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Flourishing Disciple // 2 Peter 1:5-11

Mary Ellen Ermis February 26, 2023 sermons, 2 Peter, cityrise, Flourishing Disciple, houston, Roger Patterson, West U Baptist,

The following is a manuscript of the sermon presented by Senior Pastor Dr. Roger Patterson on Sunday, February 26, 2023 at our West U Baptist campus. To view the sermon in full, check out the link below.

“The secret of your success is what you do daily, not in a day.”

This is a quote by leadership expert, John Maxwell. Dr. Maxwell has written over 100 books and he has influenced leaders in the church, in the marketplace, and not-for-profit leaders around the globe.

As we talk about growing as a disciple, let me ask you:

What are you doing on a daily basis to grow in your faith?

That’s what this series, Flourishing Disciple is all about. Today, we return to our focal passage in 2 Peter 1 and we will also spend some time in the book of Ephesians.

Last week, we looked at The Call to Grow and saw that:

  1. As a follower of Jesus, You and I already have what we need.
  2. If we want to grow, we must cultivate it.
  3. If we grow, we will benefit from it.

And we covered 2 Peter 1:1-11.

Today, we are going to zoom in on verse 5.

2 Peter 1:5

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,  and virtue with knowledge…

Now, as a reminder, I don’t want to simply start with these three qualities of faith, virtue, and knowledge.

I prefer to back up a step to make sure we are all on the same page.

Peter begins this verse with, “For this very reason…”

Q: What reason?

A: The fact that through our relationship with Jesus Christ, we have been given all that we need for life and godliness.

Take a step back and look at 2 Peter 1:3 again.

2 Peter 1:3

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence…

Remember, we saw this last week.

We have been granted all that we need for life and godliness through knowing Jesus.

And because we have been given all that we need…look at verse 5 again.

2 Peter 1:5

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,  and virtue with knowledge…

Notice the phrase, “make every effort.” As I said last week, that phrase means to bring to bear with fervor and eagerness.

So, what are we to bring to bear as we pursue a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ?

Let me give you three word-pictures as we dig into these qualities we are to pursue.

Wheelbarrow…Moneybag…Green Bananas

When you think of the wheelbarrow, I want you to think of the word Faith.

The moneybagVirtue.

Green Bananas…Knowledge.

As you look at all three of these together, I want you to know that Faith is NOT separated from virtue and knowledge.

*They build upon one another.

Peter presents these three qualities to be pursued in order to flourish as disciples but does not really develop them in this passage so we will look to Paulto help us make application.

*Interestingly, Peter refers to Paul’s writings in 2 Peter 3:15 and commends his teachings to his readers.

2 Peter 3:15-16a

And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters… 

So, Peter is challenging this church in Asia Minor, to listen to Paul. Since Peter referred his readers to Paul, we will look at how Paul addresses these virtues in the book of Ephesians.

The first quality is faith…remember, when you see faith, think… “Wheelbarrow Faith.”

I.               Wheelbarrow Faith

Billy Graham used to tell the popular story of faith related to Niagara Falls.

A tightrope walker walked across a tightrope over the great Niagra Falls. And when he got to the other side, the crowd that had been hushed shouted their elation.  

He then asked them, “Do you think that I can do it while pushing a wheelbarrow?”

They all replied with a resounding “YES!”

Then the Tightrope walker asked…“Are any of you willing to get in?”

Many people have observation faith, but few have wheelbarrow faith.

Friends, we are to have this wheelbarrow faith. Notice how Paul speaks to the church in Ephesus about their faith.

Ephesians 1:15-17

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him…

Paul knows the church in Ephesus well having stayed there for two years. He writes them about 8 years later from prison.

  • He KNOWS that they are faithful and refers to their faithfulness in v.2.
  • Now he states that OTHERS speak of their faithfulness.

When I’ve been in pastor gatherings, and meet a fellow pastor from around the city, when he finds out where I pastor, I’ve often heard, “Wow! I hear you all are amazing at missions!”

I absolutely love that others have heard about our faith and our willingness to put our faith into action.

Paul commends the disciples because their faith is widely known.

Do people know of YOUR faith?

  • In your company?
  • Where you live?
  • Where your children go to school?
  • Students or boys and girls…do your friends or fellow athletes on your teams know that you follow Jesus?

Is your faith one of the first qualities others would note about you?

The Ephesians’ faith prompted Paul to joy and prayer!

In English, the word itself has multiple meanings:

  • What faith are you? “religion”
  • Do you have faith in the Texans to turn it around? — This is a positive hope toward the future.

Is your ultimate faith in God or yourself? “deep set trust with abandon”

It’s the faith of the Wheelbarrow…

  • where you let Him guide you…
  • where you let Him lead you…
  • where you let Him hold you up and keep you from falling!

Abraham had wheelbarrow faith. Pastor Paul Carter highlights five significant things about faith.

3 Things about Faith

  1. Faith is believing God enough to go.

Faith is believing God enough to go. In Genesis 12, the Lord calls Abram to “go,” and he obeys—as simple as that!

You have to truly believe in something or someone in order to completely upend your life as Abraham does in this story (Hebrews 11 follows up on this). Faith moves us.

3 Things about Faith

  1. Faith is believing God enough to go.
  2. Faith is trusting God enough to wait.

Faith is trusting God enough to wait. Abraham was 75 years old when God promised that he would make a great nation. And he doesn’t become a father until he is 100. That’s a lot of waiting. Faith inevitably involves waiting and trusting God’s timing.

3 Things about Faith

  1. Faith is believing God enough to go.
  2. Faith is trusting God enough to wait.
  3. Faith is fearing God enough to sacrifice. 

Faith is fearing God enough to sacrifice. After finally having a child at the age of 100, God inexplicably made an incredible demand—that Abraham should sacrifice Isaac. How could this be part of God’s plan if God intended to make a great nation of him?

Paul Carter says…

 “A healthy fear of God motivates us to do what is right and required without being paralyzed by the potential consequences. We fear God more than the loss of that which is precious.”

Peter exhorts his readers toward faith and Paul commends his readers for faith.

There is a story of a two story house that caught fire and the father yelled for all of the children to get out and grabbed the youngest who was nearby.

Outside he noticed that one son was missing and heard him yelling from the roof.

The father ran to the side and yelled up, “Jump! I will catch you.”

The fire was rising and the smoke enveloped the boy.

He yelled back, “Daddy, I can’t see you.”

The father replied, “It is ok because I can see you. Jump!”

My friend, the beautiful truth about faith is that we know in those moments when we cannot see God, that He still sees us and loves us.

If we are to flourish as disciples, we must walk by faith and grow in faith.

Let move to this next quality…

Q: When we see the money bag, what quality are we to remember?

A: Virtue

            Some translations — moral excellence

II. The Moneybag & Virtue

A few years ago an immigrant was settling into her first home and needed furniture.

She saw on Craigslist that a family was giving away the living room furniture of their deceased father.

She discovered $36,000 hidden in a cushion and promptly called the number on the ad to return it.

They gave her a reward of $2,200 and she was able to buy a refrigerator.

Would you have done the same?

Notice again verse 5.

2 Peter 1:5

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,  and virtue with knowledge…

Peter mentions an active pursuit of moral excellence or virtue.

Virtue has been defined as “the habitual and firm disposition to do good.”

Paul tells us that God designed us to do good.  Look at how this call to the virtuous life is laid before us and how we were designed to live this out.

Ephesians 2:10

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Paul links moral excellence and a life of good works to two realities.

  • We were literally created for such steps and
  • God prepared such opportunities before we were born.

Are we known for moral excellence, or do we appear to our community the same as their neighbors who have no faith and claim no walk with the Lord?

You see, good works and moral excellence are not optional byproducts of a Christian’s life. Instead, they are expected from the God who prepared such actions before we were born.

But we need to put our mind on these things…we need to know these things. We need to dwell on these things. Look at Paul’s instructions to the church at Philippi.

Philippians 4:8

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

So, as a point of growth, it isn’t just about saying no to the wrong things — the bag of money that isn’t yours. It’s also about saying yes to the right things. It’s about knowing the right things and then pursuing those.  

So the natural question then is: What good should you be doing that you aren’t engaging in?

Alright…we have one more word picture here to get through today.

Q: When we see the Green Bananas, what do I want you to remember?

A: Knowledge

III. Green Bananas and Knowledge

Let me tell you why your journey with Christ requires you to think of yourself as a green banana.

It’s really simple…when it comes to knowledge, you are never fully ripened. There is always more to learn.

Looking back in Ephesians 1:17, we see how Paul ties knowledge to their testimony of faith.

Ephesians 1:17

that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him…

You see, on the one hand, we pursue knowledge and on the other hand, God the Father gives knowledge.

  • The first keeps us obedient and
  • the second keeps us humble!

It is lazy Christianity that rejects any knowledge that God gives. All true knowledge is from God just like all truth is God’s truth.

John Piper gives us three very practical points of application here:

John Piper on Knowledge

  1. Read
  2. Ponder
  3. Discuss

Listen to what Piper has to say:

Read! Not only read God’s Word, but read rich doctrinal books that will teach you more about the things of God.

Ponder! Slow down. Take time to think about the Bible. Ask questions. Allow yourself to be humbly troubled by hard teachings. “The deepest insights come from trying to see the unifying root of two apparently antagonistic branches.”

Discuss! Be part of a class or a small group that cares passionately about the truth. Not a group that just likes to chat and have fellowship—which is also beneficial—but a group that believes there are biblical solutions to life’s problems and all of the questions in the world today, and a group that is committed to seeking out those answers![1]

[1] John Piper, “The Power of Knowledge,” desiringgod.org

Now, where does knowledge begin?

Proverbs 1:7

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.

A foundational reason that we gather every week…the reason our teachers spend so much time in preparation for our Bible Study lessons…the reason we gather in our community groups each week with children, youth, and adults…is so that we can all grow in knowledge!

Though we can learn in isolation, greater knowledge comes in the crucible of life. That’s why actively participating in the life of the church provides practical avenues of growing in faith, virtue, and knowledge.

Remember what Peter is saying to us…this call to grow…

2 Peter 1:5

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,  and virtue with knowledge…

You see, I chose the Green Banana because Peter speaks of progress in knowledge, not a finished product. It is a picture of ripening but not yet ripe.

Are you pursuing these qualities of a flourishing disciple? Faith, Moral Excellence, and Knowledge.

Both Peter and Paul teach us to pursue and trust that God will bestow.

Dallas Willard: “Grace is not opposed to effort. It is opposed to earning. Effort is action. Earning is attitude. You have never seen people more active than those who have been set on fire by the grace of God.”

How would you grade yourself this morning on Peter’s scorecard?

Faith- really? Will you get in the wheelbarrow?

Moral excellence/Virtue- are you the same when no one is watching?

Knowledge- do you actively seek to know the Lord and His Word as a newborn seeks milk? Do you long to be a Flourishing Disciple.