Sermon Manuscript . . .
You Have All You Need to Live for Christ
2 Peter 1:3-4
Not too long ago, an article appeared in the LA Times sports section called, “Terror on the Side of a Steep Slope”. Listen to what happened to a person just like you and me. Jay was hunting deer in a wildlife area near Red Bluff. He climbed up to a ledge on the slope of a rocky gorge and raised his head to look up on the ledge above him when, in his words, “I caught a movement to the right of my face. I instinctively pushed myself back and the rattler struck, just missing my right ear.”
The snake’s fangs got snagged in the neck of Jay’s turtleneck sweater and the force of the strike caused the 4-foot long snake to land on his left shoulder. (Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? It gets better.) It then coiled around his neck. He grabbed it behind the head with his left hand and could feel the warm venom running down the skin of his neck–the only sound he could hear were the snakes rattles.
Then Jay fell backwards and slid headfirst down a steep slope through brush and lava rock, with his rifle and binoculars bouncing along beside him. He said, “As luck would have it, I ended up wedged between some rocks, with my feet caught uphill from my head, and I could barely move.” He got his right hand on his rifle and used it to disengage the fangs from his sweater, but the snake had enough leverage to strike again.
“He made about eight attempts, and managed to hit me with his nose just below my eye about four times. I kept my face turned so he couldn’t get a good angle with his fangs, but it was very close. The only way out was to choke him to death. I was afraid with all the blood rushing to my head, that I might pass out.” When he tried to toss the snake aside, he literally couldn’t let it go. He had to pry his own fingers loose. Warden Dave Smith says of meeting Jay, “He walked toward me holding this string of rattles and said with sort of a grin on his face, “I’d like to register a complaint about your wildlife here.”
Life is a snake-fighting experience and the attacks are relentless–they are treacherous, they are fearful, and sometimes they are poisonous. Unfortunately we do not always win–we fail, we fall, we get bit. Sometimes days just go terrible–even for missionaries. Take the missionary whose name was unbelievably Martha Beltch. On announcing her return from Africa, a large banner was placed out in front of the church stating, “Come hear Martha Beltch, all the way from Africa!”
When life is tough, we often feel like failures–like when you are at school and your teacher laughs at you when he gives your test back. Or at work, you’re the most dedicated Chick-fll-A worker, but the boss says, “I’m afraid I’ll have to let you go–you just don’t eat more chicken.” Or in guy/girl relationships–you do everything right, but she drops you for the guy with nicer feet. Or in your family, your husband won’t un-ball his socks. Your wife only wants to talk to you with the game tied, one minute left, 4th quarter. Your parents are battling with amnesia–they’re always asking, “Who do you think you are?”
One area where many of us feel like failures is in our Christian walk. We seem far from God. We can’t say anything right. We don’t know what it is to live a life pleasing to Christ. Unfortunately, will you admit, it’s easy to fall short–right?
1. If your fellow employees saw the way you live at home, would they think you a Christian?
2. If your neighbors were to watch you to see if Christianity made you a better person, what would they conclude?
3. For you students, if you wrote an English paper on what it means to be a Christian, when you read it in class, would your fellow students think you’re a hypocrite?
4. If your unsaved relatives saw how you act with your closest friends, would they think you’re a believer?
We should occasionally ask ourselves questions that will help us determine whether we’re walking with God or just playing a game. But it is questions like those that cause us all to wonder whether we can make it at all? Can we live the Christian life? God’s answer is yes–and you can say yes because the Bible says so in 2 Peter 1:3 to 4. Open your Bibles to 2 Peter and allow the Lord to encourage you today. You can live the Christian life–you have all you need. You have all you need to live for Christ–you are sufficient in Christ.
In 2 Corinthians 9:8, Paul declares the sufficiency of God’s salvation. “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.” The Greek word sufficiency refers to self-sufficiency–having all that is necessary. Sufficiency also means to be independent of external circumstances and from any outside sources. As a Christian, your spiritual resources, given to you lavishly by God’s grace, are sufficient to meet all of life’s demands. Paul affirms this in Philippians 4:19, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
Yet in spite of God’s abundant generosity, Christians often think it’s not enough. They think God may have given you grace for justification, but not enough for sanctification. Some believers think they received enough grace for justification and sanctification, but not enough for glorification, and fear they may lose their salvation. Even if they believe there is enough grace for final glorification, some Christians still feel there is not enough grace for them to handle life’s trials.
But there is no reason for any believer to doubt the sufficiency of God’s grace or to look elsewhere for spiritual resources. When Christ redeemed His own, God lavishly dispensed through the indwelling Holy Spirit all the grace and spiritual resources they’d ever need. Peter makes this clear in 2 Peter 1:3 to 4. In these two verses, Peter gives the churches four essential components of the sufficiency of their salvation. You have all the power, provision, promptings and promises they will ever need.
Look for them as we read aloud verses 3 to 4, “Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.” Peter continues his celebration of salvation from verses 1 to 2, to now in verses 3 to 4, focusing upon the sufficiency of salvation in Christ. And the first truth Peter highlights is this . . .
#1 All the POWER you need is in Christ
Verse 3a, “Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness.” Remember that flashlight you kept hitting because it wouldn’t light up? Then you unscrewed the cap, looked inside and you found a bunch of white sulfation between the flashlight connection and the battery. You clean that off, put it all back together and your hand-torch now lights up.
That seems to be the case with a lot of believers–they are not connected. They have let the sulfation of sin form between their lives and the Lord’s, so they lack power. But all that power is there–it’s present, it’s yours. Christ gave you more than enough. In fact, Christ’s power is sufficient for everything. It is Christ’s power. How do we know? Because “His divine power” refers back to the Lord Jesus. If the personal pronoun His modified the Father, Peter wouldn’t have used the descriptive word “divine“, since deity is inherent in God’s name–that would be assumed. Peter’s use of “divine” points again to the deity of Christ–only God can save sinners. And this is the power of Christ. So whatever spiritual sufficiency believers have is not because of any power they possess in themselves, but it comes from Christ–“His divine power.”
Do you believe Paul in Ephesians 3:20 and 21? “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” The power operating in you and me as believers is of the same divine nature which resurrected Christ–the same power of the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. The same power you saw in Christ raising Lazarus or calming the storm–it is the power from His very nature. And Peter knows what he is talking about when he starts verse 3 with, “Seeing that His divine power.” Peter had been an eyewitness of Christ’s divine power on the Mount of Transfiguration, which he will describe in verse 16.
This divine power enables you Christians to do works that please and glorify God and accomplish spiritual fruit beyond what you can even imagine. You don’t think so? But Matthew 19:26, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible [his power].” First Corinthians 3:6 and 7, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. 7So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.” Ephesians 3:7, “of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power.”
God’s supply of spiritual power for believers never fails. Christians may distance themselves from God’s divine source of power because of their sin, or they may fail to minister–one of the main ways God shows His power. Or they may fail to use what they have for God’s glory. But the moment they’re given faith in Christ from verse 2, God grants them His power from verse 3. You have what you need in Christ. “Seeing that His divine power has granted.” The Greek “has granted” is a unique participle telling us Christ granted us his power in the past, and continues to gift us. His power in the present. God permanently bestows His power on believers and continues to do so.
I was at the gym and I was watching a commercial while I was on the elliptical–I couldn’t hear the words, but it was hysterical. It was a group of men riding in a car and there were no motors for the wiper blades, so one passenger worked a rope attached to the wiper blades in order to move them. There was no motorized turn signal, so a man in the backseat would stick out his arm for a turn. There was no air conditioner, so another man held up a battery powered fan, and there were no lights, so one man hung a flashlight out the window. This seems to be where too many churches and too many believers are at today. We’re doing in our own strength what Christ intended to do through us in His powerful strength.
In Ephesians, Paul reminds his readers how believers access Christ’s power. Ephesians 3:16, “That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.” The power comes from God’s Spirit and Ephesians 5:18 tells us how–“be filled with the Spirit.” To live by God’s power, you must be filled with the Spirit–and that means with a heart of humility, living dependently upon the Spirit (relying on Him moment-by-moment for everything). Intentionally, willfully, follow God’s Word 24/7–saturated in the Word, repenting of all known sin, while serving in the church and sharing the gospel in the world.
Are you depending on God’s power for whatever is challenging you right now? Peter says, because of His divine power, God has given you everything you need. Peter is encouraging you with the promise of untold blessings. How many blessings? Notice the Greek word everything–“has granted to us everything.”
#2 All the PROVISION you need is in Christ
Verse 3b, “has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness.” Because of our battle with sin and our failures as Christians, some of us start to think even after salvation that something is missing in the sanctification process–that it’s not enough. This faulty type of thinking is what causes believers to seek second blessings, Spirit baptisms, tongues, mystical experiences, special psychological insights, private revelations, some deeper life, heightened emotions, demon bindings and more.
All those types of responses are an attempt to gain what is supposedly missing from God’s provision–they pursue some form of more, some form of extra because of what they think is lacking from God’s spiritual resources. Massive ignorance and manipulation of Scripture accompanies all those foolish pursuits, which at their rotten root are failures to understand what Peter says here.
Christians have received not only divine power, but they have received everything they need for sanctification. You and I have no lack at all. There is nothing extra you need in order to grow to become like Christ. When you’re a born again believer, you were born as a whole being with all the composite parts of God’s new creation already in place. It’s like a baby–just feed it, deal with the consequences and it grows. All the necessities are there–all the baby needs is already a part of the baby. We are complete–unlike modern car manufacturers, God did not, nor will He call back any defective models, because there aren’t any defective models.
You are still responsible to die to self, depend, and obey God’s commands in Scripture, but Christians can never claim their sins and failures are the result of God’s limited provision.
There is no temptation and no assault of Satan that is beyond your resources to overcome. Paul says the same thing to the doubting Corinthians in 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” Nothing can get to you that you don’t have the power to deal with. And to make certain you believe that, Peter takes it a step further. Peter stresses the extent of divine power given to every one of you by making this amazing statement in verse 3b, “His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness.”
This is even stronger in the Greek. The word everything is first in the Greek sentence–that means it is emphatic, because the Holy Spirit is emphasizing the extent of God’s provision and your sufficiency in Christ. It literally reads, “Everything He has granted to us pertaining to life and godliness.” Everything means all, the whole–no area of life is exempt. Everything, everything that pertains to life. You genuine Christians are eternally secure in your salvation, you will grow to become more like Christ, and ultimately you will persevere because you have received everything necessary to sustain eternal life through Christ’s power.
And the Lord has given us everything that pertains to godliness. To be godly means to live reverently, loyally, and obediently before God in every aspect of your life. God has given you everything you need to live a life pleasing to Christ at school and work. Students, you can obey your parents. Parents, you can discipline your children. Husband, you can love your wife. Wives, you can respect your husband–you can. You can be loyal to God with your everyday life because of God’s power through you.
This is why Peter encourages genuine believers not to ask God for something more, as if something necessary for growth, strength, or perseverance was missing–because you already have every spiritual resource to sustain godly living. The great power that gave Christians spiritual life will sustain that life in all its fullness. Genuine believers already have every spiritual resource needed to persevere in holy living. Life and godliness define the realm of sanctification. Life and godliness define a zone. What’s the zone? You’re in it now. Not the twilight zone, but the zone between initial salvation and final glorification.
Your entire Christian life is covered by the sufficient power of Christ in and through you. With the gift of new life in Christ came everything related to sustaining that life all the way to glorification. Peter is promising God’s sovereign power for living the Christian life on Earth to the glory of God. Christian, it is wrong for you to question God’s sufficiency. Because not only is His grace powerful enough to save, His grace is equally powerful to sustain you for righteous conduct. Philippians 1:6, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” And if that is not motivating enough, Peter even encourages you further.
#3 All the PROMPTINGS you need is in Christ
Verse 3c, “through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” Peter wants his churches to be encouraged to rely on God’s power and encourage them to dependently pursue His all-sufficient resources. They are discouraged with internal attacks from false teachers and some external heat from Rome. So to motivate them, Peter prompts these believers in verse 3 with three strong encouragements. (We’ll probably get to one.)
First The encouragement of CLOSENESS
Verse 3c, “through the true knowledge of Him.” In light of the divine power and provision available to Christians, the question then arises, “How does one experience those to the fullest?” The apostle Peter says it’s “through the true knowledge of Him.” There is a big debate whether the Him refers to the Father or the Son. I think it is both. Notice at the beginning of verse 3, “has granted to us“–the us is all inclusive, Peter and his readers and us. I believe the Him here (“true knowledge of Him“) is also all inclusive, referring to the Triune God–the Father and the Son. It is the close intimacy with God Himself which encourages us to rely on Him for everything we need.
The Greek word “knowledge” in verse 3 does not refer to the knowledge of facts–it is not superficial knowledge. It is not those who merely know Jesus is God, was born as a man, lived a perfect life, ministered for three-plus years, suffered and died on a cross for sin, rose from the dead on the third day and is the only way of salvation.
Jesus Himself warned you of the peril of an inadequate knowledge of Him, even for those who minister in His name. The Lord says in Matthew 7:21 to 23, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'” They knew Christ was Lord, they spoke the Word of God in His name, demonstrated God’s power over the enemy, even did miracles–but they did not intimately know Christ.
On a Sunday AM, I once asked 500 collegians to turn to their neighbor and tell them a sweet evidence of the Lord working in or through their life. One gal turned to her friend, opened her mouth ready to share how Christ had worked in her life that week, but was stopped short. In shock, she realized for the first time that she knew about Christ, but didn’t actually know Christ.
Christ was doing nothing through her life, because Christ was not in her life. There’re far too many Church attenders who know about Christ, but don’t know Christ. They have a religion, but not a relationship. They have Christianity, but without Christ.
Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus? “Knowledge” is a key word in 2 Peter. In this final letter, Peter has put a high priority on your relational intimacy with God, listing the Greek word knowledge in some form over sixteen times. Throughout Scripture, this same Greek word describes personal knowledge that is so intimate, in some passages this word knowledge is used to describe sexual intimacy. Your knowledge of Christ is to be personal, deep and genuine knowledge. This kind of knowledge is the cry of the single who knows they were meant to be married. This is the heart of many lonely marrieds whose marriages are not what God intended–they desire personal, intimate relationship, a true friendship.
But Peter says, for the believer, single or married you have all you need each day. Mick couldn’t find it, but you can find satisfaction as you cultivate intimacy with Christ. Far too many Christians never find satisfaction in their intimate knowledge of Christ because of one important detail found in verse 3–do you see it in the NASB? “Through the true knowledge of Him.” When your knowledge of Christ is through slogans, emotional experiential preaching, improve-yourself Bible topics, and the principles we can learn from Forrest Gump, you will not grow intimate with Christ through the author’s intended message of His Word.
When you think Christ’s purpose is merely to make you feel good, give you what you want, entertain you, solve your guilt, avoid Hell, or provide you with a few nice friends, you will not be satisfied through your knowledge of Christ. Sadly, there is so little true knowledge of Christ which is only gained through rightly expositing His Word, that the knowledge of God is lost for most believers and the motivation to rely upon Him for all you need never comes to fruition.
It is like the Church today is doing what Israel did. When northern Israel split, they created a whole new religion to accommodate their compromise. Yet God loved them enough to send both Hosea and Amos to call them to repentance. Their message to these compromisers revolved around the knowledge of God and their need for God’s Word. Listen to Amos 8:11, “‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord God, ‘When I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, but rather for hearing the words of the Lord.'” Then in Hosea 6:6, “For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, and in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”
You and I need to know God through His Word. If you’re saved, you actually do. But that hunger should be fed, that craving satisfied. And when it is, you’ll see more of His power and be able to trust Him more for his sufficient provision, cause you have it all. What happens when you know someone intimately? You can grow to love them deeply–and if you do, you will be prompted to please them, follow them, even obey them. Peter motivates his readers and us with the relationship we have in Christ, and the close intimacy we can enjoy through His Word. Are you encouraged?
And there is more encouragement coming. Not only Christ’s power, God’s provision, and the Spirits promptings of closeness with Christ–but there are further promptings in verse 3. Our calling and Christ’s character, and then to prove Christ’s sufficiency–God’s fantastic promises, all for next week. Take God’s Word and these final charges home with you.
A Grow dependent upon the POWER of Christ
You say, “I am so weak, sinful, powerless, a failure as a Christian.” But Jesus says, 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” Stop the doing and try depending. Be filled with the Spirit–choose to depend on Him and step out in obedience. Say, “Lord, I can’t do this, but you can through me”–then obey. Students, you can obey your parents. Spouses, you can love your impossible spouse. Grow dependent upon God’s power to obey. You have all you need.
B Grow deep in the CHARACTER of Christ
I will never forget pastor Ray Steadman sharing with me when I was one-year-old in the Lord, about how he started each day. Ray was an orphan and struggled with doubting God’s love. So he’d first wake up, wash his face–then he’d choose to smile in the mirror, even if it hurt or cracked his face. Then he’d say out loud one phrase ten times–what was that phrase? “Jesus loves me.” Not a chant–but an opportunity to meditate after each repetition on all Christ’s love has meant and currently means.
Too often we forget God’s great love for us–and His mercy, grace, provision and power. You are complete in Christ–practice His attributes each day and live in light of who He is and what He has done for you on the cross. You have all you need.
C Grow certain of your RELATIONSHIP with Christ
Do you merely know about Jesus, or do you actually intimately know Christ? If you don’t have a heart that wants to obey, and is willing to do anything for Christ, that is a bad sign. Do you want to spend time with Christ in the Word, through prayer, in service and with others in worship–if not, that’s a bad indicator. Today, one of you or more must cry out to Christ to give you a heart that truly knows Him to gain all you need.