PastorRodney’s Weblog

Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

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

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

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

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

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

Peter says:

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

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

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

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

17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

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

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

And Jesus said:

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

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

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

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

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

Advertisements

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

2 Peter 3:14-16; Diligent Waiting

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

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

3:1 This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, 3 knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. 8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. 11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. 15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Peter 1:12 Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have.

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

2 Peter 3:16 …There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.

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

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

14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. 15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.

17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

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

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

2 Peter 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

1 Peter 2:4-5

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20081116_1Peter2_4-5.mp3

11/16 1 Peter 2:4-5 be built together as a house of priests offering sacrifices

1:13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for your sake, 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. 22 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, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

2:1 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation– 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

4 prov on prosercomenoi liyon zwnta upo anyrwpwn men apodedokimasmenon para de yew eklekton entimon 5 kai autoi wv liyoi zwntev oikodomeisye oikov pneumatikov eiv ierateuma agion anenegkai pneumatikav yusiav euprosdektouv yew dia ihsou cristou

Peter has given us five commands on how we are to respond to the initiating grace of God. After describing God’s great mercy and the riches of his grace to us, he commands us to set our hope completely on grace – God’s grace that is yet to come and will come to us at the proper time. Then he commands us to be holy like God is holy. We are to stop acting like we are still stupid and set God apart and treat him as if he were the most valuable thing in the universe – because he is! Then we are commanded to fear him – conduct your lives in fear – fear that we would offend God by treating the blood of his dear Son as if it were impotent and powerless to accomplish our transformation.

The first three commands are fix our attention on God. The fourth command looks at our horizontal relationships as an outward expression that our relationship with God is on track. He commands love – love one another unhypocritically, earnestly, from the heart.

Next he commands us to crave milk – the pure spiritual milk – so that we will grow up to salvation. It was the word that effected our new birth; it is the word that God gives us so that we will be spiritually nourished and grow to maturity – so develop a healthy hunger for God’s word. He has commanded holiness, hope, fear, and love, and he has commanded the means by which we are to accomplish those things – feed on the word and you will grow to maturity in holiness, fear, love and hope.

Then he adds a conditional clause – ‘if’. He takes Psalm 34:8 which says:

Psalm 34:8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD [YHWH] is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

and changes it to a condition – you will crave milk and grow IF you have tasted that the Lord is good. He is assuming that we have and that we will, but he is laying it out as a question to provoke us to think. Have we tasted that the Lord is good? Do we crave more of him in his word? Do we long, like a newborn baby longs for its mother’s breast, to feed on him and have all our cravings satisfied in him? If we do, what comes next naturally flows – we will come to him.

‘As you come to him’ is a participial phrase that could be translated ‘coming to him’. He probably adopted this language from Psalm 34:5,

Psalm 34:5 Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.

where ‘look to him’ in the LXX is the same verb that is here translated ‘coming to him’

‘Him’ in this sentence refers back to the ‘Lord’ of the last sentence that we have tasted and found good. Peter has lifted ‘YHWH’ – the covenant name for God in the Old Testament – from Psalm 34 and made it equivalent to ‘Jesus’ that we as believers come to.

John 5:39-40 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

Hebrews 7:25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

‘Coming to Jesus’ can describe our initial act of believing in him; But believers come continually and repeatedly to Jesus as an expression of our faith in him. If we have tasted that he is good we will come earnestly and often to him for much needed nourishment.

Peter – (who was nicknamed ‘the rock’ by Jesus in Matthew 16:18) uses a stone metaphor to describe Jesus. He had used this in Acts 4 in his preaching. He picked it up from Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 21. A rock is something solid, unchanging, dependable. When we want to say someone is dependable we say they are ‘rock solid’. In C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, Peter is not sure he will survive a battle and tells Edmond to ‘say something especially nice to Trumpkin. He’s been a brick.’ (Prince Caspian, p. 193). Brick is used as an idiom for a helpful, reliable person. When we want to make a memorial that will withstand the ravages of time, we have it chiseled into granite. Peter’s readers have nothing solid in their lives – they are aliens and exiles. They have no certainty of the future. They don’t know when they might be arrested or killed for their faith. Peter encourages them that they have come to him who is a rock – in the midst of shifting times, they have their hope anchored in the bedrock.

But we use rocks in a different metaphor as well. We might say ‘you’re as dumb as a rock’ and we mean that there’s not much activity upstairs. Or we say something is ‘stone dead’ – it doesn’t get much deader than a stone. In fact the bible refers to false gods that were made out of wood and stone:

Deuteronomy 4:28 And there you will serve gods of wood and stone, the work of human hands, that neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell.

Isaiah 37:19 and have cast their gods into the fire. For they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed.

Revelation 9:20 The rest of mankind, … did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk,

Peter surprises us here with his paradoxical metaphor – Jesus is not a normal lifeless stone, but a living stone. Absolutely steadfast and immovable, but full of life and life-giving to all who come to him. This is the third time he has used the term ‘living’; we are born again to a living hope, we have been born again through the living word, and now Jesus is the living stone that we come to.

But he says Jesus is ‘rejected by men’; Jesus to many was a rock in the path; he was in the way – an obstacle that you would trip over if you weren’t careful, and they cast him aside – they crucified him. Peter has in mind Psalm 118:22 and he quotes it down in verse 7. He also quoted it in his sermon recorded in Acts 4:

Acts 4:10-12 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead––by him this man is standing before you well. 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

and there he specifically applied it to the Jewish leaders. Here he applies it to mankind generally – Jesus is in general rejected by men.

Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

If you want to be popular and do what the majority of people are doing, you won’t come to Jesus – not on his terms anyway. Men naturally reject Jesus. That shouldn’t surprise us. What should surprise us is when we see a work of God’s grace in a person’s life where they are awakened to who Jesus is and their blind eyes are opened and they joyfully embrace Jesus as King and Savior. When I look around this room, what I see is evidence of God’s grace. No one, apart from God’s work of grace in his life, turns to Jesus. That’s what Jesus said:

John 6:65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

Every believer is evidence of God’s grace.

Jesus is rejected by men. But God has a completely different perspective on his beloved Son. Men despise and reject Jesus. To his Father, he was chosen – elect or choice – the same word Peter used of his readers in 1:1; and Jesus is precious – or honored, of high reputation with his Father. The rejection of men found expression in their calling him illegitimate, saying that he has a demon, attributing his miraculous deeds to the devil and climaxed in their shouts ‘crucify him, crucify him!’ The Father’s love for Jesus was expressed through the voice from heaven that declared:

Matthew 3:17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Luke 9:35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!”

and found ultimate expression in the Father raising Jesus from the dead three days after the crucifixion. Peter said in Acts 3:

Acts 3:13-15 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. 14 But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.

God raised Jesus from the dead. So we come to Jesus is the life giver:

John 5:21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. …25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.

John 10:10 …I came that they may have life and have it abundantly….28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.

If you come to Jesus you will live. Jesus was the one who could touch a leper and rather than contracting that infectious disease, his life giving power would make the leper clean. The resurrection life of Jesus is infectious. Come to Jesus and you will live. In verse 5 he carries this metaphor of Jesus as the living stone to us as living stones. Because of Jesus we have life, and because of Jesus we are solid and will last forever.

Now we get to the central phrase of the sentence – ‘you are being built up’. Coming to the living stone, you as living stones are being built up. God is implied as the builder, and he has a purpose for you! There are two purpose phrases in verse 5; ‘to be’ and ‘to offer’. We are being built into something so that our identity is changed and so that our actions are changed. God is shaping us with a definite purpose in mind. And the ‘you’ here is not singular; ‘you individually’ but plural; ‘you all’ our ‘you collectively’. Of course this has implications for us individually, but Peter’s emphasis is on us collectively. Remember his admonition for us to ‘love one another’? that fits right in here –

you can’t love one another all by yourself. The command to love one another implies connectedness to the group. So here, if you are one living stone out in a field by yourself, you have no potential of being built into anything. We have Lincoln Logs at home. And we have five kids. There’s different ways they can play with the Lincoln Logs. They can divide up all the pieces equally so each one gets their fair share. They can move to a corner of the room so that they have control of their pieces. But there’s not much they can do with their little pile of Lincoln Logs. They could pretend the logs were people and they could have conversations. But that’s not what the Lincoln Logs were designed for. In order to build anything significant, they have to come together and allow their little pile to be used for the common good. Then they can really build something, and they are using the logs for what they were created for. God wants to use us together to build a house. You and I are in the process of being built up as a spiritual house.

But what if the pieces don’t fit together? We’re simply incompatible – we just can’t peacefully co-exist… Lies! Those are lies from the pit of hell. Jesus said he would build his church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. We reject those lies and submit ourselves to the wise master builder. He looks at us, his living stones, that don’t fit together and he says ‘hmmm, these stones don’t fit nicely together. Look, this one has a sharp outcropping of envy that I will chisel off. This side is all lumpy with hypocrisy and I will grind it smooth. This deceit must go if these stones will fit together as I intend. This corner of malice must be filed smooth. This one is covered with the leprosy of slander and bitterness. I will bake it in the furnace until all the disease is gone. Ahh, now they are just beginning to fit together. These two I will allow to rub against each other and chafe each other until over time they will have worn each other so smooth and will fit so perfectly together that not even a knife blade could fit between them.

Understand, we are talking about a spiritual house – not a physical building. When we believers come together, we are God’s house, God’s temple. When Jesus on the cross cried out ‘it is finished’ the heavy curtain that hid the most holy place from view was ripped from top to bottom.

Mark 15:37-38 And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.

God …does not live in temples made by man (Acts 17:24). But he dwells in the midst of his people. You and I as living stones are being fitted together in to a spiritual dwelling for the God of the universe!

And our purpose? ‘To be a holy priesthood’ and ‘to offer spiritual sacrifices’. Here the metaphor bends. Now the living stones who make up the house become the holy priesthood that offer sacrifices to God. Under Old Testament law, not just anyone could take upon himself the office of a priest. You must have been a literal physical descendant of Moses’ brother Aaron. You had to be able to trace your blood line to the tribe of Levi. The priests were appointed by God to facilitate the worship of God. Only those selected to serve as priests could enter the holy place to offer sacrifices to God, and only after they had been set apart by blood. Only one priest, the high priest could ever enter the most holy place, and he could only enter once a year carrying blood from the offering to present at the mercy seat to make atonement for the sins of the people. Jesus, our great high priest, presented his own precious blood before the throne of God, propitiating our sins and :

Hebrews 1:3 … After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

Hebrews 10:12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,

Hebrews 10:19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, …

We now together have been set apart as holy to serve as priests to God. But what kind of sacrifice do we offer? Our text says that we offer ‘spiritual sacrifices’. We no longer offer the blood of bulls and goats – the once for all perfect blood sacrifice has been made. Our sins are decisively and finally dealt with. So what kind of offering do we make?

Romans 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

Romans 15:16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

Philippians 4:18 I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.

Hebrews 12:28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,

Hebrews 13:15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

So we offer our bodies, we preach the good news, we support the ministry of the gospel, we worship and praise God; we do good and share what we have. These offerings that we make are said to be ‘acceptable to God.’ A priest had to be extremely careful that he did not defile himself and so become unfit to offer sacrifices acceptable to God. He had to check the animal carefully to be sure that it was unblemished so that it would be acceptable to God. The procedure for offering had to be followed exactly so that the sacrifice would be acceptable to God. And the heart motive of the offerer had to be right before God for that offering to be acceptable to God. We are said to be a holy priesthood that offers spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God. What is the procedure by which we make and offering that is acceptable to God? We certainly don’t want to be rejected by God. Our text tells us that we offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. There is no offering, no matter how great it may seem, no matter how deep the cost to ourselves that is acceptable to God if it is not through Jesus Christ. Many try to come to God on their own merits and offer to God their best, but it is filthy rags and rejected by God. Only those that come, not on their own merit, but on the merit of Jesus Christ as their perfect substitute, can:

Hebrews 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

It is only:

Ephesians 3:11-12 …in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.

Only through Jesus Christ and his precious blood can we find acceptance with God. Only by putting our confidence in the perfect sacrifice that he made can our sins be washed away. Only having been born again by the living and abiding word of God and given new life through the resurrection of Jesus can we approach the Father and find his favor.

So together, as his redeemed blood bought people, his holy priesthood, we together will offer a sacrifice of praise to him. We together will approach the table that God has prepared for us and we will commune with him and with one another. We together will lift up our prayers of worship and adoration to the King who is holy, and in so far as it is through Jesus Christ, we can have confidence that we are accepted by the Father.

November 16, 2008 Posted by | 1 Peter, podcast | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Peter 1:10-12

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20080928_1peter_1_10-12.mp3

9/28 1 Peter 1:10-12 what prophets and angels long to know

1: 1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

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, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith––more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire––may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 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.

1: 10 peri hv swthriav exezhthsan kai exhraunhsan profhtai oi peri thv eiv umav caritov profhteusantev 11 eraunwntev eiv tina h poion kairon edhlou to en autoiv pneuma cristou promarturomenon ta eiv criston payhmata kai tav meta tauta doxav 12 oiv apekalufyh oti ouc eautoiv umin de dihkonoun auta a nun anhggelh umin dia twn euaggelisamenwn umav pneumati agiw apostalenti ap ouranou eiv a epiyumousin aggeloi parakuqai

Peter is addressing Christians who are being persecuted for following Jesus. They are experiencing trials. They have been ostracized in their communities. And Peter is writing them a brief letter

1 Peter 5:12 …exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it.

Peter wants to see them stand firm in the true grace of God in spite of the trials. So first, he has acknowledged their alien status in their communities. They are exiles, aliens, sojourners. But then he points them to their status in God’s eyes. They are choice, precious, elect. The triune God is at work in them to secure their future hope. And this leads him into doxology – giving praise to God. He says ‘blessed be God’. And his blessing or praise has three parts. In verses 3-5 he finds the foundation for praise in our new birth which God brought about and which brings us into an inheritance that is kept securely for us and we by God’s power are being securely kept for it. Verses 6-9 point to the purpose of our present experiences. In this salvation, our new birth and future hope, we rejoice while at the same time we are grieved by trials, because we know the trials are a necessary part of our salvation. Trials prove our faith to be genuine. Our genuine faith is displayed by our love for Jesus, our trust in Jesus, our inexpressible joy in spite of our struggles. That joy in Jesus is an expression of worship or praise. And now in verses 10-12, we are pointed to the greatness of our salvation in contrast to the experience of prophets, evangelists, and even angels as fuel for our worship.

So in verse 10 he refers us back to ‘this salvation’. This is the salvation he mentioned at the end of verse 9; ‘the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls’. Salvation is a word we as Christians throw around a lot. I think it will benefit us greatly to pause and contemplate what we mean by the words we use. Salvation, or being ‘saved’ has two aspects; what we are saved from and what we are saved for. Let me illustrate these two aspects by using the word in different sentences. ‘The firefighter broke through my bedroom window and carried me down the ladder, saving me from the blaze that engulfed my house.’ Or ‘I am saving every extra penny for our vacation to Hawaii’. Or a young woman might say ‘I am saving myself for marriage’. In the first, there is a danger that would destroy us that we are rescued from. In the second, something or someone is being kept for a higher purpose, rather than being wasted. Both of these concepts are carried by the word ‘salvation’. Implicit in the word itself is the concept of being saved from a danger that would destroy us – elsewhere in scripture we find the danger identified as the wrath of God or hell, death, and the power of sin. We deserve to suffer under the fury of the Almighty because of our sins. Salvation means we are rescued from that coming punishment and escape out from under the penalty of our sins. Peter focuses our attention in the context more on the other side of salvation; we are kept from wasting our life because there is something so much better to spend it on. We are being saved from the attraction of the world and from wasting our life serving the devil and and for our great inheritance.

Salvation is at the center of the good news message. The good news answers the cry ‘what must I do to be saved?’ and the good news answer is ‘believe on the Lord Jesus’ (Acts 16:30-31). Salvation is not your own doing – it is something that is done to you. The firefighter came crashing through your window and woke you up and carried you down the ladder. Your money doesn’t save itself up for your vacation. By a conscious act of the will it has to be set aside for that purpose. Salvation is ‘by grace through faith’ (Eph. 2:8). Peter has explained the ‘by grace’ part of salvation when he describes his readers as ‘those who are elect… according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit’. And he points to the ‘through faith’ part when he says ‘for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood’. He points to the ‘by grace’ part when he says that it was God’s great mercy that caused us to be born again’ and the ‘through faith’ part when he says you ‘are being guarded through faith for a salvation’ and in spite of not seeing Jesus you love and trust and rejoice in him, and obtain ‘the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls’.

It is this salvation of his readers that he has talked about in the first nine verses of his letter that he now points to as the topic of inquiry for prophets and angels. This salvation is also called ‘the grace that was to be yours’. We could describe our salvation, our rescue from judgment and for an inheritance simply as God’s grace extended in our direction. Literally he says ‘the to you grace’. It is undeserved kindness intended for you. The grace that you are right now experiencing from God was the topic of careful search and inquiry of all the prophets who prophesied. Peter is looking back over the entire Old Testament revelation and saying that the grace of God you are experiencing today is the focal point of it all. We learn some things about our bible from these verses. We learn how to use it, where it came from, what its central message is, and what it is meant to do.

I take the instruction on how to use the bible from the phrase ‘searched and inquired carefully’. In the Greek original, the phrase is ‘exezhthsan kai exhraunhsan‘, two words that sound similar and have very similar meanings to give emphasis to the intensity of their search. ‘exezhthsan‘ indicates an intensive search or investigation that considers the matter from every point of view. ‘exhraunhsan‘ indicates a search for something that is hidden. These words are not passive. They indicate strenuous effort and persistent mental exertion. The prefix of both words is ‘ek‘ which means ‘out of’. There are treasures buried in scripture that are waiting for us to exert the effort to get them out. We don’t come to the text bringing our treasures and ideas and try to plant them there. Instead we come with our tools and try to uncover what is really there, waiting to be discovered. If the prophets themselves made such careful search and inquiry into their own prophecies, should we not do the same? Some people might ask why we have spent five weeks on only 12 verses of 1 Peter, examining each phrase and looking behind the English translation to the Greek original. My reply is ‘exezhthsan kai exhraunhsan‘! God spoke to us. He preserved his word for us. He gave us the tools we need. He gave us a brain and the capacity for curiosity and investigation. Doesn’t God’s word deserve our careful attention?

I take the source and character of the bible from the phrase in verse 11 ‘the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating’. The Spirit of the Messiah, or the Holy Spirit, was revealing or indicating or making known. ‘Prophets who prophesied’ is explained and expanded by ‘the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating’. What the prophets wrote was not mere opinion or political commentary on life in ancient Israel. It was God’s Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, making truth known to them. Peter describes the source of prophecy in 2 Peter 1:21:

2 Peter 1:21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Paul describes it this way:

2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by God…

The author of Hebrews quoted the Old Testament by saying:

Hebrews 3:7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, …

Hebrews 9:8 By this the Holy Spirit indicates that …

So scripture is God’s Holy Spirit through the prophet communicating to us. But what is he communicating?

I see the central message or content of the bible indicated by what the prophets were making careful search and inquiry about. It was ‘concerning this salvation’, and they ‘prophesied about the grace that was to be yours’. But what was it that they wanted to know? It says in verse 11 ‘inquiring what person or time’; they understood salvation by grace through faith. They wanted to know when. What would be the time and circumstances of the Christ? Or who would fulfill the office of Messiah? Later in the verse, it says that ‘he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories’. The central theme of all of revelation is God’s grace in our salvation; displayed in the sufferings of Christ and his glories. This is what Jesus pointed out to his disciples on the road to Emmaus:

Luke 24:25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

By the example of the prophets, we are encouraged to search and inquire diligently into the biblical text; we understand that the bible is God’s Holy Spirit communicating to us; we see that the central theme and the unifying message of the entire bible is God’s grace in our salvation displayed by the suffering and subsequent glories of Jesus, and in verse 12 we see the purpose of prophecy. Prophecy was not primarily for the prophets. Prophecy was not even primarily for the people to whom the prophets prophesied. Prophecy’s primary purpose was for you! ‘It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you’. The Old Testament was written with you in mind!

Romans 4:23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also…

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

1 Corinthians 9:10 Does he not speak entirely for our sake? It was written for our sake…

Listen to how the author of Hebrews describes the Old Testament heroes and prophets:

Hebrews 11:32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets–– 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated–– 38 of whom the world was not worthy––wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. 39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

We get a glimpse into this wrestling and struggling of the prophets to understand their prophecies when we look at Daniel:

Daniel 7:15 “As for me, Daniel, my spirit within me was anxious, and the visions of my head alarmed me. 16 I approached one of those who stood there and asked him the truth concerning all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of the things.

Daniel 8:15 When I, Daniel, had seen the vision, I sought to understand it. And behold, there stood before me one having the appearance of a man. 16 And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of the Ulai, and it called, “Gabriel, make this man understand the vision.” 17 So he came near where I stood. And when he came, I was frightened and fell on my face. But he said to me, “Understand, O son of man, that the vision is for the time of the end.” …19 He said, “Behold, I will make known to you what shall be at the latter end of the indignation, for it refers to the appointed time of the end. …26 The vision of the evenings and the mornings that has been told is true, but seal up the vision, for it refers to many days from now.” 27 And I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for some days. Then I rose and went about the king’s business, but I was appalled by the vision and did not understand it.

Daniel 9:2 in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years. 3 Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.

Daniel 12:8 I heard, but I did not understand. Then I said, “O my lord, what shall be the outcome of these things?” 9 He said, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are shut up and sealed until the time of the end.

So be encouraged, Christian reader, as you stand in awe of the faithful saints of the bible, that they were serving not themselves but you! The prophets of old served you with their prophecy and now Peter brings it up to date and says that the apostles and evangelists also serve 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’. The things the prophets diligently searched and inquired into but could not understand, have now been declared to you through those who preached the gospel. This sheds some light on the role of the evangelist. God is announcing his good news through the preacher. And the preacher is not preaching in his own power. He preaches ‘by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven.

Suffering Christian, be encouraged. You are the focal point of God’s redemptive plan. The prophets desperately wanted to know what you now understand. God has hidden it from them and revealed it to you. He has empowered apostles and evangelists to proclaim the good news of God’s grace to you. And not only prophets and evangelists, but also the angels. Peter throws in this provocative phrase at the end of his doxology: ‘things into which angels long to look.’ I wish we had more time to talk about angels. We learn from texts like Psalm 148:2-5, Nehemiah 9:6 and Colossians 1:16 that angels are created beings. They were created as angels and always will remain angels. They are spirit beings who are a different class of being from humans and animals and plants. Hebrews 1:13-14 tells us that angels serve God by ministering to us for our benefit.

Hebrews 1:13-14 And to which of the angels has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? 14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?

Angels are similar to us in that they are personal moral beings that were created with the capacity to love and serve God or to rebel and disobey. Jude verse 6 tells us that some rebelled against God. Peter tells us

2 Peter 2:4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;

God apparently did not give fallen angels a second chance. They were not spared. They are being kept until the judgment. The author of Hebrews contrasts our situation with that of angels. We too rejected God’s authority and rebelled against him and we too deserve judgment. Jesus did not become an angel. Jesus became for a little while lower than the angels so that he could taste death for mankind (Heb.2:9)

Hebrews 2:16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham.

Understanding the situation of angels, it is interesting to hear that angels are intensely interested in the grace of God that is extended to us. Angels only know justice. They have never experienced forgiveness. The holy angels have never sinned. They have no need of redemption. But God’s plan of salvation for human kind reveals a new facet of the glory of God’s grace. That’s why Jesus told us:

Luke 15:10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Look Michael, he took another one who was on his way to hell and made him an heir of heaven! What marvelous grace! What free and undeserved love! Angels have a holy passion to see the grace of God unfold in your life! This should cause us to treasure our salvation all the more – salvation by grace through faith in Jesus – a salvation that was prophesied by the prophets, proclaimed by preachers and displayed before angels

September 29, 2008 Posted by | 1 Peter | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Peter 1:1-2

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20080907_1peter_1_1-2.mp3

9/07 1 Peter 1:1-2 Christians in Tension

1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

1 petrov apostolov ihsou cristou eklektoiv parepidhmoiv diasporav pontou galatiav kappadokiav asiav kai biyuniav 2 kata prognwsin yeou patrov en agiasmw pneumatov eiv upakohn kai rantismon aimatov ihsou cristou cariv umin kai eirhnh plhyunyeih

Peter introduces himself simply as ‘apostle’. In many of Paul’s writings, he expands this part of the greeting by adding a phrase like ‘by the will of God’ to defend his apostleship. Peter has no need to defend his apostolic authority. He was commissioned by Jesus Christ to speak on his behalf and with his authority. So this letter is to be received as if it came from Jesus and with his authority. If you don’t like what it says, take it up with Jesus. Jesus charged Peter to ‘feed my lambs …tend my sheep… feed my sheep’ (Jn.21); and in this letter Peter, as a shepherd, is tending to the needs of the suffering sheep that are scattered across Asia Minor. Peter is buttressing the belief of his readers by pointing them to God and to strong truths about God. They can stand firm in the fiery trial because of who God is and what he is doing for them and in them. They need an unshakable theological understanding under their feet so that they can stand as Christians in the middle of a hostile society. He declares his purpose in 5:12

5:12 …I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it.

Peter is coming alongside the believers, encouraging them and testifying to them of the truth about God. He wants to see holiness developed in them. He wants to see them stand firm in the grace of God. He wants to strengthen their hope that God, Father, Son and Spirit, is working for their good to secure their salvation.

It’s a bit peculiar that in a letter to people Peter has probably never met, he says hardly anything about his own identity, but he spends a lot of time telling the readers who they are. We would say ‘Hi, you don’t know me, so let me tell you about myself’. Instead Peter says ‘you don’t know me, so let me tell you who you are.’ That seems odd for a stranger to say ‘I don’t know you very well, but let me tell you about yourself’. He is telling them things that are true about them that they either don’t know, or that they know but need to be reminded of. Peter wants them to understand their identity in Christ. They need to know who they are.

He addresses them as ‘elect exiles of the dispersion’. He uses the Jewish metaphor of ‘diaspora’ or ‘dispersion’. In 722 B.C. The Assyrians under Shalmaneser V conquered and carried off many from the northern kingdom of Israel and then in 588 B.C. under Nebuchadnezzar II the southern kingdom of Judah was carried off into Babylon. The nations into which they went did their best to assimilate them and integrate them into their society, culture and religion. The Jews had to struggle to retain their ethnic and religious distinctiveness. Because they maintain their unique identity, they are ‘exiles’ or sojourners, resident aliens in a place that is not their home.

This was the experience of Abraham. God had called Abram the idol worshiper of Ur of the Chaldeans to:

Genesis 12:1 Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. …

Abraham went to the land and he described himself to the Hittites as:

Genesis 23:4 “I am a sojourner and foreigner among you;…”

The author of Hebrews uses the same wording that Peter does to describe the situation of the Old Testament saints:

Hebrews 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.

Because these people had embraced Jesus as their God, they had become strangers in their own hometowns. They no longer belong to the culture in which they live. They have become sojourners. But he describes them as ‘elect exiles’ or ‘chosen outcasts’ or ‘ the selected rejected’. These are Christians in tension. In relation to the culture in which they reside, they are outside the group. They are different. They don’t belong. They don’t fit in. They don’t think and feel and act the way the rest of society thinks and feels and acts. And because of that, they are rejected and persecuted. But in relation to God they are elect. They have been chosen, hand picked. They have been called out by name. They are loved by God. The word ‘elect’ eklektov means those who have been selected as a subset of a larger group. ISBE says “…prevalently in the New Testament, it denotes a human community, also described as believers, saints, the Israel of God; regarded as in some sense selected by Him from among men, objects of His special favor, and correspondingly called to special holiness and service.” This is a common name for Christians in the New Testament, and often they are described as ‘God’s elect’ or ‘his elect’.

Mark 13:20 …But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose,…

Mark 13:22 … signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect.

Mark 13:27 …gather his elect from the four winds…

Romans 8:33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?…

Colossians 3:12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones,…

Titus 1:1 …for the sake of the faith of God’s elect

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race… a people for his own possession…

This term points to the safety and security of the believer’s position with God. We cannot lose our position because we didn’t attain it by climbing the ladder of accomplishment. God picked us out and placed us here, and he will also preserve and protect us. It is a position of privilege to be picked to be on God’s team. But this choice of God is also the source of our trouble here on earth. When you get picked for the team, your friends who didn’t get picked get jealous and hostile and angry. This is exactly what Jesus told his disciples would happen:

John 15:19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

Because God chose you to be his own, the world hates you. So don’t cry when you look around and see that the world hates you. Remember, it’s because you were picked out by God. The world hates you because you’re on God’s team now and you are different from them. Because we are elect, we are exiles, sojourners. We no longer belong. Paul describes our alien status this way:

Philippians 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,

Peter uses three prepositional phrases to further describe his readers, the ‘elect exiles of the dispersion’. He says they are ‘according to’, ‘in’ and ‘for’. And he describes the work of the triune God in their lives; God the Father, the Spirit, and Jesus Christ. He says in verse 2:

2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:

First, he says they are elect exiles of the dispersion ‘according to the foreknowledge of God the Father’. The word foreknowledge ‘prognwsiv‘ is a compound of ‘pro‘ before and ‘ginwskw‘ to know. It means ‘to know before’. This is where we get our English word ‘prognosis’, which the dictionary defines as ‘A prediction of the probable course and outcome’ But with God, it is not merely the probable course and outcome that he knows, but he knows and can predict with absolute certainty the course and outcome. But the use of the word ‘foreknowledge’ in the bible means more than simply God’s omniscience and his ability to know the future ahead of time. That is certainly true, and that is what the word means when it is used with and event or an object. But the concept of knowing when it is used with a person as its object carries with it the idea of relationship. All the way back in the beginning, it says:

Genesis 4:1 Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived…

There is clearly more than intellectual comprehension involved in this kind of ‘knowing’. God uses this word of Abraham:

Genesis 18:18 seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19 For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.”

Of the prophet Jeremiah, God says:

Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Notice the parallels between ‘knew’, ‘consecrated’, and ‘appointed’. In Amos, God says to Israel:

Amos 3:1-2 Hear this word that the LORD has spoken against you, O people of Israel, against the whole family that I brought up out of the land of Egypt: 2 “You only have I known of all the families of the earth…

The context is that God is about to punish Israel and their sins are especially grievous because he has a special relationship with them. That can’t possibly mean that God was unaware that there were other people on the planet besides Israel.

The only other place in the New Testament that this word occurs is in Acts 2:23 where it is coupled with the ordained will of God:

Acts 2:23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.

The verb form appears in:

Romans 8:29 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.

Romans 11:2 God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel?

1 Peter 1:20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for your sake,

The concept of foreknowledge carries not only the idea of comprehension of future events, but when the word is used of people, it carries the idea of a purpose of relationship. The readers of Peter’s letter are elect exiles of the dispersion according to the foreknowledge of God the Father. They are chosen according to the Father’s purpose to enter into relationship with them. They are picked for intimacy with the Father. And Peter tells them this right up front in his letter; before he even says ‘hello’. He urgently wants them to hear this truth so that they would be encouraged in their suffering by it and take hope. Yes, you are an outcast in your family and in society, but God the Father chose to place his love on you! So he describes them as elect exiles according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.

Then he describes them as elect exiles ‘in or by means of the sanctification of the Spirit’. Sanctification ‘agiasmov‘ means ‘consecration, purification, or holiness’. Something that is sanctified is set apart for a specific use. Paul talks about vessels set apart for a specific use:

2 Timothy 2:21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.

In that day there were specific vessels that were set apart for the preparation and serving of food. There were other vessels used in the bedchamber as a commode. They were set apart for that use. In a pinch, you might take a vessel set apart for kitchen use and use it as a commode, but that vessel would never be fit for kitchen service again. That’s the concept of being ‘sanctified’ or ‘set apart’; you’re the dirty clay pot, but you’ve been cleansed and purified and made holy, made fit for honorable use. And this is specifically said to be the work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God cleans you and sets you apart for a good use.

1 Thessalonians 4:7-8 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. 8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

And these elect exiles had a purpose. They were elect exiles ‘for or into obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood’. Their purpose is to be brought into obedience and sprinkling with the blood of Jesus. Obedience (upakoh) comes from the root ‘to hear’ and ‘under’; it means to be under authority, to hear and obey. Several times in the New Testament this word is used to describe people’s response to the gospel message:

Romans 1:5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations,

Romans 6:17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,

Romans 10:16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?”

Romans 15:18 For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience––by word and deed,

Romans 16:25-27 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, …according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith–– to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

1 Peter 1:22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,

Acts 6:7 And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

2 Thessalonians 1:7-8 …when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

Hebrews 5:9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him,

So where we would say things like ‘they got saved’ or ‘trusted Jesus’ or ‘believed the gospel’, the New Testament writers also described this as ‘they obeyed the gospel’ or ‘became obedient to the faith’ or ‘they obeyed Jesus’. Jesus said when he was asked:

John 6:28-29 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

Obedience is one side of the picture of our purpose. The other side is ‘into the sprinkling blood of Jesus Christ’. The picture of sprinkling blood comes from the covenant God made with the people in Exodus:

Exodus 24:5-8 …offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the LORD. 6 And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar. 7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” 8 And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

Upon their declaration of submission to God and obedience to him, they were sprinkled with his blood. And the author of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is the mediator of a better covenant

Hebrews 9:13-15 For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance…

So we have the elected rejected, according to the Father’s purpose to set his love on us; by the Holy Spirit’s work of setting us apart for honorable use, and into the obedience to the truth and cleansing by the blood of Jesus. We see this same sequence in 2 Thessalonians as a grounds for thanksgiving:

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.

And now, after Peter has poured out this theological foundation for the faith of these suffering saints and pointed them to the Triune God who is at work in them to secure for them their eternal salvation, now he says ‘hi’. He says ‘May grace and peace be multiplied to you’. Grace, God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense; God’s goodness poured out on undeserving sinners; blessings and kindness that we didn’t earn and couldn’t deserve.

Romans 11:6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.

And because God is gracious toward us, we can

Romans 5:1 …we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

2 Corinthians 5:18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself

So Peter takes his readers who are feeling like aliens without any sense of belonging, and he lifts their eyes (and ours) up from the dirt and points to a God who is for us, who chose us, to the Father who set his love upon us, the Spirit who is at work in us to set us apart and to make us holy; to Jesus, who upon our obedience to the good news, sprinkles us clean with his precious blood. And he asks that this undeserved grace of God and this blood-bought peace with God be exaggerated to us, that God’s grace and peace would flood over us and overwhelm us and surround us and hold us.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

elect exiles of the dispersion…

according to the foreknowledge of God the Father

in the sanctification of the Spirit

for obedience

and sprinkling with the blood of Jesus Christ

September 7, 2008 Posted by | 1 Peter | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment