2 Peter 1:12-15 ~ 20091101 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
11/01 2 Peter 1:12-15 Reminding the Established
2Peter 1:1 Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: 2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self–control, and self–control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 12 Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. 13 I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, 14 since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.
Peter knows he is going to die soon. Jesus told Peter:
John 21:18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”
Peter, now an old man (60's), is in prison in Rome under the maniacal emperor Nero, awaiting his execution. Peter knows he has little time left in this world, so he evaluates how best to spend his remaining days to the glory of God. It's interesting what Peter doesn't do – he doesn't pick a new pope or call a council to appoint a new apostle. He doesn't say 'I've worked long and hard and now I am going to rest and retire, take a break and enjoy my last few moments. Instead he takes pen and parchment and drafts the document that we now today, 2000 years later hold in our hands. And we can say 'thank you Peter for running the race with endurance to the very end and leaving us a legacy that we can learn from and be blessed and encouraged by'.
Us studying this letter 2000 years later is no accident. This is exactly what Peter intended to do; he says 'I intend always to remind you of these qualities; to stir you up by way of reminder; I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.' Peter intended that this document be a reminder long after he was gone to stir us up and to keep us from straying. And the issue is urgent. Peter's concern was not peripheral. Peter doesn't waste his last words on some side issue of the Christian faith. He is talking about the main thing – entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; and the alternative of non-entrance or access denied. As Jesus taught:
Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
The issue on Peter's heart is our final rescue from God's righteous wrath forever. He wants to remind us and stir us up by way of reminder. At the end of his letter he expresses his concern:
2 Peter 3:17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.
Paul said the same thing about his writings:
Philippians 3:1 Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.
The apostle John also talks this way in his writings:
1 John 2:21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, ...24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that he made to us – eternal life. 26 I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you.
I write, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, to encourage you to abide in it and to warn you about those who are trying to deceive you. To write the same things to you is safe for you. We need to be reminded so that we will stand firm and not stray.
Paul wanted to preach the gospel to the believers in Rome:
Romans 1:15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. ...for it is the power of God for salvation to believers.
Romans 1:12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.
Notice who Peter is addressing so you don't tune this out and think 'I don't need this'. He is not writing only to brand new believers that do not yet have their feet firmly planted in the truth of the gospel. He is not writing to flaky Christians who don't have a firm grasp of basic bible doctrine. He says 'though you know them and are established in the truth that you have'. Peter thinks that established people, people with a good understanding of theology and biblical truth need to be reminded. I can think of a few people that really need to hear this message. My inclination is to think that these truths are great for people who are immature in the faith and don't yet know all the things that I know. I was in a good Christian church the week after I was born and attended bible camp before I was one year old. I learned to read out of the King James Bible. My parents taught me the truths of the bible from day one. I was learning bible stories from the flannel-graph every Sunday of my life. I embraced Jesus as my Savior when I was seven years old. I went on a mission trip to Europe and I've done lots of evangelism. I went to bible college. I've served in churches for some 15 years. I even pastor this church! Certainly I of all people am established in the truth that I have and don't need any reminders. Peter says, 'No, you're the one I'm talking to. You who are established in the truth you already have – you need to be stirred up by way of reminder so that you don't lose your stability and make shipwreck of your faith. You must make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection and love. You must be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure. IF you practice these qualities you will never fall. You must never become so blind that you forget that you were cleansed from your former sins.' This is why we gather as the church every Sunday. This is why we must stay connected throughout each week. This is why every one of us must be daily reading and studying our bibles, spending time in meditation and prayer. 'Yeah, but I've heard it all before.' If I have any degree of spiritual maturity, I will recognize that I need regular reminders from my brothers and sisters to spur me on in my walk with Jesus. To say that I can do it on my own is evidence of arrogance, foolishness, rebellion and immaturity. John says 'I write to you ...because you know the truth' Paul says 'to write the same things.. is safe for you'. That means that it would be unsafe to live without constant reminders. None of us have outgrown the need for reminders.
Salvation by Works?
Peter reminds us to make every effort; to supplement our faith with virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection and love; to constantly increase in these qualities; to be all the more diligent; to never forget; to be effective and fruitful; to practice these qualities; to make your calling and election sure. How is this not salvation by works? That all sounds like we are the ones making it happen. If we fail to do all this work, we don't gain entrance into the eternal kingdom. That certainly sounds like we are earning our own salvation.
But it only sounds that way if we dislodge these verses from their context. In the context of the chapter, our effort is the required response to what God has already done. He granted us the faith, he poured out grace and peace on us, he has given us everything we need for life and godliness, he called us and he has given us great and precious promises that he must fulfill. We have in this chapter a beautiful interplay between divine sovereignty and human responsibility. God is the main actor and the initiator, we are the recipient and the responder, but our response is not optional. He calls; we must answer that call. He creates new life in us, but we must walk in the newness of that life. He overcomes our hard rebellious hearts and gives us a new heart that is inclined toward God, but we must love God with that heart. He removes our blindness and gives us eyes to see him for who he is, but we must look with amazement and affection on him who loved us and gave himself up for us. He gives us everything we need for life and godliness and we must make every effort to live a godly life. In this way, our response, our effort, is essential, but it is not to our credit. I can't do what is required of me and then say 'there, I did it.' That's not how the bible talks. Here's how Paul puts it:
Colossians 1:29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.
1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.
We do not work in order to earn God's favor; we work because we have been given God's favor. We do not attempt to reflect God's nature so that he will want to adopt us; he has caused us to be born again so that we naturally reflect his character. I must make every effort with all diligence, but I am only able to make that effort because he has already given me everything I need for life and godliness. I must supplement faith with fruit, because God's Spirit is bearing his fruit in my life. I must toil; I must struggle; I must work, yet it is not I, but the grace of God that he powerfully works within me.
We are to make our calling and election sure, but it is
1 Peter 5:10 ...the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Peter knew what it meant to be a recipient of undeserved grace and to have his faith upheld by the sovereign hand of God:
Luke 22:32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
So Peter is at the end of his life, and he pictures his body as a tent – a temporary dwelling place that he is about to take off like an old winter coat and put away. Peter is practicing what he preaches. He has told us to make every effort to supplement our faith with love, and now he is making every effort to do what he knows is right, what he knows to be the highest good for us whom he loves – to stir us up, to slap us awake by way of reminder. And he will make every effort to put down a permanent record so that even long after his departure, or literally his exodus, we today may be able to recall with accuracy these things.
He refers to the content of the message as 'the truth that you have'. Peter believes that there is such a thing as truth – real objective factual information - true truth - that we must know, and that we must embrace and remember. The truth is simply the gospel message
Ephesians 1:13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,
Colossians 1:5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, 6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing--as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth,
The truth of the gospel is not only to be known and understood, but obeyed:
Galatians 5:7 You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?
The truth is not only to be believed and obeyed, but loved and embraced
2 Thessalonians 2:10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. ...12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 13 But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.
Our manner of life is to be shaped by what we believe; the truth of the gospel must transform our attitudes and actions:
2 John 1:4 I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father.
What is the word of truth, the gospel?
1 Corinthians 1:18 For the word of the cross ...is the power of God.
1 John 4:10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Romans 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,
2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
1 Corinthians 15:3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures
And this is what Peter is devoted to seeing in us. He wants us to remember what we know and be what we are. He wants us to see and remember and love and embrace and reflect on and live out the truth of the gospel.
12 Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. 13 I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, 14 since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.