2 Peter 1:1 through 2 Peter 1:11 (NIV)
1Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:
2Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
3His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
5For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.
10Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, 11and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
A man was walking along a narrow path, not paying much attention to where he was going. Suddenly he slipped over the edge of a cliff. As he fell, he grabbed a branch growing from the side of the cliff. Realizing that he couldn't hang on for long, he called for help.
Man: Is anybody up there? Voice: Yes, I'm here! Man: Who's that? Voice: The Lord. Man: Lord, help me! Voice: Do you trust me? Man: I trust you completely, Lord. Voice: Good. Let go of the branch. Man: What??? Voice: I said, "Let go of the branch." Man: [After a long pause] Is anybody else up there?
I. The Conception of Faith is the Provision of God.
A. A Promised Gift
*Many people tell me that they would like to be saved, but they
just don't have enough faith. Sometimes, I will reply, "You must
take God at his word, you must believe what God has said! And
sometimes they look at me with the most amazed look and say,
"Well, I'm trying to believe." What an insult to God! Trying to
believe God. God has spoken and they say, "I am trying to
believe." Why I am a frail, mortal man, but if I told you
something concerning something that I know and you replied,
"That's interesting and I'm trying to believe you," I would be
insulted! I would reply, "Sir, you insult me. Do you think I am
lying to you? What do you mean by saying you are trying to
believe me?" God has spoken in His word and He expects us to
receive His testimony. That is all there is to faith, it is
believing what God has said.
- Commentary on John, p. 130.
B. A Powerful Gift
* Faith does not operate in the realm of the possible. Faith begins where man's power ends.
-- George Muller, orphanage founder, 19th century. Men of Integrity, Vol. 1, no. 2.
* In May 1995, Randy Reid, a 34-year-old construction worker, was welding on top of a nearly completed water tower outside Chicago. According to writer Melissa Ramsdell, Reid unhooked his safety gear to reach for some pipes when a metal cage slipped and bumped the scaffolding he stood on. The scaffolding tipped, and Reid lost his balance. He fell 110 feet, landing face down on a pile of dirt, just missing rocks and construction debris. A fellow worker called 911.
When paramedics arrived, they found Reid conscious, moving, and complaining of a sore back. Apparently the fall didn't cost Reid his sense of humor. As paramedics carried him on a backboard to the ambulance, Reid had one request: "Don't drop me." (Doctors later said Reid came away from the accident with just a bruised lung.)
Sometimes we resemble that construction worker. God protects us from harm in a 110-foot fall, but we're still nervous about three-foot heights. The God who saved us from hell and death can protect us from the smaller dangers we face this week.
-- Greg Asimakoupoulos, Naperville, Illinois. Leadership, Vol. 16, no. 4.
C. A Purposeful Gift
* Saving grace makes a man as willing to leave his lusts as a slave is willing to leave his galley, or a prisoner his dungeon, or a thief his bolts, or a beggar his rags.
-- Thomas Brooks. Leadership, Vol. 16, no. 1.
II. The Cooperation of Faith is the Practice of Man.
* When Hudson Taylor, the famous missionary, first went to China, it was in a sailing vessel. Very close to the shore of cannibal islands the ship was becalmed, and it was slowly drifting shoreward unable to go about and the savages were eagerly anticipating a feast. The captain came to Mr. Taylor and besought him to pray for the help of God. "I will," said Taylor, "provided you set your sails to catch the breeze." The captain declined to make himself a laughing stock by unfurling in a dead calm. Taylor said, "I will not undertake to pray
for the vessel unless you will prepare the sails." And it was done.
While engaged in prayer, there was a knock at the door of his stateroom. "Who is there?" The captain's voice responded, "Are you still praying for wind?" "Yes," "Well," said the captain, "you'd better stop praying, for we have more wind than we can manage." And sure enough, when but a hundred yards away the cannibals were cheated
out of their human prey. --Oriental Missionary Standard
* Obedience is the Only path that leads to the glory of God. Not
obedience instead of faith, nor obedience to supply the shortcomings
of faith, but faith's obedience. -- Anon.
A. An External Cooperation
* Two little girls were on their way to school one morning. Having
been detained in starting, they were very much afraid that they would
be late. One said, "Let us kneel down and ask the Lord to not let us
be late." The other said, "No, I think I will run as fast as I can,
and pray to God while I am running to help me to get there on time."
It is easy to see which of these two had the right idea about
prayer and faith in God. Did the one who ran while she prayed, trust
God any less than the other? -- Sunday School Times
B. An Internal Cooperation
*A little boy was being very naughty in the classroom and had to be punished. His teacher told him to go and sit in the corner. He stomped over to the chair that was placed in the corner of the room, plopped himself down in it. Glaring at his teacher he said, “OK, I’ll sit down on the outside, but I’m standing up on the inside.
When our faith cooperates with God internally, we not only sit down on the outside, but we sit down on the inside as well.
C. A Productive Cooperation
* Did you ever hear about Elbert Hubbard? Sixty to eighty years ago, he traveled the United States lecturing on life when he wasn't at home handcrafting fine furniture or publishing books.
Among one of Hubbard's memorable quotes is: "As we grow better, we meet better people."
Isn't it true that our judgment of others really reflects our own selves? Our own attitudes alter our impressions of others. Out shortcomings spur our recognition of the shortcomings of others.
But our companionship with Christ can help us grow better than anything else. No higher standards can be found than His; yet His high aspirations are accompanied by equally strong understanding, love, and forgiveness.
Christianity is an ongoing experience, a life being lived, a process of growth. Constantly seeking His will and way changes us. An occasional gesture toward Him accomplishes little. Regular worship, continual exposure to the Bible, and working with others striving to be effective members of the Church promotes rapid growth. And it's amazing how much better other folks become when we do that growing ourselves.
-- Ray W. G. Bayley, Christian Reader, Vol. 24, no. 6.
III. The Continuation of Faith is the Passage to Heaven.
A. A Passage of Verification
* Paul Harvey has rightly said, "If you don't live it, you
don't believe it."
*Imagine a ship filled with people crossing the Atlantic. In the middle of the ocean there is an explosion. The ship is severely damaged and slowly sinking. Most are dead, and the rest are rushing for the lifeboats. Now suppose one man doesn't know about the lifeboat, so he does not get aboard. He doesn't have knowledge, so he is not saved. Suppose another man knows about the lifeboat and believes it will save his life, but he is grief-stricken over seeing his wife killed, so he chooses not to get aboard and dies with his wife. He has knowledge and mental assent, but he is not saved. Others beleive the lifeboat will save them, and they get into the boat. They are saved by faith, that is they have knowledge, mental assent, and trust. However, it is not their faith that saves them--no matter how much they have. It is the boat. Saving faith trusts Christ, and Christ saves. Evangelism, A Biblical Approach, M. Cocoris, Moody, 1984, p. 77
*"In 1963...65 percent of Americans said they believed in the absolute truth of all words in the Bible. Within 15 years, by 1978, the proportion of the population holding this belief had declined to 38 percent. The current figure of 32 percent represents a new low in literal belief in the Bible" (PRRC Emerging Trends (January 1992):1).
The same thing has happened in England. The proportion of people who believe in a personal God has declined from 36 percent in 1981 to 31 percent today. Those who believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God has fallen from 52 percent in 1981 to 48 percent today.
(International Christian Digest (July/August 1992)). The Body, Charles W. Colson, 1992, Word Publishing, Page 336
B. A Passage of Vision
* On day six of the ill-fated mission of Apollo 13, the astronauts needed to make a critical course correction. If they failed, they might never return to Earth.
To conserve power, they shut down the onboard computer that steered the craft. Yet the astronauts needed to conduct a thirty-nine-second burn of the main engines. How to steer? Astronaut Jim Lovell determined that if they could keep a fixed point in space in view through their tiny window, they could steer the craft manually. That focal point turned out to be their destination--Earth.
As shown in 1995's hit movie, Apollo 13, for thirty-nine agonizing seconds, Lovell focused on keeping the earth in view. By not losing sight of that reference point, the three astronauts avoided disaster.
Scripture reminds us that to finish your life mission successfully, "Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith" (Heb. 12:2).
-- Stephen Nordbye in Fresh Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching (Baker), from the editors of Leadership.
C. A Passage of Victory
*Michael Faraday, the great scientist, was taken ill. When it became evident that the sickness that had fastened itself upon him would soon result in his death, a group of fellow scientists
came to see him--not so much to talk about science as to talk
One of them said to him: "Mr. Faraday, what are your
speculations about your future?" With evident surprise to them
he replied: "Speculations! I have none. I am resting on
certainities." Then he quoted II Tim. 1:12: "For I know whom I
have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that
which I have committed unto him against that day." ("Choice Illus." W.W. Clay pg. 63)
* A certain lady loved flowers and plants. She planted a rare vine against the stone wall near the back of her yard. She nurtured it, and it grew well. It was vigorous; it was beautiful. But it had no blossoms. She was disappointed.
One day she stood there looking at that vine with the beautiful foliage but no blossoms. Her neighbor called across the wall, asking her to come over. The lady went over to the other yard. The neighbor said, "Thank you for planting that vine. Look at these beautiful blossoms." You see, the vine had crept through the stone wall, and the blossoms were on the other side. The owner hadn't seen them yet.
And that's the way faith is. It leaps beyond our human limitations to the other side. If you feel obscure, don't forget the God of our faith will overcome your human limitations.
-- Gordon Johnson, "Finding Significance in Obscurity," Preaching Today, Tape No. 82.
The word believe means more than just intellectual faith,
because the Bible says, "The devils also believe. . . "
Why, the devil is a fundamentalist, and he is orthodox. He
believes in Christ. He believes in the Bible. He believes the
whole business of religion. He is even in the religion business.
Intellectually, he believes in the dogma (doctrine). He
believes in the creeds. But the devil has never been saved and
he is not going to heaven. You may be able to recite theology,
but I tell you that is not enough. There must be a real commit-
ment to Christ.
Have you done that? Have you come with everything? Have you
allowed Him to change your life in full surrender? Can you say,
"Jesus is my Savior? I'm am trusting in Him and Him alone for
salvation. By faith I surrender to Him? I am willing to obey
Him and follow Him form this moment on!
- Billy Graham