Sunday School Lesson

Equipped With Hope 5-12-13

Remember Jeff Foxworthy – The redneck comedian? You might be a redneck if…

  • you met your wife at a family reunion.
  • your eight-year-old son can rebuild a four barrel carburetor.

In today’s lesson, Peter gives us an extensive list of Christian attributes. It’s sort of a “you-might-be-a believer-if” checklist.

Ask if someone would read verses 4 through 9.

4 Through his honor and glory he has given us his precious and wonderful promises, that you may share the divine nature and escape from the world's immorality that sinful craving produces.

5 This is why you must make every effort to add moral excellence to your faith; and to moral excellence, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, endurance; and to endurance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, affection for others; and to affection for others, love. 8 If all these are yours and they are growing in you, they'll keep you from becoming inactive and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 Whoever lacks these things is shortsighted and blind, forgetting that they were cleansed from their past sins.

This is not a checklist of what makes you a believer. But if you are a believer, you will have these things.

Paul addresses this in first Corinthians 13 and sums up by: “If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing”.

But it is also a list describing how to develop love. As CS Lewis pointed out in Mere Christianity, if there is someone who you do not love – but want to love, you should do for them those things that you would do if you loved them – and you will come to love them.

Question Think back: Have you ever come to love someone that wasn’t all that lovable – or have seen it happen? — Allow time — Hands up if you would like to share.

Follow-up: So how did it work out?

Dr. Kalas sums up these verses in: SEEING THE NEED starting at the middle of page 77 – who will read this for me?

You have probably heard the saying "Some people are so heavenly-minded that they're of no earthly use." You may even have met someone who seemed to prove it. It is possible for religion—including Christianity—to become so theoretical that it has little or nothing to do with life as we know it.

However, if the Christian faith is anything, it is practical. If our Christianity does not live itself out in the normal run of daily life, it is not what our Lord lived, taught, and died to give to our world. There is no better evidence of the practical quality of the Christian life than Jesus' parable where he tells us that ultimately God will judge us by the way we love, serve, and bless others in the down-to-earth issues of. daily living (Matthew 25:31-46).

Yes, we believe in heaven. We believe there is life eternal and that we should prepare ourselves for it. Because we believe, we should know beyond question that life is exquisitely valuable, right now, right here. That is why we should live our lives today for all they are worth.

Read verses 10 and 11.

10 Therefore, brothers and sisters, be eager to confirm your call and election. Do this and you will never ever be lost. 11 for in this way you will receive a rich welcome into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Dr. Kalas points out that in these days we are confronted with an extremely corrupting culture – but he says it’s not nearly as bad as that confronted by the Christians of Peter’s day.

Will someone read the middle of page 78

People in the first century wrestled with the same problem. The apostle described it as "the world's immorality," the immorality that "sinful craving produces" (2 Peter 1:4). We get something of an insight into first-century immorality when we learn of its enter¬tainment. There were stadia in most major centers of population, with the greatest, of course, in Rome. The events were not simply games of skill and competition; the climax was death to one or more participants. This was especially true in staged battles between humans—usually slaves or war captives—and animals.

Sexual standards were equally crude, especially to the degree that Roman emperors and governors led the way. John the Baptist got in trouble that led to his beheading when he condemned Herod for his relationship with his sister-in-law, which led to her divorcing her husband, Herod' s brother, and marrying Herod (Mark 6:14-29). Male and female prostitution was practiced as an element of worship in some first-century religions. It had to be difficult for Christians to live a moral life in a culture where such violence and general moral evil were daily fare.

To complicate the struggle still more, a heresy arose within some Christian circles: antinomianism (an-ti-NOH-mee-uhn-ism). False teachers said that because grace brings forgiveness of sin, sinful con¬duct no longer mattered since grace covered it. Some even argued that the more a person sinned, the greater glory there was in grace because it demonstrated the power of grace in covering the sins. Teaching of this kind indicates something of our human ability to pervert even the goodness and mercy of God.

Any thoughts you would like to share?

We and have all had to address this in our lives. Think about how You can address it in the lives of the younger generations of your family – who will share?

Dr. Kalas points out that Peter’s list is also a list of ways to grow stronger in the faith. This is more or less an expansion of the Lewis thought – if you do, loving things, you will become loving. And, as Paul told us in first Corinthians 12:13, Love is the most excellent way.

On pages 79 and 80 Dr. Kalas discusses the way we grow stronger. This is probably the most important part of the lesson but it is personal and needs much prayerful thought. So, I’ll leave it to you to read and think this through at home. It could be most valuable.

Read verses 12 – 15

12 So I'll keep reminding you about these things, although you already know them and stand secure in the truth you have. 13 I think it's right that I keep stirring up your memory, as long as I'm alive. 14 After all, our Lord Jesus Christ has shown me that I am about to depart from this life. 15 I'm eager for you always to remember these things after my death.

Read 4

Some years ago I visited a shop where they crafted beautiful church furniture. As I looked at the several electrical machines with which the artisans worked, I said that it must be easy to lose a finger with such machinery. The owner answered, "The greatest danger is with long-term employees. They grow so accustomed to the machin-ery that they become careless."

That is a good warning for any of us who feel we know all there is to know about Christian living. We need a regular review of Godly Living 101. Then we need to live this life for all it is worth.

Question If you could leave one basic lesson in Christian living as a legacy for your family and friends – what would it be. Think about it. And when you want to share – hands up.

Silent closing prayer: Think about family and friends about whom you are particularly concerned, and why you are concerned. Then, ask for God’s leadership in your relationships with them – and listen.