Sunday, January 29, 2012

Like Precious Faith

1.29.2012 - Belgrade Bible Church – AM Service

J. Vernon McGee –
“Second Peter is the swan song of Peter, just as 2 Timothy is the swan song of Paul. There are striking similarities between the two books. Both epistles put up a warning sign along the pilgrim pathway the church is traveling to identify the awful apostasy that was on the way at that time and which in our time has now arrived. What was then like a cloud the size of a man’s hand today envelops the sky and produces a storm of hurricane proportions. Peter warns of heresy among teachers; Paul warns of heresy among the laity.

Both Peter and Paul speak in a joyful manner of their approaching deaths. Paul said that he knew that the time of his departure had come. He had finished his course. He had been on the racetrack of life, and now he was leaving it. He had fought a good fight, and he had kept the faith. A crown of righteousness was laid up for him. You will find that same triumphant note here in 2 Peter as Peter also faced the prospect of death.

Both apostles anchor the church on the Scriptures, on the Word of God, as the only defense against the coming storm of apostasy.”

It is a good idea to try and outline books of the Bible for memory’s sake. 2nd Peter has a very simple outline that makes the book easy to remember. Each of the three chapters in 2nd Peter covers a different topic. In chapter one, Peter gives us Foundational Truths. In Chapter two, Peter warns of False Teachers. In chapter three, Peter discusses Future Things. These three titles will help you remember what is in this great letter from Peter.

“Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:” -2 Peter 1:1
Who is the writer? “Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ”

“Simon Peter” - The name Simon was given to him at birth, Peter is the name given to him by Jesus.

Why did Peter choose to introduce himself as ‘Simon Peter’ instead of just ‘Peter’ as he did in his first epistle?

1. The name ‘Simon’ marked some key failures in Peter’s life – (i.e. Luke 22:31-34 – Jesus predicts Peter’s denial; John 21 - Jesus asking if Peter loved Jesus.) Peter could have used both names to indicate the change that had taken place in his life. It is as if he is saying, “This is who I was before, and this is who Jesus helped me become.”

2. Simon Peter used both names to clearly indicate who wrote the book. This would make it harder for false teachers (against whom the book is written) to discredit what is taught here.

“a bondservant” – doulos – Thayer’s Greek Definitions tells us that doulos means “a slave, one who gives himself up to another’s will, those whose service is used by Christ in extending and advancing his cause among men, one devoted to another to the disregard of one’s own interests.” What a rich meaning! Peter first identifies himself as a slave. He shows not only his humility and subservience, but also shows to us who his master is. He is slave of Jesus Christ, our God and Savior (v. 1), our Lord (v. 2). Take a look at Exodus 21:2-6 for a description of what exactly a ‘bondservant’ is. The bondservant was a slave who had the option to go free but chose to stay. He loved his master and desired to serve him forever. He was a willing slave.

“The following story is to illustrate the attitude of a willing slave. The incident took place at a slave auction in the Southland during the days of slavery. A fine looking young man was placed on the block for sale. Among the interested bidders was an Englishman who outbid a number of other interested buyers. When the deal was finally consummated, the young slave chided his purchaser for buying a slave when slavery was already abolished in England. To the young man’s chiding the purchaser replied: ‘I have bought you to set you free.’ Overcome with emotion, the slave said: ‘Sir, I will be your willing slave forever.’”
Peter has the same attitude as King David. Psalm 116:16 – “O LORD, truly I am Your servant; I am Your servant, the son of Your maidservant; You have loosed my bonds.” Jesus had done so much for Peter. He chose Peter, taught him, rebuked him, and worked with Peter to make him into the solid-rock type man that Jesus would use to proclaim salvation to so many. Peter learned what Jesus taught the disciples in Mark 10:43-44. They must become slaves if they were to follow Christ’s example.

This attitude of a bondservant is not specific to Peter. Other NT writers also considered themselves slaves of the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans – Paul a bondservant of Jesus Christ, Philippians – Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, Titus – Paul, a bondservant of God, James – James a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, II Peter – Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, Jude – Jude a bondservant of Jesus Christ. These epistles all begin with the declaration of slavery to the Lord.

“and apostle” – apostolos – means ‘messenger’ or ‘ambassador’. More specifically, here it is in reference to those few men who were hand-picked by the Lord Jesus. The book of Acts shows us the that the word Peter uses here is not just a generic term for messenger.

Acts 1:1-3 – “The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.”

Acts 1:21, 24-26 – ‘“Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.” And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who knows the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.’

Who is Simon Peter writing to: “to those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:”

“like precious” – literally means ‘of equal value or honor’. This faith produces the same precious effects in the apostle and in the Christian.

How is that faith obtained? By the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:18-21 – Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

APPLICATION: Let’s Make a Connection

The reality of Peter’s faith is that he was a slave of Jesus Christ. He had given himself up to be subservient to the will of Jesus Christ. He had committed his service to extend and advance the cause of Jesus among men. And he had devoted his life to Jesus at the disregard of his own interests. He was a slave of Jesus Christ.

Peter’s second epistle is written to those who have obtained like precious faith—to those who hold their faith of equal value or equal honor. The people that Peter is writing to understand that their lives have been given to the service of Jesus. Their sole purpose had become the furtherance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They could be described as devoted to Jesus at the disregard of their own interests. They were slaves of Jesus Christ.

The words of Paul echo throughout these thoughts:

Galatians 2:20 – I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Ephesians 2:8-10 – For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Philippians 1:21 – For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

This is not extra-ordinary Christianity, it is ordinary Christianity. Peter, and those to whom he writes, are not Super-Christians, they are normal Christians.

It is time to evaluate your faith. II Corinthians 13:5 tells us to examine ourselves as to whether we are in the faith.

Some piercing questions:

Have I given myself up to be subservient to the Lord Jesus Christ?

Have I given my service to extend and advance the cause of Jesus to the ends of the world?

Have I devoted my life to Christ at the disregard of my own life?

Why have I not lived my life this way?

What changes must I make in my life to live my life this way?

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