How Can We Guard Against Being a Stagnant Christian? – Part 2

I know it doesn’t look like it, but believe it or not at one time I weighed 215 lbs, and none of that was fat. It was all muscle. But that growth didn’t occur overnight. I had to hit the gym hard — 3-4 days a week for 2 hours at a time.
Along with working out regularly, I consumed a few supplements, mainly, creatine and protein powder, which helped me grow stronger. That’s what supplements are supposed to do. They are supposed to help you grow by supplementing your normal diet and workout routine.

That is not only true of our physical body but of our spiritual life as well. If we want to maintain and even grow, we must supplement our faith with godly qualities. Doing so will keep us from becoming stagnant.

Now, a word of caution here. Working these godly qualities into your life doesn’t make you a Christian. You’re a Christian through faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. You can’t short circuit the process, faith comes first, just like getting a gym membership and working outcomes before taking supplements.

But once we have faith, we can and we should work these godly qualities into our life.

What qualities are we to work into our lives?

In verse 5, we learn that we are to make every effort to supplement our faith with:

Virtue – Virtue refers to moral excellence or character, which means we are to strive to be someone who lives an upright life. One that accords with God’s Word.

Knowledge – The knowledge to which Peter most likely refers is the knowledge of God’s will. If we are going to live upright lives, we need to know God’s will, which is only gained through reading and studying God’s word.

Self-Control – There are all kinds of temptations that are going to come at us from the world. If we’re going to consistently live according to God’s will and His way, we need to exercise restraint, we need self-control. So we must add self-control to our faith.

Steadfastness – Which might also be translated as endurance. The Christian life is not a sprint it is a marathon. If we are going to continue to live for God, we need endurance.

Godliness – Which means that we are to constantly seek to embody the character of God just like Jesus did.

Brotherly Affection – Which means that we are to care for and be devoted to our brothers and sisters in Christ just like we are to our own family.

Love – Not just any love, but self-sacrificial love. The love that drove Jesus to the cross and the Father to give up His only Son. That’s the type of love we are to have for God and for one another.

These are the qualities must supplement our faith.

If we supplement our faith with these qualities, we keep ourselves from becoming stagnant Christians.

I mean how can you be stagnant, if you’re actively seeking to grow in these areas? You can’t! That’s exactly what Peter tells us in verse 8:

“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.” (2 Pe 1:8)

So if you want to keep from being a stagnant Christian you need to actively work these qualities into your life. Which implies that we actually have to work at it. I like how one commentator puts it:

“We do not automatically become more virtuous as if God infused virtue into us intravenously; we need to make plans and expend effort.”

I know many of you wish that you could hook yourself up to an IV and look like Arnold Schwarzenegger in a few weeks. But it doesn’t happen that way. If we want our muscles to grow, we have to work them out. We have to take supplements.

If we want our faith to grow, we have to work it out. We have to supplement it with these qualities. That’s something that we must do. These supplements are not “nice to have’s”, they are foundational.

If you aren’t working them into your life

Peter says in verse 9:

“For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.” (2 Pe 1:9)

If we aren’t actively seeking to work these qualities into our life, we are living as if we are blind and as if our heart has not been cleansed from sin. But Christians are not blind. We have been made to see by Jesus. He has opened our eyes to the truth of the gospel and God’s word. As well as, our heart has been cleansed, it has been changed, we have been freed from sin’s grip on us.

As Christians, then, we should be actively working to supplement our faith with these qualities. We have no excuse! We not only know what we are supposed to do but we have the ability to do it.

Those who supplement their faith with these qualities, we are told in verse 10 that:

Assurance and growth will be ours

“Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.” (2 Pe 1:10)

So if you are questioning your faith, if you are wondering if you are God’s child? Look at your life and see if these qualities are present. If they are, and if you are actively seeking to work them into your life, you can be assured of your salvation and you will continue to grow. But if you find that these supplements are lacking in your life, you are either not a believer or you have grown stagnant in your faith. If that is you, you’re in danger. Not only are you living without assurance and the anxiety that comes with that. But you are in danger of stumbling, falling, and never finishing the race.

Next time

Next time we will keep our discussion going regarding how to keep from becoming stagnant.

Question for Reflection

  1. Are you working these qualities into your life?

Resources

Post developed from my sermon How can we guard against being a stagnant Christian?

How Can We Guard Against Being a Stagnant Christian?

When I was a kid I had a ditch by my house that would flood when it rained at high tide. It was deep and wide enough for it to become a makeshift swimming pool for the kids in the neighborhood. While many of my friends laughed and played in that water, I had to look on from the banks.You see, my mom wouldn’t let me get into that murky stagnant water. And for good reason. An article I came across recently warned that:

“While playing in floodwater looks like fun, experts warn that stagnant water left behind after a rainstorm…can be extremely hazardous. …water-borne illnesses and infections, chemical exposure, drowning and electrical shock” are some of the most common dangers.

While I don’t believe anything serious ever happened to my neighborhood friends back then, I’m thankful my mom knew the risks and wouldn’t let us dive in.

Just like stagnant water poses health risks, a stagnant faith poses spiritual risks.

As humans, we are created for growth.

Our need for growth is why many of us are attracted to books and documentaries, while many pursue degrees, and are constantly learning how to do new things. God designed us for growth. But God didn’t just design us for intellectual growth, He also and more importantly designed us to grow in the knowledge of how He would want us to live in His good creation. Adam and Eve walked with God in the garden in the cool of the day and they did that to learn more about God and His desires. As Christians, we are to continue to learn more about God as well. We are to do that so that we will grow in our knowledge of God’s will and live according to His ways.

But growth is not something that comes natural to us.

We are easily distracted by the things of this world, pulled off course, hindered, and the result is stagnancy. Slipping into stagnancy isn’t new, Christians have grown stagnant from the beginning. I don’t know if you’ve experienced a time of stagnancy in your life but I have. A time where I wasn’t growing in my knowledge of God, His word, and Christlikeness. A time when I was walking backwards instead of forwards. That’s just not good. It’s not good for us, our family, or our community.

We weren’t created for stagnancy, which is why we must continue to grow. But that isn’t going to happen on its own. We have to actively work to grow while at same time guarding against stagnancy.

Next time

Next time we will begin discussing how to keep from growing stagnant.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you believe your faith is stagnant?

Resources

Post developed from my sermon How can we guard against being a stagnant Christian?

What frees the church to operate as God has called and designed for us to operate?

Not too long ago my mother-in-law introduced me to the musical group The Piano Guys. You can find a lot of their music on YouTube. They are known for playing in amazing locations. One of their videos shows them playing on the Salt Flats in Utah, another on the top of a mountain, and in another, they are playing in a frozen ice castle. Truly breathtaking places! If you haven’t seen any of their videos, you should head on over to YouTube and check them out.

Watching and listening to them play, there is no doubt they are talented. But their talent alone is not what makes their music so amazing. There are a lot of folks out there who are just as talented but aren’t as good. What sets The Piano Guys apart is the time spent practicing. Since they spend a lot of time in practice before the big shoot they are freed to play their instruments in the way they have been designed to be played when it comes time to roll the cameras. The result is an audience left in awe at such beautiful music.

In a similar way, the church must be freed to operate in the way God has called and designed us to operate if we are going to be people who bring glory to God. But that freedom doesn’t come naturally. Something has to take place. What is it?

What frees the church to operate as God has called and designed for us to operate?

In the beginning of verse 8, we come across the word “then” or “therefore”. Depending on which translation you are reading the text says,

“I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;” (1 Ti 2:8)

That little word — “therefore” or “then” — is important because it points us back to the idea that came before. The textual idea before verse 8 has to do with prayer, specifically prayer for “all peoples“, including the governing authorities.

A Restored Relationship

According to Paul, we are to pray for God to work good in the lives of those who lead us and for God to bring them to salvation so that we can live in a persecution free society where the gospel can flourish. The reason we want the gospel or the good news about Jesus to flourish is because it’s what provides salvation. There aren’t multiple paths to God. All religions aren’t the same. They don’t all lead to the same place. Christianity is the only religion that leads to eternal life.

Christianity can claim it is the only way to God because at its center is Jesus, who is the perfect God-man who offered the perfect sacrifice on our behalf. Instead of us facing God’s wrath, Jesus faced it for us. All those who believe that Jesus’ sacrifice is sufficient to repair our relationship with the Father experience just that — a restored relationship with the Father and eternal life.

A Changed Heart

Along with a restored relationship with the Father and eternal life, believers also experience a changed heart. One that’s free from the power of sin. And one that’s free to live as God has designed and called us to live.

So the church is freed to operate as the God has called and designed because we have experienced a fundamental change in our relationship with God, as well as our heart has been changed from one that is bent on serving self to serving God.

Question for Reflection

  1. Has your heart been changed so that you desire to serve God instead of self?

Resources

Post adapted from my sermon What Frees the Church to Operate as God has Called and Designed for Us to Operate?

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