This message was delivered by our Pastor Hershael York on 1/24/21. Here are some personal reflections and resolutions…
- clarifying. It was a powerful, poignant, pointed, and personal clarification of the balancing and supplementing roles of God’s sovereign and gracious grant of faith [see verses 1 and 3: ‘has granted us’] and my personal responsibility to make every effort [σπουδὴν πᾶσαν παρεισενέγκαντεs] to supplement that faith with my own arduous effort. By the way, God also grants me His divine power [verse 3] with which I make every effort to supplement the faith He has granted me! God commands me to supplement His grant of faith [literally, ‘contribute besides’] with my own arduous decisiveness and commitment to give myself whole-heartedly to Him for His service.
- “For this very reason [i.e., since God has freely, sovereignly, and graciously granted me this ‘faith of equal standing with ours’], make every effort to supplement your faith with…” ~verses 5-7
- convicting. [more of this personal commentary following…]
- and converting in the sense of moving me to make a fresh commitment to godliness and holiness of life before God. As Jesus had said to Peter years before, and the very thing he is doing in this final epistle: ‘when you have been converted, turned again, changed – strengthen your brothers’ ~Luke 22.31-34
This was a watershed, decisiveness crisis message for me, coming at a most critical juncture in my own personal relationship with Christ and dealing with my indwelling sin and self-will.
These are the words that most both haunt and goad me – every single word:
“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” ~verse 8
The ultimate driving gear of this movement in my soul is Peter’s call to being effective and fruitful. I don’t want to be ineffective or unfruitful! I want to be effective and fruitful, not in the sense of fulfilling my personal ambitions or agenda, or desires for personal achievement; but rather in the sense of wanting to be used by God in whatever place, role, and ministry He chooses to assign to me. It is also so significant that this comes from Peter who has been such a personal model and example to me in his own history of personal defaults and restorations. See John 21.
I struggle with wondering and doubting just how effectiveness and fruitful I have been over the course of my walk with the Lord and my ministry. I struggle [maybe too much] with perceived feelings of failure. I’m going on 70 years old, and I’m in the last years of however long I have left of my life and ministry. And I look back over the course of my lifetime – where I have been, what I have done, and more importantly, who I have been – and I often wonder just how effective and fruitful I have been.1
I fear that so much of what we have grown used to thinking of as “effectiveness” and “fruit” is being effective and fruitful in our own ambitions, agenda, and achievements. I fear and confess that, perhaps, too often I have measured effectiveness and fruit in terms of tasks accomplished and visible results achieved instead of measuring them by the standards that Peter sets forth here in his exhortation: “For if these qualities [verses 5-7] are yours and increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” THERE is where the effectiveness and the fruit are found and must be increasing and growing: ‘in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ’ and in all those graces and promises that have been granted to us and that we have obtained by this God’s grant.
This message left me broken and weeping:
- broken and weeping first in wondering if and whether I may have forfeited and defaulted in more effectiveness and fruitfulness I may have borne for the glory of my Savior if I had been much more diligent and arduous in supplementing and ‘contributing besides’ to God’s grant of faith over the course of my ministry. Can it be that I have forfeited power with God and usefulness to Him for the benefit of others by not being more diligent with my heart and not committing myself with more fervor and ardor to the ministry Christ has entrusted me with?
- but, broken and weeping also with hope in Christ, that if I will make every effort with diligent haste, that Christ will be pleased to use me in whatever ways He chooses to be more effective and fruitful here in the latest years of my life and ministry. After all, has He not GRANTED to us His very great and precious promises? His promises are His GUARANTEE that He Himself will give us and work in us with His own Divine power everything we need to be effective and fruitful in life and godliness! AND He will make effective and fruitful everything He has called us to do with ardor to actively and intentionally supplement [‘contribute besides’] the faith He has given us.
1 By the way, I do want to add this caveat and qualifier to what I said above about my own frequent introspective self-evaluations: I do know that we are not the ones who are qualified to judge our own service to our Lord, nor are we the ones who will make the final evaluations. Jesus Himself is. So, with that in mind, I have learned to trust in these words from Paul in 1 Corinthians 4.1-5:
This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. 3But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. 4For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. 5Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.