THE CHRISTIAN GRACES
"ADD TO YOUR FAITH"
INTRODUCTION: God gave to the apostles "all things that pertain to life and godliness" and "exceeding great and precious promises," that through them we "may be partakers of the divine nature." This was God's part. Our part is to give "all diligence" (exert tremendous effort) to "add to [our] faith" seven spiritual characteristics, or "Christian graces," as they are commonly called (2 Peter 1:1-7). But, before we look at the things we are to add to our faith, let us consider the nature of that faith to which we are to add them. In this lesson, we will consider the "faith" to which we are to add these seven characteristics.
A. That without which "it is impossible to please" God (Heb. 11:6).
1. Believing "that He is."
2. Believing "that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."
3. If we really believe these things, we "diligently seek Him."
B. That which is "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1)
1. Things hoped for (Rom. 8:18-25; 1 Pet. 1:3; Titus 1:2; Rev. 2:10; 2 Tim. 4:6-8).
2. Things not seen ["We saw thee not...."]
C. That which "comes by hearing...the word of God" (Rom. 10:14-17; 1:16,17)
D. Not mere credulity ["a too great readiness to believe"] (Acts 17:11).
ADDING TO THAT FAITH
A. The faith that has nothing added to it is insufficient (Matt. 10:32,33; James 2:14-19; John 12:42,43).
B. The faith that avails is "working faith" (James 2:20-26; Gal. 5:6).
C. "Mere belief" must grow into "trusting obedience" (Eccl. 12:13,14; Acts 10:34,35; Rom. 1:5; 6:16,17; 16:25,26).
THAT FAITH IN ACTION
A. Abel "offered" by faith (Heb. 11:4).
B. Noah "prepared an ark" by faith (Heb. 11:7).
C. Abraham "went out," "sojourned in the land of promise," and "offered up Isaac" by faith (Heb. 11:8-10,17-19).
D. Other O.T. saints added to their faith (Heb. 11:32-40).
E. The apostles believed, and, therefore, spoke (2 Cor. 4:13)
F. First century converts obeyed by faith (Acts 2:38-42; 8:35-39; 16:30-32).
CONCLUSION: If your faith has never become trusting obedience, then you are yet an alien sinner, outside the church, and still in your sins. If your faith has ceased to be trusting obedience, you have not been "giving all diligence" to add to it, and yours is not a "working faith.”
"ADD TO YOUR FAITH VIRTUE"
INTRODUCTION: If we would be "partakers of the divine nature," we must not only have escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust, but we must give diligence ("exert tremendous effort") to add to our faith seven spiritual characteristics, or graces, the first of which is "virtue." But what is "virtue"? While the word "virtue" may sometimes mean "moral excellence," that meaning hardly seems to fit, here. "Virtue" is here distinguished from such characteristics as "godliness," "brotherly kindness" and "charity." But "moral excellence" would doubtless include these characteristics. On the other hand, there are good and sufficient reasons for understanding the word to mean "moral courage." First, the Greek word translated "virtue" is derived from "ares," a military term given by the Greeks, as a personal name, to their god of war, suggesting the concept of courage. Second, the English word, "virtue," was derived from the Latin "virtus," meaning "manhood," which also suggests courage. Third, it seems natural that, in a list of spiritual traits, moral courage would immediately follow faith (1 Cor. 16:13; Eph. 6:10-17). Fourth, moral courage is surely the basic quality of Christian manhood, for, unless one has the courage of his convictions, he will not act on them.
DEMANDS FOR VIRTUE
A. Fearing God (Matt. 10:28)
B. Confessing Christ (Matt. 10:32,33)
C. Withstanding temptation (1 Peter 5:8,9)
D. Confessing our sins (James 5:16)
E. Rebuking sin (Luke 17:3)
F. Giving a reason for the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15)
G. Contending for the faith (Jude 3)
H. Living godly (2 Tim. 3:12)
EXAMPLES OF VIRTUE
A. Moses (Heb. 11:24-27)
B. Shadrach, Meshach, & Abednego (Dan. 3:16-18)
C. Daniel (Dan. 6:1-10)
D. Stephen (Acts 6:8-12; 7:51-53)
E. Paul (Acts 20:18-24; 21:10-13)
RESULTS OF VIRTUE
A. Others will see that we are sincere. Illustration: "Our pottery is sin cere" (i.e., "without wax"--wax melts when it gets hot)
B. We will be "faithful unto death" (Rev. 2:10).
CONCLUSION: Let us have the courage to do what God would have us to do, regardless of the physical consequences we may face (Phil. 1:27,28).
"ADD…TO VIRTUE KNOWLEDGE"
INTRODUCTION: In order to continue being "partakers of the divine nature," we must not only add virtue to faith, but we must also add knowledge to virtue. This, too, requires "giving all diligence," or putting forth tremendous effort. But what do we mean by "knowledge"? We mean an awareness of facts (Acts 4:13), a comprehension of facts (Eph. 3:1-4,14-19; 5:17), and practical wisdom in applying these facts (Phil. 1:9-11; Col. 1:9,10; 4:5,6).
IMPORTANCE OF KNOWLEDGE
A. Ignorance begets error (Matt. 22:29).
B. Zeal without knowledge leads to self-righteousness (Rom. 10:1-3).
C. Israel was destroyed for a lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6).
BENEFITS OF KNOWLEDGE
A. Conviction of sin (Heb. 4:12; Acts 2:37)
B. Defense against temptation (Matt. 4:1-10)
C. Doctrinal stability (2 Tim. 3:16-4:4)
D. Stronger faith (Rom. 10:17)
HOW TO ADD KNOWLEDGE
A. Not simply by learning (2 Tim. 3:7)
B. A love of the truth (2 Thess. 2:10-12).
C. A seeking to know the truth (John 8:32; Acts 17:11).
D. A desire to obey the truth (John 7:14-17)
E. An investigative spirit - "perspiration not inspiration" (2 Tim. 2:15; Heb. 5:11-14). Tools, such as the following, will be helpful:
1. Cross-references and marginal notes in your current Bible
2. A good study Bible without a denominational slant
3. Word studies (such as Vine's)
4. Bible dictionaries (such as Smith's)
5. Bible commentaries
F. Meditation [mental industry] (Psalm 1:1-3).
CONCLUSION: Do you appreciate the importance of knowledge? Do you want the benefits of knowledge? Are you "giving all diligence" to add it?
“ADD...TO KNOWLEDGE TEMPERANCE”
INTRODUCTION: In order to be "partakers of the divine nature," we must add temperance to knowledge. The Greek word means "strength," and refers to the mastery over self, or "self control." It is not merely controlling self, but controlling self as directed by the word of God. It involves both moderation and abstinence, but also involves much more. "The various powers bestowed by God upon man are capable of abuse; the right use demands the controlling power of the will" (Vine's, p. 1137). The demands of righteousness require self-control as the proper response thereto (Acts 24:25). Knowledge is logically prior to self-control, because "the right use" of "the various powers bestowed by God upon man" depends upon our ability "to discern both good and evil" (Heb. 5:11-14). However, "knowledge puffs up" (1 Cor. 8:1), so self-control must be added.
THE NEED FOR TEMPERANCE
A. It is possible, however, for this "controlling power" to be impaired or usurped by:
1. Emotions (anger, fear, hatred, shame, grief, loneliness, worry, etc.)
2. Social pressure (from family and/or peers)
3. Habit-forming drugs (tobacco, alcohol, pharmaceuticals, etc.)
4. Desires (for food, sexual intimacy, money, employment, job and/or political advancement, etc.)
5. Bad habits involving the tongue (lying, cursing, offending, gossiping)
B. If we are to maintain self-control, therefore, we must strengthen the "power of the will."
1. This is done by sheer determination, or "giving all diligence" (1 Cor. 9:24-27).
2. Each athletic contestant knows that only one person can win each event.
3. When Paul says, "So run, that ye may obtain," he seems to be implying that we ought to live our lives as if only one person were going to make it to heaven.
4. Wouldn't this result in a great deal more diligence on the part of every person?
THE STRUGGLE FOR TEMPERANCE
A. It is a struggle between the flesh and the Spirit.
1. The fleshly desires simply cry out for fulfillment; the Spirit tells us how these desires may legitimately be fulfilled (Gal. 5:16-23).
2. The law in our members tells us to do the very thing that the law of God tells us not to do (Rom. 7:7-24).
B. Victory is in Jesus, and in him, alone.
1. We will never master our desires without surrendering to Jesus by doing what the Holy Spirit reveals (Rom. 7:25; 8:1-4)
2. Christ lives in me if, and only if, I am living "by the faith of the Son of God" (Gal. 2:20; cf. Jude 3).
3. One must be baptized into Christ, in order to live in Him (Rom. 6:3-6,12-19).
MANIFESTATIONS OF TEMPERANCE
A. Are we keeping our emotions and drives in check? (Eph. 4:26; James 1:19,20; Matt. 5:27,28)
B. Do we put God first in our lives, even before family and friends? (Matt. 10:28,32-39)
C. Are we keeping even legitimate drug use to a minimum? (1 Tim. 5:23)
D. Do we love people and use money or vice versa? (1 Tim. 6:10,17-19)
E. Are we replacing harmful habits with productive ones (1 Cor. 6:12; 16:15)?
F. Are we careful to fulfill our desires within the parameters of God's will? (1 John 2:15-17; Heb. 13:4; 1 Peter 2:2)
G. Do we bridle our tongues (James 1:26)? How well we do this is the “acid test” of self-control, because "if any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body" (James 3:2). [An “acid test” is a thorough test to find out the real quality of some person or thing.]
CONCLUSION: You cannot hope to "glorify God in your body" (1 Cor. 6:19,20) without exercising self-control. Who or what controls you?
"ADD...TO TEMPERANCE PATIENCE"
INTRODUCTION: If we would continue being "partakers of the divine nature, we must add patience to faith, virtue, knowledge and temperance. But what is "patience"? Some seem to think that "patience" simply means "waiting." That this is not true is seen in the translation, "patient waiting" (2 Thess. 3:5). Thus, it is a certain kind of waiting. But what kind of waiting is it? It is a waiting motivated by hope (1 Thess. 1:2,3). The word literally means, "an abiding under" (Vine's, p. 849). It is "the characteristic of a man who is unswerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings" (Thayer, p. 644). Or, as Bill Hall has said, it is "keeping on keeping on!" Virtue, or "moral courage," must precede patience, as it is the proper state of mind regarding potential threats to our faith (James 1:2). Knowledge, especially that "the trying of your faith worketh patience," must precede patience, for without this information, one would be intellectually unprepared for trials (James 1:3). Temperance, or self-control, enables us to give diligence.
POTENTIAL THREATS TO OUR FAITH
A. Reproaches (1 Peter 4:14-16)
B. Weariness (Gal. 6:6-9)
C. Temptation (James 1:12-15)
D. Tribulation and persecution (Matthew 13:20,21)
E. Distractions (Luke 8:14)
F. Overconfidence (1 Cor. 10:12)
G. Since you already know that "all who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (2 Tim. 3:12), there is no reason why you should not be prepared for adverse situations ("forewarned is forearmed").
THE TWOFOLD ASPECT OF PATIENCE
A. It "may be passive"--meaning "endurance," or "active"--meaning "persistence, perseverance" (Vine's, pp. 849-50).
B. It is endurance, when alluding to Satan's attempts to "devour" (1 Peter 5:8,9), and persistence, when referring to "abounding in the work of the Lord" (1 Cor. 15:58).
REQUIREMENTS FOR PATIENCE (1 Peter 1:13)
A. "Gird up the loins of your mind." This is mental preparation. But with what are we to gird the loins of our mind? What will help us the most, in our mental preparation? Paul tells us, "Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth" (Eph. 6:14). This requires at least four things:
1. A love of the truth (2 Thess. 2:10-12)
2. A seeking to know the truth (John 8:32; Acts 17:11)
3. A desire to obey the truth (John 7:14-17)
4. An investigative spirit (2 Tim. 2:15).
5. As we learn the truth of God, and apply it to our lives, we are preparing for adversity.
B. "Be sober." This means we must have a calm and collected spirit, which is especially needed in the face of adversity. But to be sober in the face of adversity, we must have the proper attitude toward adversity in the first place (James 1:2,3; 1 Cor. 10:13). This is moral courage.
C. "Hope to the end." This means, having made mental preparation, and having maintained a calm and collected spirit, we are to persist and endure.
D. Patience demands, and results from, the exercise of self-control.
1. If we want to be able to deal with potential threats, we must be in the habit of doing what is right before these threats become real.
2. This means we must have enough self-control to establish a routine that incorporates all of our responsibilities (ex.: football practice). Good habits are as hard to break as bad habits.
CONCLUSION: Could the writer of the book of Hebrews have written to us that which he wrote to the saints in Jerusalem (6:8-12)? Would he, by inspiration, have that same confidence in us? Are we "giving all diligence" to add to our temperance patience? If we are not, why are we not?
"ADD...TO PATIENCE GODLINESS"
INTRODUCTION: If we want to continue being "partakers of the divine nature," we must add to our perseverance godliness. The word for "godliness" signifies "that piety, which, characterized by a Godward attitude, does that which is well-pleasing to Him" (Vine's, p. 502). Godliness may be possessed by the unsaved, as well as the saved, for it is the adjective form of this word that Luke uses to describe the unsaved Cornelius as "a devout man" (Acts 10:1,2). Thus, godliness alone will not get one into heaven, though one cannot get into heaven without it.
NOT MERELY GOOD CONDUCT
A. One's motive for his conduct may be improper (1 Tim. 6:3-5).
B. A mere "form of godliness" is insufficient (2 Tim. 3:5; Mt. 23:14,27,28).
AN ATTITUDE TOWARD GOD
A. A constant sense of being "before God" (Acts 10:33; 23:1)
B. A constant sense of being "with God" (Gen. 5:24; 6:9; Micah 6:8).
C. That attitude which prays, "Be with me, Lord! No other gift or blessing Thou couldst bestow could with this one compare--A constant sense of Thy abiding presence. Where'er I am, to feel that Thou art near."
WILL PRODUCE GOOD CONDUCT
A. Conduct, which necessarily glorifies God (1 Cor. 10:31).
B. Godliness will be manifested in our:
1. Eating (1 Cor. 6:12,13)
2. Dress (1 Tim. 2:9; 1 Peter 3:3,4)
3. Service to both God and man (Col. 3:22-24)
4. Dealings with the lost (1 Peter 2:12)
5. Relation to civil government (Rom. 13:1; Titus 3:1)
6. Recreation (1 Tim. 4:7,8; 1 John 2:15-17)
7. Thoughts (Phil. 4:8)
WILL BOTH COST AND REWARD
A. Persecution (2 Tim. 3:12; Matt. 5:11,12)
B. Deliverance from temptation (2 Peter 2:9; 1 Cor. 10:13)
C. When coupled with contentment, "great gain" (1 Tim. 6:6-8)
D. Life that now is, and that which is to come (1 Tim. 4:7,8; Mark 10:28-30)
CONCLUSION: Do you possess that attitude of nearness to God, which displays itself in proper conduct in every aspect of your life? Without such, you cannot continue to be a partaker of the divine nature!
"ADD...TO GODLINESS BROTHERLY KINDNESS"
INTRODUCTION: In order to continue being "partakers of the divine nature," we must also add to our faith "brotherly kindness." The Greek word, philadelphia, is also translated "brotherly love" (Rom. 12:10; 1 Thess. 4:9; Heb. 13:1), and "love of the brethren" (1 Peter 1:22). Its verb form is translated "love as brethren" (1 Peter 3:8). This is "the fraternal or family affection the Christian has for his fellow Christians. It is the love that recognizes the difference between the church and the world, between the followers of Christ and of the devil" (James M. Tolle, The Christian Graces, p. 57).
NOT RESPECTING PERSONS
A. We should not limit acts of kindness to:
1. Those in our own age group
2. Those with our personality type
3. Those with outside interests similar to ours
4. Those with similar economic backgrounds to ours
5. Those with similar educational backgrounds to ours
6. Those with similar religious backgrounds to ours
B. These things are relatively unimportant. Overemphasizing them constitutes respect of persons (James 2:1-9).
STRESSING SPIRITUAL COMMONALITIES
A. Common faith (2 Peter 1:1)
B. Common blessings (Eph. 1:3-14)
C. Common hope (1 Peter 1:3,4)
D. Common Benefactor (1 John 3:1)
E. Common salvation (Jude 3)
F. Common Savior (Eph. 5:23)
G. Common love for the Lord (1 Peter 1:8)
H. Common problems (2 Tim. 3:12)
A. Speaking kindly one to another (Eph. 4:31; Col. 4:6)
B. Returning good for evil (1 Peter 3:8,9)
C. Respecting the conscience of others (Rom. 14:13,21; 1 Cor. 8:9,13)
D. Preferring one another (Rom. 12:10; Phil. 2:3,4)
E. Assisting one another when in need (Rom. 12:13; Gal. 6:2)
F. Sharing one another's grief (Rom. 12:15; 1 Cor. 12:24-26)
G. Restoring the erring (Gal. 6:1; James 5:19,20)
H. Following the "golden rule" (Matt. 7:12)
CONCLUSION: Do you have this fraternal affection for brethren? Do you demonstrate it in these and similar acts? (See Matt. 25:31-46)
"ADD...TO BROTHERLY KINDNESS CHARITY"
INTRODUCTION: The last, but certainly not the least, quality (or grace) to be added by the Christian to his faith, in order to be a partaker of the divine nature, is "charity," or love. Charity is benevolence, though charity will certainly lead one to practice benevolence. The Greek word, used "to describe the attitude of God toward His Son, the human race, generally, and to such as believe on the Lord Jesus, particularly." It is used "to express the essential nature of God." It "is not an impulse from the feelings, it does not always run with the natural inclinations, nor...spend itself only upon those for whom some affinity is discovered." Rather, it "seeks the welfare of all" (Vine's pp. 702,03).
ESSENTIALITY OF LOVE
A. Life without love is futile (1 Cor. 13:1-3).
B. Love has a character all its own (1 Cor. 13:4-7).
C. Love will never seek anything but the highest good of its fellow men.
1. It does not matter how its fellow men treat it.
2. It does not matter what and who its fellow men are.
3. It does not matter what their attitude is toward it.
4. It will never seek anything but their highest and best good.
5. This can best be seen in God's love for us (Rom. 5:8).
D. Unlike spiritual gifts, love will never fail (1 Cor. 13:8-12).
E. Love will outlive faith and hope (1 Cor. 13:13).
1. Faith will eventually become sight (2 Cor. 5:7).
2. Hope will eventually become possession (1 Peter 1:3-5).
PROPER OBJECTS OF LOVE
A. Love God (Mark 12:29,30)
B. Love Neighbor (Mark 12:31)
C. Love Brethren (1 Peter 1:22)
D. Love Wife (Eph. 5:25,33)
E. Love Enemy (Matt. 5:43,44)
F. Love Yourself (Mark 12:31)
MANIFESTATIONS OF LOVE
A. Love for God (1 John 5:3)
B. Love for your neighbor (Luke 10:25-37)
C. Love for your brethren (1 John 3:16-18)
D. Love for your wife (Eph. 5:28,29)
E. Love for your enemy (Rom. 12:19-21)
F. Love for yourself (2 Peter 1:5-11; Rev. 12:11; Matt. 10:39)
CONCLUSION: Love is the utmost proof that one knows God (1 John 4:8). Do you know God?