How to Find Yourself – Created to Grow
Preacher: Rev Kevin Kim
Bible Reading: 2 Peter 1:1-11
From this week, we are starting a new series on a book of 2 Peter for over the next three weeks. In 2 Peter 1:1-11, Peter encourages all Christians to exercise the qualities of Jesus’ goodness (verses 5-8) which have been made available for us in the here and now. Pastor Kevin will explore how ‘confirming our calling and election’ relates with ‘finding our own identity’, using the ideas from a book, ‘How to Find Yourself‘ by Brian Rosner. We will also be sharing together in Communion.
From today we are starting a new series on book of 2 Peter for three weeks. The second epistle of Peter is a brief letter of reminders for first-century Christians. Peter urges his readers S to make every effort to grow in their faith, to remember that the promises of God are trustworthy, and to beware those who teach otherwise.
Over next three weeks, Gillie, look forward to your message.
Who wrote the book?
In 2 Peter 3:1, the author reflected that this is “this is now my second letter to you.” Only by chapter 3 it become apparent that Peter was writing to the same group of believers, who had received his first letter.
Now if you read Jude alongside 2 Peter 2, you will see immediately that there is a very close connection. Both use similar language in a similar way to denounce a similar false teaching. Many scholars think Jude copied from 2 Peter or the author of 2 Peter copied from Jude.
There are very strong objections to thinking the same person wrote 1 and 2 Peter. The vocabulary and style in 2 Peter are very different from 1 Peter, but are very similar to Jude. I don’t want to spend too much time on the authorship here, but this is an issue that we need to be aware of.
Where are we?
Peter wrote this letter from Rome soon after he wrote 1 Peter in AD 64–66. So what would have prompted another letter to the same group so soon after the first? From the contents of the letter, it appears that Peter had received reports of false teachers in and among the churches in Asia Minor. Peter wanted to encourage his people to stand firm and to instruct them on how best to do that.
Is there anyone who doesn’t know that the secret to getting in shape is to eat better and to work out more? Or
that the secret to taking that dream holiday is to plan it out, and then to spend less and save some of our money for our trip?
The problem is not that we lack knowledge. The problem is that we seem to lack the power to do what we need to do. We want to grow, and we need more than just steps. Based on Canadian pastor Darryl Dash’s reflection, I think that is where today’s passage is going to help us.
How do we grow? I’m not just talking about how to grow spiritually. S I’m talking about how to grow in every area of our lives, because God cares about every part of your life.
Peter answers that question. Two answers.
God gives us everything we need to grow (1:3-4). We are glad that Peter does not begin with something that we need to do. Instead, Peter begins with what God has already done for us. Read v 3 – His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
Peter was a close friend and follower of Jesus. Now, near the end of his life, he writes to Christian friends to remind them of some truths that they are likely to forget. Peter makes it clear: the foundation for our growth is God’s power and grace. God gives us everything we need to grow.
Peter tells us in verse 3: “through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” How do we get what we need to grow? By knowing God.
What is the best thing in life, bringing more joy, delight, and contentment than anything else? Knowledge of God.
We don’t need to rely on our own power to grow. That never works in the long run. The key to growth is knowing God. When we know him, he gives us everything we need to grow.
But that’s not all. Peter gives us another answer to how we can grow.
We can take small steps to grow (1:5-11). Peter gives us a series of steps that we need to take if we are going to grow. It’s going to take effort, Peter says, but with God’s help we can take these steps.
Peter lists some of those steps here. He lists eight qualities that will be true of us as we grow:
Faith — trusting God, which is where it all begins; this is where all the other virtues come from
Virtue — moral excellence, which means that we change from the inside out
Knowledge — growth in our knowledge of God
Self-control — the ability to restrain ourselves from sinful desires
Steadfastness — to stay faithful not just for a short time, but over the long haul
Godliness — living a godly life
Brotherly affection — which ties in closely to the last virtue
Love — the virtue that sums up all other virtues
Peter tells us to take steps to add these to our lives. “Make every effort…” But we don’t need to be overwhelmed. We need to keep deepening our knowledge of God, and then with the resources he gives, we can gradually grow these qualities in our lives.
We love how Peter concludes:
8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. 10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (vv 8 -11)
I recently read this book, “How to find yourself’ by Brian Rosner, principal from Ridley College. Knowing who you are and being true to yourself have never been more important than in the twenty-first century West. They are seen as signs of good mental health and wellbeing, and the keys to authentic living and true happiness. Most people today believe that S there is only one place to look to find yourself, and that is inward. Personal identity is a do-it-yourself project. Yet, ironically, knowing who you are has also never been more difficult. Scores of people today feel anxious and uncertain about their identities.
There are two different translations that I like for v 10.
10 So, friends, confirm God’s invitation to you, his choice of you. (The Message)
10 My friends, you must do all you can to show God has really chosen and selected you. (Contemporary English Version)
When God calls you and invite you and select you, God calls you as who you are.
The Bible tells you who you are and also who you aren’t. From cover to cover, God tells his people who they are: you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood (1 Pet. 2:9); you are wonderfully made (Ps 139:14), the apple of God’s eye (Ps. 17:8); you are the light of the world, the salt of the earth, a city on a hill (Matt. 5:13-16); you are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19) and belong to the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12-30); you are a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17); you are a child of God, known by him (1 John 3:1). Equally, God reminds his people that they are not among those who do not know God, who are darkened in their understanding, separated from the life of God, children of wrath, sons of disobedience (Eph 4:17-18). If with Adam we are banished as rebellious sons and therefore experience “death before death,” in Christ we hear God say in Scripture, “You are my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17)
If that is who we are, how do we keep our identity of being a child of God? Brian suggests that we need to claim the story of Jesus Christ as our own. And to live the life story of Jesus Christ as your own, he suggests six practices, which I think these practices go well with eight qualities from 2 Peter today. The first thing that you must do to claim the story of Jesus Christ as your own life story is put your faith in Christ and get baptized. Faith is the open hands of receiving the undeserved gift of being a child of God, known and loved by him. And baptism is the rite of initiation into this identity.
Second, in order to live the life story of Jesus Christ as your own, you can remind yourself of the problem, past turning points, present struggles, and future hope of your life story by reading and hearing the Bible. In reading the Bible and hearing it preached, we learn not only about God but also about ourselves and our true identity.
Third, you can rehearse the defining moment and signature move of your life story by taking Communion. In eating and drinking the symbols of the broken body and shed blood of Christ, believers are prompted to look in all the right directions to find themselves.
Fourth, you can express your allegiance to the life story of Jesus Christ, by saying the creed. As Smith puts it, “In reciting the Creed each week, we rehearse the skeletal structure of the story in which we find our identity.”
Fifth, you can celebrate your narrative identity and imagine your destiny by singing, along with others seeking to live the same story. Singing corporately offers praise to God and reinforces the identity of God’s people.
Sixth and finally, you can put dying to sin and rising to new life in Christ into practice daily by living a manner worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
To put on the narrative identity of the life story of Jesus Christ, put our trust in Christ and get baptized, read and hear the Bible, take Communion, say the creed, sing the faith, and most importantly, live the gospel. Following these six practices will plant God’s grand story in your spirit and transform your behaviour.
Do you want to grow? Do we want to grow? Don’t try to grow on your own power. Rely on what God has given us. He’s given us everything we need for life and godliness.
Based on that power, take steps to grow. Make every effort. Think about eight qualities from 2 Peter and six practices from Brian. It will be a gradual process, but remember that you’re not alone. He will give you everything that you need.
The result, according to Peter: they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, and you will never fail, and “you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”