************ Sermon on 2 Peter 1:5-7 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on August 30, 2020
2 Peter 1:5-11
2 Peter 1:5-7
"Add to Your Faith"
We are facing a paradox this morning, a seeming contradiction. Verse 3, which we looked at a couple of weeks ago, says we have everything we need in Christ. Now verse 5 tells us to add to it. How can you add to everything? We are complete in Christ and yet we have to do everything we can to follow Him. This is the same as what Paul writes:
(Phil 2:12-13) ... continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, (13) for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.What God put in, says Paul, you have to work out.
This is so contrary to what is popular among many Christians today. Popular Christianity says, "Let go and let God." "Relax, lay back, and let God do it." That's not what the Bible teaches. That's not what Peter says. The heavenly Father and His child work together. Our spirit cooperates with the Spirit.
Peter is writing to Christians who are being confused and attacked by false teachers and false prophets. What do Christians need to defend themselves with? They need knowledge, true knowledge. What knowledge? They need to know about Salvation, Scripture, Satan, and Sanctification. Satan has a hard time attacking those who know these four things.
We need to know about salvation. That's what we have been looking at so far. First, we looked at the source of salvation: it is ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. Second, we looked at the sufficiency of salvation: God has given us everything we need for life and godliness. Third, we looked at the promise of salvation: the great and precious promise that through Christ we participate in the divine nature. Today, we look at the confidence of salvation.
"For this very reason," writes Peter. For what reason? Because of everything we have just said about salvation.
I Make Every Effort to Add to Your Faith
A "For this very reason, make every effort ..." Every effort. That's a strong word in the Greek. It means do one’s best, try as hard as possible, apply all diligence, make maximum effort. The word is used for someone who is in a hurry. Peter is saying that alongside what God has done, we are to apply zealous, eager, hurried effort. No half-hearted effort. No on-again, off-again effort. Rather it is to be whole-hearted, zealous effort.
B "For this very reason, make every effort to add ..." The word translated "add" really means "to supply generously, to give lavishly." The Greeks used it for any type of equipping. It can mean to equip an army with all the necessary provisions and supplies. It can mean to equip a school with books and paper and pens. It can mean to equip a hospital with medicines, bedding, pans. And, it can mean to equip the soul with all the necessary and wonderful qualities found in our text. Don't fall for the nonsense of "let go and let God." Make every effort to add lavishly.
C "For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith ..." Add to what? Add to your faith. Faith is the starting point. Think of faith as a garden. What do you do with a garden? You plant seeds. You grow crops. Faith is the soil into which the qualities of our text are planted. So, add to your faith. Add to what you believe about Christ and His work of salvation. In the Christian life, it is not enough simply to believe in Jesus. You need to add to this. Something needs to grow and blossom and produce fruit.
D "For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith ..." Remember why Peter is saying this? To give us the confidence of salvation. With the fruit of salvation in our life we are able to fight Satan and his false teachers and false prophets. Those who make effort to build upon what God has given them in Christ are sure of where they stand in the Lord. Satan comes along and wants us to doubt. Satan comes along and accuses us of being hypocrites. Satan comes along and makes us question our God and our salvation. Satan and his false teacher and false prophets want to make us full of misery, sin, and doubt. They want us to be without joy, without hope, without God, without prayer, and without worship. The answer, the antidote? Here it is: "make every effort to add to your faith ..." Do everything we can possibly do to add to what Christ has done, that we might experience certainty.
II The Qualities to be Added
A What does a believer need to add to what Christ has done to have the full assurance of salvation? What does a believer need to add to the soil of faith? Seven qualities are to be pursued. Vigorously pursued. Let's look at them, one at a time.
The first quality: goodness. The word can also be translated as "moral excellence, virtue." Among the Greeks, it meant something fulfilled its purpose. The land that produces crops is excellent because it is fulfilling its purpose. The knife that correctly cuts is excellent because it is doing what a knife is supposed to do. A horse that runs strong and fast is excellent. A soldier who acts with courage is excellent.
Now, apply this to the Christian. By goodness and moral excellence the Christian fulfills their God-given purpose in life of living for God. This shows they are doing what they are supposed to be doing.
Let me ask you a simple question: Where do you find the model of moral excellence? Where do you find the model for goodness and virtue? Go back to verse 3. There the word is used for God. God sets the example for goodness, for moral excellence. In this life and on this earth and in this body the model for goodness, for moral excellence, is the Lord Jesus Christ. So Peter is calling believers to be like Christ. Any believer who lives a Christ-like life shows goodness, moral excellence, because he or she is doing what they are supposed to be doing.
B The second quality to be planted upon the soil of faith: knowledge. Full knowledge. Knowledge that is growing. Spiritual insight. Minds illuminated with the truth. This kind of knowledge does not come automatically. Rather, it comes through a diligent study of and pursuit of God's Word. That means devotions, Bible Study, faithful attendance at worship where we hear the Word preached. It even means things like reading the Catechism and the other Confessions of the church.
It is amazing the number of Christians who spend little time with the Word of God. You can't expect to grow upon the soil of faith apart from the Word.
C The third quality to be planted upon the soil of faith: self-control. Proverbs speaks to this:
(Prov 16:32) Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.Have you ever seen a child just lose it? I saw it at Costco Gasoline this past week: screaming, screeching, while the helpless father calmly filled up with gas. Have you ever seen a grown-up throw a temper tantrum? Swearing, yelling, insulting, rude. This isn't child-like; rather, it is childish. No self-control.
(Prov 25:28) Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.
In Peter's day this word was used for athletes. Athletes need self-control, self-restraint, self-discipline. They beat their body into submission. They abstain from unhealthy food and wine. They control the flesh, its passions, its desires, rather than being controlled by them.
D The fourth quality to be planted upon the soil of faith: perseverance. Endurance, stedfastness, never giving up. Negatively, it means never giving in to sin, temptation, trials, grief, suffering, difficulty. Positively, it means always doing what is right, always continuing in faith, always striving for holiness. I can't think of endurance without thinking of the world's toughest race: the Eco-Challenge Fiji. For 11 days 66 teams race non-stop, 24 hours a day, across 417 miles of rugged back-country terrain complete with mountains, jungles and oceans. There's white- water rafting on a raft they construct, lengthy swims down hypothermia-inducing rivers, bike courses on barely marked muddy trails, climbing up a cliff. It takes perseverance to finish this race.
E The fifth quality to be planted upon the soil of faith: godliness. A better translation is reverence, piety. In other words, true worship. Someone with this quality worships and adores the one true God with passion, zeal, eagerness, devotion. Someone with this quality gives God His rightful place and worships God as He ought to be worshiped. Its opposite is idolatry. Idolaters, like the prophets and priests of Baal, might do this with passion, zeal, eagerness, devotion. But it is all wrong because idolatry gives to an idol what belongs to God alone.
There are those who think worship cannot happen without a building, stained glass windows, and organ music. That is not what Peter has in mind. Rather, it is worship done in spirit and in truth.
F The sixth quality to be planted upon the soil of faith: brotherly kindness, how we treat one another as believers. You all know the Greek word, the name of one of our great American cities: Philadelphia. The city of brotherly love. Peter must have found this quality to be very hard to put into practice, for the disciples of our Lord often debated and disagreed with one another. Brotherly kindness was not shown this past week by the man who stole Ruth's bike. We need to ask if we show brotherly kindness to those with whom we disagree about COVID-19.
G The seventh quality to be planted upon the soil of faith: love. How is this different from brotherly kindness? The Greek word you all know: agape. The sacrificial, selfless love especially shown by Jesus. It is agape love that made Him take on our flesh. It is agape love that made Him suffer during His whole life on earth, especially at the end. It is agape love that brought Him to Pilate's court-room. It is agape love that nailed Him to the cross. It is agape love that made Him forsaken by God. It is agape love that put His body in the grave. This is a love that chooses to love. It is not based upon emotion but upon will. He chose all of this. He wasn't a victim. This love was the purpose of His life and death. We are to have sacrificial, selfless love like Jesus.
We have everything we need in Christ. Yet, with maximum effort upon the soil of faith we are to plant goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love.
Why do we want to pursue these qualities? To give us the confidence of salvation. With the fruit of salvation in our life we are able to fight Satan and his false teachers and false prophets. For when these false teachers come along, we realize they have nothing to offer us:
-in place of goodness, they offer immorality
-in place of knowledge, they offer blindness
-in place of self-control, they offer promiscuity
-in place of perseverance, they offer apathy
-in place of godliness, they offer irreverence
-in place of brotherly love, they offer resentment
-in place of agape love, they offer lust
God wants you to know you are saved. He wants you to have assurance as you face the attacks of the evil one. God doesn't want you to be miserable and doubting. God wants you to be joyful and confident. God doesn't want you to question whether you will make it to haven. God wants you know beyond a shadow of doubt. God wants you to live by hope. And, the way to experience this is NOT to let go and let God. Rather, the way to experience this is to pursue the qualities mentioned by Peter.
"For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith ..."
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