People Of Promise: Grace (2 Peter 3:14-18)

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2 Peter is 1 of 66. This summer we heard 6 messages from 3 chapters of this important book. Peter is at the last stage of his life, and he knows it. He’s sharing from what he recalls as an eyewitness of Jesus. In this passage we can determine
3 lasting principles for the Christian life.

EXAMINE     2 Peter 3:14-18

14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. 15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 18 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.

Be diligent in holiness.

14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.

Peter calls these Christians, “beloved.” As mentioned last week, he uses this term 4x in this letter as a sign of affection. I don’t necessarily commend you go around using this term extensively or erratically – people will think you’re a bit weird. But we can understand Peter cares deeply for these individuals. When we care about someone, we will speak truth to them and things that will matter for all time (eternity).

When we care about someone, we will speak truth to them and things that will matter for all time. #2Peter3 #PeopleOfPromise

Peter’s instructions reflect the context of a coming Day of the Lord, which will result in the present earth burning – and some wealthy with nice possessions providing God an expensive bonfire! So, waiting for the end and an eternal heaven and new earth to be established, what shall we do? Peter exhorts us to diligence (σπουδάσατε cf. 1:10 “make every effort”) in holiness.

Peter says, “without spot or blemish.” Peter knows that only Jesus’ life and precious blood were without spot or blemish (1 Peter 1:19). He is not suggesting our performance makes us perfect, but that our ongoing posture toward the Lord is devoted faith and diligent discipleship. Too often we want to wave the banner of Christian liberty, or even cast the stone against Christian legalism. Supremely, the path of holiness is the Lordship of Christ (1Pe 1:15).

  • Holy in our thought life (cf Mt 15:18; 2 Cor 10:4-6)
  • Holy in our attitudes (Mt 5:3; Php 2:4-5).
  • Holy in our actions: words and deeds (1 Pe 2:11-12).

Being found in Christ. In other words, when Jesus returns, who will your faith be in? Where will you be? What will Jesus find you doing? Who will be with you? The answer to these sorts of questions reveals whether you have taken your faith serious enough to be holy, or you are merely pursuing earthly happiness. Your actions, our achievements, things we have acquired may appear to bring us a measure of happiness, but we end up at a point in life realizing an emptiness apart from God.

Jim Elliot, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Philippians 3:7-9 “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law (good behavior or earned accomplishments), but that which comes from through faith in Christ”

Being found in Christ on the last day is not the same as being found in church or watching online.

  • Lot’s wife was warned to flee Sodom’s judgment, but she turned back and did not escape destruction.
  • Judas hung out with Jesus and heard all His sermons.
  • Diotrephes was with the apostle John but filled with pride.

We are found in Christ when our faith is resulting in sanctifying grace and peace (v.14).  

and at peace. 15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.

Peter is saying that holiness with God results in a life of peace. Christians may not have a less busy life, but we will have a less burdened heart if we are walking with God. Peter gives us an example in the life of Paul.

Christians may not have a less busy life, but we will have a less burdened heart if we are walking with God. #PeopleOfPromise

Paul wasn’t without spot or blemish. His sin consisted of religious terrorism and murdering Christians. He was zealous, but for the wrong cause. So, after Paul encounters Jesus and repents of his sin to follow Jesus, he describes himself as a chief of sinners and requiring surplus patience from God (cf 1Tim 1:12-16). As Paul grows in faith, rather than negative attitudes and immoral anger, he experiences a new-found peace that passes all understanding (Php 4:4-8). A hard-hearted man is softened to speak about the heart of God and the love of Jesus. The value of being diligent in holiness is a life of gratitude and peace.

  • Best application of holiness and peace is practicing the spiritual disciplines. Corrie Ten Boom said, “if the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.” We must learn to be busy at the right things. The spiritual practice of Sabbath: diverting daily, worshiping weekly, and respite regularly is a mindset that is able to withstand the external pressure of the world we live.
  • 1 Pet 5:7 – Peter says cast all anxiety on Christ bc He cares.

SIDE NOTE: It’s humorous that Peter says Paul is hard to understand. Peter’s like, Paul went to school and graduated magna cum laude. I went to school and graduated thank the Lord! Paul’s writings are deeply philosophical and profoundly theological. He’s the author of 13 letters/books that are included in our Scriptures. And note – Peter identifies Paul’s writings as Scripture (2 Pe 3:16).

Prior to the coming of Jesus, the only Scriptures of followers of Yahweh were the OT: Law, Prophets, and Writings (Ps, Prov, Ecc. Song of Solomon). After Jesus’ resurrection, the church needed a standard to grow faith and guide practices according to Jesus’ teachings. They became devoted to the apostles’ teachings (Ac 2:42), inclusive of not just Peter, James, and John, but Paul too (1 Thes 2:13; Gal 1:1-24; 2 Tim 3:16).

Those outside Christianity like to dismiss the NT saying the Scriptures were created and corrupted by the church over the centuries. I appreciate the words of J.I. Packer: “The church no more gave us the New Testament canon than Sir Isaac Newton gave us the force of gravity… Newton did not create gravity but recognized it.”[1]

The church recognized the writings that were a) consistent with orthodoxy, b) connection to apostles of Jesus, and c) catholic (καθόλου) practice.[2]

  • Practical application: IF Peter had difficulty understanding Paul, how much more will we?

“The church no more gave us the New Testament canon than Sir Isaac Newton gave us the force of gravity… Newton did not create gravity but recognized it.” (J.I. Packer, God Has Spoken, p.109)

Be discerning of error.  

17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.

Peter shifts attention from Paul back to his beloved audience. He exhorts them to “take care,” or “stand guard.” The word “φυλάσσω,” implies exercising unbroken vigilance as a shepherd protecting sheep from wolves, or a military guard against enemies.[3]

Peter’s exhortation of diligence relates to discernment of counterfeit truth. Peter warns believers not to associate with error, or the result will be being led away by lawlessness or dishonorable people.[4]

Like Peter’s day,[5] we are living in dizzying times where people are confused about right and wrong, fact or fiction. Cultural shifts are happening at regular and rapid pace that it can be easy to feel disoriented about faith, family, and keep our focus.

  • Recently I asked my 3 oldest daughters to read Rebecca McLaughlin’s “The Secular Creed.” It reviews the rainbow yard signs with its worldly philosophy and secular creed from a Christian worldview. Basically, she’s taking the apostle Peter’s exhortations to help Christians be discerning of error. Summary thoughts…
    • Christians don’t believe “love is love” but that God is love.
    • Christians believe women’s rights should be upheld because God made women (and men) in His image; and for that same reason we believe every baby in the womb has rights as well.
    • Christians believe gender is profoundly impacted by the Fall but is nonetheless biological.
    • Christians believe God has a special concern for orphans, single mothers and widows, immigrants, special needs, and the poor because Scripture affirms God’s heart on these and Jesus showed us God’s heard for these.
    • Christians believe black lives matter because they matter to Jesus, and God’s church is made up of a great multitude from every tribe, tongue, and nation who worship together in one body.
    • The moral soil the world plants its ideas only exist because God created the dirt. God’s garden is our source of truth from fiction. The concepts of love, equality, and diversity start with God’s design not the world’s redefinition of them.

The moral soil the world plants its ideas only exist because God created the dirt. The concepts of love, equality, and diversity start with God’s design not the world’s redefinition of them.  

Be devoted to God’s glory.

18 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.

On this note, Peter ends the letter where he began with the grace of Jesus and the knowledge of God. Sometimes people attempt to pit these against each other, when in reality they are a perfect complement.

  • Grace is the entrance to faith, while knowledge equips and keeps us in the faith.
  • Grace makes us vulnerable, but knowledge makes us stable.
  • Grace gives compassion, while knowledge gives discernment.

J.C. Ryle (pastor, 1816-1900) “When I speak of [one] growing in grace, I mean simply that… [their] sense of sin is becoming deeper, faith is becoming stronger, hope is becoming brighter, love is becoming more extensive, spiritual-mindedness is becoming more marked…”[6]

“When I speak of [one] growing in grace, I mean simply that… [their] sense of sin is becoming deeper, faith is becoming stronger, hope is becoming brighter, love is becoming more extensive, spiritual-mindedness is becoming more marked…” (J.C. Ryle, Growth In Grace)

Peter indicates our knowledge of God and of our Lord Jesus should multiply grace and peace to others and bring glory to God.

So, whatever you do Christian, keep growing.

  • Don’t allow past successes to delay our diligence, or to go on spiritual cruise control.
  • Don’t allow past/present mistakes constrain our commitment.
  • Don’t allow age to slow your service to the Lord.
  • “The Christian life, it has been said, is like riding a bicycle. Unless you keep moving, you fall off.”[7]
  • The best way we keep from falling is to keep moving, keep going, keep growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus. Don’t stop! We live for a glory that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading (1Pe 1:4).

In the opening message of this series I shared an illustration that combines grace and knowledge.

Illus[8]: Imagine carrying a giant bucket of blood. Most people would view that quantity of blood as something nauseating and repellent. The main reason is because the bucket of blood is dormant. However, imagine a small liter bag of blood. Most people view this as life-giving and with gratefulness. The difference in this bag of blood is that it is functional to benefit others. Likewise, if our knowledge is only used to show others the quantity of our theological education, then we become prideful and dreadful to be around. However, if our knowledge is only on display when we are helping the weak, serving needs, and rescuing lives, then that is something beautiful and attractive. People want more of THAT kind of knowledge.

APPLY/THINK

To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

I want to close the message today very pastorally and locally to us as a church family…

– – – – – – – – – – – – – –


[1] James Packer, God Has Spoken: Revelation and the Bible, p.109. Also see Michael Kruger’s, Canon Revisited: Establishing The Origins And Authority Of The New Testament, pp.45, ff.

[2] https://growinggodlygenerations.com/2013/10/21/can-you-trust-the-bible-jesus/

[3] https://biblehub.com/greek/5442.htm

[4] https://biblehub.com/greek/113.htm

[5] Paragraph from my first message on 2Peter https://growinggodlygenerations.com/2022/07/17/people-of-promise-2-peter-11-2/

[6] JC Ryle, Growth In Grace.

[7] Michael Green, 2 Peter and Jude: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 18, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1987), 175.

[8] Adapted from Kevin DeYoung sermon on 2 Peter 1:1-2 https://christcovenant.org/sermons/contradictions-that-arent/

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