God’s Ultimate Excellence for Us - Part 2
2 Peter 1:1-11
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - March 10, 2013
*Sometimes people get down when they compare themselves to other people: Somebody richer, smarter, stronger or better looking. Have you ever been there? Maybe you think of yourself as a little nobody right now.
*President William Howard Taft’s great granddaughter was asked to write her autobiography when she was in the third grade. And this is what she wrote: "My great-grandfather was President of the United Sates. My grandfather was a United States Senator. My father is an ambassador. And I’m a Brownie." (1)
*You may not feel like much compared to the people around you. But we all can live an excellent life in the sight of the Lord. How can we do it? How can we live the excellent life God wants for us?
1. First: Our life must be founded on faith.
*This is Peter’s message to us in vs. 1-4. The excellent life must be founded on faith. In this letter Peter was speaking to Christians, people of faith, so he opened with this introduction in vs. 1: "Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ."
*Jesus Christ is the only foundation for salvation. We must put our faith in Him. This is why Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 3:11, "other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." The only foundation for the excellent, eternal life is Jesus Christ. And that is because we are sinners who must be saved.
*M.C. Richards once asked: "Why is it if we are all so well-educated and brilliant and gifted and artistic and idealistic and distinguished in scholarship. -- That we are so selfish and scheming and dishonest and begrudging and impatient and arrogant and disrespectful of others?" (2)
*It is because we are sinners who must be saved. In Acts 4 Peter and John were on trial before the high priest in Jerusalem. The Jewish leaders were grilling them about a miraculous healing, and the Word of God says:
8. Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders of Israel:
9. If we this day are judged for a good deed done to the helpless man, by what means he has been made well,
10. let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.
11. This is the 'stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.'
12. Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.'' (Acts 4:8-12)
*We must be saved and we can be saved, -- but only through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Faith in Jesus Christ is the only foundation for a life worth living.
*Last week we talked about how we can trust in God’s goodness, His grace and His guarantees to us:
-As Peter said in vs. 1: Christians "have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ." That’s God’s goodness.
-Then in vs. 2: "Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord." There’s God’s grace.
*And in vs. 3&4:
3. According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
4. Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
*Those promises in vs. 4 are God’s guarantees to us. We can surely trust in God’s goodness, His grace and His guarantees to us.
-And this is vital, because the excellent life must be founded on faith.
2. The excellent must also be full of God’s fruit.
*Peter talked about this fruitful life in vs. 5-8, where he said:
5. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
6. And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
7. And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
8. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
*Peter started here by telling us that there are some things we need to add to our faith. And he said that we need to give it "all diligence" -- "Make every effort" the NIV says.
*The word picture behind "diligence" is to speed up. Hurry up! Get busy! Be eager about fully adding or supplying these seven things to our spiritual life.
*In the "Believer's Bible Commentary," William McDonald calls these seven things the "seven elements of holiness." And McDonald says, "God has given us all that is necessary for the divine life. Because He has, we must be diligent in cultivating it. God does not make us holy against our will or without our involvement. There must be desire, determination, and discipline on our part." (3)
*J. Vernon McGee called these seven things "graces which are to be added to our faith." And Dr. McGee explained that "they are not like a series of beads that you count off. Nor are they like a stack of dominoes which you stand on end in a long line, then when you push the first domino down, all the others fall down in a line. It is not like that at all. Neither is it like placing one brick upon another in building a structure. . ."
*Rather, the Christian life is a growth. This is the way Peter explains it in this epistle which closes with the tremendous statement, 'Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.' (2 Peter 3:18)." (4)
*Dr. McGee used the illustration of a tree growing. So all of these "seven graces" should be growing together in us as we grow in the Lord. There will be a harmony or a symphony of these graces growing in our lives. That makes perfect sense when we learn that the word "add" Peter used here is the same word that gave us words like "chorus" and "choreography."
*A fruitful life comes through the ongoing growth of these seven graces in our lives, growing to be more and more like our Savior Jesus Christ.
 So first: Add "virtue." This is goodness or excellence.
 Add "knowledge." That’s spiritual insight and understanding.
 Also add "temperance" or "self-control" in the NKJ. Self-control is the good quality of mastering our appetites, desires and passions.
*Anybody here have trouble with your appetites? -- It’s easier for us to tell other people how to live, than to get our own house in order. A lot of times we are like the guy who walked around town with a T-shirt that said: "Take My Advice. -- I'm not using it." (5)
*I like that. But God wants us to build up our own lives with a healthy dose of self-control.
We also need to add "patience" or "perseverance" in the NKJ.
*This is one of the tough ones. It’s the person who endures, the person who is not swerved from his purpose and loyalty to God by even the greatest trials and sufferings. And I say this is a tough one, because this is the "patience" or "perseverance" that Paul talked about in Romans 5:3-4, when he said:
3. . . We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;
4. and perseverance, character; and character, hope.
*James used the same word when he said:
2. My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,
3. knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. (James 1:2-3)
*It’s almost like we should pray, "Lord send me some troubles. And let me be happy about them, because I know it will add patience to my life!"
*I’m not eager to pray that prayer. But the troubles will come. And God will use those troubles to add enduring patience to our lives. Why? -- Because this quality makes us much more like our Savior.
*Bill Bouknight tells about seeing this patience in some close friends. Listen to his testimony: "Two of our close friends are a couple whose names are Mary Louise and Jim. They have only one child. Jimmy is about 30 years old and is profoundly (disabled mentally). He spends most of his time in an institution but is with them for an occasional weekend. They love him dearly and he has progressed far beyond what the experts thought possible.
*Mary Louise was given a chance one Sunday to give a brief testimony. With a beautiful smile and a joyous spirit, she praised her all-sufficient God. I will never forget her last sentence, and as she spoke it, I don't think there was a dry eye in the sanctuary. She said, "I am thankful for a husband who loves me and lets me know it, and for a son whose childlike faith never ceases to inspire me. Truly my cup runneth over.'" (6)
*Mary Louise has the kind of patience that God wants us to add to our lives.
 But also add godliness. That’s holiness and reverence towards God.
 And add brotherly kindness. That’s one word in the original language: "philadelphia," brotherly love and affection.
*I like what Vern McLellan said about kindness: "Money will buy a fine dog. But only kindness will make him wag his tail." (7)
*We all need more kindness.
 But also add "charity" or "love" in the NKJ. That’s agape love, God’s kind of unconditional love.
*Kent Crockett wrote a book with this title: "I Once Was Blind. -- But Now I Squint." I like that title because it reminds us that we need to grow in our Christian life. We all need to grow. And more than anything else, we need to grow in God’s kind of love.
*Kent told about a man, who was working a crossword puzzle and asked, "What is a four letter word for a strong emotional reaction toward a difficult person?" Someone standing nearby said, "The answer is hate." But then a Christian lady close by said, "No, the answer is love!"
*Then Kent wisely noted this great truth: "Everyone is working that same crossword puzzle. But the way you answer is up to you." (8)
*May God help us to add a whole lot more of His agape love to our lives.
-How can we live the excellent life? -- Our life must be full of God’s fruit.
3. And it must be focused on our finish.
*This is Peter’s message to us in vs. 9-11, where he said:
9. But he that lacketh these things (i.e. “he that lacks these seven Godly qualities”) is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
10. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
11. For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
*Peter is not talking about losing our salvation in these verses. The only way to be saved is by God’s amazing grace, through faith in Jesus Christ! So Peter was not talking about losing your salvation. He was talking about losing your rewards.
*And we may feel a little awkward or unspiritual thinking about heavenly rewards. But God’s Word is very forward about it. Listen to some of what Jesus said about heavenly rewards:
-Matthew 5:11-12, Jesus said:
11. "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.
12. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
-In Luke 6:35, Jesus said: "Love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Highest. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil."
-Matthew 10:40-42 blesses my heart! There Jesus said:
40. "He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.
41. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward.
42. And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward."
*Jesus focused on our finish and He wants us to do the same thing.
*Henry Morrison was a faithful missionary who served the Lord for over 40 years in Africa. On the way back to United States, he began to wonder: "Will anyone remember us? Will anyone recall who we are? Will anyone meet us at the boat?"
*Unknown to Henry Morrison and his wife, President Teddy Roosevelt was also on board that ship. He had gone to Africa for a hunting trip. When the ship pulled into New York harbor, the missionary looked to see if anyone had come to welcome them back home. Thousands of people were there cheering. Bands were playing. There were signs, banners, and billboards everywhere saying, "Welcome Home".
*Henry and his wife were thrilled about the crowds of people that were there to welcome them home. They went down to get their luggage. But when they came back to the deck of the ship the parade of people was already gone.
*Of course they had come to welcome Teddy Roosevelt home. Henry Morrison went to his hotel with a heavy heart. As he sat there on the bed, he told his wife, "Honey, I just don’t get it. For 40 years we poured our lives into ministry and service. And yet we come back to America and not a single soul comes to welcome us home!"
*His wife sat down next to her husband. She put her hand on his shoulder, and comforted him with words that he would never forget, "Henry, you have forgotten something. You’re not home yet!" (9)
*We’re not home yet! -- But we need to be getting ready to go. First and foremost that means having Jesus Christ as the foundation of our lives, trusting in the Lord and what He did on the cross for us. Our life must be founded on faith in Jesus Christ.
*But Peter reminds us that there is a whole lot more to the Christian life. We need to get busy adding all of the good things God wants in our lives: Virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and God’s agape love. Our life must be full of God’s fruit.
*Then we must focus on our finish. This is the only way to live a truly excellent life. May God help us to do it! God help us to hear Him say, "Great is your reward."
(1) Moorpark Presbyterian Church Sermon "What Jesus Most Wants for You" by Dave Wilkinson - John 17:21-26, 1 John 4:17 - March 10, 2002 - http://www.mppres.org/sermons/2002/031002.htm
(2) M.C. Richards quotation from "Illustrations Unlimited" by James S. Hewett - Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc - 1988 - p. 454 - Source: "Bible Illustrator for Windows" - Topic: Sin - Subtopic: Effects of - Index: 4205 - Date: 7/1996.1522 - Title: "Might It Be Sin?"
(3) "Believer's Bible Commentary" by William McDonald - Edited by Arthur Farstad - Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Copyright 1995, 1992, 1990, 1989 by William McDonald - 2 Peter 1:3-21 - Call to Develop Strong Christian Character
(4) "Through the Bible" with J. Vernon McGee - 2 Peter 1:5-7
(5) The late, beloved Christian Bill Havard often wore this shirt in Town Bluff, Texas - Source: "In Other Words" - February 2008 #3 - produced by Dr. Raymond McHenry - 6130 Barrington - Beaumont, Texas 77706 (409) 866-2111 - www.iows.net
(6) Sermons.com sermon "One Good Word - Thanks!" by Bill Bouknight - Lamentations 3:19-24 - 2002
(7) Vern McLellan, "The Complete Book of Practical Proverbs and Wacky Wit" - Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1996 - Source: "Bible Illustrator for Windows" - Topic: Kindness - Index: 1998 - Date: 12/1996.10268 - Title: Kindness
(8) Kent Crockett, "The 911 Handbook" - Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2003, p. 23
Ray Stedman sermon entitled "On Living Together" - www.pbc.org/dp/stedman/misc/0284.html
SermonCentral sermon "What Does God Owe Me?" by John Hamby - Luke 17:7-10
SermonCentral illustration contributed by Brandon Park