Thursday, September 21, 2017

Important Stuff, So Listen Up (2 Peter 3:1-2)

“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.” (2 Peter 3:1–2, NASB95)

Peter affirmed both the purpose of this letter and its critical importance. He wrote that this is the second time that he had written to stir up their minds by way of reminder. And even in the writing his two letters this was not the first time that these things had been spoken, but were in fact the things that even the prophet had warned about in time before. The prophets had warned about both coming judgment and the coming of the Lord.

“For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not flash forth their light; The sun will be dark when it rises and the moon will not shed its light. Thus I will punish the world for its evil and the wicked for their iniquity; I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud and abase the haughtiness of the ruthless. I will make mortal man scarcer than pure gold and mankind than the gold of Ophir. Therefore I will make the heavens tremble, and the earth will be shaken from its place at the fury of the LORD of hosts In the day of His burning anger.” (Isaiah 13:10–13, NASB95)

“Alas for the day! For the day of the Lord is near, and it will come as destruction from the Almighty.” (Joel 1:15, NASB95)

These words that have been kept for us are the Word of God, all of them. Whether they deal with salvation or judgment, following or rebelling, God or man, all of them are the truth given to us by God as He spoke through His apostles and prophets. And being given to us by Him, they are important for us to hide in our hearts and adhere to in our lives. In them we find shown to us God’s great love for us shown in big and small ways, and we also find God’s wrath for those who work against Him. In the Bible, we have consistency in the message.

In the last chapter, Peter had focused heavily on the dangers of the false prophets and teachers and the judgment that awaits them. In this chapter Peter transitions from the warnings against false prophets and teachers to the hope that we have in Christ as He brings all things to their right and proper end.

But before moving through a last sober warning and the accompanying hope, let’s review where we’ve already been. In the first four verses of chapter one he reminded us of the great faith that we share “by the righteousness of God and our Savior, Jesus Christ.” We share so much in Him, and we are to be continually reminded and encouraged in these truths. Then in verse 8 we have the words, “Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence” as we are encouraged in how we are to live in response to what He has done. Then in verse 9 we have a description of those who ignore these important applications of truth, calling these people “blind and shortsighted.” Knowing the dangers, in verse 10, he heightened the importance of our walking rightly by telling his readers to “be all the more diligent to make certain of His calling and choosing” of us. It is as we live according to how we are called that we protect ourselves from stumbling.

In verse 12 he stated that these things were so important that he would not quit reminding them until the Lord took Him home, which was something that he knew was going to happen very soon. Having reinforced these things in writing after having seared them in their ears, he stated in verse 15 that he trusted that they would be able to recall them after his departure (death). Second Peter is Peter’s last written words, and they carry with them the things that represented the greatest burden on his heart as he was moved by the Holy Spirit to care for us. So, when he states that these things were worthy of repeating time and time again we are well served to pay attention to them repeatedly ourselves.

With verse 16, Peter affirmed the truthfulness of his word by stating that he and the other apostles were personal eyewitnesses not only to the power and coming of Christ, but also to His majesty being revealed in their presence. In verse 19 he then wrote that what the apostles were testifying to was the same things to which the prophets pointed long ago. God’s plan had not changed, but with the coming of Christ is was made much more certain in that the Son had been revealed and salvation had been secured. What was pointed to had come to pass, and the apostles were eyewitnesses to it happening.

Chapter 1 concluded with these words of critical importance as we today regard our Bibles and the words in them. He wrote, “for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” (2 Peter 1:21, NASB)

Then came chapter 2 which was wholly devoted to the dangers of false prophets (and teachers) and the destruction they bring in pursuit of their own glory. These men proclaiming great things and seeking their own glory were, and are in reality headed to the end of the black darkness reserved for the devil and his cohorts. This is a place that Scripture describes will be marked by wailing and the gnashing of teeth. Over one-third of this letter is devoted to uncovering and describing them as we are encouraged to know and apply the truth of God so that we will not be deluded by them. These are the things (and more) that bring us to chapter 3 where Peter turns his attention to the last days in which we continue to await our Lord’s appearing.

Peter began by speaking of the importance of knowing and living according to the truth of Christ recorded in the Scriptures. Here at the beginning of chapter 3 he returns to restate that this is indeed the reason that He wrote this second letter.

In John 8:31-32 we read, “So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”” (John 8:31–32, NASB95) And to those in the crowd who questioned Him, Jesus continued, “He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.” (John 8:47, NASB95)

The Holy Spirit brings God’s Word to life for us. What we once could not see, the Spirit makes us to see. And, what makes the difference is this most important truth that Jesus Christ was sent as the Son by the Father for our salvation. It you haven’t started there then don’t be surprised if the rest of what you read and hear sounds strange. We read in 2 Corinthians, "And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:3–4, NASB95) But God’s Spirit opens eyes as well. If this is new to you, please shoot me a message and I’d be happy to talk with you more.

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

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