2 PETER 3: 14-18 [Our Precious Faith Series]
FOUND IN HIM
[2 Peter1:5–7 / 1 Corinthians 15: 56-58]
Ned and Fred got together one Saturday afternoon to walk into town to watch the latest John Wayne movie at the theater. As they made their way into town, Ned told Fred that he was willing to bet five dollars that John Wayne would be killed in the movie. Fred said that he would take the bet, so they traveled on down the road. Sure enough, the Duke was killed near the end of the picture and Fred handed Ned five dollars. On the way home Ned told Fred that he felt guilty for taking the money because he had seen the movie the week before. Fred just smiled and said, "Naw, you just keep that money. I watched it last week too, but I didn't think them fellers could kill John Wayne twice!"
Just like them, you and I have been given “insider” information about the eventual end of the world as we know it. This lesson on adopting a biblical world-view challenges us to take what the Bible says about the future of the world seriously and to live accordingly. We know that someday the Father will say it is time, and Jesus will return. We are commanded to live our lives in the light of Christ's return, keeping ourselves separated from the world and sharing our faith with the lost. Thus repentant believers are encouraged to be diligent and grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (CIT).
I BE DILIGENT IN YOUR SALVATION, 14-15.
II. BE DILIGENT TO UNDERSTAND THE SCRIPTURE, 16-17.
III. BE DILIGENT TO GROW SPIRITUALLY, 18.
Verses 14 & 15 again remind us that the patience of God with mankind is so that more can come to salvation. Verse 14 commands us to be diligent to live with Him in perfect peace. “Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless,
To show that one’s behavior is linked to his expectation of the Lord’s coming, this paragraph begins with “so then” or therefore (dio). “These things” refers to the coming of the Day of the Lord and the new heaven and earth. Because the day of the Lord is imminent, and because we are those who are looking for the coming of Christ and His kingdom, Peter states we should be diligent to found with Him. Our motivation toward hard work and godly living with and for Christ is our expectation of Jesus return and our eternal life in the new heaven and the new earth. Our priority must be to make every effort to be found at peace with Christ and to be spotless and blameless when He returns.
[Understand, dear saint, that in Luke 12:37 we hear Jesus saying, “Blessed are those servants whom the Lord when He cometh shall find watching.” Therefore, if you are watching for His coming, if you are tired of this world system’s sin and corruption and want to see the Lord rule and reign at last, it is you the Lord calls blessed.]
The word “peace” (eirénç) means more than mere quietness. It has some of the sense of the Hebrew word shalom in that it implies prosperity or well-being of soul or spirit. Peter’s concern for his readers is that we be at peace with the Lord, with others, and with ourselves. We are to be found prospering spiritually in the Lord and trusting in His faithful provision. We are to maintain this peaceful relationship with Christ right up to the end, whether that be in death or rapture (1 Thess. 4:17). Jesus taught that in the world we will have tribulation, but in Him we have peace (John 16:33).
“Blameless,” what a startling word! To be blameless means we must be forgiven. There is only One in all of the universe who is capable of making us blameless. He is the One who is faithful and just to cleanse us from all sin (1 John 1:9). It is Jesus Christ, & Him only.
The human approach is to either ignore sin or to justify ourselves by rationalizing that we are as good or even better than others. However, God does not ignore or rationalize concerning sin. He takes sin so seriously that He sent His only begotten Son to rescue us from the eternal death which results from sin.
God deals truthfully with our sin. We can receive His righteous judgment or we can enjoy His forgiveness by repenting of our sin and turning to Christ for His forgiveness. God both forgives and forgets our sin. It is as though we had never sinned—we are blameless. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Is. 1:18).
Christ has given us the way to live in peace, to be without spot and blameless. If we are not found with Him maturing in Christ-likeness, we can only blame our own selfish wills. The teaching Scripture is that the Lord desires for us to allow Him to make us pure and clean; that we would turn from every evil so that when Christ returns, He would find us without spot, continuously cleansed by the very blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who has come to take away the sins of the world (1 John 1:7).
Verse 15 returns to the theme of chapter 3, the reason that the Lord had not yet returned. God is patient with mankind is so that more can come to salvation. “and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you,
The longer God delays His return, the greater the opportunity for people to be saved. Peter adds further weight to his exhortation by drawing support from Paul, saying that he taught the same thing. Perhaps this reference is to Romans 2:4 where twice God’s patience is called the “kindness” that “leads” to repentance. God’s patience is holding back the Day of Judgment as we work for His glory and honor.
On March 20, 1980, MT ST HELENS in WA a supposedly dormant volcano, began to quake & rumble. The local population was evacuated to a “safe” distance 8 miles away. Later, the side of the mountain began to bulge. Scientists were not alarmed b/c past research of volcanoes indicated that they never blew sideways.
Then on May 18 the side of Mount St. Helens exploded, shooting tons of debris downhill at the speed of 150 miles per hour. A minute later, the volcano exploded upward with the equivalent power of 500 atomic bombs! Two hundred thirty square miles of forest were devastated and 57 people lost their lives. The scientists had assumed that natural events would continue as before. But they were wrong.
The book of 2 Peter tells us of a future time when our world will be destroyed in a fiery finish (3:4-7). But the good news is that God is building a "new heavens and a new earth" (v. 13). He is “not willing that any should perish,” thus He is patiently waiting so that more people will find true safety in His Son Jesus (v.9). They need only accept the salvation He offers.
Have you trusted Christ for your safety? Then share God’s good news with other. God's people must point the way if others are to escape God's judgment.
The book of Revelations closes with the promise “He who testifies to these things says, “Yes I AM coming quickly. John’s reply is, “Amen. Come Lord Jesus.” That is my prayer also. As I look at the world in which we live, I pray, “Lord come quickly.” Please end this mess. Let’s get heaven started!
But I also realize that God “not wanting for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (v. 9). James said the patient farmer waits for his fruit (5:7). So I remind myself to continue planting and water the good seed and wait patiently for God to bring His increase.
Interestingly Peter called Paul our beloved (agapçtos, vv. 1, 8, 14, 17) brother. Years before Paul had severely rebuked Peter (Gal. 2:11–14) publically, but this did not sever their love and respect for each other. Peter thanks God for the great wisdom with which God had grace-gifted Paul.
Our 1st point was BE DILIGENT IN YOUR SALVATION. 2nd
II. BE DILIGENT TO UNDERSTAND THE SCRIPTURE, 16-17.
In verse 16 Peter commends Paul’s writings to us as God’s Holy Word. “as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.”
It is interesting that Peter should consider parts of Paul’s teachings hard to understand. Paul was educated as a Pharisee and even studied under Gamaliel in Tarsus. He grew up in a Gentile culture surrounded by some of the best minds of his time. This training allowed him a depth of reasoning distinct from most the other apostles. Paul’s preparation and grasp allow him to teach spiritual truths which can be difficult to understand. I say a hardy amen to that statement.
Peter here classified Paul’s writings as part of the sacred God-breathed writings of Scripture (1:21; 2 Tim 3:16). He placed Paul’s writings on the same plane as “the other Scriptures” Peter knew they were equally inspired. [Walvoord, John & Zuck, Roy. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL : Victor Books, 1983, p. 878.]
The enemy though hates God’s Word, so even at this early stage of church history; Paul’s writings were being misrepresented. But that was to be expected since that is how they handled the other Scriptures.
“Wrest” means “to torture” or “to distort.” [Those who twisted Paul’s words were his enemies, the legalists, who accused Paul of telling people to sin in order that grace might abound (Romans 6:1).] They twisted the Scripture to suit ones own purposes.
An art enthusiast displayed on the walls of his office a collection of etchings, including one of the LEANING TOWER of Pisa. Every morning he noticed it was crooked, so he straighten it. Finally one evening he asked the cleaning lady if she was responsible for moving the picture each night. "Why, yes," she said, "I have to hang it crooked to make the tower straight!"
In a similar way, some people have the habit of twisting the Scriptures to make their imperfect lives look better or to justify their own opinions. Distorting the meaning of the Word of God to fit our preconceived ideas is a dangerous practice and a terrible sin. Let's be careful how we read and interpret the Bible. The apostle Peter warned his readers about the kind of people who do not approach God's Word with honest motives and respect for its authority, and who distort its message. They will incur God's judgment. We must align ourselves with the Bible, never the Bible with ourselves.
It is vitally important for every Christian to study and use the Scriptures, for they constitute our only real authority (note Matthew 5:18; John 10:35; 14:26; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; 2 Peter 1: 19-21; etc.). In doing this, however, it is just as important that we not misuse the Scriptures, for this can be almost as dangerous as ignoring them altogether.
Many people twist the Scriptures, seeking to make them fit some opinion of their own, hoping thereby to give a pseudo-biblical authority to their peculiar prejudices, instead of allowing the Lord to say what He means. Such distortion of Scripture has generated a plethora of cults and heresies-past and present. This was essentially Christ's view of the Pharisees: "in vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Matthew 15:9).
Similar-perhaps even worse-is claiming to receive new Scripture, or perhaps new ( and authoritative) insight on existing Scripture. "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it" (Deuteronomy 4:2). "Add thou not unto His words, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar" (Proverbs 30:6).
Cults and heretics distort and supplement the Scriptures, but still deadlier are the liberals who try to explain away the Scriptures. "If any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life" (Revelation 22:19). This act of distorting and then denying God’s Word ("Yea, hath God said. . . . Ye shall not surely die," Genesis 3:1,4) was the very lie of Satan which brought sin into the world. No wonder the Bible warns so severely against it! [HMM]. Believers may not fully understand all the Scriptures, but they certainly ought not twist their obvious meanings.
Unless we study the Bible prayerfully and humbly, we may get a wrong message and be drawn away from our faithfulness to Christ. God gave us His Word as a light to guide our steps. If we obey it each day, we will find it to be an unfailing source of strength and truth.
The result of twisting, contradicting, and opposing the Scripture is destruction. The ignorant and unstable bring upon themselves this specific destruction (apôleian; 2:1, 3).
What a contrast! To live in peace, without spot, blameless, and to enjoy the salvation which comes from the longsuffering patience of our Lord is the choice which Peter offers us as contrasted with the destruction which will come to those who twist the truth.
In warmth and love for the beloved (dear friends occurs here for the fourth time in this chap. vv. 1, 8, 14) the Apostle Peter closes this public yet personal epistle with a word of warning in verse 17. “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness,
Forewarned is forearmed. “Knowing” or “you already know” translates one Greek word (proginôskontes) from which comes the English word “prognosis.” When a medical prognosis is made, a patient is better able to prepare himself for what is ahead and if possible, to correct himself. When a doctor says, “If you continue to eat as much as you do now, you will have serious heart problems in a few years,” the patient “knows beforehand” and can therefore change his life in accord with the information he has.
Next believers are urged to be on their guard or beware [Gk. phylassô, meaning “guard,” or “protect” yourselves] that they do not get lead astray or dragged off by these false teachers and fall from their own steadfastness. Carefully heeding the prognosis, can maintain their secure position in the truth. [“Secure position” translates stçrigmou (“firm position”; the adjective astçriktos, “unstable,” in 2 Peter 2:14; 3:16, & the verb stçrizei, “make strong or firm” in 1 Peter 5:10)]. False teaching threatens our spiritual well-being.
The admonishment that [Peter has just imparted to his readers—that] Jesus is surely coming again, and that the Lord’s patience is allowing time for people to repent, provides both an exhortation to live according to all of the instructions of Scripture and a warning to guard their sanctification carefully. We must, for believers are truly engaged in an ongoing struggle with the forces of darkness, both internally and externally. So this encouragement to remain steadfast in the teaching of the Christian faith is counterbalanced by the warning to avoid the deception of wicked people who delight in leading God’s children away from the truth. [Easy-To-Read Commentary Series. The General Epistles: A Practical Faith.]
1st point was BE DILIGENT IN YOUR SALVATION. 2nd was BE DILIGENT TO UNDERSTAND THE SCRIPTURE, 16-17, & 3rd is:
III. BE DILIGENT TO GROW SPIRITUALLY, 18.
Peter ends the letter in verse 18 as he began it, by urging his readers to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. “but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. [NASV]
Peter closes by saying, “keep on growing in grace.” Grace is not just the starting point, grace is the main ingredient in spiritual growth. We all still have room for spiritual growth.
The verb “grow” is a present imperative, which could be rendered “be continually growing.” So Peter provides the succinct advice to grow in grace and knowledge if we would maintain steadfastness and avoid the error of ungodly people. Believers are to grow “in grace,” that comes in the God’s unmerited favor, and in the exercise of spiritual graces which Peter spoke of in the first paragraph of this letter (1:5–7). We are also to grow in knowledge. This is not just any knowledge; it is knowledge about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (1:1–2, 11; 2:20).
Both of these Christian pursuits are attainable only in the person of Jesus Christ.
This process of spiritual growth begins by knowing Christ initially in regeneration (John 17:3) and it continues in one’s deepening relationship with Him (Eph. 4:15; Phil. 3:10; 1 Peter 2:2). Both are necessary. Without the initial knowledge there is no opportunity for growth. But if there is only that initial knowledge, the struggling new believer lacks the growth in grace which sanctifies the believer for service. Jesus Christ is the sole source through Whom a person may come to salvation. He is also the believer’s sole source for grace and knowledge throughout the entire course of this earthly life. Christ alone is able to transform your life and present you blamelessly before the throne of God at that great day of the Lord’s judgment (Jude 24-25).
An IMPATIENT COLLEGE STUDENT went to the president of the school and asked if he could take an accelerated course that would allow him to graduate sooner. "Yes," the president replied, "but it depends on what you want to be. When God wants to make an oak, he takes a hundred years. But when He wants to make a squash, He takes 6 months."
Like that student, we sometimes get frustrated with the rate of our spiritual growth. We'd like to be a lot closer to maturity than we are. We're disappointed that we fall back into childish behavior we thought we had outgrown. We want "school" to be over.
But growth takes time, and it often comes in spurts. Trees grow rapidly during a 4 to 6 week period in early summer, when woody fibers appear between the bark and the trunk. During the remainder of the year, these fibers solidify into the sturdy wood from which furniture is built, which will last several lifetimes.
Not growing as fast in your Christian life as you’d like? Perhaps you're "solidifying." It's a vital part of the process that the One who began a good work in you will bring to completion (Phil. 1:6). About the only thing you can get in a hurry is trouble. Be patient. God isn't finished with you yet. [DCE. Our Daily Bread. Radio Bible Class.]
Then the apostle Peter, once more comfortable in fishing boats than with the instructions of scared text, affirmed the oneness of the Father and the Son in a splendid doxology. The One who is “our Lord” is also “our Savior.” And glory, which belongs only to God (Isa. 42:8), is also the Son’s ( 2 Peter 1:17). To Him be glory (lit., “the glory”) is Peter’s praise and prayer (2 Tim. 4:18). The glory of redemption, the glory of spiritual growth, the glory of Christian service, the glory of love, joy & peace, the glory of escape from the false teachers, and the glory of His triumphant return—all glory belongs to Jesus. And He receives that glory both now and forever. “Forever” is literally, “to the day of the Age,” from the hours on the Cross, on through the days of the New Testament, throughout the history of the church, to the present day, and throughout eternity without end! To Him be the glory! No wonder Peter concluded with the affirmative word of praise, Amen!
With everything that God has done for His people, believers can and should forsake anything and everything that diverts us from our service to the Lord Jesus Christ. So Peter restates that the Scriptures are mandatory for the believers’ understanding of the faith that Christ has given to us. Without the direction and guidance of God’s Word, the Christian is left with nothing upon which to build his faith.
Therefore our faithful Lord has given us His Word and is establishing us by the Holy Spirit so that we might be become righteous and join Him as He patiently works to bring men and women, boy and girls to faith in Him. For Christians who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, the only one reasonable response is a life lived for His glory which results in unending praise to the our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.