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Welcome to our newest series. We’ve vaulted off our previous series about life in God to better understand the biblical evidences of genuine spiritual life. We haven’t been justified, we aren’t being sanctified, and we won’t be glorified if we don’t have the life of Christ.
But far too many people assume they have spiritual life without knowing for sure. So, this series is going to have a two-edged mission. On one hand, it’s going to provide all of us the necessary evaluative tool to determine if we truly have life in Christ. And for those of us who do, it’s going to map out God’s expectation for the trajectory of our spiritual growth.
But before we start, will you please take a minute to rate and review the show on Apple Podcasts and/or Facebook? It’s a great help to the ministry, and it’s a blessing to all of our hearts when you rate and review us.
And then be sure to check out CelebrationOfGod.com to access today’s free episode notes, transcript, and spiritual life resources.
Now, let’s begin.
For this series, we’re going to be using II Peter as our jump-off point. So, I want to take some time to set the stage before we get into the specific evidences of spiritual life.
Now, it’s not my intention to get into the weeds from the very first episode, but I do think my first point today is very valuable as we consider the author of the letter we’re going to be studying.
1. Peter’s Spiritual Life
Peter is by far one of the most well-known and most controversial of the disciples. Not only was his personality brash and impulsive, but the Lord accomplished so much through him.
But the question I want to pose for your consideration is this: When was Peter truly born again?
Many people take for granted that Peter was a genuine child of God from the moment he was called by Christ (or shortly thereafter), but one of the beautiful realities of Peter’s life is that is a warning to us all of how determined, passionate, and outwardly successful a person can be without having a genuine, saving relationship with God.
I won’t try too hard to present my case with all of the evidence because we have other more important things to discuss, but I believe it’s clear that Peter was not truly born again until the conversation he had with Jesus after the Resurrection. Here are some of my reasons for believing this:
1. Just because Peter was a physical “disciple of Christ” doesn’t mean he had to be born again. Judas was a “disciple of Christ” too.
2. Just because he preached and did miracles when Jesus sent the disciples out doesn’t mean he was born again. Judas did the same.
3. Everything we know about Peter before his conversion is consistent with a nominal Christian experience.
4. In Matthew 10:33, Jesus makes it very clear that he who denies Christ before men, Jesus would also deny him before the Father. Peter denied Christ three times.
5. Jesus and Peter’s conversation on the Sea of Galilee supports the fact that Peter recognized his need to truly love Jesus.
6. There was a categorical shift in Peter’s personality and ministry after that conversation. Peter was no longer the man he used to be, it was clear he had new life in Christ, and he was being sanctified.
And I think this is beautiful because it is this man, a man who I believe thought he had genuine spiritual life but who later discovered he didn’t, this man under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is going to share with the us the evidences of genuine spiritual life.
I think that’s cool.
So, now let’s look at the introduction to the chapter.
2. II Peter 1:1-15
This passage is a gloriously concise explanation of how a Christian is to grow in his or her maturity, and therefore subsequently a valuable resource to determine if we have spiritual life in the first place.
Peter starts in verse 1 introducing himself as a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ. Though none of us are apostles, it’s important to understand that if Peter (as an Apostle of Christ) were a bond-servant of Christ, we are too.
Peter then addresses his readers and explains that he is writing to “those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” Spiritual growth cannot occur if there isn’t first spiritual life, and spiritual life comes as a result of the gift of faith that comes from our righteous God.
After we have been born again into a relationship with God, we are recipients of the multiplied grace and peace that is ours in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. Peter gives more explanation of this spiritual benefit when he proclaims in verse 3, “that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.”
Praise the Lord that He gives us access to everything we need for life and godliness! And praise God that He tells us exactly where to find everything we need. We discover these spiritual resources in the knowledge of God. Only as we learn, understand, and live in the knowledge of God can we access faith, peace, and grace, and grow in godliness.
But where do we find the knowledge of God? Is it revealed in nature? Do we learn it in dreams? No, it comes through God’s revealed Word, the Bible.
Verse 4 then explains that it’s through God’s glory and excellence that we receive the precious and magnificent promises that God gives to everyone who is born again. And what are those promises? Peter tells us that whereas previously we were corrupted by the world and our lusts, we now have everything we need to grow in grace and peace—aka, spiritual maturity. And that is why verse 5 begins, “For this very reason also . . . .”
Because Christians are bond-servants of God, and because He has given us faith, grace, and peace that come through knowing Him and results in life and godliness, we obviously must be growing in that life. So then in verses 5-7 Peter provides an eight point plan for Christian growth.
Over the next few weeks, you and I are going to work through this eight point plan in order to better know it, understand it, and grow in it. But since Peter’s plan is nothing more than eight short descriptions, we’re going to need to search the Scriptures (the knowledge of God) in order to truly know, understand, and live out these character traits in our lives.
Each of these episodes is designed to help you dig deeper in your understanding of God’s Word. Our goal is to be able to better understand each of the eight character traits in which Christians should be growing so that we can grow in them or come to the realization that we don’t have spiritual life . . . and then run to Christ!
Now, that’s a very broad overview of the passage we’re going to study in this series. But now I want to get more specific concerning an important concept Peter uses in this first chapter.
3. The Diligence of Spiritual Life
In verse 5, Peter writes, “Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence.” The Greek word translated “diligence” can be interpreted haste, hurry, earnestness, carefulness, and effort.
What reason should we be diligent? Verse 4 tells us that God’s glory and excellence has “granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.”
If we have spiritual life, we have it for a reason. God has imported His glory and excellence to us so that we would be recipients of His precious and magnificent promises. And those promises are designed to make us partakers of His divine nature.
We’ve talked much about this concept of escaping the corruption that’s in the world by lust and being matured in the divine nature of Christ which includes His character, words, and deeds.
This is God’s plan for our salvation, and—my friends—it’s going to take some earnest, careful, and diligent effort on our part to mature in this process.
It’s not going to happen through osmosis or subconsciously or without our participation. Sanctification is the process of us cooperating with the Holy Spirit to be transformed. We have to do our part because He’s not going to “force” it on us against our will.
Now, let’s jump ahead to verse 10, “Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you.”
My friends, we must make certain! We must exercise earnest, careful, and diligent effort to make certain about His calling and choosing to give us life in Christ.
The passage goes on to say, “for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; 11 for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.”
And—just for good measure—Peter uses this concept again in chapter 3 verse 14, “Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless.”
Here again we see the relationship between faith and works. We don’t do good works to earn our salvation, we do good works because we are saved. God has created us for this purpose so that as we are being salt and light in this world, Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
Our light shines all the brighter as our good works are evidence of the life of Christ in us.
II Peter 1:11, “for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.”
We have to be certain that our earthly life bears the earmarks of genuine spiritual life. We need to be diligent about it. We need to be earnest about proving it.
This is why the passage ends with . . .
4. The Necessity of Living Community
Allow me to read verses 12-15 and comment as we go.
“Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you.”
It really doesn’t matter if we’ve heard or know what we’re going to cover in this series. It’s so important to be reminded of them that Peter says that he would always be ready to remind us even though we might already be established in the truth.
And he goes on to continue arguing for the importance of reminders, “I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, 14 knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind.”
And here we find another reference to diligence. Not only are we to diligently pursue growth in our spiritual life, not only are we to diligently confirm the fact that we have spiritual life, but Peter was diligent to make certain that everyone under his care so knew these truths that they could easily call them to mind even after he was no longer around to remind them.
We need to be diligent about our relationship with the Lord and our continued maturity in sanctification, but we also need other spiritually-alive, maturing believers who will be equally diligent about our relationship with the Lord and continued maturity.
I pray this podcast and these episodes are part of that process—reminding you of the these things to such a degree that once we’re gone, you can’t help but remember them.
But I pray you have many more people in your life who are doing the same.
I’m really looking forward to studying with you the evidences of spiritual life, but let me share with you that we’ve already seen one.
If you believe that you have been born again, but you aren’t diligently pursuing spiritual growth and change, I would be careful about the certainty of your profession.
Literally everyone who is passionate about their sports team pursues watching the games and knowing how their team is doing. Everyone who is a professional in their field pursues learning and training. How can we say that we life in Christ if we’re not interested in developing that life?
If we’re not diligent to know God better and be more conformed to His image and worship Him better this year, then what are we doing?
But—of course—that’s why you’re here.
Please share this episode on your favorite social media outlets so that other followers of Christ can learn about the trajectory God has planned for their spiritual growth, and never hesitate to reach out to Counselor@CelebrationOfGod.com for personalized assistance in your discipleship.
And join us next time as we seek to better know, love, and worship God and help the people in our lives do the same.
To that end, we’ll be discussing the first evidence of spiritual life in which we absolutely must be growing.
The Year Long Celebration of God is a discipleship experience designed to equip followers of Christ to better know, love, and worship Him as they help others in their lives do the same. We exalt God, teach His people how to practically worship Him every day of the year, and train them to disciple others.
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AMBrewster is the creator of The Year Long Celebration of God and host of its podcast.