.  God’s divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness.  Just as he greets us with grace and peace in the knowledge of God, now he tells us that we have all we need for life through the knowledge of Jesus.  It is in getting to know Jesus Christ that we come to know more and more of what God has given us.  It’s like receiving a new gift to unwrap every time we learn a new verse of scripture or reflect on what Jesus did in healing someone.  We have been given the gift of faith, given promises that will enable us 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.  This week we heard or read about the mayor of Houston seeking the sermons or speeches or correspondences of Houston ministers.  The decay is getting worse when the government starts coming after our speech.  You might as well subpoena the Bible itself.  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. 

 

What we do in response (2 Peter 1:5-7)

For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love. 

 

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.  2 Peter 4:4 “Thus he has given us…” he has given us more: through knowledge, through grace and peace, through his power, he has given us great promises.  We are not told what those promises are but we are told their purpose.  Through his promises we may escape the corruption of the world.  Through our relationship with God through Christ we are able to avoid all that garbage we see in the world.  Through Jesus – that is the key to Peter’s exhortation.  We know God’s provision, God’s power, God’s promises, only because we have come to know Christ.  And having seen God’s gifts, we can also see the world for what it is – the corruption, the lust, the greed, the deception, and we can flee from the ways of the world.  We do not have to participate in the ways of the world.  1 John tells us more:

 

“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. 

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:

 

  • Goodness – virtue, integrity, honesty
  • 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).
  • Endurance -  Patience, persistence
  • Godliness – Christ-like, holy, righteousness
  • Mutual 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. 

 

Now Peter presents us with two options.

Two options (2 Peter 1:8-9)

For if these things are yours and are increasing among you, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For anyone who lacks these things is short-sighted and blind, and is forgetful of the cleansing of past sins. 

 

God’s way – Option A (2 Peter 1:8) When we make every effort to embrace and practice the qualities shown in goodness, knowledge, endurance, etc., we are promised an effective and fruitful way of life. 

 

Our way – Option B (2 Peter 1:9) If we lack these same qualities then our life is blinded by the temptations of this world.  We might even forget what God has done for us, all those things listed in 2 Peter 1:1-4. 

 

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.

 

Choose Option A (2 Peter 1:10-11)

10 Therefore, brothers and sisters, be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, for if you do this, you will never stumble. 11 For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you.

 

Peter tells us to abandon option B, which takes no effort, and go with option A, which does take effort.

 

Every quality listed here is possible only because Jesus lives in us.  11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, (Titus 2:11-12).

 

We can do it, but it takes some effort!

 

Make Every Effort (2 Peter 1:12-15)

12 Therefore I intend to keep on reminding you of these things, though you know them already and are established in the truth that has come to you. 13 I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to refresh your memory14 since I know that my death will come soon, as indeed our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.

 

            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 your 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.  Amen.