Therefore 2 Peter 1
When I was at university, one of the courses I had to take was homiletics, which is simply defined as the art of preaching or writing sermons.
The goal of the class was to teach us to do both things: how to write sermons and how to preach sermons.
My professor was a former pastor by the name of John McElhinney, or as we affectionally called him, Mr. Mac. Very early in our course, Mr. Mac told us the story of the old preacher who summed up his preaching style by saying, “First I tell ’em what I am going to tell ’em; then, well, I tell ’em; and finally I tell ’em what I’ve told ’em.”
And that has stuck with me through the years, and if you’re paying attention when I preach, then you will probably discover that I often tell you what I’m going to tell you, then I tell you, then I tell you what I told you. And if you aren’t paying attention when I preach, that’s exactly why I tell you what I’m going to tell you, then I tell you, then I tell you what I told you.
This is week five of our series, Therefore. It is based on another principle that I learned in homiletics and that is, whenever you see a therefore in the bible, you need to go back and see what it’s there for.
And so I’ve spoken from Galatians 6:10 Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.
And Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
Pastor Deborah spoke from Ephesians 6:13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.
Last Sunday Pastor Rob preached from Romans 8:1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
And if you missed any of those messages, you can always check them out at www.hfx.church/home and click right there.
Today, I want to take a look at 2 Peter 1:12 Therefore, I will always remind you about these things—even though you already know them and are standing firm in the truth you have been taught.
Peter is saying, I told you, now I’m telling you and get ready because I’m about to tell you what I told you.
But what was it that Peter had already told them? What was the, therefore, there for? In order to put things into perspective, let’s jump back to the very beginning of the letter.
2 Peter 1:1 This letter is from Simon Peter, a slave and apostle of Jesus Christ. I am writing to you who share the same precious faith we have. This faith was given to you because of the justice and fairness of Jesus Christ, our God and Saviour.
It’s here that we discover The Who of the Promise
Who the letter was from and who the letter was for. Well, the answer to the first part is spelled out very clearly because it begins with these words: this letter is from Simon Peter, a slave and apostle of Jesus Christ.
There are several Simons mentioned in the New Testament, but there is only one Simon Peter. If you know the Jesus story, then you are familiar with Peter’s introduction to Christ in John 1:42 Then Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus. Looking intently at Simon, Jesus said, “Your name is Simon, son of John—but you will be called Cephas” (which means “Peter”).
And while that may seem a little weird to us, it didn’t seem to be weird to those at the time. At least we don’t hear Peter, saying, “Hey that’s really weird.”
Imagine if you were meeting someone for the first time, and they immediately renamed you. Really, I just met you, and you think you can give me a new name? Seriously?
Renaming yourself is a different story altogether. I have a cousin whose name is Theo. She was named after her grandfather, whose name was Theophilus. But when she went to university, she began introducing herself as Teddy.
If you have ever wondered, my name is actually Dennison. But, I was never called Dennison. When I was a kid, I was Denny, and there are some people who still call me Denny. It used to annoy me, but not so much anymore. Not because I’ve become more gracious about it, but just because I’ve come to understand there is nothing I can do about it.
When I went to university, I decided that Denny was a little boy’s name, so I started introducing myself as Den. D.e.n. One N. My great-grandmother wasn’t impressed. She said it sounded like the place an old bear would live. Oh well.
And people were often correcting it for me, changing it to Dan or Don because obviously I didn’t know what my name was.
Just before we moved back from Australia, someone asked me what Den was short for and I told them it was short for Dennison, and they asked, “So shouldn’t it be spelled with two Ns?”
And so when we got back to NS, D.e.n.n, it became. Now, people don’t mistake it for Dan or Don, instead they correct it to Dean, because I obviously don’t know what my name is.
And while the author is sometimes simply referred to in the Gospels as Simon or Peter, 22 times in the New Testament, he is referred to as “Simon Peter.”
And Jesus didn’t just rename Simon to Peter, because he preferred one name over the other. It is more fully explained in Matthew 16:17-18 right after Peter acknowledges Jesus as the Messiah.
Matthew 16:17–18 Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.
There are all kinds of theological implications wrapped up in that scripture that we will leave for another day. But it’s suffice to say that Jesus saw something in Peter that he wanted to convey with a new name.
And if the “Simon Peter” designation isn’t enough of a clue, the author goes on to describe himself as “a slave and apostle of Jesus Christ.”
Through the years, there have been some who have questioned Simon Peter’s authorship of the letter, and the two most common reasons are: 1. It is written too well to have come from a simple fisherman.
As someone who was a simple fisherman before I went into the ministry, I find this just a little offensive.
The second reason is that 2 Peter seems to be written in a different style than 1 Peter. But if you pick from random a couple of the more than twelve hundred messages I’ve preached at Cornerstone over the past 29 years, I’m sure that you would find they aren’t all written in the same style.
A little aside here, my sermons average about 3300 words each, so multiply that by 1200, and you get 3,960,000 words. Or the equivalent of 6 copies of War and Peace. And you wonder why sometimes you think something you hear me say sounds familiar.
The style of any given message depends on when I wrote it, the mood I was in when I wrote it, and all that was going on at Cornerstone at the time that I wrote it. But I digress.
Most scholars agree that, in all probability, Jesus’ apostle and best friend, Simon Peter, was who wrote the letter, and he’s very clear about who he is writing to. 2 Peter 1:1 This letter is from Simon Peter, a slave and apostle of Jesus Christ. I am writing to you who share the same precious faith we have. This faith was given to you because of the justice and fairness of Jesus Christ, our God and Saviour.
So, Peter was writing to other Christ Followers, and the message is for them, and the fact that he is not hesitant about repeating is indicative of its importance.
And if the message was important and relevant for those who followed Jesus 2000 years ago, then it is still relevant for those of us who are following Jesus today.
2 Peter 1:3 By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvellous glory and excellence.
And here we have The Timing of the Promise
Peter was writing to those early believers who were living in a godless society.
A society that was hostile to their faith, hostile to their beliefs and hostile to their morals. And Peter was reminding them that God had already given them everything they would need to live a godly life.
Does that type of society sound somewhat familiar today?
If those early believers were living in a pre-Christian society, a society that had yet to embrace the claims of Christ, a society that had yet to feel the redemptive power of the church, we are living in a post-Christian society. A society that has rejected the claims of Christ and a society that has rejected the redemptive power of the church.
And so, for them and for us, it seems like it would be a challenge to live a godly life in a godless environment. And yet Peter assured the believers that they could do “it” and that what they needed to do “it” had already been given to them.
Let’s go back to the promise, 2 Peter 1:3 By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvellous glory and excellence.
The promise of the gift begins when we become followers of Christ. It’s at that point that the offer of the gift is made, but it is up to us to actually receive the gift.
A pastor friend of mine was telling me that one morning, his car had to go in for service, so he asked a gentleman from his church if he could pick him up at the dealer. It was a cold morning, so when he got in his friend’s car, he asked if it was all right if he turned the heated seat on. To which his friend responded, “I have heated seats?” He had had the car for a year and had yet to claim the precious promise of a warm seat.
So, the promise was given to you when you became a Christ follower, but it’s not time-sensitive. The promise is for believers today as well as yesterday.
We have been given the promise, not because of who we are, but because of whose we are. We are his followers, and we are his children, and Peter tells us in 2 Peter 1:4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.
And when we claim the promise, two things happen: we get to share God’s divine nature, which means that we become more like him, not because of our nature but because of his nature. And because we are sharing his power and his nature, we get to escape the world’s corruption.
But what is this godly life of which he speaks? Peter spells it out a little bit more in
2 Peter 1:5–8 In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The What of the Promise It begins with faith, we are told in Ephesians 2:8–9 NIV For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
It’s like we are given a big bag of gifts when we first become a believer. We have them all, but we need to unwrap them and claim them.
So, as we grow in our Christian faith, more is expected of us, and more is promised to us.
So, you start with faith, and then Peter tells us that we add to that as we grow.
And we dig around in that bag of gifts we got at salvation, and each one leads to the next one. And so, to faith, we add moral excellence. That’s just a fancy way of saying we choose to do the right thing.
And we’ve had this discussion before. We know what we should and shouldn’t do.
And to moral excellence, we add knowledge. As we grow in our relationship with God, we start learning more about God and his people. That happens when we read his word.
We should all be reading our Bibles as a part of our own spiritual disciplines, but bible study is really something best done in community. That is, in a small group. That’s how it happened with the early believers. It really is the best way to keep from going off track.
And then you see how, to the knowledge is added self-control and then patient endurance, and then godliness and brotherly affection. They are building on one another, and they culminate in love for everyone.
And I would say, as a Christian, if you are missing out on that love that Jesus spoke about so often, then you need to go back and see which one of those steps you might have skipped.
And if that list sounds familiar, it’s because it sounds a lot like Galatians 5:22–23 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
And it would be great to think that is the path that every Christian follows, but if we keep reading, we discover in 2 Peter 1:9 But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.
The Warning with the Promise
I know that this will come as a shock, but not every Christian leads a godly life. In the same way, that we can choose to embrace the promises that lead to a godly life, we can also choose to reject those very same promises.
And Peter says that when believers choose to ignore, or worse, reject, the promises of God they are being short-sighted.
One of the mistakes that the church and Christians have made through the years is failing to acknowledge that sin feels good. And people know better than that.
We only have to go to the story of the first temptation recorded in the Bible.
The first couple have been placed in a beautiful garden and are living in fellowship with God. There is only one condition: of all the trees in the garden they can have access to, there is one that they are not supposed to eat from. Again, all the reasons behind that could fill another message.
But that was the temptation that Satan used, and when he was finished tempting the couple, we pick up the story in Genesis 3:6 The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. . .
The fruit looked great, it tasted great, and it promised great rewards. No wonder it was tempting.
But it came with a price, and the couple was short-sighted when they chose the temporal over the eternal.
In Hebrews chapter 11 verse 25, the writer of Hebrews talks about the fleeting pleasures of sin. He doesn’t try to convince his readers that sin doesn’t feel good, he just says that it’s pleasures are fleeting.
And when we choose to ignore, or worse, reject, the promises of God concerning living a godly lifestyle, we are being short-sighted. We are promised in 1 John 2:17 NIV The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.
Let’s keep going.
2 Peter 1:10–11 So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
The Result of the Promise
Two results are listed. The first is the result for the here and now, and then Peter tells what the result will be for the there and then.
The first thing is that you are a witness to what God can do, and by living a godly life, you won’t walk away from God. That’s the here, part of it.
We often talk about struggling with sin, and that’s because we’ve chosen to struggle with it. We don’t walk away. And we can.
We are promised in 1 Corinthians 10:13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
When you are tempted, God will always show you a way out, But it’s up to you to decide if you will choose that way. God may show you the way out, but he’s not going to drag you away from sin.
But the promise isn’t just for today, 2 Peter 1:10–11 So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
In the NIV it reads this way, 2 Peter 1:11 NIV . . .and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
That’s heaven, folks, that’s the day when Jesus says we will be welcomed with the words, well done my good and faithful servant.
And this leads us back to where we began, 2 Peter 1:12 Therefore, I told you, now I’m telling you and get ready because I’m about to tell you what I told you.