Summary: Spiritual growth is intentional, not automatic. When we add to our faith we will abound in fruitfulness and have the assurance of forever. We have all we need and when we use all that we have we will grow…and it will show.
Make Every Effort to Grow
Rev. Brian Bill
April 18-19, 2015
Offering: “Make Me Over” by Natalie Grant
Listen to how an article from Tuesday’s Washington Post begins: “It is every pilot’s worst nightmare to hear strange sounds coming from a plane. An exploding engine. A cracking exhaust valve. The metallic ping of a bolt sheering under pressure. At 35,000 feet, even the smallest of sounds can signal serious trouble. So it was surely a frightening moment on Monday when an Alaska Airlines pilot heard a banging noise only a few minutes after takeoff.
“The problem wasn’t a broken instrument, however, but rather a drowsy luggage handler. Passengers on the flight from Seattle to Los Angeles were shocked when their plane returned to the airport almost immediately after taking off. They were even more stunned when rescue workers waiting on the tarmac popped open the plane’s cargo hold and removed an airport employee. The employee had apparently dozed off while loading suitcases and woken up in the sky.”
This got me thinking about the Christian life. Some Christians have fallen asleep surrounded by baggage and as a result they’ve been grounded. Friend, listen. You can’t take off spiritually if you’re asleep and you won’t fly if you’ve bedded down with your baggage.
We’re going to see today that there can be no coasting for Christians. If we want to grow in grace we can’t be spiritual sluggards or pew potatoes. Please turn in your Bibles to 2 Peter 1:5-11. Let’s stand and read together:
“But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
If you want to take off spiritually, these three elements must be present in your life.
• Add to your faith (5-7)
• Abound in fruitfulness (8-9)
• Assurance of forever (10-11)
2 Peter covers a lot of topics but is primarily a book about Jesus Christ as this word art graphic shows. Last week in verses 1-4 we learned that we already have everything we need to live life and everything we need to grow in godliness. While we might not have everything we want we already have everything we need. Because of that we’re to unleash God’s power, utilize His promises and undertake our partnership with Him.
Today our focus is on using all that we’ve been given. Peter starts with our position in Christ before moving to our practice as Christians. Once we know about our resources we can focus on our responsibility. To say it theologically, the opening verses deal with our justification and this next section helps us dive into our sanctification. We move from knowing about grace to growing in grace.
This is going to take some work. No napping allowed. And it’s time to cut the baggage loose.
I like what Don Carson says, “The dominant biblical pattern is neither ‘let go and let God’ nor ‘God has done His bit, and now it’s all up to you,’ but rather, ‘since God is powerfully at work in you, you yourself must make every effort.’”
Actually that popular phrase, “Let go and let God” is not all that helpful. A better phrase would be this, “Trust God and get going.”
We don’t work hard in order to be saved but we work hard because we are saved.
Have you ever looked at a mature believer and wished you could be like him or her? Wouldn’t it be great to know the Bible and be able to pray and lead people to Christ and exhibit joy and peace and goodness and knowledge and self-control and perseverance and godliness and kindness and love? Most of us want instant growth, forgetting that what is behind a godly life is a person who has persevered through pain and problems. Spiritual development only comes through practicing spiritual disciplines like time in the Word, prayer, fellowship, fasting, giving, witnessing and serving. Or to say it another way, we must gather, grow, give and go…and when we do it will show.
Here are two truths to keep in balance.
• God is committed to our growth. 1 Corinthians 3:6-7: “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” God is committed to our growth because He’s the one who planted us. Isaiah 60:21: “They are the shoot I have planted, the work of my hands, for the display of my splendor.” When we grow we show His splendor.