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Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

2 Peter 1:1-2; Faith by the Righteousness of Jesus

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20090927_2peter1_1-2.mp3

09/27 2 Peter 1:1-2 Faith by the Righteousness of Jesus

2Peter 1:1 Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: 2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

Intro

Peter has written his first letter to churches who were suffering fiery trials and persecution from those outside. Now these churches are being attacked by the subtle doctrinal distortions from within. False teachers have infiltrated the group secretly bringing in destructive heresies (2:1); twisting the scriptures to their own destruction (3:16); questioning the future judgment (3:3); and promising freedom from all moral restraint (2:19). It is into this situation that Peter sends off this fiery letter.

Simeon Peter

Peter identifies himself as Simeon Peter. Simeon or Simon was his given name – a name that reminded him of his simple life as a fisherman before Jesus called him on the shores of Galilee to leave his nets and become a follower. This is the name that Jesus used to address him again on the shores of Galilee after he denied him 3 times and had gone back to fishing – ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ (John 21:15ff). Peter (or Rock) was the nickname Jesus gave Simon to remind him of his divinely revealed confession ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’ (Matt.16:16). This truth of the identity of Jesus would be the foundation of the church of Jesus Christ. ‘I tell you, you are called Rock, and on this rock I will build my church’ (Matt.16:18). Jesus promised Peter that, although he would fail in his own strength and deny Jesus, Jesus would use him:

Luke 22:31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

Peter is now carrying out that commission by writing a letter to encourage his brothers to stand firm in the faith.

a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ

Peter identifies himself first as servant and second as apostle. As a servant, or slave, he was under the authority of Jesus, totally owned by and surrendered to the authority of his Master. Peter had no inherent authority; his authority came from the one he served. A servant of Caesar must be treated with the appropriate respect, not because of who he was as a slave, but because whatever was done to him was done to Caesar’s property. As a slave of the King of kings, he was entrusted to deliver a message from the King to his subjects, and that message carried the authority of the King himself. The title ‘apostle’ points to his position as one of the twelve disciples the Master chose and trained and sent out carrying his own authority. In a letter confronting the destructive heresies of false teachers, it is important for Peter to establish his authority up front. Peter sets a tone of humble authority in the letter.

2Peter 1:1 Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

This is a theologically rich and beautiful description of who we are in Christ. Peter doesn’t here designate his readers geographically as he did in his first letter. He points to the great truths of the gift of faith and the equality of all believers and the person and work of Jesus that secures for us our salvation.

To those who have obtained a faith…

The verb translated ‘obtained’ is (lacousin from lagcanw). It means ‘to receive by lot or divine will (Davids, p.162). It appears in John 19:24, where the soldiers at the crucifixion cast lots to see who would get Jesus’ seamless tunic.

It is used of Zechariah, the father of John who Baptized:

Luke 1:8-9 [Zechariah] was serving as a priest before God when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense.

Peter uses this same word to refer to Judas who betrayed Jesus, who was one of the disciples:

Acts 1:17 For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.

The clear implication of this word is ‘that it was not an attainment because of personal merit or effort, but an allotment as a free gift’ (Hiebert, p.33).

Proverbs 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.

Jeremiah 13:25 This is your lot, the portion I have measured out to you, declares the LORD…

The NASB (and NIV) translates this ‘to those who have received a faith…’; NLT has ‘this faith was given to you’.

Peter here tells us that faith has been given to us or divinely allotted to us. This is consistent with Peter’s preaching in Acts:

Acts15:7 And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. …11 But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.” (cf. Acts 11:17)

Paul says it clearly in Ephesians 2:8-10

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

In 1 Corinthians 4:7 Paul says:

1Corinthians 4:7 …What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?

James tells us the same thing:

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

Peter has said as much in his first letter:

1Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

Peter views faith as apportioned to us by God. Faith that brings salvation is the God-given capacity to see him for who he is and trust him completely.

… a faith of equal standing with ours

This faith that has been given to us by God is not second-rate faith. The apostle Peter is telling us the faith that we have is equal in value to the faith that he and the other apostles have. Our faith gains for us the same eternal benefits and privileges that the faith of the apostles gains for them. Jesus said to his disciple Thomas after he showed him his wounds:

John 20:29 Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’

Our faith is equal to the faith of the apostles. All faith is of equal value in so far as it unites us all to the same Savior, it connects us all to the same spiritual promises, privileges and glorious reward, and is bought for us all with the same price (Nisbet, p.222).

2Peter 1:1 Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

obtained …by the righteousness

Faith has been allotted to us by means of the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus.

God’s righteousness is the perfection or holiness of his nature. The righteousness of God demands that God believe what is true and right, and act entirely consistently with that belief. God must place the highest value on that which is most valuable. “…God’s attribute of righteousness (the unwavering commitment to uphold and display the infinite worth of his glory)… The imputing of that righteousness to sinners is God’s willingness for Christ’s sake to view us as having lived with utter consistency in upholding the worth of his glory.’ (Piper, counted righteous in Christ, p.67, fn.11)

Paul tells us that righteousness comes not as wages through keeping the law but as a gift through faith in the finished work of Jesus.

Romans 3:21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it–– 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:

The righteousness that we need is not our own righteousness, for that would devalue the worth of God and bring him down to our level. We need the righteousness that comes from God as a gift. God’s perfect righteousness to cover our filthy rags. That’s why Paul goes on:

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

At the cross, God’s infinite worth is put on display and the awful consequence of dishonoring God is fully seen. When we hide behind our own self righteousness, we defame and dishonor God. But when we acknowledge our God dishonoring sin and hide in the perfect righteousness of God displayed in Christ at the cross, God is seen for who he really is and he can view us as having lived consistently in upholding the worth of his glory.

Paul goes on to say

Romans 5:17 If, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

Romans 10:3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

Philippians 3:8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith––10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,

What Peter now tells us is that the faith that connects us with the righteousness of God comes to me in and through and by means of the righteousness of God. God’s unwavering commitment to uphold and display the infinite worth of his glory allots to me the faith to see him for who he is and love him and be clothed in the robes that display the infinite worth of his glory and goodness.

Righteousness will become a theme of this letter; in 2 Peter 2:21 false teachers turn back from the way of righteousness; in 2 Peter 3:13 they will not inherit the coming world where righteousness dwells

the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ

The righteousness spoken of here is the righteousness of Jesus Christ, who is both God and Savior. This is as clear as any statement of the full deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, along with texts like: John 1:1-3, 18; 20:28; Rom.9:5; Titus 2:13; Heb.1:8-9; 1Jn5:20

This verse has identical grammatical structure to 2Peter 3:18 which calls Jesus Christ both Lord and Savior.

3:18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

(Granville Sharp rule: a single article followed by two nouns joined by ‘and’ refers to a single object)

Savior is also a divine title. It is one of the great titles of God in the Old Testament. If the readers have found salvation, then they belong to the God who saves and have no freedom to live in sin as the false teachers have said. Peter is grounding his readers in apostolic doctrine to fortify them against the errors of the false teachers. The entire plan of salvation rests on the undiminished deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. Understanding the true identity of Jesus of Nazareth is essential to our eternal well-being.

May grace and Peace be multiplied to you

Peter prays that God would multiply grace and peace in our lives, for he knew that our progress in the Christian life depends on God alone (Schreiner, p.288). Grace is the free and unmerited favor of God bestowed on guilty man in and through Jesus Christ. It bears witness to man’s basic need. Peace is the effect of receiving God’s grace and denotes the state of well-being that flows from the experience of reconciliation and forgiveness (Hiebert, p.38). Peter’s prayer is that God would multiply his undeserved favor and the resulting shalom in our lives.

in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord

As Peter has already pointed out, understanding the identity of Jesus is crucial. Grace and peace is not multiplied independent of our knowledge; grace and peace are multiplied in our knowledge of God. Knowledge not simply intellectual (knowing things about God and Jesus) or even personal in the sense of having met someone, but knowledge that results in committed living (Davids, p.165). Christ’s gifts, grace and peace, cannot be enjoyed independent of him. The blessings of God flow from union with the person of God. Knowledge will be a recurring theme in this short letter, as a deeper knowledge of the person of Jesus is the surest safeguard against false doctrine. Jesus described this intimate knowledge of himself and his Father as the definition of eternal life:

John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

Eternal life is not defined by length or duration, but by intimacy and relationship with God.

This was Paul’s one desire:

Philippians 3:8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith––10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,

Knowing Christ for Paul was of surpassing worth. And this is righteousness; upholding and displaying the infinite worth of his glory; putting him and intimacy with him above everything else because he rightly is above everything else.

2Peter 1:1 Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: 2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

Conclusion

Peter lays out some of the central themes of the letter in this compact but rich introduction; the centrality of faith in the Christian life, the saving righteousness of God, the supremacy of Jesus Christ, and the importance of knowing God and the Lord Jesus Christ; He begins and ends the letter with the overarching theme of God’s unmerited grace and the necessity of a genuine knowledge of God. (Schreiner, p.283).

May we anchor our faith and knowledge on the foundational truths of the supremacy of Jesus Christ and his free and gracious gift of faith which comes by his righteousness imputed to us.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

September 27, 2009 Posted by | 2 Peter, podcast | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2 Peter Intro

~sorry, audio not available~

09/20 2 Peter Intro

1:1 Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

Intro

That’s about as far as I expect to get today. We are going to embark on a study of the second letter of the Apostle Peter. But before we do, we need to do some background work on this little letter. There’s a few basic questions we should ask of any biblical document to help us better understand it: Who wrote it? To whom was it written? When was it written? and Why? What was the occasion, purpose, and theme of the document? This may sound tedious and boring, but it is necessary and it will be helpful and I believe it will bear spiritual fruit. It is especially necessary with second Peter, because many today believe that it could not have been written by the Apostle Peter, and some think it should not be included in our bible. Paul tells us that ‘all scripture is breathed out by God and profitable’ (2Tim.3:16), so we have to ask the question: Is this little book part of authoritative God breathed scripture or is it simply an interesting tidbit of antiquity that has been preserved through history? Should we bother to study it, to memorize it, can we quote verses from it that will carry the weight of God breathed authority? Or should we discard it on the trash heap of ancient literature and move on to more profitable things?

NT Pseudepigrapha – To understand the situation we need to understand some of what was happening around the time of the writing and collecting of the New Testament. The Jewish Bible was fixed long before the time of Jesus, but the books we now have in our New Testament were written and circulated between 48 AD (Galatians) and 96 AD (Revelation). As these genuine letters circulated to other churches, there were many other documents that began to circulate in the early church that were not written by the Apostles, but were falsely written as if they came from one of the Apostles. This was happening as early as 50 – 51, when Paul warns the church in Thessalonika about this dangerous practice:

2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 …we ask you brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us… let no one deceive you in any way…

Paul concludes the letter by pointing them to a sign of genuineness.

2 Thessalonians 3:17 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. This is the sign of genuineness in every letter of mine; it is the way I write.

Someone promoting some deviant teaching and heretical ideas would write a letter promoting their heresy and sign the name of Peter or Paul to gain an audience for their ideas. These letters are called New Testament Pseudepigrapha or ‘false writing’. Among these documents are the Gospel of Peter, the Acts of Peter and the Apocalypse of Peter. Many think that 2 Peter should be categorized with these letters and not with the genuine letters of the New Testament.

The Problems

Here are some of the problems with 2 Peter. It is the least attested of all the New Testament documents. Here’s what that means. We look to the evidence in the writings of the first several centuries of the church to see what they thought of a book and how they used it. Because they were closer in time to the writing of the documents, they often had insight into the circumstances of the writing, so their testimony has weight. In fact, most of the New Testament could be re-assembled from the quotes of these early church pastors even if we had no manuscripts of the text itself. Their preaching was based on the Apostles’ writings, and they appealed to the authority of the documents now known to us as the New Testament in their teaching and writing. Some even wrote commentaries on the letters of the Apostles. What we look for when we examine the writings of the early church is how early a letter was referred to, who they believed the author to be, if the document was widely known and circulated broadly in the churches, and if it was accepted as genuine and cited as authoritative. 2 Peter was not cited specifically as having been written by Peter until the beginning of the third century – Origen, who lived about 185-254 A.D. says:

“Peter, upon whom the Church of Christ is built, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail, has left one epistle undisputed. Suppose, also, the second was left by him, for on this there is some doubt. [Origen, Commentary on John 5:3; cited by Hiebert, p.2; cf. Eusebius, Hist.Eccl. 6.25.8]

Origen supposes 2 Peter was written by Peter, but admits that some doubted its authenticity. Origen himself apparently did not doubt the genuineness of 2 Peter, because he goes on to quote from it six times as Scripture without hesitation. (M.Green, p.13)

Although not cited by name, there are earlier probable references to 2 Peter in The Epistle of Barnabas (c.70-130); 1 Clement (AD 95); The Apocalypse of Peter (c.110-140); Aristides (AD 130); Valentinus (AD 130); The Shepherd of Hermas (c.140-155); 2 Clement (AD 150); Justin Martyr (in Dial.82:1; c.150-165); The Acts of Peter (c.180); and Hippolytus (AD 180); all use phrases out of 2 Peter or show a familiarity with the contents without making specific reference to the source. [Schreiner, p.262-3; M.Green, p.14]. From these references we can be sure that 2 Peter was written no later than 150; probably much earlier.

In 324 AD, Eusebius of Caesarea [c.265-339] classifies the New Testament documents in three categories; the accepted writings, the disputed writings, and the rejected writings.

“3. Among the disputed writings, which are nevertheless recognized by many, are extant the so-called epistle of James and that of Jude, also the second epistle of Peter, and those that are called the second and third of John, whether they belong to the evangelist or to another person of the same name. 4. Among the rejected writings must be reckoned also the Acts of Paul, and the so-called Shepherd, and the Apocalypse of Peter, and in addition to these the extant epistle of Barnabas, and the so-called Teachings of the Apostles; and besides, as I said, the Apocalypse of John, if it seem proper, which some, as I said, reject, but which others class with the accepted books.” [Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. 3.25.3-4]

It is significant to note that 2 Peter does not end up in the rejected works with the Shepherd of Hermas and the Epistle of Barnabas even though these were known and used in many churches. 2 Peter is in good company, as all the other books he lists in the disputed category were eventually received by the church as genuine. In another place, Eusebius says:

“1. One epistle of Peter, that called the first, is acknowledged as genuine. And this the ancient elders use freely in their own writings as an undisputed work. But we have learned that his extant second Epistle does not belong to the cannon; yet, as it has appeared profitable to many, it has been used with the other Scriptures. 2. The so-called Acts of Peter, however, and the Gospel which bears his name, and the Preaching and the Apocalypse, as they are called, we know have not been universally accepted, because no ecclesiastical writer, ancient or modern, has made use of testimonies drawn from them. 3. But in the course of my history I shall be careful to show, in addition to the official succession, what ecclesiastical writers have from time to time made us of any of the disputed works, and what they have said in regard to the canonical and accepted writings, as well as in regard to those which are not of this class. 4. Such are the writings that bear the name of Peter, only one of which I know to be genuine and acknowledged by the ancient elders.” [Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. 3.3.1-4]

Again he acknowledges that regardless of the questions raised by some about its genuineness, 2 Peter was widely used alongside the rest of scripture as profitable. This is clearly in contrast to the rejected position of the other writings that falsely claimed to have been written by Peter.

Jerome, who wrote in 392, gives us a clue as to the reason why 2 Peter was categorized as disputed.

“He wrote two epistles which are called Catholic, the second of which, on account of its difference from the first in style, is considered by many not to be by him…. On the other hand, the books, of which one is entitled his Acts, another his Gospel, a third his Preaching, a fourth his Revelation, a fifth his ‘Judgment’ are rejected as apocryphal.” [Jerome, lives of illustrious men, ch.1; Ep. 120.11]

The Style of the Greek Text:

Jerome gave us a hint that a major objection to Peter being the author of 2 Peter was the difference in style between it and 1 Peter. “The Greek of 1 Peter is polished, cultured, dignified; it is among the best in the New Testament. The Greek of 2 Peter is grandiose; …almost vulgar in its pretentiousness and effusiveness.” [M.Green, p.16]. This seems to have been the source of many of the early doubts about the genuineness of the letter, and these doubts continue among scholars and commentators today. How could the same person write in such different styles? But even some who reject Peter as the author admit ‘there is not that chasm between 1 and 2 Peter which some would try to make out’ [Mayor, p. civ., cited in M.Green, p.17]

Recent computer analysis of the two books have concluded that 1 and 2 Peter are indistinguishable linguistically, but are distinguishable from other New Testament books [M.Green, footnote, p.17].

The difference in style could be one of the strongest reasons for accepting it as genuine. Someone who was forging a letter from Peter would attempt to copy the style as closely as possible to remove questions about the work. The fact that it is written in a very different tone from the one other letter we have from Peter indicates that the author was not consciously attempting to copy the style of the first letter.

External Evidence:

We should not be too troubled by the early doubts and lack of citations in the early writings. Although it is the least attested in early church history of all the writings now included in our New Testament, this epistle “has incomparably better support for its inclusion than the best attested of the rejected books” [Kummel, p.302 cited by Carson, Moo, Morris, p.434]. Because it is a relatively small book and did not circulate broadly, it would be less likely to be quoted frequently. Questions were raised, but never was 2 Peter positively classified with the false or rejected writings, and no other author than Peter has been suggested. There is no compelling evidence that says that Peter could not have been the author of the letter, and after all the doubts, Peter’s authorship still makes the most sense.

2 Peter is included in a Coptic translation (about AD 200), and it is included in the Bodmer papyrus (Greek manuscript p72) which is dated from the early 3rd century. [M.Green, p.13]. It is also included in Codexes Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, and Alexandrinus. [Schreiner, p.264]

We are told by Eusebius [H.E. vi. 14. 1] and Photius [Cod. 109] that Clement of Alexandria had it in his Bible and wrote a commentary on it. [M.Green. p.13]

2 Peter was listed in Athanasius’s festal letter of 367. It was accepted as canonical by the Councils of Hippo (393) and Carthage (397) in the fourth century. This is significant, because these Councils rejected the Epistle of Barnabas and 1 Clement because they were not of apostolic origin, even though these letters had for a long time been read alongside Scripture in the churches. [M.Green, p.15; Schreiner, p.264]

I’ve read close to 200 pages of technical bla, bla, bla, on the issues we’ve been discussing, and after all that it like a breath of fresh air to come back to the bible and open it and read just the first lines of Peter’s second letter. The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

Internal Evidence:

Let’s look at the letter itself. The strongest evidence for Peter’s authorship of the letter is within the very letter. The letter begins, like most letters of the day with a statement of the author:

2Peter 1:1 Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ…

1 Peter simply begins ‘Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ’. 2 Peter begins with an Hebraic form of Peter’s name Simon. This form of his name only appears here and in Acts 15:14. This form is unusual, and was never used in any of the forgeries written in the name of Peter that we have available to us. A forger would be most likely to use the common form of Peter’s name, and emphasize the apostolic authority. Peter here highlights his role as servant or slave as well as his position as apostle.

Peter gives us the reason for his writing:

1:12 Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. 13 I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, 14 since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.

Peter is aware that his death will be soon, so he wants to leave a permanent record that will be a constant reminder of the truth that he taught. He says that Jesus made it clear to him that the putting off of his body would be soon.

John 21:18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Peter was executed under the emperor Nero, who ruled until 68 AD. That would place the writing of this letter around 64-65 AD, shortly before his death. John’s Gospel was probably not written until 80-85 AD. Peter gives an independent witness in his own words of what John would record later.

Peter goes on to tell us:

1:16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.

Matthew records the transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain in chapter 17 and says:

Matthew 17:5 He [Peter] was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”

Again, Peter does not borrow language from the gospels, but gives an independent testimony of what he experienced on the mountain.

In Chapter 3, Peter tells us

3:1 This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles,

This is most likely a reference to 1 Peter. Possibly to passages like:

1Peter 1:10-12 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours …12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

Peter also refers to Paul’s writings:

3:15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.

Most of the letters of Paul had already been written by this time (with the exception of his letters to Timothy and Titus) and were probably gaining a wide audience. Galatians could have been in circulation for over 15 years by the time Peter wrote; plenty of time to be distorted by false teachers. The way Peter refers to Paul is interesting. He classes Paul’s writings as scripture, but he doesn’t refer to Paul as ‘apostle’. He simply refers to him as ‘our beloved brother’.

This is especially interesting in light of Paul’s account of their conflict in Antioch:

Galatians 2:11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.

Peter was confronted by Paul in front of the whole church and rebuked, and now some 15 years later Peter has the humility to rank Paul’s writings as scripture, even if some of it is difficult to understand, and he refers to him with affection as a ‘beloved brother’.

Peter’s purpose in writing was to remind and to warn. In his first letter, he encouraged his readers to stand firm in the true grace of Christ even when they faced fiery trials and persecution. The problems now facing his readers are very different. The problem has moved from overt persecution from those outside to subtle doctrinal distortion from those within. He says:

2:1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.

3:3 knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”

So Peter is reminding us of the truth and warning against destructive heresies secretly smuggled into the church by false teachers that have infiltrated the group. They are bold and arrogant, and they despise authority. They indulge the lusts of the flesh, and they deny the second coming of Christ and the final judgment. Peter gives us a heads up – knowing this beforehand take care that you are not carried away and lose your own stability. And his remedy? Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and give him all the glory! [3:17-18]

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

September 20, 2009 Posted by | 2 Peter, podcast | , | Leave a comment

The Centrality of the Cross

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20090906_centrality_of_the_cross.mp3

9/6/2009 The Centrality of the Cross

In light of communion and doing communion more often, I want to spend some time together meditating on the significance of the cross of Jesus. The cross is not part of Christianity; the cross IS Christianity; there is no Christianity without the cross. The cross is not something we gain an understanding of and move on. The cross is where we live our lives. The cross of Christ will be the focal point of our worship– for eternity!

The Cross was the Center of Jesus’ Purpose

The Cross was the Center of God’s Purpose for all Eternity

The Cross is the Center of the Gospel

The Cross must be Central in the Christian Life & Ministry

The Cross is the Center of Church Life

The Cross will be Central for all Eternity

The Cross was the Center of Jesus’ Purpose

Jesus did not come primarily to live a perfect life and set a great moral example for mankind. Jesus came to die.

John 12:27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.

Jesus taught his disciples:

Luke 9:22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” (Mt.16:21; Mk.8:31; cf. Lk.24:7)

Luke 22:37 For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.”

After his resurrection, he said to them:

Luke 24:25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”

Luke 24:44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”

The Cross was the Center of God’s Purpose for all Eternity

The cross was the goal and focal point of Jesus’ earthly life and ministry. But this was not Jesus’ creative plan to appease the wrath of his angry Father. The death of the Son on the cross of Calvary was the plan of God before the foundation of the world.

Genesis 3:15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

Isaiah 53:10 Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. 11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.

Hebrews 10:5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; 6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. 7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.”’

Acts 4:27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.

Luke 22:22 For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!”

Ephesians 3:11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord,

2Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

God made Jesus to be sin on our behalf.

Romans 3:24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. …

God’s righteous wrath must be poured out and his justice must be satisfied. And God put forward Jesus as a propitiation by his blood. Jesus was appointed by his Father as the sin-bearing substitute.

John 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

The Father sent the Son. Jesus came in perfect obedience to his Father, in the strength and power of the Holy Spirit. There was perfect unity among the persons of God.

The Cross is the Center of the Gospel

The good news message is a message of blood-bought freedom and forgiveness. The ultimate price paid. Peace with God purchased at the highest cost. The just wrath of God absorbed by the willing sacrifice of a sinless substitute. As Phillip Bliss described it so well in the old hymn:

Man of Sorrows! what a name
For the Son of God, who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Guilty, vile, and helpless we;
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
“Full atonement!” can it be?
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Paul describes the gospel this way:

1 Corinthians 15:1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you––unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.

The good news message is the most important message in the universe – of first importance. And the good news message is the substitutionary death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1Corinthians 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

1Corinthians 1:21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

The gospel message is called the message of the cross, and the message of the cross is the power of God for saving sinners. This was the content of the apostolic preaching; Christ crucified. In fact, Paul resolved to know nothing except Christ crucified:

1 Corinthians 2:2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

Here’s some more verses that describe the gospel accomplishments of the cross:

Colossians 1:20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Colossians 2:14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us––for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”––

1Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

Reconciliation, forgiveness, redemption, propitiation. The message of the cross – Christ crucified – is the gospel. Without the cross, there is no good news. Here’s some verses from another favorite hymn: O Sacred Head Now Wounded; James Waddel Alexander

What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered, was all for sinners’ gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ’Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor, vouchsafe to me Thy grace.

My burden in Thy Passion, Lord, Thou hast borne for me,
For it was my transgression which brought this woe on Thee.
I cast me down before Thee, wrath were my rightful lot;
Have mercy, I implore Thee; Redeemer, spurn me not!

The cross must be central in the Christian life & Ministry

But the joy of the cross does not stop with the message of justification, propitiation, reconciliation and redemption. The cross is essential to our sanctification; our progress in holiness. We don’t hear the good news of Christ crucified for sinners, and then move on to something else as we grow in the Christian life. The good news message of Christ crucified is good news for Christians too!

Romans 6:6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 5:24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Galatians 6:14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

The good news of Christ crucified begins the Christian life by the great truths of justification – being declared ‘not guilty’ by the judge of all the earth; redemption – being bought from the slave market; propitiation – the wrath of God fully appeased by the blood of Christ; and reconciliation- enemies of God conquered by his terms of peace. But the good news of the cross continues throughout the Christian life in the great truths of sanctification – being made holy; and mortification – putting to death the sin that remains.

Listen to what Jesus taught:

Luke 9:23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. (Mt.10:38;16:24; Mk.8:34)

Jesus taught this before he was crucified. He does not tells us to take up the cross of Jesus, but to take up our own cross daily. A condemned criminal was forced to carry their own cross to their place of execution as a public demonstration that they were guilty. Taking up your own cross is a daily public acknowledgement that I am guilty and I deserve to die. Jesus calls us to daily embrace our own cross – our own guilt before him. Again today I am a sinner deserving of condemnation and in desperate need of God’s undeserved grace. I stand here deserving of death row and yet I have been selected to receive God’s pardoning mercy. Jesus calls us to deny ourselves. Peter loved his own skin so much that he disowned any relationship with Jesus. Jesus calls us to disown ourselves, to utterly reject and renounce self. I disown me. I utterly abhor and reject my own traitorous heart. I want to be identified only and completely with the Lord Jesus Christ. Daily I must deny self and own my guilt and identified with Jesus through his cross.

The cross is essential to my own sanctification or growth in holiness. The cross is vital to my salvation. The cross was central to Jesus’ purpose and the plan of God from eternity. The cross is also to be crucial in the life of the church.

The cross is the center of church life

Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Acts 2:46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,

Acts 20:7 On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, …

The church was devoted to the breaking of bread. Day by day they broke bread together. They gathered together on Sundays – the first day of the week to break bread. Breaking bread was an essential part of the life of the early church. They took this ordinance from Jesus:

1Corinthains 11:24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (cf. Lk.22:19)

Jesus commanded his followers to break bread and drink the cup to regularly remind us of him. Daily we are to embrace our own guilt and renounce our sinful self. Regularly we are to be reminded together of Jesus’ broken body and shed blood. Jesus calls us to be keenly aware of our own guilt, and Jesus invites us to stay close to his cross and revel in the undeserved mercy that he pours out there. Elizabeth Clephane writes: [Beneath the Cross of Jesus; Elizabeth C. Clephane]

Upon that cross of Jesus mine eye at times can see
The very dying form of One Who suffered there for me;
And from my stricken heart with tears two wonders I confess;
The wonders of redeeming love and my unworthiness.

I take, O cross, thy shadow for my abiding place;
I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of His face;
Content to let the world go by to know no gain or loss,
My sinful self my only shame, my glory all the cross.

1Corinthains 10:16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.

Jesus invites us to feed on him, to draw our life and sustenance from his limitless resources. We should never tire of drawing near the cross and being freshly amazed by the riches of grace toward us who believe.

The cross will be central for all eternity

We are not done with the cross after salvation. The cross is vital to our sanctification. We need to be regularly reminded of God’s grace toward us at the cross. But our reflection on the cross will last much longer than our momentary lives here. We will spend eternity reveling in the grace of God that was secured for us at the cross. We will never outgrow the cross of Christ. In the Revelation of Jesus Christ given to John, we get a glimpse of heavenly worship around the throne of God. Jesus is announced as:

Revelation 5:5 … behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”6 And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.

Notice the conquering Lion of the tribe of Judah, the victorious Root of David is seen in heaven as a lamb standing as though it had been slain. The glorious king is a butchered lamb.

7 And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. 8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty–four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying,Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”

The cross is never left behind and forgotten. The cross is the eternal ground and source of worship and wonder. Jesus, you are worthy because you were slain and you ransomed people for God with your own blood. The bloody memory of the once for all sacrifice of the Son of God is the centerpiece of angelic worship.

11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” 13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” 14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

September 6, 2009 Posted by | occasional, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment