Summary: The Lord provides our salvation, but that does not absolve us from any responsibility. We are responsible for our growth and maturity, striving for Christ-likeness in this life.
The Growth of the Saints
2 Peter 1: 5-8
Following his introduction and reminder of the glorious benefit of salvation, Peter immediately extended a challenge to the believers who would read this letter. While salvation is an act of God’s marvelous grace offered to those who are underserving, received by faith in the finished work of Christ, apart from any works of our own, our new relationship with Christ comes with particular responsibilities. Peter sought to challenge the believers to embrace these responsibilities and live according to the plan and will of God.
While I fully embrace the teachings of Scripture regarding our salvation, especially what Paul revealed in Ephesians 2:8-9, I also realize our salvation needs and demands good works and holy living. We are not saved by our works, but we are saved unto works. Saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will compel us to labor for Him while in this life. I am also settled on the doctrine of eternal security, but our security in Christ is not a license to sin – nor is it a blank check totally separate from Christian responsibility. Genuine salvation will not produce laziness or a desire to continually engage in a sinful lifestyle. Those who walk with Christ will be motivated to live in a way that pleases Him, continually striving to grow and mature in the faith.
As we examine these verses today, we need to consider the attributes that Peter revealed should be found within believers. I want to preach on: The Growth of the Saints.
I. The Duty of Believers (5-7) – Here Peter emphatically described the duty and responsibilities that accompany our salvation. While these are simple verses, they reveal profound truth that needs to be taught and heeded today. Consider:
A. The Exhortation (5) – And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith…Having spoken of the gracious gift of salvation and the blessed assurance it affords, Peter goes on to challenge the believers in their walk with the Lord. While salvation is a free gift, given of the Lord, following salvation we are expected to add certain attributes to our faith. The Lord provides our salvation, but that does not absolve us from any responsibility. We are responsible for our growth and maturity, striving for Christlikeness in this life.
Peter does not speak of a casual endeavor that will be accomplished with little effort of our own. We are challenged to give all diligence to add these attributes to our faith. The Lord will provide the wisdom and guidance necessary, but we are responsible to take the initiative. This presents the challenge to “Hasten, jump, act now to add them; don't wait. Be energetic and earnest, strenuously work to add these things to your faith and salvation.” (i)
B. The Expectation (5-7) – Following the challenge to be earnest in their endeavors for growth, Peter listed several attributes that are necessary and expected in the Christian life. These include:
Virtue – This speaks of moral excellence and character. It refers to living our lives in a way that would honor the Lord and bear a positive witness for Him, seeking the most excellent path in life. 1 Thes.4:1-7 – Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.  For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus.  For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:  That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;  Not in the lust of concupiscence (sinful desires and passions,) even as the Gentiles which know not God:  That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.  For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.
Knowledge – This speaks of practical intelligence, knowledge and insight. It refers to knowing how to handle day to day situations, knowing what to do and how to respond to particular circumstances in life. We are admonished to add knowledge to our faith. I think you will agree that knowledge is lacking for the most part in our culture. Most react to situations instead of responding with knowledge obtained through walking with Christ. Prov.15:14 – The heart of him that hath understanding seeketh knowledge: but the mouth of fools feedeth on foolishness.
Temperance – This speaks of mastery and control over the body, regarding the desires and lusts of the flesh. It deals with our self-control and the ability to resist the sensual cravings of the flesh. This is one of the fruits of the Spirit and is available to the believer. However, we must walk in close fellowship with the Lord in order to possess and maintain self-control. (Clearly this is lacking in our world, and even among professed believers. We live in a culture that caters to the flesh and encourages indulgence.)