2 Peter 1:8
For if you possess these qualities and continue to grow in them, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Sermons
The Christian Virtues in Their CompletenessU.R. Thomas 2 Peter 1:3-11
Brotherly KindnessJoseph P. Thompson.2 Peter 1:5-7
Personal Diligence Needed for SanctificationC. New 2 Peter 1:5-11
Fruits of the Knowledge of ChristW. Wilson, M. A.2 Peter 1:8-9
Our Lord Jesus ChristThos. Adams.2 Peter 1:8-9
The Choir of GracesJoseph P. Thompson.2 Peter 1:8-9
Two Sorts of ChristiansA. Maclaren, D. D.2 Peter 1:8-9
The Goal of Christian CharacterU.R. Thomas 2 Peter 1:8-11
If such a character as the preceding verses described is attained, three glorious results will follow.

I. SPIRITUAL VISION. Such a character leads "unto the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ." They that do the will shall know the doctrine. For what is promised here is:

1. "Full knowledge." That is the key-word of the apostle.

2. And full knowledge of the Supreme Object, the Lord Jesus Christ. Often we think if we knew more we should do better; here the teaching is, if we did better we should know more. Obedience is the organ of spiritual vision. "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." All else are "blind."

II. MORAL FOOTHOLD. "Give the more diligence to make your calling and election sure." Two aspects of the same fact - choice, and the result of choice. "Make sure," - warrant, prove. "Never stumble." Peter had stumbled. Hence the pathos of his counsel. The near-sighted stumble. The moral vision depends on moral character.

III. SATISFACTION OF SOUL. This is the culmination and crown of Christian character. A life of Christian earnestness tends to, and ends in, this. "Entrance into the eternal kingdom." We are encompassed completely with its order, its beauty, its safety. "Richly supplied unto you" - a word that throws us back on the earlier word of exhortation. "Richly supply" Christian graces in your character, and God will "richly supply" Christian glories in your destiny. Your virtues must go out in a kind of festal procession, then your true glories will come to you in a kind of festal procession also. - U.R.T.







Ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful.
Among the most beautiful emblems of the Christian life in Scripture are those employed to shadow forth its fruitfulness. The choicest and noblest trees, the majesty and gracefulness of whose form delight our eye, or whose fruits regale our taste, are the Divinely chosen types of saved and sanctified men.

I. THE SUPREME IMPORTANCE OF CHRISTIAN FRUITFULNESS. It was not that your leaves might idly wave in the sun, be fanned with the pleasant breath and sprinkled with the refreshing dews of heaven, that you were taken from the wild forest of nature and planted in the garden of God; but that you might reward the husbandman's care with abundance of the fruits of righteousness. And, if this result is not realised, you may read His deep sorrow and anger in the words pronounced over Israel (Isaiah 5:6). Fearful is the doom of barrenness (Hebrews 6:7-9).

II. FRUITFULNESS — IN WHAT IT CONSISTS. It is in a man's works and words and influence that, according to the view of the apostle, we are to find the fruits of the Christian life. Do not tell us of feelings and experiences, of qualities and graces, of which you say you are conscious; unless these inward impulses and affections make your life fertile in holy and loving purposes and performances. It is by what a man does that it becomes known what he is. The fruit proceeds from the tree, but is distinct from it. It is elaborated by the tree from the juices that circulate through root and stem and branch. The air, and light, and moisture, and nutritious elements of the soil contribute the materials; but the tree, out of these, by the power of its wondrous life, forms a product altogether new. And so, like the bounteous fruit-tree, every man who rightly fills his place in God's vineyard is not a consumer only but a producer. The world is the better for him. What has been taken into his own soul from above and from around — the doctrine of God's Word — the influences of God's Spirit — the lessons of nature and Providence — mingles with his being, and is changed and elaborated into holy thoughts, which may refresh thousands of hearts — into precious words of truth and power to become the germs of life in others, and into deeds of holiness and love.

III. THE DEGREE IN WHICH FRUITFULNESS IS ATTAINABLE. "Barren and unfruitful" — are not two terms to express the same idea. A fallow field, which yields nothing for the reaper's sickle, is "barren" in the sense here meant. A field which rewards the husbandman's toil with only a scanty crop would be appropriately designated "unfruitful." He is far from exhibiting the perfection of the Divine life, who, like the bleak patch beside the lonely cottage on the side of some stony bill, produces but a poor and precarious harvest, although he has made a great and happy transition from the desert barrenness of an unregenerate state. Maturity in grace, with its rich and mellow clusters, is a spectacle as lovely as it is rare. Where it does exist, it is often hidden from the view in many a humble home, in many a sequestered path. It is by our bearing "much "fruit, our Saviour tells us, that His Father is glorified in us. It is His continual aim that the fruitful branch may become more fruitful still.

IV. THE PRODUCTIVE ENERGIES OF THE LIFE OF FAITH. To be fruitful, all the functions of a tree must be in a healthy, vigorous state, its roots drawing nutriment from beneath, its leaves drinking in the dew and sunshine, the sap stirring through trunk and branch and leaf. If all its activities are in full and healthy play, its energies will not be wasted in excessive growths of foliage and useless sprays, but it will in its season bring forth fruit. What qualities must our souls possess in order to secure fruitfulness? They are virtue, knowledge, self-restraint, patience, godliness, brotherliness, charity. They impart to the soul a stamina and vigour, which not only preserve its life in the drought of summer and amid the icy winds of winter, but load the boughs with fruit.

(W. Wilson, M. A.)

In ancient Athens there was a class of officers called chorus-leaders, who represented the various tribes and at public festivals or religious rejoicings for a victory, brought out a chorus to lead the songs of the people. These leaders were not always singers or practical musicians, but they equipped the chorus and paid the cost of marshalling it upon public occasions. Hence the term which denoted their office came to mean in general, "one who provides supplies," and, therefore, as in the text, add to or supply to faith, virtue, and the whole train of graces. Faith is the leader of this choir; virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly-love, and charity are marshalled under faith as their leader, to swell the praises of Christ from an obedient and loving soul. Faith is the clef which gives the key in which these seven notes of the perfect scale are sounded. Faith organises and sustains the chorus and has a place for each in its well-trained band. When all are assembled faith drills them into harmony. But if any one be wanting faith itself appears defective, and the soul is out of tune. It is as if the first violin were wanting at a Philharmonic concert, or the trumpet obligate should fail to sound in the resurrection scene of Handel's "Messiah."

1. That one who is wanting in these graces and takes no pains to cultivate them has no warrant to believe himself a Christian. Every one of these virtues being thus inward and spiritual, and having an intimate and necessary relation to faith in Christ, where these are wanting there can be no living germinating faith. I do not understand the apostle to teach that completeness in each of these virtues, and the exact proportion and harmony of the whole are essential to a Christian character; but are not these graces themselves, each and all of them, so essential to that character that if any one of them is wholly wanting, neither possessed nor sought after, he who is thus deficient is blind and destitute as to the Christian character and life? A true Christian may betray a lack of moral courage in certain emergencies, as did Peter after the arrest of Jesus. But suppose Peter had continued to deny Christ at every approach of danger, should we not have classed him with the apostate Judas? One may be a true Christian whose knowledge of Christian doctrine is meagre, and who makes frequent mistakes in practice. But if, after five, ten, twenty years, one knows no more of the Bible and has no more heart-knowledge of Christ, shall we continue to regard his experience of conversion as genuine? A Christian may sometimes neglect a call of charity, or set aside a real claim upon his love. But if he never heeds such a call, can he be a child of our Father in heaven? Moreover, since all these graces may be imitated, the positive and entire lack of one proves the rest to be counterfeit or superficial.

2. A full and symmetrical development of these graces is the most satisfactory evidence and the most beautiful exhibition of Christian faith. The mind delights its symmetry. The symmetrical development of the human form, in which each member and feature, perfect in itself, is well proportioned to every other, is our ideal of beauty. This symmetry of form and feature, extending to every line of the countenance and every muscle of the anatomy, is the life-like perfection of the statue; proportion is indispensable to beauty in architecture; symmetry and perspective to the harmony of colours, to the effect of painting; chord and harmonies, preserved even in the most difficult combinations of sound, are the highest charm of music; rhythm, the measured and regular succession of sounds, is essential to good poetry; the proportion of numbers and of mathematical laws enters into every science which aims at completeness. But in nothing is this symmetry so strenuously insisted upon as in moral character. The sharp and sometimes carping criticism of men of the world upon the faults and even the peccadilloes of professed Christians shows the demand of conscience for completeness of character, and does homage to Christianity itself

as a complete system of morality. Hence the New Testament lays much stress upon completeness of Christian character; for the word "perfection" signifies not so much the absolute sinlessness of a sanctified nature, as the completeness, the full symmetrical development of the renewed man in all the graces of the Christian life. This conscious, steady, visible growth in all the graces is the best evidence of a renewed heart. This full and symmetrical development of the Christian graces makes to the world a most beautiful and convincing exhibition of the Christian faith. A perfect Christian character is one in enumerating whose graces you can always say and, and never interpose a but. The average Christian character is sadly marred by that little disjunctive conjunction — He is a very good man — but; He is kind and charitable at heart — but rough and irritable in manner; he is temperate and patient — but lacking charity; he is reverent and devout — but lacks moral courage.

3. The abounding of these graces in the soul will make it fruitful in the knowledge of Christ — will insure for it a progressive and rewarding piety. The relation of heart-culture to the enjoyment of religion is like that of good agriculture to a good crop. You cannot have a garden by merely purchasing a place. The soil may be of excellent quality, and the situation most favourable; the title may be well secured, and the party of whom you buy may make most abundant promises as to the fertility and beauty of the ground; but unless you give all diligence to make and stock the garden, unless you dig and plant, and weed and trim, your title, deed, and promises will not give you a single shrub or flower. If well-selected fruits and flowers are in your garden and abound, they will make you fruitful in the knowledge of its capacities and in the enjoyment of its pleasures. Two reflections are obvious here.

1. If Christians find no enjoyment in religion, it is because they have failed to cultivate its particular and combined graces.

2. The highest fruitfulness of a Church is to be secured by the perfecting of personal character in its members.

(Joseph P. Thompson.)

I. THE BRIGHT PICTURE OF WHAT EVERY CHRISTIAN MAY AND SHOULD BE.

1. Every Christian may have for his own in assured possession that whole series of lustrous beauties of character (vers. 5-7). You may be strong and discerning and temperate, etc. It is a prize within your reach; is it in any sense a prize within your possession?

2. We may each have an increasing possession of all these graces. "If these things be yours and abound," or, as the word ought more accurately to be rendered "and increase." The expression suggests that if in any real sense they are in you, they will be increasingly in you. The oftener a man lavishes the treasures of his love the richer is the love which he has to lavish. The more rigidly he schools and disciplines himself the more complete becomes his command over his unruly nature.

3. We may all, if we will, have these graces making us diligent and faithful. The meaning of the word rendered "barren" is, as the Revised Version and the margin of the Authorised give it, "idle." Well, that seems a little thing, that all that aggregation of Christian graces has only for its effect to make men not idle, not unfruitful. And it seems, to some extent, too, illogical, because all these graces are themselves the result of diligence, and are themselves fruit. But the apparent difficulty, like many of the other anomalous expressions of Scripture, covers deep thoughts. The first is this — Look after your characters and work will look after itself. The world says, "Do! do! do!" Christianity says, "Be! be! be! "If you are right, then, and only then will you do right. So learn this lesson, do not waste your time in tinkering at actions, go deeper down and make the actor right, and then the actions will not be wrong. The highest exercises of these radiant gems of Christian graces is to make men diligent and fruitful, Again, it takes the whole of these Christian graces to overcome our natural indolence. The pendulum will be sure to settle into the repose that gravitation dictates unless the clock be kept wound up, and it needs all the wheels and springs to keep it ticking for its four and twenty hours. The homely duty of hard work, the prosaic virtue of diligence, is the very flower and highest product of all these transcendent graces. Then, still further, there is a lesson here in the collocation of the words before us, namely, an idle Christian is certain to be a barren one. And now the last point in this picture of what all Christian people may be is — by the exercise of diligence and fruitfulness attain to a fuller knowledge of Christ. Literally rendered, the text reads, "towards the knowledge." There be two measures of knowledge of Christ. There is that initial one which dawns upon a heart in the midst of its sin and evil, and assures it of a loving friend and of a Divine Redeemer; and there is the higher, constantly expanding, deepening, becoming more intimate and unbroken, more operative on the life and transforming in the character, which is the reward and the crown of earth, and the crown and heaven of heaven. And it is this knowledge which the apostle here says, will follow if, and only if, we have striven to add to our faith all these graces, and they have made us strenuous in service and fruitful in holiness.

II. THE CONTRASTED OUTLINES OF THE BLACK PICTURE OF WHAT SOME OF US ARE.

1. It is possible for a man to be purged from his old sins and yet not to be growing. It is a case of arrested development, as you sometimes see a man with the puny limbs of childhood; or, as you sometimes see a plant, which you cannot say is dead, but it has not vitality enough to flower or to fruit.

2. Further, such a one is "blind," or, as the apostle goes on to explain, or, if you like, to correct himself, "he cannot see afar off." The apostle employs a unique word to express "cannot see afar off," which, if you will pardon the vulgarism for the sake of the force, I would venture to translate "blinks." There was a time when you had clear vision. The smoky roof of your cabin was rent, and you saw through it up to the Throne, but your eyes have gone dim because you have been careless to develop your faith; and where there is no development of faith there is retrogression of faith. Therefore, all the far-off glories have faded, and the only things that you see are the things that are temporal, the material, the pressure of present cares, and the like.

3. Let me remind you of the last point in this sad picture. "He hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins." Yes! These idle unfruitful Christians have in their memories, if they would only open the cupboard door and look, a blessed gift long ago given that might, and that ought to stimulate them. They are their own worst condemnation. There was a time when they felt the burden of sin upon their consciences when they hated it and desired to be free from it. And what has it all come to? The sins forgiven have come back; the sins hated have reasserted their dominion; Pharaoh has caught them again. The moment's emancipation has been followed by a recrudescence of all the old transgressions. So they contradict themselves and their own past and contravene the purpose of God in their pardon, and, with monstrous ingratitude, are untouched by the tender motives to growth in holiness which lie in the pouring out of the blood which cleanses from all sin.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

The knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ
As He is "Lord" He can, as He is "Jesus" He will, as He is "Christ "He doth, as He is "Our" He shall save us. "Lord"; consider His righteousness. "Jesus"; consider His sweetness. "Christ"; consider His willingness. "Our"; consider His goodness that gives us interest in Himself and vouchsafes us to challenge His mercy. "Lord," in regard of His dominion (Psalm 99:1). "Jesus," in regard of His salvation (Psalm 68:20). "Christ," in regard of the promise (John 7:26, 41). "Our," in regard of His appropriating Himself unto us (Hebrews 2:16). "Lord," in His power, His works declare Him to be the Lord (Psalm 135:6). "Jesus," in being made (Galatians 4:4; John 1:14). "Christ," in being sacrificed and crucified for us (1 Corinthians 11:24). "Our," in respect of the covenant (Hebrews 8:10). Infinite mercy! The Lord's Christ is become our Jesus (Luke 2:26).

(Thos. Adams.)

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