“Make Your Calling And Election Sure”      2 Peter 1:5-11    May 16, 2004

 

SI:  Continuing our 9 week study of the book of 2 Peter.

The whole letter is good but chapter 1 is especially good.

   Might be one of the best descriptions of the Christian life in whole Bible.

 

Last week somebody told me there was too much in my sermon—

   too much content to follow and take in.

I apologize, but that’s the challenge of this little letter.

   Peter has packed so much into these short three chapters

 

This opening chapter is very logical.

   The Apostle carefully builds argument upon argument.

He demands that you think, that you work out these doctrines in your mind

   and then apply them to your life.  He is hard to follow.

   Or at least my explanation of him is hard to follow.

 

So this morning as we move into these next passage,

   I’m going to do a good bit of review from last week.

That way we can build on what we learned and hopefully move ahead.

 

Also, once again, want to give credit where credit is due.

   Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ sermons on 2 Peter.

   John Piper’s sermons on 2 Peter.


INTRO:  2437 SW 30th Ave, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

   is an address that brings back lots of fond memories. 

That was my grandparents’ house.  My grandfather built it in 1950 when they

   moved to Ft. Lauderdale from Ohio—but someone else lives there now.

 

When I was growing up we would visit my grandparents about once a year.

   One thing I noticed about their home, was that they were always adding

   things to it—little touches to make it more beautiful.

It was never exactly the same from year to year—always better, more interesting.

 

My grandfather was a mason and he had a creative touch.

   He loved creating things out of concrete and mortar.

   His specialty was making artificial stone and tile surfaces.

You know how popular stamped and stained concrete is now—

   we have some out in front of the sanctuary—well he was doing that in 50s.

Over time, built a number of patios and walkways on their property

   and decorated them with this masonry work.

 

His creative bent dovetailed perfectly with my grandmother’s interest.

She loved topical plants, especially orchids.

   She was constantly on the lookout for exotic plants of all kinds.

They had a narrow but deep lot—over years, adding a little at a time—

   turned their entire property into a fascinating place.

 

Whole back yard and much of front had a canopy overhead 30 to 40 feet

   that was made up of live oaks, palm trees, strangler figs, bougainvillea.

   Below were—bromeliads, tropical ferns, dozens of varieties of orchids—

Winding all through were my grandfather’s walkways, patios, fountains,

   fish ponds.  It was a little tropical paradise.

From the day they bought that lot until they day they sold, 50 years later

   and moved into a condo—they never stopped adding to it improving it.

 

Last Sunday, in introductory sermon, we looked at the theme of 2 Peter.

   The theme of 2 Peter is that in order to live the Christian life

   you have to know what you have—

   then you have to add to it, improve it, build on it.

That’s the essence of the Christian life—know what you have.

   Know the incredible value and potential of the new life you have in Christ,

   and then, then add to it, build on it, beautify it.

Peter introduces that theme in the first chapter and then comes back to it

   over and over again throughout the letter.

Last Sunday looked at verses 1-4 which are a magnificent summary

   of what you have as a Christian. 

What does Peter say in those verses?  Let’s review.

 

He says that as a Christian, by virtue of God’s sovereign calling of you,

   you have divine power that gives you everything you need

   for real spiritual and moral transformation of your life.

When a Christian comes to the point of knowing, really knowing,

   that he or she has been called by God for great things—

   divine power surges through him—power to do amazing things.

 

Power to love unlovely people, power to give generously,

   power to resist temptations and besetting sins. 

Peter goes on to say that the promises of God are the conduit for bringing that

   divine power to bear on the particular spiritual and moral struggles you are facing.

 

In these next verses, 1:5-11, Peter says—now that you know what you have,

   add to it, build on it, improve it.  Vs. 5-7 “add to your faith, goodness, knowledge,

   self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, love.”

Eight perfectly balanced virtues that begin with faith and end with love.

   This is a picture of the life Jesus has called you to live by his power.

 

The big, challenging question that these verses present for the Christian is simply—

   Are you adding to your faith?  Are you improving what you have?

   Are these things growing in your life and becoming more evident?

With every passing year are you becoming more like Christ?

   More beautiful, more interesting?

 

Focus on three things this passage tells you about adding to your faith—

  

1.  The order for adding to your faith.

2.  The arguments for adding to your faith.

3.  The benefit of adding to your faith.


 

MP#1  The order for adding to your faith.

There is a proper order for spiritual growth.

   The order is:  God works first, then you work.

The power of God has to be present and at work in your life before you can

   even take a single baby step towards real moral and spiritual transformation.

 

Look at verse 5.  Peter doesn’t say, “Make every effort to add to your faith . . .”

   He says, “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith . . .”

   What reason?  The reason he gave in verses 1-4.

God has given his people divine power for moral and spiritual transformation.

   For that reason, because of what God has done,

   you are called to make every effort to add to your faith.

 

Martyn Lloyd-Jones put it this way.

God gives you a farm, gives you a tractor, gives you seeds,

   he promises you rain and sunshine and a harvest in his time—

   and then he says—now, I want you to farm.

 

Do you understand what he is saying?  The Christian life always has a precondition.

   God works first, God provides all you need in Christ.

   He gives you seeds of divine life, he gives you tools to help you grow.

   God gives you great promises for you to hold on to in tough times.

With all that in place he says, “Now, put it to work.”

 

That is the order of the Christian life and faith.

First, God gives you power for transformation,

   then you strive to be a transformed person.

The Lord works for you, he provides all you need, then you work.

 

Many people think Christianity is like this:

   I try to be a good person, I try to change my life and transform myself.

God will see how hard I’m trying and he will bless me for it.

   There is no power in that order.

   That is the exact opposite of the true Christian faith.

 

That’s like a marriage in which a woman is trying to be a good wife

   in hopes that her husband will love her for her effort.

She hopes that by ironing his shirts, cooking his favorite meals,

   and trying to look attractive she will get his attention and

   transform their marriage into a happy place.

There’s no power in that order of things.  It’s just depressing cycle.

  

But the true Christian faith is the exact opposite.

It’s like a marriage in which the woman knows her husband loves her.

   She already knows he finds her beautiful and desirable in every way.

   She knows he’s committed to building a life together with her.

And in that certain knowledge, she makes every effort to be the best wife she can.

   There is power in that order of things—a power to transform and perfect.

In a marriage like that, the meals she cooks, the flowers on the table,

   all of her skills and hard work really do make the marriage better.

 

This is the order you have to follow in your Christian walk.

   God has to be at work first.  His love and power have to be present.

   And then, only then, can you work and make changes that really count.

 

If you ever reverse the order, you might make moral reforms,

   you might change certain patterns and habits.

Some people are able to accomplish impressive things by will-power,

   by exchanging a destructive, shameful habit for a more socially accepted one.

But all of those are just external changes. 

   You could do all of those things and not be truly changed.

 

Let me ask you a question:  Do you have divine power? 

   Has God called you and is he at work in you?

The way you can answer that question is by asking yourself another one—

   and answering honestly.

Do you think you are able to change yourself and become a better person?

 

If you think you can, then you might not have divine power.

   Because don’t think you need it.  You are stuck in that powerless order. 

Any changes in your life will be temporary.  Just a shifting and re-arranging.

 

You have to come to a place where you honestly say—I can’t change. 

   I must have divine power.  I must have Jesus Christ.

   If you have called out to him—even if you don’t feel it, you have it.

He is the one who has enabled you to call to him.

   You need to put that power to work.  How do you do it?


MP#2  The arguments for adding to your faith.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones makes what I think is a profound point about verses 8 and 9.

He says that when it comes to the matter of spiritual growth, adding to your faith—

   the Bible never simply lays down the law.  It never says—grow or else.

   Instead the Lord, through Scripture, appeals to your mind and reason.

Basically, Bible makes two arguments for adding to your faith—

   one positive and one negative.  Find variations of these throughout the Bible.

 

Positive argument is this:

If you claim to be a Christian, if believe you are a child of God, going to heaven,

   then don’t you see that you must grow?

It is the only way of life that is compatible with who you say you are. 

   A Christian must add to his faith because that is who he is.

 

Negative argument is this:

   If you call yourself a Christian but you are uninterested in growth,

   and don’t make every effort to add to your faith,

   then you are living in complete contradiction of who you claim to be.

At some point need to seriously question whether or not you are really in the faith.

 

Dad’s do this with their sons.  We use both positive and negative arguments.

   The positive argument is:  Be a man, son.

   The negative argument is:  Son, don’t be a baby.

 

Be a man.  Be what you are going to be. 

   You must start to live in a way that is compatible with who you will be.

   Be brave, defend the weak, take responsibility.

Don’t be a baby.  That’s not who you are any more. 

   Put on the new man, take off the old man.

 

Peter makes both a positive and a negative argument for adding to your faith.

Positive argument is in verse 8.

   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.”

Christian hears that argument and it resonates with him immediately—

   I was born again to bear fruit. 

   I was saved to produce things of eternal value for the kingdom of God.

But I know that my sinful nature pulls me toward fruitlessness.

   I have a tendency to be ineffective and unproductive spiritually.

So if Apostle Peter says that if I add to my faith goodness, knowledge, self-control,

   and all these other virtues, I’m going to be effective and productive.

That’s what I want.  To be consistent with who I really am.

 

The negative argument in verse 9.

   “But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind,

   and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.”

Once again, the true Christian hears this argument and it resonates with him.

   If I don’t add to my faith goodness, knowledge, self-control, other virtues—

   then I’m going to become spiritually nearsighted and blind.

 

That means the only thing I’m going to be able to see are the things close at hand.

   I’ll be able to see my problems,

   but won’t be able to see what God doing through those problems.

I’ll see the next thing I’m planning to buy, next business decision, next vacation,

   but I’ll be blind to the bigger purposes Lord has for my life.

Worst of all—Apostle says I will forget who I really am.

   I’ll forget that my core identity is a sinner forgiven by Jesus Christ.

 

Biblical arguments for spiritual growth resonate with Christians.

   They are convincing.  Like promises of God, they have power.

You need to use them with yourself.    

   One of the great things about Christian life, once again able to reason

   as God intended, and not be driven along by evil desires.

 

Two tiny examples. 

Men—you are tempted to look at something you know you shouldn’t—

   something that feeds your lust.  Argue with yourself.

Is this who I am?  Is this why Christ saved me?  So I can look at dirty things?

   A victory here will add goodness to my faith—keep me from being ineffective.

   A loss will be a blow to goodness and will increase my blindness.

 

Another example—you wrong someone in the church.  Say something hurtful.

   You know that right thing to do, go and ask for forgiveness.

Your usual way, just ignore it, build a little wall.  Is this who am I?

   Is this why Christ save me?  So I can guard my insecurities. 

   I’m going to add to my faith brotherly love.


 

MP#3  The benefit of adding to your faith.

Look at verses 10 and 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 Savior Jesus Christ.”

 

The great benefit of adding to your faith is this—

   it is the means God has established to give you security that you

   are one of His elect people.  Yes.  Election.  Predestination.  A doctrinal letter.

 

I grew up in the Presbyterian church and my dad is a Presbyterian minister.

   The doctrine of election was in my mother’s milk.

I see it in the Bible from beginning to end—I can’t read the Bible any other way.

   Salvation is by God’s grace alone.

   God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world—

   not because of anything in us but because of His sovereign will.

 

I’ve always believed in the doctrine of election, but I haven’t always liked it.

In fact, there was a time when I almost hated it.

   Reason I didn’t like it was not the usual reason people don’t like election.

   Most people don’t like it because they don’t think it’s fair.

How can it be fair that God chooses some for salvation

   and leaves others in their willful disobedience? 

 

That question has never perplexed me.  The logic of Romans 9 is undeniable.

   “Jacob have I loved, Esau have I hated.”

   “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy.”

   “Who are you, O man, to talk back to God.”

I see enough of the corruption of my own heart to know salvation

   has nothing to do with fairness.  If God was fair would send us all to hell.

And there would be nothing unfair if he chose to save only one person—

   in fact, it would be a triumph of his grace.

 

So why did I come to the point of almost hating election?

   Because I didn’t know if I was one of the elect.

   And I didn’t see how it was possible for me to know.

   That threw me into spiritual turmoil.

It was my freshman year of college.

   I wrested with this over and over.

OK, Andrew, let’s start at the beginning—

   Bible says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”

   I have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, therefore I am saved.

That would work for about 10 minutes.

   But how do I know if my faith is real.  Not deluding myself.

   If you asked Judas if he believed in Jesus, would have said yes.

   Bible says even the demons believe and shudder.

 

Saving faith is only given to those who are predestined to eternal life.

   If I can’t know I am one of the chosen, how can I know if my faith is real.

God, why wasn’t I born a Methodist!?

 

I wrestled and wrestled and wore myself out, and finally gave up.

   But then, some time later, the Lord gave me the answer. 

There is a way to know you are elect.

   It’s right here in this verse—and many others like it in the New Testament.

 

The Lord has linked assurance of your salvation, to growth in your Christian life.

   You want to make your calling and election sure?

   Then make every effort to grow as a Christian.

As you add to your faith—deliberately set out to pursue goodness, knowledge,

   self-control, perseverance, and so on, God uses that to give you an assurance

   that you are one of his.

 

Really couldn’t be any other way.  If you weren’t adding to your faith,

   God gave you an unshakable assurance saved, would become complacent.

   It’s Lord’s way of pulling us back to him.

In retrospect, my problem was not my theology—it was my walk with Lord.

   I wasn’t making every effort to add to my faith.  Coasting.

   When began to suffer the natural spiritual consequence—doubts about salvation,

   didn’t like it, wanted relief without pursuit of godliness.

 

Make every effort to add to your faith—

   as you do, will make calling and election sure, grow in certainty of salvation.

   Promise is—you will never fall.  Nothing will cast you down.

Will always be able to say—I know who I am and where I stand.

   Will walk in that strength, until enter Christ’s eternal kingdom.

 

 

CONC:   Are you adding to your faith?  Are you improving what you have?

 

Are you furnishing your faith with goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love?

Are these things growing in your life and becoming more evident?

 

Are you relying on the power of God?

Are you bringing biblical arguments to bear in your struggles?

Are you pursuing the assurance of your calling and election?

 

A year from now, will your life be more orderly, more pleasing, more like Christ?

   Will there be a new walkway and patio where meet with Lord?

   Or will an old pathway be freshly decorated with renewed godliness?

 

Will there be a new flower, new orchid blooming—

   self-control, brotherly kindness.

   will this flowering virtue bring pleasure to God and other people?

 

What about 10 years from now?  What about 25 years from now?

Are you adding to what you have—or wasting what he has given you?

 

Remember—the essence of the Christian life and faith is this—

   Know what you have—

   you have divine power for moral and spiritual transformation. 

 

   Now—make every effort to add to your faith.