Summary: Our spiritual growth is a pursuit worth pursuing passionately.
In his bestselling “Purpose-Driven Life,” Rick Warren wrote, “If I asked you how you picture life, what image would come to your mind? That image is your life metaphor. It’s your description of how life works and what you expect from it. It determines your expectations, your values, your relationships, your goals, and your priorities.” My favorite life metaphor is the image of a race. That’s why one of the words I love is the word “pursuit.” And for me, we cannot pursue something if we are not passionate about it. The words “passion” and “pursuit” go hand in hand. This morning, we will see that our spiritual growth is a pursuit worth pursuing passionately. Let us pray first.
The apostle Peter wrote this second letter to deal with false teachers that crept into the church. In 2 Peter 2:1-2, he warned, “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.” The New International Version translated verse 2 this way, “Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.” Note the words “shameful ways” and “the way of truth.” Because of their questionable works, the words of God were questioned as well. So, in this apostolic letter, Peter showed that the best way to denounce the deception of the false teachers is through our devotion. Instead of debating with them, the best way to deal with their lies is through our lives.
That’s why at the end of the letter, Peter commanded all of us: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Thus, we must passionately pursue our spiritual growth. So that we will be on the same page, let us agree with how Peter defined it. When we say “spiritual growth,” what we meant is not just growing in our knowledge of the Bible but growing in our knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, we cannot know Jesus apart from knowing the Bible. But we can know a lot about the Bible and yet fail to know the Lord in a more intimate way. When we say “spiritual growth,” what we meant is growing in the grace of our Lord Jesus. We grow not just in our experience of grace but in exemplifying grace to others. In short, we grow spiritually as we become more like Christ in our words and works. The 7 Stages of Spiritual Growth series defines spiritual growth as “the development of [our] relationship with God… [our] transformation into the image of Jesus Christ… [and] the expansion of [our] dependent walk in the Spirit.”
Let us look at 2 Peter 1:1-11. Verses 1-4 tell us that God has already provided the RESOURCES for our pursuit. “Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” That’s God’s PROVISION. He made it possible for us to grow spiritually.
Then, verses 5-7 tell us that we bear the RESPONSIBILITY for this pursuit for spiritual growth. “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your 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.” That’s our PURSUIT. Though God made the resources available for us, we have to avail of it in order to grow spiritually. Though He made spiritual growth possible, we are to pursue it.
Then verses 8-11 explain to us the REASON for the pursuit. “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.” That’s our PURPOSE. This morning and the Sunday next we will focus on the why before we dwell on the how. We will look into why we must passionately pursue spiritual growth. Our focus will be on verses 8-11. The rest of the passage we will discuss next month.