June 7, 2018 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
This is part eight 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.
Peter really likes his list of eight virtues or qualities. Faith. Virtue. Knowledge. Self-control. Steadfastness. Godliness. Brotherly affection. Love. He has already said, “Make every effort” to add these qualities to your life with Christ (v. 5). And he said that if we are increasing in these qualities we will be effective and fruitful “in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 8). He doesn’t stop there. He makes two more statements about these eight qualities.
In verse 9, Peter says, “For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.” This serves both as a warning and an encouragement.
The Warning: Lack of fruit in these eight qualities is a warning sign that you are spiritually not well. In fact, this is the main point of Peter’s letter. Peter warned this fragile early church about false teachers, “who will secretly bring in destructive heresies” (2:1). These false teachers reject “the right way” (2:15), the path of gospel growth commended in chapter 1, and “have gone astray…insatiable for sin” (2:14). Peter’s warning for these false teachers is dire. He calls them “accursed children!” (2:14) and warns that they will “bring upon themselves swift destruction” (2:1). If the hope of the gospel does not take root and bear fruit, there is no assurance of salvation.
Now, Peter is writing “to those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours” (1:1). For those with faith in Christ, there is assurance of salvation. “Swift destruction” is not for people of faith. But the warning of 1:9 still applies. “Whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.” These are people of faith who neglect what God has done for them through Christ. They starve the seed of the gospel in their souls so that gospel growth is stunted. They are spiritually sick and blind, missing out on all that God has for them.
The eight qualities can be used as gauges of spiritual health. What do the gauges reveal about your spiritual well-being?
The Encouragement: Remembering our cleansing in Christ is the nourishment for gospel growth. Hear the flip side of the warning. If the one who lacks fruit has forgotten his cleansing, then the one who remembers his cleansing will be fruitful. When Peter mentions “cleansing,” he is speaking about a permanent state (see how Jesus speaks about being “clean” in John 13:10-11). This cleansing is what Paul calls the “washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). It is our justification, forgiven of sin and counted righteous in Christ. Remembering, meditating on, pondering, and deepen our understanding of this cleansing becomes the “fertilizer” for the gospel seed to grow in our souls and bear fruit.
The encouragement is that when we see areas of weakness or spiritual illness, the solution is not to “work harder” at the eight qualities, but to remember our cleansing. Our abiding in what God has done for us through Christ creates the perfect environment for gospel growth.