2 Peter 1
Peter now gives us this second epistle in which he will warn of false teachers, but before he gets there, he spends some time building up the brethren. They say that a great defense is a great offense, and the way that we can keep from going backwards is by growing forward.
The big burly fisherman has definitely softened over the years. I thought it was interesting how he uses the word “precious” eight times in his two letters, mentioning the precious faith of believers (1 Peter 1:7; 2 Peter 1:1), the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:19), the precious stones we are (1 Peter 2:4), our precious Jesus (1 Peter 2:6-7), the precious inner beauty of a wife (1 Peter 3:4), and the precious promises we possess (2 Peter 1:4).
When we were saved and thereby escaped the corruption in the world, we were given everything we need pertaining to life and godliness. With this gift of salvation we must give all diligence to add to our faith. Verses 5-8 are often referred to as the “ladder of virtues, it’s good for me to check my heart for each virtue, one by one.
If these characteristics are not present in my life then Peter tells me that I’ve lost sight of the fact that as a Christian, I’ve been forgiven of so much. I’ve been saved from the power and penalty of my sins, which is in all reality, hell, now and forever. O that I would have a greater heart of gratitude for the grace I’ve been given!
If these characteristics are present, the doors of heaven swing open wide, which most likely is a reference to the joy and abounding assurance of such a life – richly rewarded now and in the life to come (we might want to review that ladder of virtues).
Peter is completely convinced by Christ, so he determines to not be negligent to remind the people of all this, over, and over, and over again. This is a large part of my calling as well. The truth I am called to teach is not necessarily new, but it’s true – frequent reminders to the majority of the people of God who know these things. “Lord, please help me to not be negligent to remind the people You love…for as long as I am in this tent!” Peter brings up the “tent” – so fascinating the way our bodies house the inner man, and one day we will take down this tent, and trade it in for a mansion.
Peter was not only determined to remind the people while he lived, he also wanted to make sure the people always had reminders after his decease. This may have been why he was writing things down…and he continues to minister today. Peter had no doubt whatsoever about the truth of the Gospel or the majesty of Christ, after all he was an eyewitness! He heard the messages and saw the miracles, he witnessed the Lord transfigured and resurrected! Not only that, He heard the Father’s voice about His Son – AND – he had the Spirit’s voice in the Scriptures. The greatest proof for the validity of Christianity is not our experience, but rather the exposition of the Scriptures. The Bible is not of private interpretation, Peter says, it’s not a book written by men, no, these authors were inspired by the Holy Spirit and He gives this truth, life to our hearts and helps us understand the meaning of it all…after all, He wrote it!
2 Peter 2
We now arrive to this pastoral place where-in Peter writes in order to protect the people from wolves in sheep’s clothing. You’ll notice a parallel between 2 Peter and Jude because Peter writes a bit more prophetically, “…there will be false teachers among you…”while Jude writes after the fact in Jude 4, “…for certain men have crept in unnoticed…”Peter calls them false prophets. Jesus also warned us of these guys in Matthew 7:15,“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.”(See also Matthew 24:11)
Tragically Peter points out that “many will follow their destructive ways…” They’re prophets for profit, greedy for gain, denying even the Lord who bought them. The truth is, there are many ministers who are only in it for the money, which is why I try to warn people to stay away from those churches or teachers that manipulate for money and solicit for funds, taking offering after offering. We at Calvary Chapel do provide the people an opportunity to give to the Lord once a week, but we don’t ever beg for bucks. We believe that where God guides, God provides.
Peter warns these false prophets and teachers that God will judge them and anyone who followed them. Peter uses Old Testament examples of times when God judged the wicked and spared the righteous. Peter mentions the angels, who were judged; he mentions the world that was judged, and yet Noah and his family were saved. And then there’s the example of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19 – God rained down fire and brimstone but graciously delivered Lot and his daughters. Lot is an interesting character who put himself in that place of temptation and in the process tormented his own soul. How I need to be careful and cautious in choosing where to “live.”
The heart of this portion of teaching is 2 Peter 2:9,“then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment.”
Peter compares these guys to brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed – to the prophet Balaam who perished in his pursuit of money. These so called leaders promise people freedom while they themselves are in bondage, they’re wells without water unable to help anyone spiritually.
Peter issues a heavy warning in verse 20 that would seem to indicate that a person who has escaped the pollutions of the world through Jesus can actually return to the world and fall away from the Lord – which is bad enough, but Peter says if that happens, the latter end is worse than the beginning. Sandy Adams explains the warning, “The false prophet did not necessarily begin with a false start. Sincere men can sour. Men set free from the power of sin can soar upwards or slide backwards.” “A man who does not add to his faith will return to his sin.”
I’ve always been taught by Pastor Chuck Smith and Pastor Raul Ries that we are eternally secure as we abide (rest, remain) in Jesus Christ (John 15). As I read the Scriptures I wholeheartedly agree.
2 Peter 3
Peter Himself calls this his second letter, and in both epistles he hopes to stir up their pure minds by way of reminder regarding the message of the prophets and Apostles. They had predicted that scoffers would come in the last days, mocking the return of the Lord. So every time they mock, they fulfill Scripture. (Just as a side-note, according to Hebrews 1:2 the “last days” technically began at the coming of Christ)
Peter reminds them, and us, that all it takes for Jesus to come is a simple word from the Lord who sits on the throne. It was by His Word the worlds were created and it’s by His Word that they’re held together. One day, and I have a hunch it’ll be very soon, the word of God’s judgment/justice will be spoken, and that’s all it’ll take, just a word from the lips of the Lord.
As time progresses the scoffers do as well, “It’s been 2,000 years since the so-called coming of Christ,” and they think it’s been too long; and yet they forget that God is outside of time; for Him it’s only been a couple of days.
I can’t articulate how much I want the Lord to return. I see the pain, the suffering, the injustices all around the world…but Peter reveals the reason for Jesus’ delay, the salvation of souls. Apparently the pain, suffering, and injustices are worth it, because they’re only temporary. I need to remember that the pain has a purpose; this approach even sounds a lot like the heart behind the cross of Christ. The long-suffering of our Lord leads to salvation (15).
The day will eventually come. The first time God judged the world with water, the second time it will be by fire, some even say it will be nuclear. This day, which seems to be right around the corner should bring me to a place of holy living. I need to work harder and love deeper, so that I’m found by Jesus, without spot and blameless.
Peter closes the letter with a warning to the church (beloved) to beware lest we’re led astray from our own steadfastness. On the contrary, we are to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Am I growing? I hope so!