The Growth of Faith

In my Bible study class, this week we began Second Peter, which involves much less suffering, more practical application; dealing with developing faith, denouncing false teachers and God’s design for the future! Here’s a little outline I noticed so far:

  1. The proclamation of the righteousness of God (2 Peter 1:1-2)
  2. The multiplication of the virtues of God (2 Peter 1:3-4)
  3. The additions by the people of God (2 Peter 1:5-9)
  4. The examination of the calling of God (2 Peter 1:10-12)
  5. The revelation to the apostle of God (2 Peter 1:13-15)
  6. The transfiguration of the Son of God (2 Peter 1:16-18)
  7. The inspiration of the Word of God (2 Peter 1:19-21)
  8. The deviation of the enemies of God (2 Peter 2:1-3:4)
  9. The condemnation of the former world of God (2 Peter 3:5-6)
  10. The destruction of the present world of God (2 Peter 3:7-12)
  11. The creation of the future world of God (2 Peter 3:13-18)

The Place of Faith:

  1. What spiritual disciplines have helped you the most in your Christian walk? Some responses were prayer, personal study, worship, solitude, and even fasting.
  2. What are some things that we have received from Christ (2 Peter 1:3, 4)? The point is that God has given us everything we need pertaining to life, and godliness. He does not withhold things from some people to fending for themselves. There are precious promises given to us so that we can become more like Jesus Himself.
  3. We listed all the character traits that God wants us to develop (2 Peter 1:4-7), which are faith, moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love.

The Progression of Faith:

  1. Faith is the foundation upon which everything else is based.
  2. Moral excellence is the first step or confessing sin and getting rid of the things that the world and the flesh want us to do. We are changed people and do not need to behave like those around us. It answers the question, “What are we to do?”
  3. Knowledge is the “Why?” we strive for moral excellence.
  4. Self-control may be the “How?” Since moral excellence can be difficult, once we understand why we are to live differently, self-control allows us to say no to sin, and yes to God every time. Singer/songwriter Mylon LeFever had a song decades ago, “Love God, Hate Sin.” Pretty Good credo to live by.
  5. Perseverance allows us to stand strong while we exercise self-control. Hold on to the end, endure, and be steadfast in your walk with Christ.
  6. Godliness is the goal, to become more like God. We will never become a God (like some religions profess) but we are to be like Him (1 John 3:2, Romans 8:29).
  7. Brotherly kindness is the byproduct of our growing in godliness. When God invades your heart, the Fruit of the Spirit becomes evident (Galatians 5:22-23).
  8. Finally, love is the quality that defines who Christians, are. The world will know that we are His disciples by our love (John 13:35).

The Purpose of Faith

The goal is growth. We must possess these qualities in increasing measure (2 Peter 1:8), so if they are not, make sure that He has really called you, or adopted you into the family (2 Peter 1:10), because this is the way into His eternal kingdom (2 Peter 1:11).

Commentary:

Peter portrayed the nature of the Christian life with its challenge to spiritual growth and maturity. His readers’ spiritual safety lay in their understanding the nature of their new life in Christ and in their spiritual growth and maturity. Appreciating these realities is the best antidote against succumbing to error.

The Believers’ Resources (2 Peter 1:3–4)
To rekindle an appreciation for the resources God had given his readers, Peter reminded them of God’s power and promises. Many Christians have forgotten how much God has forgiven them, or they have appreciated His forgiveness only superficially. This appreciation is the key to growth in the Christian life.

Grace and peace are possible since God has given all Christians everything they need to lead godly lives. These resources are available through knowing Jesus Christ more personally. To make progress in godliness no believer can get along without God’s Spirit and His Word. These become ours as we appropriate His worthy and excellent promises in the Bible that enable us to overcome our temptations.

The Believers’ Needs (2 Peter 1:5–9)
Having established the believer’s basic adequacy through God’s power in him and God’s promises to him, Peter next reminded his readers of their responsibility to cultivate their own Christian growth. This was to correct any idea they may have had that they needed to do nothing more because they possessed adequate resources.

Since believers have resources that are adequate for a godly life, we should use them diligently to grow in grace. Escaping the corruption of lust takes effort (see 1 Timothy 6:11–12; 2 Timothy 2:2). We must apply all diligence, our most basic responsibility for experiencing Christian growth (2 Peter 1:10, 15, 3:14). To their faith, as a foundation, believers need to add seven qualities with God’s help. Each virtue contributes to the total growth of the saint. Peter arranged the virtues in a random order but presented them so each one receives emphasis. Failure to work on these virtues will make us “ineffective” and “unproductive” as demonstrators of His life (2 Peter 1:8, NIV). The absence of these virtues gives evidence of spiritual blindness to the realities connected with relationship with God, in particular, shortsightedness.

The Believers’ Adequacy (2 Peter 1:10–11)
Simply practicing what Peter had just advocated would prepare his readers adequately for the future. They had no need for the added burdens that false teachers sought to impose on them.

Other people could see the divine nature more clearly in the Christians who added the seven virtues named. This would make God’s calling and election of them clearer to everyone. Also by adding them we can walk worthy of the Lord without stumbling along the way. By pursuing Christian growth we give evidence that God really did call and choose us. One of the greatest motivations for purposing to grow in grace is that when we go to be with the Lord He will welcome us warmly.

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