A Growing Faith

Home Church Service 2/27/2021

These sermons began as devotionals for my family as we met during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. We have now begun to include our friends and the devotional has now become a full sermon. We are also recording our service and will begin posting those videos in the near future.

“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. 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. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.”                                                                2 Peter 1:5-9 (NASB)

Who among us, as kids, didn’t want to build a fort, out of sheets and blankets, in mon’s living room? Or take an old refrigerator box and build a spaceship or fort of carboard? How many of us spent endless hours in the cold days of winter building snow forts for snowball fights?! There is something about building things, especially when we are younger! Those of us who are older as sure to remember Lincoln Logs and the ever-popular Erector Sets but the one building block we all know is Legos!! It might be that you have stepped on one or two as a parent even! But Legos have morphed into something different altogether. Legos still appeals to young and old alike and now Legos comes in sets aimed at adults to build anything from motorized vehicles to the gigantic Lego creations of aircraft carriers! Yes, young and old alike enjoy our building blocks!

In our passage, Peter is looking at a different kind of building block. The building blocks Peter is looking at are building block for A Growing Faith, a faith that is increasing in several area’s and leads us to a true faith in Christ Jesus. These blocks to build one upon the other but unlike normal building blocks, there is no true sequence for adding them to your moral standards. You might think you are working in one specific are, when boom! You realize what you are experiencing growth in a different area!

A Growing Faith only begins with faith. To this we supply the qualities of moral conduct, that we are neither useless or fruitless in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ; for those lacking these qualities are blind or short-sighted forgetting their purification from sins.

Faith is the starting point of A Growing Faith. We grow our faith in steps, adding Christian characteristics, building one upon the other, which leads to a deeper understanding in Christ Jesus and remembering the forgiveness of our sins.

As we examine the list of Christian qualities, we must ask ourselves, “What is the purpose of A Growing Faith?”

The purpose of A Growing Faith is to add building blocks that increase our faith, increase our knowledge and remember the forgiveness of sin, all found in Christ Jesus.

1). A Growing Faith is a faith that add Christian qualities step by step.

The Christians moral standards are to be high above those of the world around us.

Faith is the first quality Peter lists, for without our faith in Christ, we are no different from the world around us. This faith brings us into the family of God; however, we do not stop there! As believers and members of fallen humanity we have work to do. Peter adds seven more qualities we are to add to our faith, the first being moral excellence. Moral excellence means our moral standards must be high above those standards of the world around us. This means, as Christians, we add lifestyle that mirror that of our Lord Jesus. Next, we are to add knowledge.

The knowledge Peter speaks of here is not the knowledge of God that leads to salvation but rather the knowledge of God that leads to wisdom and discernment that enables all believers to live godly lives. This is where we walk in the Spirit allowing Him to guide and direct us throughout the day. The next quality listed is self-control. That is the mastery over our sinful human desires we experience in evert aspect of life. In self-control we learn the attitudes that do not come to us naturally and channel our natural desires towards God’s will and God’s desires.

Now we add perseverance, our ability to endure suffering or evil treatment WITHOUT giving up our faith! This comes forth from faith in God – His goodness and His sovereignty. We trust in His plan and His purpose, His love and concern for us. From perseverance we turn to godliness. Godliness, in the Greek culture, was the primary word for religion and referred to the correct attitude towards God and people – performing obligatory duties. In this list of qualities, the word describes an awareness of the presence of God in all of life – this is the lifestyle that exemplifies Christ and is empowered by Him. We must have a right relationship with God and people.

Peter concludes his list of qualities with two Greek words for love. The first is Philadelphia, which we know to mean brotherly love. In non-Christian circles this is referred to as the affection between family members. Here, Peter extends this meaning to include the family of God – our brothers and sisters in Christ. The list concludes with agape love, the highest form of love, the kind of love shown, by God, towards us in the giving of His only Son, Jesus Christ – it is a self-sacrificing love.

The purpose of A Growing Faith is to add building blocks that increase our faith, increase our knowledge and remember the forgiveness of sin, all found in Christ Jesus.

2). The result of A Growing Faith is a true faith found in Christ Jesus.

True faith in Christ is useful, fruitful and remembers the forgiveness of sin.

The eight qualities listed by Peter are to belong to all believers. They are never to be static, that is, just simply having them, they are to be increasing. These qualities can only be grown by practicing them in our everyday lives. As I mentioned earlier, while these qualities are listed in a sequence, there is really no practical way to add or supply them in sequence. For example, knowledge that leads to wisdom and discernment is something that we will experience throughout our lifetime. Whereas brotherly love should be shown and evident continually.

Having these qualities, says Peter, will keep us from being useless or fruitless. To be useless means to be idle and slothful, literally “out of work” and caries the same meaning as James 2:20 – faith without works is dead. To be unfruitful means to be barren, unproductive and refers to a life crowded with pleasures and cares. If we have these qualities and they are increasing, Peter says, they will lead to true knowledge of Christ Jesus.

As believers, of course we know Jesus! But our knowledge must bear fruit. Our faith must move beyond simply what we believe, it must become our imperative and an active part of who we are and what we do. Faith in and knowledge if the Lord Jesus must lead to growth in these qualities which causes the believer to make a difference in the world around them and to persevere to the end.

The believer who refuses to grow is short-sighted, that is they are focused on the world around them rather than the bigger picture of eternity and becoming more Christlike. These believers are intentionally closing their eyes to the light of Christ, much like we all do at the first light after waking, blinking our eyes to allow them to adjust, however these believers leave themselves spiritually blind by keeping them closed. These believers forget their purification – their baptism in a public show of faith and a desire to live for Christ, their profession was their cleansing from past sin and a break from their old sinful lifestyle.

The purpose of A Growing Faith is to add building blocks that increase our faith, increase our knowledge and remember the forgiveness of sin, all found in Christ Jesus.

We have all felt the urge to build something as kids. From the blanket fort in mom’s living room to the snow fort in the winter months to the most popular building block of all time – Legos we all like to build. Today Legos even has segs aimed to the adult Lego builder making such things as motorized vehicles to the huge in scale aircraft carriers! Yes, young or old, we all like to build!

In our passage, Peter is looking at a different kind of building block. The building blocks Peter is looking at are building block for A Growing Faith, a faith that is increasing in several area’s and leads us to a true faith in Christ Jesus. These blocks to build one upon the other but unlike normal building blocks, there is no true sequence for adding them to your moral standards. You might think you are working in one specific are, when boom! You realize what you are experiencing growth in a different area!

Because of God’s promise that believers will escape corruption and share in Christ’s divine glory, we are to make every effort for high moral living. Peter states this by using the phrase, “applying all diligence” or “making every effort” in some translations. This comes from the Greek word meaning “to work alongside.” This means that while Christ provides the power and divine nature, believers must make the effort to use that power to set aside our sinful nature and desires and seek the qualities Peter has listed.

Peter says we are to “supply” or “add” these qualities to our faith. In the Greek culture to “supply” or to “add” was used to describe a wealthy person who could pay the wages of his chorus singers as well as paying for a lavish set and production expenses in cooperation with a poet and the state. Here it describes the generosity believers must have in giving their effort and in cooperation with God in adding these qualities. In other words, second best effort simply isn’t good enough!

What this looks like in our everyday life is simple. We should and must put as much effort into our spiritual growth, the growth of these qualities and our walk with Christ Jesus as we do the party we are having when NASCAR comes on Sunday afternoon. Or as much effort as we make in planning the next fishing trip with our buddies. Or the time and effort we put into making a shopping list, looking for the perfect gifts for family and friends each and every Christmas.

The point is this, we would not dare think of skimping on any of the above-mentioned activities, but when it comes time for the spiritual work of becoming more like Christ, we simply do not have the time, we are too tired, busy or stressed to even think about reading our Bible, much less doing something to practice the qualities that Peter insists will make us useful and fruitful. As always, the choice is yours. You can choose to remain stagnant and chase after the empty thrills and frills of the world, burning energy and time for things that will leave you useless and unfruitful, or, well, you can expend some of that energy on becoming more Christlike by practicing the qualities outlined in this passage. Either way, the choice is yours. I pray you will hear God calling you to begin the rewarding work of putting these qualities into practice and become more like His Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Amen and Amen.

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