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Flourishing Disciple // Qualities of Brotherly Affection and Love // 2 Peter 1:5-11

Mary Ellen Ermis March 12, 2023 sermons, 2 Peter, cityrise, Crosspoint Church - Bellaire, Flourishing Disciple, houston, Kirby Follis,

The following is a manuscript of the sermon presented by Executive Pastor Kirby Follis on Sunday, March 12, 2023 at our Crosspoint Church-Bellaire campus. To view the sermon in full, check out the link below.


Good morning!  We wrap up our Flourishing Disciples series this morning, concluding our study of 2 Peter 1:5-11.  Our previous three weeks in this passage helped us identify in detail six characteristics or attributes of growing or fruitful disciples.  These six are not unlike other attribute lists in the Bible.

Paul writes in Ephesians 6 of the armor of God – gird your loins with truth, put on the breastplate of righteousness, have feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace, carry the shield of faith, wear the helmet of salvation, and never be without the sword of the Spirit.  Another came up in our study last week from Galatians 5 – the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  **These passages urge Christ followers to equip themselves in preparation for the Christian life and daily challenges.

To get us started, let me just quickly review the six qualities we’ve already studied.  Here they are…

Qualities of a Flourishing Disciple

  • Faith – a deep set trust in the goodness of God (vs. 5)
  • Virtue (Moral Excellence) – who you are when no one is watching (vs. 5)
  • Knowledge – growing spiritual enlightenment (vs. 6)
  • Self-Control – mastery of self (vs. 6)
  • Steadfastness / Perseverance – endurance; not giving up (vs. 6)
  • Godliness – attitude toward God resulting in actions pleasing to Him (vs. 6)

These six are the responsibility of the believer to be built up in personal internal qualities that are reflective of Christ’s character.  They are to be added to faith.  They could be called self-improvement but we know without God it isn’t possible to truly build and live in these so it isn’t fully dependent on self.  However, if we don’t endeavor to build them even with God’s help, it won’t happen either.  This is running the race – it is reaching for the prize – it is a significant part of sanctification of the believer.  I’m not going to stay here because we spent a lot of time on these in the last three weeks.  So let’s keep going using the following guide…

The Flourishing Disciple…

  • Engages Others Relationally Through Brotherly Affection and Love (vs. 7)
  • Is Known for Impact and Influence (vv. 8-9)
  • Diligently Embraces their Calling (vv. 10-11)


We have the opportunity to finish up the list from 2 Peter chapter 1 through vv. 7-10.  So let’s read starting at vs. 5…

2 Peter 1:5-7

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.

These final two qualities represent a significant shift in the focus of the passage.  Why?  Because the first 6 are largely personal and internal to our faith.  They certainly should impact our outward facing actions but they are things we build upon our faith through the Spirit of God.  The final two, brotherly affection and love are turned outward to our relationships with neighbors, fellow believers and even with God Himself.  What does that mean for you and me?  It means that a virtuous life is not merely one of self-improvement or personal achievement but is meant to shape how we live in the body of Christ and share our God-given gifts with those around us.  One writer states regarding this…

One writer states…

…your godliness must not be selfish and solitary, but social and Christian; for he who loves God must love his brother also.

Let me ask you, why the last three qualities in this last are so important?  Because godliness, brotherly affection and love give this whole list a distinctly Christian shape.  Think about it, have you ever known someone who was genuinely kind, friendly, helpful, even sacrificial but not a Christian?  Likely you have.

Wendy and I had a neighbor in San Antonio who was incredibly funny, kind, genuinely helpful and would give you the shirt off of his back as it were.  He was a non-practicing Catholic and was not a Christian.  But he was an incredible neighbor and a really good friend.  I’m glad to report that years later he accepted Christ and called me to share the news but my point is he lived with a good deal of virtue in his life but his virtue did not have a distinctly Christian shape.  What we have to know is that good deeds are not enough.  Living a life full of kindness is not enough.  But built on a foundation of faith, it becomes a fruitful witness of Christ’s gift to the world – His sacrifice that results in eternal life.

So we can state that godliness, brotherly love and affection are three qualities that distinguish Christians from non-Christians and not just for the sake of setting up differences but for the sake of bringing attention to God’s Kingdom and glory to His name.  These characteristics CONFIRM the truth of Christianity – when we live in them well, we affirm that only God can create in us these qualities and when we live in them poorly, we run the risk of looking the same as the world and offering a poor witness to Christ’s true power.

We will spend most of our time this morning in this verse.  “Brotherly love” comes from the Greek Philadelphia.  The root is philos or love and adelphos or brother.  While many associate this with the love of belonging or friendship, it is really the love that family members hold for one another.  And in the NT, it is used to describe the love between believers – originally born into different families but united in the FAMILY of Christ by a LOVE that comes from the Father.  In first century Christianity, this brotherly kinship among people who came from pagan backgrounds but embraced Christ and found unity there, amazed other pagans and people.

This is an easy thing to do right?  We all naturally love our parents and siblings and spouses and other Christians, don’t we?  We never squabble or get sideways over stupid arguments do we?  Of course we do!  I hear young lovers frequently express frustration because they believe if their relationship is truly based in love, it should be easy and always flow naturally.  Has that been your experience?  I’ve been married for 34 years to the most amazing woman I know and I can tell you it has been work, work, work, especially for her.  Worthwhile relationships must be cultivated through commitment, discipline, brotherly love and affection and diligence.  We all know they don’t “just happen.”

Why is this so hard?  Let’s look at Galatians 6:2 for part of the answer…

Galatians 6:2

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

There you have it!  This isn’t some mild interest in the well-being of other people.  It is an investment into helping lift their burdens.  It is a diligent prioritizing of other people’s needs over our own – whether they are winning in their walk or not.  This also reinforces that we are meant to grow and live the Christian faith in community.  Hebrews 10:25 warns us not to neglect meeting together; rather, to encourage one another.  How can we practice brotherly affection if we do not spend time with our brothers and sisters in Christ?  Writer David Helm points out that Peter, the writer of this letter, was a recipient of this kind of love from Christ personally.  Even after Peter denied Christ multiple times in one night, Jesus still prepared and shared a meal with him the next morning following the resurrection.  They remained family in spite of Peter’s shortcomings.  Christ does that for us as well and He calls us to be that for others – even or especially when those relationships are difficult.  Paul and Peter both spend a lot of time on this theme of brotherly love and the marks of a true Christian.  Paul writes in Romans 12:9-10.

Romans 12:9-10

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

Outdo one another he says – he throws down the gauntlet.  He says do this better than anyone else.  And just when we think we are getting a grip on Christ’s requirement regarding this kind of Christian family affection, Peter jumps from that to Agape – and with this move he assimilates all of the virtues into the gospel-shaped life.  The Greeks believed that attaining these virtues or any like them was an end in itself.  But Peter points out that Christians changed the goal or the aim by pursuing these qualities to a greater end – one that is good for the greater community and not just the individual.

Not to practice these qualities in our Christian lives would be similar to not expressing or living out love in a marriage relationship.  It is said of a couple who was married for a few years that the wife mentioned to the husband that he never says “I love you!”  To which the husband replied, I told you on our wedding day that I do love you and if that changes, I’ll let you know.  In the same way this doesn’t foster a strong marriage relationship, we also must work to live out love in every other meaningful life relationship, we must go beyond accepting Christ and building personal virtue to living out LOVE toward fellow Christ-followers.

John Piper writes…

This is important because tender family affection among believers witnesses to the truth that God is our Father.  The church is not primarily a human organization.  It is primarily the family of God.  To be a Christian means that you were born the first time into a human family.  You were born the second time into God’s family.

In the same way that we as human parents expect our children to behave toward each other with kindness, affection, gentleness, humility and acceptance, so much more our Father God expects us to do the same in His family.

Any of you have a gym membership or a home gym?  Lots of us, right?  If you actually go to the gym and follow the trainer’s coaching with diligence, what happens?  You experience success, yes?  Lose weight, gain muscle, strengthen your body. But what if you don’t go?  Or if you go but don’t follow the trainer’s advice?  You still get strong and have an awesome body, right?  NO!  It isn’t enough to just have these virtues – to possess them, if we aren’t going to live them out in community – to exercise them for the good of others and for the growth of God’s Kingdom.  Paul echoes the power of love in Colossians.

Colossians 3:12-14

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

In the verses just before that, Paul advocates for putting away everything that does not honor Christ, then PUT ON what does honor Him and FINALLY PUT ON LOVE (AGAPE).  Why?  Because AGAPE LOVE binds everything together in perfect harmony.

This is where we have to acknowledge our loose and flippant use of the word LOVE.  We LOVE food!  We LOVE movies!  We LOVE going on mission!  LOVE is a word that is simply used too easily – marked by sentiment but not the purity, sincerity, selfless, guileless LOVE that works to outdo others in honor and sacrifice.  Paul and Peter are both saying we must move beyond pretense and TRULY LOVE with SINCERITY.

Warren Wiersbe writes…

…that while every Christian knows John 3:16, not as many of us pay as much attention to 1 John 3:16.  As we seek to share the news of John 3:16, we should seek to live out the wonderful experience of 1 John 3:16 as another layer of faithful Christian witness.  As our example, Christ did not simply talk about His love, but He died to prove it.

1 John 3:16

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

This verse ties Christ’s sacrifice on the cross to our definition of love.  As a matter of fact, most NT passages that talk about God’s love also speak of the cross.  This is significant – we KNOW this love because we have experienced it.  Christ’s love was and is rooted in action and sacrifice and He is our ultimate example which means our love should also be lived out in this way toward others the way He lives it toward us.  While most of the world lives according to a code of preservation, Christians, conversely and counterintuitively, should live a spiritual life of self-sacrifice.

The Flourishing Disciple…

  • Engages Others Relationally Through Brotherly Affection and Love (vs. 7)
  • Is Known for Impact and Influence (vv. 8-9)
  • Diligently Embraces their Calling (vv. 10-11)


2 Peter 1:8-9

For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.

Here’s the test, then!  These qualities aren’t just for display.  These aren’t showcase material.  They’re meant for the purpose of serving and displaying who God is.  There is an IMPACT and INFLUENCE that comes from possessing and deploying these.  When these qualities increase in you and me, so will our influence and effective service.  I want to be useful.  Don’t you?

Vs. 8 tells us that IF we have these characteristics and IF they are increasing, they will keep us from being ineffective or unfruitful and not just with regard to anything but specifically the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Have you ever had something that looks really awesome but was ineffective?  It would be like having a fully restored classic Corvette in your garage.  You could wash it and wax it and buff it to a shine.  You could open the garage door and invite your neighbors and friends in to look it over and oooh and ahhh over it.  Naturally, they would next ask if you could pull of the T-tops and take them for a spin.  What a shame it would be if this fully restored car was only a chassis and had no engine!  You would have to explain that it is ineffective for taking a spin and only good for looking at.  That seems a waste doesn’t it?  And so would it be if you had these first 6 qualities and never turned them outward to be effective in brotherly affection and love.

Likewise, vs. 9 goes on to describe one who lacks these qualities as being blind and forgetting that he was even ever cleansed from sin in the first place.  This takes some doing – it doesn’t just happen.  Do you ever stop to think about breathing?  Of course not – it’s involuntary AND needed for life.  Just the same – LOVING should be as natural to the spiritual person as breathing is to the natural person.  MacArthur writes that while it is unnatural for the Christian to be unloving, it is possible to be disobedient in this regard.  Just as loving must be enacted through the will and not through circumstances, not loving could be embraced in the same way.  One could habitually resist Christ as Lord of his or her heart and thus not grow these characteristics or deploy them.  Vs. 9 characterizes this person as blind, forgetful and ungrateful.

Not only do we need to engage others relationally through brotherly affection and love and be known for impact and influence…

The Flourishing Disciple…

  • Engages Others Relationally Through Brotherly Affection and Love (vs. 7)
  • Is Known for Impact and Influence (vv. 8-9)
  • Diligently Embraces their Calling (vv. 10-11)


2 Peter 1:10-11

10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Peter’s writing here, like Paul’s in many places, refers to being called and chosen by God.  Many people are fearful about the language of election and others make too much of it in their spiritual conversations.  It is quite natural that the God of the universe who created us knows best how also to call and save us and deploy us for His good purposes.  We see this reinforced by John 15:16…

John 15:16

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

You see, we are CHOSEN to bear fruit and to have abiding fruit.  This is why the confirmation of our calling is so important.  We are to cling to God’s call and His truth and Peter’s admonition to grow these qualities in our lives to the extent that we receive the promise of vs. 10…you will never FALL.

The fact that God is sovereign over the election and salvation process does not make our efforts unnecessary to be sure we are certain that salvation is sure to us.  Christ did all the work of salvation but it becomes more sure to us through our exertions within it.  In other words, disciples work FROM salvation, not FOR salvation!  James tells us we are called to FAITH PLUS WORKS.  The often-repeated verses written by Paul in Ephesians confirm this…

Ephesians 2:8-10

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

You can see in these three verses that we have been saved comes first and it is because of God’s gift and not a result of works.  BUT, we are created in Christ Jesus for good works  which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.  The full embrace of our calling is expressed through our obedience to grow in these qualities as disciples and to walk in confidence that the Sovereign Lord of the universe has given salvation and desires to sanctify us to become more like Him.

So how can you respond to the message today?  For starters, examine your heart for faith.  Do you fully belong to Christ?  If you do not, then your action steps are to admit you have sinned and are in need of a Savior; believe that Christ is God’s Son who gave His life to forgive your sin and redeem you and confess with your mouth that Christ is Lord.  Can you do that?  You can!  Right where you sit or you can come up in a moment to pray that prayer accepting Christ.

If you are already a Christ-follower, then go back to the top of vs. 5 where Peter writes for this reason, make EVERY effort.  This whole passage is designed to say it is up to us, in the power of God, to grow these qualities through discipline, obedience, commitment and diligence.  Determine today to make every effort to do this in your own life.  And then be sure you have gathered an authentic community of believers around you to hold you accountable and walk in encouragement with you while you undergo God’s plan for a sanctified life.

Let’s pray!