Do not forget 2 Peter 1:3-11

In a certain university town there is a very large bookshop with two entrances on different streets. It is used by lots of people as a short cut, especially when it is raining. In particular there was a certain professor, of theology as it happens, who always took that short cut to and fro between his college and his department. On lunch-time the professor was attracted to a display of new books and after much deliberation he decided to make a purchase. As he was paying, he asked the cashier, rather sheepishly, “You couldn’t possibly tell me which door I came in by, could you?”
“Of course, professor,” the vigilant shopworker replied. “You came in through that door.”
“Oh good,” said the professor, most relieved. “That means I’ve had my lunch!”
Do you forget things? Different people are forgetful about different things. It is alleged that men are good at forgetting dates like birthdays and anniversaries. When I go to Sainsburys I usually forget the most important things I specifically went to buy. Some Christians are very forgetful. They can forget all the wonderful things God has done for them in Christ. They can forget that being a Christian means that their lives should be different from the lives they would be living if they were not saved. Some Christians even forget completely that they are saved.
The apostle Peter wrote his second letter to remind Christians of important truths. This evening’s passage talks about God’s generous gifts to every Christian. It talks about how we should live in response to God’s love and it reminds us of our motives for living holy and transformed lives. God’s gifts. Our response. Our motivation. Three areas of our Christian life which we cannot afford to forget about.
Let’s start with GOD’S GIFTS
3 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. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
What has God given us as Christians? Everything we need for a godly life, a truly religious life. Peter does not say, “everything we want” because he knows what we want tends to be selfish. God doesn’t promise to satisfy every whim and fancy we may entertain. But God does promise to give to every Christian “everything we need”. God has already given every Christian all the spiritual resources we require to live the kind of life God wants us to live. We don’t need to sit around waiting until we feel we have the power to live godly lives. We have already received everything we need.
An important part of “everything we need to live a godly life” comes in the form of God’s very great and precious promises. We find these marvellous promises in the Bible, the Word of God. Jesus promises to be with us always to the end of the age. He will never fail us or forsake us. Jesus invites us to bring all our burdens to Him. God promises to forgive all our sins and to give us the strength to resist temptation. So many great and precious promises! Here is one reason why it is a good thing to commit verses of scripture to memory. When we have learned God’s promises off by heart we can claim them at the moment we need them. Too many Christians forget about all God’s promises.
Peter tells us that God has given us everything we need to live godly lives through his divine power, through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
All God’s blessings come to us by us knowing God.
MESSAGE “Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God.”
It’s all about knowing God, being conscious of his presence in a personal relationship with him. As we come to know Jesus Christ our Saviour and Lord better and better, knowing him provides us with everything we need for life and godliness.
Jesus has called us to himself “by his own glory and goodness”. It is Christ’s excellence and perfection which draws us to him. Perhaps here Peter is recalling the glory of Jesus which he himself witnessed in the Transfiguration. That event is certainly in his mind later in the chapter
2 Peter 1 16 For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 He received honour and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’ 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.
The apostle Peter was an eyewitness to Christ’s glory, and it is through this glory that God gives us his great and precious promises, promises beyond all price. The glory of Jesus Christ was revealed in so many ways, not least in the Transfiguration. So we can be certain that will keep all his promises to us. We can trust in his glory and goodness.
God has given us everything we need for life and godliness for two reasons.
so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
What happens first is mentioned second. We escape from the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. When God made the world everything was good, but since then it has been spoiled by evil and sin and selfishness and greed and immorality. God wants to rescue people from all this moral and spiritual corruption in the world, so that we stop living like we used to. So Peter reminds his readers of the wonderful way of escape which God has provided from “the destructive lust which is in the world” (Good News Translation). And there’s more. God doesn’t just rescue us from the world’s sinfulness and judgment. He then actually invites us, forgiven sinners as we are, to “participate in the divine nature.” This is the miracle of the gospel – that God makes it possible for human beings to share in his divinity, to share God’s glory and goodness as we grow in our relationship with him. This is a gradual process of transformation which begins from the moment we are saved. Christians share in God’s essential nature. This is our destiny as believers and disciples – to become like Jesus in every way. Sadly, very many Christians forget about this and go on living their old lives, rather than living the new life God has given us, participating in God’s divine nature.
God has done all this for us and Peter goes on to explain OUR RESPONSE to God’s love for us. How then should we be living?
5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.
Some Christians think that once they are saved all they have to do is sit back and enjoy an easy ride to heaven. Peter says otherwise. For this very reason, because of all that God has done for us, Peter says we should make “every effort,” do your very best, do your utmost. We should make every effort to go forward, onward and upward.
We start off with faith, but that faith needs to be worked out in practice in all kinds of ways. In God’s strength, and by claiming his great and precious promises, and in our relationship with Him, we need then to build on that faith. The list which follows is made up of the qualities of character which Jesus himself demonstrated. We don’t get to pick and choose which of this list we work on. We can’t say “I’ll have knowledge but I won’t bother with self-control.” Nor are these a progression – we need all of these qualities, just like we need all of the fruit of the Spirit.
We start off with faith, putting our trust in Christ to save us from our sins. This is the starting point as we are born again. Then faith remains at the heart of our relationship with God, trusting in him more and more day by day. We should also aim at goodness, the very same goodness and virtue and excellence by which Christ calls us to himself. Michael Green called this, “the manliness which is Christlikeness.”
We also make every effort to attain knowledge, the practical wisdom which teaches us the difference between right and wrong. Then we need the self-control to do what is right rather than following selfish desires which lead us to do what is wrong. We need to persevere in doing good even when that is difficult. We also need to make every effort at godliness, true religion, living a truly devoted life with real reverence for God, which is exactly what Peter just said God has given us everything we need for.
We are called to mutual affection, love for fellow Christians and love for our neighbours. More than that, Christians should show love, agape love, God’s kind of sacrificial love which Jesus demonstrated when he died on the cross for us. It is our proper response to God’s love for us to make every effort to develop these Christlike qualities: faith; goodness; knowledge; self-control; perseverance; godliness; mutual affection and love.
Peter explains why we need to do this. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 But whoever does not have them is short-sighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.
If we aren’t making every effort to become more like Jesus we are forgetting everything that God has done for us. We are forgetting that God has forgiven all our sins. That makes us short-sighted and blind. God’s gifts to us and our proper response to his love. What is Peter saying OUR MOTIVATION should be in all these things?
We started by saying that God has given us everything we need for life and godliness – we should be truly grateful. We should also be longing to be useful and productive and fruitful for God and to bring glory to God. So there are two great incentives already for us to want to become more like Jesus. And Peter goes on to give us another two powerful motives for holy living.
10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
We make every effort to confirm our calling and our election in order to make sure that we will never stumble. When we are pressing on to know God better and serve Him better we will not drift back or fall away. Then, in addition to that, we do so because of the wonderful welcome which is waiting for us when this life ends and we enter into God’s eternal kingdom. The picture of a welcome comes from an interesting background. Nowadays we scarcely acknowledge the magnificent medal winners in the Olympic games. But in those days victorious athletes would be welcomed into their city with a triumphant procession. Sometimes the authorities would even knock a hole in the walls of the city to welcome the winning competitors home. That is the picture here of an entrance richly provided into heaven for each and every Christian. What a glorious hope we have! It is too easy to get bogged down in the things of this world. Too many Christians forget about the wonderful welcome which is waiting for us in glory. Don’t be forgetful.
So Peter has reminded us of all God’s wonderful gifts to us. He has shown us what response we should make and he has reminded us of four powerful motives for godly living. If we ever forget everything that God has done for us and all we should be doing in response, we are just shortsighted and blind.

This entry was posted in 2 Peter.

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