Lazy, Arrogant, or Gospel-Centered?
June 14, 2018 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
This is part nine 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.
We’re coming to the end of our study of Peter’s roadmap for gospel growth. Like other New Testament writers, Peter calls this early church to be diligent in their spiritual growth. Growth is not optional. We have called it gospel growth, because Peter emphasizes that the strength, motivation, tools, and means of growth have all been provided for us through God’s gracious gift.
Gospel growth is tricky. Not because God designs it to be tricky, but because we, in our sinful brokenness, make it tricky. We typically distort gospel growth in one of two ways. Peter hits both of these head on as he concludes his exhortation.
- In misunderstanding grace, we tend to become lazy or indifferent about pursuing holiness. “Grace that is greater than all my sin...” Yes! But God’s grace transforms us as well. This is what Paul emphasized in Romans 6. This is what John emphasized in 1 John 2. This is what Peter address here in 2 Peter 1.
He wrote in verse 5, “make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue…” With similar words, he reiterates this command in verse 10, “be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure…” This “diligence” is an eager striving. While God graciously gives us “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (v. 3), we still are called to diligent effort. Laziness and indifference about holiness are incompatible with God’s grace.
There is a second way that we can distort gospel growth.
- In misunderstanding our responsibility, we tend to become self-reliant in our pursuit of holiness. Self-reliance is the breeding ground for judging others, arrogance, despair, and entitlement. We hear commands like “make every effort” and “be all the more diligent” and become focused on what we can and need to do to fulfill such callings, forgetting that we were cleansed from our former sins (1:9). We forget that we really are insufficient for these things.
If we are insufficient for these things, why does God command them?
Peter already answers this. Verse 5 begins with, “For this very reason…” What reason? Verse 3: “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness…” In his grace, God has given us everything we need to obey…. Therefore, use it!
I appreciate Peter’s pastoral encouragement in this letter. He loves these people. He desires them to cling to the gospel. The gospel is the power of God for everyone who believes. Power for salvation. Power for life. Power for holiness. The power of God. Peter prods his people to cling to the gospel and grow in the gospel and grow by the gospel.
Is the gospel central in your spiritual life?
We’ll come back to 2 Peter 1 one more time next week to savor the “entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (v. 11).