Fruitful Growth In The Faith
2 Peter 1:2-8
2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Peter begins his teaching by reminding them and us of the basics of authentic Christianity. If we continue to live by the divine power which God has given to us, and if we continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, we will be fruitful. Thus, we are challenged to take full advantage of the divine power and promises of God. Peter then gives us the specific steps to follow so that we may be victorious through Jesus Christ. If we practice these characteristics of the divine nature not only do we grow in Christ-likeness, we also experience the assurance of eternal rewards.
I. DIVINE POWER, 3.
II. DIVINE PROMISES, 4.
III. DIVINE PROGRESS, 5-7.
IV. DIVINE PRODUCTIVITY, 8.
I. DIVINE POWER, 3.
The expectations of becoming Christ-like would be impossible if not for God’s divine enabling. Verse 3 teaches that Christ has provided everything believers need for life and godliness. “as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue”.
The first amazing statement is not in the future tense. “give us all things” “to bestow, to endow.” and stresses the freeness and worth of the gift. The perfect tense also stresses the certainty of the fact and possession of this gift. Peter contends that God has already given us His divine power and through that power He has made everything which pertains to life and godliness available to us.
God has provided believers with all the resources necessary to make spiritual growth possible. Peter’s teaching sounds like that of Paul when he declared “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).
How do we grow? ... through the true knowledge of Him who called us. All that believers need for spiritual vitality (life) and godly living is attainable through our knowledge of Him (Christ). In knowing Jesus believers have freely at their disposal all the resources necessary to enable them to work out the process of sanctification or growing into the likeness of Jesus.
An intimate “full knowledge”, of Christ is the source of spiritual power and growth (Phil. 1:9; Col. 1:9-10; 2:2). As we get to know the Lord Jesus through prayer, through the Word, through worship through walking day by day with Him we grow. For the better we know Him, the better we understand how all things that pertain to life and godliness can function within us.
Notice that Christ called us to this [intense] life of godliness, worship, literally rightly directed worship, by His own glory and goodness. “Glory” expresses the excellence of His being, His attributes and essence. “Goodness” depicts His excellence of deeds or His virtue in action.
Christ attracts people enslaved by sin (2:19) by His own moral excellence and the impact of His glorious Person. Everything that has to do with life or serving God has been freely given so that we lack nothing. Christians are fully equipped to live a life pleasing to God, to overcome any obstacle we face, and to persevere under trial.
II. DIVINE PROMISES, 4.
Progress in the Christian life is made possible by the power of God (v. 3) and, as we see in verse 4, by the promises of God. “4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” The promises are great because they come from a magnificent God and lead to an abundant life. The promises are precious because their value is beyond calculation.
We have so many magnificent and precious promises in the Word of God. The promise of the forgiveness of sin, rest to the weary, comfort to the sad, hope to the dying, resurrected life to the dead, and answered prayer. The promise of sharing the very nature of God by the gift of the comforting, teaching empowering Holy Spirit. The promise of eternal life in a new heaven and a new earth.
The promises of God are precious for at least two reasons. The first reason is because “by them” we “become partakers of the divine nature.” [“Participate” (genēsthe … koinōnoi) is literally “become partners.”] [What an utterly staggering precious promise that is. Jesus first gave it to His disciples shortly before His Crucifixion when He said…
7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.
That is exactly what happened to the disciples who gathered together on Pentecost. The Holy Spirit came upon them, and His divine nature became their own. And that marvelous promise is for us and our children (Acts 2:39).]
A born-again Christian has the divine nature of God so that he/she is a new creation, a new being. And so Scripture says, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). The implications of this promise are incredible for us. We have the potential to live by the very power of God. God’s divine nature can replace ours as we follow Jesus as Lord and as we allow the Holy Spirit to possess us.
Second, by the promises of God we can escape “the corruption that is in the world through lust.” The craziness of the world can be traced directly to lust. Whether regarding money, sex, esteem, or approval, lust simply says, “I’ve got to have more.” God wants to deliver us from such a mind-set.
God’s way of escape lies in seizing hold of His promises and thereby growing in God’s own nature. Through them means as you apply them to life. That is a major concern. When we walk and live in the power of the Holy Spirit, we are walking in the opposite direction of our natural life. Paul stated that truth in Galatians 5:16, 17…
16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.
III. DIVINE PROGRESS, 5-7.
Because Christians have the power and the promises, Peter urges the essential goal of growing to be like Jesus and spells out the steps towards it in verses 5-7. Verse 5 begins the steps to becoming fruitful disciples. “5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge”.
“For this reason,” “having escaped the corruption that is in the world” (v. 4) through our "faith" in Jesus Christ as our Savior, we can now grow spiritually. We mature spiritually by conforming our being/nature and practice to our Lord’s. This growth happens when we put to use the divine nature we now possess, recognizing that He has provided all the resources we need.
This beautiful paragraph sounds like the Christian symphony of grace. Its practical advice concerns the basics of the Christian faith. These graces are to be applied to our life with all diligence, or “all zeal, applying. Peter urges the importance of applying every effort. For it takes every bit of diligence and effort a Christian can muster, along with the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, to “escape the corruption” of the fall so that we might be transformed into the image of Christ.
Spiritual growth does not come without effort. God though has provided all we need, but we must give “all diligence” for the process is much more than simply allowing the Holy Spirit to reside in our hearts we must pursue the character and habits that bring spiritual growth.
All of these virtues are dependent upon our faith. Our Christian life begins by faith and continues in faith. Faith in Jesus Christ is what separates Christians from all other people. Trust in the Savior which brings one into the family of God, is the foundation of all other qualities in the Christian life. The Christian life begins with faith and is carried on with “faith”. Without faith we cannot please God (Heb. 11:6).
“6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.”
Knowing God will deepen our knowledge of ourselves and where we need to exercise self-control.
To know is vitally important, but it is not enough. We are to do what we know we should do. In many of our lives, though there is a great gulf between our knowledge and our conduct. It was to this problem James spoke when he wrote, “to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). It is one element of the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:23. The real sense of the term means more than self… being in control. A more descriptive and accurate term would be “God-control.” Only when we are under the control of the Holy Spirit can we be self-controlled.
Add perseverance to self-control. A self-controlled, disciplined lifestyle must lead to perseverance, strength in the face of adversity. Both James and Peter write a great deal about the virtue of “perseverance” . This word means “enduring, continuance or patience”,which can mean “to bear trials, to have fortitude, to abide or to endure.”
Literally it means to “remain under.” In our vernacular, we would say “hanging in there.” There are only seconds which separate those who fail from those who succeed in running most races. Too many people drop out of the race just before it is to be won. Those who persevere by “hanging in there” are those who win the prize.
Perseverance produces or adds godliness. Godliness cannot be fabricated. We cannot merely pretend to be godly. The quality of godliness comes from God Himself. He must give that quality of life to us. We receive it as we are dead to self and alive to God and as we allow the Spirit to live within us. The fruits of the Spirit are attributes of the character of God. The more we are possessed by God, the more we will act like Him and the more His character will be revealed in our lives.
In verse 7 we find the 6th Christ-like character. Add brotherly kindness to godliness. Brotherly kindness is the wonderful warmhearted affection between fellow believers. “Brotherly kindness” is a special kind of love. Peter uses this word in instructing us regarding the importance of having unfeigned love of the brethren (1 Pet. 1:22); Paul teaches us to be kindly, affectionate to one another in brotherly love (Rom. 12:10). This is one of the amazing qualities of the church of Jesus Christ. We are to love one another as brothers and sisters in Christ—and are members one to another (1 Cor. 12:27). We must live out our faith by having love for our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Kindness is one of the most powerful tools in the believer's kit of virtues. We cannot always do exceptional deeds; but there are thousands of small, generous things we can do that will help others and bring glory to God. Kindness is the language the deaf can hear and the blind can see. May we seek to serve Christ through deeds of kindness and the sincerity of' our love.
IV. DIVINE PRODUCTIVITY, 8.
“8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Verse 8 gives a marvelous and precious promise to those who increasingly integrate these qualities into every part of their life. “For if these qualities are yours and are increasing”, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Sharing the life of God should produce and the finest and most godly character for Him. That itself is reward enough, but it also leads to fruitfulness in our walk with the Lord. If we make these things ours and they abound, says Peter, two specific benefits will follow.
First, they will keep us from being barren. None of us want to be “barren” in our Christian lives. To be barren is “to be useless or idle.” The best defense against such a useless life is an active offense. If we are actively following Jesus Christ as Lord and are diligent in adding to our faith, we will never be barren in our Christian life.
Second, they will keep us from being “unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Jesus gave instruction to Peter and to all of us concerning the life of bearing fruit when He said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me” (John 15:4).
The secret of fruit-bearing is to abide in Christ and to allow Him to abide in us. Peter encourages us to follow Jesus aggressively by adding to our faith with all diligence; then we will never be unfruitful.
The value of a promise depends on what is promised, who made it and whether or not they will keep the promise. We all have been impacted by promises that have not been kept, but that is not so with God. He, being God can keep all He promises and His integrity, His righteousness demands that He keep all His promises.
Pastor Richard Santos
Audio copies of previously delivered messages are now available in CD. Requests can be made on the 'Contacts' tab.
Video message is now available in YouTube as of Jan. 2020