This morning we are beginning a brand-new series called ‘A Recipe for Fullness of Life – A Not So Secret Sauce.’ Anyone here have a secret recipe, maybe one that’s been passed down to you, or have you had a family member who had a secret recipe that keep it so secret that it went to the grave with them? Not sure why we do this, but you’re not alone if you do.
There are few fast food meals that are as iconic as the McDonald’s Big Mac. The sandwich has been around more than 50 years and is still one of the most popular items on the menu. In fact, the sandwich even had its own jingle. Sing it with me if you know it… two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions — on a sesame seed bun.
The truth is that the burger itself is not that much different than any other McDonald’s burger. What sets this burger apart is its famous special sauce. Originally the sauce was called “secret sauce” before being changed to “special sauce” in 1974. To this day, this “special sauce” is kept hidden from public knowledge. In fact, to prevent employees from stealing the recipe, there is a non-disclosure agreement that must be signed, and the sauce is delivered in sealed containers to each restaurant location. Needless to say, McDonald’s is pretty serious about keeping their sauce to themselves.
Like the big Mac “special sauce”, the fullness of life can seem difficult to obtain, and in all honestly feel like it’s the best kept secret. How do we get the fullness of God? How do we feel complete, and whole, not broken and messed up? I’ll be honest with you, the fullness of life seems a bit mysterious and a bit exclusive like a closely guarded secret that only the most holy and the most Godly individuals are privileged to know. How did they get there? How did they get like that?
Like a famous chef might keep their cherished recipes from the world and ensure that they stay locked up in a vault somewhere, we may think that God has the same kind of attitude toward His blessings in our lives. But that could not be further from the truth.
The fulness of life, the life God wants for you is more accessible than you may think. He is not trying to keep you in the dark. He’s not trying to keep something from you. Instead, because God wants what is best for all of us, He has given us clear instruction for living a life that is connected to Him and empowered by Him. It’s all right here in the bible.
The bible is full of such instruction, but maybe most clearly is the passage in 2 Peter that lays it all out for us. Peter was trying to help the early church grow in their faith and become all that God wanted them to be. So he wrote this letter to them.
2 Peter 1:3-4
3 By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. 4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.
During the time Peter was writing this letter, there was a group of false teachers called the Gnostics. The Gnostics emphasized a secret knowledge of the things of God above the orthodox teachings, traditions, and authority of the early church. They believed that unless you had the exclusive knowledge that they had, then you were not going to heaven. They believed that salvation was not from sins, but from ignorance. Their teachings were dangerous because it took away from the power of Christ’s death and resurrection as all that is needed to be made right with God.
Peter tells his readers…don’t spend your time feeling like you have somehow missed some kind of secret that others received. Don’t be tricked into believing the lie that you are not equipped to live a Godly life. Instead, Peter makes a bold statement by saying that we have everything we need for life and godliness. God’s divine power has been placed inside of us and all we have to do is awaken to it.
POINT #1 – YOU HAVE ALL THE INGREDIENTS FOR FAITH
Peter tells his readers that through faith in Jesus Christ, we have all of the tools and ingredients we need to love God, to serve others, to overcome sin, grow spiritually, and live a faithful life. Many Christians walk around frustrated because they think that they need more than God’s promises of love and grace. Hear me today. You have everything you need. The difference is that you are relying on your own power to be changed. Quit relying on your own power and trust in God’s divine power to transform you.
Peter continues with instruction for a full life.
2 Peter 1:5-11
5 In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises by adding to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.
Did you notice the way this sounds like a recipe? Like add to your bowl melted butter, two eggs, flour, sugar, etc. Similar to following a recipe for how to make chocolate chip cookies or some kind of cake, there are a number of items here that we are invited to add to our bowl, our faith in order to be effective in our knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Over the next several weeks, we’re going to talk about each of these qualities because it’s way too much to talk about in one setting, and I want you to really get this. So, today we’re going to just look at the first one. What’s the first ingredient to this not so secret sauce?
Peter says, “Add to your faith, goodness.” This word goodness comes from the Greek word arete. Arete is an action word that means more than just being someone who avoids doing anything wrong. In fact, arete describes someone with virtue or moral excellence. This person is someone who does gracious things and goes out of their way to do good. So Peter’s calling us to add to our faith, real and intentional acts of pure goodness that will be blessings to everyone around us.
This is the first ingredient to the full life of God. It’s no secret, but many people never make the effort to do good in the world. And that’s actually very sad because perhaps the reason this is the first ingredient in the recipe is because it is actually fundamental to what it means to be created by God.
POINT #2 – YOU WERE CREATED TO DO GOOD
When God created the world, He said it was good. But when He created man, He said it is VERY GOOD! You are VERY GOOD! Paul picks up on this idea of goodness as he explains why God went to such great lengths to save us then through Jesus Christ.
8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
Masterpieces aren’t just okay. They are VERY GOOD! First, Paul reminds us that these good works are not the way in which we earn salvation. Your salvation does not depend on your good deeds. Your salvation results in good deeds. In other words, good deeds are a response to what is freely offered to you through Christ. Let me just be clear, a person who claims to be saved while remaining unchanged does not understand faith or what God has really done for him or her.
Jesus paid this price for our sin and won our freedom for us because we are His workmanship, His handiwork, His masterpiece. God made us and He designed us in such a way that we can fulfill the good plans He has for us to do in this world.
Think about this this way. When all you have is natural light, productivity is limited to daylight hours. When light bulbs were invented, they changed the world by allowing us to be active at night. Several inventors were instrumental in developing this revolutionary technology throughout the 1800s, but Thomas Edison is credited as the primary inventor because in 1879, he created a completely functional lighting system, including a generator and wiring as well as a carbon-filament bulb. The light bulb was the handiwork of Mr. Edison, and there have been countless benefits and endless good that has come from that one creation.
Like the lightbulb, God created you with endless opportunities to bless the world around you. God planned these opportunities so long ago, and our job is simply to be available to be used.
We have been equipped to follow the example of Jesus’ glory and goodness. We’re not missing anything we need to lead the life He calls us to. Even more, through faith in Jesus, we have been granted the right to participate, right now, in God’s plan. We can partner with Christ in fulfilling God’s purpose on earth.
All of that sounds fantastic, but why does it seem that many Christians are so far away from participating in God’s plan, not living with Christ’s purpose, joy, and love? Why do some continue to live in the sin when we’ve supposedly been freed?
This scripture gives us a clue. God has given us all we need to live like Jesus, but now we must actually use those gifts. And that means work. Before we had received God’s gift of grace, we lacked both the ability and the desire to live in Jesus’ glory and goodness. We didn’t have the desire to be a part of God’s plan.
But now that we have been empowered to do so, we must “make every effort” to add the following qualities to our faith. In other words, we must begin to live as if what we believe is really true.
2 Peter 1:10-11
10 So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. 11 Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
By faith, we came to Christ. Now, with Christ’s power, we must work to add goodness to our faith.
So how do I find these opportunities for good you might ask? Theologian Frederick Buechner once said, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
How has God wired you? What are you passionate about? What are you good at? Don’t know. Well answer this then.
Question 1 – What do people say I am good at?
Question 2 – What is something that I feel most alive doing?
Question 3 – What is a need within my family, community, or world?
Question 4 – What is something God cares deeply about?
Once you can answer these questions, consider how your responses intersect. When you can answer these questions, then all you need to do is look for ways that the design of God within you can be used to bring good into the world. This is where the full life of God is found.
POINT #3 – START COOKING
A good chef does not waste time in the kitchen. They know that there is a lot to accomplish in a recipe to get it from stove to table. Let’s not waste any time in doing good in this life as well. Who knows how long we’re going to be here.
Maybe you feel stagnant in your life, bored with the things of God and don’t see much use in following Jesus. You may know all the right things there are to know about the Christian faith. But the problem is it’s all stuck in your head, and has not yet made it into your heart and into your hands. If you this is you, then offer God your whole life and to pray for God to use you. And before you know it, there’ll be a spark in your faith and a desire to want to serve God by serving others.
Jesus has set the example for us as one who knew the reason for which He had come into the world. He lived His life with incredible intention because of it. He fed the hungry. He healed the sick. He preached the good news of the coming Kingdom. Jesus says it this way…
“For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will.”
Jesus came to do the will of His father and to accomplish the good He was sent to do. Begin here in your recipe for a Godly faith. What is one thing this week that you can do to bring some good into the world? Pray for God to give you opportunities and then take full advantage of them. It is not a secret sauce, and it is available to everyone if they are willing to bring good into the world.