Monday, July 29, 2013

Effective & Fruitful

July 28th 2013, Passage: 2 Peter 1:8-9

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

Lack of spiritual growth and increase is a sure sign of spiritual death. Clearly, a man who makes no effort to grow in grace and in the knowledge of God is breaching the contract which he signed when he believed and publicly testified of this in baptism. If this happens, it could lead to apostasy. As we have already found out, there is no room for slothfulness and laxity in Christian living and so we are told to make every effort. This effort has been done effectively so as to bear fruit.
Holiness is essential to Christian living because it is an evidence of the work of grace in a person. Where there is no holiness, then one is shown to be professing what he is not. But the gospel does not make laws – do this and do not do that in order to make us holy. When God saves us, He then engages our mind to reason so that we may come to the conclusion and see the point. In this passage

1.                Why must you be effective and fruitful?
1)       Because you are a partaker of divine nature (v.1-4)
Have you not obtained a faith (from God) of equal standing with the Apostle Peter? Have you not received this like precious faith by the righteousness of God our Saviour? Has not the grace and peace of God multiplied to you? Have you not received all that pertains to life and godliness  by the divine power?
The nature of a Christian life is that he has to be different from what he was redeemed from. We were redeemed from a life of corruption because of sin. Verse 4 tells us that we have escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. So how, can we live as if we are still under the bondage of this corruption? This is why John Piper says, “Lack of diligence in Christian graces may be a sign that we were never called and are not among the elect.”

God chose us before the foundation so that we may be holy and blameless before Him (Eph. 1:4). Christ is called Jesus because He came to save us from sins. His death was to pay the penalty for sins. So how can we live in sin? It would be absurd to be say that you are saved and still live as if you are still in your sins. It would illogical to live in sin when we have been redeemed from sin. It would be foolish to engage in sin when God as called us from there to His holiness.
His divine power has granted you all things that pertain to life and to godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us (v.3). What this means is that for you to live as if you have not received any life and godliness is a denial of the reality of your salvation. This is why we read again and again that without holiness no one will see the Lord… Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. (2 Tim. 2:21)
The purpose of the gospel, the whole point of salvation is godliness. Why did the Lord Jesus come into the world? What did He save you from? Is not true that you have escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire (v.4)?

2)       Because of the qualities you have (v.5-8)
The second reason is because of the qualities that you have been adding to your faith. We saw from verses 5-7 that you have faith, virtue (excellence), knowledge (of God), self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection and love. These qualities is what you have for we read that, “… these qualities are ours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective (idle) or unfruitful (v.8). They are called qualities or spiritual things that are characteristic of a Christian who has been transformed by the rich grace of the Lord. The point the Lord is making is that if we possess these eight spiritual virtues, and if they continue to increase, then we are harvesting and enjoying a very great spiritual growth. These spiritual qualities are to be cultivated and maintained so that they keep on increasing. The result of this increase and growth is that we not ineffective or idle and unproductive rather we are become very fruitful in the kingdom of God. When we are ineffective, we are idle and so fail to produce the necessary fruit that is evidence of salvation. It is not acceptable for anyone who has all that pertain to life and godliness to be barren, unfruitful and unproductive.
Are we growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ? Then we will be fruitful. This will be marked by the being active and committed to the things of God. Spiritual things will be the most sweet and all our delight will be in doing that which adds value to our spiritual well-being. This means that we will be far more prayerful than we have been. You will want to be in every prayer meeting that there is. You will want to spend time with brethren because of the brotherly love. Your desire to grow in the knowledge of God will be unquenchable. Reading the word of God will be a delight.
When you look around Christian churches you will see that very few are interested in vocation ministry. Very few are interested in missions. Very few are interested in witnessing. Very few are interested in attending prayer meetings. Very few are interested in fellowship of brethren. Would say that this is growth?
Let us come to you – What evidence do you have of growth and increase in these qualities? You do not consistently read your bible, you do not have any close fellowship with anyone in the church, you are do not pray as much, you only pray when you wake up, when you are eating, when you are going to sleep! You enjoy reading the newspaper more than reading the Bible. You struggle to wake up to come to church early, but you have never been late for work. While you enjoy watching movies you do not have a single sermon that you have completed watching. The list can go on and on and you will only see yourself for who you are! Peter is urging you here to work on; yes to concentrate on becoming a holy man, a holy woman, a holy Christian so that by so doing you become a very active Christian, a Spirit-led believer.
3)       Because if you lack then you are deliberately damning yourself (v.9)
When you lack this qualities, the Bible says, that you are is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Do you have faith, virtue (excellence), knowledge (of God), self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection and love? What is the evidence? A person who is not concentrating on increasing in spiritual virtues will soon discover that he has nothing to show for what he professes. His faith will be shown for what it is – dead faith which is not faith at all.
A person who is careless about pressing on and advancing on in faith will soon discover that he can not see at all – he is blind:
·    Blind to faith, for he walks by fleshly sight not by faith,
·    He is blind to excellence, because his standard is pleasing men rather than pleasing God,
·    He is blind to knowledge, because he does not pursue the knowledge of God – he seeks after the earthly knowledge
·    Blind to self-control, because he is not crucifying his flesh
·    Blind to perseverance, because he wants everything now and here
·    Blind to godliness, for he lives for himself not for God
·    Blind to brotherly affection for he loves the world and hates God
·    Blind to love, for he is selfish and is not taught of God.
But this persons is blind and myopic – He cannot see far – he only sees what is earthly, and that which is the most important, the eternal things will be cast away. He will discover that he only wants to enjoy what is here and now, forgetting there is far more time in eternity than on earth. Such a person will soon start calling right wrong and wrong right because he is blind.
4)       Because your were cleansed from your former sins
This man is like a person who has set on a safari but along the way he has forgotten where he was going. He has forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. His memory has failed him and so he can neither go back nor proceed! How can you forget that you were cleansed from your former sins? What is the goal of Christian life? What are we aiming for? What will we attain at the end of it all?
The object of Christian faith is to be Christ-like so that we may see God. There are many Christians who have forgotten why they got saved in the first place. And so they live for today and not for eternity. They live as if all there is in life is today and there is no eternity to be enjoyed. But the bible is clear that we will see the God – only if we purify ourselves, even as He is pure. There is no place for a person who will be sin-laden. And so if you really want to see God then you better begin to purify your heart today.
You must never forget that you have been purged your former sins. But remember also that if your trust in Christ, He has cleansed you from all your sins – past present and future, because if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1John 1:9). The problem with the person who does not strive toward all the fruit of faith is that he is blind in two directions. When he looks to the future, it's all a haze, and the precious and very great promises of God are swallowed up in a blur of worldly longings. And when he looks back in the past, the forgiveness that made him so excited at first is completely forgotten, and all he sees is an empty prayer and a meaningless ritual of baptism. You must not be like that for you are called to persevere.
The question that is worthy a million dollars is:
2.                How can you be effective and fruitful?
1)       By increasing in these qualities
The whole point of this passage is to tell you that you have to advance in these spiritual qualities. Your faith has to grow, your excellence or virtue has to increase, your knowledge has to advance, your self-control has to be firmer, your perseverance has to be stronger, your brotherly affection has to be more solid, and your love has to be far more fervent. Theses qualities must not stagnate. They must not get cold or weary because true Christians do not stop pursuing growth in grace (3:18). They go on. They advance. They apply themselves with diligence to increase in these things (as verse 8 says). Peter calls us to a holy dissatisfaction with our present attainments.
Yes, we must not be content in being the same (if not worse) Christians than when we first began. We must grow on to maturity. But surely how can you not grow when you re part of a church that has been endowed with all spiritual gifts? How can be the same when the Bible says that the Lord gave some to be apostles, others prophets, evangelists, teachers and pastors for the equipping of the saints for work of ministry. If you are not getting equipped for the work of ministry, then there is something very wrong. If you are not increasing then there is a possibility that there is no life at all.
How do you know that you have been growing? Consider your life, are you more familiar with the Scriptures more than when you began? This is a result of thorough study, hearing it, reading it, memorizing and meditating on it and applying it on your life. do you pray more? Do you enjoy and cultivate the fellowship of brethren more? Are you more organized and deliberate in your seeking to build the church? I mean do you have any spiritual input on any believer in the church today more than when you began?
Id this is not true, then go and pray over the matter that you have identified slack and sloth. Then plan in terms of time and resources you need to improve on it. And then move on to execute before the end of this week. Do not make excuses. Do not postpone planning to tomorrow. Do it today. For example, let us say that your faith has been growing weak. Plan now how you will seek to restore your faith to back to strength. Do not leave a day.
2)       By keeping in mind what has happened
What has happened to you so that you became a Christian? God in the eternity past, planned your salvation. In the fullness of time, He sent His Son, and He was born of a woman, He was born under the law and He lived among men, men of sin. He perfectly obeyed the law and perfectly fulfilled all righteousness so that He perfectly pleased God. He died on the cross and secured for all time salvation for a people, from every nation, every tribe, every language and every race. On the Day of Pentecost He sent the Holy Spirit to come and appropriate the wonderful blessings of redemption!
The Spirit of God regenerated you so that in him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14, ESV)
How can you forget such a great and wonderful thing? Live then as a person who is conscious of the great and wonderful thing that has happened to you.

How do you keep in mind what has happened to you? By reading your Bible By being there whenever it is being faithfully preached. By preaching it yourself to your friends and neighbours. By living it and applying it on every situation of your life. this way you will keep in mind what has happened. This way, you will never forget. This way you will not be nearsighted, you will not be blind. This way you will be effective and fruitful in the knowledge of our God Lord Jesus Christ.

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