ADDING TO OUR FAITH (2Peter 1:-11) Oct. 3, 2021
2Peter tells us about the lesson of Jesus' 2nd coming as I mentioned in the message last Sunday. We learned that God is patient with us men for salvation. God, who is good, wants all to turn away from their sins and believe. To believe in Jesus is to make him center of our lives, worship and service. It is also to become the witness of Jesus. As Jesus' witness, we should live a godly lives in this last days, waiting for Jesus' 2nd coming. Amen!
Today's passage encourages us to know Christ much more. In v.1, we see the writer, apostle Peter sends of this letter to those who believe in Jesus, so became righteous already. According to 1Pet.1:1, the recipients are God's chosen people who live as refugees scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. So we are able to know that the recipient of this letter is all the believers including us here. Amen!
Well, apostle Peter asks us believers to know Christ more in v.2 and 3. In v.8, he says that we shouldn't be lazy to know Christ. Actually, the main idea of this book is the last verse 2Pet.3:18. "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." Therefore, we must know Jesus more, living in this last days. Let's say, 'Amen!' What benefit is there? And how can we do that?
1. All things are in Christ
V.2 says that when we know Jesus more, there is more grace and peace. Let's read the verse together! "Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord." According to the verse, the more we know Jesus, the more we will enjoy grace and peace. Then how important is to know Christ continuously? V.3 says, "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called by his own glory and goodness." It says that God has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of Jesus. Isn't it amazing? All the man-made religions teach us that we should do good deeds to have good results and future. But God's divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness. Then shouldn't we know Jesus more and more? If not, we cannot enjoy such precious things.
See v.4! We believers are those who participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. The verse tells us about the importance of spiritual growth through participating in the God's divine nature, doesn't it? This is why the Bible teaches us that we should continue to grow up in spirit, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ (Eph.4:13). Amen!
Therefore, to know Jesus more should be our life's goal because there are all things in Christ and it brings us spiritual growth. Amen! The word 'to grow' is 'auksano' in Greek which means to increase (multiply). So when we grow up in spirit and become mature Christian, our church will become very strong, so can extend the kingdom of God. Amen!
2. Responsibility for growth
Next, for spiritual growth, apostle Peter encourages us to participate in God's nature in v.5-7. The Christian virtues we should add to our faith are goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection, and love. We know the truth that we are saved by faith, not by any of our effort. By the way, we are asked to make every effort to add such Christian virtues to our faith. What does that mean?
V.4 gives us the answer. When we accept Jesus into our lives, we are given life and participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. In other words, we can be saved by faith. By the way faith is to grow up in spirit and to imitate on Jesus who called us. This is why we should make every effort to add Christian virtues to our faith. Amen!
In v.5-7, there are seven Christian virtues we should add to our faith. First, faith is the source of all the virtues. Without faith we cannot connect with God. By the way goodness helps our faith. The word goodness is 'arete' in Greek which points out executive ability. If there is no goodness in our spiritual lives, there is no life (vitality) in faith. And there should be knowledge to goodness in v.6. Knowledge here points out the knowledge about God. Although we have the ability to execute goodness, it should be based on the word of the truth, so we need knowledge. Amen! We need also self-control when we try to know Christ more for we cannot know God unlimitedly.
For self-control, we need also perseverance and v.6 says that we should add godliness to perseverance. And v.7 says to godliness, brotherly kindness. Actually godliness comes from loving others (1Jn.4:20). It's because when we love others, our godliness (piety) is strengthened (Jm.3:9). And to brotherly kindness, we should add love. Here 'love' is 'agape' which means unconditional, sacrificial love, even loving enemy. Through these Christian characters we are fruitful and learn the love of God experientially. Amen!
V.11 says when we practise these things, God will open wide the gates of heaven for us to enter into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Hallelujah! Of course, we can be saved by faith, in other words, we can go to heaven just by faith. However, when we add such Christian virtues to our faith, our faith is getting completed.
The reason apostle Peter emphasizes spiritual growth in this chapter is because anti-christs and false teachers were so active at that time. They disturbed the church members' faith. Besides, there was a severe persecution in the time of Roman Emperor, Nero. So Peter encourages the believers to keep their faith and learn the character in order to live as Jesus' witness in such difficult time.
Bro. and sis., we are also living in this difficult pandemic time. COVID 19 problem is still threatening. Then shouldn't we also strengthen our faith more rather remaining weak? Actually, we believers are responsible for bearing fruit of faith because it is the reason we've been called by God (Jn.15:16). And it's available by knowing Christ more, so v.8 says that we shouldn't be lazy in knowing Christ in our lives.
Let us see our yearly theme placard! "Jesus, our Hope!" For our spiritual growth, we should remember four things. First is daily Q.T., in other words, daily fellowship with the Lord by reading the Bible and by prayer. To have the fellowship with the Lord is very important. How can we live our spiritual lives unless we have the fellowship with the Lord? Next is worship. If we miss Sunday service, our faith cannot be built. To grow up in spirit, we need also follow up by church. If we practise this elements in our spiritual lives, there will be mission work Ammi church seeks for.
Besides, we are asked to make all our efforts to add Christian virtues to our faith in today's passage. Mostly, Christian character is trained through the hardships in life. We know the case of Joseph in Genesis. He was sold to Egypt by his brothers at the age of seventeen and became a slave of Potiphar, one of king Pharaoh's officials, the captain of the guard. Even one day he went to prison to avoid the temptation of Potiphar's wife.
David also suffered a lot, especially to avoid king Saul. But he's never revenged against king Saul and just waited for God. God exalted him to be king of Israel and said, "I have found that David son of Jesse is the kind of man I like, a man who will do all I want him to." (Acts 13:22) We must also endure all the hardships we face like Joseph or David and improve Christian Amen!
See a tree here! It had withered and nearly died you know. By the way pastor Abraham put it out so that the tree may receive light, rain and wind. Then the tree came back to life in such a healthy way. Like this tree, we shouldn't give up our faith and improve Christian character in times of trouble. Amen!
If we do not care of spiritual growth, what will happen? Let me show a baby picture here. Why was the baby crying? He cried out just for a piece of cookie. When he took it, he stopped crying immediately. Some members look like baby Christian. They say, "Today, I am tired. I don't want to go to church." or "It's rainy today. I will go to church next Sunday." And some members say, "I won't attend church until Covid 19 is finished."
Some other members complain by saying, "Nowadays, pastor doesn't give me a call. Pastor has no concern for me anymore." But when pastor call him, he doesn't receive the call saying, "Oh, pastor's call! Maybe he will rebuke me. I don't want to receive it." These are all baby Christian styles. Baby is cute even when he cries as we saw the film, but baby Christians are not.
Bro. and sis., you believe in Jesus, don't you? Then let's examine our faith whether it is true or not. The characteristic of true faith is spiritual growth for he(she) has the life Jesus has given. The book of 2Peter tells us about the lesson of Jesus' 2nd coming and the main idea is spiritual growth in the last verse 3:18. Therefore, God's will toward us is definitely to grow up in spirit, living in this last days. Amen!
For the sake of this, we should add Christian virtues to our faith. Let's all make every efforts to do so after this! Amen! Let there be bearing fruit in our spiritual lives by doing so. Then God will open wide the gates of heaven for us to enter into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen!