The Bible: Studies by David Frampton

Productive or Unproductive

2 Peter 1:8-9 ESV


David Frampton


God gives us motives to obey his commands – “because God has given us everything we need for life and godliness” (1:3-4).

God gives us commands to direct our way of life – “add to your faith”. God wants our faith to be “filled out” (1:5-7).

God explains his commands to us – “for if you… but if anyone…” (1:8-9).

What we find in these two paragraphs (NIV) is typical of the way that the New Testament Scriptures teach holiness or a godly way of life.

[1] Quote from Lloyd-Jones, p. 42 [separate sheet] Note well that Lloyd-Jones does not mean that the New Testament Scriptures lack any objective standard (law or commands). He is talking about motivation.

[2] During the old covenant, the motivation to holiness was a threat (for example, Ex 21:12-36; 31:14; Lev 18:29; 20:1-27; Dt 13:1-18).

[3] During the new covenant, the motivation to holiness is from God’s redemptive work in Christ (for example, Rm 12:1; 1 Cor 6:12ff; 2 Cor 6:14-7:1; Gal 5:25; Eph 5:1-2; Ph 2:1-4; Col 3:1-4; etc.).

So then, what is happening in this text is this. God is explaining to his adult sons the reasons for his giving of the command to add to your faith.

[1]The adult sons of God are to be spiritually productive (cf. Jn 15:1-16).

[2]Idea: Biblical holiness causes spiritual productivity.

Illustration: As a good, healthy plant on good soil with good growing conditions will be fruitful, so holy Christians will be fruitful, productive Christians.


To fail to add the qualities presented in verses 5-7 to one’s faith is “to display an ignorance of the fundamental purpose of the Christian life.” [Lloyd-Jones, p. 44] 1:9

Description of this kind of individual

1.He is “nearsighted and blind”.

a.His mind is set on the present.

b.He cannot see eternal realities.

c.To sum up, he is worldly-minded (cf. Rm 8:5).

Illustration: “He is a man who claims to have set out on a journey, but he has forgotten where he is going; he has forgotten why he has started out, and the purpose he had in starting out.” [Lloyd-Jones]

He “has forgotten”.

a.He has forgotten the whole purpose of salvation; namely, that salvation is from sin unto godliness (Mt 1:21; Ti 2:11-14).

b.He has forgotten his whole profession; he has forgotten that he has claimed to have passed from darkness to light.

Identity of this kind of individual

1.This type of person has experienced some sort of partial change. This is some kind of external change that can be called a “purification from old sins (cf. 2:20-22; Heb 6:4-6; Mk 4:16-19). Something happens so that he or she washes the “outside of the cup”, but the desires on the inside are unchanged, and so this person lacks a desire for Jesus Christ. This kind of person might go to church and act religious, but he does not have a passion to know the Lord.

2.Unfortunately, the whole history of the church has examples of such people. They are attracted to Christianity and to Christians, yet they are never “born again from above”.

Contrast this kind of person with the true Christian, who keeps other truths fixed in his or her mind.

1.They know where the grace of God has brought him or her from.

2.They know where the grace of God is taking him or her to.

3.They know and love the God of grace and want to be with him.

Believers are to add to our faith, “because to do these things produces an active and a fruitful life.”
[Lloyd-Jones, p. 46]

God wants us to be neither ineffective nor unproductive.

1.It seems amazing that people who claim to have received so much (Christians) can produce so little spiritual fruit.

Illustration: People can join all sorts of clubs and organizations, put their hearts into them, and see a lot accomplished, for example, the “Bench Backer’s Club” in my hometown. But the church seems more characterized by spiritual restraint than by spiritual activity.

2.The Lord wants to see spiritual activity that results in spiritual productivity. In other words, as we listen to the words of God in the Bible, do we see God’s truth changing us and those around us through our influence?

Transition: So what can I do to be effective and productive as God the Father desires me to be?

Spiritual “activity must always be the result of character…
We must be something and become something before we do anything.”

1.The contemporary church has its conferences, associations, campaigns, rallies, and revivals. But what is the bottom line? Very little if anything of lasting spiritual value occurs. Christians are not fishing for people, are not building up one another, are not serving one another in love, and are not zealous in worship. Something is wrong!

a.The apostle doesn’t exhort people to do; instead, he says to become like Christ and you will be productive and effective. We need to connect with Jesus the Lord.

2.The New Testament method is not to get people excited or to put some kind of nervous pressure on them. It says to become holy and you will be productive. There is a great difference between holy productivity and carnal busy-ness. Busy-ness is unfruitful, but godliness is very fruitful.

a.As our character becomes like Christ’s character, we will be effective and productive. As we become like the “Light of the world,” then we will shine brightly as lights in the world.

Illustration: Robert M’Cheyne used to say, “My people’s greatest need is… my personal holiness.” We are holy and godly as we walk in faith with Jesus.

~ Dave


About David Framptom
The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are featured here at CMC. As a Bible teacher he excels. Teacher and student alike will profit much from his labor in God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church.