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Author:Rev. Stephen 't Hart
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Baldivis
 Baldivis, Western Australia
 frca.org.au/baldivis/
 
Preached At:Free Reformed Church of Melville
 Melville, Australia
 www.frcsr.com/fellowship/melville/
 
Title:Supplement your faith with knowledge and self-control!
Text:2 Peter 1:5-6,8 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Unclassified
 
Preached:2019-02-03
Added:2019-03-29
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

ESV

2014 Book of Praise

Psalm 108:1,2

Psalm 51:2,4

Psalm 119:1,2,3

Psalm 139:13

Psalm 86:2,4

Read:  2 Peter 1:1-11

Text:  2 Peter 1:5-6,8

* 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.

This is the third sermon in a series on Second Peter, a third sermon which where you will be hearing about growing in godliness and what 2 Peter 1:5 calls supplementing or adding to your faith.  And the Bible verses we will be focusing on this morning, part of verse 5, verse 6 and verse 8 promise to very practical.  But how do you feel about that?  How do you feel about hearing the command to “make every effort” to supplement your faith, to strive in your walk with God?

  Some of you might be looking forward to this.  “I like practical sermons”, you might have said, “and I could do with a swift kick up the pants to tell me to get on with it, to press on and grow in godliness.”  Or else you might be looking forward to this because not only you, but this church needs a swift kick up the pants.  “I’m not seeing a lot of godliness” you might be thinking.  “People seem to be more focused on themselves than on God.  Our standards are slipping.  To be told to increase in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, to make every effort to grow in knowledge and to persevere in godly self-control is a good reminder for all of us.”  But some of you might not be all that excited.  “There is enough legalism in this church already” you might be thinking.  “I already feel judged as not good enough.  Right now I don’t need a sermon telling me how much I’m a failure.  I’m struggling to keep it all together as it is!  To be told to step it up, to be diligent, and to do more and more as if we’re in some sort of spiritual boot camp – that’s too much, that’s too hard.

It is true that 2 Peter 1:5-8 urges us to grow in faith.  When it says in verse 5 that you are to make every effort to supplement your faith this means that our faith in Jesus Christ must lead to a changed life where we make every effort to grow.  Adding to our faith is going to cost us something: it will require effort.  And so you can expect this sermon to prod you along, to urge you into action, to spare no effort in your desire to grow in faith.

  But there is something you need to understand first, and that’s the context in which Peter gives this command.  2 Peter 1:5 says,

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

And the reason Peter is referring to can be found in verse 1-4.  It is because of what God has given us in Christ Jesus: salvation, righteousness, the gift of being partakers of the divine nature and escaping the corruption that is in the world, it is because of these things that we are now commanded to supplement our faith.  In other words, you don’t add to your faith to be accepted by God but you do these things because you have already been accepted by Him through the righteousness of Jesus Christ.  So this sermon is not a kick up the pants to get you going up the ladder of faith by your own grit and determination.  This sermon is not intended to give you a code of behavior that we should all be doing so that we can pat ourselves on the back and look down our noses at everyone else.  And this sermon is most certainly not intended to give you the message that somehow you do have to do it all for your salvation after all.  Rather, we need to understand the context.  We need to see that Peter is writing these things to those who have been purchased by the blood of Christ, who belong to Christ by a true faith, have received grace and peace and indeed everything from God already and who are now simply being told to use what they’ve received, to grow in the grace and the knowledge that is ours in Jesus Christ.  I preach to you God’s Word under the following theme:

Supplement your faith with knowledge and self-control.

  1. Grow in knowledge.
  2. Persevere in godly self-control.

1.  Grow in knowledge.

It is interesting that Peter’s second letter refers to knowledge and the need to grow in knowledge so many times.  When Peter wrote this letter there were false teachers who would later be known as Gnostics.  (The word gnostic comes from the Greek word Gnosis which means “knowledge”.)  These Gnostics claimed to have some sort of secret knowledge through which they achieved a spiritual awakening.  But what these false teachers called knowledge was, in fact, falsehood since, 2 Peter 2:1 says, they denied the Lord who bought them.  But true knowledge is the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord – specifically who the Lord Jesus is and what He has done for our salvation.  That’s how Peter talks about knowledge in 2 Peter 1:2 where it says,

“May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”

And 2 Peter 1:3,

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

And 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.

2 Peter 1:12 is a little different where it says

“Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have.

but that “truth that you have” that Peter’s readers knew is the truth of the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ.

   Then 2 Peter 2:20 speaks about escaping the defilements of this world

“. . . through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

And finally 2 Peter 3:18 says,

“but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

The knowledge that Peter is writing about, therefore, is clearly a knowledge about the Lord Jesus, and so a knowledge about the gospel: who Christ is, what it means to be saved in Him and what it means to live in Him. 

 

And that is what we must add to our faith.  Our faith is, of course, both knowing and believing the gospel of our salvation in Jesus Christ.  Our Catechism puts it well when it says in answer 21 that true faith is both

“a sure knowledge whereby I accept as true all that God has revealed to us in His Word”

and

“a firm confidence that not only to others, but also to me, God has granted forgiveness of sins, everlasting righteousness, and salvation, out of mere grace, only for the sake of Christ’s merits.”

That’s what faith is, and when you become a Christian, that’s what you need to know and to believe.  But 2 Peter 1:5 tells us to keep adding to this!  In other words, keep on growing in your knowledge of who God is, of who our Savior Jesus is, of the gospel, keep growing in the good news of salvation which can only be found in Him.

To grow in this way is a beautiful thing but it does take effort, it does take commitment.  It involves opening God’s Word, reading it, studying it and learning from it who God is and how we are to grow in Him and in the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  And 2 Peter 1:5 says that we are to do this “making every effort”.  But how are you doing with that?  How are your days and weeks scheduled so that you will be growing in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ?

  There is something happening in the Christian Church today:  we seem to be giving up on the study of doctrine and the deeper things of God’s Word for short, snappy blog posts, memes and sound bites.  If you are on FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram or some other social media platform and if you have a lot of Christian friends or follow various Christian organizations you might have a number of memes or quotes or Bible texts or video clips pop up every day –  and that can be really good to have those reminders about God and the gospel throughout your day.  But if that’s all, if our attention span to God and His Word is limited to anything from two seconds to two minutes then we will hardly be growing, we will not abound in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Hosea 4:6 says,

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

And Hebrews 5:12-14 says,

“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”

And Ephesians 4:14 says,

 “We may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.”

And that’s what happens when we do not add to our faith knowledge, when we do not grow in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We become babies, not knowing good from evil, we become prey to false teachers, giving up the true gospel for what is not the gospel at all, and we might even be destroyed for lack of knowledge.

  So what should we be doing?  How should we be growing in knowledge?  Well those quotes, Bible texts and video clips on FaceBook can have their place, but God’s Word, the gospel is so deep and there is so much to learn!  Psalm 139:17 says,

“How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!  How vast is the sum of them!”

You need to know God’s thoughts!  You need to know what He has commanded!  You need to know what He has done!  If you were to ask, “Why is my prayer life so weak?  Why do I get confused about what is right and wrong?  Why is my understanding about what the Bible teaches so fuzzy?  Why does my walk with God lurch from crisis to crisis?” then the answer may be, at least in part “because you do not know God’s Word!  Because you are not steeped in it, because you are not growing in it with all diligence, because you do not abound in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

  The Bible tells us how we are to grow the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  The Bible gives us good examples of this.  Acts 2:41-42 describes the Church at the time of Pentecost as follows:

“So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.   And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

And 1 Corinthians 1:4,5

“I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge.”

But what about you?  What do you know about God, about the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, about living in Christ and growing in Him?  Have you gone through some sort of instruction and have you professed your faith?  How has your growth in knowledge been going since then?  How are you adding knowledge through making “every effort”?

  Young men, you are called to grow in your faith not just for yourself but also for your family or, if you are not yet married and God blesses you with a wife, your future family.  You will be called upon to lead in prayer, to guide your family in the wonderful doctrines of God’s Word.  You need to be ready to speak about the gospel and your life in Christ to whoever you meet in your daily walk of life.  You are expected to use your gifts in the church – perhaps leading group Bible study, perhaps as a future office bearer.  But do you have the knowledge for this? 

  Young women, you are also called to grow in your faith not just for yourself but also for others.  You also need to be ready to speak about your faith, to defend the true gospel.  You will also be challenged by many new and wrong ideas in this changing world.  If you have a family or if God will bless you with a family and with children, you will be called upon to do a lot of the teaching and instruction.  But are you preparing for this?  Are you making every effort to grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ?

  And that applies to all of us.  The world is changing.  We are and we will be faced with many challenges, many questions.  But how will you respond to these things if you do not know what the Bible teaches you to do?  2 Peter 3:17,18 says,

“You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

So how should you do this?  Make the study of God’s Word, make growing in the knowledge of Jesus Christ central in your life rather than something you do from time to time.  Arrange your days, your week, your life, around a growth in a knowledge of the gospel.  Sit together around your dinner table and read your Bible.  Read your Bible for yourself.  Pray.  Come to church consistently and prayerfully listen to the Word preached with an open Bible, searching the Scriptures so that you might be convinced of what is written in them.  Keep reading various articles online and in good magazines.  Plan to read good books about the Bible and the various teachings in the Bible and talk with others about what you are learning.  Join in with a Bible study group or else start a new one.  But do all of this on your knees, praying that you will not simply learn for the sake of learning but so that you might abound in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Will that take effort?  Does that take commitment?  Yes it does.  It will not always be easy and you will be needing to give all diligence to this.  But don’t be anxious and don’t look at the mountain and conclude that it is all too hard, that there is too much to do.  Instead fix your eyes on the Lord Jesus Christ and rejoice in your new life in Him.  Pray that you might love Him more and more – and then learn about Him so that you might understand Him more and more.  And as you do that, then it will be an increasing pleasure to add to your faith knowledge.

2.  Persevere in godly self-control.

As you learn to know Christ better and gain a growing understanding of the gospel and what it means to be saved in Christ, you will also want to live for Christ and to persevere in godliness.  And so 2 Peter 2:6 says that having supplemented our faith with knowledge, we are to supplement

“knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness.”

We could go through each of these virtues individually, but there is some overlap and in the interests of time we will look at these things together, learning what it means to give all diligence to persevere in godly self-control. 

  It is a hard thing to persevere in godly self-control.  It happens so quickly that we go from godliness to godlessness in our thoughts, words or behavior.  Titus 2:11,12 says

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.”

But how do you live soberly?  How can we live righteously?  How can we be godly in this present age?  Why do we love the world and the things of this world?  Why is it so hard to battle against the flesh?  How do we keep from falling again and again?

  We hear a lot about addictions lately.  Addictions to drugs, to meth, to painkillers.  Addictions to alcohol and addictions to pornography.  But the Bible uses a broader word, the term “lust”.  This lust doesn’t only refer to wrong sexual desire, but to all those deep desires, those longings that rage within us.

  Many of us find it hard to fight against those lusts.  Many of us stumble and fall again and again until we cry out as Paul did in Romans 7, “Wretched man that I am!  Who will deliver me from this body of death?”  And at times you might even give up, at times you might even try to get used to your sin, to conclude “this is the new me, and this is how things are always going to be.”

  But when we think or we speak this way, then we have forgotten the Lord Jesus Christ, and we have forgotten the indwelling work of the Holy Spirit.  To live a life free from giving in to lust is to live a life of self control.  And self control is the fruit of the Spirit!  And the Holy Spirit works through the gospel.  The Holy Spirit gives us Christ and calls us to live in Him.  To see Christ, therefore, and to live in the gospel of Christ, is the key to self control.  And then what we will find is that as we grow in our love for God and our love for Christ, we will want to live in fellowship with Christ.  And that fellowship with Christ will be so precious that we will not want anything to get in the way of that fellowship.  That’s what the apostle Paul meant when he wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:27,

“But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”

Is that hard to do!  Absolutely!  Although Satan will attack each one of us in different ways, to persevere in godly self-control is a hard thing to do and it requires effort, diligence.  But as we turn to God, as we fix our attention on Jesus Christ and as we grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, the Lord will give us what we need to fight temptation.  1 Corinthians 10:13 says,

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

And as, in God’s power, you fight that temptation and the lusts that rage within you, and as you turn more and more to Jesus Christ and find your fulfillment and satisfaction in Him, then you will also see progress in your growth in godliness. 

To grow in godliness and to abound in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ is not a losing battle.  Yes, it is a struggle and at times you may become discouraged.  But then turn once more to God, turn to Jesus Christ.  Look back to the cross where your sins were paid for and look forward to the return of Christ.  And as you do this, growing and abounding in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, you will grow and be firmly established in Him. 

Therefore, abound in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Since you, who have been purchased in the blood of Christ, have been given all things for a life of godliness, grow in Him and in that sense, add to your faith not only virtue but also knowledge, self control, perseverance and godliness.  And when you do that you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ but you will partake in the divine nature, reflecting our God and Saviour Jesus Christ to the praise of His glory and grace.  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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