Christ is God, Savior and Lord
Copyright © 1978
Indian Hills Community Church
2 Peter 1:1-2
(The following is taken from a sermon preached by Gil Rugh on Feb. 11, 1996)
Peter writes this letter with the awareness that his death is imminent. He says so in chapter 1, verse 14: "knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent..." He is about to set aside this physical body; physical death is imminent. In that sense, it is similar to Paul's second letter to Timothy. Paul wrote it knowing the process that would culminate in his execution had already begun. He said in 2 Timothy 4:6: "For I am already being poured out as a drink offering..." It is of added interest to see what were the burdens of the hearts of these servants of God as they anticipated their departure from this life.
Peter is concerned in his second letter that they become firmly established in the knowledge of God and constantly grow in that knowledge. That concern will emphasized throughout the book. The word knowledge is used 16 times in these three chapters. You must be firmly established in the knowledge of God, and that knowledge is not static. You also must be growing, maturing and developing in the knowledge of God. This was especially crucial in light of the fact that false teachers and false teaching was already infiltrating the churches, even as the apostles anticipate their passing from the scene. The apostle Paul wrote about this in 2 Corinthians, chapter 11. He wrote in verse 13 about false teachers who disguised themselves as apostles of Christ. That was difficult while the apostles were still living, but Peter recognized the problem would grow more serious as the apostles passed from the scene. False teachers who claim to be truly representing God and to have a true message from God would follow, and believers would have to be prepared to deal with them.
In 2 Corinthians 11:15, Paul said these false teachers presented themselves as servants of righteousness. False teachers disguise themselves as apostles and say they're servants of righteousness. They come into the church and claim to be part of the fellowship of believers. But they bring a corrupt message and a corrupt lifestyle. And it's part of the work of Satan in his effort to destroy the work of God.
In 2 Peter 3:16, Peter says these false teachers are untaught and unstable and that they distort the rest of the Scriptures. But they do so to their own destruction. Note in that statement that Peter says they will be using -- or maybe I should say misusing -- the Scriptures. But that makes them all the more dangerous. If you are not well versed in the truth of God, you will be more susceptible to being deluded by those who improperly use the Scriptures.
Remember when Satan tempted Christ in Matthew, chapter 4? He used the Scripture to encourage and challenge Christ to do the wrong thing. He accurately quoted the Scripture, but he misused it in how he encouraged Christ. That's the way false teachers are. They pretend to be servants of righteousness. They pretend to be representing Jesus Christ. They pretend to be teaching the Scripture. But all along it's a masterful counterfeit by the devil to corrupt the church of Jesus Christ. The message of 2 Peter is of great importance to the church today. It is very pertinent.
Let me take you back a few years. I want to read a quote from Martin Lloyd Jones, a preacher who is now with the Lord. For many years he was the pastor of Westminster Chapel in London. In the fall of 1946, he began a series of sermons on 2 Peter, which are now in print. And in that first sermon, in the fall of 1946, he said: "The trouble still in the church is a matter of foundation. There are those that would have us believe that it is a good and right thing to form great unions. To have a great ecumenical church. And that then we shall be a great body of people confronting the world. But the question is, what is this great ecumenical church to stand for? What is she to believe? What is her foundation? We are not concerned primarily about numbers. For however great a body the ecumenical church may be, she will have no influence upon the world unless she has a truth to present; unless she has a solid and firm foundation on which to stand. Surely that is the great emphasis of the Bible." Listen to this now. "What the Bible is concerned about is truth. And in a very extraordinary manner, it ridicules our pathetic faith in big battalions and in great numbers."
1. Numbers Don't Overpower The Word
That is every bit as true today as it was 50 years ago when he preached it. The church today has been deceived and diverted from its proper focus. We think that if we could amass large enough numbers of people, we will be a great battalion and our great numbers will give us great impact. The one thing that is lost in all of this is that it's the word of God that is alive and powerful and sharper that any two-edged sword. It is the Gospel which is the power of God unto salvation. Where in the scripture are we told that the impact of the church will come from its mighty numbers? If I read the word of God properly, I understand that the true church and true believers will always be a pitifully small number. If it is true -- and it is because Jesus said it -- the gate and the way to destruction is broad, and there are many who enter and travel that way. Compare that to the narrow gate and narrow way, which are found by few.
I was looking over some material that I received the last couple of weeks regarding church conferences that are being put on. They invite church staff to come and learn how to build a church. Invariably, the dominant theme is how to get great numbers. They promise to unveil the strategy and the technique. You know what I'm not finding? Invitations to church conferences on church growth that show you how to exposit the Scriptures. Where is the emphasis in drawing our attention back to the simplicity of proclaiming the truth of God? It's missing, and that shows the devil has been effective from the inside. We adopt worldly methods and think by utilizing them that we can accomplish the work of God. Oh, if we can only get 50,000 people together; or 100,000 people. Just think how we can make our influence felt if a million people will sign this position. But God can take one person and impact the world with His truth.
We're going to study in this letter a man who was casting fishing nets along the Sea of Galilee with his brother when Jesus walked by and said, "Follow me and I'll make you fishers of men." Imagine the advice Peter might have given: "Lord, that's not the best way to get the job done. You ought to try to get the Coliseum, pack it full. We'll go from there." We want to be careful as a church that we have the focus that God has given us. The knowledge of God and the continual growth in that knowledge is the focus of this letter. Knowledge is the only way we can deal with the false doctrine, the false teachers and the false teaching that continues to infiltrate the church. Without knowledge, the church is led aside from its true task.
2 Peter is a letter that follows the pattern of New Testament letters. As such, the first two verses do three things: They introduce the writer of the letter, they introduce the readers of the letter and they give a greeting. All letters of New Testament time, whether they're contained in the Bible or are general secular letters, follow the same pattern, much as the letters we write today. We begin our letters, "Dear so and so." We identify the recipient. Then we wait until the end to identify ourselves. We often give a greeting there as well. In New Testament days, they put that all in the front. We'll look at these three areas -- the writer, the recipient and the greeting -- and we'll find it's saturated with theology. The theology that will unfold in the letter is pulled together in a compacted way in the first two verses.
2. Peter Uniquely Identifies Himself
First, the writer identifies himself. "Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ..." The double name --Simon Peter -- was commonly used of him numerous times in the gospels and in Acts. But, interestingly, this is the only letter in the New Testament where the writer identifies himself with two names. For example, Paul never starts his letters, "Saul Paul," although we knew him first as Saul, then as Paul after his conversion.
Peter's Jewish name given at birth would have been Simon, Sumion, Simian. He was given the name Peter by Christ at their first meeting, which is recorded in John 1:40-42. There, Peter was acknowledged , but Christ said: "'You shall be called Cephas,' (which is translated Peter)." Peter is the Greek translation of the Aramaic word Cephas, which means a stone or a rock. From then on, Peter has that identification. We know him as Peter -- Simon Peter. He is that one who, by the gracious work of Jesus Christ, was transformed in ministry to become a fisher of men and a leader among men.
He identifies himself after his name in two ways. He is a bondservant, and he is an apostle. The one name -- bondservant -- identifies him with all other believers. The other -- apostle -- marks the special gift he had and the role that he played among the fellowship of the believers. Of the five or six Greek words for servant or slave, bondservant is the one used to denote the most abject slavery. A bondservant is in complete bondage. Think of the negative connotations of that word. It is estimated that 60 percent of the Roman Empire at that time was made up of slaves. The Romans ruled the world as the Iron Empire by crushing and subjugating. So when Peter identified himself as a slave, that was a concept very familiar to everyone in the world at that time. It meant Peter was someone whose will was subjected to someone else. He was someone who lived under the authority of someone else. His total responsibility was to carry out the wishes of someone else. In 1 Peter 1:17-19, he tells them to "...conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ."
Since we were redeemed, we are to conduct ourselves in fear with reverence, respect, awe and obedience to the One who redeemed us. We see in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 that we have been purchased with a price, that we are not our own. "For you have been bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body." Peter is saying the same thing -- you were redeemed with precious blood; you were bought with a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body. See, you are no longer your own. You don't belong to yourself. You belong to Him who paid the price to redeem you, to purchase you. Thus, you are His servant and His slave. The Apostle Paul says in Romans, chapter 6, that we were slaves to sin, but we became slaves of righteousness. Although you once were slaves of sin, you became the slaves of God because He paid the price to purchase us.
3. Apostles Were Specially Gifted
We'll see more about this concept of slavery as we move through 2 Peter. In addition to calling himself a slave, Peter said he also is an apostle. An apostle occupied a special role; he was specially gifted and called by God to fulfill a purpose in the church. There were 12 apostles, and they become a fixed group. They're known as the 12. When Judas fell out of the group through his apostasy, he was replaced in Acts, chapter 1, by Matthias. The 12 maintained its group identity. A 13th later was added with the conversion of the Apostle Paul in Acts, chapter 9. In 1 Corinthians, chapter 15, Paul says he is a unique apostle; one who was born out of due time. He also is the last of the apostles. So when we're talking about the apostles, we are talking here about a unique group of men whom Christ called out from among all of His disciples. They were to function in a much closer role with Him than other disciples. They were trusted with the continuation of His ministry after His departure from the earth.
There are several things that characterize an apostle. We won't look at them in detail, but let me highlight three matters concerning apostles. First, they had to be among those who saw Jesus Christ after His resurrection. They were men who walked with Christ and saw Him after His resurrection from the dead because they were to be eyewitnesses. Peter points out in chapter 1 of his letter that he was an eyewitness of Christ's glory and that he is also one who saw Him after His resurrection. These were requirements so the apostles could be living testimonies of the work of Christ and His resurrection from the dead. Secondly, apostles were entrusted with the truth of God, and the Holy Spirit used the apostles to convey the new revelation from God. Paul uses himself as an example in Ephesians 3, where the truth concerning the church, which never before had been revealed, was fully revealed to him. That was the ministry of an apostle -- to be given new truth. Thirdly, their ministry was validated by doing miraculous things. In Matthew, chapter 10, Christ's apostles were entrusted with the power to do miracles. It validated their ministry and teaching. Today, we continue to build on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Ephesians 2:20 says we have been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets. We are studying the truth which was revealed through them, and we are building our lives and the church on that foundation.
So we see that Peter has a common position. He is a servant like all believers, but he also has a role of added responsibility. That responsibility will become important later in the letter. In chapter 3, he will encourage them to keep their minds fixed and focused on the truth revealed through the prophets and apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. Who is writing this letter? Simon Peter, a slave of Jesus Christ and an apostle of Jesus Christ.
4. God Provides Saving Faith
Who is he writing to? He's writing "...to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours..." That's an interesting way to state it. It's written in a way that includes a clear statement of the sovereignty of God in their salvation. He says they have received a faith. That word translated received originally meant to a cast a lot, to obtain something through the casting of a lot. Then it just came to mean to obtain something, to have something given to you. The point here is that they were given by God the saving faith that brought them new life in Christ. As one commentator put it, "Their faith was given to them by the mercy of God."
It's interesting that Peter began his first letter in 1 Peter 1:1 by saying he was writing to those who were chosen. There he used the word elect. And here he begins his letter by saying he is writing to those who have been given by God saving faith. Both letters begin with an emphasis on the sovereignty of God and their salvation -- not to exalt them, but to exalt God. He acknowledges the salvation and righteousness they have received, but he also reminds them it was the grace of God that brought them that saving faith. So they "...have received a faith of the same kind as ours..." He doesn't say where they're living, but he says in chapter 3 that this is the second letter he was writing to them. The first letter was 1 Peter, which was written to Jewish believers scattered throughout the region we know as Asia Minor. So these are those who have been given saving faith by God, and they are serving in churches scattered throughout the region of Asia Minor. The seven churches of Asia seen in Revelation 2 and 3 would be included in that region.
In light of the context -- in light of what follows -- I take it that the faith here is a saving faith. They "...have received from God a faith of the same kind as ours..." Now some say the faith here refers to the Scripture. Faith is sometimes used that way. The book of Jude talks about contending for the faith, with the definite article the there to refer to the body of truth revealed. But it is not true to say these readers have received the faith the same way the apostles have, nor the same kind of revelation, because the apostles were the vehicles of revelation, and these people are hearing it from Peter. But they did receive saving faith.
I take it Peter means the same kind of faith that the apostles have. There is only one kind of saving faith, and that's the faith that saves you whether or not you are an apostle. Apostles didn't get saved one way and other people a different way. Everyone who gets saved does so because God graciously intervenes in their lives, works in their hearts and gives to them faith that they might believe. It's include in Ephesians 2:8-9: "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one should boast." The salvation that God has provided does not come through our works, but it's a matter of His grace. And that salvation includes the faith that brings that salvation to our hearts.
Now when he says they "... have received the same kind of faith as ours..." there is a point here that will be developed through the rest of the book. It means that they must obey the same doctrine and truth as the apostles. They must live the same holy and righteous lifestyle as the apostles. In effect, Peter is saying, "You've received the same saving faith as we have. That means its impact upon you must be the same. You become a bondservant. You receive His righteousness. You are obligated to His truth. You are obligated to manifest His character." He reminds them in chapter 3, verse 2, that they must give attention to the Old Testament Scriptures and to the New Testament Scriptures. He warns them about those who disregard the writings of apostles such as Paul and those who twist the Scriptures to their own destruction. You see from this that those who receive the same kind of faith -- the saving faith that is God's gift -- are obligated to the truth, both in submitting to that truth and living that truth.
At the end of verse 1, we see they received the faith of the same kind as the apostles "...by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:" In other words, God gives saving faith, but it is always tied to the righteousness God provided. If Jesus Christ had not provided righteousness through His death and resurrection as payment for sin, God could not give you saving faith.
5. Faith Must Be Plugged In
Faith is the means that God uses to bring the salvation -- the righteousness that He has provided -- to your heart. But without the righteousness, the faith would do nothing. Faith is like an electrical cord. The lamp will work if you plug the cord into the socket. But you can also carry that lamp around, and it won't give off light if the cord just hangs down and is not plugged into an outlet. Some people seem to let their faith hang out there without plugging it into the righteousness of Christ. They say, "Well, I have my faith; my faith will see me through," as though it was a power source that by itself could do something. No, faith is only significant when it is connected to the proper source. We have been given faith by, or in, the righteousness of Christ -- the righteousness which He provided.
Paul talks about this power source, which is the gospel, in Romans 1:16-17: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes...For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith..." You see, the righteousness of God provides salvation in a heart and life by faith, and that faith is graciously given by God. Romans 3:26 declares God to be "...just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." The word translated just or justifier is the same basic Greek word that's translated right or righteous. So God is righteous and is the One who declares righteous those who have faith in Jesus Christ. You see, it's the righteousness in Christ and provided by Christ that enables God to give to His chosen the faith that saves and brings that righteousness to their hearts and lives.
What provides faith is identified in 2 Peter 1:1 as "...the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ." There's some discussion about this statement, but I think the translation of the New American Standard Bible is accurate and is supported by the Greek text of this passage. God and Savior refer to the same person. That person is identified as Jesus Christ. What we have is a declaration of the deity of Christ. In fact, that deity is brought out in several ways. A rule of Greek grammar applies here. When you have two nouns the same case -- singular nouns -- the first one has the definite article the, and the second one doesn't. The second one refers to the same thing or the same person as the first. So you have here, literally, "the God of us and Savior." That one article the ties the two words -- the two nouns, God and Savior -- together. Peter is talking about the same person, and He is both God and Savior.
Peter clearly identifies the person of Christ right at the beginning of his letter. Christ is the God and Savior in verse 1. He is the Lord, as we'll see at the end of verse 2. Peter does this to point out in chapter 2, verse 1, how thoroughly corrupt the false teachers who will infiltrate the church will be. They will even be guilty of denying the Master who bought them. Note that both His person and His work are subverted by the false teachers. They deny the Master. Master refers to His person, who He is. Who bought them refers to His work, what He did with His death on the cross. So there will be those who come into the church and undermine the biblical truth of the person of Christ and the work of Christ.
Very clearly, right up front, Peter points out both truths. Saving faith is a matter of sovereign distribution of God. It is done in the context of the righteousness of Christ, secured by His death and resurrection. And Christ is the God and Savior. So in what we would call the introductory comments, Peter firmly sets forth the person and work of Christ, which will be unfolded in this letter in much greater detail. He is the God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
6. Christ's Deity Eludes Unsaved
The Deity of Christ is a no-brainer. It permeates the Scripture. It is not possible to study the word of God and come to any other conclusion except that Jesus Christ is God. That truth eludes those who have not been given the gift of saving faith. Those people find themselves confused and hung up on passage after passage. The deity of Christ is both declared by direct statements in the New Testament and then supported by a myriad of matter in the Old Testament. For instance, John 1:1 states: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." In that context, the Word refers to Jesus Christ. He is the very expression and revelation of God. It's not our purpose today to develop the truth that Christ existed in Old Testament times. But John was very concise. When you get to the beginning, Jesus Christ already was. He was with God, and He was God.
Now some cults, like Jehovah Witnesses, say the God in John 1:1 doesn't have the definite article, so it's not talking about The God. They say Jesus was a god. But verse 18 says, "No man has seen God at any time..." There isn't a definite article with the word God there, either. Jesus Christ was seen by many people. The use of the definite article with God has nothing to do with whether you are talking about the living God or not. Don't be confused by the untaught and unstable, as Peter calls them in 2 Peter 3:16. In John 20:28, Thomas sees the resurrected Christ, sees the prints of the nails and the spear, falls down and says, "The Lord of me and the God of me." The definite article is used with both Lord and God. We have it translated, " My Lord and my God!" Some say Thomas's words were just the expression of an emotional man who momentarily was overwhelmed. But Jesus offers no rebuke. Remember in the book of Revelation how on two occasions John is overwhelmed with emotion of the moment and the revelation he has received. He falls down to worship the angel who gives him the revelation, and both times he immediately is rebuked. Don't do that, John is told. Worship God, not angels. But Jesus doesn't say that to Thomas in John 20:29. "Jesus said to him, 'Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.'"
7. Christ's Blood Purchased Church
Acts 20:28 says, "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood." Note it says that God purchased the church with His own blood. But God the Father has no blood. He is a spirit, according to John 4:24, But God the Son took to Himself humanity and was the God man, so God purchased the church with His own blood. That's a clear statement of the deity of Jesus Christ. In Romans, chapter 9, beginning in verse 3, Paul talks about Christ. Then in verse 5, he says, "whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever." This Christ, who is over all, is God blessed forever. That's a clear statement of the deity of Christ. Another such statement is seen in Titus 2:13: We are "...looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus." Peter uses about the same grammatical construction in 2 Peter 1:1: "...our God and Savior, Jesus Christ." We are looking for the appearance of the One who is our great God and awesome Savior, Jesus Christ.
One other passage to look at is Hebrews 1:8. The writer of Hebrews, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, first refers to Jesus Christ, then he quotes from Psalm 45:6 "But of the Son He says, Your throne, O God, is forever and ever..." That's another clear declaration of the deity of the Son. He is declared to be God sitting on an eternal throne. Colossians 2:9 is another clear statement of the deity of Christ: "For in Him all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form." In other words, all the attributes of God dwelt in that earthly, physical body of Christ. That makes Him God. It's a remarkable statement of the deity of Jesus Christ.
Remember, Peter's first letter was written to Jewish Christians who were dispersed throughout Asia Minor. I assume they also are the recipients of the second letter. What would a Jew who had become a believer think of when Peter wrote of "our God and Savior, Jesus Christ?" We have to go to two passages in the Old Testament. The first is Isaiah, chapter 43, where God is declaring His greatness. He begins the chapter by declaring Himself as the creator of Israel, the One who formed them, the One who redeemed them, the One who knows them. Note the first part of verse 10: "'You are my witnesses,' declares the Lord..." That role as witnesses was carried on by the apostles, but Israel served in that role until it was given the apostles. The end of verse 10 and 11: "...understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me. I, even I, am the Lord, And there is no Savior besides Me." Now Peter declares that Jesus Christ is our God and Savior. There is only one Savior, the living God. To believe that Jesus Christ is the Savior is to declare His deity. He says in Isaiah 35:21: "...Is it not I, the Lord? And there is no other God besides me, A righteous God and a Savior; There is none except Me." Who else can deal with the sin of mankind? Who else can provide and accept a sacrifice that cleanses and forgives us of sin? He is the Savior. That's why, in connection with the incarnation, the angel tells Joseph in Matthew 1:21: "...you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."
8. Christ Is the Sovereign God
In Luke 2:11, the angels announced to the shepherds in the field: "...today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." In the Old Testament passages, there is an emphasis on the Lord. We'll come to that in a moment. But we already have seen that Jesus Christ is the sovereign God, the Savior who dealt with sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
Return to 2 Peter. Verse 2 says, "Grace and peace be multiplied to you..." That is what he also desired for them in his first letter -- 1 Peter 1:2. Grace is God's unmerited favor, and it begins with our salvation. But it continues on. He wants this grace to be multiplied to those who have been given faith in the righteousness of Christ. It's an ongoing provision of God for them in all that they must face and go through as God's people. We are saved by grace, but God continually provides for us as His people in His grace. He also provides peace, which begins when we come to believe in Jesus Christ. According to Romans 5:1, "...we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ..."
That peace, Paul says in Phillipians 4:7, grows into "...the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, (and) will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." He desires that they continually experience the gracious provision of God and the peace that He gives. That peace enables them to experience tranquillity of heart and mind when the world seems about to crush them. He wants this peace to be multiplied to them, given to them in its fullness and abundance. But note the realm in which it takes place -- "...in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord." This is a very crucial point that will unfold through the book, but I want you to get it at the beginning. This draws attention to what is happening in the church today, and it explains much of the misery of people who profess to know the living God. Grace is that provision of God that sustains and enables us. Peace is that tranquillity of heart and mind that God provides during the worst of times. Grace and peace are multiplied to us in the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ.
Peter will use several words for knowledge in this letter. The word used here is epignosis. Epi is a preposition. Gnosis is the basic word for knowledge, then a preposition is placed in front of it to intensify the word. Sometimes the words are used interchangeably, depending on the context. But a distinction is usually being drawn when the regular word for knowledge, along with a preposition on the front that intensifies it, are used in similar context. When there is a distinction, that word epignosis refers to a fuller, more complete knowledge. What Peter wants here is for them to have that full knowledge, that complete knowledge. As they gain that knowledge, grace and peace will be multiplied to them.
9.Satan's Brilliant Strategy
Peter stresses knowledge. He uses the word for knowledge 16 times in this letter, Knowledge is important here. We see the devil infiltrating the church, but how does he work? If you're a child of God, how does he undermine the work of God? Why don't you draw upon the resources of God so that you are strengthened in every situation? Why are your heart and mind shattered? How come you don't experience the peace of God? Satan's strategy is brilliant, although it's very simple: Move the church away from the knowledge of God so less time and attention is focused on the careful study of the word of God. The time diminishes that we devote to the apostles' doctrine and teaching.
People come to church and say, "I want to have something lighter. A serious study is not what gets me going in the morning. Besides, I need something practical,. Tell me three steps to have a better family, seven steps to be more successful at my job, 12 steps to overcome depression. That's what I'm looking for. Give me something that really helps." So we begin to structure the works of the church around such trivial, superficial things. We begin to cast the church in the mold of the world. When that happens, the people of God do not grow in the true knowledge of God. As a result, the grace of God is not multiplied to them, and they don't experience the peace of God. So we begin to turn farther from the word of God. Now we need a counseling division that draws from what the world teaches. Then we need a program to help divorced children of alcoholics who were immoral as a result of demons in their past, or some such foolishness. And on it goes. Soon, everything moves us away from the true knowledge of God.
The church should yank the chain and proclaim that what is absolutely necessary is the grace of God, that it would be multiplied to you, that it is God's provision for you to do all and be all that God intends you to be. The church should say that Jesus assured us that we will experience a tranquillity of mind in the midst of tribulations that we will have in this world. You've got to be drawn back to the knowledge of God. As a local church, why do we spend our time analyzing and studying the word of God? Wouldn't it be more interesting and more fun to study other things? Perhaps. But we study God's word because there is nothing else that will mold us, shape us, mature us, and provide us God's resources that are necessary for us to live in this sin-cursed world.
The plan of the devil, though, is brilliant. He has to move God's people away from the true knowledge of God. He weans them off the Word, little by little, so less and less of the true knowledge of God gets into their lives. The grace and peace of God can't be multiplied to them, so they look more to the world and less to the Word for solutions. It's a downward spiral. You see this in the world around us. They abandon any conviction that there is a God, that there is a standard of morality. Then the moral fiber begins to disintegrate, and our children become more and more immoral. What's the solution? "Well, we have to give them more sex education." But immorality multiplies. "Well, then, we must give them more means to protect themselves when they are being immoral." On it goes, and you say, "Ah, how can the world be so foolish?"
10. Corrupt Men Distort Word
Yet the church is doing the same thing as it moves away from its foundation of the true knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ. That's why Peter tells them in chapter 3, verse 2, that they have to hold onto the Old Testament Scriptures and the New Testament Scriptures, that they must constantly remember them. There is no excuse for the church to be misled on this point. But we deal with a very brilliant enemy, and he has infiltrated the ranks with men who disguise themselves as godly leaders and teachers. They are men who present themselves as servants of righteousness. They are men who corrupt and distort the word of God. They twist it to make it say what they want it to say, and they teach you those distorted words. For what reason? To lead us away from the true knowledge of God. You ought to fix verse 2 in your mind. "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in..." -- within the context and sphere of -- "...the knowledge..." -- the true knowledge, the epignosis -- "...of God and of Jesus our Lord."
Unlike verse 1, where our God and Savior, Jesus Christ refers solely to Jesus Christ, some people take God and Jesus our Lord at the end of verse 2 to refer to two distinct persons, God the Father and Jesus. That's biblically true. In John 17:3, Jesus prayed "...that they might know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." So we know not only the Son, we know the Father. When you know the Son, you know the Father; and when you know the Father, you know the Son. All knowledge of the Father comes through the Son. But the grammatical construction is the same at the end of verse 2 as it is at the end of verse 1. Some of you use Kenneth West Greek Studies, and he translates this: "...that it be granted and multiplied to you in the knowledge of God, even Jesus our Lord." I think that's an accurate translation. The same conjunction kai is translated and or even in the English, and you could translate this, "in the knowledge of God." So God has the definite article the, and Jesus doesn't -- "of the God and Jesus, and Jesus is the Lord of us."
Now we come to this matter of Lord, which is another key theme. The word Lord, translated from the Greek word Kurios, is used 14 times as a title in this letter. Peter was a bondservant -- a slave -- because Jesus Christ is Lord. Peter goes back to the Old Testament to establish Christ's deity. In the Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Old Testament made several hundred years before Christ was born, Kurios was used to translate Yahweh -- what we have as Jehovah, God -- some 6,000 times. So when Peter wrote that Christ was Lord, believing Jews considered Him the sovereign God to whom they must be obedient. He is the Lord. We'll see this title, Lord, occur throughout the letter. In chapter 2, verse 1, Peter uses a different word, Despotes. They deny the Master -- the Despot -- who bought them. Again, Peter emphasizes His absolute sovereignty. Those who belong to Him submit both to the teaching that has been revealed through the apostles and prophets and by living a life that is a reflection of His character. Those who do not bow before Him and submit to Him reveal that they don't belong to Him.
That's true for us today. You're either a slave to the Lord God our Savior, or you are His mortal enemy. If you are His slave, it will be evidenced by the fact that you submit to His truth and live a life of obedience to Him. That life testifies that you are one to whom He has given saving faith. If you're not a slave to Him, you're here today by His grace. He has graciously brought you to the sound of His word, and your response is to say, "God, I'm a sinner. You are the Lord and Savior, and there is no one else. Only You can save me from my sin. I want to trust You, believe in You and your provision for me -- the righteousness that Christ provided by His death to pay the penalty for my sins." When you do that, you are saved. Then our responsibility as God's people is that we become anchored and committed to the true knowledge of Him. That's what 2 Peter is all about. It gives us the knowledge of the One who is our God and Savior. Praise God that He has raised up this church to be a pillar and support of His truth. Let's pray together.
Thank You, God, for Your grace and that Your mercy brought the righteousness of Christ to us when You opened our blinded eyes and caused us to see and believe that we were sinners, convicted and guilty. But Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, in love paid in full the penalty. Thank You for our salvation. Thank You for His righteousness credited to our account. Thank You for the knowledge of Your Son and of You and for Your grace and peace that's multiplied to us in that knowledge. Lord, we desire to be a people who grow and mature as we increase in knowledge and understanding. It's not that we want to add to our repertoire of facts, but that we desire to take true knowledge into our hearts and minds. It then becomes nourishment andfood. It shapes us and conforms us into the image of the glory of the One who is our God andSavior, and it is in His name we pray, amen.
Scripture quotations are from the New AmericanStandard Bible,
© Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977.
All quotations used by permission. **************************************************************************
INDIAN HILLS COMMUNITY CHURCH
1000 South 84th St., Lincoln, NE 68510-4499...Phone: 402-483-4541...Fax: 402-483-6716
Web site: http://www.ihcc.org...E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Permission was received from Indian Hills Community Church for the posting of this file on Bible Bulletin Board. Our gratitude to the Holy Spirit for leading Pastor Gil Rugh to preach/teach messages that are bold, and doctrinally sound—they are so needful to this generation.
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