Spiritual Growth

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"What Manner Of Persons?"

Monday, July 27, 2020

            Peter asks his readers a crucial question in I Peter 3:11-12. “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?” His question is one that has been asked multiple times since then. Since this world will be consumed by fire one day, then how should we act now?

            Peter told the Christians in his first epistle to be “obedient children” and to “be holy in all manner of conversation” (I Pet. 1:14-15). These are two great characteristics that ought to describe Christians today! Our obedience to God and our being holy are two things that will not be burned up when this world burns!

            Jude 21 adds that we ought to keep ourselves “in the love of God.” This is another characteristic that needs to be seen in us and something that cannot be taken away! It is interesting to note that Jesus connects our love for Him with our obedience (Jn. 14:15, 23-24, 15:14). So, as Peter teaches us to be obedient, Christ says our obedience is an outgrowth of our love for God. This is how we know it is genuine and not merely “rote” action!

            What manner of persons ought we to be? How about being “stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (I Cor. 15:58)? Such a determination will keep our hands, and our minds occupied! I believe a lot of the fuming and fussing in the brotherhood can be linked to the fact that Christians are not staying busy in the Lord’s work! When we try to bring lost souls to the Lord as well as encourage the saved to remain strong, we will have a full plate! Let us be this kind of person and see how this work transcends the fires of II Peter 3:10!

            I Peter 2:2, and II Peter 3:18 encourage us to grow! We need to be the kind of people who are not stagnant in our spiritual lives. We need to grow and to continue in this growth so long as the Lord gives us breath! Spiritual growth provides us with many challenges, regardless of how long we have been a Christian. Whether as “newborn babes” (I Pet. 2:2), or as mature people (Heb. 5:12-14), there is plenty to do and plenty of growth possible in the Lord’s kingdom!

Peter’s question in I Peter 3:11 is rhetorical, but when examined, it makes for a good reminder. Friend, are you a Christian (Acts 11:26; Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38)? If you are, how is your spiritual growth? If you are a Christian, then you should have an appreciation for what is on the horizon (II Pet. 3:10). We don’t know a day or hour, but we can be prepared, and we can help others get ready! Look again at this short list. Are you prepared? Are you growing? If not, why not? Make the time to be prepared while you still can (II Cor. 6:2)!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

"Pure Minds"

Thursday, July 23, 2020

            Peter’s motivation to keep the saved saved is apparent in this book. He determined to remind them of the present truth so long as he lived in order to protect them from the false teachers (ch. 1-2). As chapter three begins, Peter repeats his theme. In this case, he said he wanted to “stir up (their) pure minds by way of remembrance” (II Pet. 3:1).

            The word “pure” in this text means what we think it means -- “unmixed, unsullied, sincere” (Arndt and Gingrich; Strong’s). Having a “pure mind” stands in contrast with the false teachers whose minds were wicked, and had “exercised” themselves to act in a covetous manner (II Pet. 2:14). The pure minds of the people needed to be preserved and the only way to do this was to make sure their minds were focused on God’s word (II Pet. 3:1-2). These people had not been stained or sullied by the false doctrines referred to in chapter two, and Peter was trying hard to keep it that way!

            It gives me pause to read that these folks had pure minds because they, like all of us, have sinned (Rom. 3:23). Their minds had been corrupted with sin and wickedness. How could they have pure minds, now? If I know how these people who lived in sin developed pure minds, then I will know how I can develop a pure mind! The answer is that though they had acted in wicked ways, things changed when they heard the truth, believed in Christ, repented of their sins, confessed Christ, and were baptized (Acts 2:36-38, 8:35-38, 16:30-34). Having followed the Lord’s plan of salvation, and as they continued to learn the truth and be reminded of what they knew, Peter said they had “pure minds.”

            How can we who have sinned keep our minds pure now, i.e., unmixed with error and sin? We now know the answer. In order to have pure minds, we need to cleanse them (Ps. 119:9), and keep them pure! We need to follow the Lord’s plan of salvation (Jn. 8:24; Lk. 13:3; Rom. 10:10; Mk. 16:16). As saved people, we must also keep our noses in the Book (Eph. 3:4; II Tim. 2:15; II Pet. 3:2)! Only when we know what God has said can we then apply it to our lives to make the right decisions. To keep our minds pure, we need to avoid those doctrines and practices that will corrupt us (I Thess. 5:21-22)! How will we know what corrupts, though, if we don’t remember the truth (Jn. 17:17)?

            How much time do you spend in God’s word? How do you expect to have a pure mind otherwise? Peter said there was no other way to be pure except to spend time learning and especially being reminded of the truth that we know (II Pet. 3:1-2)! Let’s make sure and listen to the story the never grows old and apply it to our lives daily so we can have pure minds!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

“False Teachers Are Deceivers And Deceived.”

Sunday, July 19, 2020

            Something interesting develops as we read II Peter 2:10-19. In the text, Peter gives us insight into the mind of the false teacher. False teachers have been the “theme” of II Peter 2, and so it ought not to surprise us to see him write extensively on the subject! After the warning about the false doctrine they teach (v. 1-3), Peter now deals with their motivation. In short, in an effort to deceive others, they have deceived themselves (v. 14).

            This is not an uncommon occurrence. Usually, anytime someone repeats a lie over and over, he will finally believe the lie himself. Thus it is with false teachers. They are  “presumptuous,” “self-willed,” and speak evil of “dignities” (KJV - other versions specify angels or angelic dignity). Reading verses 10 and 12, we learn that false teachers “speak evil” or blaspheme when talking. Furthermore, they “speak great swelling words” to those who have escaped error in an effort to get them to return, going so far as promising liberty when they can only provide bondage (v. 18-19). It is one lie after another with these arrogant people!

            Peter tells us that this arrogant person speaks “great swelling words” to get you to believe him and not God. The false teacher has “discovered” something you haven’t. He has found something “lost” to man for millennia. He has learned a “secret” and is happy to share it with you if you are “open-minded” enough to listen and accept. You must not be like those “close-minded Pharisees and legalists,” but must be open to the fact that you could have been wrong for all these years! His arrogance (v. 10) is apparent as he gives you the impression that he is smart, and all others who won’t listen or won’t fall in line are ignorant. He has the answer. Though there might be feigned humility at first (“I’m just a servant of God!”), it quickly melts away when challenged or when his doctrine is examined. His arrogance goes to the point of even blaspheming angels, who are greater in power (v. 10-11).

            As we read II Peter 2:10-19, we find false teachers exercise their hearts for covetous practices (v. 14). They have “forsaken the right way” (v. 15) and God considers them as “clouds without water,” i.e., good for nothing (v. 17)! We can dive deeper into this text, obviously, but for the sake of brevity, let us take this short list and be warned! False teachers are active! They love deceiving others and are constantly looking for more disciples that they might “draw” to themselves and away from God (Acts 20:30). Friends, this is not a joke! This is not a game! These self-serving people, like the scribes and Pharisees, “compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, make him twofold more the child of hell than (they)” (Matt. 23:15)!

            Listen to the warnings from God through the apostle Peter. Don’t get caught up in the web of false doctrine and deceit! Listen to the truth (Jn. 17:17)! Read God’s word without filter and without preconceived ideas. Don’t go to the Bible to “prove” your point, but go to the Bible with an open mind that God might prove the truth to you (Eph. 3:4; II Tim. 2:15)! Man’s word changes, but God’s word does not (I Pet. 1:24-25). Don’t let a false teacher deceive you! Allow God through His word to enlighten you and prepare you for an eternity in Heaven!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

"Always In Remembrance."

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

God is a God who likes to remind us of things. He knows that humans are forgetful, and so we read of numerous times when He had men establish memorials. Sometimes, it was when they won a battle, or when some miracle occurred like the crossing of the Jordan River. In the New Testament, Christ established a memorial when He instituted His Supper (Matt. 26:26-29)!

                   Peter, writing by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, told the readers that he intended to remind them of things they already knew (II Pet. 1:12-15). He was making it his personal goal to tell them of things they knew -- the truth in which they were “established” (v. 12). Peter said he thought it fitting to remind them, so long as he lived, in the hope that after he died, they would still remember what he had said (v. 15). Peter knew he did not have much longer to live (v. 14), and he saw reminding the brethren of what they already knew as the best use of the time he had left.

                   Why remind people of things they know? Is this not the most efficient way to teach someone? Small children repeat the same action, speak the same words, sing the same songs, listen to the same stories ad nauseam. Yet, when this is done, they know the songs, the stories, the words, and actions to where they are second nature. This is what Peter wanted to do with his final days on earth. He wanted the brethren to repeat and go over the things they knew about Christ so that it was second nature to them!

                   What benefit is there in following Peter’s example? When we have spent time learning and relearning the same truth, it becomes a part of us. It is no longer that I have to go hunt for “x” Bible passage. Instead, when facing certain situations in life, God’s words flow from me! They burst forth to encourage, heal, and focus us on the right things. Peter was aware of the hard times facing those Christians after his death, and he knew that being grounded in the truth was the only way to make sure they survived what was coming.

                   So it is with us. Whatever we face in life, things will turn out better when we have the word of Christ “dwelling in (us) richly in all wisdom” (Col. 3:16). This kind of knowledge does not come from reading God’s word one time or two times. It develops by a constant feeding and assimilation of the word, even though we know it and are established in the present truth! Brethren, this is part of the reason behind choosing one book or at most two books to read through the month. The hope is that by slowing down, we can read a book (ex: II Peter) so many times that all the truth flows through us. Friends, read, and don’t grow weary because it only benefits us. If you tire of reading from one version of the Bible, use another. If you tire of reading only, choose a Bible app or some recording, and listen as someone reads the Bible to you! There is no ill effect from this practice, only a benefit for your soul (II Pet. 2:2)!

                   The story of salvation is a story that never grows old! Let’s go back and read it until it comes out of us in our conversation, in our actions, and in our manner. Let us pass this love for God’s word along to our children and grandchildren! Let us apply Peter’s words in reminding Christians of the present truth so long as we live!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

"Make Your Calling And Election Sure"

Monday, July 06, 2020

For the second time in chapter one, Peter says there is something to which a Christian needs to “give diligence” (II Pet. 1:10). When we read the context, we see that it is connected with adding to our faith. In this case, we must be diligent in making our “calling and election sure.”

The phrase teaches me that “once-saved-always-saved” is a false doctrine. Though many teach it today, they are wrong. This passage says that Christians have a responsibility to be diligent (eager, earnest, Strong’s) to make our calling and election sure (steadfast, firm, Strong’s). There is no need for this warning if once one is saved, he is always saved and can never fall! A simple reading of verses eight and nine also show that Peter was teaching just the opposite! We can fall from grace (Gal. 5:4). “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith ...” (I Tim. 4:1). Therefore, we better be diligent in making our “calling and election sure”!

How do I make my “calling and election sure”? I do this by following what Peter taught in II Peter 1:5-10! I add to my faith or grow daily (II Pet. 3:18). I make sure that what is produced is genuinely in me and “abounds” (v. 8). This means it overflows. My life as a Christian is a truly changed life, being changed from the inside-out! Being a Christian is not like putting on and taking off a coat. Instead, the old man of sin was put to death and buried, and I rose from the watery grave of baptism ready to “walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4-7).

Making my “calling and election sure” is a full-time job! Satan tempts us constantly, looking for some weakness in us that he can exploit (Jas. 1:14-15; I Pet. 5:8). He wants us to leave the Lord and return to the kingdom of darkness. We need to remember how dangerous this is. “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them” (II Pet. 2:20-21).

Friend, make your “calling and election sure”! Live faithfully for God every day (Rev. 2:10; I Cor. 15:58). Add to your faith, grow closer to God daily (II Pet. 1:5-8), and see the blessings that come as a result of doing what God has said. There is nothing better we can do on this earth!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

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