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Author:Rev. Stephen 't Hart
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Melville
 Melville, Australia
Title:Make every effort to add to your faith!
Text:2 Peter 1:5,8-11 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)


2014 Book of Praise

Psalm 84:1,5

Psalm 139:10

Psalm 26:1,2,7

Psalm 25:6

Psalm 119:55

Read:  2 Peter 1:1-11

Text:  2 Peter 1:5,8-11.

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Stephen 't Hart, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Beloved congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Make every effort to supplement your faith!

What a strange thing for Peter to write!  2 Peter 1:5,

“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith.”

Or, as other Bible translations put it,

“Make every effort to add to your faith.”

What does it mean to supplement or add to your faith?  Isn’t faith enough?  Didn’t the apostle Paul say in Ephesians 2:8,9

“For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast”?

Why is Peter now writing that you are to “supplement your faith”?

The Bible does indeed teach us that our salvation is Christ’s work from beginning to end.  We can not save ourselves, nor can we add anything to our salvation.

But the Bible also says something else.

Immediately after Ephesians 2:8,9 it says in verse 10,

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

And Titus 3:8 says,

“The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.”

And James 2:17,

“So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”

And Matthew 7:19,

“Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

So the Bible not only calls us to faith but to a life of faith.  And the Bible also calls us to press on in the faith.

Philippians 3:12,

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.”

And Luke 13:24,

“Strive to enter through the narrow door.  For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.”

And 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize?  So run that you may obtain it.  Every athlete exercises self-control in all things.  They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.  So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.  But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

So although we are saved by grace through Christ alone it is absolutely necessary for us to make every effort to live a godly life.  In fact if we don’t, 2 Peter 1 tells us, not only will we be “ineffective or unfruitful” but we will be placing our salvation in jeopardy.

So how are things with you?  I think it is safe to say that most of us want to live a godly life.  Most of us want to be holy.  Most of us want to be mature in the faith.  But do you want to strive?  Are you prepared to make every effort to grow?  Do you want to make every effort to “add to” or “supplement your faith” as 2 Peter 1:5 commands us to do? 

  To want to be godly and to live a godly life is an easy thing to say but it is not an easy thing to do.  The easy thing to do is sin.  The easy thing to do is to get so caught up in “living the life” that you hardly have time to think about supplementing your faith.  The easy thing to do is to simply go along with the crowd.  The easy thing to do is to say, “So long as I stay within the bounds of what others think is acceptable, then I’m OK.  So long as I go to church, so long as I pray, so long as I don’t go off the deep end, it’s all good.  But to exert myself?  To talk about growing?  To talk about adding or supplementing?  That’s going a bit too far.”

  But the Bible says, “Press on!  Spare no expense!  Make every effort!  Whatever it costs to follow your Saviour, do it!”

And so I preach God’s Word to you from 2 Peter 1 under the following message:

Make every effort to add to your faith!

  1. The reason to add to your faith.
  2. The way to add to your faith.

1. The reason to add to your faith.

There are, of course, many people who are striving, who do want to live a good and upright life.  But not everyone is doing this for the right reason.  Many non-Christians are on one level good people, devoted to caring for the world and to the welfare of all the men, women and children in the world.  Others do good so that they might be noticed and hopefully be rewarded for it in one way or another.  And still others, such as Moslems and Hindus, try to be good people in an effort to please their god or else to help them along their journey of reincarnation into their next life.  But even Christians will make every effort to do good for the wrong reasons.  Some people are scared, either of God himself or of what others might think and say about them.  They are afraid of God’s anger and don’t have a good understanding of His grace in Christ and the peace and the rest that is ours in Jesus Christ.  Or perhaps they are not so much afraid of God but of the looks, the judgment, the comments or the cold shoulder they feel that other people will give them if they do what is considered to be the wrong thing.  And then there are others who believe that you have to do good works so that God will accept you, so that you might be saved.

But that is not what 2 Peter 1:5 is talking about at all!  2 Peter 1:5 says,

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge.”

It is “for this very reason” that we are to supplement our faith.

But what is that reason?  The answer to this question can be found in the verses preceding our text, 2 Peter 1:1-4.  There Peter writes about what God has already done for us.  Second Peter is written to those

“who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.”  (Verse 1)

In other words, the people to whom Peter was writing this letter shared in the same faith as Peter himself, along with the rest of the apostles.  It was a faith in Jesus Christ and the righteousness that we have in Him.  In other words, this faith is a matter of trusting in Christ alone for our salvation.  And because we’ve been given this faith, the blessing of God’s grace and peace is also multiplied to us.  In fact, through His divine power God has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness, everything we need for a godly life (verse 3).  Yes, verse 4 adds, God has given us such great and rich promises that we may be “partakers of the divine nature”, we may live “in Christ” and we may reflect Christ more and more, “having escaped the corruption of the world through lust.”  That’s what God has given us!  That’s who we are and that’s what we are in Christ!  And it is because of this, for this very reason, that we are to make every effort to supplement our faith.

Supplementing or adding to our faith, therefore, is not adding to our salvation, not even adding to our standing before God in Jesus Christ.  There is only one way to be saved and one way to be found acceptable before God, and that is in and through our Lord Jesus Christ.  That’s the truth of the gospel that Peter emphasized in the first four verses of this letter. But it is for this very reason that Peter now compels us to add to our faith.

When Peter wrote this letter there were others, false teachers, who were saying something else.  These false teachers, who claimed to have some sort of special knowledge, were saying that actually it does not matter how you live, it does not matter what you do in the body.  Many of these false teachers would have appeared to be nice people.  2 Peter 3:16 suggests that they might even have appealed to the letters written by the apostle Paul.  But they twisted God’s Word and caused “the way of truth” to be blasphemed.  (2 Peter 2:2.)  They were the ones who, 2 Peter 2:15 says,

“Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray.”

And it is in response to them that Peter wrote this letter urging the readers of this letter to make every effort to supplement their faith.

And we need to understand this as well.  It is true that we are saved by grace alone and in Christ alone.  It is true that our entire salvation rests in Christ’s finished work. But it is equally true that we who have been saved by a true faith in Jesus Christ must live out of that faith and grow in that faith.  It is equally true that we must be diligent to live in Christ and to grow in the grace that He has given us.   Christianity is not a dead religion: to become a Christian is a life changing event!  And so Peter tells us to supplement or to add to our faith.  To add to your faith means to spare no effort in your pursuit of godliness, in your desire to grow in Christian virtue. 

   We don’t talk this way very often.  We don’t talk about the need to “supplement your faith”, but Peter uses this expression to demonstrate that godliness and a growth in godly behavior doesn’t just “happen”.  It is not as though God says to you, “Go ahead!  Keep living like you always have!  Make sure you enjoy yourself and don’t take yourself or your faith too seriously.  It’s all good.  I will give you my grace.  I will drip-feed godliness and holiness into you so that some mysterious way you will grow to be mature and holy.”  No!  God does not say that to you!  In fact, God tells you something else in His Word.  God tells you to press on, to fight against sin, to pummel your body into submission, to be diligent in doing what is right.  And that’s why Peter commands you to supplement your faith.  Not in the way that your faith is somehow insufficient but so that you might take what you have in Christ, live in it and grow in it.

And if you don’t do this, 2 Peter 1:8-11 makes clear, then you will not be living as one who has escaped the corruption of the world, you will not be living as one who partakes in the divine nature, you will not be living as one who has been cleansed from your sin, and therefore your life in Christ, even your salvation in Him, is placed under threat.  After Peter tells us to supplement our faith with virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection and love, he then goes on in verse 8 and following to tell us what happens if we do – or don’t – supplement our faith in this way.  2 Peter 1:8

“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 way to be effective and the way to bear fruit, therefore, is to supplement your faith with virtue and knowledge and self-control and so forth.  But if you do not add these things, if you do not grow in the grace of the Lord Jesus in this manner, then you will be ineffective and unfruitful.  Then your life will be wasted in your service to God.  And even worse, you are warned that a branch that does not bear fruit will be cut off from the vine and thrown into the fire.

Further, 2 Peter 1:9 says,

“For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.”

If you not diligent in living from your faith, if you are not actively putting sin to death and striving to grow in godliness, using all the means God has put at your disposal, then you are shortsighted to the point of being blind.  You have forgotten what Jesus did for you, you have forgotten that you have in Christ you have escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust and you are like a pig who has returned to wallow in the mire. 

  When you become a Christian or when you grow in your faith to the point that you are ready to profess your faith in Christ, or when you go through a great upheaval in your life where God convicts you of your sin and fills you with the grace of His forgiveness in Jesus Christ, then it is like everything has changed.  You feel different, you might even look different, and the world becomes different.  You are so thankful, so excited for what Christ has done for you.  The Bible becomes alive and you want to read it and you want to live it, you want to grow in your relationship with God and in a life of godliness.  But then what sometimes happens is that the excitement wears off, we become discouraged by the sins of others and the little sins and habits in our own lives begin to stifle out the joy of the gospel until they choke us and our joy in Christ begins to falter and to fail.  And so we go back to our old ways and our old habits, as if we have forgotten that we were cleansed from our old sins.  We have become shortsighted, blind!  We’ve lost sight of what Christ has done for us. 

  We need to realize this.  If your life with Christ has become ineffective and unfruitful, if your love for the corrupt things of this world – worldliness, sexual sin, drunkenness, ungodly talk, the desire for wealth and luxury, pride and so forth, if your love for these things are gaining your attention more and more and the wonder of the gospel and the desire to live a holy, Christian life is falling off your radar, then you have forgotten what Jesus Christ did for you on the cross!  Then you have forgotten what you were saved from and you have forgotten what it means to be cleansed from sin.

  And so you’ve stopped looking behind you, to the cross of Christ.  And, Peter will make clear in chapter 3, you have also stopped looking forward, to the return of Christ when this world will be destroyed and when we look forward to a new world in which righteousness dwells.  As Peter said in 2 Peter 3:11f,

“Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God?”

And that’s the reason why we are to make every effort to add to our faith.  That’s the reason why we are to strive and to give all diligence in growing in our life with God.

2. The way to add to your faith.

When the apostle Peter wrote, “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith” he did not leave things there but he gave a list of what we are to add to our faith.  Some people have called this list “the ladder of faith” as virtue is added to faith, knowledge to virtue, self-control to knowledge and so forth in a step-ladder sort of a fashion.  In this way Peter teaches us that there is to be a progression in our life and godliness.  At the same time, however, we need to realize that you don’t graduate from one of these things and then move on to the next.  Rather, we are to be doing all of these things all the time.  Further, we should not think that the “ladder of faith” or list of things to add to your faith in 2 Peter 1:5-7 is exhaustive.  There are other things that we must also consider as we put our faith into practice.  Think, for example, of the “fruit of the Spirit” which is listed in Galatians 5:22-23 as being:

“love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

Only some of these “fruits of the Spirit” are listed in 2 Peter 1:5-7: love, patience, and self-control. And notice also that the order found in Galatians 5 is also different: whereas Galatians 5 begins with love, 2 Peter 1 ends with it.  And therefore, we should not make 2 Peter 1 says more than it does.  The list is not intended to be exhaustive and it is not as though you progress from one thing to another.  But what 2 Peter 1:5-7 does do, is it gives us very practical guidance in how to add to or supplement our faith and live out of the blessings that are ours in Christ Jesus.

  Over the next two weeks we will be going through these things that we are to add to our faith, but today we will just take note of the first one, virtue.  Or, as you will find it translated in the NIV, goodness.   Now although it is possible to do virtuous things, virtue isn’t really something that you do, but it is more something that you are.  The word “virtue” has the meaning of “excellence” or “goodness” as well as “courage”.  We are to be men and women of virtue.  We are to be virtuous in what we say, do and think.  As God’s children in Christ, as partakers of the divine nature, we are to reflect that divine nature more and more.  And to do that we must be virtuous, living to praise and glory of God.  2 Peter 1:3 reminds us that God’s

“divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and excellence.

And, if you look in the footnotes of your ESV Bible, you will learn that that word “excellence” is the same word as “virtue” in verse 5.

  This excellence or virtue which is in our Lord Jesus Christ, this virtue which caused Him to call us to believe in Him, is to be seen in us too!  As we add to our faith we are to live out of that faith in a way that can be characterized as godly goodness and excellence, giving praise to God.  Our life, then, is to be a life that gives glory to God.  It is be a life that exalts Him.  And it is a life where Jesus Christ is clearly reflected in us. 

  The false teachers that Peter was writing against didn’t get that.  2 Peter 2:18 says that

“speaking loud boasts of folly, they [that is the false teachers] entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error.”

But virtue is the opposite to that!  Virtue calls us to look away from the sin and the filth of this world as well as the pride and the selfishness of this world and to look instead at the excellence and the goodness, the virtue of God.

  And 2 Peter 1:5 says

“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue.

And we will see this happening, we will grow in virtue, when we live out of our faith, when we grow in faith (2 Peter 3:18), when we supplement or add to our faith.  We will add virtue to our faith when we turn to God, when we turn to His Word and when we love God and we love His Word above all else and when we want to live for God from His Word.  

  But to grow in virtue we need to go to the source of true virtue, which is Jesus Christ.  To add virtue to our faith we need to live in Christ and we need to grow in Him. 

  And so we see that 2 Peter 1 is not some kind of pep-talk, telling you to toughen up, telling you that you have the power to change in and of yourself.  You will not find the strength in yourself to add virtue to your faith.  It is not like you can say, “I have faith; now let me go on with things in my own strength.”  But when we turn to Jesus Christ and when we live in Him, then as partakers of the divine nature we will want to do all we can to grow in Christ.  Then we will strive to be godly, strive to be Christ-like, and strive to be men, women and children of virtue.  And then as we grow in faith we will add virtue to our faith.

Our salvation is by grace alone, in Christ alone and by faith alone.  But for this very reason, being forgiven of past sin and having escaped the corruption that is in this world let us strive to live the new life that is ours in Christ Jesus.  Let us be diligent as we make every effort to supplement or add to our faith.  For if we do these things we will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen.

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Stephen 't Hart, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2019, Rev. Stephen 't Hart

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