2 Peter 1 - Recall These Things

(Preached at Emmanuel Chapel Helena, 11 July 2010)

Turn in your Bibles to 2 Peter 1:1;

 

2Pe 1:1-21 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.

 

May God bless the reading of His word.

 

Let us pray.

 

From the very first verse of this epistle we are confronted with the fundamental truths of the Christian faith, truths which are as important today as they were when they were first written by the Apostle Peter to “those who have obtained like precious faith” around 66 or 67AD.

 

With those very words Peter confirms that fundamental truth of the Christian faith, that the faith that results in our redemption is not something that we have inside us.

 

This precious, saving faith comes only by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

Paul speaks of this same faith in Ephesians 2:8-9 telling us;

 

Eph 2:8-9 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.

 

Not only do we obtain our faith from our God and Savior Jesus Christ, but Peter tells us that “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.”

 

So it is not just our initial salvation that comes from God. Peter makes it very clear that all those things that have to do with life and our godliness come not from our own abilities but only from “His divine power.'

 

This truth can be either an encouragement or a hindrance to our Christian walk.

 

It can be an encouragement if we relax in the truth that all glory and honor belong to God alone and that we are created for the express purpose of glorifying our Creator.

 

It can be a hindrance if we ignore this truth and seek to work outside of God's direction even if doing so is meant for godly outcomes.

 

Much of what the modern church does today falls into this category. It seems that in our dash to do good works for God we get out out marketing materials, demographic studies and forget that it is God's divine power that gives us all things that pertain to life and godliness.

 

Before we drift too far from these verses there is another very important doctrinal truth to be had as we examine this scripture. Look at the phrase that Peter uses in describing the righteousness from which we attain our faith. It is the “righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.”

 

While this is by no means a clear proof-text for the divinity of Jesus, Peter's use of the phrase here points to his thinking of our God and Jesus Christ as being the same.

 

For Peter, who was raised a Jew, to use this phrase is no small thing.

 

Remember, the entire Hebrew tradition is fundamentally defined by what is referred to as the SH'MA which we refer to as Deuteronomy 6:4;

 

Deu 6:4 "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.

 

So to use the term Our God and Savior Jesus Christ is a subtle but telling testimony to the deity of Jesus.

 

Peter next goes on to describe the means by which we attain these things which we have been given.

 

We attain all things pertaining 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.”

 

Peter does not elaborate further as to the means by which we gain such knowledge. However, the fundamental source of this knowledge was then, and still is, God's direct revelation of Himself to His creation through the Old Testament and the commentary on the Old Testament which would eventually be collected together and referred to as the New Testament.

 

While the Bible has the ability to reveal to us “his precious and very great promises” it is of little or no value to the reader without the proper interpretation. An interpretation that helps us to see the little things, like Peter referring to the “righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ,” as well as the large things, like God's constant and fulfilled promise that He would provide a sacrifice to redeem His sheep unto Himself, contained throughout the entire Old Testament. That proper interpretation comes only from the Holy Spirit.

 

George Mueller, in his autobiography “One and a Half Million in Answer to Prayer,” said this about the power of God's word when unlocked by God's Spirit;

 

“The word of God alone is our standard of judgment in spiritual things; that it can be explained only by the Holy Spirit; and that in our day as well as in former days He is the Teacher of His people.”

 

He goes on to say, that after this truth had been revealed to him;

 

“The result of this was, that the first evening I shut myself into my room, to give myself to prayer and meditation over the Scriptures, I learned more in a few hours than I had done during a period of several months previously. But the particular difference was, that I received real strength for my soul in doing so.

 

We can't read these words concerning such knowledge and His precious and very great promises without thinking back to the example of Our Precious Lord, who after His resurrection met those two fortunate disciples on the road to Emmaus. Luke records the incident in the 24th chapter of his gospel account. Starting at verse 13 we read;

 

Luk 24:13-27 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, (14) and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. (15) While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. (16) But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. (17) And he said to them, "What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?" And they stood still, looking sad. (18) Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?" (19) And he said to them, "What things?" And they said to him, "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, (20) and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. (21) But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. (22) Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, (23) and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. (24) Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see." (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.

 

Armed with the irrevocable faith that God has bestowed upon us, all things that pertain to life and godliness, and the knowledge by which He has granted us his precious and very great promises, we are well equipped to go on the journey that Peter details in the next section.

 

First Peter tells us that we are to supplement our faith with virtue. Thayer defines the word as;

 

1) a virtuous course of thought, feeling and action

1a) virtue, moral goodness

2) any particular moral excellence, as modesty, purity

 

So we are to keep ourselves of a particular moral excellence.

 

To our virtue we are to add knowledge.

 

And while we have already spoken directly to the primary source of such knowledge, I would strongly encourage you to understand that the proper imparting of the knowledge of the Christian faith is the fundamental purpose of the Great Commission. Our Lord Jesus bid us do two things to fulfill His charge to us to “make disciples of all nations.” First He instructed us to baptize in the name of the “Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” and second He instructed us to “teach them all that I have commanded you.”

 

While the spreading of the Gospel is imperative, a work of equal importance is to bring in those whom God has redeemed through His grace and to His glory alone, and to impart correct instruction into those disciples that they might stay on the path described by Peter and commanded by our Lord Jesus.

 

To knowledge we are to add self-control.

 

This seems a logical progression. For without virtue and a strong knowledge of God the motivation to control ourselves is absolutely lacking. Even with the aid of truly seeking moral excellence and understanding that our lives are meant to glorify God, being self-controlled is only attainable with the aid of the Holy Spirit Who seals those whom God has saved unto the Day of Our Lord's Return.

 

On top of self-control we are to add steadfastness.

 

The consistent Christian walk, which is the result of self-control and the smoothing out of those bumps that come along when we allow ourselves to act according to the worlds expectations instead of God's expectations is not only a genuine witness to those Who God is drawing to Himself, but it is also the key to that state of mind that Paul described to the Philippians in chapter 4:11-13;

 

Php 4:11-13 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. (12) I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. (13) I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

 

To steadfastness we are to add godliness.

 

The translation into English causes us to lose a little bit as this is not us acting in a godly manner, which is better understood as the virtue which Peter has already exhorted us to, but rather, Thayer tells us that it is;

 

1) reverence, respect

2) piety towards God, godliness

 

As we reverence God and understand His sovereignty we come to understand how worthy of reverence He is. We also come to understand that there is none other like Him and that He alone is worthy of all glory, honor and praise.

 

To godliness, Peter tells us to add brotherly affection, philadelphia, which can be generalized as kindness.

 

Why distinguish kindness?

 

Because, believe it or not, kindness is based upon a reason.

 

To “philos” is to love someone because you count them as a brother, whether an actual brother, or a kindred spirit. The similarity between the root of kindred and the root of kindness is well founded. The root is really kin which harkens to the idea that we are of the same type of family. When we extend kindness, or brotherly affection, we are loving with a reason. They are our kin, our kind. Even this kind of love is difficult for us as so many of our kind are seemingly unlovable.

 

Nevertheless, Peter tells us explicitly that we are to add kindness to our godliness.

 

And then lastly, Peter throws out the greatest challenge of all. In actuality all of these other attributes are simply sandpaper grinding away at our worldly knowledge and feelings until we get to the ultimate goal...love.

 

Love, that's easy, right?

 

And yet the love that Peter calls us to add to our discipline as we become more Christlike in our world each day is not that harmless little four letter word that we use so casually in English.

 

We can love a movie, love a book, love a myriad of things and even a myriad of people, but this is not the love that Peter calls us to.

 

It's interesting, because I was originally going to preach a sermon that I had already preached on God's love from the book of Hosea. And though the sermons are totally different they both end up at the exact same place.

 

A place that I was trying to avoid today.

 

A place that is hard for many of us to go on many days.

 

Because to love, to agape, to unconditionally love is only done perfectly by One, and that certainly isn't me.

 

Neither is it you.

 

There is only One who truly loves.

 

That is God.

 

His love is perfect because it is not based upon a reason.

 

He doesn't love us because of our hair, our smiles, our brains, or our sense of humor.

 

He loves not because we are familiar to Him, or because we are His kin, or because He is “in love with us.”

 

No He loves us for no other reason, than He Himself is love.

 

He told Moses "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion."

 

And that is His prerogative, for He is God.

 

He is love.

 

The beloved disciple of Christ tells us in his first letter, in the fourth chapter, starting in the 7th verse;

 

1Jn 4:7-21 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. (8) Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. (9) In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. (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. (11) Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

 

(12) No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. (13) By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. (14) And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. (15) Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. (16) So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

 

(17) By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. (18) There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. (19) We love because he first loved us.

 

(20) If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. (21) And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

 

It is all about love.

 

If we don't love, we aren't of God.

 

Fortunately, we are forgiven, and we have God's word and His Holy Spirit within us, teaching us to love. When we fail, we get up and we do it again, and again and again, until we get it right.

 

But we have to do it.

 

And if you're not doing it better today, than you did yesterday, then you need to examine your life and your walk with Christ.

 

You may not have caught it at the beginning, when we first read the verses, but Paul's wording in the verses 12-15 are generally agreed upon as being an indication that Peter wrote this letter when he was facing death in Rome.

 

When we face death we deal with the important things, the things that we think are eternal.

 

Paul thought that these qualities, this road map, was that important.

 

Listen carefully to his words;

 

(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.

 

Virtue

 

Knowledge

 

Self-control

 

Steadfastness

 

Godliness

 

Kindness

 

Love

 

Work on these qualities each day.

 

Pray that God would show you how to get better at each of them as He sanctifies you so that you would be able better to serve Him, to glorify Him, to be used of Him for His purposes.

 

Even as our brother Paul.

 

Let us pray.

 

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