2 Peter

A Reminder of Faith

"Did you do the coffee and lock up the house?" It is a question that my wife asks me every night before we go to bed. My evening job is to make sure that the coffee is set for the next day to go after promptly at 5:45 so that when my wife comes down at 6:05 the coffee is waiting for her. I also have to ensure that the house securely locked and the garage is shut. These are my chores that I am responsible for every night. And yet, my wife asks when I get into bed, “Did you do the coffee and lock up the house?” And there still days when I reply, “No, I forgot. Let me go do that.” It is good that I get reminders.

            We all forget things. My wife’s reminders are a blessing to me because of what is at stake. If I forget to lock up the house, I am potentially exposing my children to danger. The higher the stakes the more reminders can serve as a blessing. There are some in our congregations that work with tremendously large machines at a paper mill in town. One of the most important jobs is the safety instructor because if someone forgets the safety instructions the potential of danger is severe because of the heat produced by the machines. The greater the danger, the more beneficial the reminder. Peter is worried that the church is going to follow false teachers and miss the rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:11). If they do not receive a welcome, they will be cast out to a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth. The stakes could not be any higher so Peter gives the church a reminder of faith.

Reminder of a Godly Life

            Peter informs the church that he will continue to remind them of the qualities of the godly life in accord with the knowledge of Jesus Christ. 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.” Peter was not going to stop reminding the church to grow in godliness. He wanted them to be effective in their knowledge of the Lord. Peter took his call serious as an elder and apostle. Elders care about people’s eternal state. Peter did not take their position with the Lord for granted. He says that they were firmly established in the truth. They did not need to learn the truth only to be reminded of it. Remember Hymenaeus and Alexander from 1 Timothy 1 who drifted from the truth that he had to put out of the church. Hebrews 2:1-2, “Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” Drift away from the world is a very real possibility.

            Elders should be reminders of people. There are some weeks that you come to church and you may not “learn” anything knew, but you may be reminded about the great things of the faith. One of the blessings of singing songs is that we right those words on our heart. While I was coming back from lunch today someone turned on 90s music. I hadn’t heard those songs in about 10 years and I could sing almost all of the lyrics. Imagine if instead of the 90s music of SWV and the Spin Doctors, I wrote the great hymns of the faith on my heart. Listen to good, godly music and write it upon your heart. I am going to start to introduce new songs to our church so we can write the deep truths of God onto our heart. We all need reminders. Sometimes those reminders can come through hearing the same truths in a new way. Remember all reminders of God’s truth are a blessing.

            Pastors have been given the ministry of reminders. It is no trouble for us to remind you again and again of the gospel that there is salvation through faith Jesus. The gospel is not only something we believe, but something that should change our lives. Peter wanted to remind them of the life that characterized the Christian faith. Do you need any reminders? Who do you need to give a reminder?

Reminder of a Coming Death

            Peter was about to die. He knew by revelation from Jesus Christ that his time on earth was short. He was about to depart the tent of the body. The original Greek only has the word in this tent and does not have body. It is a clear reference to the body as a temporary home. He knew that his earthly body was going to perish and he would enter into the present of Jesus in a spiritual state. We know that one-day God is going to raise our bodies to be imperishable, but here Peter is reminder of how short and temporary life in this world truly can be. We are a mist, a vapor. We are here for a moment and then we pass on to glory.

            As we approach death, we get a sharper focus. We know what really matters. We focus our time and energy that things that are of the utmost importance. Peter thought that it was right to stir them up by way of reminder. Peter wanted the church’s affections and desires to be kindled to follow after Christ. We know there are seasons when the fire for the Lord wanes. When those seasons happened, we sometimes need someone to come and poke and stir up the kindling. We may need a word of encouragement or a rebuke or exhortation, but we occasionally need to be stirred.

            I met with someone this week who gave me a challenging word. It made me analyze my leadership and teaching. It stirred me up to continue to press on in the deep things of God. Did I enjoy being challenged? Of course I didn’t at the moment, but I am thankful for the fruit it bore and will bear in my life and ministry. Let us be those who stir one another up to love and good deeds. This is one of the purposes of our gatherings every Sunday. We gather to stir one another up by reminding each other of the sweetness and beauty of the gospel of Christ. Hebrews 10:24-5, “Let us consider how to stir one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” We often focus on the negative aspect of not meeting together rather than on the positive aspect of stirring one another up to love and good works.

            When was the last time you came to church with the thought, “How can I stir up so and so to love God more today?” Or maybe, “How can I be a blessing to one of our windows today and stir them up to continue to press on towards Jesus?” When one of our widowers left the church today, I realized that I hadn’t even consider how they must feel on Valentine’s Day. If I gave them more thought today, I may have helped to stir them up in the faith.

            Peter was facing the end of his life, but he did not quit. He continued to give himself for the people of God. I have been so encouraged with many in this church who have not sailed off away from the church in your later years, but have given themselves to the church. As the Day is drawing near, let us continue to fight for the faith of our brothers and sisters by stirring them up in Christ.

Reminder of a Lasting Legacy

            Peter knew that he was going to be held accountable before God for how he cared for the church, but he cared even more that the church would not drift after he was gone. “And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.” Peter did not want the church to die after he was gone. He was not building the church around him, but around the knowledge of Jesus Christ. He said he was going to make every effort. He already has told the body to make every effort to press on in Jesus and now he makes the same commitment back to the church.

            Peter does not ask the people anything that he himself is not willing to do. When I was in college I was responsible for moving the entire gymnastic apparatuses for the Ivy League Championship Meet. It was one of the worse days of my jobs in college. We had to move the floor which was comprised on springs and the carpet, the balance beam, the vault, and the uneven parallel bars. It was brutal to move. At the end of the move, we were rewarded with Papa John’s pizza. I remember getting so mad when I saw the gymnastic coach eating the pizza. While we moved the entire equipment and then set it all up barely knowing what we were doing, the leader of the team just sat and watched. He was not willing to help us when we need it, but wanted to share in our reward. I vowed then that I would never be that kind of leader. We never want to be leaders who are not willing to lead by example. We must be willing to lead with our lives.

            This is what Peter was doing. Peter called the church to make every effort to give themselves to the knowledge of Christ and he committed to make every effort to give himself fully to the call of God for their sakes. This is the heart of a pastor. A pastor does not want to be served, but to serve others. We follow Jesus’ example who did not come to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many. Jesus is our Savior and our example. We only need to look to Jesus if we know what kind of people we are called to be. Jesus called us to be holy because he was holy. Jesus calls us to lay down our lives for others because he laid down his life for us. Jesus calls us to live for the glory of the Father because he lived for the glory of the father. Peter was merely following the example of Jesus.

            Beloved, we are all forgetful and could us a reminder from time to time about the amazing Savior we have in Jesus. He died for us. He rose for us. He is coming again for us. Remind yourself every day of the gospel for the stakes are too high to neglect it. Remind others every day of the gospel for the stakes are too high to neglect it. Remind others every day of the gospel so that when you are gone you know you are leaving a gospel legacy to fill your place.

Divine Election

The Doctrine of Election has sparked many debates throughout the history of the church. There have been scores of books written for and against Election. There have been characterizations on both sides. It is a widely debated issue. Last year I was sitting on a pastors’ panel at a college and one of the questions was, “What do Baptist believe about election?” I was the first to answer and I simply said. Baptist believe it because it is Bible and we believe the Bible. Election is in the Bible. We cannot ignore it. It is interesting that when election is spoken of in the Bible, it does not produce debate, but awe. We should be in awe that a holy God would chose sinners to share his nature. A young woman asked Charles Spurgeon one day, “How do you reconcile God’s sovereignty and man’s free will?” Spurgeon simply replied I do not reconcile friends.

            The Apostle Peter shows how both divine election and man’s free will are not contradictory, but complementarity. 2 Peter was almost not included in the cannon because many people believed that Peter was teaching a salvation by works. Peter is not teaching a salvation by works, but rather a salvation with works. He wrote 2 Peter to refute false teachers who claimed that the Day of the Lord was not coming and who lived lives that were contrary to God. You can be a false teaching by your doctrine or by your life. This is why Paul urged Timothy to keep a close watch on his life and on the teaching. Persist in watching, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. 2 Peter 1:3-11,

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, 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. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 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. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:3-11)

Peter does not pit God’s calling and our effort against each other. The one should confirm the other. If we have been called, then we will make every effort.

            Spiritual fruit comes from a spiritual tree. Apple trees always produce apples. Banana trees always produce bananas. Good trees bear good fruit and bad trees bear bad fruit. Peter writes,

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

Restated positively, if you possess faith, virtue, self-control godliness and knowledge in abundance, then you will be effective and fruitful for Jesus Christ. If your life is marked by a pursuit of godliness, you will be growing in Jesus Christ. And if you see no growth and/or desire to grow in your Christian character then you may be ineffective in your knowledge of Jesus. Meaning that you most likely have never experienced the true knowledge of Jesus.

            Jesus warns about the seed falling and the various kinds of soils. We have to be careful that we have not misheard the Word, but that the Word takes root into our lives. Peter continues to clarify what he means in the next verse, “For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.” (2 Peter 1:9) If people who confess they are Christians, but they have no evidence for Christian fruit, they are blind.  They have forgotten that they were cleansed from their former sins.

Peter is most likely referring back to the believer’s baptism. It may not be a direct reference to baptism, but baptism and faith are not divorced in the New Testament. Almost every believer in the New Testament was immediately baptized upon their profession of faith. In his first letter, Peter says that baptism is an appeal to God for a clean conscience. Baptism is an appeal to God by faith. It is a demonstration that a person has been cleansed from their former sins. Peter is saying that those who do not live like they are Christians, have forgotten their baptism. This is the same argument that Paul makes in Romans 6 when he poses the question about those continuing in sin so that grace may abound.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:1-4)

Christians, should look different after their baptism because they have died to the world and have been raised with Christ. How do people claim to know God if they do not have faith?

            There were some false believers in the churches that Peter was addressing. We know that there were false teachers who were denying Christ by their lifestyles and probably others who were seduced into following the false teachers. And yet there were others who were doubting whether they had true faith even though the evidence would be obvious that they are trusting. Some people were self-deceptive and some had weak faith. Peter responds to both groups,

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

Peter is not doubting God’s ability or desire to save. God has not changed his mind, but Peter places the emphasis on the believer’s role in confirming their calling and election. God saves, but believers give themselves to their calling. We can give subjective confirmation that we have true faith by our way of life. We are not saved by the subjective confirmation of our faith, but the objective of our faith. We are saved because of what Jesus Christ has done for us in the cross. We are saved by his victory over the grave. It is by His wounds we are healed.

            If we give ourselves to grow in Christ, then we will never fall away from Christ. Fall could be a reference to sin, but more likely it means stumble into apostasy. Peter is worried about the people falling away from the church into the trappings of the false teachers. God is the One who calls and elects, but it is our job to follow that call and make the election sure. Peter has a very serious aim. His aim is to make sure entrance into God’s eternal kingdom. If you get it wrong, you will not inherit the kingdom of God. Think about the seriousness of Peter’s concern. He is concern with one’s eternal blessing or eternal condemnation.

            There are serious consequences of apostasy, but there are serious benefits in giving yourself to growing in Christ. DL Moody is known for saying, “The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully consecrated to him. By God’s help, I aim to be that man.” He was diligent in his pursuit of God. He shares an illustration of the how the doctrine of election, God dying for an individual sinner, can grip our hearts to avail ourselves after God. He writes,

One thing I know—I cannot speak for others, but I can speak for myself; I cannot read other minds and other hearts; I cannot read the Bible and lay hold for others; but I can read for myself, and take God at his word. The great trouble is that people take everything in general, and do not take it to themselves. Suppose a man should say to me, "Moody, there was a man in Europe who died last week, and left five million dollars to a certain individual. "Well," I say, "I don't doubt that; it's rather a common thing to happen," and I don't think anything more about it. But suppose he says, "But he left the money to you." Then I pay attention; I say, "To me?" "Yes, he left it to you." I become suddenly interested. I want to know all about it. So we are apt to think Christ died for sinners; He died for everybody, and for nobody in particular. But when the truth comes to me that eternal life is mine, and all the glories of Heaven are mine, I begin to be interested. I say, "Where is the chapter and verse where it says I can be saved?" If I put myself among sinners, I take the place of the sinner, then it is that salvation is mine and I am sure of it for time and eternity

If you realize what Christ has purchased for you, how he has given himself on the cross for you. shed his blood for you, pierced for you, beaten for you; so that you can receive the rich inheritance of the eternal kingdom. Dear sinner, Jesus died for you. He took your place. Salvation is yours for all time. If that be the case, why would we not want to make every effort to confirm our calling and election?