Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Of the Same Faith (2 Peter 1:1-2)

“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: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord;” (2 Peter 1:1–2, NASB95)

Finishing 1 Peter and taking some time to work on a sermon for a church where I was privileged to fill the pulpit for a week as their pastor was on vacation, I spent time considering where to go next in my own studies and in this blogging process. Having looked at a variety of possibilities and enjoying some time in them, I was left with no real sense other than to continue with the writing of Peter into what we have as 2 Peter. In this I am trusting God to continue to work in my life as I grow in my admiration and knowledge of Him and as I share some of that with you. Together, it is my prayer that we would all be encouraged in Christ and find further direction in our steps.

This is an interesting introduction. What did Peter mean by “a faith of the same kind as ours?” As we move into this letter we will quickly find that false teachers had begun to rise up and they were leading many people away into strange doctrine of faith. Peter’s letter starts right off at the get go by letting his readers know that they shared something special.

Simon-Peter, who was the first disciple chosen by Jesus and who was the one specifically charged by Jesus to take care of His sheep and who became the leader among the apostles, stated that this letter was from him. In human terms, there could be no higher credential. But he also made it clear that this was nothing of his own doing but the work of Jesus Christ. It was Jesus who found him as a fisherman and chose him to become a fisher of men. It was Jesus who made him one of His chosen twelve, given to Him by the Father, and it was Jesus to whom He owed everything being called as His bond-servant. Peter did not write to them boasting, but as one given authority by Christ to do the work given to him which was to take care of His sheep. And, as false teachers had made their way into the church, it was Peter’s job to expose them and to instruct the sheep to stay far, far away. It is this same role which is given to pastors and elders since then as they are called and set apart by God to tend to His sheep even today.

The faith his readers has was to be nothing different that the faith of the apostles. They were all called in the same way and they (and us) were all made righteous by the act of the Righteous One on our behalf. Jesus Christ came to seek and to save the lost, this we know from God’s Word. But, what we also know is that the only way people are saved is through faith in Jesus, the Son of God, who died for our sins and was raised again on the third day. There is no other salvation. There is no other saving faith or faith by which we are to live. Peter’s readers shared this with him, and he was writing to encourage them beginning with this certain common foundation. Because He lives, we live and His righteousness is credited to us. This is the bottom line truth.

And because of the salvation we have been given not by anything we have done, but totally because of the incredible grace of our God we can live at peace before Him and in the midst of the world’s turmoil. We have no reason to doubt because God’s promises are true, and the most fundamental one of our salvation and eternal life was not only proven in the words of the prophets coming to pass exactly as they had foretold, but in the powerful proof of the resurrection of our Lord. Our accounts of sin have been settled. We have been declared righteous, and we can live in peace free from the burden of sin. There is no extra work required to seal the deal. Christ did it all for us according to the perfect plan of the Father, and we are now sealed by His Spirit. And, we are not to let anyone tell us anything different.

Peter concludes verse 2 with the foundation upon which we know, which is the knowledge that we have of our God and Savior, the Father and the Son. We have been given His Word for that very purpose, and it was for that purpose that Peter even penned the words which we have begun to look at here. Everything that he wrote after this is built upon that sure foundation which comes from His as one chosen by God for this very purpose, one to whom Jesus Himself said the Spirit would give Him exactly what He needs.

Jesus on the night in which He was betrayed said to His disciples, “These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. Now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe. I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me; but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let us go from here.” (John 14:25–31, NASB95)

Peter encouraged us in the same peace that Christ encouraged him. Jesus is alive and He is coming again. Don’t fear the world because He has overcome it for us. So, Peter got up and did exactly what He was told to do, and we are blessed even today because of it.

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