Text Verse: 2 Peter 1: 1-9
Oftentimes when we go out Soul-Winning we become focused on leading the lost to the Lord; and we should be! But along the way we come in contact with Christians that have 'fallen out of the way.' Spiritually speaking, these Christians are blindly going through this life. They are willfully out of the way steeped in sin and living an anemic Christian life. Unfortunately, we live in a day when anemic Christianity is all around us. Apathetic Christian living is the norm. If you have been Soul-Winning for any length of time you have probably had this dialogue take place on the doorstep of one of these poor Christians:
Soul-Winner: Do you know 100% if you were to die today that you would spend an eternity in Heaven?
Apathetic Christian: Yes.
Soul-Winner: Can I ask you, how do you know that for sure?
Apathetic Christian: Because I am saved, I trusted in Jesus Christ as my Savior.
Soul-Winner: Well where do you go to church?
Apathetic Christian: I don't go anywhere, I know I should, but I don't feel much like a Christian.
Our responsibility as a fellow brother or sister in Christ is to try to help this Christian. We should endeavor not to leave them in their blind state, but rather show them from the Bible how they can return to a path of fruitfulness in the Lord. Let me encourage you to mark out this passage of Scripture that covers this very topic: 2 Peter 1: 1-9. In this passage Peter gives us some eye-opening things that will help us to understand why it is this Christian has fallen out of the way.
First of all this passage explains to us the Gift of God.
v1-3 "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 Saviour Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, 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:"
Peter makes it clear to us that God has not left us in the dark after Salvation, but rather has provided us with "all things that pertain unto life and godliness," We could say it this way, that as Christians we are without excuse. God has given us the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 3:16) God has given us His precious Word. (2 Peter 1:19) God has given us the ability to come before Him in prayer. (Hebrews 4:16) God has given us a local New Testament church. (Galatians 6:2) God has also given us each other, brothers and sisters in Christ to exhort us unto good works. (Hebrews 10:24) This truth is plain that God has given us a gift, it that he has provided "all thing that pertain unto life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who hath called us..." The Him of course is Jesus Christ.
Not only do we have the Gift of God, but secondly we have the Goal through God. Just what is the ultimate goal of the Christian life?
Romans 8:29 tells us this, "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."
We see in our text passage this same goal (to be conformed to the image of his Son). Notice what verse 4 states in our passage, "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." So the goal through God's working in us is to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ; partakers of the divine nature.
So we have the Gift of God, which brings us toward the Goal through God, but thirdly we have the Growth with God.
As this passage continues, Peter gives us a running list of building blocks or growth points for the Christian life:
v5-7 "And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity."
There are seven growth points listed here after our initial faith in Jesus Christ. Each of these have great significance. But what I want you to see here is not necessarily the specifics on the seven areas of growth but rather that the normal Christian life is one of growth. Notice that verse 5 starts with this phrase, 'add.' Addition signifies an increase. When you add, unless your adding the wrong things, you should end up with growth. These areas of growth are a necessity as we will see in a few moments to the Christian life. In my garden, I typically grow one or two cucumber vines. These vines once they start going grow at an immense rate. Oftentimes there are so many cucumbers on the vine that my wife and I cannot eat them fast enough. But as the season continues something starts to happen. The vine stops growing, cucumbers start to form dwarf size or misshaped. Then starting from the bottom of the vine moving forward the vine begins to die. You see the vine stopped growing. Pretty soon the vine has to be taken out of the garden because it is deteriorating and producing foul fruit.
So far we have:
The Gift of God - God has provided us everything we need in our Christian life.
The Goal of God - To be partakers of the divine nature, by being conformed to image of our Lord.
The Growth with God - Those seven growth points in our Christian life that we are to be adding.
Notice lastly, what it all comes down to, the Guarantee of God. The next few verses give us not only a warning, but a guarantee. In other words, you can mark it down, what is listed next will come to pass. There are two conditions that are given here. The first we find in verse 8:
"For if these things be in you, and abound, [What things? the seven listed above]
they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Notice the verse says 'if.' This gives us an indication that these are not automatic. That word 'abound' give us the idea of continual moving forward(think of leap frog). Or we could say it this way, growing, an abounding Christian life. If these be in you and abound you will neither be 1) barren nor 2)unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is perhaps one of the saddest failures for someone to get saved, having great opportunity to serve the Lord before them, and yet they are barren and unfruitful. By the way, this is not God's fault, because He has given us 'all things that pertain unto life and godliness.' The unfruitful barren Christian is that way because they stopped somewhere along the way in the growth process, the addition that is supposed to be taking place in their life. But glory, hallelujah! The Christian that abounds in these will never be unfruitful and barren.
But watch what happens to the one that has stopped moving forward in the Christian life:
"But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins."
There are two sad results from the Christian that has stopped growing. First, they are blind. They cannot see spiritually speaking. Not only are they susceptible to falling in the ditch, running headlong into sin, and falling for the trap of the Devil, but they cannot see the wonderful promises of eternity ahead. They can only see the temporal beggarly elements of this world. Oh to be blind is to be shortsighted indeed! But secondly, we find for the one who has quit on church, quit on reading their Bible, quit on praying, they "hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins." Quite simply, they have forgotten what it is like to be saved. "They do not feel saved anymore." Perhaps you have run into a few people in this way. I know I have, they no longer have spiritual discernment and have no assurance of their salvation. What a terrible state to be in.
The cure for this plight is simple, the one who is blind and feeling distant to God needs to do a complete 180 and get back to church, back to reading their Bible, back to prayer, and experience the wonderful growth that comes as we have a vibrant fellowship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It all starts with an repentant heart toward God and then a move toward abiding in Him with the aforementioned things.
Let me encourage you, the next time you come across a Christian that makes the statement, "I don't feel saved." Do not leave that Christian in the dregs of apathy and Laodicean Christian living, but rather exhort them back to growth in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
- Pastor James Grandinetti, Community Outreach Pastor, Sharon Baptist Church
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Sharon Baptist church is an independent, fundamental Baptist church located in Hampton, VA.
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