2 Peter: The Math of Salvation
Peter knew what it was to disappoint the Lord having denied he knew him three times on the night of his arrest. In John 21, the resurrected Lord reinstates Peter with the instructions to feed his sheep. In these two letters of Peter, we see him feeding the Lords sheep with instructions on how to deal with persecution in his first epistle. And now in the 2nd letter, Peter feeds the Lords sheep with instructions how to deal with false teachers in the church.
It is interesting what Peter writes at the end of this short letter regarding the Apostle Paul. In 2 Peter 3:15,16 just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He (Paul) writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures to their destruction. Peter was well aware of Pauls letters and testifies to the unity of their teaching and purpose, giving Pauls writings the same level of authority of the Old Testament. It is also interesting Peter who spent over 3 years with the Lord, found some of Pauls writing hard to understand.
In his first letter, Peter identified himself as Peter an apostle of Jesus Christ. In this letter, his last letter, Peter seems to be aware of his pending execution, as he refers to soon putting aside the tent of his body. He refers to himself by his birth name, Simon and his name given to him by the Lord, Peter. Simon reminds us the man who denied the Lord three times, whereas, Peter, the Rock reminds us of the new man who was given a new nature. Simon Peter also refers to himself first as a servant- a bond slave, not a person of exalted position in the church, the Body of Christ. But he also reminds us- he is an apostle.
His letter is timeless in who it is intended for: to those who through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours: Notice Peter refers to the Lord Jesus as both God and Savior- he is one and the same.
We see here what I call the math of salvation. How did we receive this righteousness from God? The Lamb of God took away the sin. He subtracted our sin and sins by becoming sin Himself. He paid our sin debt in full- past, present and future. His blood covered, blotted our sins. Corrie Ten Boom used to say- God has cast our sin into the deepest fathoms of the ocean and has posted a sign- No Fishing Allowed! He then added the righteousness of Christ to our account. In the next verse Peter will talk about grace and peace being multiplied (KJV) to you. See the math? Subtraction, addition and multiplication!
Peter says we have received, obtained a faith as precious as ours. Precious is an adjective Peter uses sparingly, so its significance is not diminished. (We use adjectives and superlatives so freely they lose their significance.) The word faith, ( Greek-pistis) means conviction of religious truth; or the truthfulness of God; reliance upon and believing in Christ for salvation, what we frequently refer to as saving faith. Used in this verse- it seems to mean either or both of these descriptions: a faith could describe the body of truth we have received, obtained,- known as the Gospel; or it could refer to the confident reliance on Christ for salvation. For by grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God not of works, lest any man should boast. When we place our faith in Christ for salvation, we believe the message of the Gospel. Paul would write in I Corinthians 15: Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel, I preached to you , which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise you have believed in vain. Paul then describes the gospel, the body of truth that is the foundation of our faith as follows: that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, that He was buried , that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures and that the appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, He appeared to more than five hundred
We know saving faith is the root of the Christian life which takes hold in our heart when the incorruptible seed, the Word of God is planted there. We believe this body of truth called the Gospel, the good news, for it is the power of God for salvation to all who believe. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written, the just shall live by faith. ( Romans 1)
In the parable of the sower and the seed, some seed fell on the wayside of hard packed earth and the birds came and ate it. Other fell on the shallow soil that had a rock underneath and although it sprang up , it soon withered and died because it lacked moisture. Another seed fell among the thorns and was choked by the thorns. Still another seed fell on the good soil and it yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown. The four soils represent the four conditions of the heart: the hard heart, the shallow heart, the crowded heart and the good heart. The devil does not want us to hear the Word of God for faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. ( Romans 10:17) Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their heart. But whenever one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. ( 2 Corinthians 3) For we also have had the Gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them because those who heard did not combine it with faith. ( Hebrews 4)
We can only enter into the salvation by faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Now we understand why Peter refers to this faith as precious- it is the only way by which we receive Gods grace and enter into the rest, and this faith is a gift of God. It is precious because of its great costs. The blood of the Lamb is more precious than silver and gold.
Peter then adds to his opening remarks by way of a greeting: Grace and peace by multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. ( I Peter 2:2, KJV) We are now introduced to a word we will see again and again in the epistle- knowledge. If we are to defend against false teaching, it will be with knowledge of the truth. Paul would instruct us again and again in Romans to know these truths. Paul, himself counted all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord. That I might know Him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his suffering
No wonder Paul instructed Timothy and us to to study to show yourselves approved, a workman who needs not to be ashamed, rightfully dividing the Word of Truth. ( 2 Timothy 2:15)
When we get into the Word and the Word gets into us, the Holy Spirit our teacher can take the things of Christ and make them real to us. In fact, you can know Jesus not only as Lord and Savior, but as friend. You can tell Him things you would not dare tell your closest loved ones.
This is life eternal , that they might know the only true and living God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. ( John 17:3)
Jesus said, I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly in John 10. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. ( John 1)
Listen to Pauls prayers for believers: That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. The eyes of your understanding being enlightened ; that you might know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints. And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe according to the working of his mighty power. ( Ephesians 1) . Know God- knowing God- discovering all that He has for you. This should be the desire of your heart as a new born babe desires milk.
Proverbs 2 gives us the sequence: Turn your ears to wisdom and apply your heart to understanding. Call out for insight; cry aloud for understanding, and look(search) for it as for silver and hidden treasure- then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom, and from His mouth comes knowledge and understanding. Then you will understand what is right and just and fair- every good path. For wisdom will enter your heart and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.( Proverbs 2) Do you see the promise here? If you do the following: turn your ears to wisdom; apply your heart to understanding, call out for insight, cry aloud for understanding and search of it like silver and gold- then you will receive, wisdom, knowledge and understanding. This is an example of one of the exceeding, great and precious promises from the Word of God.
And Jesus told us: ask and it shall be given; seek and you shall find; knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
Look at the source: His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who has called us by his own glory and goodness(virtue).
When I think of all the things I have studied and learned to be successful, effective and productive in my work- I realize I diligently searched for wisdom, insight, understanding and how to apply it in my vocation in order to be successful. I read books, listened to speakers and sought the advice of those who were successful in my field.
Why would we not, all the more apply ourselves to the understanding of what all we have been given as Gods children, what we possess and find the life, the abundant life that the Lord has promised for us? It is only through our knowledge of Him, that we can learn how to live the abundant life down here and grow more like Him.
Here is what is even more exciting- God wants you to be successful in your vocation. He knows you need meaningful employment. He understands family dynamics. He even understands about running a business. In other words, your concerns are His concerns. He knows you and I need these things. He knows we need peace and hope. But He wants us to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and these things will be given to us as well. ( Matthew 6:33)
*You know what I want for my life and the life of my family and loved ones and this includes all of you: I want you to rise up every morning in pursuit of the knowledge of God!!
I believe God is a morning person, I know Jesus is. Because of the Lords great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, The Lord is my portion, therefore I will wait on Him. The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory! ( Lamentations 3) Great is thy faithfulness- all I have needed thy hand has provided! He provides for us as surely as He provided manna in the wilderness. Get up and take hold of it!
O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. ( Psalms 62) Start your day in His presence. Come empty- to be filled. Ask, seek and knock with an intense hunger and desire. Ask to see His power and glory. Asked to be filled with His Spirit that you might see as Elishas servants saw.
I remember how once I had no hope for I was without Christ. When you are without Christ in this world- you are without hope. God is a God of all hope and when I have Christ, I have God. I have never forgotten what it is to be without hope. Hopeless is to me, one of the most devastating emotions, one of the most destructive emotions one can experience. No wonder people are in the shape they are in for if they are without God in this world, they are without hope in this world. Who can they turn to? Who has the answers? Not the government- not science or medicine or technology. Only God.
Let us look at the source God, the One from Whom all blessings flow. According to His divine power- the power of Almighty God is at our disposal. Now before you start thinking you have access to a genie in a bottle- consider what Paul tells us : For it is God which works in you both to will and do His good pleasure. You cannot access this divine power, harness it to meet your selfish needs. It is to do His good pleasure- to accomplish His will here on earth.
Power is the strength to accomplish your will with whatever resources are available to you. If your will is aligned with Gods will, He has given His Divine Power to accomplish His will in our lives. The second part of this verse is contained in verse 4, whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.( KJV)
So Peter is instructing us how we are to fight the battle, the battle between the new nature and the old nature, the flesh. The new nature wants us to participate in the divine nature, God has worked in us the will and to do His good pleasure. The old nature, our flesh, wants us to participate in the corruption of the world caused by evil desire. It is a battle for the heart and the mind of the believer. Territory is fought over and a constant state of war- not unlike a tug of war goes on. To relax on the side of the divine nature will immediately cause the old nature to take up the slack, take the territory. Give him an inch and he will take a foot. The more successful one side becomes, the more room that side will occupy in ones heart and mind as the other side is squeezed out.
Right now it appears the momentum belongs to the competition, the corrupt nature. If you follow sports, you know momentum provides the movement that swings one side ahead of the other as it slows down the competition.
The advantages of worldliness are :
*Takes no special effort- bad habits are easy to form- happen easily
*Rewards are immediate- it feels good- do it.
*It squeezes out godliness- thus picking up momentum
To use an athletic metaphor, how do we level the playing field?
- Gods Word provides not only direction but also encouragement along with the encouragement of fellow believers.
- God has promised to provide everything we need for life and godliness
- Paul assured us our God would supply all our needs according to his riches in Christ Jesus
- We can do ALL THINGS through Christ who strengthens us
- Faithful is He who calls you, who will also do it
- God has promised never to put more on us than we can bear
- His strength is made perfect in weakness
- His grace is manifold- it is always sufficient
- In the long term, God provides grace, peace and assurance .
It takes effort as the word escape, denotes an effort to get away from the tug of this world takes effort, resist temptation and sin. Hebrews 12 says: you have not resisted unto blood, striving against sin. This is why Peter says it requires all diligence.
Peter instructs us to add to our faith ( this is saving faith the results in our being indwelled by the Holy Spirit- the divine nature we are to be partakers of ) VIRTUE. Add to our faith virtue. Virtue is more than goodness, it is a word which carries the meaning of strength, valor and courage. We need courage added to our faith.
Add to virtue-KNOWLEDGE. Knowledge of the Lord, His promises, instructions, warnings. The Bible is our text book our map, a lamp unto our feet and a light upon our path. We are to study it, obey it with the Holy Spirit as our teacher and life our classroom.
Add to our knowledge- TEMPERANCE. Temperance is self-control. Sin is always a short cut to gratification. The quick easy fix. But self control allows one to delay gratification until it is done Gods way in Gods time.
Add to our temperance- PATIENCE. Patience here is not just waiting- it is enduring. It plays an important role in maturing our faith.
Add to our patience- GODLINESS. Godliness is striving to be god-like, more specifically to be like Jesus our role model.
Then add BROTHERLY KINDNESS AND CHARITY. Love for the brothers and sisters in Christ and love for the unsaved.
ADD IT ALL UP AND :
If these things are in us- we will not be barren or unfruitful.
If the link to all of this is in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, why we not be like the Apostle Paul who his great desire was to know Christ. That we would take to heart the promise of the Lord Jesus instruction: But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things will be added unto you.
Added unto you . The Math of Salvation!