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2 Peter 1:12-15; Reminding the Established

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20091101_2peter1_12-15.mp3

11/01 2 Peter 1:12-15 Reminding the Established

2Peter 1:1 Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: 2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 3 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, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 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. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 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.

Intro:

Peter knows he is going to die soon. Jesus told Peter:

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

Peter, now an old man (60’s), is in prison in Rome under the maniacal emperor Nero, awaiting his execution. Peter knows he has little time left in this world, so he evaluates how best to spend his remaining days to the glory of God. It’s interesting what Peter doesn’t do – he doesn’t pick a new pope or call a council to appoint a new apostle. He doesn’t say ‘I’ve worked long and hard and now I am going to rest and retire, take a break and enjoy my last few moments. Instead he takes pen and parchment and drafts the document that we now today, 2000 years later hold in our hands. And we can say ‘thank you Peter for running the race with endurance to the very end and leaving us a legacy that we can learn from and be blessed and encouraged by’.

Purpose:

Us studying this letter 2000 years later is no accident. This is exactly what Peter intended to do; he says ‘I intend always to remind you of these qualities; to stir you up by way of reminder; I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.’ Peter intended that this document be a reminder long after he was gone to stir us up and to keep us from straying. And the issue is urgent. Peter’s concern was not peripheral. Peter doesn’t waste his last words on some side issue of the Christian faith. He is talking about the main thing – entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; and the alternative of non-entrance or access denied. As Jesus taught:

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.’

The issue on Peter’s heart is our final rescue from God’s righteous wrath forever. He wants to remind us and stir us up by way of reminder. At the end of his letter he expresses his concern:

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.

Paul said the same thing about his writings:

Philippians 3:1 Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.

The apostle John also talks this way in his writings:

1 John 2:21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, …24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that he made to us – eternal life. 26 I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you.

I write, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, to encourage you to abide in it and to warn you about those who are trying to deceive you. To write the same things to you is safe for you. We need to be reminded so that we will stand firm and not stray.

Paul wanted to preach the gospel to the believers in Rome:

Romans 1:15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. …for it is the power of God for salvation to believers.

Romans 1:12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.

Who, Me?

Notice who Peter is addressing so you don’t tune this out and think ‘I don’t need this’. He is not writing only to brand new believers that do not yet have their feet firmly planted in the truth of the gospel. He is not writing to flaky Christians who don’t have a firm grasp of basic bible doctrine. He says ‘though you know them and are established in the truth that you have’. Peter thinks that established people, people with a good understanding of theology and biblical truth need to be reminded. I can think of a few people that really need to hear this message. My inclination is to think that these truths are great for people who are immature in the faith and don’t yet know all the things that I know. I was in a good Christian church the week after I was born and attended bible camp before I was one year old. I learned to read out of the King James Bible. My parents taught me the truths of the bible from day one. I was learning bible stories from the flannel-graph every Sunday of my life. I embraced Jesus as my Savior when I was seven years old. I went on a mission trip to Europe and I’ve done lots of evangelism. I went to bible college. I’ve served in churches for some 15 years. I even pastor this church! Certainly I of all people am established in the truth that I have and don’t need any reminders. Peter says, ‘No, you’re the one I’m talking to. You who are established in the truth you already have – you need to be stirred up by way of reminder so that you don’t lose your stability and make shipwreck of your faith. You must make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection and love. You must be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure. IF you practice these qualities you will never fall. You must never become so blind that you forget that you were cleansed from your former sins.’ This is why we gather as the church every Sunday. This is why we must stay connected throughout each week. This is why every one of us must be daily reading and studying our bibles, spending time in meditation and prayer. ‘Yeah, but I’ve heard it all before.’ If I have any degree of spiritual maturity, I will recognize that I need regular reminders from my brothers and sisters to spur me on in my walk with Jesus. To say that I can do it on my own is evidence of arrogance, foolishness, rebellion and immaturity. John says ‘I write to you …because you know the truth’ Paul says ‘to write the same things.. is safe for you’. That means that it would be unsafe to live without constant reminders. None of us have outgrown the need for reminders.

Salvation by Works?

Peter reminds us to make every effort; to supplement our faith with virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection and love; to constantly increase in these qualities; to be all the more diligent; to never forget; to be effective and fruitful; to practice these qualities; to make your calling and election sure. How is this not salvation by works? That all sounds like we are the ones making it happen. If we fail to do all this work, we don’t gain entrance into the eternal kingdom. That certainly sounds like we are earning our own salvation.

But it only sounds that way if we dislodge these verses from their context. In the context of the chapter, our effort is the required response to what God has already done. He granted us the faith, he poured out grace and peace on us, he has given us everything we need for life and godliness, he called us and he has given us great and precious promises that he must fulfill. We have in this chapter a beautiful interplay between divine sovereignty and human responsibility. God is the main actor and the initiator, we are the recipient and the responder, but our response is not optional. He calls; we must answer that call. He creates new life in us, but we must walk in the newness of that life. He overcomes our hard rebellious hearts and gives us a new heart that is inclined toward God, but we must love God with that heart. He removes our blindness and gives us eyes to see him for who he is, but we must look with amazement and affection on him who loved us and gave himself up for us. He gives us everything we need for life and godliness and we must make every effort to live a godly life. In this way, our response, our effort, is essential, but it is not to our credit. I can’t do what is required of me and then say ‘there, I did it.’ That’s not how the bible talks. Here’s how Paul puts it:

Colossians 1:29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.

We do not work in order to earn God’s favor; we work because we have been given God’s favor. We do not attempt to reflect God’s nature so that he will want to adopt us; he has caused us to be born again so that we naturally reflect his character. I must make every effort with all diligence, but I am only able to make that effort because he has already given me everything I need for life and godliness. I must supplement faith with fruit, because God’s Spirit is bearing his fruit in my life. I must toil; I must struggle; I must work, yet it is not I, but the grace of God that he powerfully works within me.

We are to make our calling and election sure, but it is

1 Peter 5:10 …the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Peter’s departure

Peter knew what it meant to be a recipient of undeserved grace and to have his faith upheld by the sovereign hand of God:

Luke 22:32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

So Peter is at the end of his life, and he pictures his body as a tent – a temporary dwelling place that he is about to take off like an old winter coat and put away. Peter is practicing what he preaches. He has told us to make every effort to supplement our faith with love, and now he is making every effort to do what he knows is right, what he knows to be the highest good for us whom he loves – to stir us up, to slap us awake by way of reminder. And he will make every effort to put down a permanent record so that even long after his departure, or literally his exodus, we today may be able to recall with accuracy these things.

The Truth

He refers to the content of the message as ‘the truth that you have’. Peter believes that there is such a thing as truth – real objective factual information – true truth – that we must know, and that we must embrace and remember. The truth is simply the gospel message

Ephesians 1:13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,

Colossians 1:5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, 6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing–as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth,

The truth of the gospel is not only to be known and understood, but obeyed:

Galatians 5:7 You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?

The truth is not only to be believed and obeyed, but loved and embraced

2 Thessalonians 2:10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. …12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 13 But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.

Our manner of life is to be shaped by what we believe; the truth of the gospel must transform our attitudes and actions:

2 John 1:4 I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father.

What is the word of truth, the gospel?

1 Corinthians 1:18 For the word of the cross …is the power of God.

1 John 4:10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Romans 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,

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

1 Corinthians 15:3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures

And this is what Peter is devoted to seeing in us. He wants us to remember what we know and be what we are. He wants us to see and remember and love and embrace and reflect on and live out the truth of the gospel.

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.

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

November 1, 2009 Posted by | 2 Peter, podcast | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2 Peter 1:10-11; Certainty of Entrance

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20091025_2peter1_10-11.mp3

10/25 2 Peter 1:10-11 Certainty of Entrance

2Peter 1:1 Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: 2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 3 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, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 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. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 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.

Intro:

Peter is combating the destructive heresies of false teachers who were attempting to lead the believers astray. So Peter begins by laying again for them (and for us) the foundation of God’s undeserved grace in salvation and the necessity of an appropriate response from us. He starts with the fact that we have received a faith of equal worth; that it comes to us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ; that grace and peace are multiplied in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. He continues that the divine power of Jesus has richly provided everything necessary for life and godliness. Out of the excellence and glory of Jesus we have been richly provided with promises – promises that secure our escape from corruption and make us partakers of the divine nature.

Then Peter takes us from the divine initiative to the human response; in light of all that God has done, we must respond. For this very reason make every effort. An understanding of God’s sovereign power at work in us and his divine provision supplied to us must not cause us to coast; rather, he says, because of this we are to make every effort. God has taken the initiative, given us the tools, supplied us with the strength, and promised us success. Now we must make every effort to supplement the faith that he has given us with virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, brotherly affection, and love. Many of these qualities that Peter tells us to bring in alongside our faith are qualities that Paul tells us are the fruit of the Spirit – something that the Spirit produces in our lives. So which is it? Do we make every effort to abound in these qualities, or are these qualities produced in our lives by the Spirit of God? For instance, self-control is something we are to bring in alongside our faith, and self-control is the fruit of the Spirit. Self-control indicates that there is a self that is out of control and needs to be reined in; that we have desires that we must not gratify. By our faith in God we must fight to replace sinful, treacherous desires with the superior pleasures of knowing God. That is work and it takes discipline and diligent effort on our part. Yet it stems from faith and we have been abundantly supplied with everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us. We have the divine promise that we will be ultimately successful in defeating the desires of the flesh, escaping corruption and participating in the characteristics of God. We fight the fight of faith not in our own strength, but ‘by the strength that God supplies, in order that in everything God may be glorified…’ [1Peter 4:11].

Augustine of Hippo, who lived from 354 – 430 said

‘…I can do all things in Him who strengthens me. Strengthen me, that I may be able, grant what Thou dost command and command what Thou wilt. …when what you command is done, it is You who give the power. [Augustine, Confessions, x. 31, cf.29, 37]

Spurgeon quotes the vicar of Everton, John Berridge:

‘Run, John, and work, the law commands, But finds me neither feet nor hands; But sweeter news the gospel brings, It bids me fly and lends me wings. [John Berridge 1716-1793, The Salt-Cellars, Being a Collection of Proverbs, Together with Homely Notes Theron p.200 by C.H.Spurgeon; (often attributed to John Bunyan)]

So are self-control and all these other characteristics fruit of the Spirit? Yes! But then why does Peter tell us to make every effort to see them abound in our life? Because we must! The gospel demands that we fly and gives us wings. God demands that we love and ‘God’s love is poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us’ [Rom.5:5]! Paul helps us out here:

Colossians 1:29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

Peter even ties these characteristics to the concept of ‘fruit’ in verse 8 – they keep you from being unfruitful. And whoever lacks these qualities, Peter says, is blind has forgotten their own salvation. Peter is calling us to know and to remember, and warns against forgetting. A Christian by definition is one who has been forgiven. For a Christian to forget that – that I am a sinner saved from God’s wrath by God’s gracious provision of his own Son – is far worse than forgetting your own name, forgetting your own identity!

Peter continues in these verses to spur us on to sanctified diligence, and then he encourages us with the divine certainty of the hope set before us.

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.

He starts with the word ‘therefore’, and he calls us his brothers. In light of all this – in light of God’s grace in initiating faith, in giving us the tools, supplying us with the strength, and promising us success;

in light of the fact that God demands a transformed life and God gives what he commands, Peter says ‘be all the more diligent’. This speaks of conscientious activity to fulfill obligations and pursue something we deeply care about. We are to be eager, zealous, strive, make every effort, expend energy. ‘God’s grace should not lead to moral relaxation but intense effort’ [Schriener, p.304]

What are we to be all the more diligent to do? This is surprising! Peter tells us to make your calling and election sure. What is calling and what is election and how do we make them sure? First, lets look at the word ‘sure’ and see what the expected outcome is, then we will look at what it is that we are to make sure.

To make sure has a legal sense of being ratified or confirmed; guaranteed. We are to confirm or make certain our calling and election. Let’s start with a dictionary definition:

CALLING, n. 1. A naming, or inviting; a reading over or reciting in order, or a call of names with a view to obtain an answer, as in legislative bodies. 2. Vocation; profession; trade; usual occupation, or employment. 3. Class of persons engaged in any profession or employment. 4. Divine summons, vocation, or invitation. Give all diligence to make your calling and election sure. 2 Pet. 1. [1828 Webster’s Dictionary; http://1828.mshaffer.com%5D

Jesus described his calling this way:

John 10:3 …The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. …27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.

Calling is clearly to eternal life. Paul says to Timothy:

1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

2 Timothy 1:9 …God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,

In 1 Corinthians, Paul says that he was sent to preach the gospel; the word of the cross of Christ which is powerful. Notice how he describes us as ‘who are being saved’ in contrast to ‘those who are perishing’ in verse 18; ‘those who believe’ in verse 21; and ‘those who are called’ in verse 24. He goes on:

1 Corinthians 1:18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption.

This call is the call of a God who:

Romans 4:17 …who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.

Peter has described this calling as

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

This call is what overcomes the satanic darkness and blindness of our hearts.

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.

Peter tells us to ratify or make firm our calling.

What about election? Election is something that freaks a lot of people out. Peter here tells us to be diligent to make our election sure. Here’s what Webster’s dictionary says about election:

ELEC’TION, n. [L. electio.] The act of choosing; choice; the act of selecting one or more from others. Hence appropriately, 1. The act of choosing a person to fill an office or employment, by any manifestation of preference, as by ballot, uplifted hands or viva voce; as the election of a king, of a president, or a mayor. 2. Choice; voluntary preference; free will; liberty to act or not. 3. Power of choosing or selecting. 4. Discernment; discrimination; distinction. [1828 Webster’s Dictionary; http://1828.mshaffer.com%5D

The teaching of the bible on election is meant to encourage and comfort us, to lead us to worship and thanksgiving. Jesus said:

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.

I think he means to encourage us by this verse – that it is not possible to lead astray the elect. Paul points us to some of our most comprehensive and precious promises that come in connection with our election:

Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 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? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?

All things work together for our good! He will complete his saving work justifying us and glorifying us. We will be conformed to the image of his Son! If God is for us who can be against us! He did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all – how will he not with him graciously give us all things! We are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Sweet and precious promises!

Paul saw election as a motive and encouragement for evangelism:

Acts 13:48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.

Acts 18:9 And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.”

2 Timothy 2:10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

Paul thanks God because of the election of the believers in Thessalonika

2 Thessalonians 2:13 But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. 14 To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.

He sees their faith and growth as evidence of their election, and he thanks God for it.

1 Thessalonians 1:2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, …4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction…6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit,

Election and calling are things that God does [or did in eternity past]. Peter commands us to be diligent to confirm or make them certain. How can we be expected to be diligent to make them sure? Paul said we were predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son. So we take up the wings of grace that God supplies and make every effort to soar with excellent character that reflects his glory. If we are being conformed to the image of Jesus; if these qualities are ours and are abounding in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, that displays that our calling and election were genuine and not imagined. Calling and election are known only by their fruit – so if we show the fruit, we can be sure that the hidden root is there.

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.

Peter gives us a great promise here. If you practice these qualities you will never fall. If we are diligent to supplement faith with virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love, if we are growing in our Christ-likeness, then we will never completely and permanently fall. We may stumble on the way, but he will pick us up. This is what Jude says:

Jude 1:24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Peter now, having laid out our responsibility to respond to God’s initiation and utilize the resources that he puts at our disposal, now returns to where he began – God’s rich provision of everything we need. Through us taking up the tools and fighting the good fight of faith, God is richly providing entrance into the eternal kingdom. Our entrance is a lavishly generous gift. God gives us everything we need. God grants us promises that he is obligated to fulfill. And God lavishly provides for us entrance into the eternal kingdom. God does this ‘in this way’; by ensuring that we make every effort; ensuring that the fruit of the Spirit is increasing in our lives; by ensuring that we are all the more diligent to practice these qualities. Notice that Peter doesn’t say anything about rewards here. He is simply talking about entrance. The false teachers would say that you are saved by grace, so you can relax. You are safe. You don’t have to live any certain way. Peter says that entrance comes through God securing our holiness. And it is entrance into the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is not talking about some happy heavenly place. He is talking about a Person! The Kingdom is the reign of the King! There is no such thing as heaven without Jesus. Jesus is heaven! He richly provides for our entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It’s all about Jesus! It will be all about Jesus forever!

Jesus is absolutely central. In verse 1, Peter calls himself a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ. He calls Jesus ‘our God and Savior’ and refers to his righteousness. In verse 2, he says that grace and peace come in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. In verse 3, he refers to the divine power of Jesus; Jesus is the one who called us; we are called to the glory and excellence of Jesus. In verse 4, Jesus gives us precious and very great promises. We participate in the divine nature of Jesus, which is described in verses 5-7. In verse 8 we are to be fruitful and useful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Verse 9 refers to the cleansing from sin, which comes through the cross of Jesus. Verse 11 points us to the gift of entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is truly all about Jesus forever.

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

October 25, 2009 Posted by | 2 Peter, podcast | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2 Peter 1:5-9; The Fruitful Life of Divine Effort

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20091018_2peter1_5-9.mp3

10/18 2 Peter 1:5-9 The Fruitful Life of Divine Effort

2Peter 1:1 Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: 2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 3 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, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

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. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 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.

Intro/connection:

Peter is going to lay out for us a description of the fruitful Christian life, and the dangerous consequences of a fruitless life. But first, he’s taken great care to lay for us the theological foundation for our good works. Faith is a precious gift originating in the righteousness of God. Grace and peace are multiplied to us as gifts of divine favor. The omnipotent power of Jesus richly imparts to us everything we need for life and godliness. We have been called to enjoy his own glory and excellence. Very great and precious promises have been richly supplied to us. It is through promises, not effort, that we become participants in the divine nature and escape from the sinful desires that lead to moral decay.

For this very reason

Peter now goes on to draw the connection between the root of God’s unmerited grace and the fruit of our transformed lives. He is going to call on us to exert every effort. But this effort is not conjured up from the recesses of our own resourcefulness. This effort is ‘for this very reason’; because of this; our effort comes because we are the recipients of his very great and precious promises, recipients of his grace, recipients of faith, recipients of knowledge, recipients of the divine nature, recipients of everything we need. Because we have escaped from corruption, because we participate in the divine nature; because we have been given promises yet to be fulfilled, we must grow in these graces. It is essential that we see the connection between verses 5-7 and verses 1-4. We sin greatly if we hack down the tree from its theological root structure in the rich soil of divine grace and expect a dead tree to bear good fruit. The life that Peter describes is produced ‘for this very reason’.

Make every effort

Some have falsely taught that because God by his grace has done everything to secure for us our eternal salvation, we can stop swimming and drift with the currents of life and still reach the goal. Not so! Peter commands us to ‘make every effort’. ‘We cannot expect to escape the consequences due to sin unless we avoid sin and make moral progress using the spiritual resources that are available to every Christian through the knowledge of Christ’ [Baucham, p.184]. We are called to make every effort – our diligence must not be half-hearted or selective.

God created the bird with wings. He supplies the bird with life and wings and food and metabolism and energy and atmosphere and wind currents. But that bird must will to move its wings in order to lift off the ground and soar.

God created the eye. He gave us the optic nerve and the cerebral cortex and the capacity to translate patterns of light into visual perceptions of our surroundings. God gave us a visually stimulating world of shapes and textures and colors, mountain ranges and oceans and sunrises, but we must choose to open our eyes and enjoy it.

make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue

Faith is not the first virtue in the list. Faith is the starting point without which we have no Christian life. And we learned from verse 1 our faith is allotted to us by God. In verse 3 he said that we have been given everything we need for a godly life through the knowledge of him who called us, and that knowledge of Christ is received by faith. Trust in God is the root from which the Christian life grows. Those who rely on God begin to live life in a new way.

We are to take the faith that we have been given, and by God’s divine power we are to supplement it with virtue. Literally, the original reads something like ‘make abundant provision with all effort, bringing in alongside, ‘ The abundant provision is usually attributed to God as it is in verse 11. Here we are called to reflect the character of God in making great investments in moral virtue [G.Green, p.190]. We are called to great expense and effort in the pursuit of these graces. We must contribute what God rightly demands of us. But what we contribute is brought in alongside what God has already done, and is subordinate and dependent on it.

‘Virtue’ means excellence – the proper fulfillment of anything. The excellence of a knife is to cut; the excellence of a horse is to run; the excellence of a man is to reflect the attractive character of his Creator. [M.Green, p.67]. In verse 3, we have been called to his own glory and excellence’; that does not only mean that we are to admire his excellence. We are also called to display his glory and excellence in our own lives [G.Green, p.189];

Virtue does not merely refer to the inner character of the heart; virtue will be demonstrated socially in excellence of character, in generosity toward others, surpassing the normal constraints of what duty demands [Danker, cited G.Green, p.192];

And virtue with knowledge

This knowledge is not the theoretical knowledge of philosophers nor the esoteric knowledge of hidden mysteries; it is the personal knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ which results in salvation. This will contrast with the ignorance and irrationality of the heretics, whose error led to immorality (2:12, 3:16). The cure for false knowledge is not less knowledge but a knowledge characterized by moral insight. ‘Knowing right does not mean doing right, but knowing God results in righteous conduct’ [G.Green, p.193]

6 And knowledge with self-control

Self-control is the grace whereby passions and affections are held under the dominion of sanctified reason. This refers specifically to self-control in the consumption of food, in sexual desire, and in the use of the tongue. Self control is the grace, guided by knowledge, which disciplines desire to make it the servant instead of the master of life. [Barnett, in Hiebert, p.53]

The false teachers that Peter writes against were characterized by sensuality (2:2), inflamed by sinful desires (2:10), they never stop thinking of adultery (2:14), and are enslaved to corruption (2:19). Self-control was clearly not something they indulged in.

and self-control with steadfastness

Steadfastness is the ability to hold out or bear up in the face of difficulty. This is a military virtue – endurance in battle; but in this context it refers to moral endurance amid the pressures of temptation. The heretics were seeking to draw the church in to their error and immorality, This is the grace needed to stand firm in one’s commitment to Jesus over the long haul in the face of the enticements of the false teachers. Steadfastness is rooted in the believer’s trust in God and hope for fulfillment of God’s promises, in the knowledge of Christ and experience of his divine power. Peter warns that some who began in the way of the gospel had since abandoned it (2:2, 20-22)

and steadfastness with godliness

Godliness is a demonstration of due reverence and loyalty to God; an attitude of reverence that seeks to please God in all things. It is a practical awareness of God in all of life. Verse 3 told us that everything necessary for godliness has been provided to us by God’s grace.

7 and godliness with brotherly affection

Brotherly affection stresses solidarity and collaboration between siblings. Families share goods, bear one another’s burdens, and forgive shortcomings and failures. We have become siblings through the new birth;

1 Peter 1:22-23 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again,…

So this exclusive family love is now extended to the whole Christian family.

and brotherly affection with love

Love is the climax of all Christian virtue. Christian love finds its source and model in the love that God demonstrated to humanity, even in their hostility against him;

Matthew 5:43-45 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven…

Romans 5:6-8 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person––though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die–– 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us.

This kind of love has its origin not in the desirability of the object but in the character of the one who loves. God’s agape is evoked not by what we are but by what he is. It is not that we are loveable, but that he is love. This love is a deliberate desire for the highest good of the one loved, which shows itself in sacrificial action for that person’s good [M.Green, p.71]

8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We should have these graces evident in our lives. Virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love. They should be there, and they should be abounding; increasing to a point of excess. The assumption is that they are ours and they are abounding in our lives.

A reason for desiring to pursue these qualities is preventative. They keep us from being ineffective or unfruitful. ‘Ineffective’ or ‘idle’ refers to those who are lazy and do not work. In James 2:20 it describes faith without works as without effect or useless.

James 2:20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?

‘Unfruitful’ is uselessness in an agricultural metaphor – the tree that does not bear fruit is cursed or cut down.

John 15: 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.

We must abide in Jesus in order to bear fruit; apart from him we can do nothing. Peter tells us that grace comes to us in the knowledge of God. Power for life and godliness comes through the knowledge of him. A personal relationship with Christ is the foundation of salvation, and this results in a participation in the moral character of God; But here Peter tells us that pursuit of moral virtue results in an increasing knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.

‘whoever lacks’ stands in contrast to ‘are yours and are increasing’ in verse 8. If possession and abundance of these characteristics cause effectiveness and fruitfulness, a lack of these qualities is evidence of blindness. Those who reject Christian virtue become spiritually blind. The cause is the disease and the effect is blindness. Someone who is shortsighted is so focused on the present and their present desires that they cannot see the past and are blind to future judgment. They are blind in that they fail to see what they should see. They have forgotten the most important reality of all. They have forgotten that they have been cleansed from former sins. This is a reference to baptism as a picture of the cleansing that we receive when we place our trust in Jesus. Baptism is a decisive and public identification with Jesus, a commitment to follow Jesus, and a picture of our cleansing from sin. It should be a memorable event – not that it accomplishes anything itself, but that it points to what Jesus does when we come to him. Someone who has forgotten their forgiveness has forgotten that they are sinners in need of God’s grace. They have forgotten the main thing, and if they no longer feel the need for God’s grace in forgiveness, they will not pursue God’s grace to supply what they need for a godly life. Peter is as clear as he can be here. If you are not growing in virtue, in knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love, then your faith was a sham and you are still in your sins. Growth in these qualities is evidence of a genuine God-given faith that is alive and effective.

Conclusion:

Peter commands us to make every effort to abound in the godly life. Is Peter teaching salvation by works? He concludes this section by saying that in this way we will have entrance into the eternal kingdom. Peter is definitely talking about salvation and our eternal destiny, and he is telling us that it is necessary that we make every effort. But Peter is not telling us to make every effort in order to merit eternal life. Instead he is telling us to make every effort because God has already multiplied undeserved grace to us and granted to us divine power and unalterable promises. We have been given grace; we must be active and diligent to utilize and exercise that grace. The difference is that of a husband who is unsure of his wife’s love for him and does everything within his power to try to earn and win her love compared with a husband who is confident of his wife’s unconditional love for him and does everything within his power to act consistently with that love. We cannot earn God’s love. It is freely given. But we must stand confidently in that love and strive to act in a manner consistent with that unconditional love.

Philippians 2:12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

We must cling to his promises like:

Philippians 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

And take up the life giving divine resurrection power that has been richly provided for us:

Romans 8:11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

And we must:

1Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

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

October 18, 2009 Posted by | 2 Peter, podcast | , , , , | Leave a comment

2Peter1:4; Precious and Very Great Promises

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20091011_2peter1_4.mp3

10/11 2Peter 1:4 Precious and Very Great Promises

2Peter 1:1 Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: 2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 3 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, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

Intro

Peter is writing to strengthen believers in churches who are in danger of being led astray by false teachers. He writes to ground us in the truth of the gospel, to ‘stir us up by way of reminder’ [1:13]. ‘Knowing this beforehand, we are to take care that we are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose our own stability’ [3:17]. Peter knows if we are to stand our ground, we must ‘grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ’ [3:18]. So he begins his letter pointing us to the riches of God’s grace toward us and the truth of who Jesus is. He draws our attention to the great value of our faith – our faith was not our great accomplishment, it was allotted to us by God. And he points us to the source of our faith – it comes to us through the righteousness of God. God’s love for what is right is expressed not only in the just condemnation of unrepentant sinners, but overflows in the gracious justifying of sinners on the basis of our trust in the finished work of Jesus for us. Peter describes Jesus as both our God and our Savior. Peter prays that God’s grace and the resulting peace would be multiplied to us by means of our relationship with the Father and with Jesus. Jesus, in a supreme act of heavenly generosity, freely gave us everything – everything – everything that connects us to eternal life; a life of holiness, because we cannot enjoy the presence of a holy God without ourselves becoming godly. Peter tells that every necessary resource and ability has been freely given to us by the one who called us to this eternal life of holiness. Nothing short of his divine power is at work for us securing our eternal salvation. This gracious divine power comes through the knowledge of him who called us. John speaks of the transforming power of knowing Jesus when he says, ‘when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is’ [1Jn.3:2]. It is the excellence and glory of Jesus that is inviting and breathtaking and compelling.

Peter goes on in verse 4 to tell us that it is through the excellence of Jesus that we are freely given promises – great and precious promises – promises that bring us participation in the divine nature and escape from the corruption of this world.

4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

The first words of this verse express the means by which we receive the promises. The promises come to us through ‘his own glory and excellence’. It is the manifestation of Jesus’ divine nature and his inner moral beauty that secure for us the promises.

4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

The promises are not presented as a reward for good behavior. The promises are bestowed as a royal gift. This word only appears three times in the New Testament. This is a royal act of lavish generosity that staggers the imagination. In verse 3, his divine power has freely given to us all things pertaining to life and godliness. Now on top of that, he has freely given the promises to us.

4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

Peter again uses a word unique in the New Testament for ‘promises’, a word that occurs only here and at the end of this letter in 3:13, where it refers to the end times promise of a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

These are no ordinary promises. They are ‘precious’ and ‘very great’ promises. The word ‘precious’ carries the idea of value, worth, or honor. In 1 Peter 1:7, he called our genuine faith ‘more precious than gold’ and in 2 Peter 1:1 he calls our faith equally precious or honorable to that of the apostles. In 1 Peter 1:19, he refers to the blood of Christ that ransoms us as ‘precious’, and here he refers to the promises as ‘precious’ or valuable. Not only are the promises valuable, but they are ‘very great’. Peter is stacking adjectives to communicate to us the magnificence of his subject. He uses grand language to relay to us the grand nature of the promises that have been regally furnished for us.

What promises would Peter have in mind? Possibly the promises of the new covenant that Jesus referenced when he said ‘this cup is the new covenant in my blood’ [Lk.22:20; 1Cor.11:25]; promises like:

Jeremiah 31:31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah,… 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Ezekiel 11:19 And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20 that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

Ezekiel 36:26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

He could have had in mind promises of Jesus like:

John 3:15 …whoever believes in him may have eternal life

John 4:14 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.

John 5:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment but has passed from death to life.

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

John 6:37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

John 6:47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.

John 8:12 …I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

John 8:31 …If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

John 8:51 Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.

John 10:9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture…. 10 I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.

John 11:25 …I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.

John 14:2 …I go to prepare a place for you. 3 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.

John 14:16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth…

John 14:18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you… 19 Because I live, you also will live.

John 16:22 …I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

Precious promises! Very great promises! Promises worth memorizing and meditating on. But Peter’s focus is not on the promises themselves. He expects that the mere mention of promises will bring to mind some of these valuable and immeasurably great promises. Peter’s focus is on what the promises accomplish for us:

4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

Peter’s focus is on the goal of the promises, the benefits gained through the promises. And he states that through the promises we may become partakers in the divine nature. In Greek thought, there was much discussion about the divine nature. The philosophers would say that there is a divine spark within us all that simply needs to be recognized. Or it is locked inside each of us and just needs to be let out. Or we can attain to the divine nature and immortality by great effort. Peter says no, we are not innately divine, but we become partakers of the divine nature through the promises freely given to us in Christ. The word is to partner, participate or share, to fellowship or have in common. Peter is not blurring the distinction between the uncreated creator and his creatures; he is not embracing pantheism suggesting that we are absorbed into the divine or polytheism saying that we become little gods. He is using the vocabulary of the philosophers to describe what he described in his first letter as being ‘born again… of imperishable seed’ [1:23]. John in his gospel says that Jesus gave the right to become children of God, to those who were born…of God [Jn1:12-13]. Paul tells us to ‘put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness [Eph.4:24]. Through the new birth, we are returned to a condition where we can more accurately bear the image of God that we were created to display, an image that was badly marred at the fall by rebellion and sin. By his divine power we are enabled to be godly, to exhibit holiness and purity and goodness and love.

That’s the positive result of the promises – we become participants in the divine nature. The negative is expressed by the next phrase:

4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

The world is morally bankrupt. Greek philosophers concluded that it is because the world is material and the material is evil. To escape from corruption is to transcend the material. Peter’s view is different. He says the world is messed up because we’re a bunch of selfish sinners. God created the material universe and said it was good – very good. We, by our rebellious self will did a very good job of messing things up. Paul says it this way:

Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned

Romans 8:20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 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.

It is this moral and spiritual decay that is at the root of the external physical and societal decay. “It is a degenerative power that pervades all of unredeemed life and exercises a tyranny from which human effort knows no effective escape” [Hiebert, p.49]. And it is this that we have escaped through the precious and very great promises of the gospel. Through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord we receive unmerited grace. We have obtained a faith of equal standing, we have been freely given all things that pertain to life and godliness, and we have been granted very great and valuable promises. We were called out of darkness and into his marvelous light so that we would proclaim the excellencies of him who called us [1Pet.2:9].

Three things are at work in us who believe; the promises, the power and the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. In verse three it is ‘his divine power’ that gives us everything we need. That comes ‘through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence’. And it is by his own personal excellence that he gives us the very great and precious promises. The person of Christ attracts us, his divine power enables us to respond, and his promises secure for us participation in his divine nature.

How do we respond to all of this?

1. We must seek to know Jesus better. Peter says that the promises come to us through his own glory and excellence. I want to indulge myself in an exploration of the excellence of his character and the glory of his nature.

2. We must get to know his promises. Life transforming power comes through the promises, so I want to know what these promises are and bank on them day by day, cash them in and use them in my battle with my own corruption and sinful desire.

3. We must never turn it around. Peter lays for us the theological foundation for godly living in the gracious gift of our God. He goes on in the subsequent verses to describe what that life looks like. I never want to be guilty of turning the bible on its head and using it as a list of moral commands to keep in order to gain favor with God and merit eternal life. Rather, the power for a godly life comes as a gift through knowledge of Jesus – his finished work on the cross – and from the divine promises that are freely given to me.

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

October 11, 2009 Posted by | 2 Peter, podcast | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2Peter1:3; The Divine Supply

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20091004_2peter1_3.mp3

10/04 2 Peter 1:3 The Divine Supply

2Peter 1:1 Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: 2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 3 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, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

Intro

Peter is writing to churches that were in danger of leaving the truth. False teachers had secretly come in among them. These false teachers emphasized secret knowledge, so Peter points to Christ, who calls us, who is the true object of Christian knowledge. The false teachers encouraged freedom from moral restraint, so Peter chooses words unfamiliar to the New Testament, words that were common in pagan circles that point to moral effort – godliness and excellence or virtue and stresses that morality or what elsewhere in the New Testament is called holiness is inextricably tied to eternal life. The false teachers would seem to teach that holy living is impossible (2:19-20) – at least if you don’t have their secret knowledge, so Peter points us to the divine power that has already supplied everything we need. The false teachers would deny the providential care of God; Peter holds out to us God’s work on our behalf as our only hope. Peter is laying a firm foundation of sound doctrine right at the outset to strengthen and establish us in the truth.

Overview

He began by telling us that our response to the gospel, our belief, is a gift – it is equally valuable and gives us the same standing before God as the apostles themselves. This comes to us through the righteousness of God – God’s unwavering commitment to uphold the integrity of his character. Because of the cross a righteous God can consider sinners righteous – my guilt was transferred to Christ, and his perfect righteousness was credited to me. He continues by saying that grace – or God’s unmerited kindness – and peace – the end of war with God and the resulting enjoyment of him – are multiplied to us in and through our relationship with God and with Jesus Christ.

Peter will go on in verses 5-7 to give us instruction and commands on how we must live. But in order to understand those verses properly, we must understand these verses that come first. Peter does not give us a list of hopeless requirements and the moral duty of living up to the divine standard. Peter’s call to godliness is rooted in and secured by God’s grace. God’s divine power supplies everything that God’s righteousness demands of us. [Schreiner, p.290]

Peter here unfolds to us the resources we have because we know God. We have been given rich spiritual blessings and he wants us to know the ‘priceless treasure that is at stake in our conflict with false teachers. We have much to lose through laziness or defection. Safety lies in spiritual growth and maturity.’ [Hiebert, p.41]. Lets work our way through the text to see what Peter says, then we’ll come back to ask what we should do about it.

3 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,

In the original, ‘all things’ is placed at the front of the sentence to emphasize the comprehensive provision made for the security of believers. We have everything we need to resist the lies of the false teachers. Nothing is lacking.

3 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,

All things to us – Peter links himself with us. The apostle is in the same position as the recipients of his letter. We have been allotted a faith of equal value and on top of that, we have been provided with all things.

3 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,

Next, Peter moves to the source. The source of the ‘all things’ that are ‘to us’ is ‘his divine power’. Peter is using language that will connect with his audience. The only other place in the New Testament that this word ‘divine’ is used is in Acts 17:29, where Paul is addressing the idolatrous philosophers in Athens. Divine power is God’s power, and God’s power is limitless. Divine power is omnipotent power.

Jeremiah 32:17 ‘Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who has made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.

Psalm 135:6 Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.

3 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,

‘His’ refers back to ‘Jesus our Lord’ in verse 2, who is described in verse 1 as ‘our God and Savior Jesus Christ’. The divine power of our God and Savior Jesus Christ is the direct source of everything we need.

3 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,

Peter then specifies what kind of things are at our disposal – things that pertain to life and godliness. This is not a genie in the bottle anything you wish for kind of promise. Jesus’ divine power is at work to secure for us the things that move us toward life and godliness. Life is the new spiritual life of the believer that results from God causing us to be born again (1Pet.1:3). Godliness refers to a Godward attitude that brings pleasure to him. The order of the terms is significant. We cannot live a life that brings God pleasure until we have received the new life that comes from God. On the other hand, the two are inseparable. You cannot say ‘Oh, that eternal life thing sounds pretty good, but I’ll pass on the godliness for now. I’ve still got some sinning to do.’ No, eternal life involves transformation so that believers are morally perfected and made like God.

2Corinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.

The new birth produces a life that pleases God. If your life is not characterized by godliness, you have reason to question whether you have experienced the new birth.

3 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,

Peter stresses that this is a gift. ‘His divine power has granted to us’. The word translated ‘granted’ occurs only here, in verse 4 and in Mark 15:45. It is a stronger form than the usual word ‘give’, and indicates a royal act of lavish generosity. This is a gift that should stagger the imagination. That Jesus by his divine power would freely give us everything related to eternal life and living a life that brings pleasure to God is more than we would think to ask or imagine. Our prayers are typically focused on getting us through this present financial difficulty or physical ailment or relational difficulty. God says ‘look, I’m freely giving you everything – everything that has to do with sustaining your soul for eternity in a way that brings supreme pleasure to my heart’. Listen to some of these astonishing promises:

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?

2Corinthians 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.

Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

3 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,

Peter has laid out the ‘what’ of the gift – Jesus freely gives us all things having to do with the well-being of our eternal soul. Now he moves to the ‘how’ of the gift. This all sounds great – but how do we get it? Peter tells us it comes ‘through the knowledge of him who called us’. In verse 2 he prays that grace and peace be multiplied to us in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. Now he tells us that the supernatural power to secure all things necessary for life and godliness come through the knowledge of him who called us. Knowledge is key. The personal knowledge of the Caller is the means of communicating the gift. We worship a God “who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist” [Rom.4:17].

Jesus said:

Matthew 9:13 “…For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Paul said:

1 Thessalonians 5:23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

Peter said:

1 Peter 2:9 You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

This knowledge is not the result of personal investigation or curiosity, but a result of the divine initiative. Jesus himself called us. His call brought us out of darkness into his marvelous light.

3 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,

We are called by his own glory and virtue, the manifestation of his divine nature and his inner moral excellence. ‘His own’ is emphatic in contrast to ‘us’. When Christ calls people to himself , they perceive the beauty of his moral character and respond in faith. When Jesus called Peter, his response to Jesus’ divine power over nature was ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord’ [Luke 5:8]. Being in the presence of the divine power revealed his own unworthiness. But at Jesus call, Peter left everything and followed him.

John says:

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

The glory and excellence of Christ is attractive and compelling. It is by this compelling vision of his glory that we are called to him.

2Corinthians 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.

In verse 5, we are called to manifest this moral excellence or virtue in our own lives, in contrast to the sensuality and greed of the false teachers. But the foundation of our moral transformation is not our moral effort, but God’s unmerited grace.

3 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,

Application

So what? What should our response be to the truth that Peter has laid out for us? Here’s a few suggestions:

1. Fight for your life and for your godliness

Peter has laid out life and godliness side by side as an inseparable pair. The gift of the new birth will result in a transformed life. As the author of Hebrews says:

Hebrews 12:14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

Please understand, we cannot earn our salvation. But neither should we take it out of gear and coast. God has given us everything necessary, so we should take what he has given and put it to good use!

We fight from a position of victory – the outcome is not uncertain! We have everything we need supplied by the divine power to secure our life and godliness. So…

2. Resolve to know him better

Peter tells us that the divine power comes through the knowledge of him who called us. If that’s where the divine power for godly living comes from, I want to immerse myself in the person and work of Jesus, to become a student and a disciple of him, to deepen in my walk with him and grow in intimacy and communion with him. We should take deliberate steps to increase in our intellectual and relational knowledge of him. [Phil.3:10]

3. Worship the Divine Giver

We should stand in awe of the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us [Eph.2:7]. Revel in the unmerited sunshine of his love. Thank him that he has called us and given us all things to secure our eternal joy in him. Delight in his own glory and excellence.

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

October 4, 2009 Posted by | 2 Peter, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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

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

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

Intro

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

Simeon Peter

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

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

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

a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ

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

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

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

To those who have obtained a faith…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul says it clearly in Ephesians 2:8-10

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

In 1 Corinthians 4:7 Paul says:

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

James tells us the same thing:

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

Peter has said as much in his first letter:

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

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

… a faith of equal standing with ours

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

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

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

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

obtained …by the righteousness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul goes on to say

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

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

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

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

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

the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ

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

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

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

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

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

May grace and Peace be multiplied to you

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

in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord

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

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

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

This was Paul’s one desire:

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

2 Peter Intro

~sorry, audio not available~

09/20 2 Peter Intro

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

Intro

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Problems

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Style of the Greek Text:

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

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

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

External Evidence:

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

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

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

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

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

Internal Evidence:

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

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

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

Peter gives us the reason for his writing:

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

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

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

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

Peter goes on to tell us:

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

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

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

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

In Chapter 3, Peter tells us

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

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

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

Peter also refers to Paul’s writings:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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