Living up to our calling
Chapter 1 of 2nd Peter is one that offers a lot of encouragement for Christians as they make their way through life towards the Heavenly life that is our ultimate goal. Peter challenges the Christians to excel in the characteristics that allow us to imitate God. Another way to say this is that “God saved us ‘Just as I am’ but he doesn’t want us to continue to be ‘Just as I was’ but rather ‘Just as I was created-in his image'”.
Since this will be a series on the characteristics that he tells us to add to our faith: virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, love; it helps us to have a context in which he places these things. Today’s am and pm sermon provided that context and foundation for this series.
A. Who is he speaking to?
He is speaking to Christians that are likely primarily a Gentile group of Christians, and certainly not among the first Christians produced by the preaching of the Gospel. The point? Even they (and certainly we) have a faith that is in no way of a lower stature than that of those who first believed. Ours is just as precious, just as valuable, and has the same standing before God. All Christians have this.
Peter would have learned this years earlier as he was sent to preach to Cornelius a Gentile centurion (Acts 10:34-35) and was part of the message Paul preached as we see recorded in Galatians 3:28:
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
This includes the classes of that age but, in my country, we would likely need to add “no black nor white” to this verse.
Indeed it is a precious and special faith.
B. Who made this possible?
God did, by His Righteousness and His power. The righteousness of God is seen in that He is both Just and the Justifier of those who believe in Him. God did not ignore Sin, He paid the price of sin for us. His power is seen and was clearly displayed in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. It was His will (not ours) that brought this to pass.
In making it possible for us…
C. What has he granted us..
He has granted us all things (that is a lot of things) that pertain to Life and Godliness. Both advantages in this life (guidance on how to have a better life here) and knowledge of the life to come in Heaven. Godliness is one of those qualities that belongs to God. Being Godly is to be more like God. All this ‘through a knowledge of His Son”
He has also granted to us precious and exceeding promises. Many might come to mind but Mt 6:33 and John 14:2-3 are two wonderful promises.
D. Why did He grant this to us? So that we could become partakers of the Divine nature. We are to be more and more like God. We were created in His image and we stained that image through sin. But God wants us to be of a Divine nature, not a human nature. We have already escaped the corruption in the world, we don’t want to be enticed back into it.
In the 2nd lesson we continued to show the value of the characteristics but showing that they are necessary.
A. If you don’t have them, you are shortsighted, near sighted, to the point of blindness and have (as Peter says v. 9) forgotten that you were cleansed from your sins.
To forget that you were cleansed from your sins may result in you forgetting your commitment to Christ (going into sin) but it could also result in your not remembering that fact when dealing with your fellow brethren. This reminds me of the unforgiving servant of Matt 18 who had a large debt forgiven. While the text doesn’t say he ‘forgot’ it, his actions lead me to conclude that he might as well have forgotten it. When one forgets that their sins were forgiven, they may be less willing to be kind, forgiving, or merciful to their brother.
B. If you do have them:
you will be kept from being ineffective, unfruitful, and will not fall. In addition, your entrance into the Kingdom of our Lord will “be richly provided”
This alone makes those qualities we will look at (on Sunday’s) of great importance. We, as Christians, want to be effective, fruitful, not to fall and to get to Heaven. Peter says these qualities will assure us that we will be. If we have them, we will be. If we do not, we won’t.
Please take a moment and consider the implications of what Peter says. These are sooooo important that Peter says he will do everything to remind them, encourage them to bring this to mind AND to remember it after he passes on from this life!
To those who do not think you can earn your salvation, you are correct. Having them will not earn it. However, NOT having them…well, that is unthinkable.
Hopefully, this will be a good study, the first of two lessons is here, the second should be added soon.