Following God on the Journey - 2 Peter 1:3-9 (Sermon)

 

Following God on the Journey

2 Peter 1:3–9


WELCOME 

Hi, I am pastor Rob. I have some things in my bag here. You guys are far away. Tell me what they are (Compass, Map, glasses, Shoes). These are all equipment we might take on a hike. If we were to explore a new land, it would be good to have some supplies if we wanted to follow the trail. Maybe we would need some food and water. God has us on a journey, and he has given us everything we need to follow him; because of this, let’s do that with everything in us. Let us press on and press forward. This concept flows from the text this morning. Will you read it with me? 

TEXT 

Turn in your Bibles to 2 Peter chapter 1 verses 3 through 9. I have asked T. and C. K. to read for us. They will be reading from the English Standard Version of the Bible. Would you please stand with me, if you are able, in honor of God’s Word. 


His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 


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

and virtue with knowledge, 

and knowledge with self-control,

and self-control with steadfastness,

and steadfastness with godliness,

and godliness with brotherly affection,

and brotherly affection with love.

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.

PRAYER 

Thank you. Let’s pray. God, help us know you better. We want to be effective, fruitful, and follow you where you lead. Help us remember what you have done, are doing, and promised to do for us. Help us glorify you with our hearts, minds, and ears for your honor and joy. AMEN. You may be seated. 

REVIEW

If you tuned in last week, you might recall Peter was writing to the church. False teachers had risen up and were questioning God’s promises. They used sexuality and people’s fear to pull them away from the truth (2:2). Specifically, we read they questioned whether Jesus would ever come back as he said (Matthew 24:27, 2 Peter 3:4). Peter reminded them that Jesus’s absence was not neglect or something worse but God’s patience. God was waiting to bring justice and judgment on the world that more people might come to a saving knowledge of him (3:9). This waiting is a good thing and yet hard. Obeying God is hard when the world doesn’t. It is hard to press forward and press on and follow God when the world is going another direction. Thus, Peter called the reader to remember “God’s promises.” He wants them to remember God’s promises empower godly living in a world of ungodliness and false teaching.” Verses 1 and 2 of his letter were a typical introduction, foreshadowing Peter’s purpose. In the next seven verses, Peter articulated, “God has given us everything we need to follow him, and because of that, we should follow him with everything in us.”

THIS MORNING 

If you are taking notes, There are three sections in these seven verses: verses 3 and 4, verses 5 through 7, and verses 8 and 9. Those verses correspond to my three points:

  1. God promises to give you everything you need to follow him

  2. Because of this, follow him with everything in you.

  3. And finally, Peter concluded with the risk and reward. 

Let me say that again. 

  1. God promises to give you everything you need to follow him.

  2. Because of this, follow him with everything in you.

  3. And finally, Peter concluded with the risk and reward. 

God promises everything you need to follow him.

Let’s walk through this text verse by verse. Look at verse 3. “His divine power has granted to us all.”

Isn’t that amazing? God has given you all things! What does that mean? I don’t have my dream car. I get that. But that is not what the whole verse says. Keep reading. “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.” 

Peter qualified the scope of those things that God has given. God has given us all things in two spheres: life and godliness. 

LIFE

So, God has given us what we need to live. He sends us the sun and the rain (Matthew 5:45). He sustains us by his power (Hebrews 1:3). God is the one who gives life and takes it away (Deuteronomy 32:39, Job 1:21). He is sovereign. 

GODLINESS

When it comes to godliness, God gives the ability to be godly. God made godliness possible through Christ by faith. We no longer are slaves to sin. Paul wrote, “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life” (Romans 6:22). Christians are free to follow God. We can say no now to ungodliness and yes to godliness in ways we couldn’t before. God has given us everything we need to follow him. We have all the supplies. 

WHY DO I SIN? 

That raises another question. Why don’t I? Because I am not perfect. We are on a journey, where before we were not even on the path. 

PILGRIM’S PROGRESS

This reminds me of the classic book Pilgrim’s Progress. The main character, Christian, lived in the city of Destruction. The citizens had no idea what was going to happen to the city. One day, Christian's eyes were opened. He read the city was going to be destroyed, and he realized that he had a burden on his back. He needed freedom. God gave him freedom when he looked to the cross and trusted in the prince; Jesus is the Son of God who died to forgive sin and rose to provide the power to follow him where he leads. We follow God now because we have a relationship with him. God has given us the ability to do what he requires. We follow and find he is the one who helps us and empowers and directs us. It is a mystery. The apostle Paul said it this way, 


Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12–13) 


HOW? 

Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works. We work, and God works. God does the first work, makes the following possible, and we work in response. How? Back to 2 Peter, verse 3.  


His [God’s] divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him (2 Peter 1:3). 


It was through knowledge of God that we can be godly: to follow him. True faith produces obedience. This trust in the living God equips us and motivates us.  

CALLED 

Keep reading what the direction our godliness is taking us? 


His [God’s] divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence (2 Peter 1:3). 


Notice the word “called.” What happens first? Does a person live a godly life, then become called? No. The order is reversed. God calls, then we know him, and then we follow him. This runs counter to our do it yourself, meritocratic society. God chooses not based on anything we do but by mercy and grace alone. That is the good news of the gospel. 

TO WHAT HAS HE CALLED TO? 

What has God called us to? It is wonderful. Peter tells us it is to his glory and excellence. We get to meet God and know God and enjoy God because of what Jesus did on the cross in our place. God is perfect, holy, and beautiful. All goodness derives from him. He is pure, lovely, majestic, and mighty. And the good news is that we can run to him without fear of reprisal or punishment or destruction. And as we know him more and more, we start looking more and more like him. Paul said it this way, 


For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Romans 8:29–30)   


SO WHAT

Let’s go back to 2 Peter. Look at verse 4. From this calling to God, Peter wrote, “By which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises” (2 Peter 1:4). What are the promises? 

  • We have already read that God has given us life.

  • God has promised us everything we need to follow him. 

  • He has promised that sin no longer is our slave master. 

  • We have freedom in Christ. 

  • God has promised every one of us spiritual gifts. 

  • He promised that he will care for us. 

  • He promised to hear and respond to our prayers. 

  • Peter’s first letter mentioned the promise of an eternal inheritance that won’t perish, spoil or fade kept in heaven. 

  • The Bible promises eternal life through faith in Christ. 

  • We have all that and so much more through trusting in Jesus as our Lord and Savior. There is an avalanche of promises in Jesus.  

GOD HIMSELF

Another incredible promise Peter mentioned next. Keep reading,


His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature. 


A couple of people asked me this week what does that mean? Some cults say we become gods. Is that what the Bible is teaching? No. Absolutely not. We are born again. We have a new spiritual nature. But we will never be eternal, unchanging, all-knowing, or all-powerful. However, we will be transformed more and more into the likeness of God’s Son Jesus. God shapes our character through the good times and bad, through His Word, through the local church, and the Holy Spirit's conviction. Keep your finger in 2 Peter and turn to 2 Corinthians chapter 3. Look at verses 17 and 18. I read this week in my devotion. 2 Corinthians chapter 3, verses 17 and 18. 


Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:17–18)


If we believe, then we have the Holy Spirit in us. If we have the Holy Spirit, then he will bear his fruit in us. That is amazing! That is precious, priceless, and exceedingly great. To put how great this promise is, Peter contrasted it with where we came from. Look at verse 4,   


He has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. (2 Pe 1:4) 


The opposite of following God is rebelling. The opposite of following him is running from him. The world would like to think that sin has no consequence, only freedom and liberty. Friends, don’t listen to the lies of the Evil One, the World, or our flesh. The way of the world is corruption and death. God has rescued us from the desires that lead to sin, which leads to death. Actions have consequences. The ultimate result is eternal punishment, the opposite of eternal life. Yet, through God’s calling, he has promised to spare us from what we deserve by dying in our place. He died that we might live. Isn’t that amazing! Not only are we saved from being with him in the future, but God has also promised to give you everything you need to follow him moving forward. Now, we come to my second point; because of this, follow God in everything. The first point God has promised to give us everything we need to follow him, because of this, follow him in everything. 

EVERY EFFORT 

Keep reading 2 Peter with me. Chapter 1, verse 5. 


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

and virtue with knowledge, 

and knowledge with self-control, 

and self-control with steadfastness,

and steadfastness with godliness, 

and godliness with brotherly affection,

and brotherly affection with love. (1 Peter 1:5–7)


What a list? I would love to study each of those qualities in greater detail. 

ORDER 

Let me ask, why did Peter write this list this way? Is there an order? Are we to master one and move on to the next? Or is this just a catalog in no particular order? I believe these qualities are connected but not progressively building. The two exceptions are the first and last. From faith comes action. Without faith, the Bible says it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). We can’t follow a God we don’t believe in. Faith comes first. We act out of what we believe. And the last on the list, love, is the greatest. 

LOVE 

What is love? That is fundamental to our faith. 1 John 4:16 tells us that God is, by definition, love. Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love God and the second commandment was to love people (Matthew 22:36–40). What is love? Jesus asked Peter if he loved him three times (John 21). Peter responded, yes. Jesus told him to feed his sheep and then to follow him. Jesus said to all of his followers, if you love me, you will keep my commandments (John 14:15). So we demonstrate our affection with our actions. 1 Corinthians 13 defines love this way. You have likely heard this read at weddings.   


Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth…. Love never ends…. So now faith, hope, and love abide…. but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:1–13)


Romans 5:8 defines love, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Thus, God has called us to himself. He promised everything we need to follow him. Therefore, we demonstrate what we believe about God by obeying him more and more. Another way to say this is to become what we already are. We are children of God adopted into his family faith alone in his work alone. He died to make it possible, so we are to live out of that new identity. 

NUTS AND BOLTS 

How? Practically, how do we “make every effort” or “supplement our faith with virtue?” Fortunately, God has given his Holy Spirit to bear fruit of what he is asking us to do in our lives. The Bible says, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22–23). We can make every effort to live out our faith and follow God, where he leads because God is at work in us. 

HOW TO? - ASSESS

So, how do we take a step forward and move to follow God with the strength he provides? As I thought about this, I thought of three things that can help me grow in godliness. First, assess where I can follow God this week? Where can I grow as a person of character and virtue? How can I know God better? How can I be more self-controlled? How can I be more faithful? How can I be more loving? How about you? Where can you make more effort? Let us keep in step with the Spirit. Consider what it might look like for us to make every effort? In what way can we grow in self-control, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness, kindness, patience, peace, joy, knowing God, and love? 

JOURNALING 

Secondly, journaling has helped me this week to follow God. I don’t journal every day. However, it is a spiritual practice that helps me talk honestly to God and look objectively at where I grow. It helps me be aware. For example, this week, I have been working on controlling my thoughts and actions. I talked to God about that this week in my journal. I wrote my goals and desires. At times I wrote down verses. Try journaling. 

SPIRITUAL FRIENDSHIP 

Finally, a third thing I did this week that helps me grow in self-control is sharing my spiritual struggles with a person of the same gender. I text him or the men in my Life Group for prayer or meet for coffee to talk. Do you have someone you can talk to? If you do, have you been honest with them? It takes effort and courage. Be honest. Share struggles. In the Bible, God basically says that a cord of three strands is not easily broken, so spiritual friendships make us stronger than being in isolation (Ecclesiastes 4:12). Maybe you don’t have someone you can talk to. Seek someone out or be that someone for someone out there. God can help you find someone to talk to. Pray God gives you a person to talk to. We pastors and ministry leaders can help connect you. God may not give you one person right away as you wait. You are not alone. He is with you in Spirit and cares about you. Talk to him. There are other pathways to follow God. What does that look like for you to follow God this week? 

RECAP

Remember, 

  1. God promises everything we need to follow him

  2. Because of this, follow him with everything 

Finally, the third point is the risk and reward at stake. The risk and reward. Peter ends in verses 8 and 9 this way, 

WHY? 


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. (1 Peter 1:8–9)


Don’t forget. Remember what God has promised. He has given you everything you need to follow him. 

GUILTY

Perhaps you feel like you can’t follow him. It is too hard. Friends, none of us are perfect. Keep reading this letter. Peter is not telling them that their hope is in themselves. It isn't. The world might say that, but not God. He is our hope. Peter is like a coach challenging them not to give up. Stay in the game. Keep following. Keep reading and remembering what God has done, is doing, and is going to do. If you are feeling weighed down, write this down. Titus 3 verses 3 through 7, it frames what God has done, is doing, and is going to do for us who believe. Titus 3, verse 3.  

 

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:3–7)


Friends, God has promised you everything you need for life and godliness. You are heirs of the hope of eternal life by grace alone. That grace saves you and empowers you by his Spirit. We can follow because of him. I have one more thing in my bag here that I forgot to bring out. You see, in our journey, we have this. It is the Bible. God has given us everything we need to follow him. Too often, we forget the wonderful promises of God who empowers godly living. Let us take the next steps together, friends. Trust in him and his Word. Let’s press on and press forward. Let’s pray. 

PRAYER 



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