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Summary: The first purpose of spiritual growth is that we become fruitful and effective.

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Open your Bibles in 2 Peter 1:8-11. “For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”[1] Let us pray first…

Here in the Philippines, we call an immature person “tumanda ng walang pinagkatandaan.” That is, he grew old without growing up. This is a person who merely counts his years but who does not make his years count. He may be mature in age but not really mature as a person. I believe that applies to our spiritual life also. There are people who grew old in the faith but did not grow up in their faith. What about us? Are we merely growing old? Or are we also growing up?

Last Sunday, we saw that our spiritual growth is a pursuit worth pursuing passionately. In order to grow up and not just merely grow old, we are to grow spiritually. Let us review the context of our passage today. Verses 1-4 we saw God’s provision for our pursuit of spiritual growth. Verses 5-7 describe our pursuit for growth. Verses 8-11 explain to us the purpose of our pursuit.

Verse 10 commands us: “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure”. Growing in intimacy with Christ is important, immediate, intentional and inclusive. Spiritual growth would “show that God has really chosen and selected”[2] us. It proves that we are believers. According to the Bible Exposition Commentary, “The Christian life begins with faith, but that faith must lead to spiritual growth—unless it is dead faith. But dead faith is not saving faith. Faith leads to growth and growth leads to practical results in life and service.”[3]

Now, let us look at the purpose for our pursuit of spiritual growth. I think we need to take a look at the “why” of spiritual growth before the “how” of it. When we know why we are doing what we are doing, we will be motivated to start doing what we are supposed to be doing or to continue doing what we are doing. Four times our passage used the conjunction “for”[4] which means either reason or result.[5] I believe here in our passage, the conjunction “for” means reason.

First, verse 8 tells us, “FOR if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The first purpose of spiritual growth is that it makes us FRUITFUL and effective. The words “these qualities” refer to verses 5-7. After we put our faith on the Lord Jesus as our Savior, we must “make every effort to supplement [our] faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.” We will look into those qualities some other time. But it is enough for now to see that we need not only to acquire those qualities but also to abound in them.

Note the words “if these qualities are yours”. The Greek word for “yours” usually implies a permanent state[6] of possession. It “emphasizes that these spiritual qualities ‘belong to’ Christians.” [7] When we became believers, God gave us the potential to grow those character qualities. When we go up to verse 3 we read that “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness”. The Contemporary English Version translated it this way: “We have everything we need to live a life that pleases God.”

We are like seeds just waiting to sprout. We all have the potential to grow. The question now is, “Are we going to proceed to grow?” Read verse 8 again: “For if these qualities are yours and are increasing”. One translation goes like this: “For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure”.[8] According to the Bible Knowledge Commentary, “Christians are to do more than merely possess these virtues. Effective and productive spirituality comes as ‘these qualities’ are held ‘in increasing measure.’ There is to be a growth in grace.”[9] Yes, if we are truly believers, we will grow. The issue now is, “Are we going to grow abundantly?” Our goal is to reach our full growth potential. We will not just grow old. We will grow up.

And when we increase in our spiritual growth, “they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The word “ineffective” is used to describe a field that is barren so it becomes useless.[10] In six out of the eight times the word appeared in the New Testament, it referred to an idle person or unproductive. But an ineffective person need not be lazy. He may be busy in church work. “But in a spiritual sense it means producing no good for God.”[11]

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