THE BELIEVERS EXHORTATION TO SPIRITUAL MATURITY
2 Peter 8-11
Effectiveness and fruitfulness! Isn’t that the kind of Christian life you want? The answer to that is that it should be. I say that because……If you are content to sit still in your faith, thinking you know Jesus and aren’t going to hell, and so that’s good enough, and let’s get on with life according to my own plans what Peter says to us this morning is for you. And on top of that I would urge you to consider whether you really know Jesus. To put it simply, the reason many Christians are struggling is because they have a wrong view of Biblical Christianity and of God. Paul Tripp wrote in his book “How People Change” wrote about this issue being ineffective as God’s children. “It is in the here and now that many of us experience a gospel blindness. Our sight is dimmed by the tyranny of the urgent, by the siren call of success, by the seductive beauty of physical things, by our inability to admit our own problems, and by the casual relationships within the body of Christ that we mistakenly call fellowship. This blindness is often encouraged by preaching that fails to take the gospel to the specific challenges people face. People need to see that the gospel belongs in their workplace, their kitchen, their school, their bedroom, their backyard, and their van. They need to see the way the gospel makes a connection between what they are doing and what God is doing. They need to understand that their life stories are being lived out within God’s larger story so that they can learn to live each day with a gospel mentality.”
Why are so many of us ineffective
in our Christian life.
Johnny Cash once sang, “You’re so heavenly minded (that) you’re no earthly good…,” Well the obvious reason is…They are prone to laziness and they easily tolerate their own sin; but not the sins of others. And this produces as Peter says “ineffective or unfruitful” (v8) In other words as they wait for Christ to return, they produce no earthly good for kingdom building. What is spiritually ineffective or useless? Is not producing an intended effect; not capable of performing efficiently or as expected, an improper gospel witness. These, describe someone who is inoperable, unserviceable, or even a trouble maker. “Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not.” 1 Tim 5:13. What is spiritually unfruitful? “Barren”, sometimes used in connection with unbelief or apostasy, does not identify with the true knowledge of God. Example of this is when Paul warned about the unfruitful deeds of darkness. “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” Eph 5:11. Jude describes unfruitful deeds and apostates as this, “fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted;” Jude 10. Jesus gives a description and explains what a superficial believer is in the parable of the soils. “Hear then the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty." Matt 13:18
What are some ways we as Christians can be ineffective? Because Peter is addressing true believers “therefore brothers” (v10) Do we really pray as we should, privately (in our closets) and corporately (as a congregation)? Do we study God’s Word as we ought? (Outside of Wednesday night and Sunday). Do we fellowship the way God intended us to do, as a family? (This includes throughout the week). Do we serve to point of exhaustion in the church? (I would we say we don’t) Truly do we do these things in accordance with the nature that God has given us for life and godliness? Many in the church live their lives this way, because unfruitfulness and infectiveness begins when…..
We Be like the world….To be ineffective you must blend in! Forget all that talk about “being set apart” or “being holy for I am holy.” We say we “Love Jesus” but we also want to fit in with the rest of this world. But what did John say? “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.” 1 John 2:15-16
We Are Constantly Self- Centered….. It’s all about you and no one else. True love demands selfless care and concern for others and that is way too effective. Remember what Jesus said in his parable about the Good Samaritan. ( Luke 10:25-37). This involves great risk, great cost, and great sacrifice. None of which are compatible with self-centeredness. The gospel confession says, “You must deny yourself and pick up your cross, because it not about you, so stop focusing all your attention on self.”
We Become Spiritually Shallow….. The Bible is a very dangerous book. In order that you remain highly ineffective it is a good idea to avoid it. To be spiritually shallow you must avoid the Bible, Prayer and sweet fellowship of the saints. And sadly you will treat God as a cosmic vending machine and not as your heavenly Father.
We Tend To Be The Coward…… What is a coward? Fearful, someone who doesn’t want to grow up. But, throughout the centuries people who have been jailed, mocked, scorned and even killed have stood as a testimony for others to follow, not retreat! An example is when Peter and John were standing before the Council. “And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, "We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us." But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him." Act 5:27-32
These men we not cowards because we read a little further on, “and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.” Acts 5:40-42
We Tend To Be Content With Being Unexceptional….. What do I mean? Being ordinary or moderate quality; just satisfactory; inferior; meager. In other words! Just doing the bare minimum, doing only what is required. Mediocre in your Christian life is the only way to have enough time to make yourself a priority. It’s the only way to keep your Christian walk easy and effortless. Excellence is way too effective and hard.
See! Peter wants to be firm in our assurance and to know God and to be fruitful and effective witnesses of His amazing grace. Why? The more we be like His Son, the less we will be like our former self, who desired what this corrupt world had to offer. The more we know God, the more fruitful and godly we are, not for boasting or salvation purposes but for genuine service and genuine worship. The downside is the less we know according to Peter, “You are, or will become nearsighted” (v9)
“Nearsighted” means “unable to discern your spiritual condition.” Some blind believers fail to look back on their conversion, when God purified them from their sin. They become like Isaiah wrote, “We grope for the wall like the blind; we grope like those who have no eyes; we stumble at noon as in the twilight, among those in full vigor we are like dead men.” Isaiah 59:10. Shortsighted believers cannot look far enough ahead to see the coming of Christ. So, they focus on the present life and living for themselves and this makes them ineffective; and so, they squander the provisions God has given them. As John wrote about the church of Laodicea, “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” Rev 3:17
Our spiritual maturity is to “make certain about His calling and choosing.” (v10) The believer who is not experiencing an increase in the natures of God will forfeit assurance. “Having forgot his purification from his former sins.” It’s this forgetfulness that makes him or her unable to have confidence that they were cleansed and rescued from their former life. Being nearsighted robs you of the present grace and blessings of the assurance we have in Christ. As Peter reminded you in his first letter, “since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;” 1 Peter 1:23
This is a call to live out, demonstrate the reality of our salvation. It is so important we saturate our lives into the Scriptures to remind us of this reality, so that we don’t become nearsighted and unfruitful. Because if not, we will forget what we have been saved from, and by who. This is why Peter says “be all the diligent” Spiritually speaking, so as to know and enjoy the reality of this great salvation we have in His Son. Peter reveals here that we don’t engage in these things to earn salvation, that’s already ours by grace through faith.
Peter gives us the results; he shows us what will result from our diligent action of adding to our faith the above qualities. The result in a twofold promise. We Will Be Fruitful In The True Knowledge Of Our Lord Jesus Christ. (V8) Our knowledge grows deeper in the heart and not just our minds. The whole Scriptures are what make us a whole Christian as A W Tozer said, “The Word of God well understood and religiously obeyed is the shortest route to spiritual perfection. And we must not select a few favorite passages to the exclusion of others. Nothing less than a whole Bible can make a whole Christian.” We Will Have A Greater Remembrance Of What Christ
Did For Us. We Will Gain An Assurance Of Our Salvation. (V10) “Calling and election” are inseparable realities indicating God’s effectual call of believer’s to salvation. This is to comfort the believer, God will never revoke His calling on His adopted son or daughter. ”For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” Rom 11:29
2 Tim 1:8-9 says, “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,”
Acts 2:37-39 we read about God’s efficacious calling through the power of the gospel. “Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself." Other examples: Acts 17:30, Rom 8:29, 1 Peter 1:1-5 to name a few of many in the Scriptures.
I say all by remembrance….. God’s knows who are His and I know who called me through the hearing of the gospel and my broken response through repentance and faith. This is why Peter says, “To make certain” this is a legal confirmation. This doesn’t mean that we must do these things to secure our salvation or guarantee our places in heaven. This is a passionate appeal to live out our calling, to demonstrate the reality of our salvation. This affirms your confession by doing the very things God has called you and me to do. (v10) says “practice these qualities you will never fall” What Peter is saying here is that, “You will never stumble into doubt, despair or fear in this efficacious calling of God.” As Paul said so boldly in his suffering, “For which cause I suffer also these things: yet I am not ashamed; for I know him whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to guard that which I have committed unto him against that day.” 2 Tim 1:12
It’s this confirmation we diligently put into practice. Why? This allows you and me to live the abundant life with confidence by enjoying an abundant and productive spirituals life. As David said, “I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:8-11
As Paul said our hearts have seen and tasted the riches of His grace though our efficacious calling. “having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might…” Eph 1:18-19
If we are diligent to practice these qualities, the nature of God, we will never stumble as those who have no hope. We will no longer be plagued with discouragement, doubts, and despair; we diligently seek after this practice. “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” 1 Tim 6:17. As the Westminster Confession asks. What is the chief end of man? Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.
Effectiveness and fruitfulness! Isn’t that the kind of Christian life you want? The answer to that is that it should be, it affirms and assures our place in Him. We want to be fruitful and have effective testimonies for others to witness Christ’s full grace.. given to sinners. The alternative is what? As Paul wrote, “If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” 1 Cor 3:14-15
We don’t want to face the Lord Jesus Christ….. Ashamed of uselessly and fruitlessly squandering the power and provisions He has given us through the Spirit. As John, so humbly warns us of the difference between a child who professes and those who possess. “Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life. I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him. And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.” 1 John 2:18-29
Peter says “For in this way” this is a constant pursuit of holiness, the blessings of assurance and perseverance that comes with this calling. And reminder also guarantees our hearts for the Kingdom that is to come. (v11) Most things in this life are not secure, nothing is a guaranteed forever.
Possession (home, car stuff)
Education and degrees
The one and only thing that is guaranteed and sure is what Peter reminds us this morning about. The great love of God through the gospel call on one’s life. And nothing can take or steal that away from you or me. As Steve Lawson said, “Salvation is not a reward for the righteous, it is a gift for the guilty.” It’s for this reason Peter pens these words of reminder; as a man saved by grace, and man called by God to drop his nets. This is our reminder of His great love, as we passionately live our lives for His glory by being witnesses of this grace for guilty sinners like us. This is what makes us effective and fruitful in a lost and broken world system. Because we have new natures, new desires for lost souls to hear about this wonderful news of God’s efficacious calling sinners to Himself. As Peter says in the last chapter of this letter, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9