Sunday, July 5, 2015

Ye Shall Never Fall

This is something I shared this morning at Livingston Manor in Listowel, ON.

Text: II Peter 1:1-11

This week I’ve been trying to memorize II Peter 1:3, and while looking for something to share this morning, this verse came to mind again. And as I read the context, I was deeply impressed by Peter’s message. Several statements stand out, and we will look at them shortly, but one that is very outstanding is found in verse 11: “If ye do these things, ye shall never fall”.

Do we really understand what this means? “Ye shall never fall”. The Bible promises that if we do what it tells us to do, we will never fall. Do I believe this? Do you? What does it mean to fall? And what is it that we need to do in order to avoid falling?

Let's read the text first (II Peter 1:1-11). And as we read, notice the words “through” and “whereby”.

The first “through” is found in verse 1. “To them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ”. This tells me that true faith does not happen apart from righteousness. We cannot say that we have faith, that we are Christians, if we deny God’s righteousness; if we don’t live according to His righteousness. A person of faith is a person of righteousness —Jesus Christ’s righteousness.

Another important teaching found in verse 1 is that the Christian faith is obtained. We are not born with it. We can’t say we are Christians simply because we were born in a Christian home, or because we were baptized in a Christian church. Faith must be obtained by accepting God’s righteousness, and living by it. We must be born again in order to see the Kingdom of God. Faith is not inherited; faith is obtained by personal choice, by personal repentance, by a personal acknowledgment that we were born sinners, in utter need of redemption.

The second “through” happens in verse 2. It says: “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord”. Grace is the kindness God shows us, to save us from sin and hell, and to fill us with power to live a godly life. Peace speaks of tranquility and harmony in the soul. This verse tells me that if I want grace and peace, I will find it as I get to know God. The more I know God, the more grace and peace I will receive. The only way to know God today is by reading His Word and allowing God’s Spirit to teach us from it. The Bible is the only book that reveals who God is. The more I absorb God’s Word, the more I know God.

The third “through” is found in verse 3. It says that all things pertaining to life and godliness are given to us “through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue”. The Bible says that we have been given absolutely all we need to live a godly life. This tells me that we have no excuse for being failing Christians. God has provided everything —all the instructions and all the power— in order for us to live victorious and abundant Christian lives. He has given us absolutely everything we need to know in order to live above bitterness, above unforgiveness, above immorality, above every sin we might think of. It seems too good to be true. But it is true! The Bible says that we are “more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Romans 8:37). We must believe it. We don’t have to be saved by the skin of our teeth. We have been rescued to live full, abundant lives that radiate God’s glory and love to others. Am I, are you living in this way?

This verse says it again. All these things come “through” knowing Christ. Essentially, everything we need for an abundant Christian life is found in the Bible. We are deprived of nothing. The Bible informs us how to be saved, how to find forgiveness, and how to forgive. It teaches us how to relate to our parents, our children, our siblings, our neighbours, our enemies, and our government.  It shows us how to deal with real life problems, no matter how young or how old we are; no matter who we are, what job we have, or where we find ourselves in life. The Bible has everything. And if we read it, believe and obey it in faith, we will find the right answers to life’s problems.

The word “whereby” in verse 4, also means “through” (or “through which”), and it refers to the previous verse. Through God’s Word we receive great and precious promises, by which, in turn, we share God’s nature. This is pretty amazing! God loved the world so much that He gave us all the resources, and all the power we need for our daily life. And not only this; He enables us to share in His nature. We are able to reflect God’s love, holiness, and righteousness in practical ways. Man was created in God’s image, and sin marred that image. But today we can be restored to reflect that divine image and character.

As we read through these verses, we already notice that Peter is trying to impress us with the idea of “building up” or “adding on”, as we move from verse to verse. Faith comes through God’s righteousness. After faith, comes grace, peace, and everything in God’s Word that enables us to live a godly life. After this come God’s great promises, and the sharing of His divine nature.

And then we continue in verse 5, where Peter says, “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue…” and we continue to see this idea of adding on, building up, moving up in maturity. In fact, he concludes the whole letter with the same thought: “Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (3:18). The Christian life is way more than simply getting saved. It involves constant growth, constant upward movement, constant renewal. Romans 12:12: “ ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God”.  

And so, to faith we must add virtue; to virtue, knowledge, to knowledge, temperance; to temperance patience; and to patience godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness, charity or love.

Verse 8 is another of those astounding statements, that we just have to believe in faith, because it is humanly impossible outside of God’s enabling power: “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”. If faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, and so on, are in us and abound, we will be diligent and fruitful in knowing Christ. In other words, there will be no hindrance in getting to know Jesus.

Do I want to know Jesus? Do you? Then these things need to be a part of our life. Verse 9 is clear that if we lack these things, we are blind and shortsighted. In fact, we have forgotten the great miracle of cleansing God performed in our life at conversion. When we fail to grow in our Christian life, when we fail to add on to our faith, when we fail to build up ourselves on our most holy faith (Jude 1:20), we lose purpose in life, we lose victory, and possibly our faith in the end. Constant diligence is of the essence.

In fact, verse 10 brings this out. “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall”. It’s a promise. If we are diligent, we will not fall from the faith. If we are diligent, we will be fruitful and more than conquerors. And in the end (verse 11), “an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ”; as Revelation also says, “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son” (21:7).

I would like to leave off with the words of a song, but first I want to say this. Through His Word, God has revealed Himself, He has given us all the instructions and the advice we need to get through life, He has given us the power to be more than conquerors, and has given us great and precious promises for this life and the next… What else do we think we need? When we experience trouble or grief in life, why do we turn to other things for advice, comfort, or help? Why do we keep searching elsewhere for what is all found in the Word of God?

Once, after being abandoned by many followers, Jesus asked His disciples, “Will you also go away?” And Peter said: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:67-68). When we have trouble in life, when we fear, when we think we are starting to fall away, come to Jesus, turn to His Word. He has the words of eternal life.

The song is called, What About Now?

You may tell me a date, and tell of a place,
When you walked an aisle, and you first prayed.
And you’ll quickly point to that moment in time,
If someone should ask what God’s done in your life.
I’m sure you’d agree that life’s where He lives;
There will be proof if we’re truly His.
So please hear my heart, and know I’m your friend,
But please take this moment to look deep within.
Are you loving God, and hating your sin?
Please don’t depend on some year way back when.

Do you take time to know Him? Is your spirit stirred
To hear and obey His Holy Word?
I’m not here to judge, or to cause any doubt;
Just want you to look at the faith you live out.
It’s not about a prayer you repeated one time;
Joining a church or tears that you’ve cried.

Do you love God and others? Are you drawn to His Word?
Do you feel convicted of sin? Are you sharing the Good News?
Forsaking what’s wrong? Have you stood faithful and strong?

What about now? What about now?
Is there evidence seen by those you’re around
That He’s your Savior, and your Lord beyond any doubt,
Not just somewhere in your past somehow?

What about now?

(Written by Jim Brady, Barry Weeks, Tony Wood; Brady House Publishing/New Spring/
SONY/ATV/Songs from Exit 71/Building Bridge)

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