April 23, 2023 | Jess Rainer
Passage: 2 Peter 1:1-4
What does it take for you to cling to something? What does it take for something to become precious to us? A memory? A financial value? A personal connectedness? Cling to the precious gift of your faith. Today, we start a new Sermon Series: Grow in Grace - A Study of 2 Peter. Let's read 2 Peter 1:1-4. Before we jump into these 4 verses, we have to do a little background work. Let’s start with who wrote 2 Peter? Now, you might think I’m a little confused by even bringing this up. “Hey Jess, did you not just read verse 1? It clearly says this letter is from Peter.” And I agree with you, but 2 Peter is one of the most debatable books in the New Testament about authorship. We don’t have a ton of time to jump into this, but there are some stylistic differences between Peter’s first letter and second letter that lead some to believe that Peter didn’t actually write.
Also, the book of Jude contains 25 verses. Of those 25 verses, 15 of them appear in some form in 2 Peter. Those two books are connected in some way. For time’s sake, I share the conviction that when verse 1 says this letter is from Peter, I believe it. Peter may not have actually put the pen on the paper, but I do believe Peter authored this letter. To whom was Peter writing? Who is the “you” in verse. If you remember from 1 Peter, Peter was writing to a group of Christians in Asia Minor who were about to go through some hard times. I think 2 Peter 3:1 shows us that it’s the same group of people. Peter most likely wrote this letter in the early to mid 60s. Not the 1960s, but the 60’s. It would have been written just before Peter dies.
Why was Peter writing a second letter to this group of people? Take a look at verse 1:12. He wants to make sure these early Christians don’t fall away from the truth of the gospel. False teachers were on the rise, and Peter wanted to protect them. We’ll see throughout this letter that there is this knowledge that we have been given that we are to protect. In Chapter 1, you are to know your salvation. Chapter 2 – Know your Bible (and the enemy). Chapter 3 – Know your holiness. This letter is about knowing the truth, which is necessary for growing in maturity. These next 6 weeks in this letter should grow your knowledge, which should grow your maturity. These are Peter’s parting words before he dies, whether he knew it or not. And we start in verses 1 and 2 with this: Your faith must be precious to you.
1) Your faith must be precious to you. (vs. 1) I love how Peter introduces himself in the letter. 1This 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 Savior. Peter uses his double name to make sure the letter’s recipients knew exactly who he was. We’ve had like 32 different “Davids” in this church, so I always have to ask “Which David?” when someone talks to me. This is Peter making sure they know who he is. And then look how Peter describes himself. First and foremost, he’s a slave of Jesus. Peter is describing his relationship before his rank. And when he calls himself a slave, it’s a big statement. He’s telling us that his duty is to obey his master, God, no matter the cost. He’s also telling us that he belongs to God and nothing can change that. Quote: “To call the Christian the slave of God means that he is inalienably possessed by God...To call the Christian the slave of God means that he is unqualifiedly at the disposal of God…To call the Christian the slave of God means that the Christian owes an unquestioning obedience to God…To call the Christian the slave of God means that he must be constantly in the service of God. The slave had literally no time of his own, no holidays, no leisure. All his time belonged to the master. The Christian is necessarily the man every moment of whose time is spent in the service of God.” – William Barclay. Peter is showing just how much of his life is wrapped in God – which is all of his life. And that’s important, because it sets an example for us that we’ll see in just a minute. At the same time, Peter is an apostle. He’s a slave to Jesus and an apostle of Jesus. Peter is saying that he has authority. He represents and speaks for Jesus.
You may be sitting here and thinking, “Well, that’s great for Peter. He walked with Jesus on water. He’s going to have these titles and positions. What does that have to do with me?” What does Peter say next in verse 1? “I am writing to you who share the same precious faith we have.” Peter is saying, “These positions I have don’t give me a greater or lesser faith. We all are on the same level when it comes our faith. And it’s such a precious faith.” What drives a man with authority and leadership, to willingly take on the posture of a servant? It was the precious gift of his faith. When you take hold of the gospel in all of its fullness – when you realize what has been given to you – it becomes the most precious thing in this life. It will drive you to submission and humility because you realize how powerless you are and how powerful you become in Christ. Whatever position you hold in life, we must follow the example set by Peter. We must remember who we are in Christ. And while you might be a doctor, also remember you are a slave to Christ. And while you might be a teacher, also remember you are a slave to Christ. And while you might be a pastor, also remember you are a slave to Christ. And whether you are a businessman, lawyer, executive, stay-at-home mom or dad, salesman, also remember you are a slave to Christ. That’s what the precious gift of faith does.
But why is it precious? What does he say at the end of verse 1? “This faith was given to you because of the justice and fairness of Jesus Christ, our God and Savior.” Peter knew – and we should all know – that eternal life is only given. Eternal life can never be earned. When we realize the magnitude of this gift – and what Jesus had to do for it – it should become the most precious thing in your life. There is one thing in this life you can never earn, obtain, or work for. And yet, we are all given the opportunity to receive it. What Peter begins to do over the next 3 verses is show why our faith is so precious. In verses 2 and 3, we see that your precious faith is enough.
2) Your precious faith is enough. (vs. 2-3) As I live more and more live, there are two things that my heart longs for from Jesus: Peace and provision. I want to know that even as the world arounds me shakes, I can rest in Jesus’ arms. And as I rest there, I know He’s got me and He’s got everything I need. In all reality, that’s enough. That’s all I need. In verses 2 and 3, we see just that: peace and provision. Look at verse 2: 2 May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. We saw in verse 1, that our faith is given to us. There is knowledge with salvation. We have to know of the atoning work of Jesus. That head knowledge should lead to heart change. We have to both know about Jesus and also know Jesus Himself. That’s the starting point of our knowledge. What Peter is talking about in verse 2 is the ongoing, deeper knowledge of God. The deeper we grow in our knowledge of God, the more grace and peace we receive. It’s beyond me, that when we taste the glory of God through salvation, why we would ever stop there. You know your faith is precious to you when it’s more than a get-out-of-hell card. You know your faith is precious to you when it’s about growing deeper in your relationship with Jesus. When you have that kind of precious faith, it becomes enough.
Verse 2 tells us where we can find peace. Verse 3 then tells us, through our precious faith, we also have everything provided for us. Look at verse 3: 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 marvelous glory and excellence. If God has given us everything we need, then everything we need does not come from our ourselves. If there is a message we hear over and over from our culture is that we have enough power within ourselves to accomplish whatever we want in life. Let me say a few things about that:
- That’s pantheism
- This notion that we have enough power inside all of us has been around for a long time.
- Panthiesm is the belief that God is the energy that exists inside everything.
- Like everything, people, trees, animals, you name it.
- The idea that we have the power of everything we need is a bunch of bologna.
- If anyone is honest with themselves, there is no way that we can give ourselves everything we need.
- That kind of ideology will leave you hurt – by yourself.
- If you believe that you have everything you need, then you are going to let yourself down.
- If you believe the messaging around us that everything you need is inside of you, then when you realize you don’t have everything you need, you become a failure in your own eyes.
- Do you see how dangerous that kind of thinking is, especially for kids and teenagers?
- It can lead to lack of self-worth, sadness.
What’s the truth? What does verse 3 say? God has given us everything we need and that’s enough. We don’t need to add anything to our faith. 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 marvelous glory and excellence. What does is mean that God has given us everything we need? It’s everything you need to live a life of godliness. What do you think you need to live of godliness? You don’t need more material possessions. You don’t need more social status. You don’t need more health. To live a life of godliness, you need power, you need knowledge, you need a deep affection for Jesus. It’s everything you need to grow in knowledge of God. And what did Peter already say in verse 2 about growing in knowledge? We receive more grace and peace.
How do we receive those things we need? What does Peter say at the start of verse 3? 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 marvelous glory and excellence. By His divine power. Don’t miss this: You can’t live the Christian life without the power of God. It amazes me how many Christians spend their whole life talking about doctrine and theology, yet they never discuss the power of God working in and through them. When the Holy Spirit effects regeneration in our live…when the Holy Spirit takes our dead and decaying spiritual lives and makes them alive – there is so much power in that! We get to experience and we get to live in this power. And it’s a requirement to the Christian life – it’s not optional. Quote: “The Christian faith is not merely a set of doctrines to be accepted. It is a power to be experienced. It is a tragic thing to ask people if they know the Lord and have them start listing the things they believe about the Lord. Brothers and sisters, believing things about Jesus Christ will save no one. The devils are the most orthodox believers under heaven. It is divine power that saves. If the power of God does not flow into your life and make you godly, you are not Christ's.” – John Piper. Do you believe that God will provide everything you need to live a life for Him? Is your precious faith enough? What do you need to do experience the power of God that saves and provides? If you are struggling with this, here’s what I want you to do…Cling to the promises of your precious faith.
3) Cling to the promises of your precious faith. (vs. 4) Peter ends with this wonderful reminder that we are also given great and precious promises. We are given a precious faith the enables us to grow in our knowledge of God. When we grow in the knowledge of God, we are given more grace and peace. The more grace and peace we live in, we have promises that we can cling to that enable us to live a godly life and escape corruption. Look at verse 4: 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. Here’s what I want us to do to as we reflect on all that God is saying in these first 4 verses: I want us to let the promises in God’s Word take root in our hearts. I want us to cling the promises of your precious faith. Just listen and meditate on these precious promises that belong to you:
The promise of spiritual life. Romans 8:9-13: 9 But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) 10 And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life[a]because you have been made right with God. 11 The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.12 Therefore, dear brothers and sisters,[b] you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. 13 For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature,[c] you will live.
The promise of resurrection life. John 11:25: 25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life.[a]Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.
The promise of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:33: 33 Now he is exalted to the place of highest honor in heaven, at God’s right hand. And the Father, as he had promised, gave him the Holy Spirit to pour out upon us, just as you see and hear today.
The promise of abundant grace. John 10:10: 10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
The promise of joy. Psalm 132:16: 16 I will clothe its priests with godliness; its faithful servants will sing for joy.
The promise of strength. Psalm 18:32: 32 God arms me with strength, and he makes my way perfect.
The promise of guidance. John 16:13: 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.
The promise of help. Isaiah 41:10,13-14: 10 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. 13 For I hold you by your right hand — I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you. 14 Though you are a lowly worm, O Jacob, don’t be afraid, people of Israel, for I will help you. I am the Lord, your Redeemer. I am the Holy One of Israel.’
The promise of instruction. John 14:26: 26 But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative — that is, the Holy Spirit — he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.
The promise of wisdom. Proverbs 2:6-8: 6 For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7 He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity. 8 He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him.
The promise of eternal rewards. 1 Timothy 4:8: 8 “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.”
The promise of heaven. John 14:1-3: 1“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. 2 There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.
Sit, meditate, and cling to the precious promises of your precious faith. Dwell on the reality that we have a God that loves us so much and cares for us so much. He’s there. He’s always there. I want to put one of the promises on the screen - It’s from John 14:1-3. It’s the promise of heaven and the promise that we get to be with God. It’s the promise that everything will be right with God. We get to cling to this promise all because of the precious faith we have been given. Let your heart dwell deep on the truth and the promise of John 14.
 Macarthur, 2 Peter and Jude, pg. 30
The body of Christ, the church, must be diligent in recognizing false teachers and doctrine while trusting the Scriptures and recognizing true ministers of the Word. By learning to recognize false teachers, Christians will also be able to identify those who teach truth and by living into that truth they can grow in the grace of God and Christian virtue.