2 Peter 1-3
Yesterday we talked about apostates, and today we continue on this subject. Both Peter and Jude focus on this topic.
Peter calls us to a faith in Jesus Christ (1:1-2), through the power of God (1:3) and by His promises (1:4). This type of faith guarantees spiritual growth (1:5-7) and will make us effective in Christ’s kingdom (1:8). We all stumble, but each day should see an increase in godly characteristics.
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-8 (ESV)
Peter was a witness to Jesus’ life. But he knew that his time on earth was ending, and he wanted to remind us that God’s Word and prophecies will stand forever.
And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:19-21 (ESV)
God’s prophetic word was produced from God. it is forever and perfect. An old hymn, The Bible Stands, proclaimed this truth:
The Bible stands like a rock undaunted
‘mid the raging storms of time.
Its pages burn with the truth eternal,
And they glow with a light sublime.
The Bible stands like a mountain towering
Far above the works of men;
Its truth by none was ever refuted,
And destroy it they never can.
The Bible stands and it will forever,
When the world has passed away;
By inspiration it has been given,
All its precepts I will obey.
The Bible stands every test we give it,
For its Author is divine;
By grace alone I expect to live it,
And to prove and to make it mine.
The Bible stands though the hills may tumble,
It will firmly stand when the earth shall crumble;
I will plant my feet on its firm foundation,
For the Bible stands!
Haldor Lillenas, 1917
The Bible is under intense attack from today’s culture. We can’t even have “Christmas trees” in some communities. Anything that points to the Living God is being silenced, but we hold firm to the cause of Christ and the perfectness of the Bible. Every word is true.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV)
If we are grounded in the Word, we won’t fall for the deceptions of today. Peter gives us characteristics of the false teachers. This isn’t a contemporary phenomenon. It has occurred since Eve bought Satan’s lie in the Garden.
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. 2 Peter 2:1-10 (ESV)
God knows how to rescue us. Does that promise thrill you?
The key to avoiding false teachers is diligence – live righteously and godly, like you’re waiting for this earth to pass – He has promised a new heaven and a new earth.
Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 2 Peter 3:11-13 (ESV)
Grow. Study. Live peaceful, godly, quiet, temperate lives.
Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. 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, 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. 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. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 3:14-18 (ESV)
Jude condemns false teachers, calling them ungodly, deceitful enemies of God. How could they creep in unnoticed? Are we too busy with the mundane things of life to guard our hearts – and our churches – against the attacks of Satan?
For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ…Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. Jude 1:4, 8-11 (ESV)
We will all receive the rewards we are due… or the suffering we’ve earned. Be sure of your salvation. Stay grounded in the Word. Test everything – whether it’s from the pulpit, a radio show, a book, or even your favorite blog – test it against the Word of God. The Bible is the ONLY authoritative source of God’s Word. It’s the ONLY writing that is completely inspired by God Himself.
Next week is Christmas – and the study of Revelation. It will be a week of celebration and a week of finding out what God has planned for the end of the earth. I pray that you will enjoy the season, remembering that it is JESUS’ birthday we celebrate!
I close today with Jude’s final words of comfort and majesty.
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Jude 1:24-25 (ESV)