GrowingBigInGod

Teaching, Helping and Encouraging Spiritual Growth

Principles of Spiritual Growth 8

Hello, again! This is the last session of this study. I hope you have found it helpful in understanding the process of becoming a strong disciple of Jesus. In this last session we will study the importance of adding the qualities that produce real change in you, and the issue of what the consequences are if a child of God neglects to add these qualities to their faith. Thank you for taking the time to read and consider this study! I hope it was beneficial! God bless, Dick

2 Peter 1:8 NIV For 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.

Let’s look at the key words in this verse.

QUALITIES

Enormous spiritual growth and unshakable faith and hope develop as you continually add goodness, knowledge, self-control, and perseverance continually to your faith. These are the qualities that train, equip and prepare you to be a godly person and enable you to minister to God’s people through your spiritual gifts as well as being able to minister to the lost through a life that reflects who Jesus is and what He is like. People can see who Jesus is and what He is like by the way you live. These qualities you add to your faith develop within you a deep affectionate love for your brothers and sisters in Christ, and a deep concern for their welfare and a deep desire to help them. These qualities prepare you to minister on behalf of Jesus and make you into an effective and productive fruit producer by doing the good works of God’s grace. These qualities conform you to the likeness of Jesus.

In adding these qualities, you grow spiritually to the point that you have the same heart and love for the lost that Jesus had and the same willingness to make the same sacrifices He made to share the gospel that lead the lost to salvation. This is the same kind of love that God has for people. This is “agape” love, meaning God’s love. These are the qualities that train and equip you for effective and productive service to the Lord.

2 Peter 1:8 NIV For 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.

INCREASING MEASURE
These qualities are to be continually added to your faith. The term “increasing measure” means, “to abound, to do, make or be more, increase, superabound, abundant, make to increase. You are to “add these qualities, live out these qualities, increase these qualities, and have an abundance of these qualities in your life.” You are to “superabound” in these qualities. These qualities keep you moving forward in your faith continually and prevent you from stalling in the development of your faith.

God’s instruction for you to grow to complete maturity in your faith is to keep on adding these qualities in increasing measure.
As you add these qualities daily to your faith in increasing measure you become trustworthy, reliable, effective and productive in your walk with Jesus.

2 Peter 1:8 NIV For 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.

Continually adding these qualities to your faith keep you from being INEFFECTIVE and UNPRODUCTIVE in your walk with Jesus. This effectiveness and production come from the dynamic combination of God’s grace and your faith working together.
You become more and more like Jesus as you consciously live out God’s grace in you. You are doing the good works of the Father just like Jesus did.

John 14:10 NIV (Jesus said) The Father who lives in me does His work. Believe me that I am in the Father and He is in me. God works in you just like He did with Jesus the man. Jesus said, “He who lives in me does His works.”

God works in us just like He did with Jesus the man. God the Father lives and works in us, as well. It is God who provides the grace that influences you, inspires you, motivates you, instructs you, and empowers you to do His good works, but it is you who does these good works by faith and become an effective and productive fruit producer, just like Jesus the man did. This is the plan for God’s people to be effective and productive fruit producers.

However, there are many Christians who neglect their duties, and do not add these qualities to their faith that change them into the image of Jesus. Their potential is undeveloped as they are not equipped to be fruit producing disciples of Jesus.
They could be believers that have never been discipled and made aware of how you grow in your faith, or they may be believers who know these things but do not actively add these qualities to their faith that makes them effective and productive followers of Jesus. Regardless, they remain in a place in their salvation that does not produce fruit. They remain ineffective and unproductive Christians.

INEFFECTIVE AND UNPRODUCTIVE

2 Peter 1:8 NIV For 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.

The definition of “ineffective” and “unproductive” explains why these Christians are not growing in their faith. The word “INEFFECTIVE” means, “inactive, unemployed, lazy, useless, barren, idle, slow.” The word “UNPRODUCTIVE” means, “without fruit, unfruitful.” The definition of these two words are enlightening, aren’t they?

Christians who are not producing fruit in their walk with Jesus are disengaged. They are “inactive, unemployed, lazy, useless, barren, idle and slow” in adding the things to their faith that make them effective fruit producers. They fail to live out the goodness of Jesus and apply God’s Word to their daily walk. They are not “living out their salvation with fear and trembling.”

Philippians 2:12-13 NIV Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to work and to act in his good purpose.

When a Christian is not responding to the grace of God in them, and not doing the His works that He expects of you, what is really happening? Why should you obey what the Spirit tells you do with fear and trembling? When God says that you should work out your salvation with “fear and trembling”, it means, “to take your salvation seriously” and do the good works of God’s grace that He intended for you to do. When you ignore the voice of the Holy Spirit in you (and the influences of God’s grace that He instills in you) you are dismissing God’s will in your life and this seriously insults, disrespects, and dishonors God Almighty. This is why you should take God’s grace and His works seriously, and even be fearful and tremble if you are guilty of this. God will not be mocked. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of an angry God.

However, when you do take God’s grace seriously and respond to God’s urging and live it out, it is HIS will and purpose you are achieving. When a Christian neglects paying attention to God’s divine urgings that help them grow in their faith, they remain spiritual infants in their knowledge of God.

2 Peter 1:8 NIV For 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.

KNOWLEDGE

When you actively add these qualities to your faith your knowledge of God grows. The word KNOWLEDGE in this verse means, “recognition, full discernment, acknowledgment, knowledge.” As you grow in your faith by adding the things that move you farther and farther away from your old sinful habits, you come to fully understanding of what knowing Jesus means. Your knowledge of God increases. It is “knowing” God intimately, as a husband and wife know each other. The word “knowledge” used in this verse means to “recognize Jesus as your Savior with full discernment (meaning a deep understanding of God), and fully acknowledging Jesus as Lord.”

Going through the process of continually adding these things to your faith develop a Christian who is complete and mature in their knowledge of Jesus. This is the Christian who has been crafted into a masterpiece by God.

On the other hand, the born-again believer who does not live out these qualities does not possess this kind of knowledge of Jesus. They do not have full discernment of Jesus nor do they fully acknowledgement of Him as Lord. Their relationship is shallow and does not have the depth of knowledge that comes from adding the qualities that grow them and mature them in their faith. They remain ill-equipped to deal with the temptations of sin and continue to sin, and they do not have the spiritual strength to face trials that challenge their faith and overcome them. Instead of moving forward in their faith they gradually slide backwards. This is called backsliding.

2 Peter 1:9 NIV The person who lacks these things is blind and shortsighted, and has forgotten the cleansing from his past sins.

Backsliding is the process of sliding backwards and returning to sinful habits of their past. It is gradually disconnecting from God’s purposes, authority, desires, and ways and returning to your old ways. This brings about a gradual weakening of their faith in God. Be aware that backsliding is subtle. It plays itself out in tiny, incremental steps.

God used a specific word to paint a picture of the process that takes place when a believer’s commitment to live out the Christian walk wanes and they begin to turn away from God and slide back to their old ways. The word “blind” means “to be enveloped by smoke that gets so thick and dense, it becomes opaque; blindness; to inflate with self-conceit, high minded, be lifted up with pride and to be proud.”

God wants His children to see and understand that unconfessed sin in the heart of a child of God produces smoke that blocks the believer’s spiritual sight. Spiritual blindness becomes an issue for the faltering believer. The unresolved sin gets between the believer and God and creates a smoky barrier. At first it a faint haze but grows into a dense barrier as more sin is committed and left unattended. In time, they become blind to the things of God. Not only does unresolved sin separate the believer from God, but there is a gradual reunion with sin. As God’s influence and power decrease in the heart of the backsliding believer, the power of sin increases. Things like “self-conceit, arrogance, and pride” begin to take over once again as the backsliding Christian continues to sin without confession or repentance with no concern. They become “shortsighted” and cannot see “afar off” when the day comes when they will be judged for their sin. What is God’s instruction to these Christians who are backsliding and in the process of falling from the faith?

2 Peter 1:10-11 NIV Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The word “CALL” means “invitation.” The word “ELECTION” means, “divine selection, or chosen.” The word “SURE” means, “stable, firm, of force, steadfast.” This verse could be written like this:

“Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be all the more eager to make God’s call and invitation and sure, along with your divine selection, choosing and election, with a force so strong that you remain firm, stable, and steadfast in your faith, and then receive a rich welcome into the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

What is that powerful force that keeps you “stable, firm, and steadfast and keeps you from falling?” Where does “stability, firmness and steadfastness” in your faith come from? These strengths come from the process of adding all the qualities that strengthen and toughen your faith and prepare you to take on any challenges to your faith and overcome them. This process strengthens your faith to the point that you cannot be shaken or defeated by anything the devil throws at you. It is impossible for this Christian to fall away from the faith. This is the who has made his calling and election sure. This is the Christian who is eternally secure.

All Christians should be eager to make their calling and election sure. How is your calling and election made sure? The calling and election of a Christian is made sure by adding these qualities to your infant faith. God says so. These qualities feed your faith, exercise your faith and produce a faith that is so strong that you become unshakable and indestructible. As you continually add these different qualities to your faith, the goodness and excellence of Jesus’ character can be seen in you, along with a consistent lifestyle that reflects the new ways of living that come from the Word of God. As you live to be like Jesus and live by His Word, you grow stronger in your faith, and deeper in your knowledge of the Lord, and your relationship with God gets closer and closer. He fills you with more and more of His Spirit. His increased Spirit in you gives you the strength to control your sinful nature and to remain firm and strong in the face of the most difficult trials.

Overcoming trials develops the spiritual traits that are necessary to accomplishing God’s will fully. These qualities are perseverance, steadfastness, endurance, patience, continuance, and new personality of cheerfulness and an unshakable hope. These qualities enable you to deal with whatever challenge or temptation that you face and become a reliable, trustworthy servant of Jesus over the long-run. These qualities train and equip you to be a “stand-in” for Jesus and effectively minister to your brothers and sisters on behalf of Jesus, as well as the lost in this world. These qualities that you add to your faith develop and mature you to the point that you become a godly person. You are in a place with God that you completely embrace His ways of thinking and acting and totally reject the world’s ways of thinking and acting.

You are able to minister to your brothers and sisters on behalf of Jesus with the spiritual gifts God has given you, and you are able to be a witness to the lost in your world by your consistent godly life. You develop a deep love for your brothers and sisters in the church and their welfare becomes very important to you. You see their need and you respond to it by making the necessary sacrifices to help them with whatever need they have, just as Jesus did. This Christian has been through the boot camp of spiritual training that has produced a spiritually strong, tough man or woman that is fully grown in their faith and fully equipped to accomplish God’s will over the long-run. They have learned how to be patient and wait on God. They have the same fervor that Jesus had for seeing the lost come into a relationship with Him, and the same willingness to make whatever sacrifice is necessary to lead a person to eternal life. They love like Jesus loves. God has crafted this Christian into a Masterpiece. This is the Christian who has made their calling and election sure.

However, many Christians fail to add these qualities to their faith.

2 Peter 1:10-11 NIV Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For IF you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.

God’s plea to Christians who are not adding the qualities to their faith that confirm their calling and election, and will keep them from backsliding or falling away from the faith is to stop being casual about their relationship with Him and stop being complacent about their Christian duties. Failure to add these qualities to their faith leaves the carnal Christian vulnerable to the devil’s schemes to take them down and destroy their faith.

But God says that if the carnal Christian recommits themselves to adding the things to their faith that lead to the spiritual growth and the strong faith they need, then they will be able to fight off the temptation to sin and change their sinful habits.
They will be able to resist temptation and say, “NO!” to the sinful desires and urges within them. They will be able to take on the trials of life that test their faith and defeat them. They will be empowered to do the good works of God’s and become effective, productive and fruitful disciples of Jesus. Their knowledge of God will increase like never before and produce a  deeper understanding of God and a more intimate relationship with Him. Adding these things will produce real change and transform them into a new person. Instead of being barren, they will grow into fruitful disciples of Jesus. Adding these things to their faith will keep them from backsliding. Adding these things will keep them from ever falling away from their faith. Adding these things to their faith confirm their calling and election. Adding these things will ensure “a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

When a Christian fulfills their Christian duty and faithfully lives out God’s grace their calling and election are made sure. Their submission and faithful obedience to God’s grace ratifies and confirms their salvation. When you faithfully make all these qualities an active part of your everyday life, you are transformed into a completely new person. Your love for God is obvious, as is your control of your sinful nature. Your thinking and behavior reflect the personality of Jesus. This is what it means to have complete, mature faith that lacks nothing. This is what identifies you as a follower of Jesus, a true disciple. These are the followers of Jesus who are promised “a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of Jesus Christ our Lord.”

William Barclay puts it this way: “The gracious free offer and personal hard work have to combine before the privilege becomes fully effective. It is so with us and God. God has called us in his free mercy and his unmerited grace; but at the same time, we have to bend every effort to toil upwards and onwards on the way. If we set out upon this upward and onward way, the effort will be great but God’s help will also be great; and in spite of the toil, he will enable us to keep going until we reach our journey’s end.”

God commands His children to add goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly affection and the love of God to their initial, infant faith because these are the “makings” of the Christian life. These are things that represent the life God has planned for all who receive Him. Living out these things in your life strengthen and mature your faith and make your faith unshakable. These are the things that will make you an effective, productive disciple of Jesus.

Living out God’s grace will one day bring Jesus to His feet as He welcomes you into heaven and says, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21)

As a believer, I pray that you will always make your best effort to fulfill your predestined purpose and live a productive, fruitful life for Jesus, and bring nothing but glory to Him!

God bless you!

Dick Wright

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