Let's pray together.
Thank You, Father, for preparing our hearts for Your Word. And now we pray that You'll open it to us. We have great anticipation. May we have as great obedience to it. We thank You in Christ's name. Amen.
Turn in your Bible, if you will, with me to 2 Peter, chapter 1. Last week, upon returning from our time away, I felt that I could best express what was in my heart by drawing your attention to the first chapter of 2 Peter. And so, before we return to our study in Matthew's gospel, we're just going to spend a few Lord's days looking at this wonderful chapter.
I told you that when I was away this summer the Lord was really working in my heart, redefining priorities and reaffirming the call and the ministry that He had given to me. It was kind of a time for me to get my second wind, if you will, to come back with a freshness and a new vigor and a new energy and excitement about the church and the work of God. And the great lesson the Lord taught me was the lesson of being used to be a reminder. Because, as I said last time, I realize that after twelve years, I had said all of the things that were basic, foundational. And now in entering a new dimension of ministry, there had to be a new kind of perception for me. I guess I could say that the first twelve years were the time of discovery, the unfolding of the great realities of Scripture, the adventure of finding things for the very first time.
And then I could sense that something was changing. There had to be a new kind of commitment and a new kind of perspective and I saw that as I was reading one day in 2 Peter chapter 1. Look with me at verses 12 to 15 again and I'll give you the setting for what I hear Peter saying. "Wherefore, I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them and are established in the present truth. Yea, I think it fitting as long as I am in this tabernacle to stir you up by putting you in remembrance, knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shown me. Moreover, I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance." You can stop there.
And as I read that, the Spirit of God really confirmed to my heart that that was the second wind, that that was the new dimension. The ministry of calling people to remember what they already knew, truth in which they were already established, that as long as I remain in this physical body, I will put you in remembrance. We forget very easily, don't we? And that was really the thing that brought about the disaster in the history of Israel. God said to them very early on in their history when they went into the land and my great fear is that having received the promise you will forget the Lord your God, and it is exactly what they did. And so the ministry becomes in its new dimension a ministry of remembrance. I think that's one reason why the Lord gave us His table, don't you? That we might forever and always be doing it in remembrance of Him.
Now I realize that some of you are new in our church and when I shared some of these things last Lord's day, some folks came up and said, "Hey, I'm new, all of this is new. I'm learning it the first time." And that's encouraging because I don't tend to see it the way you do, I have to deal with it as I perceive it in my own mind. And others of you came to me and said, "You know, I forgot a lot of that stuff." And we need to hear it again. And so we are challenged to overcome the indifference that is bred by familiarity.
As we saw last week, God has given us a brain to help us, hasn't He? Because our brain never really forgets anything. And as you plant it and replant it and relearn it and reaffirm it and recall it and reapply it, you just expand its capacity in your mind. And so God has accommodated us in that way. If we hear it long enough, we saw last time, we literally act in a spiritual manner almost involuntarily, almost as a reflex because it's so pervasive in our thinking. That is why we must be continually feeding and being reminded of the Word of God. When we do that our brain becomes our friend.
On the other hand, a brain can be your enemy, too, you know. There was an old saint by the name of Thomas Fuller who wrote this, "Almost 20 years ago I heard a profane jest and still I remember it. How many pious passages of far later date have I utterly forgotten? It seems my soul is like a filthy pond where fish die soon and frogs live long. Lord, raze this profane jest out of my memory. Leave not a letter thereof behind lest my corruption seek it out again. And, Lord, be pleased to write some pious meditation in the place thereof and grant, Lord, for the time to come that I may be careful not to admit what I find so difficult to expel."
It's a great truth, isn't it? The Bible says guard your hearts and minds; the responsibility of putting it in properly, the truth of God, and reentering it again and again, the ministry of remembering.
Peter had a long range view of his ministry. He wasn't just there to entertain the folks who came. He wasn't just there to get them to serve his whims while he was there. Peter said I want so often to remind you of these things you already know so that after I'm dead you will remember them. And when we are fed that spiritual truth repeatedly and repeatedly and repeatedly, it has a glorious effect upon our lives.
A minister on occasion was conversing with a woman. This woman was washing wool as they used to do when they spun their own wool many years ago in America. And he was a very famous minister. He was just greeting this woman as she was washing her wool. And she would do it with a sieve, the water passing through and out the bottom. And she said to the minister when she recognized who he was in the conversation, she said, "Oh, sir," she said, "I shall have all eternity to be grateful for one sermon which you preached." He said, "What did I say in that sermon?" She said, "Oh, sir, I can't remember." But she said, "You see, it's like this sieve, the sieve doesn't hold the water but the water runs through and cleanses the wool. My memory doesn't keep the words but blessed be God, He made them touch and purify my heart."
Now I'm not under the illusion that you remember everything I say. And you're certainly not either or you wouldn't be giggling like that. But I do believe that whether or not you hold all the water, in the process of its passing through, it is a purifying agent. And so I know that though we may not always retain all of the facts, there will be enough of the power of the Word of God upon our constant hearing to conform us to the image of Christ. And so, Peter says I have been called to a ministry of remembrance. And that's as I perceive it as well.
To illustrate the importance of this, look with me at Revelation chapter 2 for a moment. And I see in Revelation 2 verses 1 through 7, very, very interesting parallel between the church at Ephesus and this church. I see such common elements. You remember that the Lord is pictured in Revelation 1, moving among the lampstands — that is the different churches in Asia Minor — ministering to those churches, holding in His hand the ministers of those churches. And then He proceeds to write seven letters to them. And in verse 2 of chapter 2 we find the beginning of the letter to the church at Ephesus. And, by the way, this was a great church, a church that was pastored by Paul, a church that was pastored by Timothy, a church that was responsible for the founding of all the other churches of Asia Minor, a church in which grew great, godly elders, a tremendous testimony in the world.
And so, in verse 2 our Lord says, "I know thy works," and that's a general statement. I know what you're about. I understand your ministry. Your ministry is well known to Me. And then He begins to delineate its several elements. Thy labor, the Greek word is kopos. It means an exhausting service, a service to the point of sweating and toiling. He says I know you are a busy, aggressive involved active church; teaching, sharing, giving, planning, working, an aggressive dynamic congregation. He says I know thy patience. And that's a great word. It literally means steadfastness, or if you will, courage that accepts hardship. I know your courage. I know you have persevered through tremendous opposition. I know you've taken a stand for things, if you will, and you've stood true in the midst of retaliation.
Now, this church at Ephesus was a great group. I mean, they were a group of people who were busy and aggressive and active. They knew what it was to confront an evil society with a godly standard and to hold that standard high and accept what came. I see that as a parallel to us. I see a church willing to stand, a church willing to be bold, a church willing to be confrontive. And it may get tougher and tougher to be that way.
And then He says about this church, "And you cannot bear them who are evil." This is a church that was intolerant of sin, a church that suppressed evil, a church involved in discipline, a church not only teaching but training, not only giving the principles of behavior but conforming its people to that behavior. And we're committed to that, too, aren't we? And then He says, not only that, He says, you have tried them who say they are apostles and are not and have found them liars. It was a church with such a substantial theology that it could unmask false doctrine and such courage that it would unmask a false prophet and put him right out. I mean, this is a strong group.
And, if you will, look at verse 3. You have endured and have patience and for My name’s sake have labored and not fainted. This is perseverance. They really pursued it. And they endured. And they were self-sacrificing. And the goal of all of it, I love this in verse 3, was “for My name’s sake.” Everything they did they did for the glory of God. Sound familiar? These are the things upon which this church has been established; diligent, aggressive, faithful, hardworking people who steadfastly will take a stand courageously against its resistance, who will be willing to be intolerant of sin and suppress it by discipline, who are spiritually discerning and have a substantial theology by which false prophecy and false prophets are revealed, a church that will endure and live and work for the glory of God.
And then I suppose you could add verse 6. "And this thou hast that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans which I also hate." And the thing that's so interesting there is they even had the attitude of God toward certain things. I mean, they were really plugged in. I mean, they felt God's heart.
But in spite of all of that, somehow they had lost it. And that is shocking and fearful, is it not? Look at verse 4. "Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee because thou hast left thy first love." Ephesus never got its second wind. Ephesus never turned the corner. I mean, they blazed through the first few laps. I mean, the honeymoon was glorious. The adventure of discovery was thrilling. And in those early years when Paul and Timothy were there, and they were winning people to Christ, and they were establishing churches and the foundation was being laid, it was high and holy, thrilling.
But they couldn't settle into that ministry of remembrance. The fire went out. They lost the heat. The honeymoon was over. And they couldn't make the marriage work. And our Lord says one word to them that stands out, verse 5, first word. What is it? "Remember." Remember, there's nothing new to tell you, only something old. Go back and do the first works all over again or I'll remove the candlestick. They didn't and He did.
Look at chapter 3. Chapter 3, unto the angel of the church at Sardis, verse 1, we come now to another church. And verse 2, He warns them about being watchful and strengthening the things that remain that are ready to die. How did this happen? Backing up to verse 1, He says of them, I know your works. That's a general statement again. I know about you. And what do I know? You have a name, you've got a marquee, you've got a sign out front and you are dead. You have a name but you're dead.
Verse 3 begins with that same word, what is it? "Remember." Remember. I guess you could put it this way, folks, you can't go forward unless you go backward. Remember, remember. It's vital to remember. That's what Peter's saying; back to 2 Peter chapter 1.
And I guess what I'm seeing in my own heart and what I'm sensing in my own heart is that the Spirit of God is saying to us here, the honeymoon has been glorious, hasn't it? I mean, we've had the greatest days, incredible adventure. I mean, it's all far beyond anything any of us ever dreamed would happen. It's inconceivable what God has done in this place. But it's time we got our second wind. And I believe the future's better than the past. I believe that what God has ahead for us is even greater than what we've seen in the past. I believe He's still able to do exceeding abundantly above all we could think or ask. But it's all going to be based upon our ability to remember the past and to keep the fire hot, to keep the adventure alive.
So, Peter says, as long as I live I'm going to tell you to remember and to remember and to remember so that it controls your mind and that your spiritual responses are almost involuntary. It's like a reflex that you respond in a godly way. Now I'm not saying to you that I'm just going to go back in the bag and preach all my old sermons because you must be reminded in fresh terms to make it fresh and vital, but it's the same truth.
And what is it that Peter wants us to remember. Look back in this chapter now. And we saw last time the first point, and this morning we'll see the second two. But he tells us, first of all, in verse 12, he wants us to remember “these things.” Now immediately when you see a phrase like that, you've got to find something that it modifies. What things? And if you go backward and forward in the chapter, you find the things that surround this thought.
First of all, remember the reality of your salvation, remember the reality of your salvation. We saw that last week in verses 1 and 2. "Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness in God and our Savior Jesus Christ, grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord." Now that's salvation conversation. Words like faith, righteousness, Savior, Jesus Christ, grace, peace, knowledge of God, Jesus our Lord, all of those are salvation terms. And as we saw last time, Peter is saying we have received our salvation by divine allotment — that's the meaning of the word obtained — we have been given a faith of equal value and equal honor, like precious faith, it has ushered us into an equal standing before God. It has multiplied unto us, verse 2, grace and peace when the knowledge of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior is deep and genuine and true.
Now what he's saying is that when you truly know Christ, you have entered into a salvation that is precious. Have you forgotten that? We asked last week. I trust you hadn't. Some of us take our salvation for granted. We saw last week how we must remember what it is to be redeemed. I look around the world and, boy, you see people desperate. They don't know God. And it reminds you to be thankful, doesn't it?
Secondly, and for today, I want you to concentrate on the riches of your salvation. Remember not only the reality of it but the riches of it. Look at verses 3 and 4. These are other things that Peter wants us to remember. And this has been a constant theme for us in our ministry here as well; the riches of our salvation, understanding who we are in Christ and what we possess in Christ. Verse 3, and by the way, these two verses are two of the greatest verses anywhere in the Scripture. Literally, the scope of these verses is encompassing all of eternity. "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 by which are given unto us exceedingly 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." Literally monumental verses.
Now watch. First of all, verse 3, His divine power has given unto us what? All things. Incredible statement. When you became a believer, you came into instant possession of all things that pertain to life and godliness. When you were born, you were born like a baby, not like a polliwog. When a polliwog comes into the world, it's just a dot with a tail, and then it sprouts a leg and a leg and whatever else frogs have, I'm not too hot on that. But all of the parts come popping out, becomes a frog. But when a baby's born, it's not a little blob that sprouts a leg. All the parts are there, they just develop. And when you were born again, you were born as a whole being with all the composite parts, with all the capacities and all the potentials that God could possibly pour into a new creation. You have it all.
And by the way, if you look at verse 3, there's so many startling things here, so many things that if you can expand your mind to grasp them will be an infinite cause for joy. First of all, the source of this is His divine power. And what that's talking about is an eternal energy resource. You talk about power, this is God's eternal power, the power that spun the stars into space, the power that created the universe, the power of God that is utterly unlimited. This divine power, this overwhelming eternal energy is concentrated on providing for you everything you need. Incredible thought. It amazes me, you know, to go around the country and to meet Christians who are so uninformed about their potential and they doddle around in the shallows with no concept, shooting for the moon. They don't understand the power of God.
And notice again in verse 3 it says He's given it to us, we didn't earn it and we couldn't have earned it, it was undeserved and offered by grace. And then it says He has given to us all things that pertain unto life and godliness. Now watch this. Life and godliness are two things. Life is the life of God in the soul of men. That's internal. Godliness is the manifestation of that life, that's external. Now listen, when you were redeemed, the reality of your salvation granted to you the riches of your salvation which meant that your salvation provided everything to transform you on the inside and to transform you on the outside. It gave you your salvation and the capacity to work it out, you see. We have all things that pertain not only to life, but to godliness. Therefore there's no excuse. And you notice in verse 3 it ends by saying "Through the deep knowledge of Him that called us."
In other words, when you came into that epignōsis, when you came into that deep knowledge, when you came into that real genuine salvation, it was utterly and eternally comprehensive and you came into the possession of all that was needed for a real transformation on the inside and a real manifestation of that transformation on the outside. We have tried to share with you through the years how much folly is involved in asking God for things you already have, and yet Christians do it all the time. Lord, I need this and I need that, when the fact of the matter is they only need to know they have it and appropriate it. It always amazes me when people pray for the Lord to lead them. It must frustrate the Lord to death because He's trying so hard to lead them. All they need to do is apply their will to follow. We ask the Lord for strength, and we ask the Lord for things like that that are already bestowed upon us in measure beyond our wildest dreams.
Do you really remember the riches of your salvation? Do you really remember what is yours in Christ? You can overcome anything. In fact, in Revelation you're called an overcomer. Some Christians are fearful about expressing themselves in a ministry, they're fearful about moving out because they don't know whether they can handle it. And they just don't understand what they have. God has given every one of us, according to Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, spiritual capacities, or spiritual gifts through which He wants to minister to the body of Christ through which He wants to reach the world. And we stifle those kinds of things because of an inadequate understanding of our resources.
Now notice at the end of verse 3 an interesting parallel. He has called us to glory and virtue. Now here we come back to the same concept as we saw in life and godliness. Life and glory and godliness and virtue are parallels. Life is the internal. Glory is the internal; the glory of God in the soul of man, the indwelling presence of God. Godliness on the outside and virtue on the outside are the externals. The point is this: That God has given us all we need for the internal and all we need for the external because He has called us to internal glory and external virtue. Created in Christ Jesus unto what? Good works, inside and outside. You hear people talk about "saving faith." And if you mean some kind of faith that redeems you but doesn't do anything else for you, there's no such thing. There's only one kind of faith, living faith. It redeems you and it sustains you in a life of response to God. It follows that where there's life, there's godliness. It follows where there's glory, there's virtue. And you have everything you need for that. If your life is not virtuous and godly, it is not the absence of resources; it is the absence of your will.
Have you forgotten your position? You know, in Ephesians 1 it says in verse 3, "He's blessed us with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies." It's a magnanimous statement, blessed us with all spiritual blessings. And the word there is pneumatikos and that word "spiritual" is not a word in contrast to physical. He's not saying blessings of the spiritual part of our nature. The word pneumatikos used in the New Testament always refers to the Holy Spirit. So it is not talking about spiritual as opposed to physical, but supernatural as opposed to natural, you see. In other words, God has given to us all the necessary and all the available — and I'll add another one — all the possible spiritual capacities. Incredible.
Now a lot of good things have happened in our fellowship, haven't they? I mean, God has done a lot of marvelous things but I don't think we've even scratched the surface. Ephesians 3:20, "Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or think according to the power that worketh (where?) in us." Just staggering, staggering, and it was a joy this summer to go around and to be able to preach this message to people who have been Christians for years and had no clue. "Oh, you mean me? I...I could never do that. Oh no." You know, I've said most Christians they're afraid to even witness for Christ. You know, they're like the Arctic River, frozen over at the mouth. And I think it's because they feel that there's such a terrible ineptitude.
You know, somebody asked me yesterday at a fellowship we were at, they said, "If we could pray for one thing for you, what would it be?" And I said, what I'd like you to pray for me is that my ministry would be a ministry where the power of God was released. Because I've had a taste of the power of God and I don't want to back up in my own flesh and try to crank it out. There's a lot of that going on, a lot of stuff going on in the name of Christ that's devoid of power; certainly not necessary.
Look at Colossians 2:9 and 10. This will sum up this point. Colossians 2:9 and 10, speaking of Christ, verse 9 says, get this, "For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the godhead bodily." Now watch this, in Christ is all there is of God, right? All of God is in Christ. Now you wouldn't doubt that. You read the gospels, you'll see Him create, you'll see Him forgive sin, you'll see Him do all the things that only God can do. All of God is in Christ. But the shocker is in verse 10, "And ye are complete in Him." Now watch this. All of God is in Christ and all of Christ is in you. Great reality; and so Peter says you better remember that.
Philippians 1:9, Paul calls it the supply of the Spirit. What a great phrase, the supply of the Spirit. You have all you need to see God's power released in incomparable ways.
And then verse 4 just adds: "By which are given unto us exceedingly 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." People, God has not only given us all we need for now, but He's given us great and precious promises for tomorrow, hasn't He? And He's taken us right out of the corruption of lust, right out of the world, and He’s made us — and this statement is enough to just knock you over — a partaker of the divine nature.
Now I'm just telling you, if you're not living on top of things, folks, you are somehow jamming the signals. You're gunking up the channel because the power is there. As I said, I don't think we've even begun to see what God can do when we find ourselves utterly and totally cleansed and His power flowing through us. No one is more shocked at what He's done than I am, but I don't think it's even the beginning of what He can do.
Just one word there, verse 4: "Great and precious promises." The word "precious" is timio and it emphasizes unequaled value. There's nothing like them, they are utterly unequalled. And I think it's kind of a wonderful little play on words because back in verse 1 you see the word "precious," like precious faith, and that means of equal value. All of our faith is of equal value and all of our faith of equal value is based upon absolutely unequalled promises. Precious faith based on precious promises. And if you were to go back to 1 Peter, all based on the precious blood of Jesus Christ.
Hey, have you forgotten the riches of your salvation? Have you forgotten the potential, the promises, what's yours? And, you know, you go around and you meet folks and their whole perspective of the Christian life is some little set of rules. You know, I met some dear folks who are saved and they think the Christian life is all these little legalistic rules. "Well, you know, you've got to be careful that you don't do this and you don't do that." And they've got all these little plunk-dunk, things, and that's it. That's spirituality. And then they think they're spiritual because they live up to that standard. And they're sitting there literally loaded with eternal dynamite and they don't even know it. And the whole of their Christian perspective is negative rather than positive. And so we are rich in resources. Don't ever forget that because it's the fact that you know that, you see, is what releases you to function. You have nothing to fear.
Even in direct conflict with Satan, "Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world," right? I'll never forget the time that I was over having pie at the Michaelsons' and it was after Sunday night. You know, it was pastoral pie. It's one of those things pastors should do is go out and have pie and things. So we were having pie. Jerry Mitchell calls and says, "You've got to come to the church. There's a demon-possessed person here." And so, I went from the ridiculous to the sublime very fast. Got to the church, walked in the room and he was on the floor and the desk was flipped over and strange things were happening.
And I went into the room and she started kicking and flailing and smashing at me and all of this. And so Jerry was a boxer in the Navy and I'd played football, so we just, hit her and that's the only way we could do it. We literally put her on the floor. And then she started to scream in a voice that was not her own. "Get him out of here," and she was pointing at me. "Get him out, anybody but him, get him out, get him out, get him out." She kept screaming that, screaming that. At first I thought, "I've got to get out of here, I'm in trouble with this, you know.” Whoo! That was scary. And then I thought to myself, as I began to think about it, "Boy, there's no doubt in their mind whose side I'm on, is there?" And then it was a tremendously exciting reality. They don't like me. I must have done something right.
And you know something? There was a sense of...even though you're confronting the host of hell, and even though you're not wrestling with flesh and blood but principalities and power, there was a sense of...of divine protection at almost an invincibility that left fearlessness because of the knowledge of the power of God. A few things like that have happened in my life to let me know that God's power is there. Before that night was over, she was as clean as the driven snow. And God purified her life.
And so, the resources are there. My desire, like Peter, as long as God gives me life is to remind you of your salvation, its reality, your salvation, its riches. And lastly, and just briefly, the responsibility of your salvation. You might say, "Well, you know, the Lord's done it all and so we just let go and let God." My motto is "hold on and let God." Don't let go. And don't do anything in a vacuum. You know, there used to be a group called the "Quietists" who just believed that you sort of sat around and God did it and you didn't do anything. And they were the sort of passive spiritually. I don't see that. God has done it all. God has given us a like precious faith and God has given us divine power and God has given us exceeding precious promises and God has given us a divine nature and God has taken us out of the corruption of the world and God has done all of this stuff. And then it says, verse 5, watch. And the old Authorized says, "And beside this." But the literal rending is "For this very reason, because of this, because God has done it all, you do your part."
And, of course, you say, "Well, if He's done it all, what part have I got?" And that's the paradox. That's the paradox that you find all the way through the Scripture. God does it all and yet we have a part. And he says, for this reason give all diligence, man, give everything you've got. We have all we need, yet we have all we can do to add to it. Isn't that interesting? It's a paradox. Our position is one thing, our practice is another. We have all we need but we have to apply that. That's the call of God.
And you say, "Well, what is that we've got in terms of responsibility?" Well, look, verse 5, give all diligence and add to your faith. The first thing and the bottom line in the Christian life is faith, believing God, trusting God. That is the basic ingredient. So you start with that and you add to that, but that's got to be there. You were saved by faith, but it isn't quote-unquote just a "saving" faith, it is a living faith. So the assumption is that you've got it all along. And the bottom line is that you live by faith. That's the only way to live. I hear people say, "Oh, we're so worried about what's happening in the world." Or I've heard people say, "Oh, you know, if things don't change in our country, we're finished." "Oh, we've got to do something about the recession or it's over."
And we don't live that way. We don't live by the media. We live by the faith of God. This summer, dead serious, people said to us, "How can you possibly live in California? It's so debauched, immoral. How can you raise your family out there?"
Well, I really didn't know that the earth had tipped and dumped all the sinners into Southern California. I figured there was a few of them someplace else. And then this other...people, very serious said to us, "You know, how can you just stay in California when you know you're needed and you know it's going to drop right into the sea?" You feel like saying, "Well, I have these big water wings and they're available," you know. But people have the strangest... "How can you possibly raise your children in that terrible place?"
But, you see, we live by faith. We trust God. God could handle California as well as He can handle anywhere else. Some people here, you know, in the summer, they said, "You know, John, we...the finances, you know, you're gone now, and oh, this, there's going to be a problem with the finances." I said, "Well, I've always believed that what the Lord's involved in, He supports." Never known Him to get frustrated and say, "Boy, I'd like to pull that off. I just can't seem to raise the money." Really never run into that. I feel if the Lord's in it, the Lord will do it.
We got into this thing by faith, and we have established that we are going to live by faith. And we will not all of a sudden turn around and try to live by sight. Having begun in the Spirit, are we perfected in the flesh? Listen, we believe God. This whole deal started in the Spirit and it started by faith and we're living by faith one day at a time and we believe that's the way God wants us to live in utter absolute dependence on Him. By faith we believe God to raise up greater testimony, we believe God to raise up a greater ministry, bring more people into His kingdom, send out more to preach and teach and serve. We believe God for the funds and the facilities and whatever it takes to do the work He wants us to do. We believe God for that. And God has always proven Himself faithful to those things He desires to perform.
Now people can get upset about a lot of stuff, but I cannot get upset about things when I know that everything is in the hand of God. I mean, God just controls all the details of every life. Just puts it all together. Faith is such a marvelous thing. I'll take a minute to tell you just an illustration. My wife...I said to my wife one day, just about three days before we got home. I said, "You know, I need so much to call a certain fellow." I said, "I know he's got some spiritual needs and I promised I'd call him. And I haven't been able to call him. I just feel in my heart a pressing need to call him."
She says, "Honey, wait until we get home." I said, "I just don't feel like waiting till I get home." She said, "It's only three days." I said, "I know, but I just feel I need to talk to him."
Well, as it worked out we couldn't reach him. So I felt bad, you know, it was just burdening me. So we were driving down through the mountains of Colorado on our way home. We stopped in a little tiny place called Ouray, Colorado. And we were driving down the street, that's a nice little place, way up 12,000 feet altitude. We were driving down the street and Mark says, "There's so-and-so," and he called out a name for one of our friends, just riding down the street on his motorcycle. And we just spent part of the summer with him in a conference.
And so, we pulled over and said, "Hey, hi, Dennis." And he almost fell over dead, see. "Whoa, what are you doing here?"
"So, oh we're just on our way back home." And he says, "I can't believe this." He says, "There's a guy in the town tonight who just has to see you. He's been talking about you and he wants so much to see you." I said, "Well, who is it?" And he mentioned the same guy that I felt the need to call. So he says, "Follow me," and he piles out and does a wheelie right down the middle of the street, you know. And we're puttin' along in our van behind him. It was... We go down to a motel way down on the side of town and there's about a hundred motorcycles parked in front of this motel. And so we pulled in. And the guy... I said, "What is this?" They said it's the Colorado 500. These are the 100 finest race drivers in the world that are driving across Colorado. And they're climbing all the mountains and going across the terrain. We've lost a few, broken legs, blown-up motorcycles and all this. But there's ninety of us left and this is an endurance moto-cross across Colorado.
And he said, "Come on, I want to introduce you to some of the guys." So he introduced me to Parnelli Jones and Dan Gurney and Rick Mears that one the Indy 500 and about ten other guys that are all these world famous race drivers, you know. And he's dragging me from one to the other, you know. "This is my pastor," he keeps saying. "Hello, nice to meet you." Dragging me as if these guys were really turned on about meeting me, see. They didn't know me from Adam, but he's really excited.
So, finally, we connect up...we connect up with this fellow that I felt I needed to see. And he couldn't believe it. And we couldn't believe it. Here we are, he's going across Colorado on a motorcycle, we're coming through there, we intersect in one night and we had our time together. And he said to me, you know, he said, "Ah, something special's going to happen tonight so come with me down to the saloon." So I said, "Well, unaccustomed as I am to frequenting those kind of places," I said, "I'll sort of...maybe I'll just look in." He said, "No, you've got to come in." So I just kind of slipped in. And it's kind of an old western saloon. And they said, "We want you just to watch what happens."
They had all these race car drivers in there and this one guy got up and he was introduced as the... He is the number one pilot in Vietnam, he shot down forty-three Migs, flew a Phantom for the Navy, just an incredible man. And he gave this...He showed films that were taken from his...the nose of his plane of his hits, incredible thing to see. And after all of this, and he talked about it and how they dog-fight and all this, he told about how he was shot down, finally, and he had to roll his plane twenty times with a slow roll to keep the altitude to get out of the Cong territory and he finally ejected and landed in the Red River and was rescued by a copter.
He said, "As I was coming down I knew there were only two things that could preserve a man. First thing in being a POW, first thing was a family." And he said, "Three days before I was hit, my wife sent a notice of divorce to me and said she found another man. Second thing was a belief in God and I never believed in God in my life." But he said, "After that, somebody confronted me with the fact that he bet I thought of God when I was coming down and I said I did." And through that incident he says to all these guys, and by this time they're spellbound, right? There's a rough bunch of guys but they held this guy in awe because when you do that kind of stuff, you're really living on the thin edge.
And he got all done at the end and he said, "I just want all of you to know that I gave my life to Jesus Christ. That's the greatest thing that ever happened to me." And he said, "If any of you on this trip want to know Jesus Christ, I'm no preacher but I can lead you to Christ and I'll be here the whole time."
Well, what a great thing. I mean, there was just dead silent like it is in here now. And then Dennis gets up with his guitar and he can really play a guitar. He's the only guy I know that can play "Hallelujah" chorus on a twelve-string guitar. He got up and he says, "We're going to sing some Christian songs." And he's got these guys all singing choruses. And then he introduced me and I thought, "Boy, you know, what a time." And that time, I think, was special for this fellow that I needed to see. And God knew I needed to see him. And the Lord knew he needed the strength that he found in that special evening together.
I've learned to live by faith. I've learned that if you can't make a phone call you need to make, God may drop somebody right in your lap. And I've seen it happen enough times to believe God for whatever's going on in this church or my life. And that's the basis.
And then he says, "Taking faith as a foundation," verse 5. Watch now, "you add virtue." You add virtue. What is the word “virtue”? It's the word that means excellence of life. It's a very rare word in the Bible but it's a common word in secular Greek and it refers to the proper fulfillment of something. The best thing that a knife can do is cut, right? And the best thing that a horse can do is run fast. And excellence means that the best thing a Christian can do is to fulfill all that a Christian can be. That's the way the word is used, aretē. It is the excellence of a man to be all that a man can be. And all that a man can be is to be like Christ, and that's the excellence. That's the virtue.
So you add to a life of faith the excellence of Christ's likeness. And you add to that, he says, knowledge, verse 5. And he uses a different word than the epiginōsko of earlier which is the deep knowledge of salvation. This is the gnosis, the practical wisdom. You add to your faith excellence of life, applied in practical wisdom, goodness on a practical basis. Some people have all the biblical data; they just don't live the life. But knowledge that is true knowledge acts. And in verse 6 it says to your knowledge you add self-control.
This is to you, Peter says, to remember. You know this. I'm not telling you what you don't know. You know you're to live by faith. You know you're to have a virtuous life, an excellent life, fulfilling all of the highest potential of God in man. You know you're to have a wisdom applied. And you know you're to have self-control. Literally it means to control the passions, rather than being controlled by them, to break the will of sin, self-discipline.
When I came home, I received a phone call and a man, dear friend of mine, said to me, "You'll be sorry to hear this but I have to tell you. One of the people you love the most, your dearest friends, a pastor, has been involved with a young girl and he's destroyed his ministry and his credibility and his life." And my first reaction is, I just, you know, I am just so furious at evil and that he would do that. You just want to strangle the guy. And then you stop and think, self-control, man, discipline. I mean, it's there, the resources are there. Be disciplined. We must bring all things into the captivity of Christ. That's what we have to remember.
And to the self-control or discipline, add patience. What does he mean? That means to persevere with courage against all odds. Lots of people, you know, start out in a big fury. And then as soon as they hit some kind of a resistance, pphht, they're gone. But when you can take difficulty and go right through it, when you can stand against Satan's attacks and the opposition of the world and the flesh and be courageous, when your star can be the steady shining star rather than the ephemeral brilliance of a comet, then you've got the idea; that never-give-in, that never-give-up persistence.
Add to that, he says, godliness. And that's a beautiful word, eusebeia. It means reverence or worship, a life of worship, the life of worship. It is not so much the living as it is the attitude toward God. Live a life of worship, a life of awe. As David said, "I've set the Lord always before me."
You know, I'm saddened about America for that reason. As I traveled in the churches I see so little worship. I see so many programs and so much stuff and so many routines and so little awe of God and so little reverence and so little concept of worship. And sometimes I preach messages on the glory of God and on worship and people say, "We never knew that." Someone expressed the fear that Grace Church was becoming too much like a business, too much like an organization with all kinds of policies and programs. And my answer is if we are, God help us, we will wake up the church in Sardis. We'll be the dead church.
And so, we must remember to set the Lord before us. We must remember to worship. And then he says to godliness, verse 7, add brotherly kindness. Philadelphia, you know what, the best way to translate it? Friendship, friendship, friendship, be friends, be affectionate to one another. You know, one of the fears I have is that people can just kind of come in to our church and sort of sit on the fringes and no relationships develop. And they just...they just leave it at that. They come and watch the preacher and listen to the music and go their way. Don't do that. Don't do that. You add to your faith friendships.
You know, there's a whole mystery about discipleship. It's really kind of funny. Churches hear about us that we do discipleship. They, you know, want to know: What is discipleship? Like it's a secret thing. You want to know what it is? Discipleship is nothing more or less than a friendship with a spiritual perspective, that's it. It is where two people are molded together in a deep affection with a spiritual perspective. Their conversation is God, not the weather. That's discipleship, pouring our lives into each other. Be friends, build friendships, remember the importance of that. And don't get your little group over here and keep everybody else out. Build new friendships, open your hearts.
I talked to a pastor back in Delaware. I said to him, "You were at our Shepherd's Conference," and I said, "What was the one greatest thing that sticks in your mind about it? What was the one thing that ministered to you most?" I was assuming that he was ministered to in asking the question because he had expressed that. And I said, "Well, what was it? One thing that was the most minis...gave the most ministry to you?" And, of course, we had seminars and stuff and, you know, endless.
He said, "It's easy to answer. The thing that hit me the hardest and was the most overwhelming to me was the love of the people for each other." Isn't that interesting? He said, "It drew me to tears when I sensed them worshiping God in the midst of genuine love."
I remember the Jewish lady that went down to the temple down the street here to get counseling but she hadn't paid her dues so the rabbi wouldn't counsel her till she paid. And she got mad. So she came down here and it was a Sunday morning and she got caught in the flow and got washed into the auditorium. She wound up sitting... She wound up sitting in the middle of the auditorium, first time ever in a Christian meeting. And later when she told me this, she said that that day her heart opened and she was really open to Christ and without...with just a few days in between, I think maybe a week, she received Christ. And she was telling me this, she said, "Oh, well, just that first Sunday." I said, "What did I preach?" She said, "I don't have any idea what you preached. I don't think I heard a word you said." I said, "Well, what was it?" She said, "I couldn't believe the affection of these people for each other."
Didn't Jesus say that? "By this shall all men know you're My (what?) disciples if you have love one for another." Have you forgotten that? Have you forgotten to build friendships? Have you forgotten to extend yourself? You see, your faith is the bottom line. You add to that excellence of life, you add to that wisdom, self-discipline, self-control, perseverance, spirit of worship, friendship and finally love. The end of verse 7, love, and by that we mean sacrificial selflessness. Oh, love is selflessness. That's the bottom line. Love is sacrifice for one another.
You know, it just grieves me to hear somebody say, "Oh, they're doing this and I'm not for it." You're not? That's your problem to be selfless, to be selfless, sacrificial, to look on the things of others. This summer we had a van verse for our trip. We had a motto for the van. Our verse was Romans 12, "In honor, preferring one another." With four kids in one van for 90 days, you have to have that verse because the hassle over who sits where and gets what... So we had that verse, "In honor, preferring one another" was our verse and we enforced that verse. But that's the way life ought to be, see. That's love.
Beloved, have you forgotten the reality of your salvation? Are you thankful? Have you forgotten the riches of your salvation? Are you seeing the power of God expressed? Have you forgotten the responsibility for increased faith, moral excellence, practical wisdom, self-control, courageous perseverance, God-conscious reverence, friendship, sacrificial selfless love? Then be reminded and remember, because if you forget, the consequences are tragic.
Father, we bow before You now in the close of this hour in thankful hearts. We've shared our heart, this morning, and taken more time than we normally should but thank You for a sense of Your presence and knowing that we never take enough time compared to all the things that distract our life. Thank You for every precious person here. The wonder and majesty and beauty of the music lingers yet in our ears, we thank You for it. We trust that it pleased You.
For the message, Lord, that we might hear it in the truest sense by obedience, help us to remember. Bring us back together tonight again as we study Daniel. Measure somehow just a portion for us to touch our lives in a special way. We pray for those gathered here, Lord, with deep needs, recognized, felt needs. May there be a sufficiency for them today. Thank You, Father, for this time. And in the name of and for the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ we pray, and everyone said, amen.
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