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2 Peter 1:1-15 – Sermon Notes

Last Tuesday night I went with a group of Challenge students to Super Summer to talk with high school juniors and seniors about Christian Challenge – To be honest, I wasn’t super excited about going but, in end, I walked away deeply encouraged

That night I sat next to a man named Bob – I don’t know Bob’s last name and I don’t even remember where Bob is from; some small town east of Kansas City – What I remember about Bob is that Jesus changed his life

I would guess Bob is in his early 60’s and he has look of someone who has seen a hard life – He wears it in his face in his body, even in his eyes – He has several tattoos on his arms, and these aren’t like cross tattoos or Greek word tattoos – These are old, worn, rough tattoos that seem to be connected to a different life – Nine years ago, Bob was a full-blown alcoholic – He lived each day for his next drink – Eight years ago, Bob met Jesus

Two pastors talked with him and convinced him to read Bible with them – Bob started reading and he never stopped – He told me, “I couldn’t have gotten away from Jesus if I had wanted to…He had me” – Eight years ago, Bob accessed God’s power through God’s promises and it transformed his life – Bob began applying this newfound Gospel Power toward Gospel Practice and, with great effort and a lot of help from others, Bob stopped drinking – Now, Bob’s life is saturated with worship – That night, he mostly listened, but when he did speak, it was usually of the wonder of God’s mercy – And seven years ago, Bob started working with youth at his church – Why? – Because God has given Him a story to tell – Not story of Bob, but story of Jesus – Bob is simply passing it on

This morning we are taking our first look at 2 Peter as we look at first 15 verses – And we are going to use Bob’s life as a case study or example of two key points Peter will make in these opening verses: Gospel Power and Gospel Practice – But, before we talk about those two big ideas, we need to look at letter’s introduction and make sure we have general idea of letter’s context

Read v. 1-2

So, as we often do in NT letters, we find some important contextual information here in opening couple of verses – Let’s consider them

Peter is self-declared author of this letter – Variation in the spelling of Simon here is more exact transliteration of Hebrew name found in manuscripts that ESV preserves – But this is clearly Peter “the apostle of Jesus Christ”

Although Peter clearly declares himself author, he does not so clearly declare his intended audience – Rather, he addresses letter to “those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours” – Not all, but many scholars believe this to be a follow-up letter to 1 Peter, which we’ve covered over past several weeks

Therefore, this letter, which was probably written toward end of Peter’s life as Roman persecution against Christians was ramping up, was written to a specific audience with a specific purpose in mind: to confront false teaching that had infiltrated church

And one wrong idea these false teachers were spreading in church was a presumption that grace of God gives freedom to sin – Not freedom from sin, but freedom to sin – In the name of “freedom” these self-proclaimed Christians were engaging in sexual immorality, revelry, and greed – They understood forgiveness of Gospel as being a license to sin – They believed in a Jesus who saved their souls but didn’t much care about what they did with their bodies – So, when it came to fight against sin, false teachers either didn’t want to win or believed they couldn’t

Peter’s primary goal in this letter is to dismantle those wrong beliefs – And he doesn’t waste any time getting started – Whereas most New Testament letters offer some type of thanksgiving after introduction, Peter skips thanksgiving and gets straight to his first point: a proclamation of Gospel Power

Read v. 3-4

Now, there’s a lot here, but it’s absolutely crucial that we grasp what Peter is saying here, because this is gear on which everything else he is going to say turns – If we fail to grasp these two verses about Gospel Power, then challenges toward Gospel Practice that Peter issues next become a daunting list of “to-dos” – We can’t engage in Gospel Practice without Gospel Power

Notice how Peter begins discussing this power: “His divine power”

Listen, this is His power Peter is talking about – Peter’s not talking about your power – He’s talking about God’s power – And, because it is His power, it is a divine power – This is not earthly power – Not worldly power – Not humanistic power – It’s divine – It is His – It is divine – And it is power – It is miraculous, supernatural influence – It is not a figment of our imagination – It’s as real as air we breathe – It’s power He used to create – It’s power He used to redeem – It’s power He used to resurrect – It’s power to which everything in heaven and earth submits – It’s power by which a man like Bob walks away from bottle that has kept him in chains for years

Now, look at what Peter says about this power next: “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” – Maybe it’s easy for us to believe that God would give power for something incredibly difficult like overcoming alcoholism, or healing cancer, or giving someone who is isolated from Gospel a dream or vision of Jesus – But Peter wants to grow our vision for accessibility of God’s power – Peter says, God’s power has granted us “all things that pertain to life and godliness” – Notice, it’s not just all things for “godliness,” it’s also all things for “life,” because the “life” stuff is the “godliness” stuff

Here’s what that means – God has given you power to: get out of bed when alarm clock goes off – Work diligently and with joy, in a way that honors God and your boss – Speak kindly to your children when they ask you the same question for 10th time – Say “no” to second helping of ice cream – Say “yes” to exercise – Deal graciously with in-laws – Set down your phone and talking to you family – Be open and honest about your life and your faith – Resist peer-pressure in hallways and locker rooms at your school – We could stay here all morning and talk about what’s included in “all things”

By His divine power, God has granted everything we need for life and godliness – And that’s bedrock truth from which now Peter is going to issue his challenges for Gospel Practice

But, before we move on to Gospel practice we need to answer a question about Gospel power: “How do we access His divine power?” – He do we engage with gear? – “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” – We access Father’s Divine Power through an intimate, relational knowledge of His Son, Jesus – And it is through this knowledge of Jesus that we come to enjoy God’s great and precious promises – God grants us access to His Divine Power and His Great Promises through His Holy Spirit

And it’s important to note that God does this with a purpose in mind – What’s that purpose? – “so that through them [the promises] you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”

God came and defeated your sin through cross and resurrection so that you could partake in His power through His promises – So that you might be a “partaker” of the divine nature – “partaker”: someone who has receives a part or a share of something – In other places in NT it is translated as “partner” or “participant” – We have become partakers, partners, and participants in divine nature – Teaching of NT is that, if you have been born again of Spirit, then you live in union with Christ – Christ is “in” you and you are “in” Christ – The Living God, by His Holy Spirit, dwells in you and your body has become a living, breathing temple for God of universe

Therefore, you have “escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” – If you are in Christ, then you are no longer in sin – You are no longer a slave to sin – You are no longer a slave to your broken body, your broken will, your broken mind – God saved and redeemed you so that you could and would walk in holiness – You were saved so that you could and would be sanctified – Bob was saved so that he could and would break free from his love of alcohol and grow in his love for God

So, here’s summary statement for verses 3-4: Spiritual life and freedom from sin come when we partake in God’s power through God’s promises – Repeat

And we do this through a knowledge of Christ Jesus that is both factual and spiritual – Through a knowledge of the Christ who was sinless, crucified for our sin, resurrected in victory, and exalted in power as King of God’s Kingdom – A factual knowledge of this Messiah that has been set aflame in our hearts by Spirit of God – That is where Gospel Power comes from – And that is gear on which Peter’s imminent challenges to Gospel Practice turn

Do you have a knowledge of this Jesus that is both factual and spiritual? – If you don’t you are ultimately powerless to destructive patterns of sin in your life and you must begin by coming to Him in humility and asking for forgiveness and new life

If you do have this knowledge, then, when it comes to your fight against sin, you can win – To believe: “I can’t win” is no longer an appropriate response for you because it’s only half-true – Part that you got right is to believe that you can’t win – Part you got wrong is to forget that God can and that, in Christ, He has, so you can, too – Sin is never due to a shortage of God’s power; it is always due to a lapse in our participation

That’s direction Peter will take us now that he has given us this reminder about Gospel Power – He is going to give us three challenges toward Gospel Practice

Challenge #1 – Make Every Effort

Read v. 5-7

Here are two things I want you to see in first challenge:

1) The phrase “make every effort”

One might think that Peter never took Communication 101 or didn’t have a good rabbi to do his pre-marital counseling because he sure does seem to be using extreme language: “all things” – “make every effort” – We’ll see in a few minutes that he will write “be all the more diligent” and “I intend always to remind” you – A lot of extreme language

But, if there is one person who is justified to use language like this, it is omnipotent and all-knowing God, who is speaking through Peter’s pen – And this language emphasizes something that God is incredibly passionate about: that His children walk in His grace and power and increasingly reflect Him in a fallen world that so desperately needs to know Him – Make every effort

You might thinking that seems unreasonable – That seems radical – That seems unrealistic – This is incredibly high standard – But what will help us in this endeavor is to understand that standard for our effort is to simply reflect standard of God’s gift – Because God has granted us all things that pertain to life and godliness, we are to make every effort – Standard for our effort is to simply reflect standard of God’s gift – Gospel Practice is built upon gift of Gospel Power

2) List

What I find interesting about this list is that, as Peter gives us examples of what it looks like for God’s power to show up in practice, he doesn’t include miracles or power encounters or jaw-dropping supernatural experiences – Peter had witnessed and even performed these jaw-dropping demonstrations of God’s power – But he doesn’t put those in this list – Instead, he claims that God’s amazing, unlimited power shows up when a person makes a choice to have self-control – Or when they make a choice not to give up – Or when they make a choice to reject sin – Or when they make a choice to love a brother or sister in Christ

An old man breaks a lifelong habit of alcoholism – A young man chooses not to take first drink because he is underage and it’s illegal – Both are demonstrations of God’s power – God’s work in day-to-day stuff of “life” as we turn from sin and pursue godliness is nothing short of spectacular

Central to all of this is faith – Faith seems to be keystone quality – All other qualities are “supplements” or “additions” to faith – Faith in what? – Faith that His Divine power has supplied everything we need for life and godliness – Faith that, in Christ, we can win in battle against sin

What is area of your life where you need to increase your effort this week? – May not be that you need to break an addiction – Maybe you do – But maybe it’s more of the day-to-day life “stuff”

For me, it’s way I talk to my wife and kids – Life with little kids is exhausting – It’s stressful – I don’t get enough sleep – I get frustrated – I get angry – And I say things in a way that tear other people down instead of building them up in truth and grace – I’m pretty good at justifying myself – And I can also be tempted to make excuse that “I’m just tired” or “I’m just frustrated” or “I’m reproducing way my father spoke and acted” or whatever – Might be element of truth to those things, but they aren’t whole truth – His Divine power has granted me ability to break free from sin – In Him, I can win – And you, can, too – But we must make every effort – That’s Peter’s first challenge

Challenge #2 – Confirm Your Calling

Read v. 8-11

Peter contrasts those who are increasingly growing in this list of godly qualities with those who lack them

Here’s where context is important – Remember, Peter is writing to church in which some believed and lived as if grace of God gave them freedom to sin – A church in which some understood forgiveness of Gospel as being a license for things like sexual immorality, revelry, and greed

And Peter is drawing line – Sometimes in church life, we draw lines that really don’t need to be drawn – This is not one of those lines – A failure to acknowledge sin, reject it, and pursue godliness is such a flagrant violation of Gospel, that sets a person in opposition to God’s purpose and desire for His church

So, to this church where those who embraced sin and those who rejected it had become mashed together, Peter draws line – And he challenges those who, as participants in divine nature, have rejected sin to step across line and distinguish themselves from those self-proclaimed Christians who, by their flippant participation in sin, proved they were not truly partakers of divine nature – Therein lies Peter’s challenge: confirm your calling – Confirm that you are, indeed, a partaker in divine nature by overcoming sin in His divine power

Now, let me speak to a couple of points of potential confusion here:

First point worth clarifying, Peter is not arguing that our rejection of sin or our pursuit of good works are effective in securing salvation – Salvation is a free gift of God which we receive by grace, through faith – It’s not dependent on presence or absence of moral behaviors – God saved Bob while he was addicted to alcohol

Argument Peter is making is that rejection of sin and pursuit of good works are effective in revealing salvation, not securing it – He is arguing that those who have truly received Gospel Power will make every effort toward Gospel Practice – He is arguing that the Gospel, by it’s nature, produces change in our lives – The genuine calling of Christ on a person’s life can be confirmed by observing their rejection of sin and growth in godliness over time – Bob, with Spirit’s power, worked to find freedom from alcohol because he’d received gift of salvation

Second, Peter is not arguing that born again Christians will be perfectly free from sin – Teachings of Scripture indicate that, in this life, Christians will battle against sin – So, you don’t need to question your salvation because you sin – If Bob took a drink tomorrow, he wouldn’t need to fret over his salvation – And he probably wouldn’t because Spirit gives Him assurance that He is child of God – For those same reasons, I’m not going to fret over my salvation if I say a harsh word to my family

Peter is arguing that Spirit-filled Christians will consistently reject sin and pursue godliness, even if they do it imperfectly – When it came to fight against sin, false teachers were saying, “It doesn’t matter” and “I don’t want to win” – And Peter’s point here is to say, “It does” and “If you are truly Christ’s, you will want to win” – This is Peter’s second challenge: confirm your calling

Challenge #3 – Pass it On

Read v. 12-15

Peter, at this point, may be anticipating that some in church will be thinking, “Peter, we already know this…We already believe this…And we are already doing this…Why do you have to keep talking about this?” – But this basic Christian truth is so critical to Peter, especially in face of these false teachers, that he cannot pass up another opportunity – maybe his final one – to remind them of it yet again

He says, “As long as I’m breathing…and that may not be much longer…I’m going to keep stirring you up to reject sin and partake in God’s power through His promises”

And, in verse 15, we see most clearly, Peter’s great endeavor to pass it on – He says, “I will make every effort” – We’ve heard that phrase before, haven’t we? – Peter has said you “make every effort” to pursue godliness and you can be sure that I will “make every effort” so that even when I’m long gone, you will be able to recall these things at any time – I’m going to say this so many times, Peter says, that you’ll never forget

That’s discipleship – That should be ambition of one generation of church to next: to “make every effort” not only to reject sin and pursue godliness, but to then look behind them and say “I will make every effort” to remind next generation of these things – That’s why Bob wanted to start teaching youth

He told me, “Because Satan doesn’t take day off” – Sin will look just as satisfying to them – False teaching will be just as fatal to them – Because enemy will be just as delighted to deceive them – And we won’t be here forever – Our days are numbered – But if next generation can recall our voice speaking Word of God to them even when we’re gone, then we will surely be enjoying reward of Master who will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant…you made every effort…”

Silence and Personal Reflection