“Yes Lord, but…” – 2 Peter 1:3-11 – Pastor Brian
We begin our new sermon series, “Unshakeable: A Faith That Stands Strong,” from 2 Peter. This letter was written to not only protect God’s people but to also bring hope in tremendous suffering. Emperor Nero was the ruler at that time. When a devastating fire broke out in Rome, it was rumored that Nero started the fire to build a lavish private palace upon the destroyed site. To stop these accusations Nero looked for scapegoats and blamed Christians for the fire and had them killed. Some were torn apart by dogs. Others burnt alive as human torches. This is the awful and horrible setting that the surviving believers lived in and Peter wrote to. Peter wrote to protect followers of Christ from false teachers who were leading God’s people away from our take-home truth, to grow in Jesus is to grow in faith. It might be obvious for some of you that faith is grown when we grow in Jesus, but do you know how? What are specific ways to grow in faith? How do we grow in faith especially during seasons of suffering and false teaching? How, do we grow in faith? Thankfully, Peter gives clear instruction on how to do this so let’s begin by answering the question, How do we grow in faith in times like these?
1) We grow in faith by His POWER. (v.3) Peter was very familiar with this power. The word he used for power in this passage is (duu-na-mees) It is one of Peter’s favorite words. We get dynamite from this Greek word and you know how powerful dynamite is. This is the awesome force behind God’s power in our lives. Peter experienced this power in his own life.
After being skunked the night before, by faith and he listened to Jesus and by God’s divine power caught a boatload of fish and proclaimed Jesus as the Lord. By faith he briefly walked on water but sank after he took his eyes off Jesus. He swore allegiance to Jesus even if everyone else deserted Him but fear caused him to deny Jesus three times. In all of these situations, Peter grew in faith as God’s divine power patiently nurtured him through the grace, mercy and forgiveness of Jesus to become one of the most influential disciples of Christ.
Understandably we are concerned about ours and the health of others. Financial worries are a reality we face. How will I pay my rent, mortgage, bills, food, etc. without a job or on a fixed income? Is a loved one in a hospital or skilled nursing home? These are real situations causing real fears that have dramatically changed our lives. Do you realize that you have been granted the same power Peter experienced? God’s divine power, His Holy Spirit power is with us to help us live in godliness while confronting our concerns. Have you sought the Holy Spirit power to move the mountains of fear? Have you asked the Holy Spirit to lift anxious thoughts or calm the relentless waves of worry? It’s easy to say, “Yes Lord, I believe in your power to help in my burdens, but will you?” This leads us to our second point about how we grow in our faith.
2) We grow in faith by His PROMISES. (vv.3-4) God gives us the power to live in godliness. This power is given to every believer “through the knowledge of Him (Jesus) who called us by His own glory and excellence.” From verse 4 “these” refer to Jesus’ glory and excellence. By the glory and excellence of Jesus, every follower of Christ is granted “precious and very great promises.”
In these two verses we see the depth of the good news of Jesus Christ. Through Jesus and His divine power, we have everything we need to live godly lives. Through Jesus we know the purpose of life. Through Jesus, life we have clear direction to live in such a way that honors God. It is through Jesus that all of life’s encounters, both good and bad, have meaning. Even in today’s environment, because of Jesus, we know God has something good planned for His people since He promises it. Which leads me to a promise that we ought to claim throughout this crisis.
It’s a very familiar verse. Many of you know it by heart. It is Romans 8:28. It’s God’s promise that He will “Cause all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” How can we be sure of the promise of Romans 8:28? We just need to look back and recall how He caused things to work together for good during difficult times. It is necessary to realize that God’s good often differs from our definition of good. Sometimes He will bless us materially but more likely the good God promises is faith grown out of our trials and tribulations.
3) We grow in faith by our PARTICIPATION. (vv.5-10) This scripture is not about earning salvation but working out salvation. Similar to what we read in Philippians 2:12, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” This means something should be done along with faith to grow it.
God wants us to know Jesus through supplementing our faith with these seven qualities 1) Virtue (excellence), 2) Knowledge of Jesus, 3) Self-control, 4) Steadfastness, 5) Godliness, 6) Brotherly affection, and 7) Love.
How can I carry out these qualities now while sheltered in place? One way to incorporate these qualities for yourself is to ask questions. For example, take virtue or excellence. Are you excelling in your work at home? How about self-control? Do you find yourself having a hard time controlling your anger or frustration with your spouse or children? What about knowledge of Jesus? Does what you know about Jesus match with how you are treating those around you? These are a few examples of how questions might help us live out these qualities.
We know we are to practice these things, yet don’t we often say, “Yes Lord, but...” “Yes, Lord I know you want me to love my neighbor but I am getting tired of sheltering in place to protect them from the virus. Yes Lord, I know you want me to be self-controlled but my kids are driving me nuts while trying to work!” “Yes Lord, I know you want me to live out what I know about Jesus but to love my spouse as Christ loved the church is so hard because he/she is being a butt.”
I know it’s difficult to live out your faith and even more so during these crazy times. Being together 24/7 is new for all of us. Tensions rise, patience gets shorter, loneliness and fear set in. But remember, Peter was instructing followers of Christ these very same things and their lives were in constant danger from Emperor Nero. Participating in growing our faith is not easy, yet this is where GOD wants us to be in order that we might learn to trust Him more.
In the coming days, may God strengthen us to grow our faith. Instead of saying, “Yes Lord, but...” may we rather say, “Yes Lord, I will trust you more.”
Praise Songs: I Could Sing of Your Love Forever, You Are My All in All, Jesus Paid it All, Jesus is Better