We are a community with a peculiar DNA that is growing faithfully closer to Christ. “How are we growing closer to Christ?” We are growing closer to Christ by paying particular attention to our own growth and the growth of others. I will save talking about the growth of others until the close of the sermon; however, for now I will simply refer to it as our peculiar DNA.
2 Peter 1:3-15 (NLT)
Growing in Faith
3 By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. 4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.
5 In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.
8 The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.
10 So, dear brothers and sisters,* work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. 11 Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Paying Attention to Scripture
12 Therefore, I will always remind you about these things—even though you already know them and are standing firm in the truth you have been taught. 13 And it is only right that I should keep on reminding you as long as I live. 14 For our Lord Jesus Christ has shown me that I must soon leave this earthly life, 15 so I will work hard to make sure you always remember these things after I am gone.
Peter begins with faith that is asking the newly established Christian community that because of our salvation add to it faith. I think of the listing of the “heroes of the faith” found in Hebrews chapter 11. What comes to mind when I think of these men and women is their faithfulness in all situations.
Hebrews 11:39-12:2 (NLT)
39 All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. 40 For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us.
12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.
Peter exhorts us as God’s community with a peculiar DNA to grow faithfully closer to Christ.
Our list of virtues begins with faith and adding to it moral excellence.
A fond memory from childhood is when some of us neighborhood kids made a high jump in our backyard. I do not remember what we used for poles; however, I do remember that we used a bamboo pole for the bar. Each of the neighborhood kids would take their turn at trying to jump over the bar. Our goal was to keep raising the bar.
Moral excellence (goodness)…
This can be thought of as virtue or goodness. One of the things every culture, neighborhood, church, and people needs to hear is that God desires us to live excellent lives. We have a certain Standard in which we are to live by. Just being saved is not enough when we fail to live up to God’s standard of moral excellence. For when we repent of our sins, and are baptized but then go our own way then I am afraid that God will allow us to go our own way (Hebrews 6:4-6). And as we discussed ever so briefly last week (2 Peter 2:1ff.) there is a judgment day for everyone both the righteous and the unrighteous. There is Heaven and Hell just as there is good and evil! Moral excellence can be thought of as “raising the bar!”
Add to moral excellence, knowledge.
“Knowledge of what,” how about all the things Peter had previously been saying…first he tells them that they are a holy people (1 Peter 1:15), next he says that they have become a chosen or priestly people that is they are now God’s ambassadors to the world (1 Peter 2:9), and in (1 Peter 4:13) they are a suffering people. And here in our text this list of virtues serves so that we will remain a faithful people (2 Peter 1:5).
We need to be the kind of community with the peculiar DNA that is faithfully growing in its knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Add to knowledge, self-control.
Strong’s Greek Lexicon defines this word as “one who masters his desires and passions, esp. his sensual appetites.”
We live in a culture that feeds our desires, and passions. For the virtues that I have listed so far: faith, moral excellence, knowledge, and now self-control are counter to this culture we live in. Faith as said by some is “whatever works for you.” And what is morally excellent to one is not to another. And knowledge simply knows.
As a community of faith we must have moral excellence, the knowledge of Christ, and self-control to counter this culture.
Add to self-control, perseverance.
Patient endurance or perseverance…
I like this one because sometimes it can go unnoticed. Patient endurance or stick-to-itiveness is like a breath of fresh air in our transient culture.
Doug Pickels an elder at North Shore Christian Church wrote the following for a requirement of mine at Fuller Theological Seminary. I am both humbled and very appreciative to Doug for his kind words. And I share them so that all of us will persevere in Christ.
“I would like to thank the Fuller Theological Seminary for the opportunity extended to my brother in Christ, good friend, and former employee; Kahu David Peterson.
I'm quite humbled and honored that David asked me to write an assessment letter for further equipping himself to ‘fight the good fight and run the good race’
I must confess. Twenty- two years ago when my wife and I first met David hitch-hiking to church on the north shore of the island of Kauai leadership skills were not what I noticed in this eight-teen year old surfer. We did notice; however, a faith in Jesus and a clarity of that Salvation which was bought for him through his Savior. A clarity that seemed liken to the certainty that Paul wrote to Timothy about; ‘for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him until that day.’
This persuasion of saving faith in Jesus helped cultivate a desire to serve and develop a growing response to God's calling in David's life. It gave him patience and perseverance to seek God's direction for his life. I would have to say, that patience and perseverance could possibly be the foundation blocks of his leadership qualities. A sound work ethic and kindness would be the mortar.
As for the desired outcomes from these leadership studies in the Master of Arts of Global Leadership program I would pray, recommend, and hope for David and those associated with this program to network into a missionary effort to serve others, equip local leaders, to herald the gospel message of Jesus Christ, and make His presence known through out this world!”
We are a community with a peculiar DNA that is persevering in Christ.
Now add to perseverance, godliness.
This sounds so loftily; however, Peter mentioned it right after his salutation.
2 Peter 1:3 (NLT)
Growing in Faith
3 By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.
Living not just saved lives but sanctified lives too. You see when we have all the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control then we are living the sanctified lives that honor and please our Heavenly Creator.
Compliance in life does not lead to the faithful life God desires. I believe that if we are not living sanctified lives then we are still in our sin and if we are still in our sin then we are utterly lost! And if we are utterly lost then we have no way of being a godly or sanctified community with the peculiar DNA that is growing faithfully closer to Christ.
Add to godliness, brotherly affection.
I think the Greek word for this says it all, do you know what it is? I will give you a hint…there is a large city in the USA that is named after this Greek word. Does anyone know what the name of the Greek word and city is?
φιλαδελφία [philadelphia fil•ad•el•fee•ah] 1 love of brothers or sisters, brotherly love. 2 in the NT the love which Christians cherish for each other as brethren
Love for everyone…this virtue certainly makes us a community with a peculiar DNA that is growing faithfully closer to Christ.
Add to brotherly kindness, love.
Love is mentioned last but certainly not least.
ἀγάπη [agape ag•ah•pay] 1 brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence. 2 love feasts.
Agape love as unconditional and is best exemplified through the life of Christ! That while we were still sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5:1ff.) And now reigns in Heaven where one day soon He will come and judge the righteous from the unrighteous!
When we are living agape lives then we are the kind of community that has a peculiar DNA and that is growing faithfully closer to Christ.
In closing I want you to remember that as pastor Pete writes these words he is awaiting martyrdom.
I got there two day before my granddad passed away. He had been fighting to stay alive just long enough to get his whole family around him so that he could say good-by. I do not remember everything granddad said; however, I will never forget his words to his wife, “Bonnie, I have always been faithful to you.”
These words were honest, unrehearsed, simple words true words. Words like what pastor Pete is telling us (2 Peter 1:12-15) so that we will not be ineffective and unproductive in our knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
So what is this peculiar DNA in our community that is faithfully growing in Christ?
Well, its ultimate aim is the building up of other developing communities that they in turn develop communities with a peculiar DNA that is growing faithfully closer to Christ. This might be a daughter church we have planted, it might be a missionary effort that was began forty years ago that has now established churches, schools, and hospitals. This peculiar DNA might be ministering to the lives of students from our own backyards as well as those coming from across oceans to attend our Universities. It might be taking a look through our kitchen window to see what our neighbors felt needs are and then asking ourselves how we can meet these needs with the love of Christ.