Click on audio player to download mp3 or to change listening speed
Be Diligent to Grow, Part 2
Born to Grow
2 Peter 1:5-11
Bruce A. Hess
Now, I want to take a few moments and simply just remind us of what we have been doing, so take your Bibles out, the word of God out, turn in them to the book of 2 Peter and chapter number 1. So, 2 Peter, chapter number 1.
Two Sundays ago, we launched a new series entitled, ‘Be Diligent to Grow,’ where we are looking at truth from 2 Peter, chapter 1. I am just going to back up for a moment since it was two weeks ago, just to remind us a little bit about what is going on as we enter into 2 Peter.
We are receiving spiritual counsel from Peter and Peter is anticipating exiting this world shortly, so you know what he is going to say is very heartfelt and will also be very strategic because he only has a little time left. When we began our study we laid out the whole book for you. Chapter number 1 we said is about the Cultivation of Spiritual Maturity. Chapter number 2 is Caution about False Teachers. Chapter number 3 is Confidence in Jesus’ Return. But in this series we are only focusing on chapter number 1 and the emphasis is going to be on exhortation. The theme is holiness, and the focus is what we must be paying attention to individually.
Now, I want to remind you that as he writes this letter, called 2 Peter, the recipients of this letter have been born-again spiritually. They have made a life choice to place their faith in the work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. We saw in verse 1 he says, I am writing, “to those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours.” He says your faith is as legitimate as my faith, as an apostle of Jesus Christ.
Last time we examined this quote from Warren Wiersbe, where he says, in the physical realm, “A normal baby is born with all the “equipment” he needs for life and only needs to grow.” Now think about that; in the physical realm if you have a normal baby that is born with all the equipment that they need, five years later if that baby can’t really walk or talk or feed itself, we conclude something is really awry. Well, that physical analogy has a parallel in the spiritual realm because Wiersbe goes on to say “…so the Christian has all that is needed and only needs to grow.”
Last time we saw, particularly in verses 3 and 4, that a key verb is the verb “granted.” It means to have something bestowed or to be endowed with something. In verse 3 he says, “You have been granted,” a past tense event with the ramifications carrying on into the future; “You have been granted all things that pertain to life and godliness.” In other words, we saw, Complete Spiritual Resources were given to us the moment we trusted in Christ.
Then, in verse 4, we saw the same idea, he says, “You’ve been granted,” you’ve been bestowed, you’ve been endowed with, “God’s precious, magnificent, great promises.” In other words, we saw, last time, everything required for us to grow spiritually, everything required for us to live a godly life, has been granted to us, bestowed on us, we have been endowed with it.
But one thing we didn’t say last time—spiritual growth is not an automatic thing. And it is a tragic thing for someone to remain a spiritual baby for multiple years. I can say that because that was true in my life. Like all of us, when I was born spiritually, I was born as a spiritual baby. But for eight years I never experienced spiritual growth. Now part of the reason why, I think, was there was no one to instruct me, like Peter is instructing me and you. I just didn’t really understand. I knew I was trusting in Christ and the work He did on the cross for eternal life, but I never went beyond that. As best as I could figure it, I thought what God wanted me to do was to check in with Him occasionally, especially when there was a big decision to be made, like going to college. So, I just lived my life, got ready to go to college, and I thought, you know, I need to pay attention here, because I need to check in with God on this one, this is a big one.
I kind of operated with this mentality: I can do a lot of different things, but I am just not going to go crazy dishonoring Jesus. I won’t do that, but other than that, I can live my life the way I think I should live my life. And I was just coasting along. Then, eight years later, God brought me to an intersection with someone who sat me down and began to teach me the very things that Peter wants us to learn today, that he is communicating to us.
I have entitled the message today, “Born to Grow.” That is true of all of us. Born to grow, it comes from chapter 1, verses 5-11. Now, normally, if you’ve been around Wildwood for a while, you know that I normally preach from the New American Standard Bible. Why do I do that? Well, it is one of multiple good translations, but I began using the New American Standard in 1970. I’ve been using it for fifty-one years, I’m still very familiar with it. But today I am going to do something a little different, I am going to preach from the ESV, the English Standard Version. The reason why I’ve chosen to do that is I think the ESV translation of these verses is a little smoother than the New American Standard. It doesn’t mean I am through with the New American Standard, but today we are in ESV.
I want to read from chapter 1, verses 5-11 and invite you to follow along in your Bibles as I am reading, see what Peter has to say to us. He says, “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. 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. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities, you will never fall. For in this way, there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
Now, we have an outline for today’s verses that we are going to be looking at. It breaks it into two sections. First of all, we are going to see that Active faith breeds spiritual character. We see that in verses 5-7. Secondly, we are going to see that Spiritual growth brings practical benefits. We see that in verses 8-11.
So, let’s tackle this very first section where we see that Active faith breeds spiritual character. Look at verse 5. Notice how it begins. He says, “For this very reason.” What reason is he talking about? Well, he is pointing back to verses 3 and 4. He is pointing back to God’s Great Provision. He is pointing back to the Complete Spiritual Resources that we receive the moment we trusted in Christ. He is pointing back to those Precious and Magnificent and Great Promises that we have. In light of all of those resources, he says in verse 5, “Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue.” I want to look at that little verbal phrase there in verse 5, “make every effort,” and I want to talk about two things before we really dive into these verses. The first one is this, just a reminder, spiritual growth is not automatic. Spiritual growth is not something we passively experience. Rather, he is saying, it is something that must be actively pursued.
I love the way Zane Hodges kind of summarizes all of this. He says, “This does not mean that the believer does this all on his own. God supplies the basic resources and provides help along the way.” (Here we go) “But Christian growth will not occur apart from our diligent participation in the process.” I mean, we are born spiritually, do we grow ourselves? No. Well, how does all this dynamic work?
Well, one way we can help to illustrate it is through the sport of windsurfing. Now, I don’t know…how many people have ever been windsurfing? So, a number of us have. I haven’t but I did a little bit of research on it, and it is a combination of surfing and sailing. It has been an Olympic sport for many of the recent years. I’m not sure it is going to be an Olympic sport this year, but here is the idea behind windsurfing: the wind is what provides the power and the resources to make progress. I mean, when you windsurf, it’s not that you do it all, you know, you churn it out. It’s not being on a board and, you know, hand paddling yourself along, or foot paddling yourself through the water. It’s not something where we just lay down or sit on our backside on the board and we progress.
No, the idea of windsurfing is that we utilize the wind to progress; that we navigate; that we lean into the wind; that we tack back-and-forth; that we position ourselves with the rig properly; that we maintain our balance. We have to trust the equipment. We may have to lean back and trust that equipment, lean back towards the water, but the whole picture of windsurfing is that there is an active involvement we have in the process. We’re not doing all the paddling, but we are involved in that process.
I think that is really what Peter is trying to communicate to us. If we sit passively, there will be no spiritual progress. We must utilize the resources that God has provided, we must maintain spiritual balance and then we can grow.
So, the first thing I just want to observe here is, that spiritual growth is not automatic, it must be actively pursued. The second thing I want to notice as we move into these verses is, he is going to mention there, seven qualities that we should supplement to our faith in Christ. Now some interpreters, when they look at these seven qualities, they say, what these seven qualities are, are like steps on a ladder. First you do this one, and then when you’ve got that one handled, you move to the next step, then you move to the next step, then you move to the next step. I don’t personally think that is the best way to understand these seven qualities.
I rather view them as spokes on a wheel. We are going to have seven qualities that we should supplement to our faith in Christ. They are like spokes on a wheel, and you need all the spokes there to make smooth and significant progress.
So, let’s take a closer look at all of this. Verse 5, he says we should be diligent to supplement our faith in Christ with virtue. What is virtue? Well, the NIV translates it “goodness.” The New American Standard translates it “moral excellence.” Interestingly, it is the same word as the last word in verse 3, where it is talking about Jesus, who called us into His own glory and excellence. That word is the same word. It is referring to the excellence of Jesus. I think here is what he is saying: add to your faith, virtue. He is saying, make Jesus your model. Look to Him, learn from Him. That is one of the things I think we do when we are studying the gospels, we are looking at Jesus, what kind of character He had, how did He relate to people, what can we learn from Him?
Then, in verse 5 he says, “Supplement virtue with knowledge.” What kind of knowledge? Well, it is His knowledge, and His knowledge tells us how we are to live life. When you are born, as a physical baby, you don’t know how life operates. The same thing is true with us spiritually when we are born, we don’t really know how the spiritual life operates. But we can gain knowledge from God.
Many of you were around when I did a series on the book of Ecclesiastes, which is one of my favorite books in all of Scripture. He talks about how life works; the good sides of life; the dark sides of life; the bright sides of life; everything under the sun; what life is really all about. It is a great book because it gives us God’s knowledge, we don’t have to experiment with life, we can learn from Him.
In Hebrews, chapter 5, verse 14, an interesting verse, it says “Solid food is for the mature.” Who are the mature? “Those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” Wow! What a great verse that is. I want you to know that in my early years of my spiritual life, after I had trusted in Christ and His work on the cross for me, I had virtually no discernment at all. I had none. I was just flying by the seat of my pants [decide a course of action as you go along, with no predetermined or insightful plan]. You know I grew up in the 60’s and I had people—remember in the 60’s–coming up and they would say things like this: marriage, who needs that? It’s just a piece of paper, nothing more. And, you know what my response to that was? Yeah, sounds about right to me. I guess that’s true. I mean, that is all the more discernment I had. But, as I grew spiritually, I began to say, wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. God is the one who invented marriage; God designed marriage; it has purposes to it; there is a plan to it.
That is one of the reasons why I have spent twenty-five years working with FamilyLife and speaking at weekend marriage getaways, because I don’t just have that idea, well, it’s not a big deal, it’s just a piece of paper. No, it is a whole lot more than that. Eventually, as I have been seeking to hone my discernment and my knowledge, I now not only know what is right, I know why it is right and that is part of what spiritual growth is to involve.
Verse 6, he says, “supplement knowledge with self-control.” What is that referring to? That is referring to the control of our fleshly desires, where we are not like the world; where we are not controlled by money; we are not controlled by seeking to be popular. That is one of the things that drives me nuts about politicians, that is all they seem to care about…being popular. It means we are not controlled by drugs. It means we are not controlled by sex, and we are in a sex saturated society. I love it when I run into young people who are still single and they say, I want to save sex for intimacy in marriage. Oh, that is great godly wisdom!
Verse 6, we need to supplement self-control, he says, with steadfastness. The New American Standard and the NIV translate it – perseverance. If you’ve been around me for a while, you know that is one of my favorite words in the New Testament, it is the word – hupomone. Hupomone refers to the ability to hold up under pressure, it refers to staying power in the face of difficulty. You can just jot down James, chapter 1, verses 2-4. We learn there that the ability to keep keeping on in the spiritual life is developed by enduring trials in life. You wonder, why did God bring that into my life? Because He wants to develop steadfastness and endurance and hupomone in our life, that is why He brings that in there. As we endure those things, our ability to keep keeping on gets stronger.
He says in verse 6, we need to supplement steadfastness with godliness. What is that referring to? I think it is referring to godly character. Paul talks about this in 1 Timothy, chapter 4, verses 7 and 8. He says to those believers, “Train yourself for godliness.” See, we’re involved in this process. He says, “For while bodily training (that’s in the physical realm) is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life (it benefits us now, as we live our life) and also for the life to come.” One who is godly has their priorities in order. Someone who is godly is making decisions that are wise and God honoring.
Then, he says in verse 7, we should supplement godliness with brotherly affection. What is that referring to? The New American Standard translates it “brotherly kindness.” The NIV, “mutual affection.” This is actually the word, philadelphia (like the USA city).
This is one area I know that Peter really grew in. You remember, he was the verbal leader of the disciples. Think about how many times they got into an argument, and you know, Peter was right in the middle of it. ‘Which one of us is the greatest? Ha ha, I’m greater than you are. Remember what you did over there?’ He was that way when he younger spiritually, but he grew up and he developed a deep and true caring for other believers. That is one of the reasons why he was writing this letter, taking time to write this letter, to show brotherly affection and kindness to others.
You know, sometimes I think we need to put a little clothing on this concept of brotherly kindness, or brotherly affection. I like the way Stanley Baldwin summarizes it. He says it this way, great illustrations here, he says, “Brotherly kindness is the concern for another’s ministry that Barnabas showed when he brought Paul from obscurity in Tarsus to a place of ministry in the thriving church in Antioch. Brotherly kindness is the kind of concern for a weaker brother shown by the same Barnabas when he insisted that John Mark should get another chance despite his having failed on his first missionary journey”
“Brotherly kindness is the gentle meek restoring of a brother or sister who has fallen when other people are condemning them and gossiping about them. (He says) Brotherly kindness (I like this one) is noticing the young, the old, the poor, the unattractive. It is treating them as if they really are somebodies, even if no one else seems to think so and even if they don’t think so themselves. It is knowing that in God’s eyes they count and so they count to you also.” Wow! That is part of what we are to be displaying as part of the seven spikes of the wheel.
Then, in verse 7 Peter says, to our brotherly affection we should supplement it with love. This is that sacrificial love. It is the 1 Corinthians 13 love, where the definition of this is: my commitment to your needs and best interests regardless of the cost. You know, you look at that particular quality, it’s not something that we manufacture by our flesh. That is why it is a fruit of the Spirit, in Galatians, chapter 5.
So, in today’s outline we are first looking at how Active faith breeds spiritual character. Now I want to shift a little bit and see how Spiritual growth brings practical benefits and we see that in verses 8-11. Let’s look at the very first benefit that comes to us through spiritual growth and that is, we are effective and fruitful, rather than ineffective and unfruitful. Look at verse 8. He says, “If these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Now, a key phrase there is this one where he says, in verse 8, “If these qualities are yours and are increasing…”
I don’t know if you’ve ever realized it or not, but you know that spiritual growth is never static. At any one given moment we are either progressing in our spiritual growth or we are drifting backwards somewhat in our spiritual growth. You never stay in exactly the same place. That is why we can’t rest on past achievements. We can’t say, well, you know, I was really doing this, and I was really developing that, and I was getting God’s perspective and knowledge in my life. But now I’ve been busy doing other things. You never stay exactly static. We’re either progressing or we’re drifting slightly.
It says these things will keep us from being ineffective and unfruitful. The New American Standard uses the word “useful”…being useful and fruitful. Now, let me ask you this question, being useful and fruitful, to whom? The answer is to the Savior, being useful and fruitful to Him.
One of the most fulfilling elements in my life is seeing God use me. Sometimes when I reflect on that, to be honest, tears start to well up in my eyes. I’m so humbled by it. The God of the universe wants to use me? And I want you to know that He wants to use you (Bruce points at some folks). He wants to use you (Bruce points at other folks). He wants to use you (Bruce points at still other folks). It is part of the plan, and it is not limited to extroverts, Type A personalities, you know those who have public speaking gifts. He also loves to use those who are introverts, those who have laid-back personalities, those who are more into serving, rather than public speaking. It’s just an amazing experience to see God use you.
He also goes on to say, the second…spiritual growth brings this benefit, we are spiritually insightful, rather than severely nearsighted. That is verse 9, look at verse 9. He says, “For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.” Whoever lacks these qualities, the New Living Translation puts it this way: “those who fail to develop in this way”… he’s saying, really are suffering from spiritual amnesia. We’ve lost sight of the greatness of our forgiveness.
That doesn’t mean we just don’t remember up in our head that He died for me and that led to my forgiveness. It is just that we’re not really functioning in our everyday operation, remembering that. We can find ourselves, even as a follower of Christ, somewhat unmotivated, practically speaking, daily speaking, by the cross. We get this spiritual amnesia going. We fail to grasp; we forget what we’re called to be in this world. You can jot down 2 Corinthians, chapter 5, verses 18-20. We forget that we are ambassadors for Christ in this world and that has ramifications.
The third benefit he mentions is that spiritual growth brings spiritual stability, rather than instability and we see that there in verse 10. Notice he says, “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities, you will never fall.” Now, verse 10 is a confusing verse to many people. For a while I was very confused by the verse, I didn’t really quite understand what was being said.
Now, here is what some interpreters say about this verse, and I respect many of these interpreters, but here is what they say Peter is saying: he is saying, (they would say) ‘You cannot be certain you are a believer unless all these qualities are operative in your life. You can’t really know until you see all the spokes of the wheel operational in your life.’
Honestly I just can’t buy that interpretation. For one thing, my own spiritual story counters that, because I knew what I was counting on for my eternity and my forgiveness. But I didn’t have all those spokes operational in my life. Not only that, but Peter has already affirmed the faith of these believers over and over again. Peter has confidence in their faith.
- Remember in verse 1, he says, “You’ve received the same kind of faith as me, faith of equal standing as me, as an apostle.”
- He says in verse 3 and verse 4, “God has granted to you these resources.”
- In verse 5 he talks about ‘your faith.’
- In verse 8 he talks about a true ‘knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.’
- In verse 9 he says, if you’re not really developing in these ways, you’ve forgotten that you have been cleansed (past tense) from your former sins.
- In verse 10 he addresses them as brothers.
Peter doesn’t have any question about their faith. Why should they be questioning their faith?
What is he talking about here? Well, look at verse 10 again, he says “Be all the more diligent to confirm your calling.” That is a verb that means – to certify. Now, is he saying you need to certify your salvation to yourselves? I don’t think so. I think he is saying, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling to others, to show them and demonstrate the reality of your spiritual life to other people. In other words, let’s put it this way, he says you need more than profession of faith, you need progression in faith.
See, we all know someone, you might just think of one individual, and they might profess faith in Christ, but we’re really not sure what is happening with them spiritually. But when we see progression in faith in Christ, when we see the spokes developing in their life, that tells us, that definitely is someone who has trusted in Christ. We see the spiritual growth in their life.
He says in verse 10, “If you practice these qualities, you will never fall.” That word, never, is the strongest construction you can make in the original language. It means you will never, absolutely never, ever, fall. What is he saying? He is not saying we’ll never sin, because we do, do that. What he is saying is, if you practice these qualities, you will avoid a spiritual collapse in your life. There’s not going to be a spiritual tragedy in your life if you’re practicing these qualities.
Then, the fourth benefit that spiritual growth brings is a special future blessing. We see that in verse 11, look at verse 11. It says, “For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” I just love the way the New Living Translation puts it, it says this, “God will give you a grand entrance.” You know that all followers of Jesus, all believers in Jesus Christ will arrive in heaven. Romans chapter 8 is so clear on that, especially that second half of the chapter. But what he is saying is, while all believers are going to arrive in heaven, he is saying that some are going to experience an extra special welcome, and that is those who have been actively growing in their walk with Christ. Everybody who knows Christ as Savior is going to arrive in heaven, but there is going to be an extra special, rich welcome that will come to those who have been actively growing spiritually: where we hear the words, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’
I know that some of us here today are older than me, but I want you to know this if you are younger: as you age that future, rich special blessing becomes more precious to you. It becomes sweeter, you’ll long to hear those words, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’ The issue here in this verse is not that we have lived perfectly, but that we have been diligent in seeking to grow, that we sought to faithfully utilize the resources that He has provided. That we look to Him, we learn from Him, we rely on Him.
I take you back to that quote from Wiersbe, “Christian growth will not occur apart from our diligent participation in the process.” Now, that is the information that Peter wanted to convey to us today. What do we do from here? What life response can we take, what practical steps can we take? I’m going to share two different things.
First of all, I want to share three principles that have been very, very meaningful in my own spiritual life. Then, I want to look very briefly at the ‘five follows’ we have here at Wildwood. Okay? So, when it comes to actively growing, having Christian growth, I want to share three principles that have meant a lot to me. The first one is Regular Obedience to Scripture. Don’t underestimate that. God is light years wiser than us. He knows how life works. Why do you want to be experimenting like the world is? You know, trying choices out, then they fail, and it is a dead end. You don’t have to do that with God. He knows how life works. He knows the future; He knows how the story ends. So, what has been really helpful to me in my own personal spiritual growth is Regular Obedience to Scripture.
The second principle that has been meaningful to me, is Everyday Reliance on the Holy Spirit. Jesus says, I’m leaving, I’m going back to heaven, but I am going to give you a Helper, the Holy Spirit. He will help to lead you; He will help to guide you; He will help to strengthen you; He will help to empower you. So, that principle also has been critical to me in my spiritual growth.
Then, the third principle I would share, that has been deeply meaningful to me is A Priority Focus on Honoring the Savior. That principle has had a huge influence in my spiritual life. Huge! You know, when you are looking at decisions, you are looking at relationships, you are looking at attitude responses, having a focus on honoring the Savior, on glorifying Jesus, it makes all the difference in the world, all the difference!
So, those three principles have been very important to me. But I also want to talk about the ‘five follows’ of Wildwood. We talk about following Jesus together to the glory of God. What does that involve? Well, it means that:
- We follow Him into the Word – 2 Timothy, chapter 3, verses 16 and 17 talks about that. That’s what we do at Wildwood. That’s what we do beginning with our children’s ministry and through our student ministry and through our adult ministry and when we gather on Sunday mornings. That is why we do what we do, because this is what helps us to grow spiritually.
- Secondly, the second follow is to follow Him into Worship – Colossians 3:16-17. That is why we assemble together. That is why we assemble to worship Him, to honor Him, to do that collectively as a group.
- The third follow is to follow Him into Community – Hebrews 10, verses 19-24. We’re not supposed to be Lone Ranger Christians [to be isolated, do everything alone, by yourself]. I’ve got my faith; I’m going to go over here in this corner. No, no, no, no, He didn’t design it that way. We have to be in relationship with people. There are “one anothers” we are to practice with others, it’s all part of spiritual growth. We’ve got to be connected to other people.
- Then, follow Him into Ministry – 1 Peter 4:10. It means we don’t sort of come to church and just sit and then we come a week later and we sit. It means we are involved, we are doing things, we’re assisting, we’re ministering, we are serving.
- Then, the fifth follow is to follow Him into Mission – Matthew 28, verses 19 and 20, where the mission is to make disciples of all the world. When we are participating, that sometimes means personally going, sometimes it means we are helping to finance that, or we are praying towards that, but we are involved in completing the mission that He gave us to complete and that was to make disciples in all the world.
Now, here is what I am saying by practical response, when we live out the three principles I shared, and if you live out the ‘five follows’, I have confidence that you are going to have an extra rich, special welcome into heaven. I am confident that you will have a grand entrance and you will be honored for growing spiritually.
Let’s pray together. Father, we just thank You so much for this book, it fascinates me. It is incredible! You have called us, not to sort of drift along in our spiritual life, but to be diligent to grow. We are born to grow. May we all be challenged by that. May we take things like the three principles I shared and these ‘five follows’ and put them into practice on a regular basis. We’re not cranking it out on our own, we’re not paddling on our own, but we are taking advantage of the resources that You have provided, and we do all of that to honor the one who bled and died for us, yes, to honor the one who bled and died for us. May we be that kind of men and women and young people. We pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Questions for Reflection
Born to Grow!
2 Peter 1:5-11
1. Has there been an extended period in your spiritual history where there was little to no spiritual growth? If so, share some about that period and why you may have experienced little growth.
2. It was stated in the message that spiritual growth is NOT automatic; that growth will not occur apart from our diligent participation in the process. Is that concept new to you? Explain. What would your response be if someone objected by saying, “Doesn’t God cause us to grow?” What does Peter tell us in these verses?
3. How does the concept of wind surfing illustrate both what God provides for us and the role we play in the process?
4. In verses 5-7 Peter mentions seven qualities that we are to supplement to our faith in Christ. List the seven, then highlight one as a prayer target for God to work on in your life. If you are huddling with a small group, share which quality you have selected.
5. Bruce cited Stanley Baldwin who gave several illustrations from Scripture of brotherly affection or kindness. Reflecting on your life, is there an instance of brotherly affection or kindness which someone extended to you that was particularly encouraging? Elaborate.
6. Bruce listed four practical benefits pointed out by Peter that come to us by actively growing in our spiritual life:
–Effective and fruitful (rather than ineffective and unfruitful) – vs. 8
–Spiritually insightful (rather than severely nearsighted) – vs. 9
–Spiritual stability (rather than instability) – vs. 10
–Special future blessing – vs. 11
Of those four, which one is new to you or most exciting to you? Explain.
7. In conclusion by way of application, Bruce mentioned 3 principles and the 5 follows of Wildwood. They are listed below. Which is the top area that you believe the Holy Spirit is encouraging you to focus on this next few weeks?
–Regular Obedience to Scripture
–Everyday Reliance on the Holy Spirit
–A priority focus on honoring the Savior
Follow Him into the Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
Follow Him into Worship ( Colossians 3:16-17)
Follow Him into Community (Hebrews 10:19-24)
Follow Him into Ministry (1 Peter 4:10)
Follow Him into Mission (Matthew 28:19-20)