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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

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September 27, 2009 - Posted by | 2 Peter, podcast | , , , , , , ,

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