Saturday, August 22, 2009

Producing the Fruit of Grace

Reading: 2 Peter 1      

A couple of Sundays ago we were talking about grace as God's investment into our lives... not a paycheck. In other words, everything God gives us is pure grace, but we aren't to spend grace however we want, like we might a paycheck which we earned. Grace is not earned. In Matthew's Gospel we found that God expects a return (fruit) on the grace He has freely given. That means grace is not ours to use as we wish, but is intended to be applied to our lives.
This morning, I was reminded of this as I read in 2 Peter 1. I will emphasize the words that brought this to mind.
1Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained (been chosen to receive) a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: 2May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
3His 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, 4by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
5For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. (2 Peter 1:1-9 ESV)
Before Peter talks about anything we are to do, he emphasizes the truth that we obtained, or how we were chosen to receive faith in God's righteousness; how we were granted all things that pertain to life and godliness through God's power which gave us the knowledge of Him; that we were called to His own glory and excellence; we were granted His precious and great promises.
We were given all of the above so that we might partake of the divine nature. In other words, so that we might be like Christ. We were called by the Gospel, saved by the Gospel, given a knowledge of God by the Gospel in order that we might live the Gospel.
Then, after reiterating all we have been given, all that God has done for us through Christ (revealed in the Gospel), he tells us, “For this very reason, make every effort...”. Why make the effort? Because it will keep us from “being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Or, to say it another way, if we don't make this effort and therefore are unfruitful in the knowledge of the Gospel, we are “nearsighted” and have “forgotten” that we were cleansed from our former sins—we have forgotten the Gospel. If we love the Gospel truths of what God has done for us in Christ, we will make the effort to produce the fruit of that grace. We will not treat grace like a paycheck, but an investment for which a return is required. If we don't live that way, it may prove we have forgotten the Gospel altogether.
Following this introduction, Peter goes on to tell them that he is making every effort to make sure they will always be able to remember the Gospel after He lives. And then he begins to recount some of that very Gospel story.
16For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased," 18we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.
Peter has done his part—we have the Gospel Story recorded clearly for us. May we now make every effort to not forget the Gospel Story, and make every effort to live the Gospel Story so that we are not ineffective or unproductive in our knowledge of the Gospel Story. And may God be pleased with the fruit of grace in our lives.
Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel,

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