Just as I have got behind in posting sermons, I am also behind in posting our church midweek Bible studies. I had a long break over the summer from doing our midweek meetings as one of our elders kindly took on that job (I will do a separate post soon with all his messages). On 13 October (2 weeks ago), I started a new midweek series on 2 Peter. The first message is in the video below.
I actually started 2 Peter as a Sunday series before lockdown and had got as far as chapter 2 verse 3. Given the time lapse and the huge number of things that have happened since March, I doubt if anyone remembers much of what was shared back then, so I have restarted the series on 2 Peter as a midweek Bible Study.
A written summary (and some points for midweek prayer) are included below the video:
We are returning to the book of 2 Peter since the series at the start of the year was interrupted by the pandemic. 2 Peter 1:3 is our church text for 2020: “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.”
His divine power hasn’t changed. His promises (in the next verse) haven’t changed. The need for these truths hasn’t gone away. The churches that Peter was writing to had suffered persecution (see 1 Peter) but were now also being targeted by false teachers. Peter needed to equip them to face this challenge.
Firstly, in chapter 1, he does this by grounding them in what God has done – and the impact that has on our lives. Secondly, in chapter 2, he does this by warning them about false teachers and exposing what they are like – but also assuring them that the Lord will preserve those who know Him. Thirdly, in chapter 3, the Christians are pointed to the second coming of Christ.
While we are not facing direct persecution in the UK, opposition to the gospel and the church is growing. Also, we are living through one of the most challenging and uncertain times in recent history. False teaching and fake news are rife online. We need to be grounded in the gospel again, have our roots deep into the word of God.
So, we return to 2 Peter. The first few messages will be a recap on the sermons from the start of the year.
I) Identity (v1)
Peter speaks about himself and about the church. He says he is:
- a servant (better, bondservant).
- an apostle of Jesus Christ.
The word translated servant refers to someone who was owned by a master. Although the word “slave” has negative connotations today, it is important not to miss the truth that is being communicated here. Every believer belongs to Jesus Christ. He has purchased us by His blood. We were slaves to sin and death but have now been set free and given life and have the true freedom of being His. He is the good Master; we are not the master. He is Lord and not us; He rules and we don’t.
So, while Peter is also an apostle, he is a bondservant first. For us, whatever our ministry or job, we are first and foremost servants of Jesus Christ. Our calling is to not please ourselves but to serve Him.
Then Peter speaks about the church, as follows. Notice that this is the whole church and not just a select few. It is every believer who has:
- Obtained – received as a gift.
- A faith – that is not only the ability to believe, but also what or in whom we believe.
- Of equal standing with ours – if you are a Christian, your faith, your salvation, is of the same standing and preciousness as that of the apostles. There is one gospel, whoever we are.
- By the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ. It is not our righteousness (it is by grace alone). Also, He has saved us by satisfying His righteousness.
- Our God and Saviour Jesus Christ – it is all Him (and, by the way, Jesus Christ is God).
There is no such thing as grades of salvation. There is “like precious faith” (NKJV) – one people, saved by grace alone.
II) Blessing (v2)
Grace and peace. Grace leads to peace. Grace comes through Him and brings us into peace with God. Romans 5:1
But notice, it is not just blessing of good things on earth but it is “in the knowledge of God.” This is knowing the truth about Him, but also knowing Him. Yet, this experience flows from knowing the truth; the more we are secure in the grace of God, the greater our enjoyment of the peace of God, the greater our enjoyment of His presence.
III) Divine power (v3)
Then Peter tells us where this comes from. Not from us, but by His divine power. It is “granted” to us – it is a gift given by His authority, out of His goodness.
This divine power covers all things that “pertain”(ESV/NKJV) or “we need” (NIV) for
- life – that is eternal life. He has saved us, and not we ourselves. He has secured you eternally. His divine power has saved you and His divine power will keep you.
- and godliness – we are saved to be transformed. 2 Corinthians 3:18, Romans 8:30.
Although He also promises to meet our physical needs (Matthew 6:33), this promise is about the spiritual need to grow in godliness.
We are not called to seek an experience of God in order to grow in godliness. While we are in a relationship with God and the sweetness of God’s presence is something to desire, we don’t need to wait for an experience or seek an experience in order to grow. Rather, we trust Him to help us to grow in grace as we seek to obey Him and we express that dependence as we pray, believing Him who supplies all that we need for life and godliness, and relying on His precious and very great promises.
IV) Divine promise (v3-4)
Again, at the end of v3, the supply of the divine power comes to us through or by the “knowledge of Him.” We saw this in verse 2 also. The more we know Him, the more we see His greatness, the more we see His promises, the greater our dependence on Him. This is why reading and meditating on the word of God is so vital.
At the end of v3, we see that God is the one who has “called us to (or better, “by) His own glory and excellence.” If you are a Christian, you have received eternal life because of God’s call. He has called you by His divine power and will keep you by His divine power (Philippians 1:6).
“His own glory and excellence.” The supply of divine power is also due to who He is. He is glorious, majestic, divine. He is excellent and good, and perfect. Because of who He is, we are therefore able to rely on His promises. Again these promises are “granted” to us (v4). That is the same word as v3 – the promises are a gift given to us by divine authority (not because of anything in us).
They are precious promises – they are of great worth because of who they have come from. They are totally reliable. They are costly because they have been bought by the precious blood of Christ.
They are very great promises. They are about salvation and all of life: they are promises of divine provision and divine protection and being transformed into godly character and receiving an inheritance of divine glory. They are promises of sins forgiven in the past, present and future. They are promises of transformation – His word written on our hearts, a heart of flesh not a heart of stone, the promise of knowing Him, the promise of being His own special people. So great and so precious.
These are unchanging encouragements. Covid, trouble, persecution cannot take them away:
- You belong to Jesus.
- You have equal standing with all of God’s people (even the apostles) because of Jesus Christ.
- God has saved you by His grace and you have peace with Him.
- All that you need for salvation and for living for His glory is given to you by His divine power, because of His goodness and because of His promises. It is all Him.
So we are able to live in dependence upon Him, growing to know Him more and trusting His promises. Whatever happens let’s live in the light of these unchanging things.
Pointers for prayer
- That all believers are equally saved with equal standing before God – yes, even you.
- His keeping power.
- His promises
- His transformation of our lives and our new nature.
Prayer for our own walk with God:
- For God’s help to be faithful servants
- For those areas of the flesh that we struggle with – that the Lord would help us to stop.
Prayer for the church. As Peter writes with wisdom to the Christians across different churches, let’s pray for the Lord’s blessing on our own congregations.
Prayer for God’s mercy upon our nation. Yesterday the UK Prime Minister announced further measures to try and restrict the spread of coronavirus.
- Pray that these measures would have success, that they would be implemented fairly and that people would be willing to comply with them.
- Pray that the Lord would show us mercy and cause this virus to decline.
- Pray that the church (including our church) would shine as a light in the darkness.