October 27, 2013
1 Peter: Stand firm in God’s grace
Sermon Series: 1 Peter: Stand firm in God’s grace
Message: “Make every effort: on your journey of faith Text: 2 Peter 1:5-11
Introduction: I have been called by my family a ‘professional student.’ I would agree. I love to learn. But, I have always wondered what I can know for certain.
- One school reaches one thing and a second school another and they’re teaching on the same topic.
What do we really know for sure? Truth is, what we once considered true may not be true today, or tomorrow. For example:
- Anyone here worry about your cholesterol? Well, like me, you’ve probably tried to cut out or reduce the amount of cholesterol in what you eat. But now we’re being told that there is ‘good’ cholesterol and ‘bad’ cholesterol, and I don’t know about you but I’m confused. Foods aren’t labeled ‘source of ‘good’ cholesterol’
- How many of you have been using margarine for years because you thought that using butter was about the worst thing you could do? Well, a few years ago scientists found that butter is actually better for you than margarine.
So what are we to believe? I’ll tell you what I will believe.
- I will believe that vanilla ice cream topped with melted peanut butter (thanks Mike) will be the cure for heart disease in the future.
- So I am going to start working on having a healthy heart now, by eating all of it I want. (adapted from Melvin Newland)
Background: But what does this have to do with our text? Quite a lot actually. Peter is writing to a group of mostly gentile Christians who have been infiltrated by what many believe to be Jewish Christians who were adding things, very different things, to the Christian life and doctrine that Peter and the rest of the apostles had not taught.
- Like having to follow the Law of Moses to truly be a mature, growing Christian.
So his readers were questioning what they knew about the Christian life and even if they were really saved.
And that’s not unlike what we often hear from some prominent religious people/churches of our time
- You need to be Baptized by water to be truly saved.
- You need to be baptized by the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues, at least once, if you want to be a truly growing, mature Christian.
Just as Peter was warning about false teachers in his day, the living Word of God still warns us about false teachers in our own day.
So our text this week and next is of particular relevance to you and me because there are two realities we need to be sure of, and we can be sure of them:
- ‘Am I a Christian?
- And if so, ‘Am I growing as a Christian?’
Transition: Open your Bibles to 2 Peter 1:5. For it’s there we will find we are to ‘make every effort’ on our journey of faith.’
- 2 Peter 1:5-7 What effort?
Read: 2 Peter 1:5-7
Some commentators see 2 Peter 1:5-11 talking about knowing whether you are saved or not. And I agree. But, it’s not all about that. Peter’s message in verses 1-4 is that God has placed a great value on knowing Him and his Son, Jesus and it’s through an ever increasing knowledge of the Godhead, that we grow/mature spiritually. Peter implied that knowing Christians are growing Christians.
- And while salvation is a free gift, based on God’s grace alone. While we can’t earn eternal life in Heaven.
- We are responsible for how we live out that salvation here on earth.
Remember last week I said Peters said: God has not only provided us with everything that we need to be granted eternal life in heaven… He gives us everything we need, to live out that life, here on earth, until we are called to heaven.
That means we are to live our life here on earth, in light of eternity. And doing that developed godliness.
So, with that being our context, Peter writes…For this very reason…make every effort.
One of the things that still amazes me about 9/11 was the brave firefighters and first responders who rushed back into the burning twin towers making every effort to save those who were in danger.
Our own Joe V. participated in the ‘Tunnel to Towers Walk’, in September, honoring a fireman who ran with 60lbs of gear, from the Brooklyn Tunnel to ground zero, where he lost his life. That is an example of great effort!
Truth is, around the country, on any given moment, there are brave men/women going to extra-ordinary lengths to try to save the lives of people who are in danger, people they usually don’t even know.
One thing is always true for them …they make every effort to save as many lives as possible.
I wish more Christians had that mindset. But when it comes to living our life with eternity in mind, when it comes to developing godliness, ‘effort’ is often not a word in our vocabulary. Because it’s usually not one of the things we do.
Make every effort. You need to notice that this is a command and not a suggestion. Too many Christians fail to make every effort because they believe they have too many other, more important things, to do with their time… things that demand effort on their part.
Perhaps they are all good and needful things, but they can distract and cause us to give only the effort we think we need to get by as a Christian.
But remember last week we saw that among all the things God has given to us that pertain to life and godliness, He has given us His promises. Here’s one that relates: But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33, ESV)
Every Christian here this morning knows that verse and has recited it, read it or sang it many times. But, do you actually believe it? You can tell by the priority they place on following Jesus in their life.
To make every effort here means
- For the Christian to be totally dedicated in an effort to deepen their knowledge of God the Father and His Son, Jesus.
- For the Christian to pull out all the stops in order to continually develop spiritual growth and maturity.
But instead, we are happy with what we think is just doing the minimum daily requirement for Christianity. (I don’t even know where to find what that is.)
The result is, instead of being committed followers of Jesus Christ, too many Christians live a life of mediocrity.
ILL: Pastor and educator Howard Hendricks once said, ‘I’ve never met a Christian who planned to have a mediocre life, but I’ve met plenty of mediocre Christians.’ (Jeff Strite)
Peter calls us to a life of godliness, not mediocrity.
How do we develop godliness? We learned that last week…by taking advantage of, as verse 3 says His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him… What are some of the things God has provided to know Him better, to develop godliness??
- His Word: We need to be reading and studying it.
- His Church: We need to gather together regularly for worship.
- His Servants: We need to sit under those teachers God has provided to help us learn more about God through Bible study and small groups.
- His Children: We need fellowship with other Christians who are struggling just like we are and who are having victories, just like we want to.
These are the all things God has provided for us for life and godliness. And they all have their base in getting to know God the Father and His Son, Jesus better, deeper.
Mediocre Christians…are those who are not taking advantage of all that God has provided to them for life and godliness.
Peter saw this happening in his time and understood that it will be a constant curse on the Church if the Christian does not make every effort to
- Be a growing Christian,
- who lives today in light of eternity,
- who is gaining a deeper knowledge of God the Father and Jesus His son…
- and who knows that he/she is truly saved.
So, Peter writes, Make every effort to supplement your faith. Supplement is an interesting word in the Greek. It is the word epichorego and it gives a very specific picture.
- In Greek drama the plays were put on by the combined effort of a poet (who wrote the script); the state (which provided the theater); and a wealthy individual called a choregos, (who paid the expenses which
were very often quite costly).
In Peter’s view,
- God has written in the blood of Jesus the script for a Christian life;
- the world is the theater where it is played out;
- but the believer must cooperate by making every effort to make the script come alive through their life. (Steve Cole)
Peter’s point here is this. It is just not enough to have faith in God through Jesus Christ. In other words,
- It’s just not enough to have eternal fire insurance,
- It’s just not enough to live your life as a Christian with the single focus being that you’re saved.
That’s not what it means to live today with eternity in mind.
Faith never stands alone. Remember what James wrote: Faith without works is a dead faith. (James 2:17)
Real, living faith in Jesus results in a changed life that displays specific attributes, characteristics and behaviors, that show that the Christian is deepening his knowledge of God the Father and His Son Jesus, and that they are growing, maturing followers of Jesus Christ.
- Are you making every effort to grow in Christ?
- Are you making every effort to take advantage of all that God has provided you for life and godliness?
- Do you wrestle with the areas in your life that you need to grow in?
Bottom line, you won’t grow spiritually, you won’t develop godliness, if you don’t deliberately work at it.
OK, where should you focus?
What are the specific attributes, characteristics, and behaviors, that show that you are deepening your knowledge of God the Father and His Son Jesus, and that you are growing, maturing as a follower of Jesus Christ?
Make every effort to supplement your faith:
It begins with faith! Without faith in Jesus Christ, you are not a Christian. Faith in what, specifically?
- Faith, that Jesus is God.
- Faith that Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life here on earth. A life of perfect obedience to God the Father.
- Faith that Jesus died on the cross to pay for your sin, to give you forgiveness for your disobedience to God the Father.
- Faith that God raised Jesus from the Dead.
- Faith that God will grant you eternity in Heaven when you place your faith in Jesus as your Savior and Lord.
Faith, is only the starting line for the Christian life…we still have a race to run. And we must be deliberate about how we run it.
So, to our faith in Jesus, there are attributes, characteristics, and behaviors, that show
- that you are faithfully running the race of the Christian life,
- that you are developing a greater knowledge of God the Father and His Son Jesus,
- and that you are growing, maturing as a follower of Jesus Christ.
To find out what they are….you’ll have to come back next week.
Peter’s message is one of desperation, of utmost importance. People were falling away from their faith. Why? Because they failed to make every effort in their Christian journey. They ended up thinking that the demands of following Jesus were just too great. God was just asking too much of them.
- Perhaps you feel the same way.
- Perhaps your commitment level to Jesus is not what you know it should be.
- Perhaps you feel you are just too over extended in your ‘life’ to actually live your life for Jesus.
If this is you, then listen once again to Peters words: His divine power has granted to you all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called you to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to you His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:3–4a, ESV)
Christian, God has given to you everything you need to prioritize your ‘life’ and all the things in it, so that you can live in light of eternity and develop godliness.
It’s not a matter of better time management. It’s a matter of commitment, radical commitment to following Jesus in your life. To making the things that are important to Him important to you. And holding on to His promise that if you seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, …all these things will be added to you.
Christian do you want that? I’m not asking if you think you can actually do that, I’m asking do you want that for your life?
- That’s where you start.
- Then you ask God to pour upon you His promised grace and peace, in abundance, to help you make every effort to live for Him.
- Finally, you begin to take advantage of everything that God has provided for you to live life with eternity in mind and to develop godliness.
Make every effort on your journey of faith…and you’ll find yourself a knowing Christian, who is a growing Christian.