Tonight I want us to look to this second epistle of Peter and see what God's Word has to say about our growth as Christians. We know that growth is important, and we know that it is the normal result of life. Just as physical life results in physical growth, in the same manner our spiritual life should result in spiritual growth. If growth does not take place, then we look for reasons or causes that may be hindering what should be happening normally.
Read: 2 Peter 1:1-11
I. Basis for Christian Growth: LIFE v1
A. A Christian is someone who has "obtained" something.
1. It was not born with him in a natural sense.
2. He did not create it or merit it in any way.
3. It was given to him, by God.
B. That which he has obtained is "faith".
1. Eph. 2:8, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God:"
2. No wonder then that Peter calls it "precious faith".
3. It is given to us by God, and is not something that we can go to the local market and pick up when we want it!
4. However, there is a way that we can receive more faith if we desire...we return to the source: God! 5. Ro. 10:17, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God."
C. This faith, by which we become Christians, rests upon "...the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ."
1. This "righteousness" is the not just the righteouness that God is, but it is the righteousness that God gives!
2. Every man by nature is born into a state of sin which is one of wrongness before God.
3. In order to live in God's sight he must be in a state of rightness, or righteouness.
4. The only way he can get to that place is by receiving it from God Himself.
5. cf. Romans 4:6,11,13; 5:17-19
II. Means of Growth: The Word of God v2-4
A. "Grace and peace be multiplied"
1. When a person receives Christ as Saviour they recieve both grace and peace.
2. Eph. 4:7, "But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of God."
3. Ro. 5:1, "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."
4. However, Peter is talking about having more grace and more peace, having them "multiplied".
B. "Through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord"
1. This does not mean knowledge that is obtained from viewing creation or from His handiwork in nature.
2. There is only one place where we can obtain knowledge of "Jesus our Lord" ... that is found in the revelation of Himself through His Word: The Bible.
3. But it is not only "grace and peace" that come to us in this way, but "all things that pertain unto life and godliness".
4. Everything that Christians need in order to grow and develop into what God wants us to be is given to us in the Word of God!
C. Note the contrast of v4.
1. In the world there is "corruption", death, decay, and waste, and this "through lust" (the desires and appetites of our old nature).
2. Over against this "corruption" is the "exceeding great and precious promises".
3. As we come to know and desire them the process has a cleansing and separating effect upon our lives.
4. John Bunyan wrote: "This Book will keep you from sin; or sin will keep you from this Book"
5. We begin to grow and develop as Christians when we apply the principles of God's Word in our lives and we escape the corruption in this world.
III. Nature of Growth: Practical. v5-7
A. "...giving all diligence, add to your faith ..."
1. This does not mean that we can add to it by our own strength or ability, but only through the grace of God.
2. Our faith is the foundation upon which we are to build.
3. If the foundation is not proper, then that which is built upon it will not remain.
4. 1 Co. 3:10b-11, "..But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ."
B. Seven stories to be built.
1. "...add to your faith virtue."
a. virtue = moral excellence or uprightness.
b. He has called us to walk upright before Him. v3
c. By application of the principles of His Word we can be virtuous, not in and of ourselves!
2. "...and to virture, knowledge."
a. Not knowledge in a general sense, but in practice.
b. Ignorance never reflects spiritual growth.
c. 1 Peter 2:2, "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby:"
d. We are commanded to grow in grace and in knowledge of our Lord. cf 2 Peter 3:18
3. "and to knowledge temperance."
a. Temperance = self-control
b. Not just in abstaining from intoxicating liquor as in the "temperance movement" years ago.
c. But self-control of all of the aspects of our life: our tastes, our speech, our habits, our thinking, and our conduct in all things.
4. "and to temperance patience"
a. patience = endurance under trials.
b. This is a steadfastness that endures suffering and withstands temptation.
c. Whether it be from the opposition of the world or the direct assaults from Satan...he doesn't waver!
5. "and to patience godliness"
a. godliness = to be devout or God-fearing.
b. It is characterized by a Godward attitude.
c. Doing that which is pleasing to God.
6. "and to godliness brotherly kindness."
a. Literally this means to show kindness to them that are our brethren in Christ.
b. For no other reason than the fact that they are.
7. "and to brotherly kindness charity"
a. charity = love
b. This differs from the kindness mentioned in the sense that it is of deeper intensity
C. This is the nature of Christian growth.
1. Does our lives reflect these characteristics?
2. For those who do leave no doubt in the minds of men as to "whose we are and who we serve".
IV. The Result of Growth. v8-11
A. First, there is fruitfulness. (8-9)
1. Jesus has made it very clear that His desire for His children is that they bear fruit.
2. cf. John 15:1-5
3. Note: fruit, more fruit, and much fruit.
B. Second, there is assurance. (10)
1. So many people ask how can they know for sure that they are saved.
2. Here is one way...determine to live a godly life.
3. Most Christians who have trouble with assurance need to spend more time in the Word of God, and then start living their lives in accordance with the Book!
C. Third, there is reward. (11)
1. There is such a thing as gaining an entrance into heaven without reward. "...he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire." cf. 1 Corinthians 3:15
2. Peter is talking about something that is quite different here.
3. This is an entrance ministered unto us abundantly!
4. Jesus has promised to come again and bring His reward with Him. cf Re. 22:12
Conclusion: Are you a Christian? Are you a growing Christian? If not, what will you do about it? How much time and attention will you give to the Word of God? Are you bearing fruit? Do you have the assurance of your salvation? Will there be an entrance abundant for you? If there is a need in your life tonight, why not come now?