Evidence of Christian Growth - Part 1

Bible Book: 2 Peter  5 : 1-7
Subject: Christian Growth; Disciples of Christ; Christian Living
Introduction

2 Peter 1:5-7

This is the list of virtues that should be growing in the life of the believer: moral excellency, practical wisdom, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and unselfish love. When we look at such a list and at our own lives, our first reaction might be to give up. However, we need to remember that there is a cooperative effort between the believer and God as they work together to produce these qualities. The important question for each believer to ask himself is, "Are all of these qualities growing in my life?"

Once we place faith in Jesus Christ, our Christian life:

Begins in the knowledge of Him Who calls us. (2 Peter 1:3)

Continues in the knowledge of God and of Jesus. (2 Peter 1:2, 5)

Will end in the full knowledge of the One Who makes all these virtues possible. (2 Peter 1:8)

This passage reminds me that I have divine provisions available to me if I will but submit (yield) to His challenge of Christian growth.

2 Peter 3:18, "but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen."

I. Perseverance 6

A. Perseverance Is The Proof Of Faith

2 Timothy 1:12, "For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I  know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day."

Whom - not what!

The Apostle John says of those who abandon the faith,

1 John 2:19, "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would

have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us."

Authentic faith guarantees perseverance in the faith. On the other hand, Scripture is full of exhortations urging us to persevere.

B. Perseverance In The Power Of Faithfulness

1 Timothy 4:16, "Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you."

Timothy's perseverance would be the proof that his faith was genuine. Not only this, his perseverance would guarantee that his ministry to others would be fruitful.

Self-control has to do with the pleasures that spring up from the inside. Perseverance has to do with the pressures that spring up from the outside. Define Perseverance:

Cicero - the voluntary and daily suffering of hard and difficult things, for the sake of honor and usefulness.

Didymus of Alexandria - writes on the temper of Job: "It is not that the righteous man must be without feeling, although he must patiently bear the things which afflict him; but it is true virtue when a man deeply feels the things he toils against, but nevertheless despises sorrows for the sake of God."

It is patient endurance under trials inflicted by outside forces. It is the ability to refrain from seeking revenge. It is the art of remaining calm and collected while others lose their tempers and express themselves in fits of emotion. Perseverance has always a background of courage.

This word pictures a Christian in training. This is not something that is automatically developed.

James 1:2-4, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." Refers to remaining strong in unwelcome toil and hardship.

Good News: It is the courageous acceptance of everything that life can do to us and the transmitting of even the worst event into another step on the upward way.

Perseverance does not simply accept and endure, there is always a forward look in it.

Hebrews 12:2, "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

The Apostle Peter is reminding us of these life challenges and divine provisions, yet:

Even though he heard these words fall from Jesus' lips, he knew from bitter experience how easy it is to fail, despite our best intentions.

Question: Do you ever fail or feel like a failure?

Matthew 26:33, "Peter answered and said to Him, 'Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.'"

Matthew 26:74, "Then he began to curse and swear, saying, 'I do not know the Man!' Immediately a rooster crowed."

Perseverance does not mean that we will never fail. Three things it does mean:

When we fail, we can seek God's forgiveness. When we fail, we can learn from our failures. When we fail, we can persevere anyway.

Remember, it is a virtue which can endure, not simply with resignation, but with a vibrant hope.

"People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered; forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies; succeed anyway. If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; be honest and frank anyway. What you spent years building, someone could destroy overnight; build anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; do good anyway. Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; give the world the best you have anyway. You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; it was never between you and them anyway."

Mother Teresa

When Peter failed the first test he took in Perseverance 101, how did Jesus score him? The Lord restored Peter, giving him a 3-fold commission, in place of his 3-fold denial. (John 21:15-17)

Even though that was not Peter's final failure, he kept pressing on. He did not succumb to discouragement.

  • He did not abandon the faith.
  • He did not repeat the same mistakes.
  • His perseverance eventually qualified him to exhort others in the area of what he had learned.
C. The Followship Of The Commited To Doing What Ever It Takes

I am a part of the fellowship of the committed to doing what ever it takes. I have Holy Spirit power. The die has been cast. I've stepped over the line. I am out of the comfort zone. The decision has been made. I am a disciple of His. I won't look back, let up, slow down or back away. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense and my future is secure. I am finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, chintzy giving and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need pre-eminence, prosperity, position, promotions, or popularity. I don't have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by presence, learn by faith, love by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power. My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road  is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my Guide reliable, and my mission clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity. I won't give up, shut up, let up, or burn up till I've preached up, prayed up, paid up, stored up, and stayed up for the cause of Christ.

I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I must go until He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops. And when He comes to get His own, He'll have no problem recognizing me because I have dedicated my life to be a part of the fellowship of the committed to doing what ever it takes.