Increase in These Qualities, Part 1
May 22, 2018 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
This is part five 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.
Alright! Alright! Perhaps some can accuse me of “beating around the bush” and delaying this moment. The heart of Peter’s roadmap of Gospel growth is the list of virtues in verses 5-7. This is the list of qualities of which he says, “If these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 8). Help us know how to increase in these qualities!
I’ve been purposeful in delaying this moment. 2 Peter 1 is so rich and thoroughly packed with the astonishing news of God’s gracious work on our behalf. Let’s never forget that as we “make every effort” in our responsibility. Let’s keep in mind what commentator Michael Green says, “Human effort is indispensable, even though it is inadequate.” God’s grace is sufficient for our inadequacies.
So, about that list. Let’s look at the first four qualities this week and think about what it is and how it grows. We’ll look at the last four next week.
Faith – The receiving and resting in Christ alone for salvation. This is the initial work of God (see Eph. 2:8-9), from which everything else flows. The presence of faith indicates a new heart, a heart that sees Christ for who he is and treasures him. How does faith increase? Paul says in Romans 10:17, “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” The ordinary means of grace, Word and Sacrament, faithfully administered, lift Christ high for the feeding of our faith. Do you see Christ and savor him more and more?
Virtue – Or “excellence.” Used in verse 3 to speak of Christ. In 1 Peter 2:9 we are called to proclaim Christ’s excellencies. This speaks about outward perfections that conform with inner character. Integrity is similar, yet different. How does virtue increase? We can’t increase virtue within the renewed inner character, which comes by increasing faith. Our virtue grows as our faith in Christ grows. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:18, “We all, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.”
Knowledge – This is different than the knowledge mentioned in verse 3, which spoke about personal and intimate fellowship with Christ. This knowledge, in verse 5, is practical wisdom, or the ability to discern between good and evil. Satan’s original temptation of Adam and Eve clouded such knowledge so that they no longer were able to discern what was good and pleasing to the Lord. Accurate knowledge of good and evil would have helped them resist the temptation. How does such knowledge grow? By knowing the good. By delighting in that which is good. Anything less than good will become easily distinguished since it loses its appeal. Similar to growth in faith, our growth in knowledge comes by the renewal of our minds. Paul says, “be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2).
Self-Control – Resistance typically comes to mind first, i.e. I have self-control if I can resist the urge to eat more ice cream. But self-control is deeper than mere resistance. It’s about priorities. We make time for and take care of anything that becomes valuable and important to us. Self-control, then, is living life according to our priorities as they have been reshaped in Christ. How do we grow in self-control? Grow in valuing Christ above all things through faith. As Christ becomes the greater treasure of our hearts, our priorities begin to orient around him, empowering self-control.