Know Jesus Better: Embracing Fruitfulness – A Deep Dive into 2 Peter 1
Transcribed by Beluga AI.
I’d like to welcome those who are here and also those who are joining online. Just a quick update, Fernandez Household Jr.’s funeral service was on Friday, and so they still have some family in town, so if you could just keep praying for Fernandez Household. Also, Sumo-les are visiting another church today.
Any praise or thanksgiving or a word from the Lord that you have? If not, that’s okay.
Turn your Bibles with me to 2 Peter 1. I was struggling this week with what to preach. I give all glory to God, and also this week, to my wife. She pointed me to this chapter, and after many, many chapters where God wasn’t speaking right away, this one was the right one.
5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 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. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. (2 Peter 1:5-10, ESV)
Okay, let’s pray. Father, we just humbly submit and surrender before you. You’re the only source of wisdom anywhere to be found, so we ask, Lord, that you give wisdom from above, revelation and understanding. We pray that you would open up eyes and ears and my mouth and hearts to understand truth that comes directly from your heart, Father. We want to be fruitful in our knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.
Growing up, my parents wanted me to be a doctor, and obviously I did not become a doctor, but there is a part of me, I think they saw something, they just said, well, you can handle the studies, you’re smart enough, you care for people, you will have good bedside manners. So they saw something there that they said, actually, this fits you. And there is a part of me that actually, if I wasn’t a pastor, I could see myself as a physical therapist, as a naturopathic doctor of sorts, because I like helping people. I like prescribing a plan, and if you follow this plan, you will get well.
And so if you have irritable bowel syndrome, I have a plan for you. If your knees are hurting, I have a plan for you. If you’re, whatever health issue, you have floaties in your eye, why don’t you try this? I have many things that I’ve researched and encountered, and I just, if people are curious, if people want to know, I have something for them to try. And I’m always experimenting on myself.
I think Peter is doing the same thing. Peter, I think, can make an argument that he knows Jesus better than anybody else. I think Apostle John could make that argument. I probably would say John might know Him better than anybody else. Apostle Paul could make the argument. Peter knew Jesus firsthand, physically lived with Him, did life with Him for a number of years, and it’s not like when Jesus ascended, it stopped. Peter is continuing to relate with Jesus, and so this gives hope for all of us.
We weren’t there, and so we say, well, Peter, of course you’re close to Jesus. You physically lived and you were with Him. But I think Peter is speaking to the church of every generation since, every believer, that we also can know Jesus as well as Peter, as well as John, as well as Paul. And Peter is saying, let me be your coach. Let me train you. Here is the prescription. You follow this, and you’ll know Jesus as well as I know Jesus.
I think there’s two ways of measuring believers’ fruitfulness, and we often, if you’re type A and you’re result-oriented in your faith, then maybe you want to measure your fruitfulness or maturity this way. It’s like, how much have I changed? Do I see the fruit of the Spirit? Oh, I see this one. I don’t see this one. And you can kind of grade yourself, like how much am I changing and becoming like Jesus? That’s one way that we might measure fruitfulness.
But here in 2 Peter 1, there’s a different way to measure fruitfulness. It’s are we fruitful in our knowledge of the Lord Jesus? I remember when I was getting ordained 2010, no, no, 2011, I remember when I was going through the ordination service and how the Lord inspired me was exactly what I’m reading about here. I said I was a Christian this number of years. I was married to Jackie this number of years, and I’ve known Jesus longer than I’ve known Jackie, and yet why do I know Jackie way better than I know Jesus?
One reason for that could be the teaching was not pointing us to Jesus. It was pointing us to ministry and like if you’re a part of a church that they only talk about evangelism. They only talk about church growth. They only talk about what they’ve done for the kingdom and how many churches they’ve planted and how to work hard for theLord. And so, it’s possible that if the teaching doesn’t point us to Jesus, of course, that could be a reason why our fruitfulness of knowing Jesus kind of hits a ceiling. We’re still basing our current faith on our first encounter with Jesus that happened decades ago, and nobody’s really fostering that type of knowledge. So, that could be the reason why we’re unfruitful because the teaching is not helping the Body of Christ.
The other reason we could be unfruitful is because we’re not following Peter’s prescription that he clearly outlines here in 2 Peter 1. He says to add certain things to each other, and the first thing he says is add virtue. You might hear that and say, “Well, do I have to be virtuous? I’m not a virtuous person. I’m kind of shady. I kind of lie. I kind of cheat, but I’m forgiven in Christ.” This virtue is morally excellent. And so, actually, God cares about how we conduct ourselves. When a non-believer looks at you, they should have no bad things to say because we’re morally virtuous, excellent. They can’t criticize our character. They can’t criticize our speech. There’s just nothing they can look at to criticize or slander us because we’re virtuous. And so, this character should be increasing.
Non-Christians can be virtuous, yes, and perhaps more than Christians, but if we are to be fruitful in our knowledge of the Lord Jesus, this one thing cannot be lacking. If this one thing is lacking, then maybe this is a stumbling block. Maybe this is hindering us from knowing Jesus better.
The second one is knowledge, and this one is firsthand relational knowledge. This is how has the Lord Jesus revealed Himself to you. How has He spoken to you lately? Not what you heard somebody else and their revelation of the Lord Jesus, but directly, personally, firsthand knowledge. Peter had firsthand knowledge with Jesus while He was alive, but it did not stop there. He’s continuing to increase in this specific knowledge, not knowledge in a negative way like we talked about last week, not worldly knowledge, but relationally knowing Jesus. So, how many years have we known Him? Does our knowledge of Him as a person equal the number of years we’ve been walking with Him? Just a quick way to evaluate how it’s been.
The next one is self-control. This is self-mastery. This is self-restraint. This is temperance. This is no longer following appetites and indulging in certain things. You can enjoy something, but you know, okay, this is a line I’m not going to cross because, okay, one hour is enough, 10 hours binge watching is indulging. So there’s something in us that just says, okay, we can enjoy this good food, but we’re not going to be a glutton. We’re going to enjoy some entertainment, some leisure, but we’re not going to become addicted to it. And so, this is a fruit of the Spirit, self-control, and this is something that as a believer, we must be increasing in.
And so, there’s an element here of being balanced, being disciplined. The next is perseverance, or your translation may say endurance or steadfast. Somebody who does not give up easily. And for the believer, it’s specifically the challenges, the trials that the Lord gives to us. Because it’s not actually about the thing that annoys you, but are you the kind of person who just at the first sign of discomfort, you’re hitting the eject button. Like you don’t, you just want to be comfortable, you don’t like this, they’re not treating me well. And so, this is somebody who can, is maybe when the going gets really tough spiritually in the world, you’re going to be the first to say, actually, I’m not going to hold on to Jesus. Because it’s getting a little too difficult. So, steadfastness, this should also be increasing.
And then godliness, this is piety, this is reverence, respect for God and the things of God. We may think this is, you know, it sounds religious to be a pious person, but this is something that should be increasing. It’s directed toward God, it’s not for anybody else. Like nobody needs to know what you do in your prayer closet. Like nobody needs to know the disciplines, but you have something where toward God there is a piety, there is a devotion, there is a steadfastness, consistency.
Next quality that should be increasing with each passing year is brotherly kindness, and this is Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. Like, is there an affection for the brothers in the Body of Christ? And that is hard to do over youTube. It’s really hard because we are self-centered, so somebody we’ve never met on the other side of the world, we can pray for them, but will we actually have affection for them when we don’t even know their face? I think this presumes that you’re gathering with believers and you’re learning to be kind to all the brothers and sisters in Christ. I think this means there’s no partiality, there’s no favoritism, there’s no cliques, that in the Body of Christ, everybody when you see them, you treat them like they’re the most important person, that they’re the VIP, and they feel it.
They feel the affection, they feel the love, they feel like I’m not wasting my time driving out here an hour. I am valued here, there’s affection, there’s this type of kindness that comes in. This should be increasing for every believer in the Body of Christ, toward one another.
And then the last one is agape love. This is toward the Body of Christ, but this is just, I think, just generally to the world. God’s heart for the world is that we show God’s love to everybody that we meet. It is goodwill toward them, it is benevolence toward them. God’s heart that comes out is for the Christian, the non-Christian, it’s to the friend, it’s to the foe, it’s to the person who curses you, who persecutes you, who treats you bad. There is this type of agape love toward them. And these things should be increasing in measure.
And Peter, as our trainer, is saying, here’s a quick way to check yourself. Are you being fruitful in your knowledge of Jesus? If not, then look at this list. He says in verse 5, make every effort or give all diligence or be in earnest, be zealous, be enthusiastic about these things, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. Be zealous, diligent, earnest.
And so when I think about this list, we might say, well, God does everything, doesn’t He? We just surrender to God, He does everything, right? We can’t change ourselves, right? God changes us. Yes, that’s true. But God does His part. And here, our trainer, Apostle Peter, is saying, do your part. Each of us do your part.
This one is, can we say we’ve done our best? Before we let God do the rest, can we look at this list and say, in terms of virtue, I’ve done my best. I’ve been morally excellent. My reputation is blameless to the world. People cannot criticize me in any little thing because I’ve shown myself. I’m not doing it for their approval. I’m doing it unto the Lord, but they see the way I carry myself, that there is an excellence. No wonder there’s a promotion. No wonder people want to work with you. No wonder there’s favor, even aside from spiritual favor, but just in a general sense, you’re the kind of person that people want on the team. You’re morally excellent. You’re good. You work well with people.
And can we say that in terms of virtue, that we’ve done our best? In terms of firsthand knowledge, that we’ve done our best? Any one of our friends, we all make effort. That’s why there’s an increasing relationship that spans time, because you spend time with this person. Does that also translate to Jesus? Can we say we’ve done our best to spend time with Jesus, to treat Him as if He’s the most important person in our lives, and so we’re going to give Him the best hours of our day? We’re going to give Him our, when we’re most fresh, when we’re most awake, when we’re so focused, are we going to give Him that time to relate with Him and worship Him and connect with Him?
So in terms of knowledge, have we given Him our best? In terms of self-control, when you look at your life, can others say of you, you are in total control of your emotions, of your time management, of your speech, of every part. Can you say of yourself, I’ve done everything that I can to overcome my body, to not hit the snooze, to wake up early, whatever it is. This is, we don’t want to be religious. We don’t want to say, okay, this is how we’re going to do it here. That’s religious. We don’t want to do that. But before God, as individuals, can we say, each of us, in terms of my self-control, I’ve done my best. I’ve done my best. So that I can be fruitfully knowing Jesus more with each passing year.
In terms of my endurance, do I give up easily? Do I complain easily? Do I jump ship easily? Or do I stay the course until the Lord releases me? Do I bear under the trial, even if it’s the last thing I want to do? Do I bear under it? Like it’s not up to me or you to decide what path we take, what job we take, where we live, our vocation. None of it is our ultimate decision, but the Lord hands it out to us. And with that, are we the kind of person that we can be described as steadfast? We will bear up under this trial, this assignment, for as long as the Lord has us there, until He releases us.
In terms of brotherly kindness, maybe when we were younger, we just were all about friends. We did a lot of things with friends. But as we get older, is the heart shriveling up and it’s just about me and my family only? Do we actually care about other brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ locally and around the world? Is our affection, our kindness to people, so when we talk to each other, it might not be the person, it might not be your cup of tea. Maybe their personality is a clash. Maybe there’s something that is just oil and vinegar, but still, still, can you be kind? Can you still be kind? Can you still be gracious? Can you still show affection and express to them, you’re glad they’re there? Is that increasing, or are you the kind of person that will…”This person is so, bothers me so much, I’m gonna look for another church.” That means, that has a direct bearing. When that person leaves, then they’re, if they’re not increasing in brotherly kindness, affection, likely that pattern will continue. And their fruitfulness of the Lord Jesus Christ will be impaired as a result.
Lastly, agape love. Is this increasing? Do we have a heart for Israel? Do we have a heart for Palestine? Do we have a heart for every man, woman, and child on earth, regardless of their background, their skin color, their religious affiliation, do we have God’s heart, which is every man, woman, and child on earth should be saved?
And if we’re doing our best in these, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven qualities, if we do our best in these, then we rely on God to do the rest. We can’t say, “God, you do everything, I’m gonna be lazy.” And then 10 years goes by and we say, “Do I know Jesus better? I mean, I talk as if I know Him, but do I actually hear His voice? Am I actually loving Him more? Do I have that first love, affection? And is this spilling out in brotherly kindness and goodwill toward men? Do I have more self-control?”
So God, of course, He has to change us, but we don’t put 100% of the burden on Him. Peter, our trainer, is saying these seven things hold the mirror of God’s word up to our lives. How are we increasing, are we making every effort, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love.
And he says in verse, verse eight, For if these things are yours and abound or abounding or are increasing, you’ll be neither barren or idle or inactive or unprofitable nor unfruitful or barren in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. So in 2023, have we been barren, idle, inactive in our knowledge of the Lord Jesus or has there been steady progress of “I know Jesus better today than I did January 1st of this year?” If not, we have the language, yes, “I wanna know Jesus,” but if our conclusion is it still seems unfruitful, then let’s look at this list. Are we doing our best? Because the guarantee is that you will be increasing.
It says in verse nine, For he who lacks these things is short-sighted even to blindness and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. So if our knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ stops bearing fruit, you don’t just stop where you are, you actually start regressing spiritually and the end is actually as bad as it was in the beginning. We become blind and we forget that Jesus cleansed us from our sins. So we’re back to the point BC before we knew Christ.
If we’re not increasing, continually growing, if the momentum is not in that direction of fruitful knowledge of the Lord Jesus, we start regressing, eventually become blind, we forget Jesus cleansed us from our sins. And then verse 10, Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never stumble. For so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
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. (2 Peter 1:10-11, ESV)
Peter is speaking from personal testimony, not just the three years that he was physically with Jesus, now as he’s giving his final words to the church, as he’s a grandfather of the faith, and he’s saying, “This is my testimony. Do these seven things, try your best, and you will bear fruit and eternity will be waiting for you.”
Okay, let’s pray.
Father, forgive us for being lazy, busy, distracted, because of family, because of worldly pursuits, and when it comes to spiritual life, Lord, we all admit, starting with myself, that we have not made every effort in these seven ways that you outline clearly in scripture. And we look back on a year as we approach the end of this year, has there been a fruitful, increasing intimacy of knowing Jesus? Are we stuck? Are we regressing? Have we forgotten even the basic things that Jesus cleansed us from our sins? Have we become blind?
If so, we thank you that there’s a prescription that you outline in scripture, these seven things. We’re gonna study them, we’re gonna meditate on them, we’re gonna bring our lives before the mirror of your word, and we’re gonna go through each one and ask, “Have we done our best in this one, in this one, all seven on this list?” your promise, and Peter testifies that if he did these seven things, and if we do these seven things, and we increase in these seven things, it will directly allow us to progress, to know Jesus better, more fruitfully, more intimately than we do today.
So Lord, we wanna start anew today. We pray that you meet us as we partake in the Lord’s Supper. Please show us the deficiency. We can’t do all seven at once, but we wanna start with one thing at a time. So Lord, show us, Holy Spirit, which of the seven is the primary issue, the primary problem? Where do you want us to start on this list? And we wanna follow your lead, start there, and then go to the next item, the next item, finish out this list, and testify that the end of making every effort over a period of time, it will translate that we knowJesus better than we did today. Thank you, Lord, for your Word that is so living and active, so practical, so timely. We pray that you meet us as we close out this service. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.