Get Busy Livin' or Get Busy Dyin'

by PastorErick | 1/16/18, 8:41 AM

“Get busy livin’ or get busy dyin’"

-Red (Shawshank Redemption)

WHY SHOULD WE RESOLVE TO GROW IN 2018?

[5] For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, [6] and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, [7] and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. [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. [9] For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. [10] Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. [11] For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

(2 Peter 1:5-11 ESV)

Over the last few weeks we’ve covered (in great detail) that your resolutions to grow in 2018 are 1. Not what will impact your standing before God (Jesus has taken care of that). 2. Shown what God needs to do in us before real growth (change) can take place, namely give us new affections and 3. Talked about some specific areas we should actually seek to grow in (Bible Reading, Prayer, Fellowship, etc. Notice I say "some” areas; there’s always many, many areas we can grow in, so I just picked some of the biggies).

Now on this final day of devotions on New Year's resolutions, let’s deal with the question of “Why?” Why, after all, if Jesus has declared us perfect and whole in God’s sight, should we seek to grow in “virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, etc?” Peter answers that question in vs. 8-11 of our text:

1. They keep us from being ineffective or unfruitful in our knowledge of Jesus- It is entirely possible to be a highly learned Bible Scholar, able to argue effectively for the kingdom of God, and be entirely ineffective and unfruitful with that knowledge. I’ve seen it bunches of times, (probably have been it bunches of times :( ) and I’m sure you have to. The person might know her doctrine, and he may be able to quote you chapter and verse of the Bible, but the fact is no one listens to them. Why? Chances are they’re not trying to grow in the areas Peter mentions in the text (especially “Love”). If we would hope to be effective Christians (the word in Greek literally means “not barren”) who serve our neighbors well (the reason for virtuous behavior) we need to seek to grow in the various ways Peter says.

2. Helps us remember our need for Jesus- “[9] For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins." Inevitably what happens when one is not seeking to grow in the things of God, but is accepting of stagnation/sinful habits without repentance, is they actually forget who Christ has made them. That’s what Peter’s talking about here: If you’re not seeking to grow in these qualities, you forget that you "were cleansed from your former sins,” (notice the text says “he was cleansed” so it isn’t as if we are talking about someone who never knew Jesus). Christian, you are cleansed from your former sins, so you don’t have to live in them any longer. You ARE a new creation NOW.

That leads to the last point:

3. Confirms our calling and election- Over this verse there is much confusion, and misuse. So allow me to do a little interpretive work before we apply it, OK? OK good.

First of all, this verse is sometimes used to say, “We are called and elected BECAUSE we seek to grow in these qualities.” But this is clearly not the order of the text. Peter says essentially “as you seek to grow in these things” you will “CONFIRM” your calling and election. In other words, the more you grow into the image of Christ, the more you will feel assured of your standing before Christ" (the word “confirm” means “make more sure.”)

The second way this text is misused is when we make it say “Therefore it’s our works that keep us saved.” After all, Peter does say, “For if you practice these qualities you will never fall.” Does that thereby mean the opposite is true? “If you do not practice these qualities you will fall?” Yes and No. Here’s what I mean: The Scriptures are very clear that if one is saved, than growth (good works, heart change, etc.) will inevitably happen throughout your life. So from that perspective, one might say “Yes."

But that change (as inevitable as it is), cannot be confused with the Gospel (only the Gospel according to the Scriptures is what saves). It is not your works that "keep you in God’s kingdom”, rather it is His hand that keeps you (John 10:29). “Nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus your Lord (Romans 8). From that ULTIMATE perspective, the answer is NO. Luther said it this way:

Man is saved by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone.

Here’s what it means that you will not fall if you do these things: You will have greater assurance of the salvation won for you at Calvary which leads to greater freedom, less stress and more joy. The growth is not what will save you, but it will certainly help you walk with a greater confidence of His presence with you.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Pastor Erick

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