You Have All You Need
2 Peter 2:1-4
April 11, 2015 | Brian Bill
How many of you love Peeps? They’ve become pretty popular, having now expanded into lip balm, nail polish, and wristbands. You can even get a Peeps pillow!
I’m partial to Peeps. This past Saturday my wife bought me a package of 10 and I devoured 9 of them in one sitting. I would have eaten all 10 but a daughter wrestled one away from me. They sure tasted good going down but after a few minutes I didn’t feel so well. Apparently a man from Sacramento holds the record for eating 102 of these marshmallow marvels in 30 minutes in the annual Peep Off Contest. I’m sure he’s still in a sugar coma.
You see, Peeps are pretty and they taste good…but they’re not so good for you. They’re sweet but have no substance. As we kick off a new sermon series called, “Growing in Grace” from 2 Peter we’re going to see that while some preaching and teaching is pretty, it’s actually not very good for you. Peter wants to make sure we’re putting the right things in us so that we can grow.
The book of 2 Peter, often overlooked by preachers, packs a punch. Using a rhetorical structure, this section of Scripture reads like a farewell speech from Peter. Since we just finished 1 Peter, it’s good for us to hear what God has for us in his second letter. There are at least four reasons I chose this book.
Second Peter for Second Generation People
- It will help us grow in our faith. This is our second G – Grow (along with Gather, Give and Go). We see this exhortation in 3:18: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
- We’ll be equipped to deal with error. Peter’s first letter deals with hostility from without and this second letter deals with heresy from within. As we get closer to the return of Christ, we need to be aware that error and false teaching will only accelerate. We see this in 2:1: “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies…”
- We’ll savor the return of Jesus Christ. Since we are living in the last days we need to be ready for His return and motivated to share our faith with as many as we can. Check out 3:3-4, 10: “That scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming?’…But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night…”
- We’ll be encouraged to persevere. Peter warns us against falling away. Look at 2 Peter 3:17: “You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked.” Two recent trends can make us discouraged and tempted to fall away.
- Redefinition of marriage. Have you noticed that we are in the midst of a seismic cultural shift in matters of faith, family and freedom? Albert Mohler made an observation: “The vast high-velocity moral revolution that is reshaping modern culture at warp speed is leaving almost no aspect of the culture untouched and untransformed.” As an example, an article in this week’s issue of TIME magazine has this headline: “The Writing’s on the Wall for Christians.” And in a column in the New York Times one advocate for LGBT rights made this demand: “Church leaders must be made ‘to take homosexuality off the sin list.’” The author even suggested the Bible should be rewritten to be more accepting of the LGBT community.
- Apocalyptic Muslim theology. When commenting on the killing of 148 Christians by Al-Shabaab in Kenya, Keith Eitel, director of the World Mission Center at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, made this statement: “Attacks against Christians are not just terrorism but religious warfare.” This group, along with other Islamic extremists, has promised more killing of Christians around the world.
hold on to that which is true
Now that Peter is getting close to his own departure (he dies one year after writing this), he is very concerned that believers hold on to that which is true. False teachers have been spreading dangerous doctrine and persecution has become prevalent. On top of all this, a second generation of believers has lost their spiritual passion. Peter’s purpose is to remind these Christ-followers that the gospel transforms lives, that discipleship involves discipline and that spiritual growth is intentional, not automatic.
Let’s read 2 Peter 1:1-4 together: “Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”
This opening passage challenges us in three ways.
- Know Who You Are
- Know Where You Stand
- Know What You Must Do
- Know Who You Are. Most of our letters (if we write letters anymore) begin with the recipient’s name and end with the sender’s name. In the first century letters began with the name and qualifications of the person who was sending the letter. Look at verse 1: “Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ.” Peter is describing himself with a couple names and a couple titles because he knew who he was. By looking at each of them carefully, we can learn who we are as well.
- Sinner. The name Simon or Simeon, was his given name. He knows that he’s still “Simple Simon” who was always putting his foot in his mouth. Simon was what Jesus called him when he was being sinful or selfish. One example is found in Luke 22:31-32: “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” We have not arrived yet, have we? It’s important to admit that we still sin.
- Saint. But Peter is more than just a sinner and if you’re a Christ-follower, so are you. You are also a saint. After hearing Simon the Sinner profess that Jesus was the “Christ, the Son of God,” Jesus said this about him in Matthew 16:18: “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church.” Aren’t we all a bit like this? Sometimes we slide into our sinful side even as we strive to live out our position as saints.
- Servant. If Simon Peter is his name, servant is his fame. Actually, the word is “bondservant,” which is the most specific Greek term for a slave and means one who serves without regard for his personal interests. The word is derived from the word, “to bind,” signifying that the servant was completely and unquestionably bound to the will and pleasure of the master.
- Sent. I love how Simon Peter sees himself as a servant before calling himself an “apostle.” The word “apostle” means an officially commissioned messenger or one “who is sent forth from.” When attached to the phrase “of Jesus Christ,” we know he’s referring to the official office of an apostle. While there are no apostles today, in a real sense you and are I are the Savior’s sent ones. We’ve been called to gather, to grow, to give and to go with the gospel message. Because we’ve been told to go, we’re to live as ones who are sent.
Peter knew who he was. Do you know who you are? If you’ve been saved, you’re a sinner, a saint, a servant and one who has been sent with the gospel message.
- Know Where You Stand. It’s good to know who you are and secondly, it’s important to know where you stand with God.
- You have obtained faith. We see this in the next phrase in verse 1: “To those who have obtained like precious faith…” The word “obtained” means to receive by lot. Did you know that even your faith is a gift from God?
And notice that it’s a “like” faith, meaning that we have it in common with all Christians, all over the world. Jude 3 says that we have a “common salvation.” We have no more or no less than any other Christian from any other country or culture. Because we have Christ in common, we have all things in common.
Many years earlier, Peter was part of the gospel going to other cultures and in Acts 11:12, when explaining to Jewish believers why he took Jesus to the Gentiles, he said this: “And the Spirit told me to go with them, making no distinction…”
And our common faith is extremely “precious,” which means worthy, especially dear and highly valuable. Peter actually loves the word precious, using it twice in this passage and six times in his first letter.
- You have imputed righteousness. Notice the next phrase, “By the righteousness of God…” Last weekend we focused on Paul preaching about righteousness to Felix and learned that it refers to the “state of being right.” God is righteous and by nature, we are not.
Lock in for a few moments because if you get what I’m about to say, you will never be the same. The word imputed means to have something credited or deposited to one’s account. When Adam sinned, Romans 5:12 says that his sin was imputed to every one of us: “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.”
When Jesus died on the cross, all the sins of the world were imputed to Him as stated in 1 Peter 2:24: “Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree.” Now, here’s the really amazing part. When you trust Christ and are saved by Him, His righteousness is imputed, or deposited, to your account! We see that in Romans 4:5: “But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.”
When you are saved, your sins are not only forgiven and you’re given eternal life, but something even more takes place. The very righteousness of Jesus Christ is credited to your account. If you know Him through the new birth, you have been declared righteous because you are now in a right standing with Him.
Go back to the end of 2 Peter 1:1. I want you to notice something else. Do you see that we obtain our like precious faith by the “righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ?” This is a clear statement that Jesus Christ is fully divine. In the most recent Barna survey, 9 out of 10 Americans believe Jesus was a real historical person. Unfortunately, only about half believe that He was divine. I don’t plan to see the film Killing Jesus but from what I understand it depicts Jesus as being unsure of His divinity. One synopsis I read put it like this: “Jesus performs no miracles and only starts proclaiming Himself the Son of God after Peter tells Jesus that’s who Jesus is.” Nothing could be further from the truth as Jesus Himself stated in John 10:30: “I and my Father are one.”
- You have multiplied grace and peace. We see this in verse 2: “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” Peter gives the exact same blessing in the opening of 1 Peter. The word grace means gift. Specifically, it refers to God’s free and unmerited favor poured out on people just like you and me. The Bible says that because of our sins, we are at war with God and therefore enemies with Him. It’s only through the shed blood of Christ and our response to His grace that we can be made at peace with Him.
Peter wants us to know that grace and peace can be “multiplied” to us, which means “to greatly increase” or to be taken to its “maximum measure.” Christianity has always advanced when under attack.
We must know who we are and where we stand and finally we must know what we’re to do.
- Know What to Do. It’s good to know our position in Christ, but we must live it out in practice. There are three ways we can do that.
- Unleash God’s power. We see this in verse 3: “As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.” The phrase, “all things” means all things! You and I already have everything we need to live life and everything we need to grow in godliness. You don’t need another book or blessing or seminar or experience if you know Jesus.
Notice the past tense: “has given to us all things…” You have all that you need right now to be all God wants you to be. Romans 8:32 says something similar: “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” When you were saved you were given all of the Holy Spirit and at least one spiritual gift was downloaded into you. While you might not have everything you want you already have everything you need. Colossians 2:10 says that we are “complete in Him.”
- Utilize God’s promises. Check out verse 4: “By which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises…” God’s promises are exceedingly great and they are precious. The word “great” is the superlative root word “megas,” which means exceedingly outstanding. The word “precious” means prized or valuable. Putting these together we could say that God’s promises are mega magnificent! John Bunyan, who spent much of his life in prison for his faith, wrote these words: “The pathway of life is strewn so thickly with the promises of God that it is impossible to take one step without treading upon one of them.” Aren’t you glad that God keeps all His promises? Psalm 145:13: “The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made.” Are you utilizing those promises?
- Undertake God’s partnership. When we unleash God’s power and utilize His promises we are able to partner with Him in amazing ways. Notice the phrase in the last part of verse 4, “That through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” The word “partaker” means, “to share.” We are able to share in what God is doing and we’re able to escape the gross stuff that seeks to overpower us. To “escape” means to successfully get away from something evil. The word “corruption” is quite graphic. It refers to that which is decomposing or rotting away.
One pastor summarizes this section with these words: “When a desire is awakened in you to indulge in some sin, your best defense is often escape.” If we don’t escape the corruption that is in the world through lust, our own sins will consume us. Aren’t you glad that God has made a way of escape?
So here are some questions.
- Do you know who you are? You are a sinner, a saint, a servant and a sent one.
- Do you know where you stand? You have obtained faith, you have imputed righteousness and you’ve had grace and peace multiplied to you.
- Do you know what to do? Unleash God’s power, utilize God’s promises and undertake God’s partnership.
I want to stand for Christ
I don’t know if I’m about to die or if Christ is coming back soon but I have an increasing burning in my belly to share the gospel with as many as I can and to call all Christians to complete commitment. I don’t want to spend my remaining days serving up pretty peeps that are sweet but have no substance. I want to stand for Christ and against the flow of anti-Christian sentiment in our society. I will continue to preach the full counsel of God’s Word without compromise.
Listen to this declaration called, “The Fellowship of the Unashamed.”
“I’m a part of the fellowship of the unashamed. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I’m a disciple of His and I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed. My present makes sense. My future is secure. I’m done and finished with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap living, and dwarfed goals. I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity.
I don’t have to be right, or first, or tops, or recognized, or praised, or rewarded. I live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by Holy Spirit power. My face is set. My gait is fast. My goal is heaven. My road may be narrow, my way rough, my companions few, but my guide is reliable and my mission is clear. I will not be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice or hesitate in the presence of the adversary. I will not negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.
I won’t give up, shut up, or let up until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, and preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must give until I drop, preach until all know, and work until He comes. And when He does come for His own, He’ll have no problems recognizing me. My colors will be clear!”
This reminds me of the words of Martin Luther: “I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen.”
Who’s with me? Who’s ready to stand for Christ, no matter what happens? If so, would you please indicate your commitment by standing right now?