Summary: The third purpose of spiritual growth is that it gives us firm footing.
There are two reasons why we wear shoes. One is function, the other is fashion. Of course, there are shoes with a mix of both. But, every pair of shoes has a number one reason for being. Now, I will show pictures of shoes and you tell me whether it is for function or for fashion. [Show the shoes slideshow.]
For me, as far as shoes are concerned, I go for function. I basically go for comfort. I also go for what is functional for my budget. I know for those who are athletic, whether for running, bowling or golfing, you go for shoes that give you firm footing.
One time we were in Rizal Recreation Center for a retreat. They have a bowling lane. When we play bowling, we are supposed to wear bowling shoes. Those shoes were made in such a way that you can slide as you throw the ball. But I wasn’t wearing bowling shoes. I was barefoot. So, I was so afraid that I would trip over that I could not throw the ball properly. I think almost all of the balls I threw went to the gutter.
Like those shoes, spiritual growth gives you such stability. So far in our series on “A Passionate Pursuit,” as we go through 2 Peter 1:1-11, we saw the reasons why we should pursue our spiritual growth passionately. Verse 8 tells us that the first reason why we must grow spiritually is that it makes us fruitful and effective: “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.” Here’s a person who is growing in intimacy with our Lord Jesus. Then, according to verse 9, the second reason is that we become focuses and not forgetful: “For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.” This person does not live for sin’s temporal pleasures. Now, we will see in verse 10 that the third reason why we must grow spiritually is that we would have a FIRM footing: “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.” Let us pray first…
The apostle Peter is so familiar with stumbling. He boasted before the Lord Jesus that he would not deny Him under any circumstance. But he ended up denying the Lord three times. That’s a great fall!
Yet, before that humiliating experience, our Lord gave him a gracious assurance: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” That’s a scary thought! Imagine Satan sifting you like wheat. On our own, surely we won’t survive that. But, our Lord Jesus was so sure that His Father would answer His prayer for Peter that He said “when you have turned again” and not “if you turn back again”. Peter indeed turned back again and strengthened his brothers.
Now, can you imagine Jesus praying for us also that our faith may not fail? Hebrews 7:25 tells us what He is doing right now in heaven. “Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” He is praying for you and me right now! That’s why somebody wrote, “A true believer will neither totally nor fully lose his faith.”
Now, that’s God’s part. What about our part? One important lesson I learned in life is that we cannot do what God will do but God will not do what we must do. God will do His part. Jude 24 assures us that He “is able to keep [us] from stumbling and to present [us] blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy”. What about us? 2 Peter 1:10 tells us our part. “Therefore, brothers and sisters, make every effort to be sure of your calling and election. For by doing this you will never stumble into sin.” When we grow spiritually, we will have a firm footing in life.
We have already studied the first half of the verse: “Therefore, brothers and sisters, make every effort to be sure of your calling and election.” We saw that we have to make sure that we have not only a right relationship with Christ but also, much more, a growing relationship with Him. Our spiritual growth is our assurance that we have a spiritual life. John Piper wrote, “The danger… is not the danger of slipping into the kingdom with no rewards. It is the danger of not being saved at all. When Peter says, ‘Be zealous to confirm your call and election,’ he means that our lack of diligence in Christian graces may be a sign that we were never called and are not among the elect.” The way to confirm that we are really believers is that we live obedient lives. A believer is a follower.