Revive Our Hearts Podcast

The Power You Need for Growth

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I’m Nancy Leigh DeMoss stepping in before Revive Our Hearts begins with a question for you. Can you imagine speakers James MacDonald, Voddie Baucham, Kay Arthur, Mary Kassian and others all in one place? Then add worship leaders Keith and Kristyn Getty and several thousand women and you have the True Woman Conference coming to Chattanooga March 25-27. I hope you’ll be there as well.

The discount for early registration ends January 31, so be sure to go to ReviveOurHearts.com for more information.

Leslie Basham: Growth is important to every true believer in Christ. Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: If you’re not adding to your faith, you have no basis for assurance that you are a child of God. That doesn’t mean you aren’t, but you have no way to be sure.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, January 19.

Over the last several sessions, Nancy’s been explaining the qualities we need to add to our faith. The bad news is we can’t add those qualities on our own. But there is good news. Here’s Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: As I was preparing for this series one of my fears was that people who were listening to this series would think, “Why is she spending so long on this subject? I mean, you keep talking about the same things over and over again, being intentional about spiritual growth, add to your faith, grow spiritually.

I was feeling like maybe this would wear people out to have these constant reminders as we start out this new year. But as I read the book of 2 Peter, I’m reminded of why it’s so important to be reminded of these things.

We’ve been looking at 2 Peter 1, and the passage we’ve been studying these weeks is verses 1-11. But let me just show you what Peter says in verse 12. He says,

I intend always to remind you of these qualities [the seven qualities we’ve been talking about adding to your faith], though you know them and are established in the truth that you have.

You say, “Peter, why are you telling us this stuff? We know this. We have these qualities.” And Peter acknowledges that that’s true. But he says,

I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. And [from now until that point, however many days or weeks or months it is] I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things (verses 13-15).

You know, you won’t hear very much really new on Revive Our Hearts. If it’s really new, it probably isn’t true. What you’ll hear are things you’ve probably all heard before. You’ll hear them if you’re in a Bible-preaching church. You’re hearing these things. But I need to hear them again, and you need to hear them again. We need to be reminded, because the thing that works best about us is our “forgetter.”

That’s why we need to stir each other up by way of reminder. I want to make sure that if Revive Our Hearts goes off the air in your city or if Revive Our Hearts ministry shuts down or if the Lord takes me home next week, I want to be sure that after my departure you will remember some key things.

One of the things I want you to remember is that you’ve got to set your heart and your course, to be intentional about spiritual growth. It will not just happen. It’s not an option. If you’re a child of God, this is not an option. Spiritual growth is something that God intends for every believer, to press on to maturity.

Now thankfully in this passage we’ve been looking at, these things we’re supposed to add with all diligence: virtue and knowledge and self-control and steadfastness, godliness, and brotherly affection and love.

But I want to ask a question today and answer it over the next couple of days. What in the world will motivate us to do the work and make the effort and have the discipline to be diligent in developing that kind of life?

We’ve acknowledged that it’s hard work, that it takes effort. In fact, that’s what he says in verse 5: “Make every effort.” We talked about the woman in labor. “Push!” There’s effort involved. There’re struggle. If you’re going to be physically fit there’s effort involved. There’s work. There’s training. There’s discipline.

We don’t naturally like those words. We don’t naturally gravitate toward those things. We need a motivation.

What may motivate you to be physically fit is that you’d like to lose some weight, or you’d like to have more energy, or you’d like to be able to fit into a dress for your daughter’s wedding, or something. You have a motivation. You have a goal. You have an objective.

Well Peter, thankfully, in this passage gives us some motivation for pursuing this kind of lifestyle. We read in verses 8-11:

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. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Now I want to just unpack those few verses today and into the next session tomorrow.

First of all he says, “For if these qualities,” these seven qualities you’re supposed to add to your faith, “are yours and are increasing.” If they are yours speaks of possession, and it’s suggesting that these qualities, in a sense, became yours once you came into faith in Christ. They’re under you as a foundation for your life.

You became a partaker of the divine nature. The Holy Spirit came to take up residence in your life. So you possess these qualities because God is in you. Having these qualities, having possession of these qualities, is an evidence of true salvation. They are things that will last in you. They are yours.

But he says they not only need to be yours by possession, but they need to be increasing. “If these qualities are yours and are increasing.” It’s not enough to possess these qualities; we need to be progressing in them, growing in grace. That word increasing—in fact in the King James it says, “If these things be in you and abound.” It’s a word that means “super-abounding, overflowing.”

It’s not enough to just have a small measure of these, but your goal, he says, is that these will be superabundant in your life, that they would overflow through you.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:1, the apostle Paul says to the Thessalonians,

We . . . urge you . . . that as you received from us how you ought to live and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more.

That’s overflowing, super-abounding, increasing. Then he says in 1 Thessalonians 4 verses 9-10,

Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more.

Increasing. Super-abounding. Overflowing. It’s not enough just to have love. But he says, “Keep growing in love. Keep increasing in your love."

So as you look at these qualities, I want to ask you: Are you progressing in them? Do you have more of these qualities in your life today than you did a year ago? Are you committed to take whatever steps are necessary to develop more of those same qualities in your life in this coming year so that the spiritual life of God within you would begin to overflow to others?

Now in the second half of verse 8, “If these qualities are yours and increasing,” we begin to find the motivation, the blessings and the benefits that we’ll reap if we’re progressing and practicing these qualities, and the consequences we’ll experience if we’re not cultivating them.

Look at verse 8: “If these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” That word ineffective means “idle; inactive; useless.” And I think it has to do with idleness in terms of pressing on to know God, which is where we started this whole series.

If you have these qualities, if you’re continually developing them in your life, they’ll keep you from “idling out” spiritually, where you can’t go anywhere. They’ll keep you from being unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. You will be a fruitful believer bearing much fruit for God’s glory if these qualities are being developed in your life.

However, he says, if you lack those qualities, if you’re not growing, if you’re not increasing in them, you will be spiritually idle.

Further, verse 9, “Whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.” This is not a person who has no spiritual sight at all, but he’s spiritually shortsighted, nearsighted to the extent that he’s almost blind. He can only see what is near, but he can’t see things far off.

So he sees things that are temporal and earthly. He’s got great short vision, great close-up vision. But he can barely see things that are eternal, things that are heavenly. He’s lacking spiritual insight and discernment.

As I was just getting ready to teach this session, I thought about the chorus,

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.
1

That’s being eternally-minded, eternally-sighted, farsighted.

But the person who isn’t developing and growing in these graces, these qualities, is going to have a full view of earth, and the things of heaven will grow strangely dim in the light of all that he’s looking at upon this earth.

You see? Are you heavenly-minded or earthly-minded? Are you eternally-minded or temporally-minded? If you’re not cultivating these qualities in your life, then you’re going to be spiritually shortsighted, spiritually nearsighted; so much, it says, that you will forget that you were cleansed from your former sins.

Now that doesn’t mean you weren’t cleansed from your former sins, but it says you will have doubts about your salvation. You will doubt God’s forgiveness. I really believe that one of the major reasons that people doubt their salvation . . . well, there are several. One reason people doubt their salvation is because they don’t have salvation. They’ve never had it.

But there’s another reason that people who truly have been regenerated through faith in Christ and repentance sometimes doubt their salvation: They haven’t been doing what 2 Peter tells us to do, and that’s to add to your faith. They haven’t been intentional about spiritual growth. They’ve been in la-la land—just lackadaisical, half-hearted attempts or no attempts to grow as a Christian.

So they come to the place where they’re shortsighted; they’re blind. They have forgotten. They get spiritual amnesia. “Did God really forgive me of my sins? Am I really a child of God?” You know why? If you’re not adding to your faith, you have no basis for assurance that you are a child of God. That doesn’t mean you aren’t, but you have no way to be sure.

That’s why Peter goes on to say, in verse 10, “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent”—there’s that word again. It reappears in 2 Peter a number of times. “Be diligent to make your calling and election sure.”

Now I believe as I’ve been studying this passage that that has to do not with God’s perspective on our salvation. From God’s perspective if we are His, we are eternally His. But it has to do with our perspective with the assurance of salvation on our part. From God’s perspective there’s no question, no insecurity. He knows and saves and keeps all those He has chosen to belong to Him. But this challenge has to do with our perspective.

I believe Peter is saying, and please hear me carefully because I don’t want to be misunderstood here. Peter is saying that we have no basis for certainty or assurance of our salvation if we are not progressing spiritually. He’s not saying what it means or looks like from God’s perspective. But he’s saying from our point of view down here on earth we have no grounds to be sure that we are children of God if we are not growing in these graces.

So Peter is challenging us not just to claim that we’re believers, but to produce evidence that our profession of faith is genuine. And what is the evidence in this context? It’s these graces.

Add to your faith virtue, knowledge, self-control, etc. Add these things to your faith. If you’re growing in these things, then you will have assurance of salvation. He’s not talking about how to retain your salvation or doing these things to keep saved, but he’s talking about having these things growing in your life so you can be assured that you are in fact a child of God.

Now as we come to verses 10 and 11, we encounter two more powerful, positive motivations for being intentional about our spiritual growth.

Verse 10: “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice. . . .” Keep on doing these qualities; you can’t stop. You can’t take a vacation from God. You can’t take a vacation from spiritual growth. If you keep on doing these qualities, here’s the first benefit: “You will never fall.”

This is one of my favorite promises in all of God’s Word. It just astounds me. It’s incredible. It gives me such great hope and motivation in my walk with the Lord. I’ve known people, as have you, some of them high-profile Christian leaders, some of them just ordinary people in the church, and you thought, “This person knows God,” or “This person is walking with God.” Then all of a sudden you get a report that they have fallen morally or spiritually. They’ve cratered, and they’re no longer walking with the Lord. They’ve left their mate.

And you say, “Where did this come from?” I look at some of those situations, and it puts the fear of God in my heart, as it ought to do. I say, “Lord, I want to walk with You faithfully. I want to run this race all the way to the finish line. I want to be faithful until I see You face to face. I’ve watched other people who haven’t done it. I’ve watched other people who have fallen out of the race. How can I stay in the race? How can I stay faithful?”

He says, “If you practice these qualities, you will never fall.” That word means “to trip," "to stumble.” I don’t think it means (and of course if you put it in the context of the rest of the Scripture, it’s clear that it doesn’t mean) you will never sin. It doesn’t mean you will never blow it.

But it means that by being diligent and intentional about your spiritual growth, you’ll be kept and protected in this Christian life and in this race. You will keep going.

You will be protected from the two things that Peter warns about throughout the rest of the letter, which we haven’t gotten to in this series. But let me just touch on them here. He warns about false doctrine and sinful living, sinful lifestyles. He says you’ll be kept from those two things, wrong doctrine. And you’ll be kept from wrong living, from sinful lifestyles if you keep progressing in these qualities.

Mark it down: Every time someone falls into sin as a pattern of life or doctrinal error, you can be sure it is because they have not been diligent in nurturing and cultivating their faith. They weren’t growing spiritually.

Now let me say this: You can keep ministering; you can keep doing a lot for the Lord. That’s one of my great fears, in a good sense, that I could keep teaching but not be growing in my own faith. I know that that is a setup for falling out of the race. So I don’t want to just keep teaching and keep ministering.

Lord, stop this ministry of Revive Our Hearts if my own heart is not continuing to grow. “If you [keep doing] these qualities you will never fall.” Then he says in verse 11, "For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

You’ll be kept from falling between here and the end of the race. Then, when you get to the end of the race, there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of Christ.

Another translation says, “You will receive a rich welcome.” I just like to stop and think sometimes about what it is going to be like, at the end of the race, to see Christ. It will be worth it all when we see Jesus. One look at His dear face; all sorrow will erase. All the hardship, all the diligence, all the effort, all the struggling against sin.

Some days I just want to give up fighting against sin, mine and others. Some days I just want to coast spiritually. And you feel that. You experience that. Some days I do just coast spiritually.

But what keeps me going, what gets me up again in the morning and keeps me in this race is the realization that if I will keep growing in grace and in these qualities, God will keep me in the race. He’ll keep me faithful.

And if I will keep going, keep pressing on, the day will come when I stand before the Lord and I’m richly welcomed; I’m given an abundant entrance into the kingdom of Jesus Christ.

That suggests to me that not everyone will have that lavish welcome. Some will have more; some will have less. I don’t know how to understand all that biblically, but it’s clear that some will have more. It challenges us to live each day, this day, in the light of eternity rather than just the immediate moment.

So how serious are you about becoming a mature believer, about becoming a godly woman, about developing those qualities in your life this year? It’ll never happen if you just follow the path of least resistance.

You will never drift to spiritual success. You won’t just happen to grow in grace and become spiritually mature and arrive in heaven one day to hear Him say, “Well done good and faithful servant.” It doesn’t just happen.

The choices that you’re making today have consequence. They will matter a thousand years from today. They have implications for eternity.

It’s not a little thing whether you eat that or drink that or go there or do that or say that. You say, “It’s just a little deal. Who knows? Who cares?” The choices we make today have implications that last into eternity.

It’s not just marking off days and years on your calendar during your time here on earth. You’re making choices that will affect you for all of eternity.

Rick Hansen was a well-known athlete in Canada. He was a paraplegic, yet a very successful athlete. In 1985 he left Vancouver, British Columbia, on a two-year, 25,000-mile trip around the world in his wheelchair to raise funds for spinal cord research. He raised millions and millions of dollars.

As you might imagine, it was a grueling trip. He went through 34 countries, four continents, all kinds of extreme weather, all kinds of terrain (mountains and deserts and forests), incredible wear and tear on his body, weariness—all that you can imagine in making that trip around the world.

Finally, on May 23, 1987, more than two years after he started off, he returned to Vancouver. While he was still miles outside the city, people began to gather along the sides of the highway to welcome the hero home. As he got closer to the city the crowds grew.

First there were hundreds and then thousands and then thousands and thousands of people on both sides of the highway cheering, clapping, and throwing flowers. And they watched as Rick Hansen wheeled his chair up one final steep hill and then headed toward B.C Place, the stadium where his journey would end.

In his book, Things Unseen, Mark Buchanan describes what that scene was like. Let me read it to you.

A capacity crowd of sixty thousand people—national and international dignitaries, rock stars, movie stars, television crews, family, friends, those lucky enough to get tickets— waited inside, delirious with anticipation. As Rick got nearer the stadium, the streets grew impossibly dense with people. Helicopters hovered overhead. Police in cars and on motorcycles flanked his sides. Other wheelchair athletes joined him, coming up behind like a legion of charioteers. . . .

As Rick came over the Cambie Street Bridge, he could hear, even above the din of the crowd around him, the roar of voices coming from inside the stadium. . . . But not even that prepared him for what happened next.

Rick Hansen entered B.C. Place. He swooped through the wide lower gates and glided out onto the stadium floor—and sixty thousand people went berserk. Leaping, dancing, blowing horns, exploding with applause, shouts of welcome and triumph. . . . A roar to deafen, to open the ears of the deaf, to raise the dead. And every time it seemed about to taper off, a fresh wind caught it and carried it higher, louder, brighter, fuller. Such a great cloud of witnesses. 2

As I read that story I thought, “Press on. You’re in a race. Keep going. It’s hard a lot of days. It’s grueling. Run well. Keep running. Don’t stop now. There will be richly provided for you a welcome, an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

Leslie Basham: Keep growing. Keep running. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been setting our eyes on eternity. Looking to that finish line will have a big effect on your actions today. Today’s decisions will matter a thousand years from now. When Nancy said that it really got me thinking.

Our choices, our decisions, the way we use our time all matter. I hope you’ll evaluate the way you’re using your time by reading the booklet Making the Most of Your Time. We’ll send you a copy when you invest in the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. Donate any amount, and we’ll send you our current series on CD.

The series is called Adding to Your Faith. Ask for it along with Making the Most of Your Time when you call with your donation. The number is 1-800-569-5959, or you can donate at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Tomorrow hear about a man who had to swim for his life at Pearl Harbor and the woman who prayed for him over six decades. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

1 "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus." Helen H. Lemmel.
2 Mark Buchanan. Things Unseen. Multnomah, 2002, p. 148-149. 

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