A Road Map for Gospel Growth
April 5, 2018 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
This is part one in a multi-part series on Peter’s “road map” he gives for gospel growth in 2 Peter 1. Like many of you, I long to be effective and fruitful, especially in my spiritual life. Peter promises in the midst of this chapter, “if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful…” My interest is peaked. Let’s discover together Peter’s path of gospel growth.
It would be very unwise to embark on a road trip without some sort of plan. Where are we going? What roads or route will we take? How are we going to manage to get there (enough fuel? pit stops needed? etc.)? Why are we going in the first place? If we don’t have these questions clearly answered, we will either end up not going or getting lost on the way or turning back or becoming distracted by alternative destinations.
Similarly, the Christian life is a journey. We have a starting point. We’re going somewhere. And there are directions and means to get to where we are going. Of course, losing sight of this “road map” can be disastrous. People fail to take the trip. People get distracted. People wander off and get lost. People don’t progress.
This must have been on Peter’s heart and mind as he faced the earthly end of his journey. He writes his second letter to a group of Christians he has ministered to and has loved. He writes in order to “remind” them of the path of gospel growth. He longs that they would not become distracted and diverge from the path of Christ. So, he maps out a clear path for gospel growth. Let me highlight the main points today.
- Peter Acknowledges the Starting Point. He says in 1:4 that anyone on this Christian faith journey has “escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” Corruption is the starting point for every single person. It manifests its decay and devastation in a plethora of ways. But that is where we all start. It is very good to keep this in mind, as it provides motivation to not go back. This world, this life, has nothing for us apart from Christ. Peter doesn’t highlight this just to cause us to grovel in our brokenness, but to spur us on to greater things that God has for us in Christ (notice the conjunction and command that follow in verse 5).
- A Goal or End Point. Our destination is mentioned in several ways in this opening chapter, but most vividly in verse 11, “In this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Peter is speaking about the second coming of Christ and the final establishment of his “eternal kingdom.” This is our ultimate goal. To be in the presence of God without sin or death or pain. To enjoy the fullness of life forever.
- There is the Path or Way. Just quoted in verse 11, Peter mentions “this way.” There is a specific path for believers to take to arrive at our destination. What is that? Verse 10 reads, “Be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.” There are three parts mentioned here: calling, election, and practicing these qualities. Calling and election are solely the work of God. “Practicing these qualities” (mentioned in verses 5-7) becomes our responsibility. What Peter is speaking about is gospel transformation: initiated and empowered by God, an overcoming of the corrupt effects of sin. That is the pathway to our destination.
- There is the means to Progress on that Path. While Peter commands us to “make every effort” and presses our responsibility in spiritual growth, he clearly emphasizes the undergirding of the grace of God for our spiritual good. He says, God’s “divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (v. 3). Everything we need to make progress on that path of gospel growth or transformation has been given to us by God’s power. That’s grace. It’s neglect of grace that causes problems.
More specifics can be gleaned from Peter’s road map for gospel growth, but we’ll save that for the weeks to come. In the meantime, let’s “run with endurance the race that is set before us.”