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2 Peter 3:17-18; Grow in Grace, Knowledge, Glorify Jesus

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20100328_2peter3_17-18.mp3

03/28 2 Peter 3:17-18 Grow in Grace and Knowledge and Glorify Jesus

Today we conclude our study through the New Testament letters of 1 & 2 Peter. Jesus, when he appeared on the shores of the lake after his resurrection, told Peter to ‘feed my lambs; tend my sheep; feed my sheep’ (Jn.21:15-17). Peter was faithful, and now we hold in our hands among the books of the New Testament, these two God saturated grace filled truth packed letters from the pen of the apostle Peter. We’ve spent some time unpacking what Peter has given us by way of instruction and warning and encouragement, and as we come to the end, I’d like to look back over some of the highlights of these weighty documents.

Peter wrote his first letter to churches who were suffering fiery trials and persecution from those outside. He writes the second letter because these churches are being attacked by scoffers from within who question the return of Christ and undermine the need for moral integrity.

Peter says:

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,

So Peter wrote primarily to stir us up by way of reminder. As believers we all know some things about God and his grace toward sinners. Peter assumes that we know some things. Peter’s stated purpose in both his letters is to stir us up by way of reminder. The truth of God’s word can settle out at the bottom of our hearts and minds and we can go on and live as if it were not there at all. Peter aims to agitate our hearts and minds to bring the truth that we know up to where we will do something about it and live in light of it. In his first letter, he reminds us of our identity as elect or chosen by God, but aliens or strangers in this world (1:1). He prays for us that grace and peace would be multiplied to us (1:2) and then his heart erupts in worship God who is rich in mercy (1:3). Peter spends the beginning paragraphs of his letter unfolding the truth of God’s gracious purposes toward us in salvation (1:3-12), and then he exhorts us to set our hope fully on God’s grace that is still to come (1:13) as transforming power for holy life. Our life is to be a life lived in light of the facts of who God is and what he’s done for us (1:17-19). We are to live life in light of the cross. And we are to live lives that put God on display. The purpose of our existence is to ‘proclaim the excellencies of him who called you’ (2:9). Our lives are to be such that ‘they may see your good deeds and glorify God’ (2:12). Peter has given us practical instruction on how to glorify God by our conduct in relation to gossips, to government, to evil employers, and to unbelieving spouses (2:12-3:7). He encourages us when we find ourselves suffering unjustly, because this is grace in God’s sight, and we are called to put God on display through how we face suffering (2:20-21). Jesus is the ultimate example of redemptive suffering – through his suffering in our place, we have been brought near to God (3:18) and through our suffering, we have an opportunity to display the good news of the total sufficiency of God for hopeless sinners. Because God uses suffering to refine us, we should humble ourselves under his mighty hand, so that at the proper time he will lift us up (5:6). We have an adversary that would like to swallow us whole, so we must be on our guard and keep our faith firmly fixed on God (5:8). God is ‘the God of all grace’ (5:10), and he ‘will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you’ so that all power is seen to be his (5:11). Peter concludes that ‘this is the true grace of God’ and he tells us to ‘stand firm in it’ (5:12)

Throughout the letter, he points us to Jesus, Jesus who sprinkles us with his blood (1:2); Jesus who gives us a living hope through his resurrection (1:3); Jesus who will reward us at his coming (1:7). The Old Testament prophets pointed to the sufferings and glories of Jesus (1:11). The precious blood of Jesus is our ransom (1:19); Jesus bore our sins in his body on the tree (2:24); Jesus suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God (3:18). This is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it (5:12).

In his second letter, Peter tells us that we have obtained faith as a gift by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ (1:1). He asks that grace and peace be multiplied to us in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord (1:2). He reminds us of his divine power that has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us (1:3) and he wants us to be effective and fruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (1:8). He wants us to be diligent to make our calling and election sure by growing in godly qualities so that we will be given entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ (1:11). Peter knows his death will be soon, so he is making every effort to leave a permanent written reminder to stir us up and establish us in the truth (1:12-15). He warns us of the danger of those who secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them (2:1). These false teachers are characterized by arrogance, sensuality and greed, and he warns that it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness then to have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and then later to become entangled in them again (2:20-21). Peter re-interprets the perceived delay in the fulfillment of God’s promises as the abundant mercy of God toward sinners, patiently giving them multiplied opportunities to repent. But Peter’s warning is clear – judgment is coming and the ungodly will be destroyed. He implores us to diligence – to be found by him without spot or blemish and at peace. And he concludes the letter this way:

17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 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.

This is the fourth time Peter addresses us as his ‘beloved’. He deeply cares about the flock of God and wants to prepare us and protect us from the dangers at hand.

The ‘you’ in this verse is personal and it is emphatic; ‘you therefore – you!’ You, in contrast to the ignorant and unstable who twist the scriptures to their own destruction.

You, knowing this beforehand. Knowing that scripture twisters would come, knowing that it was predicted that scoffers would come following their own lusts; knowing that the judgment of God is coming and all the works done on the earth will be laid bare, knowing that God is

Exodus 34:6 … “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

Because we know this beforehand, take care. Be on guard. Watch out! This is the first of two imperatives that Peter gives to keep us from falling. Watch out!

Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

1Corinthians 10:12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.

You! Do not think you are exempt from this! Most people do not say ‘I think today I will embrace a destructive heresy and deny the Master who bought me’. It is a gradual, almost imperceptible slide down a slippery slope.

When Paul had to confront Peter publicly about his actions that were inconsistent with his beliefs, he says:

Galatians 2:13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.

Even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. This is that same word that is used here – carried away. Enormous social pressure is often applied to individuals. Even Barnabas was carried away. Barnabas, the son of encouragement, who introduced the newly converted Paul to the rest of the Apostles who were afraid (Acts 9:27); Barnabas, who was a trusted messenger sent on several important assignments in the early church; Barnabas, who accompanied Paul on much of his missionary work, even Barnabas, who had the guts to stand up to Paul in their dispute over taking John Mark along on another missionary journey, this Barnabas lost his own stability and was carried away by the hypocrisy of the Jews in undermining justification by faith alone with his actions.

Peter knew first hand what this was like. Peter bowed to the social pressure of the Jews from James who came to Antioch. Peter, who told Jesus he would die with him (Lk.22:33; Mt.26:33,35), even after he was warned that Satan desired to sift him like wheat (Lk.22:31); even after Jesus told him to watch and pray that he might not enter temptation (Mk.14:37); even after Jesus explicitly predicted that he would fail three times, when he was asked by a servant girl, he denied three times with oaths that he even knew Jesus (Lk.22:55-61).

We are all in danger of losing our own stability. In 1 Peter 5:6-9, he cautions us toward humility and sober-minded watchfulness, because ‘Your adversary, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.’ And he tells us to ‘resist him, firm in your faith, knowing …’ We gain the victory through humility – not thinking we can handle it, but knowing that we can’t and depending on the God of all grace, who will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Peter’s second imperative to keep us from being carried away ultimately to our own destruction is to grow. Grow in grace. Grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Grow!

But how do we grow? Growth seems to be something that happens to us, yet here Peter commands us to grow and he expects us to heed the warning and obey. How do we grow? Peter told us in his first letter.

1 Peter 2:2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation– 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Plants grow and produce fruit. Babies grow. Growth is natural, almost a passive process. But for growth to happen, the proper nutrients need to be ingested. When Hannah was born at 2lbs 15oz, she needed to grow. They put a tube through her nose into her stomach, and we would pour nutrient rich milk down that tube, and she grew. When I hold Isaiah, he opens his mouth and grunts and roots around looking for food. Then he gets mad and cries because he can’t find what he’s looking for. He has an insatiable appetite for milk. Peter tells us that we are to be like that – with spiritual milk – the pure milk of the word. The milk of the word is the God-given means for growth. And ultimately it is God who produces the growth:

1 Corinthians 3:6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.

But how do we grow in grace if grace is an undeserved gift? Peter told us this in his first letter too – God gives grace to the humble. We grow in grace by acknowledging our dependence on God for everything. Jesus invited us to become like little children – ask, seek, knock. Ask.

Peter has prayed for us in both letters that grace would be multiplied to us. He told us that all things necessary for our life and godliness have been given to us by God’s divine power. God’s precious and very great promises have been given to us. We are to appropriate and enjoy the benefits of God’s favor toward us. We must grow in God’s free gift of grace.

We are also to grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In Peter’s prayer, we see that grace and peace are multiplied to us ‘in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord’ (1:2). And Peter told us that God’s supernatural power gives to us everything we need for life and godliness ‘through the knowledge of him who called us’ (1:3). This knowledge of Jesus we are commanded to grow in, but this knowledge is also a gift.

2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

We grow by coming to him needy and hungry and thirsty and we ask. We use the God-appointed means for getting to know him – God’s word. We know Jesus as our King and our Redeemer, our one Authority that must be obeyed, and our Rescuer. Our Lord and Savior

17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 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.

And as we grow as recipients of more and more grace, and as we grow in our knowledge and appreciation of who Jesus is and what he does for us, the natural expression will be doxology – an outpouring of praise to him. To him be glory. To Jesus be all the glory. God said:

Isaiah 42:8 I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.

And Jesus said:

John 17:5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

Peter started this letter out by pointing to the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is our God and he is our Savior. And as God, he alone deserves to be glorified as God. Most New Testament doxologies attribute glory to God the Father (Rom.16:25-27; Phil.4:20-23; 1 Pet.5:10-14; Jude 24-25) , but there are a few (2Tim.4:18; Heb.13:21; Rev.1:5-6) like this one, that give the glory to Jesus. To Jesus be glory now. The false teachers were denying the Master who bought them. The antidote for this is to become recipients of his grace and grow in his knowledge and overflow with praise to him. Knowledge that does not result in worship and love will only puff up and destroy. Knowledge here is not information but an ever deepening relationship with a person. The Christian life must be defined as continual movement toward Jesus through the means he has given us to know him. That is Jesus’ description of what eternal life consists in:

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

Experiencing his grace, increasing in intimacy, exploding with worship. Glory belongs to Jesus right now. Right now from us today! And glory belongs to Jesus to the day of eternity. When we receive his grace and grow in our relationship with him, we will never throughout eternity tire of giving him our adoration and affection and admiration and worship and honor and praise.

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

March 28, 2010 Posted by | 2 Peter, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2 Peter 3:14-16; Diligent Waiting

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20100321_2peter3_14-16.mp3

03/21 2 Peter 3:14-16 Diligent Waiting

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, 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.” 5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. 8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. 11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. 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. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 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.

Peter addresses us four times in this closing section as ‘beloved’. He knows he is soon to die and wants to give us a permanent written record as a constant reminder of the good news of the life-transforming grace of God toward rebellious sinners like us. He wants to communicate his love for us by reminding us and informing us and encouraging us and warning us. He reminds us of the predictions of the holy prophets (which we now know as the Old Testament) and the commandment of our Lord and Savior through your apostles (which would come to be known as the New Testament). The prophetic writings and the apostolic record of the teaching of Jesus both warn of scoffers that will come in the last days. We were amply warned – it should not take us by surprise when people mock or challenge or question or doubt our Christian worldview. Peter records their unbelieving question ‘Where is the promise of his coming?’

And his first response to this accusation is that these ones who are seeking to make room in their religion to follow their own lust are ignorant. They are ignorant of their bibles, of world history and geology. They think God won’t judge the world because things have gone on without interruption as long as anyone can remember. They miss the fact that there are marine fossils on the tops of the highest mountains. If they study their geology or read their history they will realize that God once before wiped out life on the planet because of sin, and he promises he will do it again.

The second line of argument Peter lays out is challenging their interpretation of the apparent delay. We cannot demand that God abide by our time schedule, and it is a dreadful misinterpretation of the delay to assume that God is lazy, doesn’t care, and lacks the power to fulfill his promises. Instead, God is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in loving-kindness. He is not willing that any should perish but that all should reach repentance. God is merciful even toward these false teachers, giving them time to repent and turn back to the Master who bought them, the Master they have denied by their rebellious lifestyles.

Then Peter points us to the coming destruction. God is merciful to postpone his wrath, but he will not do so forever. Judgment is coming and those who presume on his mercy are storing up wrath for themselves on the day of his wrath. He challenges us to reverse-engineer our lives in light of the coming destruction.

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. 11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

If everything will burn up and everything we have ever thought or felt or done will be made public then what kind of life should I live? The question is not ‘what should I do?’; the question he asks is ‘what sort of people ought we to be?’ We are so eager to define ourselves by what we do. I’ve got a good job, I’m involved in the community, I serve in the church, I play this, I do this, I work here, I am advancing in… God is not at all impressed with what you do. God is interested in who you are. God is interested in character. God is interested in holiness. Not a list of do’s and don’ts, but a life set apart to follow Jesus. God is interested in godliness – a life characterized by worship, putting God first in everything.

In the next verses, Peter encourages us to diligent waiting. He says that our lives should be characterized by waiting. Waiting, waiting, waiting. He says it three times. The Christian life is a life of waiting. “Waiting for the day of God… waiting for a new heavens and a new earth… therefore beloved, since you are waiting for these…” We wait because God has made promises and not all of them have been fleshed out yet. God has promised that he will wipe away every tear and heal every disease and make all wrongs right and put a stop to evil and bring perfect peace and harmony and uninterrupted intimacy with him. But we live in a place with pain and sickness and separation and despair and violence and greed and pride. Beloved, we are not home yet! Peter told us in his first letter that we are strangers and aliens. We shouldn’t feel comfortable, we don’t fit in, we are not home yet. All those blessings are coming to believers, justice will roll down like a river, and all evil will be put to an end. But we are not there yet! We are waiting for and hastening the day of God. We are waiting for the new heavens and new earth. Beloved, this is not all there is! It gets better than this. Paul said:

Romans 8:18-22 For I consider that the sufferings of the present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.

Jesus promised “I go to prepare a place for you” “and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (Jn.14:2-3). Beloved, we get to be with Jesus!

1 Corinthians 2:9 But, as it is written, “what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”

What God has promised us is beyond our ability to comprehend. The Christian life is a life characterized by waiting, but we are not called to passive waiting. Waiting does not mean ‘I’m just going to sit here on this couch and push this button on the remote and while away the meanwhile passing the time until Jesus comes back. We are not called to passive, inactive, complacency in waiting. This word describes eager expectation, hope, anticipation, longing. This is not the tedious waiting in the dentist’s office; this is the eager anticipation of the child on Christmas eve.

Peter says that because we are waiting for a place where righteousness is at home, our waiting is to be characterized by diligence. This is now the third time Peter has used this word ‘diligence’.

1:10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.

1:15 And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.

3:14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.

Peter had described the false teachers as ‘blots and blemishes’ (2:13), and in his first letter he points us to our ransom which came through ” …the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” (1Pet.1:19). Now, our waiting for Jesus’ return is to be characterized by a passionate pursuit of holiness and godliness, or to put it another way, we are to be diligent to put Jesus on display with our lives, Jesus who is our hope and peace and righteousness, Jesus who is without blemish or spot.

14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. 15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, …

Diligent waiting requires proper accounting. The false teachers who followed their own desires assumed that the delay in the fulfillment of God’s promises meant that God was not faithful to his promises, not powerful enough to carry them out, not just to punish sin. So they encouraged a pursuit of passion and pleasure because they interpreted the delay as evidence that there would be no final accountability for our actions. But we are to wait differently. We are to wait diligently pursuing righteousness, because we count the delay a different way. We count it not as a delay due to slackness, but as God’s patience which is salvation. This is what Peter was telling us in verse 9, that God:

“is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” 2Pet.3:9

The patience of the Lord is salvation. God is not slack, lazy, uninvolved. God is at work pouring out mercy on sinners. God is at work saving people. God is right now rescuing sinners from their sin and transforming them into new creations that find joy in his righteousness.

And Peter here supports his interpretation of the delay of the promise by pointing to his unity with the apostle Paul. Apparently, Peter knew that Paul had written a letter to his readers, in which he had also addressed some of these same issues. I thank God for this sentence.

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.

This is an amazing sentence. Here we are given insight into how we are to think about our bible. And even more than that it gives us insight into the relationship between two of the foundational people in the Christian church.

Before Jesus was born, the Jews had their collection of scriptures, which included the same books that we now have in our Old Testament. Jesus quoted out of it on many occasions and referred to it as a whole as authoritative. It was the authoritative witness to who he is. “It is written” would settle any argument. Before Jesus went to his death, he promised his disciples the Holy Spirit, who would “teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (Jn.14:26). Jesus sent his disciples out to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. (Mat.28:19-20). The apostles believed that their teaching was God’s very word (1Thess2:13). As the disciples spread the gospel and planted churches in the different communities, they would write letters to encourage and teach and correct these churches. Some of these letters were expressly intended to be passed around to the different churches so that all could benefit from them (Col.4:16). Peter told us in chapter 1 that he was writing in order to leave a written record to remind future believers of the truth. These apostolic letters were highly valued and copied and shared among the churches. Peter had read several of Paul’s letters and probably had access to a growing collection of his letters there in Rome. He here makes reference to how Paul writes in all his letters. And Peter classifies Paul’s writings as Scripture. He says that Paul is a beloved brother and that he wrote according to the wisdom given him. Peter recognized a God given gift of wisdom in the writings of the Apostle Paul. What he says here about Paul is very similar to what he says about the Old Testament prophets.

2 Peter 1:20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

He says the way the false teachers distort Paul’s writings is like the way they handle the other Scriptures, equating Paul’s writings with the rest of the God-breathed Old Testament Scriptures.

This is even more fascinating when we remember that there was a serious dispute between Peter and Paul. Paul records it in his letter to the Galatians:

Galatians 2:11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” 15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

So Paul publicly confronted Peter – to his face – in front of everybody. He accused him of fear, hypocrisy, and a serious deviation from the truth of the Gospel. And then he recorded the whole thing in a letter – likely one of the letters that Peter had read and referred to when he spoke of ‘all his letters’ – a letter that would be circulated and preserved for all to see.

How does Peter respond to this? The apostle Peter was teachable. He received a rebuke from Paul, learned from it, and loved him for it. He rejoiced in their unity. He read Paul’s stuff. He read it not to critique it, but to learn from it. He studied it. He acknowledged that some of it was difficult to understand. The apostle Peter, who walked with Jesus, had difficulty understanding some of the things that Paul had written. He did not say that they were impossible to understand. That should encourage us in our study of scripture. We must maintain humility in acknowledging that we do not have everything figured out. But we don’t throw up our hands in despair and quit. You study to ‘present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2Tim.2:15). He also did not say that all things are hard to understand. Some things are easy. As Alistair Begg likes to say ‘the main things are the plain things, and the plain things are the main things’. The core message of the bible is plain and clear. Salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone for the glory of God alone is the good news proclaimed throughout the scriptures. Some things are hard to understand, but the most important things are plain and clear.

Peter is not here talking about things in the scriptures that are hard to swallow. Have you ever been reading your bible and you get to a verse or phrase and your heart says ‘I understand it, but I don’t like it’. Some things are clear in scripture but we’d prefer they weren’t there. We’d like to find a way around them. Our job in handling the bible is to do our best to understand it and obey it. We are not at liberty to attempt to explain it away. Peter tells us that ‘the ignorant and unstable twist the scriptures to their own destruction’. Ignorant does not mean stupid – it means that they were untaught – not trained or discipled in how to rightly understand the bible. And he calls them ‘unstable’. This is what Peter is fighting against throughout the letter – he wants us to be well-grounded, stable,

1 Peter 5:10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

2 Peter 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.

2 Peter 2:14 They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children!

2 Peter 3:16 …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.

2 Peter 3:17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.

The word ‘twist’ is a word commonly used for torture on the rack – false teachers torture the words of the bible to get them to say things they do not say. One of the most basic rules of biblical interpretation is ‘if the common sense interpretation makes sense, seek no other sense, lest you create nonsense’. And there are consequences to twisting the scriptures. Distorting God’s word to condone lifestyles that are condemned in the scripture will result in destruction. Exchanging God’s grace for works or changing God’s grace into license to sin both will bring eternal ruin to those that reject God’s transforming grace for what it is. We are called to listen to the scriptures, to humbly study and learn from the scriptures, to hear God’s word, to embrace it, to love it, meditate on it, memorize it, to obey it, to be transformed by it. We are to be stable or established by growing in grace and the knowledge of our King and Savior Jesus Christ.

14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. 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.

17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 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.

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

March 21, 2010 Posted by | 2 Peter, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2 Peter 3:8-13; Why The Wait?

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20100307_2peter3_8-13.mp3

03/07 2 Peter 3:8-13 Why the Wait?

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, 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.” 5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. 8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. 11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

Peter is encouraging the saints to remain faithful to the Lord and not be swayed by the false teachers. He addresses us four times in this section as ‘beloved’ because he cares deeply about our eternal well being, he knows eternity is at stake, and he will not stand idly by while apostates entice God’s people toward destruction. Peter’s job was reminding the saints of what they already knew. He points us back to our bibles – to the predictions of the holy prophets and to the command of Jesus given through the apostles – as a sure and safe anchor for our souls. The false teachers were teaching that morals don’t matter and that since we are saved by grace alone we can live any way we please and we will not be punished. They question if we will ever be held accountable for any of our actions because they doubt that Jesus is really coming back at all. Peter has made it abundantly clear that those who teach these things have denied the Master who bought them, they are headed straight for the fires of hell, and any who follow them in their immorality will join them in their torment.

In this final chapter, he summarizes the character and argument of the false teachers and answers it with two lines of logic to demonstrate that they stand on shaky ground, and then he draws a practical application with an exhortation to godly living.

He has repeatedly made it clear that the main issue with the false teachers is a moral one. Their doctrine is a way to make them feel better about their lifestyle. Peter says they scoff and follow their own sinful desires. His restatement of their objection to orthodox Christianity, which demands a transformed life, is this:

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.”

And his first line of argument was to challenge their truth claims. All things have not continued as they were from the beginning of creation. These false teachers are conveniently omitting one huge event in history – the flood. Men once before lived as they pleased, and after much patience, God wiped out the entire planet with a global catastrophe. God did it once. He can and will do it again.

7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

The second line of reasoning that Peter raises to demonstrate that the teaching of the apostates is foolishness comes from the character of God. And this answer comes in two parts. God is eternal, and God is patient. The false teachers objected that it’s been a long time since he promised that he would come back soon. It appears as if he has abandoned his promise.

8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

Peter makes reference here to Psalm 90:4

Psalm 90:1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. 2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting, you are God. 3 You return man to dust and say, “Return, O children of man!” 4 For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night. 5 You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning; 6 in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers. 7 For we are brought to an end by your anger; by your wrath we are dismayed.

God is from everlasting to everlasting; man comes from dust and soon returns to dust. To us a thousand years is unfathomable. This nation we live in has been around less than 300 years. But from God’s eternal perspective, a thousand years is like yesterday when it is gone. How significant was yesterday in your life? A thousand years is like a day.

There have been several attempts in the history of interpretation to take this verse as a mathematical formula. The first was a way to explain why God told Adam he would die in the day he ate of the forbidden fruit, yet he lived to be over 900 years old. Adam didn’t live to be 1000, and if a thousand years is one day to God, then Adam died within the first day from God’s perspective. This misses the point that the death pointed to was not only physical – that day Adam suffered a severed relationship from a God who loves him, and it misses the mercy and grace of God in providing a substitute as God killed an animal in their place and clothed them with its skin. Another chronological interpretation seeks to find an outline of world history, particularly a date for the end, in the days of creation. God took six days to create the world, so the world will last 6000 years. On the seventh day God rested, so after the six thousand years are ended, Jesus will come and reign.

But our text does not say that a thousand years is one day but a thousand years is as a day. And our text says that the reverse is also true – one day is as a thousand years to God. God’s perspective not only compresses time, but expands it. God sees not only the big picture but every minute detail. Time is intensive – God is so intimately acquainted with my life that one day is as a thousand years – he doesn’t miss any details. What we in our impatience think should happen quickly may be thousands of years in delay, but is quick when considered on the backdrop of eternity. And what we think must take an eternity, God can accomplish in a moment of time. The Son of God bore multiplied eternities of punishment for the sins of the world in just three hours of darkness on the cross. The point is not that time is meaningless to God, but that God cannot be confined to operate on our schedules. Understanding that eternity of God makes the scoffing of the scoffers sound as ridiculous as it is; ‘Where is the promise of his coming? It’s been almost 40 years and Jesus hasn’t returned.’ It could be two thousand years and he wouldn’t be considered late. It could be this very moment and we shouldn’t be surprised. The scoffers overlooked the implications of the eternity of God, just like they deliberately overlooked the fact that God’s word was decisive in the creation and destruction of the ancient world.

Peter continues by giving a different interpretation to the perceived delay that fits better with the character of God. Indeed, when Peter wrote the delay had been almost 40 years. When you’re expectantly waiting, that seems like a very long time. Today the promise of the soon coming of Jesus is over 2000 years old. Why the delay? The accusation of the scoffers was that God is slack, slow, lazy, delayed, negligent, impotent – he lacks the power to fulfill his promises. He won’t because he can’t. Peter rather points us to the biblical picture of the character of God; God who is patient, long-suffering, loving, merciful, gracious. This is the picture that the bible consistently paints of God. This is the picture that God paints of himself:

Exodus 34:5 The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. 6 The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

God is characteristically forbearing – [makrothumia] – he bears with sinners; holds back his wrath; refrains from intervening in judgment as soon as the our deeds deserve it, though he will not hold back indefinitely. The prophet Jonah understood well the character of God. This was Jonah’s complaint against God and his excuse for fleeing.

Jonah 4:2 And he prayed to the LORD and said, “O LORD, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.

Jonah knew the character of God well enough that he was afraid God might actually forgive the Ninevites rather than destroying them as he had threatened. But God can accomplish his purpose even if it takes a great fish to swallow his wayward prophet and deliver him to the intended recipients of his mercy. God has a reputation for being rich in mercy.

Ephesians 2:1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins… 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ––by grace you have been saved––

God is exercising self-restraint in the face of grievous provocation so that he does not hastily retaliate. But we are warned – do not presume on God’s patience. Paul writes:

Romans 2:3 Do you suppose, O man––you who judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself––that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

God is rich in mercy, kindness, forbearance and patience, but this does not mean that he is soft on sin. God’s wrath will be revealed, and if you are presuming on God’s patience, Paul says you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. Instead God’s merciful patience has a goal – to lead us to repentance. That’s what Peter is telling us here:

9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

The delay in the return of Christ and the consequent judgment is due not to slackness but to mercy – mercy toward you, Peter says. These letters were intended to be read in the churches to whom they were addressed. Imagine this church, a church where apostate false teachers possibly held positions of authority, and had gathered a following in their immorality. These were the ones who may have taught on Sunday morning ‘Where is the promise of his coming?’ And Peter addresses them; “The Lord is patient toward YOU!” Peter is pointing out to these false teachers and any who have followed their error that God’s delay in coming is meant to give further opportunity for them to repent. God’s heart is indeed abundantly compassionate and merciful and his desire is for their repentance. Repentance – this indicates that their hearts and lives are moving in a direction away from the Lord and they need to forsake the direction they have chosen and turn back. The irony is that they use this merciful delay as a pretense for immorality rather than running for cover to the cross of our Lord Jesus. But God will not postpone his righteous wrath indefinitely. Peter re-affirms that the day of judgment will indeed come:

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief,

The emphasis is on the certainty of the event – it will come, the day of the Lord. And it will come unexpectedly and catch many off guard. Paul picked up on Jesus’ teaching and compared the coming of the day of the Lord with a thief:

I Thessalonians 5:1 Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. 2 For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4 But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. 5 For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness.

6 So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.

The day of the Lord will surely come, and it will come like a thief on those who are not watching and waiting for him. And Peter’s description of what follows is cataclysmic:

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

The picture Peter paints is of the layers of atmosphere being peeled away to reveal to the eye of God what is being done by those that live on the earth. The revelation of Jesus Christ given to John paints a very similar picture:

Revelation 6:13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. 14 The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. 15 Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, 16 calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

But Peter’s point (and John’s point) is not to explain exactly how things will unfold in the end times or to give us a detailed sequence of events or to satisfy our curiosity about the makeup of the universe. All God’s truth has a moral purpose. Life as we know it is coming to an end. The earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Every man will stand before the God of the universe and give an account, as it says in Hebrews:

Hebrews 4:13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Peter draws this conclusion:

11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be…

Lots of people are curious about eschatology. If we advertise a seminar on the sequence of end time events and the book of Revelation, we can pack out an auditorium. If we hint that we will be suggesting a date, we could even get media coverage. But all that is missing the point! Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be? What sort of people ought we to be? Peter doesn’t leave us wondering.

11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness,…

Our lives ought to be characterized by holiness and godliness. Our lives ought to be different from the world around us. Our values ought to be different from the people around us. Our goals and dreams and hopes and desires, our attitudes, our free time, our spending must be different from the world. Peter described us as ‘elect exiles’, ‘sojourners and aliens’. And the standard is God himself. We are to live in such a way that our neighbors observe us and they begin to understand what God is like! Peter wants people to ‘see your good deeds and glorify God’ (1Pet.2:12). Does that feel heavy? Too much? More than we can pull off? Praise God, yes it is!

Peter began the letter pointing us to the fact that ‘His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence (2Pet.1:3). It is through God’s gracious promises – not our own efforts – that we have ‘escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire’ (1:4). Peter went on to describe that the effective fruitful life of intimacy with the Lord Jesus Christ will be characterized by an ever-increasing display of virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love. And all this is rooted in and stems from faith – trust in the promises that God has freely given to us; promises to transform us from the inside out. Promises to save us from sin and set us free to live lives of radical Christ exalting holiness.

God is not tardy but patient toward you. What sort of people ought we to be?

11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

Our lives are also to be characterized by waiting – eager expectation – hope. Since we are strangers and aliens, since we are not home yet, there ought to be an ache – a longing in our hearts for home. This world is a mess. This world has been wrecked by the fall, corrupted by sin and it awaits the final judgment, when the Righteous Judge will right all wrongs and make ugly things beautiful again. We are people of the promise – by faith trusting that what he said will happen. Jesus told us that he is going to prepare a place for us – a new heavens and a new earth where righteousness is no longer an alien and a stranger, but at home. The new heavens and new earth will be characterized by righteousness. If we want to be at home in the new heavens and new earth, then we must become righteous.

Where is the promise of his coming? When is Jesus coming back? Peter’s answer is ‘sooner, if you will repent!’ If God desires all to come to repentance and he is holding back his wrath to make room for sinners to run to him, then by running to him you will speed up his coming. By pursuing personal transformation and a life of holiness, you will speed his coming. Jesus taught us to pray ‘your kingdom come’ and Jesus responds to the prayers of his people!

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

March 7, 2010 Posted by | 2 Peter, podcast | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2 Peter 3:1-7; Reminding the Beloved

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20100221_2peter3_1-7.mp3

02/21 2 Peter 3:1-7 Reminding the Beloved

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, …

Peter has taught us about the power and coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The false teachers had denied the power and authority of Jesus, and in chapter 2, Peter has addressed their total disregard for God’s authority and power. Now in chapter 3 he moves to their disbelief in the future coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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,

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.” 5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

Peter says this is the second letter he is writing. He writes because he cares. Peter refers to his readers as ‘beloved’; ‘agapetoi’ – those who are loved with a selfless, self-sacrificial love. Peter wants the best for his readers and is doing everything in his power to do them good and bless them. He uses this affectionate term ‘agapetoi’ four times in this chapter. He started the letter by addressing us as brothers, and now he calls us beloved… beloved… beloved… beloved. We tend to read 2 Peter, especially chapter 2 and think ‘this doesn’t sound very loving’ – he is talking about hell fire an brimstone and turning people to ashes, about chains of gloomy darkness and God’s preservation of evildoers for the final judgment, about drowning ungodly people in a global flood, he calls people blots and blemishes, he says they are nearsighted and blind, he compares them with ignorant beasts that are born to be caught and destroyed, he says even a donkey knew better than them. He uses the graphic picture of a dog lapping up its own vomit and a sow wallowing in her own filth, he says they have hearts trained in greed and they are insatiable for sin, that they are accursed children, and it would have been better for them if they had never heard the good news at all than to have heard it and end up where they will end up. To our modern ears trained in politically correct niceness, this may not sound very ‘loving’. We are not allowed to hold anyone to any sort of objective standard or to impose our personal beliefs on anyone else. You just don’t talk like this in polite society. Well, first of all, our society is anything but polite. Maybe at an extremely superficial level there is a facade of politeness, but our culture is depraved and self-destructive and headed straight for hell. But you can’t say that out loud. “You’re going to hell!”

Imagine yourself on a road trip for a family vacation. You’re planning to cross over the Glen Canyon Dam into Arizona. You and the family are doing some sightseeing, so you’re driving slower than you normally would, and as you round the bend to approach the bridge, you slam on your brakes and screech to a halt just inches from the jagged edge of the pavement. The dam has erupted and the bridge has collapsed into the torrent of water hundreds of feet below. And let’s just add for effect that a gas pipeline was severed and is dumping thousands of gallons of fuel into the flaming inferno of wreckage and destruction below. ‘Well kids, that’s enough sightseeing for today, lets turn around and go home.’ But as you drive away, you see another minivan approaching, obviously not sightseeing, probably late for a wedding or something, going much too fast, just about to round the final bend before what used to be the bridge. What do you do? Be polite. Stay in your lane. Smile and wave. Don’t they look nice? Their whole family is dressed up for the occasion. That would be negligent, sick and cruel. You do whatever you can to get their attention. Yell, scream, throw things. Use your car and drive them off the road. They may be upset with you or think your a bit eccentric. But if they are able to stop in time, they will thank you.

I’m not advocating that at work tomorrow you get in everyone’s face and start screaming “you’re all going to hell”. Peter is lovingly but forcefully and graphically warning us, telling us that this is where false teachers will end up, this is where immorality leads, and if you go that way, you will end up there too. So yes, Peter’s language is a bit harsh and abrasive, but it is out of love and concern and urgency to warn those who are in immanent danger. And he expresses that love now; ‘agapetoi’. Beloved, there is danger up ahead.

Peter tells us his purpose in writing: I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder. Peter is assuming that our minds are still sincere, authentic, uncorrupted, pure. And the best defense is a good offense. The best defense against false teaching and immoral living is a mind stirred up to remember the truth. In 1 Peter, he stirred us up to godly living in spite of the threat of persecution. In the first chapters of 2 Peter, he stirred us up to godly living in spite of the arrogant and immoral false teachers. Now in chapter 3, he is stirring us up to godly living in spite of the scoffers that mock the truth of God’s word.

Peter is not stirring us up with something new. He is stirring us up with something old. We often feel that we need the latest newest most cutting edge idea or teaching or truth to be able to really succeed in the Christian life. We need to attend the latest seminar or get the latest book or DVD or catch the latest trend so that we can have a good marriage and a healthy family and a growing church and successful evangelism. As a bible teacher, there’s a temptation to try to find some new insight or truth that has never been discovered before to keep people’s interest or attention. Good bible teaching is faithfully proclaiming the old truths, sometimes in new ways that engage the hearers, but always in dependence on God so that lives are transformed. Peter says ‘I don’t have anything new for you. I’m simply going to stir you up to purity by reminding you of what you already know. And the content comes directly from the bible. Peter points back to the Old Testament and ahead to the New when he says ‘that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles’. Remember the predictions of the holy prophets, prophets like Amos and Malachi and Zephaniah and Jeremiah who said things like:

Amos 9:10 All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, who say, ‘Disaster shall not overtake or meet us.’

Malachi 2:17 You have wearied the LORD with your words. But you say, “How have we wearied him?” By saying, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delights in them.” Or by asking, “Where is the God of justice?”

Malachi 3:18 Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him. 4:1 “For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.

Zephaniah 1:12 At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the men who are complacent, those who say in their hearts, ‘The LORD will not do good, nor will he do ill.’

Isaiah 5:18 Woe to those who draw iniquity with cords of falsehood, who draw sin as with cart ropes, 19 who say: “Let him be quick, let him speed his work that we may see it; let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw near, and let it come, that we may know it!” 20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! 21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!

Jeremiah 5:11 For the house of Israel and the house of Judah have been utterly treacherous to me, declares the LORD. 12 They have spoken falsely of the LORD and have said, ‘He will do nothing; no disaster will come upon us, nor shall we see sword or famine. 13 The prophets will become wind; the word is not in them. Thus shall it be done to them!”’ 14 Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of hosts: “Because you have spoken this word, behold, I am making my words in your mouth a fire, and this people wood, and the fire shall consume them.

And we are to remember the commandment of our Lord and Savior through your apostles, the commandment that comes to us from Jesus through the apostolic testimony, things like:

Acts 17:30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

Matthew 24:4 And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. …11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

Matthew 24:44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

Mark 13:33 Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. … 35 Therefore stay awake–for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the cock crows, or in the morning– 36 lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”

2 Thessalonians 1:7 …when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.

The way Peter frames this makes it clear that we are not given guidelines or helpful hints on how to live life. This is commandment from our Lord and Savior. Jesus commands us and we must respond. Jesus authorized his apostles to speak on his behalf and with his authority. And they said ‘Repent and believe the gospel; endure to the end; stay awake!’

Remember, he says, knowing this of first importance. This is the same phrase Peter used in 1:20 to encourage us to pay attention to the prophetic word and the apostolic testimony because we know that the prophecies of Scripture are produced by the will of God as men directed by the Holy Spirit speak God’s words. The source of our knowing is again stated to be the prophetic word written by the holy prophets, and the apostolic testimony, which we now have collected in the New Testament documents. And the content of our knowing is the coming of scoffers who follow their own sinful desires. Peter does not want anyone to be surprised when someone questions the truth of God’s word or mocks salvation through Jesus Christ crucified and excuses their own sin. It should come as no surprise to us how the devil works. In 1 Peter it was persecution. The devil is a bully on the playground that wants us to think he can push us around and get us to do what he says through pain or fear. In the first chapters of 2 Peter, it is the false teaching of license. The devil will entice us to gratify our desires by saying that there will be no consequences and we will not be held accountable for our actions. If he can’t get us by bullying us, or seducing and deceiving us, he attempts to stir up our pride by insulting us.

He mocks and ridicules and scoffs. Rather than surprise us or discourage us, this should encourage us. If it was promised that in the last days scoffers will come scoffing, and now we see scoffers scoffing and following their own sinful desires, then we can be encouraged that we are very near the end. Note well, that their scoffing is not mere innocent joking around. Their agenda is moral (or immoral). If by mocking they can make the threat of future judgment look ridiculous and unlikely, they can more easily seduce others to join them in their pursuit of fleshly gratification. Peter gives us a summary of the kinds of things they were saying:

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.”

Using this kind of a question is more contemptuous than simply stating that Jesus is not coming back. And the language they use is the language of a believer, not an outsider. Who the ‘his’ is is understood. His coming is Jesus’ coming. And they don’t say that the fathers died; they use the distinctively Christian expression ‘they fell asleep’. These mockers are mocking from the inside. They are posing as Christians, and that is what makes them particularly dangerous. They are questioning the promise of Jesus’ return. They imply that there is no reason to believe he is going to come back at all. Peter began by encouraging us that God has given us precious and very great promises (1:4), promises that motivate his followers to live according to his standards. These skeptics are calling God a liar.

They get this skepticism from the consistency of the natural world. The sun comes up every day. For as long as anyone can remember the sun has always come up. There is no reason for us to think that the sun will not come up tomorrow. There is regularity, consistency. The fact that our world is orderly and follows natural laws makes scientific investigation possible. Things in nature are predictable. If you throw a rock up in the air, it will come back down. There’s even a chance it will land on your head. If sometimes gravity worked and sometimes it didn’t we could make no sense of this world. The scoffers say

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.”

‘The fathers’ is a typical way to refer to the patriarchs or Old Testament saints. God made promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They all died not having received the promises. Hebrews 11 deals with that very issue. From the beginning of creation until now nothing has changed. God is not just. There is no punishment for the wicked, and there is no reward for the godly. Live for your pleasures because this idea of God’s future judgment is just a myth. God does not intervene in the world.

They at least give lip service to creation, but they ignore that the order we see in creation is a direct result of the Creator. Peter says:

5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

Peter is stirring up our sincere minds by way of reminder. These false teachers deliberately overlook the facts. This is not excusable ignorance; this is willful ignorance. Facts that are not convenient to their purposes are intentionally ignored. Genesis describes the creation of God out of the watery chaos. On day two of creation, God separated the waters above the sky from the waters below the sky. On day three, God gathered the waters below the sky into seas and made dry land. Throughout the Genesis account we read “And God said… And it was so.” God formed the earth out of water and through water by his word.

Psalms 33:6 By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host. 7 He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap; he puts the deeps in storehouses.

And God held the waters in their places until the time of the flood.

Proverbs 8:28 when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, 29 when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth,

And when he commanded the waters to flood the earth, it was so. It says in

Genesis 7:11 …on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. …23 He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens.

The Psalms again give us insight on the end of the flood.

Psalm 104:5 He set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be moved. 6 You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. 7 At your rebuke they fled; at the sound of your thunder they took to flight. 8 The mountains rose, the valleys sank down to the place that you appointed for them. 9 You set a boundary that they may not pass, so that they might not again cover the earth.

It was God’s word that held the waters back, and it was God’s word that released them to flood the earth. The conclusion we should draw is that God will follow through on his promises of judgment. God’s word stored up the waters of judgment for the ancient world. Now by God’s word, the heavens and earth are being stored up for fire. God did destroy the earth once with water because of the sins of mankind. God promised that ‘never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth’ (Gen.9:11). God promises justice, but the final time will be with fire.

7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

If you are not right with God, you will be kindling for that fire. God, through his own Son Jesus Christ, has made a way for us to be forgiven, rescued, and reconciled to God. I plead with you, on the basis of the Cross of Christ, be reconciled to God! If you reject the forgiveness he freely offers, there is nothing left for you but the righteous wrath of God forever and ever and ever.

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

February 21, 2010 Posted by | 2 Peter, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2 Peter 2:17-22; The True Nature of False Teachers

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20100214_2peter2_17-22.mp3

02/14 2 Peter 2:17-22 The True Nature of False Teachers

Peter has written this short but fiery letter to warn believers that there are false teachers on the loose who have chosen a path to hell and are enticing everyone they can to join them on it. He has prayed for us that God’s grace and peace would be multiplied to us in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. He has encouraged us that God’s sovereign power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us. He has pointed us to the promises of God, to our participation in God’s holy character, and our escape from sinful desires that would destroy us. He has encouraged us in the path of godliness and virtue which testifies to our transformed character and new identity. Peter writes to establish us in the truth so that we will not be shaken when the false teachers come. In chapter 2, he lays in to the false teachers with all the vengeance of a loving father whose innocent daughter is being seduced by a sexual predator. He rips the disguise off their true motivation; greed, out of control lust, and a total disregard for proper authority. He lays out the biblical historical examples of angels who sinned, the ancient world destroyed by the flood, and Sodom and Gomorrah, to demonstrate that

9 …the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment,

He compares these false teachers to irrational animals so out of control that they must be destroyed. He describes them as blots and blemishes, like contagious leprosy that destroys whatever it comes in contact with, with eyes that can’t stop lusting after everyone they look at. They have an insatiable appetite for sin, they are experts in greed and manipulation. They prey on weak believers who are not well established in the truth and entice them to go astray to their own destruction. He compares them to Balaam from the Old Testament, who for money told the enemies of God’s people how to seduce them into immorality and idolatry. Balaam was rebuked by his own donkey but didn’t even listen. He ended up being killed along with the enemies of God’s people.

Peter is a good shepherd, lovingly feeding and caring for the needs of the sheep, but fierce and merciless when protecting them from the wolves. He goes on in the rest of the chapter to demonstrate the emptiness of their promises, the method of their madness, and the true character of these false teachers.

17 These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. 18 For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. 20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”

Peter reveals the empty nature of their promises. Imagine hiking in the arid desert, your water has run out, you are becoming dehydrated, and you see a sign that says ‘fresh water spring – 2 miles’. You take the detour and with every step anticipate the refreshment that the fresh cool water will bring. The anticipation motivates you to push on toward the spring. Your thirst drives you to keep going even when you feel like you can’t take another step. You round the final bend, and there you see the decomposing carcasses of the other travelers who took the same detour. The spring that promised hope has no water. The empty promise leads to death. Proverbs says:

Proverbs 13:13 Whoever despises the word brings destruction on himself, but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded. 14 The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death.

The teaching of the wise is said to be a fountain of life. This is teaching that honors God’s word and pays attention to his commandment. Teaching that gives life is teaching that points people to the true source of life. Jeremiah said:

Jeremiah 2:13 for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.

The first and greatest sin is abandoning God as the all satisfying source of everything we need. The Psalmist knew God is the only one that can quench our soul’s deepest thirst.

Psalms 63:1 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

Jesus said to the woman at the well

John 4:13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

In John 6 he said:

John 6:35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

In John 7 he said

John 7:37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”’ 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Jesus promised that those who come to him to be satisfied in him will have their deepest thirst quenched, will be indwelt by his Holy Spirit, and will overflow with living water for those around. Are we water for the thirsty? Do our words point people to Jesus and give life to those around us? Or are we waterless springs?

He calls the false teachers waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. The image is a cloud that promises rain for a parched land but turns out to be only a haze that brings hot weather. Mist has no stability and comes and goes with the changing breezes of fashion and popular opinion. These false teachers are not neutral; they are not harmless, and they will be held accountable for their actions. He says ‘for them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved.’ Their judgment is firmly fixed. They have reserved seats in the blackest darkness. This destiny of the false teachers stands in stark contrast to the future that is reserved for us:

1 Peter 1:3 … he has caused us to be born again to a living hope …4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded though faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

There is an inheritance reserved in heaven for all genuine believers. The gloom of utter darkness has been reserved for false teachers who lead sheep away from the Shepherd. Peter goes on to describe how they do what they do, so we will be on guard.

18 For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error.

They were waterless in that their words did not bring life, but they were by no means silent. Just the opposite. They would talk anybody under the table with their volume, their forcefulness, and their arrogance. They would look down on anyone who disagreed as ignorant, uneducated, or uninformed. They speak loud boasts of folly. The word here speaks of inflated arrogant high sounding speech. They were impressive to listen to. They were able to use big words and convincing arguments. They made great promises for those who would attend their seminars and follow their advice, but their teaching was full of truth that was distorted and would lead to destruction.

Their impressive sounding speech was the PR campaign for their real agenda: they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. Sex sells. Lust and greed and appetite are powerful tools, and sensual passions are intensely difficult to resist. The drives for food and drink and sex and escape from pain are all necessary God given drives that are not sinful. But when these drives become the controlling principle in life, they become destructive.

The false teachers go after those who are not established in the faith. That’s why Peter is writing this letter! He wants us all to be established, with our feet firmly planted on the solid rock of the substitutionary death of the Lord Jesus Christ, our mind informed by reliable biblical truth, and our heart transformed to love God more than anything else. There is no excuse for someone who has been a believer for many years to not be established in the truth. But growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ does take time, and those who have only recently been introduced to Jesus are by nature more vulnerable. We all need to be on our guard, and watching out for one another. We all have a common enemy who constantly seeks to steal, kill and destroy. The devil is after those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. When someone comes to Christ, there must be a break with the old lifestyle. That is an especially vulnerable time for a new believer who will be barraged with temptation to return to what is familiar. We need to help each other, to confront each other, to pray with each other, to encourage each other to stay in the path of righteousness.

Here’s what the false teachers promise: They promise them freedom. Freedom is the glorious message of the cross. Jesus said “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). Paul taught that “the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2); “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). These false teachers would take up the cry “Freedom! – Christ set us free for freedom! stand firm in your freedom and do not submit to the legalism of those who impose their rigid puritanical morals on you to restrict your freedom in Christ. Christ died to set us free from the law! We are free! We can live any way we choose because we are free!” Freedom is a powerful word. FREEDOM! The cry of freedom can rally the troops. The idea of freedom can bring us to tears. It is an emotionally charged word. But what does it mean? What is freedom? What kind of freedom are we talking about? Peter has already addressed this danger head on in his first letter:

1 Peter 2:16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.

We are free! That is true. Peter encourages us to embrace our freedom. Live as people who are free. But the danger is that we would use freedom as a cover-up for evil. We are free, but we are freed to be the glad servants of God. Here’s how Paul describes our freedom:

Romans 6:7 For one who has died has been set free from sin… 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. … 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.

Freedom in Christ is not freedom to live any way we please. The blood-bought freedom that we are given is freedom to live a life free from slavery to sin. Our freedom in Christ can be described as slavery to God or slavery to righteousness. This is slavery to a master who loves us so much that he paid with his own blood to free us from the consequences of our own sin – death, hell, an eternity of the righteous wrath of God; and to promise us sanctification, cleansing that leads to eternal life and joy in his presence. Jesus said

Matthew 5:17 Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.

The loud boastful word ‘freedom’ for the false teachers really means that they are still enslaved to their own corruption. They are overcome by their own passions. They are not master of their desires, they are ruled by their desires. Their cry of freedom rings empty when we look at their slavish existence that eats away at the very flesh they worship. The next thing Peter says is downright scary.

20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”

Peter tells us that it is possible to escape the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and be re-entangled and overcome. Peter doesn’t talk like many Christians in our day talk. “Well, I know he’s gone back to his old ways, but at least he prayed the sinner’s prayer when he was in jail. What she’s doing right now isn’t right, but she asked Jesus into her heart when she was young. They were baptized and went to church regularly for a while. They’ve returned to their old lifestyle, but at least they made a decision for Christ at that concert.” Sometimes our evangelism reflects this; if we can get someone to pray to receive Christ we can rejoice with the angels and go on our merry way. Peter does not think or talk like this. He says “it would have been better for them never to have know the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment”. Better never to have known, than to know and walk away. Better to never hear the gospel, than to hear, understand, and reject it. This echoes what Jesus said

Matthew 11:24 But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.

If…they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.” This is almost an exact quote from the words of Jesus:

Luke 11:24 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25 And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. 26 Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.” (cf. Matthew 12:43-45)

According to Peter, it would be better if someone had never heard of Jesus than for them to understand clearly the substitutionary death of Jesus on the cross for our sins, to embrace him for a time, and then to walk away.

Jesus did not tell us to go get as many people as you can to pray a prayer. Jesus told us to

Matthew 28:19-20 Go …and make disciples… teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you

Salvation is described in verse 21 as “the way of righteousness”; it is not the way of self-gratification. Righteousness is to define the character and way of life of a Christian. He describes it as “the holy commandment delivered to them”. The gospel is not a recommendation. It is not a suggestion or an offer. The good news is a holy commandment. The gospel makes demands on me.

Acts 17:30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

Paul reminds us of the gospel in 1 Corinthians

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.

We must turn from our dead works, embrace Christ as our only hope, and abide in him.

I do not believe this passage teaches that a true believer can lose his salvation. The final phrase makes this clear. “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.” Dogs and pigs were both unclean animals according to the Old Testament, and they were both considered filthy and despised. Dogs have a habit of vomiting and then eating what they have vomited up. People for a time can seem to purge themselves of the sin inside, but if their nature is not changed, they will go swallow it back down. Pigs wallow in mud. You can give a pig a bath, but it is still a pig and it will wallow in the mud as soon as the opportunity presents itself. Washing the outside does nothing to effect change on the inside. A dog is still a dog and a pig is still a pig. They are not sheep. Their true nature will become evident with time. This is what John tells us :

1 John 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.

People can be very convincing. We have a tendency to want to clean the outside of the cup and whitewash the outside of the tomb. But the new birth results in new life – transformed life – sheep that follow the shepherd. Those that turn from the shepherd to eat their own vomit or wallow in their own filth are not sheep but pigs and dogs.

Jesus illustrated this truth in the parable of the soils:

Luke 8:11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 The ones along the path are those who have heard. Then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. 14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. 15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

False teachers, and those who follow them, are thorny ground; choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life. The do not hold fast to the word of truth but forsake it.

Peter is writing to warn those whom he believes to be true believers. These are strong words of warning from the loving heart of a protective father. Understand the method of the false teachers; they use bold sophisticated sounding language to persuade. Understand the bait of the false teachers; they seduce unsteady souls with indulgence of the flesh. Understand the theology of the false teachers – they preach a freedom from biblical moral restraints by distorting the meaning of Christian freedom. Understand the end of the false teachers; they are slaves to their own corruption, they are worse off than someone who has never heard the good news, and the gloom of utter darkness is reserved for them.

2 Peter 3:17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.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.

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

February 14, 2010 Posted by | 2 Peter, podcast | , , , , , | Leave a comment

2 Peter 2:10-16; Arrogance, Lust and Greed

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20100207_2peter2_10-16.mp3

02/07 2 Peter 2:10-16 Arrogance, Lust, and Greed

Peter is warning us of the dangers of false teachers:

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. 2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

Peter continues by giving three examples of God’s just judgment in the past to give us certainty of his coming judgment on evildoers in the future. He mentions angels who sinned, the ancient world that he destroyed with a flood, keeping Noah and his family alive, and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah that were destroyed with fire from God, but rescuing righteous Lot. Then he concludes:

9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.

In the following section of the passage, Peter lays it on heavy with the false teachers. He reveals their true character and destiny as a warning for us to not be tripped up with their lies. Peter’s goal, as he states at the end of this short letter is:

2 Peter 3:17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.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.

Peter wants us to have stability that comes from good doctrine, good doctrine that will bear good fruit in our lives. Peter calls us to:

2 Peter 1:10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.

He wants us to demonstrate that we are the elect and called of God by embracing and walking in the new life that Jesus has effected in us.

Peter tells us what he intends to do with this letter:

2 Peter 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,

Peter considers us established in the truth. Yet he feels it is critical to stir us up with a reminder so that will be kept from straying.

In chapter 2 verse 1-3, Peter tells us that the three major issues with the false teachers were their arrogant disrespect of authority, their insatiable lust and their voracious greed. Now, in verses 10-13 he addresses their arrogance against authority, in verses 13-14 he confronts their out of control sexual appetites, and in verses 14-16 he rebukes their merciless greed. Let’s look at the passage at hand.

10 …Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, 11 whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord. 12 But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, 13 suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. 14 They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! 15 Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, 16 but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.

The main message of this passage is clear and hard-hitting. But there are some details in his language that are unclear. First, who or what are the glories that the false teachers blaspheme? Are they good angels, fallen angels, or the glories of Christ at his second coming? Next, who do angels not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against? Does ‘them’ refer to the fallen angels, or the false teachers? The language is ambiguous and can be understood in different ways. Here are some possibilities:

* ‘these false teachers are not afraid to slander good angels, who were involved in giving the law to Moses, and were commonly understood to be involved in the final judgment, saying things like ‘they don’t exist’ or ‘they have no right or power to judge us’; even though these good angels do not slanderously accuse them – the false teachers – before God. (doxas = angels; Heb.9:5; Rev.18:1)

* ‘these false teachers are not afraid to slander fallen angels, saying things like ‘we’re not under their power’, ‘we won’t share their condemnation’ or even ‘they don’t exist’; whereas good angels do not slanderously accuse the fallen angels, even though they would have the right and power to do so.

Jude, in his parallel passage, uses a very similar phrase – blaspheme the glorious ones, but he elaborates on the second part; what the angels do not do:

Jude 8 Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. 9 But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” 10 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively.

So if Peter and Jude are making the same point, then Peter is saying that the good angels do not presume to bring a slanderous accusation about fallen angels before the Lord, but instead leave it to the justice of God.

* ‘these false teachers are not afraid to blaspheme the glories of God, particularly the glories of Christ and his immanent return, but the angels, who have much greater strength and might, do not slander the false teachers who deserve it.

The way Peter uses the word ‘glory’ points us toward this understanding of ‘glories’. In 1 Peter 1:11, we are reminded of the Old Testament prophets who predicted the sufferings of Christ and his subsequent glories. In 2 Peter 1:3, we are called to his own glory and excellence. In 1:17 Jesus received glory and honor from God the Father. In 3:18 glory is ascribed to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In chapter 3, the false teachers mock the promise of the second coming. So it could be that the false teachers even slander the glories of Jesus himself and his second coming,

However we understand the details of the text, the main point is clear. The false teachers are incredibly arrogant and presumptuous to slander without fear things that are bigger and stronger than them, things they don’t even understand. They criticize without examining themselves. They have stepped out of place and refuse to submit to proper authority.

Peter compares them to wild animals that are a menace and must be put down.

12 But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, 13 suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing.

What a graphic picture of our sin nature allowed to run its course. They have become a danger to themselves and all those around them, they cannot respond to rational thought, they must do what they are driven to do, and the only way to stop them in their destructive course is to cage them and destroy them. And Peter wants to make it clear, that destruction is coming for them. These false teachers will be destroyed; they will suffer wrong as payment for the wrongs they have done. They will reap what they have sown and get what they have coming to them.

Next he points to their insatiable lust:

13 …They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. 14 They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls.

Pleasure and feasting are not in themselves bad or sinful.

Isaiah 55:2 … Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.

There is a time and a place for pleasure and feasting and celebration. We, of all people, have something genuine to celebrate. But whenever pursuit of pleasure controls everything else, it has become an idol. When pleasure is made god, it is deceitful pleasure, because it promises but can never satisfy. Peter describes these false teachers who feast with the church ‘blots and blemishes’. They are a defiling leprosy in the body. Peter exhorts us to diligence in avoiding spots and blemishes:

2 Peter 3:14 … be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.

In 1 Peter 1:18-19, we are told that the Passover Lamb who bought us was without spot or blemish.

1 Peter 1:18 knowing that you were ransomed … not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

There is a word play in this verse. When Peter says ‘reveling in their deceptions’, the word translated deceptions sounds like the word for the love feast where the believers would celebrate the Lord’s supper. Peter is saying that the agape meal has become a deceptive pleasure because of these blots and blemishes

Verse 14 literally reads ‘having eyes full of an adulteress.’ Everyone they look at is envisioned as a potential sex partner. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.

He says they are ‘insatiable for sin’. Proverbs tells us:

Proverbs 27:20 Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied, and never satisfied are the eyes of man.

He says ‘they entice unsteady souls’. They are not satisfied by indulging their own flesh unless they can drag others down with them in their shameful practices. This is Peter’s exhortation to us. Do not be one who is an unsteady soul.

2 Peter 3:17 … take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…

Send your roots down deep in the knowledge of Jesus. Anchor your life on the rock solid truth of Jesus Christ crucified to set sinners free from sin so that with his resurrection power we can live lives of righteousness.

These false teachers are not unsteady. They come to prey on those who are weak in the church. Peter goes on to describe them: ‘they have hearts trained in greed’. They go to the gym and exercise their hearts and train to take advantage of the weak for their own gain. Accursed children! Because of the road they have chosen, they are under God’s curse. Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They are not lost, accidentally off the path through no fault of their own. It is not that they did not know the right way. They knew it and they forsook it. They abandoned the truth and embraced a lie. They intentionally left the path and went astray.

Now Peter points us to an Old Testament illustration. Peter says a few words about Balaam, and he expects his readers to know the story. Do you know the story? In a day where none but the very rich would have a copy of the scriptures in their homes, Peter expected them to know this story. The story of Balaam is found in Numbers 22-24. The Israelites have left Egypt and have been wandering in the desert for 40 years while the rebellious generation that rejected God’s promises dies off. They are now on the march toward the promised land, and God is giving them victory. They defeated Sihon, king of the Amorites and Og, king of Bashan.

Numbers 22:1 Then the people of Israel set out and camped in the plains of Moab beyond the Jordan at Jericho. 2 And Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites. 3 And Moab was in great dread of the people, because they were many. Moab was overcome with fear of the people of Israel. 4 And Moab said to the elders of Midian, “This horde will now lick up all that is around us, as the ox licks up the grass of the field.” So Balak the son of Zippor, who was king of Moab at that time, 5 sent messengers to Balaam the son of Beor at Pethor, which is near the River in the land of the people of Amaw, to call him, saying, “Behold, a people has come out of Egypt. They cover the face of the earth, and they are dwelling opposite me. 6 Come now, curse this people for me, since they are too mighty for me. Perhaps I shall be able to defeat them and drive them from the land, for I know that he whom you bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed.”

So Balak king of Moab and the Midianites sent his messengers to Balaam to hire him to perform divination and curse the Israelites. God forbade Balaam to go with them, so he refused. Balak sent a larger group of more important messengers:

16 And they came to Balaam and said to him, “Thus says Balak the son of Zippor: ‘Let nothing hinder you from coming to me, 17 for I will surely do you great honor, and whatever you say to me I will do. Come, curse this people for me.”’ 18 But Balaam answered and said to the servants of Balak, “Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the command of the LORD my God to do less or more.

God gives him permission this second time to go, but strictly charges him to do nothing but what God tells him.

21 So Balaam rose in the morning and saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab. 22 But God’s anger was kindled because he went, and the angel of the LORD took his stand in the way as his adversary. Now he was riding on the donkey, and his two servants were with him. 23 And the donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road, with a drawn sword in his hand. And the donkey turned aside out of the road and went into the field. And Balaam struck the donkey, to turn her into the road. 24 Then the angel of the LORD stood in a narrow path between the vineyards, with a wall on either side. 25 And when the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she pushed against the wall and pressed Balaam’s foot against the wall. So he struck her again. 26 Then the angel of the LORD went ahead and stood in a narrow place, where there was no way to turn either to the right or to the left. 27 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she lay down under Balaam. And Balaam’s anger was kindled, and he struck the donkey with his staff. 28 Then the LORD opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?” 29 And Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have made a fool of me. I wish I had a sword in my hand, for then I would kill you.” 30 And the donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey, on which you have ridden all your life long to this day? Is it my habit to treat you this way?” And he said, “No.” 31 Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, with his drawn sword in his hand. And he bowed down and fell on his face. 32 And the angel of the LORD said to him, “Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out to oppose you because your way is perverse before me. 33 The donkey saw me and turned aside before me these three times. If she had not turned aside from me, surely just now I would have killed you and let her live.”

God’s anger was kindled because Balaam’s way was perverse. God permitted Balaam to go and meet Balak, and they made sacrifices in order to curse Israel, but God caused Balaam to bless them instead. Balak took him to another location and offered sacrifices and again God caused Balaam to bless Israel. This happened a third time,

24:10 And Balak’s anger was kindled against Balaam, and he struck his hands together. And Balak said to Balaam, “I called you to curse my enemies, and behold, you have blessed them these three times. 11 Therefore now flee to your own place. I said, ‘I will certainly honor you,’ but the LORD has held you back from honor.” 12 And Balaam said to Balak, “Did I not tell your messengers whom you sent to me, 13 ‘If Balak should give me his house full of silver and gold, I would not be able to go beyond the word of the LORD, to do either good or bad of my own will.

Balaam then blesses Israel a final time and returns home. It all sounds good, but there is something going on under the surface. Balaam is after the silver and gold in Balak’s house. The very next chapter says

Numbers 25:1 While Israel lived in Shittim, the people began to whore with the daughters of Moab. 2 These invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. 3. So Israel yoked himself to Baal of Peor. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel.

We don’t find out what was really going on until later on in Numbers. In Numbers 31, Balaam is killed in battle along with the Midianites, and the women are taken captive.

Numbers 31:15 Moses said to them, “Have you let all the women live? 16 Behold, these, on Balaam’s advice, caused the people of Israel to act treacherously against the LORD in the incident of Peor, and so the plague came among the congregation of the LORD.

So Balaam got his money – since God wouldn’t allow him to curse the people of Israel, he gave the Midianites some advice. If you can lure the Israelites into sexual sin and idolatry, God will punish them.

Peter says:

15 …They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, 16 but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness

Balaam, this influential prophet, had less insight into what God was doing than his animal did. Balaam was blinded to reality by his greed. Balaam acted irrationally, insanely. Even a supernatural event didn’t deter him from recklessly pursuing his own lust. He traded in the true satisfaction that comes from intimacy with God for a king’s gold and silver, and he didn’t even live to enjoy it.

Know this. Know this beforehand. Let us all be established in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us learn to value what is truly valuable so that we don’t forsake the way of truth for a cheap imitation, so that we are not carried away to judgment with those who embrace the devil’s lies.

2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him … 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. … 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.

2 Peter 3:17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.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.

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1 Thessalonians 3:11 Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, 12 and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, 13 so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

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2 Thessalonians 2:16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

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2 Thessalonians 3:3 But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. 4 And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command. 5 May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.

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1 Peter 5:10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

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

February 7, 2010 Posted by | 2 Peter, podcast | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2 Peter 2:3-10; God’s Rescue and Punishment

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20100131_2peter2_3-10.mp3

01/31 2 Peter 2:3-10 God’s Rescue and Punishment

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. 2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. 4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; 5 if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6 if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7 and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked 8 (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); 9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.

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Peter is warning his readers against the dangers of false teaching. He says at the close of his letter:

2 Peter 3:17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.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.

Peter has contrasted the reliability of God’s word and the apostolic witness with the false prophets of old and the false teachers of today. Their heresy was moral. They would argue that there is no coming judgment and we will not be held accountable for our action, so we can indulge the flesh any way we like. In effect, this false teaching was denying the authority of Jesus Christ over all those he bought with his own blood. Peter warns that these heresies are destructive- they will bring swift destruction. And he gives us three Old Testament examples of the certainty of God’s judgment on those who live ungodly lives as a guarantee that it is coming. As Paul said in Romans:

Romans 15:4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

Paul points the Corinthians to the Old Testament events as motivation for holy living:

1 Corinthians 10:1 I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. 6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” 8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9 We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.

Peter points us to the Old Testament history of God’s dealing with his creation to give us confidence of the coming judgment and encouragement to stand firm against false doctrine that would tell us that morality doesn’t matter. God does not change. What God hates, he always hates. He is the same yesterday, and today and forever [Heb.13:8; cf. Heb.1:12; Jas.1:17]. He will certainly punish those who do evil just as he has been faithful to do in the past. God has consistently judged the wicked throughout history. It may seem that God is letting sin slide, but Peter warns that condemnation has been pronounced on those who do evil, and that was not an idle threat. Their destruction is not asleep. God will surely do what he promised to do.

Peter’s three Old Testament examples are the angels that sinned, the ancient world God destroyed with the flood, and the sin saturated cities of Sodom and Gomorrah that were destroyed by fire..

4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;

Peter here refers to the traditional understanding of Genesis 6:1-4. The Genesis text reads like this:

Genesis 6:1 When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. 3 Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” 4 The Nephilim [giants] were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.

We are told that the sons of God mated with human women and produced a race of mighty men. “Sons of God” appears to be a reference to angels in Job [1:6; 2:1; 38:7]. Some angels sinned by violating the boundary between species and taking human wives and producing superhuman children.

Jude gives us more detail on his understanding of this event when he compares the sin of these angels with the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah, who “likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire” [Jude 7]. Peter simply states that God did not spare these angels when they sinned, but imprisoned them in hell to be held until the final judgment. He summarizes the sins of his three examples in verse 10 as “those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.”

The word translated ‘cast them into hell’ in our text refers to being sent to ‘Tartarus’, the lowest part of the underworld in Greek thought. Peter’s point is that even their position of power and prestige did not spare angels from God’s justice. The false teachers may have claimed exemption from judgment because of their prosperity and popularity. But this would offer no safety to them. Even angels were not spared when they sinned.

The narrative in Genesis continues:

Genesis 6:5 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor [grace] in the eyes of the LORD. …11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. 13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth.

Peter uses this as his next example:

5 if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly;

He did not spare angels, who are powerful privileged beings, and he did not spare the whole ancient world. Often we feel there is safety in numbers. If everybody is doing it, God surely grades on some sort of a curve. God would not destroy everyone, would he? God did not spare the ancient world. Only 8 people were preserved when God brought the flood on the world of the ungodly. We are inclined to presume on God’s grace and love – a loving God wouldn’t really send anyone to hell, would he? Jesus said:

Matthew 7:13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. 15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

Peter gives his third example from God’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah:

6 if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;

We find the record in Genesis 19:

Genesis 19:24 Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the LORD out of heaven. 25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.

In Genesis 18, God had visited Abraham and

Genesis 18:20 Then the LORD said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, 21 I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know.”

Two angels visited Sodom and found hospitality in the house of Lot.

Genesis 19:4 But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. 5 And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.” 6 Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, 7 and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. 8 Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.” 9 But they said, “Stand back!” And they said, “This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.” Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down.

Even after this, the angels literally had to drag Lot and his family out of the city so they could destroy it. This was in response to Abraham’s prayer in chapter 18:

Genesis 18:23 Then Abraham drew near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? …25 Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?”

And this answers another objection of the false teachers. They could say that God cannot judge the world, because the righteous would be punished along with the wicked. But from the examples of the flood and Sodom we see that God can and does distinguish between the righteous and the wicked.

7 and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked 8 (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard);

It is staggering that Lot is called ‘righteous’ three times in this text. This is a grand demonstration of the unmerited grace of God. Reading Lot’s story, we see him selfishly choosing the best land for himself, we see him living in Sodom without making even one convert, we see him offering his two virgin daughters up to appease a sex-crazed mob intent on homosexual gang rape, his sons-in-law to be don’t take him seriously, he literally has to be pried away from Sodom by angels, and even then he bargains for compromise with his rescuers, his own wife is so enamored with the Sodomite culture that she turns back to her own destruction, and after their escape his own daughters get him drunk and sleep with him because they think the end of the world has come. This is the man Peter describes as ‘righteous’ three times. This can only be the imputed righteousness of Christ, not the intrinsic moral character of Lot himself. Peter started his letter pointing us to this:

2 Peter 1:1 …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…

We receive a righteousness not our own as a gift by the grace of God through faith. Paul describes us as:

Romans 5:17 …those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness …

This is truly abundant grace to give Lot [and us] the free gift of righteousness.

Romans 3:21 …the righteousness of God has been manifested… 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 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,

Even in Lot’s life there is evidence of God at work transforming him. We may question when we look at his choices and his witness and his family, but Peter points us to the conviction of the Spirit and his inner turmoil over sin:

7 and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked 8 (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard);

Lot was saved as through fire, and all his works were burned up, but he was saved [1Cor.3:12-15]. His born-again conscience was tormented daily by everything he saw and heard. He was in the world but not of the world. There was genuine evidence of God’s new creation work in his heart.

Peter has laid out these three Old Testament proofs in an extended ‘if – then’ statement. He says ‘if God did not spare angels, the world, or Sodom in the past…’ and we might expect him to conclude ‘then the Lord will not spare these immoral false teachers today’. Instead he interjects the great mercy of God in rescuing sinners before he describes the certainty of divine judgment.

9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.

As in the case of Noah and Lot, God is able to rescue the godly today. Jesus told his disciples:

Matthew 26:41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

And he taught his disciples to pray:

Matthew 6:9 Pray then like this: …13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

But the conclusion is certain. Just like the angels and the ancient world and the sinful cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, the Lord knows how to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment.

Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

His judgment is particularly certain against those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. The words translated ‘who indulge in the lust of defiling passion’ can literally be translated ‘those who go after flesh in defiling passion’. The phrase ‘those who go after’ is a common phrase to describe those who go after other gods or pagan deities. These teachers turned desire into their god and devoted themselves to a pursuit of their passions. And they despised authority. They disowned the Master who bought them.

This is sobering truth. God did not spare angels when they sinned. God did not spare the ancient world. Romans 11:21 tells us that God did not spare the unbelieving branches of natural Israel and he will not spare the gentiles grafted in if they are proud. But there is one more that God did not spare, and this brings us great hope:

Romans 8:32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

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

January 31, 2010 Posted by | 2 Peter, podcast | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2 Peter 2:1-3; False Teachers Among You

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20100124_2peter2_1-3.mp3

01/24 2 Peter 2:1-3 False Teachers Among You

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. 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. 19 And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

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. 2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

Overview / Review of Chapter 1

Today we’re going to jump back in to 2 Peter. We’ve been away for 2 months, so we’ll start with some review and pick up Peter’s flow of thought as we start in on chapter 2. Peter, as he tells us in 1:12-15, knows that he is going to die soon, so he is making every effort to stir us up to holy living by reminding us of the truth of the gospel. He is taking care to write with the intention of giving us a permanent record of authoritative apostolic teaching that we can refer back to at any time. His stated purpose for writing is found in the last two verses of this short letter:

2 Peter 3:17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.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.

There are lawless people that are propagating error in the church. They want to carry us away with them and cause us to loose our sure footing in Christ. As vaccination against this danger, Peter calls us to growth in God’s free gift of grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who is worthy of all glory forever. Peter is writing to alert us to the danger and strengthen our foundation in the truth so that we never fall.

In chapter 1, he has encouraged us that eternal life and godly living cannot be separated – as if holiness were an optional extra to our main course of salvation that we can either take or leave. Peter tells us that if we lack virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection and love, we will be ineffective and unfruitful, that we are blind and have forgotten our own salvation, and we will not ultimately find entrance into God’s kingdom.

This is not a call to gaining God’s favor by our own moral effort, because Peter started by saying that both eternal life and godliness are a gift of divine power. It is God’s power that gives us great and precious promises – and God is the one that must keep his promises to us. We must fight to grow in godliness because we have already become partakers in the divine nature and have already escaped the corruption that is in the world. We must fight the battle in front of us not in order to help win the war for Christ, but because Christ has already won the war for us. But we must fight against sin and for holiness to demonstrate that we are on the winning side and not traitors or defectors to the enemy ranks.

Peter encourages us in our pursuit of godliness by directing us to what we must pay attention to. He points us to the apostolic witness and the holy scriptures, because that is where we find the precious and very great promises of God to us. The apostolic witnesses did not follow myths or fables; they were eyewitness of the power and coming of Jesus confirmed by the voice from heaven. And the prophetic word is a reliable guide in dark days because men spoke from God as they were blown along by the Holy Spirit.

Peter continues to exhort us to godly living by way of warning in chapter 2. His warning sounds severe because the danger is serious. Following false teaching has eternal consequences – it will send you to hell. It is urgent that we avoid the seduction of these destructive heresies, because swift destruction will come to all who follow them.

Peter has been talking about the Old Testament scriptures and the apostolic witness as a reliable guide for a life of holiness. He now contrasts the trustworthiness of scripture with the destructive teaching of false prophets and false teachers. In 1:16-18 he has discussed the accuracy of the apostolic eyewitness, and in 1:12-15 he refers to his own writing of what will become part of the New Testament. (In 3:15-16 he will also refer to Paul’s letters as scripture.) In 1:19-21 he has highlighted the divine origin and certainty of the prophetic scriptures; what we know as the Old Testament. Now, in the beginning of 2:1 he points out that in Old Testament times there were false prophets, and he continues by saying that even in the New Testament days there will be false teachers.

Structure of passage:

a. NT apostles (1:12-18)

b. OT prophets (1:19-21)

b. OT false prophets (2:1a)

a. NT false teachers (2:1b-3)

1:19 And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2:1 But false prophets also arose among the people,

In Deuteronomy, the people were warned not to listen to false prophets and told how to distinguish a false prophet from a true prophet.

Deuteronomy 18:20 But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ 21 And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the LORD has not spoken?’– 22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.

So it would be clear that a prophet whose predictions did not happen was a false prophet. But the people were warned not to believe every prophet even if what they said did happen.

Deuteronomy 13:1 “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

Any genuine prophet of God would bring only a God-centered message. Putting any other desire in place of God is indication of a false prophet. As we study some of the false prophets of the Old Testament, we see that they were not authorized to speak with divine authority, they frequently brought a message of peace and security in contrast to the true prophets who brought warning of future judgment, and they were ultimately condemned to punishment by God. Look for a moment at Jeremiah 23:

Jeremiah 23:16 Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. 17 They say continually to those who despise the word of the LORD, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.”’

Jeremiah 23:25 I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in my name, saying, ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed!’ 26 How long shall there be lies in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart, 27 who think to make my people forget my name by their dreams that they tell one another, even as their fathers forgot my name for Baal? 28 Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat? declares the LORD. 29 Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? 30 Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, declares the LORD, who steal my words from one another. 31 Behold, I am against the prophets, declares the LORD, who use their tongues and declare, ‘declares the LORD.’ 32 Behold, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, declares the LORD, and who tell them and lead my people astray by their lies and their recklessness, when I did not send them or charge them. So they do not profit this people at all, declares the LORD.

False prophets encouraged the people to despise God’s word and instead follow their own heart. They cause people to forget the name or character of God. Ultimately, they do not profit the people at all. What has straw in common with wheat? declares the LORD.

Peter continues:

just as there will be false teachers among you,

False teachers were no surprise to the apostles. Jesus had warned them:

Matthew 7:15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

Matthew 24:11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.

Matthew 24:24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.

Paul warned the church in Ephesus:

Acts 20: 28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears. 32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

Paul exhorted the young pastor Timothy:

2 Timothy 4:2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

The apostle John wrote:

1 John 2:26 I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you.

1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Paul warned the leaders in Ephesus that men speaking twisted things drawing away disciples after them will arise from among your own selves. This is not a danger from outside the church. Peter warns

2:1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you,

These false teachers were not seeking to draw people away from the church; they were bringing their heresies into the church, corrupting the church from the inside. What was it that they were bringing in?

who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

We are told that they are bringing in destructive heresies. What are these teachings that bring destruction? When we look forward in the chapter, it appears that the false teachers are leading people not into false doctrine so much as into immoral behavior. They are described as

10 …those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority… 13 …They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. … reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. 14 They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed… 15 Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray… 18 …speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh… 19 …they themselves are slaves of corruption…. 20 …they are … entangled … and overcome [in the defilements of the world].

We know that moral failure cannot be separated from doctrinal error. And Peter tells us that they ‘deny the Master who bought them’. ‘The Master who bought them’ arouses images of slaves being transferred to new owners; the new master has legal control and absolute authority over the one who is his property. In his letter to the immoral church in Corinth, Paul addresses their similar situation with similar language:

1 Corinthians 6:19 …You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 7:23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.

Paul charges the Ephesian elders with the care of the church:

Acts 20:28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.

Jesus himself said:

Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

The song of praise to the Lamb in Revelation goes like this:

Revelation 5:9 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,

Peter points us to this purchase and its moral implications:

1 Peter 1:18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

1 Peter 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. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

1 Peter 4:1 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.

Coming to Jesus for salvation means coming to him on his terms. He has paid the price and he now owns you. These false teachers embraced the Lord Jesus in name, but they reject the claim of Jesus to domination over their whole lives. They deny the sovereign Lord by not obeying him. Far from being his apprentices, they are living in contradiction to his life and teaching. This is what Jesus is talking about when he says:

Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ 24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

A relationship with Jesus as Lord means obedience to him. Denying Jesus is not only something you do with your lips. Many deny him with their life. Peter says this results in swift destruction. These false teachers were denying any future judgment. Ironically, by denying Jesus authority to rule over their lives, they were inviting his judgment.

But there were other consequences to their destructive heresies:

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. 2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

They bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality. It should not surprise us that these kind of false teachers that open the door to immorality will gain a wide following. A third consequence of their denial is ‘because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.’ People will slander Christianity and Jesus because of the lifestyles of his so-called followers. The path of truth will appear to be less straight and less narrow than it really is. Because of the conduct of Christians, the name of Jesus gets dragged through the sewer.

Peter reveals the real motive behind the false teachers: greed. “In their greed they will exploit you with false words.” In their insatiable lust for power and possessions, they will fabricate their speech and manipulate lies to make merchandise of you whom the Lord has bought.

Do not be deceived. The false teachers will get what they have coming to them. And if you follow them, you too will get hell as your reward.

“Doubtless such stringent condemnation as Peter’s appear to twentieth-century readers as old-fashioned and inappropriate, because we have largely lost any sense of the diabolical danger of false teaching, and have become as dulled to the distinction between truth and falsehood in ideas as we have to the distinction between right and wrong in behaviour.” M.Green, p.97

Blood bought pilgrims must not prostitute themselves with the pleasures of sin. We cannot have two masters. Do not deny your Master who bought you with his own precious blood.

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

January 24, 2010 Posted by | 2 Peter, podcast | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2 Peter 1:19-21; Pay Attention to the Prophetic Word

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20091115_2peter1_19-21.mp3

11/15 2 Peter 1:19-21 Pay Attention to the Prophetic Word

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. 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. 19 And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Peter is writing into a situation where false teachers were denying the future literal coming of Jesus as judge and king to rule and reign. They were advocating a disregard of moral restraint because this talk of a king coming on a white horse with a sword is mere fairy tale, and we are much to sophisticated to believe that sort of thing. They would reject as myth things like 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10, where Paul says:

2 Thessalonians 1:7 … when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.

That’s just the sort of thing that someone would make up to scare you into listening to them and doing what they tell you to do.

Peter is arguing that a life lived in earnest pursuit of holiness really does matter; and it should be motivated by the expectation of the return of Jesus and the hope of entrance into his eternal kingdom. His first line of argument went like this: ‘No, Jesus really is coming again as judge and king, we can say this with confidence because we were eyewitnesses of the transfiguration; where God the Father installed Jesus as that coming messianic King who will rule and judge the nations. We were at his coronation ceremony. We were there for his inauguration. God himself sealed it with his own words.’

In verses 19-21, Peter lays out his second line of reasoning why we know for sure that Jesus really is coming back and living a life of godliness really does matter. We have the prophetic word – the Old Testament – that all points to Jesus the coming King, and that word is ratified by the installation of Jesus as king on the mount of transfiguration. Peter says that we do well to pay attention to it – it is a lamp to light our way until Jesus comes back. We must pay close heed because the word is not the product of human invention but rather it is divine communication. Peter points us here to our bibles. He wants us to keep our noses in them and to base our lives on them. He gives us great insight into the origin and intention of our bibles. Let’s look at what he has to say.

19 And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

The prophetic word; We have clarification on what this phrase means in verse 20, where the ‘prophetic word’ is referred to as ‘prophecy of Scripture’ or ‘prophetic writing’. For Jesus, ‘It is written’ was decisive in any argument. In Judaism, all of Scripture was considered prophetic. The singular refers to all Old Testament writings as a unity pointing to the coming Messiah.

More sure; The NASB has “So we have the prophetic word made more sure” and the NIV has “And we have the word of the prophets made more certain”; The ESV has “And we have something more sure, the prophetic word”. There is a subtle difference in the understanding of the original phrase that is represented by the different translations. What is clear is that the prophetic word is absolutely sure. The question is; does the transfiguration make the prophetic word more certain, or is the prophetic word said to be more certain than even the eyewitness accounts of the transfiguration? If you have a healthy respect for the scriptures you might opt for the second choice and ask ‘how can the scriptures be made more sure by any experience? – they are absolutely sure in themselves’. And I think Peter would agree, but his grammar points to the idea that the prophetic word is made more certain or confirmed by the transfiguration event. Not that scripture cannot stand without external testimony; it can. The scriptures are trustworthy because of what they are and who they come from, as Peter will make explicit in the next verses. But here he is saying that they are demonstrated trustworthy in that we actually saw the fulfillment of the prophecies unfold before our eyes. This is not the first time Peter has used this word ‘made more sure’. In verse 10, he tells us to “be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure” – and in that context it raises some of the same questions.. We cannot change what was done in the hidden councils of God before time began, but we can validate that decision and demonstrate that we are elect by doing what elect people do (and that starts by embracing Jesus). Just as my life demonstrates what (or whose) I am, the unfolding of prophetic events does not make the bible more trustworthy, but it demonstrates and puts on display what it inherently is.

19 And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts,

And here Peter gets to his main instruction for us. Pay attention! Pay attention to the prophetic word! Pay attention to your bibles! There is a note of encouragement here – you do well to pay attention – so keep it up! Don’t waylaid by false teachers who would turn you aside from studying and believing and obeying your bibles.

Peter compares the word of God to a lamp shining in a dark place. The word is compared to a light in Psalms and Proverbs:

Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Proverbs 6:23 For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life,

If you’ve ever been in a really dark place you understand the importance of a reliable light. There was a system of caves a few blocks from our college campus that I and some of my friends enjoyed exploring. I got to be relatively familiar with the small winding passageways. There was a tight entrance that opened into a large room with the ceiling covered in bats. Then there was a low crawl-way that led to another large room with many small tunnels leading in different directions. Once past the crawl-way there was no natural light that filtered in. Turn off your flashlight and there was absolute darkness. We would inch along on our bellies through these tight tunnels. On one expedition, we took some novice classmates in to explore, and half our little group lost interest and decided to turn around and head out while I and a friend wanted to continue. After the novices were out of earshot, I suggested that we hurry and take a turn in the tunnel we were in which I knew led back to the first room, where we would wait in the dark to terrify our novice friends. But in the rush to beat them out, we missed the critical turn and several hours later realized our little joke was on us. We had brought extra lights, but it was still sobering to see our flashlight beams dim as the batteries wore down. I enjoy the challenge of exploration, but the thought of trying to find our way groping in the pitch blackness was somehow not appealing. Our lights held up and we were able to eventually find our way out. But once we climbed out in broad daylight, our trusty lights that had served us so well in the winding little passageways were now completely irrelevant. Their weak beams were drowned out in the overwhelming light of the sun.

Peter tells us ‘pay attention to the prophetic word – it is a lamp shining in a dark place. But Peter has the end firmly in view. He uses that hope-filled word ‘until‘. As Isaiah predicted:

Isaiah 9:2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined. (c.f. Matthew 4:16)

We dwell in a land of deep darkness. The word of God lights our path. But one glorious day, the light will dawn.

Isaiah 60:1Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. 2 For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you.

Revelation 21:23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.

Revelation 22:5 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

But until – until that day when we look up from our bibles to see Jesus face to face. Until then ‘your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (Ps.119:105); I find my delight in your commandments, which I love (Ps.119:47); Every word of God proves true (Prov.30:5); All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable (2Tim.3:16); whatever was written in former times was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Rom.15:4). Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture (1Tim.4:13).

19 And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Peter wants us to know something that is of critical importance. In a day when false teachers are undermining the word of God, it is essential that we understand the nature of the Scriptures. It is somewhat ironic to me that in a verse that says ‘no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation, there is a great variety of interpretation as to what exactly Peter meant by the words he chose. The two main views are represented in these different translations:

20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, (NKJV)

20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. (NIV)

The King James Version represents the standard Roman Catholic interpretation, and the NIV represents the standard Protestant understanding. The Catholic church would say that this verse refers to the interpretation by Christians of the written word. The scriptures are not to be put into the hands of the common people, because they are not authorized to interpret them correctly. The scriptures must be interpreted by the Church, not private individuals.

The historic Protestant response was to say that this verse has nothing to do with modern day biblical interpretation; what this verse is talking about is the process of writing the Scriptures; the prophet’s interpretation of historical events or his dreams or visions was not his own invention.

Some modern day Evangelicals (Schreiner, Piper) have taken the first interpretation that this refers to present day biblical interpretation and taken this to mean not that the scriptures can only be handled correctly by the Pope, but that the scriptures are not open to any personal whim of interpretation. You can’t make a verse mean whatever you want it to mean. It has a definite meaning intended by its Author.

Although there is not a shred of evidence in these verses to point to the church as the official interpreter of Scripture, both of the evangelical views have been defended by good men. And both represent a correct understanding of Scripture. The bible did not originate by the prophet’s own invention, and the bible does not leave its meaning open to every reader to be manipulated into whatever shape they fancy. Words mean things and there is one right and many wrong interpretations. But in the flow of this passage, the focus is on the origin and authenticity of the prophetic word, not on its current interpretation. When the prophets spoke of the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, they were not throwing around their own opinions of what their visions and dreams meant. He goes on to explain:

21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Genuine prophecy was never borne along by the human will. This is where false prophecies came from:

Jeremiah 23: 16 Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. 17 They say continually to those who despise the word of the LORD, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.”’ …26 How long shall there be lies in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart, 27 who think to make my people forget my name by their dreams that they tell one another, even as their fathers forgot my name for Baal?

Notice there is a moral (or immoral)aspect to prophecy – they say ‘it will be well with you’ to those who despise the word of the Lord. This is exactly what the false teachers were doing in Peter’s day, and this is why Peter highlighted the moral responsibility of genuine believers.

No prophecy was carried along by the will of man; instead, men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. This is why you do well to pay careful attention to the prophetic word – because it has its origin in God. Yes, men spoke – there was a human element to the prophetic word. Moses and Jeremiah and Isaiah and Daniel and David were all unique individuals with distinct personalities and styles that come through in their respective writings, but they spoke from God. And they spoke as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. The word ‘carried along’ is also used in Acts of a ship being driven by the wind:

Acts 27: 15 And when the ship was caught and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and were driven along. … 17 …Then, fearing that they would run aground on the Syrtis, they lowered the gear, and thus they were driven along.

This is also the word used in verses 17-18 of the voice carried or borne from heaven to bestow honor and glory on the Son.

17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was carried to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice carried from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.19 And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever carried out by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit blows men along to speak from God in such a way that the author of Hebrews can quote Psalm 95 and say:

Hebrews 3:7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice,

And then again quoting the same passage, he can say:

Hebrews 4:7 again he [God] appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”

So the mighty coming of the Lord Jesus Christ was attested by the voice of God the Father himself when he installed Jesus as King on his holy mountain; and his powerful coming is attested by all of Scripture which originated in God as he impelled men to write by his Holy Spirit. So pay attention! Jesus is coming back! Pay attention to the prophetic word! Pay attention so that there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (1:11). Pay attention when the prophetic word commands that you make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love. You will do well to pay attention to God’s word which is a lamp shining in a very dark place. Pay attention, because the day is ready to break!

November 15, 2009 Posted by | 2 Peter, podcast | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2 Peter 1:16-18; Eyewitnesses of His Majesty

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20091108_2peter1_16-18.mp3

11/08 2 Peter 1:16-18 Eyewitnesses of His Majesty

10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 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. 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.

Peter is holding out to us precious and very great promises as incentive to make every effort to grow in godly character. He insists that we be all the more diligent to make our calling and election sure by practicing these qualities. He tells us that if we lack these qualities we are so focused on the present that we are blind – having forgotten that we have been cleansed from our former sins. Peter is making every effort to put down a permanent record before he dies that will serve as an enduring reminder to stir us up to a pursuit of godly living. He tells us that if we practice these qualities we will never fall, and in this way there will be richly provided for us entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Peter is warning us that if we don’t grow in holiness, we may have no part in the promises, we demonstrate that we are not part of his elect, called out people, we will ultimately fall, and we will not gain entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Peter knows that the false teachers would scoff at this motivation for holy living.. The false teachers were denying Jesus and following their own sensuality. They were saying things like

“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.” [3:4].

They would argue that the ‘eternal kingdom’ is simply a fairy tale invented to control people with fear and manipulate behavior. There is no eternal kingdom and there is no coming judgment. Jesus is not coming back and you will not have to answer to him. You have been set free by his grace, so you are free to pursue your desires and live in whatever way that you see fit.

Peter has said that God has provided everything we need for life and godliness. Eternal life and godliness are a package deal. You can’t have one without the other. The false teachers would argue that eternal life is a fairy tale so there is no need for a godly life. Peter’s first defense of a life in earnest pursuit of holiness motivated by the hope of entrance into the eternal kingdom goes like this: ‘No, Jesus really is coming again as judge and king, we can say this with confidence because we were eyewitnesses of the transfiguration’. This may sound like strange logic at first, but lets look at what he says and we will see how it fits together.

Peter says that he is making every effort to put down in writing for future generations the apostolic testimony to the truth of the life-transforming good news of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. Peter feels urgency to make a written record because he is one of a small group of eye-witnesses, and he will shortly be putting away his tent. Peter says ‘we did not follow cleverly devised myths’. This is a response to the accusation of the false teachers. The apostles were just followers of fables and fairy tales. These are crafty cunning myths, because they are designed to manipulate behavior and subject people to their authority. If you can get people to believe that Jesus is coming back and everyone will stand before him as judge and ‘give an account of every careless word’ [Matt.12:36] that has compelling power to control behavior. Peter flatly denies that the apostles were followers of myth. Instead, they were eyewitnesses of his majesty. The facts were not manipulated and handed down to them; they saw with their own eyes and heard with their own ears the historic event. False teacher seek to undermine the gospel message by attempting to disprove the historicity of the bible. So-called ‘Christian’ liberals who are educated beyond their intelligence have attempted to deny the historicity of some of the biblical narrative, while holding on to the religious teaching. The stories of the Old Testament and of Jesus are fables designed to teach truth. They are not meant to be believed as literal historical events. They are simply a literary device used to communicate morals. If that were true, the bible would be teaching by example that lying is a great virtue. The problem for the liberal is that the historical narrative and the theological truths are inextricably woven together. And the bible has over and over and over again proven itself to be the most reliable historical document that exists.

Peter says we were not following myths; we were eyewitnesses. The content of the message that is in dispute is ‘the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ’. ‘Coming’ when used of Jesus in the New Testament is a term that is used exclusively for the future coming of Jesus in power and glory:

Matthew 24:3 As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?”

These two words ‘power and coming’ could be translated ‘the powerful coming’ or ‘the mighty coming’; his ‘coming in power’.

2 Thessalonians 1:7 … when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.

Notice Peter says ‘we’. Peter identifies himself with the rest of the apostles. We all teach the same message. When we were teaching you about the future return of Christ in power and glory, we were not passing on myths; we were passing on what we had observed first hand. He stands shoulder to shoulder with the others who were also eyewitnesses together with him. And they were eyewitnesses of his majesty; his power and coming. If we look at the account of the transfiguration in all the synoptic gospels, we see that in each one, the promise that they would not ‘taste death until they had seen the kingdom of God after it has come with power’ (Mk.9:1) comes directly before the fulfillment on the mountain.

Matthew 16:27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. 28 Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Matthew 17:1 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. 3 And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.

So the transfiguration of Jesus was the fulfillment of the promise that these disciples would see the Son of Man coming in power and glory.

…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,”

Here’s how Matthew records it:

Matthew 17:4 And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 5 He 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.” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” 8 And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. 9 And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.” [c.f. Mk. 8:38-9:9; Lk. 9:26-36]

Peter and James and John were eyewitnesses of his divine majesty. And they were ear-witnesses of the honor given him by the Father. Peter doesn’t bother to mention here that the voice of the Majestic Glory interrupted his own blubbering. This was no deep resonant James Earl Jones movie voice. This was the voice of God himself that caused these three grown men to be terrified and fall on their faces. And what the Father said was ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased’. If we are unfamiliar with the Old Testament, we might miss the significance of these words. God is using the words of Psalm 2:

Psalm 2:1 Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his anointed, saying, 3 “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” 4 He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. 5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, 6 “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” 7 I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. 8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. 9 You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” 10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. 11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

This is a Psalm describing the installation of the messianic king on his royal and judicial throne. Jesus is the one whom God set on his holy mountain and declared to be his Son and King. We can also see a connection to Isaiah 42:

Isaiah 42:1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.

Jesus is the only begotten Son and King, as well as the servant (in Isaiah, the suffering servant, who will be wounded for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities [Is.53:5]); the chosen servant in whom my soul delights. “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased”. Jesus received honor and glory from God the Father – this is yet another indication that Jesus is indeed one with the Father –very God of very God; because just a few verses later in Isaiah, God says:

Isaiah 42:8 I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.

And yet Jesus receives glory and honor from God the Father. His Majesty received glory and honor from the Majestic Glory.

Peter takes this historical event that he personally witnessed, and says that the future coming in power of Jesus is not a fairy tale or myth, because God the Father has already installed Jesus as that coming messianic King who will rule and judge the nations. We were at his coronation ceremony. We were there for his inauguration. God himself sealed it with his own words. The authority for the certainty of the future coming of Jesus to reign and judge is the authority of the very voice of God the Father. We didn’t make this stuff up. ‘we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain’. You false teachers can set yourselves against the Lord and against his anointed, but God is laughing at you, and he will speak to you in his wrath and terrify you in his fury, because he has established his King on his holy mountain. Jesus is King and he is coming and he will inflict vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

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.

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

November 8, 2009 Posted by | 2 Peter, podcast | , , , , , | Leave a comment