Text: 2 Peter 1:3-11 January 13, 2013.
1) Words of a financial advisor: ¡°I want to help you invest wisely for your future,¡± a financial advisor began his talk at a group session for retiring and retired people. He suggested people should invest in 401 (k) and other retirement funds. He wanted people to invest in diverse portfolio such as mutual funds, stock, bonds and real estate, etc. ¡°In doing this,¡± he said, ¡°you will not just keep your investment safe, but also get a good return in the long run.¡± Of course he wanted to help people accumulate funds for later years of their life.
2) Words of an apostle of Christ: ¡°Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ, have received a faith as precious as ours. Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.¡± (2 Peter 1:1, 10-11) God wants us to invest wisely for our spiritual future as well. Through the ups and down of life¡¯s circumstances, we should continue to invest into a spiritual account not for retirement in this world, but for our glorious settlement in heaven.
GOALS OF SPIRITUAL INVESTMENT: (1:3-4)
1) Invest on his divine power: ¡°His divine power had given us everything we need for life and godliness.¡± (1:3a) Contrary to our need of good advice from financial specialists for our investment of money for retirement in this world, we need the divine power of God to advise, encourage, direct to choose the right way to live, to invest our time, resources and energy, for our future in heaven. Human wisdom, experience or expertise cannot and will not help us build our spiritual account in the safety of heaven. No one may build his spiritual account with his own power. We need to get connected with Christ, our source of power to grow. (John 15:5)
2) Invest to know him more: ¡°Through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.¡± (1:3b) The word ¡°knowledge¡± in biblical sense means ¡°personal experience.¡± It is not knowledge of the head, but life experience of the heart. At the time of our conversion, we know God in Christ as our Savior and Lord. Through our daily walk with him, we learn to know him more and better each step we commit to seek his will and follow his steps. Paul prayed for the Ephesian Christians in 1:17, ¡°I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better (or more).¡±
3) Invest in trusting His promises: ¡°Through these, he has given us his very great and precious promises.¡± (1:4a)Regardless how good willed or sincere or diligent work, no financial advisor may keep their promises to any investor on their investment for sure return. They have no control on the factors of the financial world. But our God is the ultimate source of power and He is able to keep any and all his promises to those who trust him and follow his lead. According to scholars there are more than 100 promises of God in the bible to his faithful. They include his love, his faithfulness, his power, his blessing, his reward and his protection, guidance and provision. He has never failed in keeping his promises.
4) Invest to be more like him: ¡°So that through them, you may become sharers of his divine nature.¡± (1:4b) Peter was talking about our new life in Jesus Christ and through this, we become partakers or sharers of the divine nature of God. Few people may ever imagine about this but this is one of the most precious promises of God to us: we may have his nature in our life if we grow deep in him and be connected with him to allow his life to flow through us. We see spiritual people who live, work, act very much like what God wants them to live and act. Because of their deep commitment to God, obedience to God, diligent in following God and willing to sacrifice for God, they reflect the nature of God¡¯s life in their actions, thoughts and words.
STRATEGY OF SPIRITUAL INVESTMENT: (1:5-8)
1) Grow with a purpose: ¡°For this very reason (cause)¡± (1:5) All investors invest their fortune and effort for a purpose: to grow their wealth. But Christians have a different purpose of investing our life: ¡°To escape (rid off) the corruption in this world caused by evil desires.¡± (1:4c) Before we may grow in our spiritual maturity, we need to grow in letting go of corruption of the world and evil desires in our hearts. We need to empty our soul from the evil of the world before we may fill our soul with spiritual quality. Growing to be more like Jesus is our whole purpose. We need to deal with filth in our soul before we can fill it with the goodness of Jesus inside.
2) Grow with diligence: ¡°Making every effort with all diligence¡± (1:5b) This is about our effort and diligence in pursuing growth. Spiritual growth is like physical growth, it takes effort, time, endurance and commitment to achieve desired result. Diligence and effort are essential to get anything done well. We all know it is important to be diligent in our job, school, and all other endeavors we pursue, we need to put in effort and diligence to grow our spiritual quality. Steps like studying God¡¯s word in personal time and group sessions, worshipping with heart and soul, listening to preaching with humble heart, giving resources and service with joy, practicing biblical principles in decision making of choices, just to list a few. We need to dig our heels in our growth of spiritual qualities.
3) Grow to be well rounded: ¡°Add to your faith goodness, and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to selfcontrol, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.¡± (1:5c-7) These eight spiritual qualities are essential to our spiritual growth. If you like, you may also add the list of fruits of the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. In financial investment, all advisors will suggest we put our money in a variety of funds for a well-rounded portfolio. We need to do the same thing in our spiritual growth: not just in one area but in all areas to be well rounded. We need to grow in knowledge, in character, in inner strength as well as outward demonstration to others. Any thing less than that is imperfect and incomplete.
4) Grow to be productive: ¡°For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive.¡± (1:8)Being ineffective and unproductive is a problem of most Christians in their spiritual life. Many so-called Christians are totally ineffective and unproductive in their life, witness, service and contribution to God¡¯s work. God has given us a blueprint to be effective and productive Christians here in this passage. We have no excuse to say I don¡¯t know how. Being ineffective and unproductive is punishable with hash measures in this life and when we see the Lord that day. Do not try to outsmart God by not growing. It doesn¡¯t pay.
DIVIDENT OF SPIRITUAL INVESTMENT: (1:9-11)
1) Cleansing of our old sins: ¡°If anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.¡± (1:9) Peter reminded his readers of the cleansing of sins by the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, 1 Peter 1:18; 2:24; and 3:18. This is the most important effect of the death of Jesus Christ. All our old, past sins were forgiven, washed away and forgotten. We should not forget this important fact of our spiritual journey. So, we are not bound by the old sins but have the power to grow our spiritual new life. Our focus should not for the near life, life of the fresh and the world, but life for God and in the future with Him.
2) Proving sure of the calling: ¡°Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure.¡± (1:10)Both calling and election refer to ¡°salvation through Christ.¡± How do we know that our calling, election or salvation is sure? Peter said we could be sure by growing our spiritual quality. Making sure of our salvation is not a suggestion, but a command. ¡°More eager¡± means ¡°become more diligent.¡± If we are eager to obtain something, we need to be diligent to get it.
3) Making sure we don¡¯t fall: ¡°For if you do these things, you will never fall.¡± (1:10b)To fall is to fail and falling or failing is some thing we struggle all our life. Peter suggested a way to help us never to fall again: If you do these things. What are the things? The things in vv. 5-7, growing faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, kindness and love. All these are important spiritual characters we all need to grow, investing effort and diligence in them so we will never fall or fail.
4) Ready to receive rich reward: ¡°And you will receive a rich wel-come into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.¡± (1:11)Although many Christians understand the need to invest in spiritual character, but don¡¯t do it because of the high price they need to pay. But God has promised a rich welcome to His kingdom: we pay the price, God gives the reward. Fair deal. God will never allow us to lose anything if we invest in him and his courses. Nothing may compare to the reward God gives us.
APPLICATION OF BIBLICAL TRUTH:
1) Time to check your investment: How well are you doing in your spiritual investment? God has a good plan for all of us if we will just follow his lead. Growing spiritual character is far more important than growing money. What can you do to receive a rich welcome to the kingdom of God? While there is time, change your investment plans and invest in god¡¯s plans.
2) New plans for New Year: You may have new plans for your investment in the New Year. But I want to encourage you to have a new plan for spiritual investment for the New Year. Invest in your wealth is good but only for temporary needs. Invest in spiritual life is for eternal needs, into the kingdom of God. Don¡¯t be blind by this world, but be sure of your soul.