Read 2 Peter 1: 5-11
General idea: The authentic knowledge of Christ that is revealed to us is the foundation of our faith. We are being directly called to make every conceivable effort to put into practice our faith and the Fruit that is given and is at our disposal to use. Our faith is the benefit we have as Christians, just like working for a company and having health and life insurance, a retirement account, and various other benefits. Employers are not always obligated to do so, but in order to make a healthier and more productive work environment, they do. The employees are responsible to sign up and use the benefits. If they do not, those benefits will not be available for use. Their use is not mandatory, but needed and necessary for life. The parallels are similar with what God has given us. He is not obligated to give to us out of His love and grace, but He does so because of that love and grace.
The order of the Fruits here is not comprehensive or in a sequential order like in Galatians where each one is a stage that begets the next one. Rather, here it is arranged in rhetorical "sorites," a type of argument that uses syllogisms to build to the climax of love. Each end is a "bookend" that holds the others; faith is what we all start with. It is the foundation. Then others build to the preeminent essential significance of what love is, the quintessential fruit of the Christian life.
Look over these key words and ask how do they relate to you?
- Add to/supplement. This is referring to fruit, which is what we are given when we grow in Him, what we add to, and what He then multiplies (Rom. 5:1-5; 1 Cor. 13).
- Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Heb. 11:1). Christ is what we hope for; Christ is what is to be seen! Faith is the promise of God that gives us the hope and confidence so we can receive, act on, obey, and trust God's promises, because God is sovereign and trustworthy. We can trust God for the future because we can see what He has done in the past¾from creation, to testimonies, to His infallible Word (Rom. 10:17; Gal. 3:1-14; Heb. 2:4; 11: 1-6; 12:2; James 1:2-4; 2:14-26).
- Goodness/ virtue refers to moral excellence, the engagement of love, and doing the right thing. Virtue is the application of being good from both the conscious will to do what is right and from personal responsibility. It encompasses integrity, honesty, compassion, and endearment and this is the quintessence of what biblical Character (that is right standards, strength, courage, modesty, and purity all done in excellence) is to be. We acquire Virtue by our faith, our obedience to Christ, being persistent in Him, and clothing ourselves in Him. This is what results when we truly repent; we will represent the nobility that we have in Christ (Amos 5:15; Psalm 103:17; 131; Prov. 8:13; 25:22; Matthew 7:12; 19:16; Luke 6:27, 35; Rom. 12:17; 2 Cor. 5:20; Eph. 5:8-9; Col. 3:12-17; Phil. 2:14-18; 4:8; 1Timothy 4:12; 5:22; Tit.1: 15; Heb.10: 5-10; 1 Pet. 3:11; 2 Pet. 1:3-8; 2:9).
- Knowledge here refers to knowing the salvation we have in Christ because we have a personal relationship with Him. The Christian message, if it is real in our lives, will affect our attitudes and lifestyle (Luke 11:42; 18:10-14; John 14:1-6; Eph. 2:8-9).
- Self-control is allowing God to be in control of our will and heart, and seeking the Spirit to enable us. Then we will know what not to do and guard the areas in which we are weak. This will allow us to have discipline and restraint with obedience to God and others. It is refusing to let distractions derail or remove us from His will and plan so we will not be held back with what Christ called us to do (Prov. 16:32; 25:28; Rom 13:12-14; I Cor. 6:12; 9:25-27; 1Thess. 5: 22; Titus 2:12; Heb. 12:2; 2 Pet. 1:5-7).
- Perseverance is having confidence in God so we trust Him in difficult situations and still see His grace and love. We can do this by being encouraging with Christ-like temperament (2 Chron. 32:1-8; Esther 7; Luke 16:22-31; 18:9; Acts 19:8-10; 26:19-23; Rom. 15:14-16; Phil. 1:6; 12-14, 25; 2 Tim. 2:25).
- Godliness means living out our disposition with respect and reverence to Christ in all aspects of our life. This is rearranging our priorities, mindsets, and character to line up with God's character, and to be able to see the importance of virtue then be equipped to use it to value others. Godliness is a collection of personality traits within our personality that show our attitude, moral fiber, and how we treat one another¾good or bad¾which is what Character is about. This results from being pious and living a good, reverent life toward God and others because of what Christ has done in us (Psalm 15; Micah 6:8; Matt. 7:12; Luke 6:31; Eph. 5:1; Col. 3:15-17; 1 Tim. 3:16; 4:8; 6:11; 2 Tim. 2:22; 3:5; 2 Pet. 1:3, 6; 3 John 11; Rev 14:6).
- Brotherly kindness/Brotherly affection means love for a brother or friend (in the Greek, Philadelphia). It is a call to treat others as family because we are all in God's family (Rom. 12:10; Heb. 13:1).
- Love is the turning of our backs to our self-concerns, and facing God and our neighbors. It will enable us to appreciate others in the Lord. Love desires to seek and apply what God has to say. When you have the wrong idea and definition of love, it will adversely impose on all those areas in your life. Understanding what love is not is as important as understanding what love is not. God's love must be our model for life. It must flow into us from Christ, and in return flow out from us to those around us (John 13:1; 15:13; 1 Cor. 13; Col. 3:12-17; 1 Thess. 4:9-10; 5:8-13; 1 John)!
- Possess these qualities. The Greeks believed that the knowledge of something was what was important, not the practice of it. Here we are called to not just know but also to do.
- Ineffective/…unproductive. This means we are being called on to be productive and useful in the Kingdom as well as the community. If not, we are in disobedience and ignoring His love and gifts for us. Why would a Christian not want to be productive for the Kingdom (Phil. 4:8-9)?
We have privileges and responsibilities in Him. God has given us gifts, abilities, and promises that we are not to store when needed. When they are needed, they are for us to persistently use! Such benefits given will not only benefit us in our intimate relationship to Christ, but also empower and build much heartier relationships with others, too.
There is a stern warning here for all of us! We have a responsibility to pursue our faith development and do a good disposition of modeling Christ (2 Cor. 5:20)! If we ignore our call to pursue our spiritual growth thus not developing our virtue and character, we will face life without God's empowerment and benefits. When we have forsaken Him, He does not forsake us; nevertheless, because we did not take a hold of the benefits He gives, they will not be in our arsenal or developed enough to be of much use in dealing with life. Our shortsightedness and refusal to be prepared results from taking our eyes off Christ and placing them on our circumstances and stresses, thus making us empty and bankrupt to deal with those circumstances! Do not let this myopic thinking happen to you!
The Essential Inductive Questions (for more Inductive questions see Inductive Bible Study):
1. What does this passage say?
2. What does this passage mean?
3. What is God telling me?
4. How am I encouraged and strengthened?
5. Is there sin in my life for which confession and repentance is needed?
6. How can I be changed, so I can learn and grow?
7. What is in the way of these precepts affecting me? What is in the way of my listening to God?
8. How does this apply to me? What will I do about it?
9. What can I model and teach?
10. What does God want me to share with someone?
- Why are we called to grow in Him? What does this mean for you?
- If Christ has called you to grow in Him, what get in the way? Why?
- What have you received from Christ that drives your life? What is in the way? What are you going to do about it?
- Do you realize that we all have privileges and responsibilities in Christ? What are yours?
- What does it mean to you to make every conceivable effort to put into practice your faith and fruit? How is this necessary for your life?
- What must happen in you for more character and Fruit to be exhibited?
- When you receive a faith and a salvation that you do not deserve or earn, how should you respond? How does gratitude for what He has given play a part?
- What do you need Christ's empowerment for now?
- What in your life can come from knowing Him, growing in Him, and then having the desire for more?
How will neglecting our faith and Lord cause us to fail at what is important? How have you seen this?
11. What will you do about confession and repentance? How will that play a part in your Fruit and character? When will you do it?
12. Take a close look at each of the virtues listed. Which ones are you exhibiting well? Which ones do you lack? What are you going to do about the ones in which you are weak?
© 2005 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Discipleship Tools http://www.discipleshiptools.org/