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We have everything we need - 2 Peter 1:1-11

This is a sermon by Lee McMunn from the morning service on 26th August 2007.

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A few weeks ago when I was on holiday with a few friends in Croatia we decided to go a local concert. To prepare for this musical experience I decided to do two important things. I bought a copy of “Classical Music for Dummies.” Learned all about the differences between a symphony, a concerto and a sonatas. I will be a musical geek who is tone deaf! And I bought a ticket for the concert, which helpfully had the location of the concert printed on it. On the night all six of us set off. It was about a 20 minute walk from the centre in an unsavoury area. Began to be concerned when there was no one else going in our direction, no posters and every now and then we saw musicians going in the opposite direction. We arrived at the venue and we greeted by about four monks in civvies painting the front doors. We pressed on. Sent one of our friends and saw one of the monks taking the ticket and shaking his heads. Then one of the concert organisers appeared form nowhere and asked if we were looking for the concert. She asked if we had no heard of the change of venue. They had apparently advertised this change on the local radio and in the local newspaper. Not at the tourist office though! Then we were transported to the main concert hall where the concert had been delayed for us – you could see people were not happy with us as we sneaked in at the back. But it wasn’t out fault! I wanted to shout out. We had not been given all the information and so we couldn’t be held responsible for turning up to the wrong venue.

All this is very different from our responsibilities as Christians. Look at what we are told in verse 3, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness.”

It’s very clear from the NT that we have not simply been rescued from the consequences of our past failures and rescued from the future judgement of God but we, as Christians, have also been rescued for present transformation. We have joined the Kingdom of God. Liberated to live under the loving rule of King Jesus. We have been released to live as we were originally intended. To follow the maker’s instructions.

We find these all over the place in the NT. Pattern of Jesus, his teachings and the teachings of his chosen apostles. All of these instructions are good news and should be embraced with enormous gratitude.

But what makes me even happier is to read a sentence like verse 3 of 2 Peter chapter 1. “His divine power has given has everything we need for life and godliness.” Or to phrase it slightly differently, “His divine power has given us everything we need to live a godly life.”

It’s brilliant. Not only are we given the best instructions on how to behave in a godless world but we are given the power to put them into practice.

And notice who has this power. Is it a special group of Christians? A small number of the spiritual elite? Of course not. Remember who Peter is writing to.

Verse 1, “Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours.”

Who is he writing to? Ordinary Christians. He puts them in the same category as himself. Not apostles and so they cannot speak with his authority but in terms of status there is no hierarchy in the Christian community. We all have the same faith and the same power to live it out in practice.

When did we receive this power? We’re told in verses 3 and 4. “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”

How do we receive this power? Through our knowledge of Jesus. Message about Jesus, his birth, life, teaching, miracles, death, resurrection, ascension, and return – or what we called the gospel.

Risen Lord Jesus calls his people to new life through the preaching of the gospel.

Why? Not because we deserve it but because of his glory and goodness. Both these reasons are wonderful to contemplate. Glory – honour and praise because he saves sinful rebels. All eternity we will sing his praise and offer him the glory he deserves. Goodness – a good God who longs to have mercy.

Because of these attributes he has given us this wonderful message about Jesus, which contains many wonderful promises. Forgiveness for our rebellion, freedom to live now, a family to belong to and a future to look forward to.

Our response is to believe the promises and therefore enter into a relationship with the living God. Or as verse 4 puts it, we participate in the divine nature.

What is the divine nature? The nature of God is that he is a Trinitarian relationship of three persons. So it’s not that we become divine but that we have a relationship with the divine persons. As part of this we have the power of the Holy Spirit living in us.

When we become a Christian we have everything we need for life and godliness.

How does this link together with the command to be filled by the Spirit? Ephesians 5:18, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.”

It’s not so much how much we have of the Spirit but how the Spirit has of us.

We have everything we need. Every Christian.

This means we cannot make excuses. God has given us all the resources we need.

Understand a student sitting an exam who has not been given all the information required or someone attempting to complete a jigsaw without all the pieces getting upset.

But the Christian has everything we need to live a godly life in a pagan world. And this is why we are given a clear command in verses 5 to 7.

“For this reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.”

First thing to notice is how the divine resources are connected with our human responsibility. This is not let go and let God. This command is make every effort. Work hard. Start sweating. Put your back into it.

The divine resources are within you but they will only be released as you start making every effort to live a godly life.

Don’t expect to wake up one morning, walk into the bathroom, stare at the mirror and say to yourself, “I think last night’s sleep has resulted in me being transformed into the image of Jesus.”

It takes effort on our part to become the people God wants us to be.

Wonderfully Peter is not vague about the kind of characteristics we are to strive after. Not a logical order to these. So he is not saying you cannot try for perseverance until you have gained self-control. Or you must postpone brotherly kindness if you are stuck on knowledge.

These are much more like the ingredients required for a godly life. We must strive for them all. Some overlap.
Not that we try and earn our salvation but life in the kingdom involves working out what we already have.

To our faith we are to add…

o Goodness. Non-Christians do good things but are not good because they hate the true and living God. But Christians are to be known for their goodness in daily life. Moral excellence. Living God’s good instructions.
o Knowledge. Keep on growing in our head knowledge. Paul says in Romans 12 that we are not to be conformed to the pattern of this world but we are to renew our mind. How to answer questions. History and biography. Christian books.
o Self-control. Taming the tongue or the anger.
o Perseverance – marathon. Keep on going through good times and bad.
o Godliness – acting like God in a situation.
o Jonah 4:1-3, “But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. He prayed to the LORD, “O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”
o Brotherly kindness – within the fellowship.
o Love – unconditional for everyone.

Are we showing these in increasing measure? Or are we standing still?

The grey hairs are beginning to grow on my head and I’ll be approaching the big 30. In 10 years time I will be glad if someone says to me, you look the same as you did in 2007. But what if an angel of God said the same about me spiritually?

In fact, it’s impossible to stay still spiritually since what happens is that if we are not pressing on we are slinking back.

So if we do not have these qualities let’s not make excuses and say, “well, that’s just my nature, my genes, my upbringing or whatever.” Let’s recognise we have all the resources we need and strive to add these qualities to our faith.

As we finish let me offer three reasons why we should.

1. We will be effective Christians.

See this in verse 8, where Peter says, “For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Implication? If you don’t have them you will be ineffective and unproductive. Not difficult to see why. Just imagine the person who is not good, who has no self-control, who stabs people in the back and is a hater of everyone he dislikes. What chance does this person have of winning people for Christ?

2. Because of the past rescue of Christ.

See this in verse 9, “But if anyone does not have them, he is short-sighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.”

The picture language is very informative. This person lives so much in the present that he or she cannot see at any distance. Forgotten the great rescue. We have been bought at a price and are now owned by Christ. We should be motivated to change.

3. Because of our need for assurance.

Verses 10-11, “Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”

Once saved always saved? Yes, the Bible teaches this clearly. It is all of God. He chooses and calls.

Our question is this: How can I be sure I am saved? Not rely on a previous decision but on present convertedness. Show it by the fruit of our lives.

If we show these qualities in increasing number then we can be sure we are genuinely one of God’s people. Doesn’t mean we are perfect. We will trip up. But over time there is evidence of a developing godly character then this is a good sign.

How is your Christian testimony? Is it ten years out of date or do you have a recent story to tell?

Let’s not make excuse because we have been given all we need for life and godliness. Let’s pray.

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