In this sermon, Pastor Babij overviews the letter of 2 Peter. Pastor Babij explains the controversy over the letter’s authorship and also introduces the letter’s main purposes:
1) Reminding Christians of vital teaching concerning the person and work of Jesus Christ
2) Combating the rise of false teaching in the church at large
3) Giving details concerning the second coming of Jesus Christ
Let’s take our Bibles and turn to 2 Peter. We’re going to be looking at some introduction material today to set the book in the right direction. Be ready to take your Bibles in 2 Peter and be following the verses there. This book is very incredible, up-to-date, convicting, a book that exposes things that are so relevant for us today in the church. I believe it’s going to be a tremendous book to study.
Let’s pray. Father, as we approach the Word of God now, we look at this epistle that was written by one of your apostles. Lord, I pray that as we consider it and think of it, it would really challenge us. It would cause us to examine ourselves. It would cause us to examine our understanding. It would cause us to examine others who say that they are believers, and especially those who are prevalent in the public eye. I pray, Lord, make us discerning Christians about what’s going on in Your work, even in our day. So Lord, that we are not duped or deceived by anything that is thrown at us, any wind of doctrine that comes our way. We would have the proper ability to examine it, to see if it is true, if it lines up with Your Word. If it doesn’t, Lord, we throw it out and we not think about it again. So I pray, Lord, fill our minds with truth. I pray Lord as You do, the truth will give us the ability to identify deception. And I pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.
Every one of us, if we are honest, have to from time to time be reminded of things that we should do but have forgotten to do. Parents are always reminding their children to listen to mommy and daddy when spoken to, reminding them to clean up their room, to brush their teeth, to do their homework, to practice their instrument, not to be late, to speak when you’re spoken to, and be polite, and to do your chores. And the list goes on. Many of us have to write things down in order to remind ourselves of the things that need to be done in order for our life and work schedule to go smoothly as possible, and then to check off those things as each one gets completed. As we get older, the possibility of becoming more forgetful may be a sober reality. We find ourselves walking into a room and then asking ourselves: why did I come to this room? What am I supposed to be looking for? Has that happened to you already? We’re already in trouble. So we experience leaks in our memory. Our ability to retain information that we at one time knew well shows gaps. We can know some things, and from time to time push it into the shadows of forgetfulness.
However there is that knowledge, which is so crucial for our well-being, we cannot afford to forget it. We can’t afford to forget what we have been learning and what we will learn from the Word of God. If there is one area of knowledge we need to be reminded of, it is to be reminded of needed spiritual truths, truths that never should grow old, never should get pushed aside, never should be forgotten in our minds. The apostle Peter, as he nears the end of his earthly life, writes 2 Peter for the purpose of reminding his readers, his audience, of needed spiritual truth. Reminding his readers of what God has said in the Word so the truth will stick with them. If you look at chapter 1 verses 12-15, you’ll get this sense in Scripture. 2 Peter 1:12 says:
Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind.
So he is very concerned that they are reminded of things that they already know. And then if you look to 2 Peter 3:1-2, look at what he says there:
This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.
So again, you see there’s an emphasis in this book about making sure his listeners do not forget things that they could never, they should never forget, because they’re vital for spiritual health. They’re vital for fighting the spiritual battle that we’re in as Christians. They’re vital for standing firm in the faith.
Everybody has heard of post-it notes and has probably used them from time to time. I really don’t know how we have lived without them for so long. A post-it note, if you don’t know, it’s a small piece of paper with a strip of low-tack adhesive on the back that allows it to be temporarily attached to documents, walls, computers, monitors, just about anything. The idea for the post-it note was conceived in 1974 by Arthur Fry as a way of holding bookmarks in his hymnal while singing in his church choir. He was aware of an adhesive that was accidentally actually developed in 1968 by a fellow 3M employee – Spencer Silver. No application for the lightly sticky stuff was apparent until Fry’s idea. The 3M company was initially very skeptical about the product’s profitability. Are they going to make any money on it? But in 1980, they tried it and the product was introduced around the world. Today, post-it notes are sold in more than 100 countries.
Now, why do I say that? Because Christians need more than low-tack adhesive as used on the post-it notes. We need super gorilla glue adhesive, so that what we are learning and what we will continue to learn from God’s word will permanently stick in our minds.
People today don’t need new truth, but only to gain a clear understanding of what eternal truth God has already revealed in the Word of God. What is important for us is to be able to navigate the winding road of life on a strong foundation of objective reality, while we really are on the road journeying home to the kingdom of God. Why should we do that? Why is that important? So that the real substance of the eternal truth of God is really in this life what sticks to our minds more than anything else. Actually, Jude, the next book that we’re going to look at after 2 Peter, says this:
Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe.
Jude picks up the same information. I would say that Jude probably borrowed from Peter, but they shared information about this subject, about the subjects we’re going to look at. So this Lord’s day, as we begin to unpack this very relevant epistle of 2 Peter, I want to examine some introductory matter that will help us get a snapshot of this letter before delving into its parts. So what I like to do is I would like to look at who is the author, what was the date of the book, who’s the audience, what was the occasion, what is the character of book, and of course areas like that. These are important so we grasp the sense of where this book is actually going.
So who is the author of the book? Now the apostle Peter was a member of Jesus’ inner circle and a spokesman for the twelve. His ministry from Pentecost until the Jerusalem council is all recorded in the book of Acts, but after that he kind of disappears. Tradition says that he was crucified upside down by Nero in approximately 67 AD. Peter has been actually been a very disputed book of the Bible. You may not know that. Many scholars considered it to be a pseudo work written at the end of the first century or the beginning of the second. In our day, many Christians tend to ignore it due to the fact that it exposes heresy and false teachers. It’s just not appealing, they say, to identify others as wrong in what they teach or believe, if everyone’s opinion is as valid as everyone else’s opinion. In fact, they often say, if you try to examine what they teach: listen, we shouldn’t judge. Or they may say: listen, you shouldn’t name names. Or listen, you shouldn’t call or touch God’s anointed. But the Bible tells us in Thessalonians that we are to discern all things. We are to examine all things, everything, especially teaching. Whoever is teaching out there, we need to examine them and not take them as something that is gospel truth unless we run them through the grid of Scripture to see what they’re saying, whether it is true or not true.
Now saying that, the apostle Peter claims to have written this letter. Let’s look at some of the facts in the text. The text is really saturated with intimate details of the life of Peter and his experience as an apostle and as a writer of this letter. If you look at 2 Peter 1:17. Remember there were three apostles that were present on the mountain at Jesus’ transfiguration. There was Peter; there was James; and there was John. Those were the only apostles that were there. But notice what it says in 2 Peter 1:17:
For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased” – and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.
Now you see, he’s referring to himself along with the other two apostles in that passage of Scripture. Also, Peter says in chapter 3 verse 1 that he has written a second letter to them. It says in verse 1 of chapter 3:
This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you…
Now what was the first letter? 1 Peter, right? So here’s the second letter. So he’s identifying things that really bring across that he is the one who is behind the information in this letter. He’s the one that’s writing this letter. Peter speaks also of his soon death, in which Jesus told him that he would die as a martyr in the gospel of John chapter 21. It says in 2 Peter 1:14:
knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.
He told Peter that he would die a martyr. His death would be a death of an apostle, that he would die for the faith. Then Peter speaks of the apostle Paul, placing himself on a par as himself as an apostle and a writer of Scripture. If you look at 2 Peter 3:15, it says:
and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of Scriptures, to their own destruction.
We see here that these things are all identifying Peter as the one who is the writer of this epistle. Also, it is common for false teachers to attempt to falsely ascribe works in the ancient world as pseudo works in order to deceive people. In other words, they say: he didn’t write that epistle; someone else wrote that epistle. They would just throw that out there, a scribe wrote it, that he didn’t write it. So people would think: well, maybe he didn’t write it. So as long as people begin to question it, then it brings the document into question. However, there is one really more proof that Peter was actually the author of the letter. That is the apostolic fathers, and of course those were the disciples of the apostles, those writings are loaded with references to 2 Peter.
The bottom line would be this – the apostle Peter wrote the epistle. And you would not believe how much stuff is written on this. Hundreds of pages are written on whether Peter was the author. It’s crazy. I read a lot of that stuff.
but what about the date? 2 Peter was written sometime between 64 and 65 AD, some time after Peter’s first letter. Peter’s death most likely took place during the persecution of Nero. Though not explicit in the letter of 1 Peter, many believe that it was written from a prison in Rome and when he was facing imminent death. Of course the fire of Rome took place about 64 AD and Nero committed suicide around 68 AD. So somewhere in between there, Peter lost his life. So it just substantiates the date in that area.
Also the audience – the letter is addressed generally, if you look at chapter 1 verse 1, it says:
Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
So he’s saying to them: listen, the audience is those who have the same exact faith that was given to the apostles. And you’re going to see why he says it that way later on, because he’s putting everything up against what the false teachers are saying. So while this would include those addressed in 1 Peter as his audience, the letter probably had an even broader circulation because he deals with different subjects in 1 Peter. The churches who received it would have been made up of both Jews and gentiles, but mostly 2 Peter would be a gentile majority, a gentile audience. He’s addressing that because they knew a lot less of Scripture than what the Jews knew when it came to those who would bring false teaching, because the apostles did not preach from the New Testament. There was no New Testament. They preached from the Old Testament. So they had to know the Old Testament in order to know what the teacher was saying, whether it was true or not. So the occasion of the letter is really information received about the outbreak of false teaching within the church. Remember, 1 Peter addressed believers to persevere in the face of dangers from with-out the church. And this epistle, of course, warned them about dangers within the church.
Perhaps Peter’s personal circumstances also prompted his writing. He knows that his death is near. That’s a motivation to write something to the people that he’s going to leave behind. And he wants to leave them something to encourage them, to inform them, to strengthen their faith when he’s out of the picture, when he’s gone. So he passes the baton to that next generation. That was part of the motivation of this letter.
And of course the character of the whole book is a vivid description and a strong denunciation of false teachers, closely in connection with the letter of Jude.
So saying all that, there are about nine major themes in the book of 2 Peter. The first theme was that of reminding people. I already mentioned that. He wants to remind his listeners about what they already know, so they don’t forget.
A second thing, which will be a major subject, is false teachers. There’s a two-fold nature of the heretics’ teaching that is behind the scene and included in the Scripture about the way he writes. He brings out about the false teachers their morality and their theology. Look what he says about their morality, that the false teachers were propagating a wicked and a shameless lifestyle centering mainly on shameful immorality and also greed. Now if you look at that, you say, well that’s exactly what’s happened today. Satan doesn’t really have a whole lot of new stuff in his bag of tricks. He uses the same thing. He packages them in different way. He packages them with different words, but his end result is actually the same thing – to deceive people. If I can deceive people, I don’t care how I package it. But if you look at the Word of God and say, listen if people are doing these things, then they cannot be true teachers. It doesn’t matter how likeable they are. It doesn’t matter how much money they have or what kind of persona they have or what kind of influence they have or what kind of reach they have. It does not matter. What matters is what they’re actually saying and what they’re not saying. Those are the things that matter. Look at what it says in verse chapter 2 verse 2 and 3 about the morality of these false teachers:
Many will follow their sexuality, and because of them the way of truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words.
Let me just stop there. Again, we see that this is very very clear about what he’s saying. It is not a popular teaching in any culture that has a lot of teachers that are popular but are not teaching the truth. He exposes their twist sexual desires. Look at chapter 2 verse 10, it says:
and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority.
And then verse 18 of chapter 2 says:
For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error,
So he is exposing their twisted sexual desires. Of course, that’s the best way to tempt people, is to say: listen, these particular desires and activities are fine. They’re not an offense to God, they’re fine to do. Don’t worry about them. Then of course they indulgent evil pleasure, in verse 13 of chapter 2:
suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong. They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime.
That means it’s a way of saying: the party constantly goes on. That’s what they’re about – reveling in pleasure. Whatever would please the flash, whatever would please the audience, that is what’s going to be exalted. When you look at the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel, that’s all about pleasure. Right? God want you healthy, wealthy, and He wants you to live the best life now. That’s what we want to do. So, these are indicators that these people, no matter how big their smile is, no matter how much influence they have, are false teachers. We cannot be afraid to say that and expose that and to name names. And I will be naming names as we go on, but not today.
And of course, what do they do? Look at verse 14 of chapter 2. They commit adultery.
having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children;
This is who they are. God, through the apostle, is exposing their inward motives. They never put this on their brochures. They don’t make this the announcement on the radio or on television, but Christians ought to know how to identify them and not be afraid to say that is false teaching. Remember, they deceive many people. You may be alone in that when you identify that. The many are going to be following them and say: No, they’re believers; they love the Lord. Look, it says “praise the Lord” on their plaque, right? But no, that’s not what you looked at. You don’t look at their presentation. You look at what they’re actually saying and examine that. So what are they? If you look at the verse 19 of chapter 2, they’re slaves of corruption:
promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.
So they are actually teaching freedom, but they are enslaved to their own corruption themselves. Anybody who hears them gets enslaved to that corruption.
Theologically they were justifying that lifestyle by stating things like this: there’s no return of Christ. There’s no judgement. Come on. God’s a loving God. He’s merciful. He’s not going to judge anybody. So they’re diverting that thinking away from them. But look at chapter 2 verse 1, it says they caught destructive heresies that deny the Lord. It says:
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.
So they teach secretly. They bring it in the back door. They present it and package it very nicely. It sounds like truth. As I said the other day at the men’s meeting, the most dangerous place for Christians to ever walk into may be a Christian bookstore. Because seventy percent of the stuff that’s in that bookstore is false teaching. But it sells and it keeps them in business, so we’re going to keep giving it out. Unless the owner of that book store desires to hold to the truth and anything he has on that shelf he’s examined and knows that anybody who picks it up, takes out the bookstore is going to be edified and built up by it. I don’t know if there’s many of those guys around. If they are, they’re out of business. They’re not making any money.
What the false teachers also do is they slander the truth. It says in chapter 2 verse 2:
Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned;
They will slander the truth. They will have remarks about the truth. For example, they’ll say stuff like: the doctrines of grace – that’s false teaching. God electing people before the foundation of the world, that’s false teaching. That’s what they would say. They may not say that directly, but they will imply it in what they say and what they do. Even the people they have come on their programs – they’ll never have somebody come on their program who actually is a biblical Christian and upholds sound orthodox doctrine and bring them on and asked questions. They won’t to do that because that person’s going to end up exposing them. They’ll quickly shuffle them off. They’ll selectively have people on their programs that align with them.
Also, they scoff at supernatural beings. Look at what it says in chapter 2 verse 10:
and especially those who indulge the flesh and its corrupt desires and despise authority. Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties,
They have this arrogance about them. They speak as if they’re speaking from God, but they’re speaking from their own flesh and corruption and from the world’s view of things and of course from a demonic source, which they will never admit that they are speaking on behalf of.
So we could ask a question – why would the heretical teachers take such a cavalier view of how to live life while at the same time claiming to know Jesus? Claiming to be faithful to their religious teaching, which allows them really to worship God in their own way. Well, it’s because the false teachers were influenced, we know now, by Epicurean thought. Now Epicurean thought is not a new thing. It’s an old way of thinking, but it’s also in the frame of people’s thinking today. Epicureanism is really what generally, literally, it means one who makes a living at picking up scraps. That’s the literal rendering of it. The philosophers were known as seed pickers. They would pull together various aspects of pagan and Christian teaching and synthesize them into a new syncretistic kind of religion. They are noted actually in the book of Acts. In Acts 17:18 it says this:
And also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him (that’s Paul). Some were saying, “What would the idle babbler wish to say?” Others, “He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,” – because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.
That was strange to their ears. But the point is that right there in the book of Acts, these philosophers, all that they wanted to hear was new teaching. What they would do is they would say: wow that teaching sounds like that would go in my system. So I’ll pick that, and then I’ll choose that, and I’ll reject that, and I’ll bring together my own system of the way I believe we ought to be Christian and keep that lingo. I believe in Jesus. I believe Jesus is Lord. I believe that He’s Savior. You’ve got to go way beyond that today. These Epicureans just wanted to hear new teaching, and they would just pick and choose what they want. That’s why they’re called pickers. They would bring it together into a new system. That’s exactly what’s going on today. And this is what these false teachers do.
So the Epicureans rejected any idea of the providential intervention of the gods and believed the world was ruled by chance. See, they actually believed in the unchanging nature of creation. Look what it says in 2 Peter 3:4. This is why Peter is writing like this. He’s refuting the false teachers. Look what he says in verse 4 of chapter 3:
and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming?
These are the false teachers.
For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.
See, they propagate this and then people don’t check them out, and then people end up believing it. That’s Epicurean thought. This happens all the time in false teachers. Then if you look at chapter 1 verses 19 and 20, they also reject prophecy that came from a divine source. This is up of a very well-known passage of Scripture to most of us. It says in 2 Peter 1:19.
So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation,
That’s a refute against Epicurean philosophy and how they handled information. He’s saying: no, Scripture has a divine source and it only comes from God. Look at verse 21:
for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will,
He is refuting the philosophical system behind the false teachers, which is very much still active in our day. But it says at the end of verse 21:
but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
He’s saying: listen, the source of all true truth is God Himself, not man. If we had anything to do with truth, it would already be messed up. You couldn’t believe it. We wouldn’t come up with it anyway.
These false teachers believed that there would be no future judgment or just end of the world. So then they concluded that human beings are free to pursue whatever desires they have. That’s how they brought it across. They thought the sins of the body remained within their body and that God would never call them to account for their earthly sins or their behavior at all. And if you have teaching like that, you can conclude those things. The false teachers, there’s always some kind of sexual scandal that comes up. There’s multitude of marriages. There’s all kinds of stuff that comes to light about their finances, about their lust and greed for things and possessions and all those things. They think it’s fine because they believe that God wants people to be healthy, wealthy, and fine. So that is the theology and the morality of false teachers.
he also teaches, and I’m not going to go through all these in-depth yet because I’ll do that when I go through the book, about giving the important theme of Jesus as Lord and Savior. Actually eight times, Jesus is referred to as Lord and five times He is referred to as Savior in just these three chapters. So Jesus is Lord, Savior, Ruler over God’s creation, and Judge. So these false teachers said that God no longer intervenes in the world. That’s what they are saying in this book. But Peter gives four proofs that God has and will intervene in world history. And what does he do? Just to throw them out to you, God created. God did bring a worldwide flood. God did send His Son to accomplish redemption by dying and shedding His blood and rising from the dead and ascending back into heaven and is coming back at the end of the world. At the end time He will bring judgment. So he includes that in his references to Jesus Christ.
He also brings up the word for God because he’s identifying God as the creator of heaven and earth, the God who’s over time, the God who will destroy the cosmos with fire as well as the ungodly, and the God who will create a new heaven and a new earth where righteousness dwells. So he brings the character of God into it. God’s the source of these things happening. No, things have not remained the same since the beginning of creation. There’s a great differences that you’re missing. That’s what they’re not saying. They’re leaving it out. Many times when you leave out things from teaching, then people don’t even know if it’s ever taught or if that’s in the Bible. You ever hear of people say that you? Is that in the Bible? Wow, I didn’t know that was in the Bible. Well you know why? You haven’t been reading the Bible. You haven’t been listening to the Bible. You haven’t been saturated with the Bible. Nothing’s sticking to your head.
And of course, he’s going to look at Christian growth and godliness and holiness. Look at verse 5 through 9 of chapter 1. It says:
Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He is going to be speaking a lot about if there is life, there’s growth. If there is no growth in true knowledge, there is no life. I don’t care what you’re saying. Sixteen time he talks about knowledge in 2 Peter. What we need more than anything else is accurate knowledge about the matters of life and death, how to be right with God, eternity, entrance into the kingdom of God. The only way anyone can reach the final destination is to get real knowledge that is based on what is right and what is true.
In fact the Koine Greek, which the new testament is written in, 2 Peter uses two different Greek words to translate the english word knowledge. The first term is epignosis, which really means full knowledge – what one comes to know and appropriate through faith in Christ. If you look at a chapter 1 verse 8, look at how it’s mentioned there – true knowledge. This is intensive religious and moral knowledge that comes to a believer. It says:
For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The knowledge that comes to us that is true comes from our relationship with Jesus Christ. It is not false knowledge. It’s actually true knowledge. So he’s contrasting true knowledge with false knowledge all throughout the book.
A second Greek word, gnosis, basically is used here as the possession of information, what is known. It’s really more of an inside or a practical wisdom. He uses it in verse 5 and 6 of chapter one, where he says:
Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge.
There it is.
and in your knowledge, self-control,
so that’s more of a practical outworking of a correct understanding of theology in your life. In other words, if I understand these things, I’m going to live them. These are going to be part of what God grows me and you in, these things. But it starts with knowledge and that true knowledge that comes from God works out in our daily walk and our growth.
Then you’re going to find in 2 Peter that he talks about ethics. Christians, at the second coming, are promised reward. But until then, until the Lord comes, Christians are called to live a responsible life that will be accountable to God. If you look at 2 Peter 2:2, you’ll find that Peter uses the words road and path in his statements. He says:
Many will follow their sensuality ,and because of them the way of truth will be maligned;
Then look at chapter 2 verse 15:
forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam,
Then verse 21 of chapter 2:
For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness,
Again, contrasting true knowledge with false knowledge, contrasting that true knowledge will get you on the right path walking the right way. So we contrast the wrong way with the right way to live as a Christian. When God’s people have finished walking their path, God will give them an entrance into the eternal kingdom of God. Look at chapter 1 verse 11 – incredible passage of Scripture:
for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.
If that is not encouraging to those who are following the true knowledge, following the right way. We know that way is narrow and that way is not void of persecution or trouble. That is a way that is the most difficult, but it is the way that leads to the kingdom of God. Peter says by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, you’ll have an entrance into the kingdom of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that will be abundantly supplied to you. You don’t have to worry. Don’t worry about those things. You just live your life as a Christian on the earth in a way that honors the Lord.
The false teachers corrupted the road with their wicked and loose behavior. So they are headed to a final destruction, not to the kingdom of God, even though they teach that they will also end up in the kingdom of God. The Scriptures tell us they will not end up there.
Then another theme would be that of Scripture. I’ve already read the passage of Scripture in 2 Peter 1:20-21 that there’s no prophecy of Scripture that is a matter of any one’s own interpretation. The word of God comes to us by the Holy Spirit of God as the Spirit of God moved upon men to teach and to write. So false teachers distort the Scriptures. I do want you to look at chapter 3 verse 2 again. It says:
that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.
Then in verse 16:
as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable
distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.
They twist the Scripture. They’re great at Scripture twisting. But if we’re growing in true knowledge, if we’re walking on the right path that leads from our understanding of what is true, then the road that is on the right path leads to the kingdom of God. The road that’s on the wrong path leads the final destruction. Those who are being discerning with the truth do not twist Scripture, but they handle Scripture accurately. They want to be a workman who needed not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of God, right? That’s what we all ought to be. As we learned these things, these things should become imbedded in our mind so we are not deceived at all by these false teachers.
And then another theme, the last one that I’ll mention that he brings up, is that of eschatology or end time things, the coming day of the Lord. the false teachers would say that the stories of the end of the world and the return of Christ and the future judgment were clever myths and stories that were just propagated by the disciples of Christ and the apostles. Peter’s epistle lays out the end time and he presents the end time in really six parts. The first part is that Jesus’ return is prefigured in the transfiguration and confirmed by prophetic announcement. Second part is that the final fiery judgment is anticipated in the judgement by water in Noah’s day.
A third part is that the second coming has been delayed due to God’s patience and seeking redemption. Do you realize that God is actually delaying His coming? And why is He delaying is coming? well, it tells us in Scripture. We’ll look at that later on, that God’s people do understand the transitory nature of life. They’re to live it in light of this new world promise that is given to them. What is that promise? There will be a new heaven and new earth. This is a disposable planet. Right, so we should take care of it, but don’t be overly concerned about it because it’s not going to last. It’s growing out, it says in Scripture. It’s growing and wearing out like an old garment. It’s tottering and teetering. That’s what is taking place. So that day will come as a thief. God’s people must live in light of its coming.
A sixth part is that Christians not only await the coming of the Lord, but they can hasten it. If you look at verse 10 to 13 in chapter 3, notice what it says there:
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness.
That’s a punch in the stomach to the false prophets. Because that’s where truth leads. Truth leads to holiness and godliness and to the right path. And then verse 12:
looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
See, he comes to the end of the book and he really brings it all together, saying: listen, live faithful lives. Even though you may have times of suffering, God will take care of the things that you cannot take care of yourself. This promise of the new heaven and new earth will happen because all these other things have happened, just like the Scriptures said from the beginning to the end. That’s the promise he gives to those who are faithful to the Word of God, to the right way, to true knowledge, and to of course looking to the end of the second coming. That is our hope for all of us.
The point of 2 Peter is that this world will end and this close of human history will be unexpected. The Lord is coming in a day nobody knows. We don’t know. The world is going to be taken off guard completely. The whole world will be in a mess when that happens. But that will take place. The loving nature of God has led to his patients desiring time for more and more people to repent. That’s what it says in verses 8 and 9 of chapter 3:
But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
That’s why God is holding back His coming, so that last person and the persons that have not heard the gospel yet will hear the gospel, will come to believe, will become part of the body of Christ. God is the only one who knows that, but until then we must be faithful to His plan because He will bring everything to past. He is giving us time for more and more people to repent, but when the cataclysm comes, it will be final. That will be it, and the age of grace will end. The next portion of God’s program will begin.
So this introductory matter really aides our grasping the biblical author’s original intent. That’s the point of the study of Scripture – to find out what the original author meant when he wrote the book. That will prevent people from saying: this is what I think it says. And this is what I think it says. Like one pastor said – what matters is what does it say if you were never born? That’s what matters. That’s the goal, and that’s why this important matter will help us to hedge against saying that. I already put before you what the book’s about and where it’s heading. All of what Peter’s going to write is going to be contained in all those things.
So then we can be reminded and understand these truths in order to grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, because that’s ultimately would drives his whole narrative. If you look at the last passage of Scripture in 2 Peter chapter 3, look at what it says:
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.
It’s about growth. A Christian doesn’t stay in one place in their Christian life after they make a profession of faith. Your whole life is about growth, and growth in what? In the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That’s where the growth come from. As we grow in our intimate relationship with Christ and learn to love Him, that’s what brings and blooms all the rest of the stuff, where we can actually live. No matter how bad things get, we can live right in the middle of a cesspool of sin and live godly, because we know things that God has taught us in the Word of God.
So where there is spiritual life, there is spiritual growth. Where there is no spiritual growth, there is no spiritual life.
Let’s pray. Lord, thank You this morning for the Word of God. Lord, specifically for this epistle and all that is contained therein. Lord, in it are things that we need to be reminded of, that we may know. Lord, always make our heart pliable so whatever is being taught, we would soak it up like a sponge. And Lord, it would saturate our thinking so our thinking could bear fruit in our words and our actions. And in doing so, we can live a godly holy life, waiting for You to come and look forward to knowing that no matter how bad it gets on this earth, there’s going to be a new earth where there’s not going to be any curse and all the implications that come with a curse, but there’s going to be a place where Your righteousness dwells. That is going to be a place where we’re going to enjoy Your presence and bask with our new resurrected bodies in that new creation. Lord, we look forward to that. Thank You Lord for taking care of that for us. I pray Lord, from now until then, make us faithful for the sake of the glory of Your great name. And I pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.