2-peter

2 Peter 2

Today, read 2 Peter 2.

This chapter predicts strong judgment for false prophets. The point of the chapter, however, is not to warn the false prophets themselves. The point is to warn US about them. They are sneakily deceptive according to verse 1 (“They will secretly introduce destructive heresies”). They “will exploit you” (v. 3) and “seduce the unstable” (v. 14b). Their judgment is certain according to God’s long pattern of judging the wicked (vv. 4-10), but before that judgment falls they will cause much “harm” (v. 13).

How do we avoid falling prey to these false prophets? Knowing the truth and comparing all truth claims to it is the most important way to avoid them. In addition, though, the scriptures encourage us to watch the outcome of their teaching and the lifestyle that they lead. Are they greedy for money (v. 3a, 14c)? That’s a telling sign. Does their teaching actually have tangible spiritual results? Or is it merely pious sounding talk with no real substance? Verse 17a says that they “are springs without water and mists driven by a storm.” Verse 19 says that they “promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity.”

There is so much teaching available to us now through books, radio, TV, and the Internet. These mass broadcast media make it harder to know what these teachers are really like, but you cannot hide what you are forever. So, first of all, keep reading and learning God’s word. But beware--and wary--of the teachers you allow to influence you. Look for the substance of God’s word in their teaching and watch how they live. These things will help you know whether someone is a man of God or a false teacher.

2 Peter 1

Today, read 2 Peter 1.

In this chapter, Peter wrote to a group of unspecified believers (vv. 1-2), reminding them that what Christ has done for us is sufficient for our godliness in this life (v. 3). He also spoke of the promises Christ has made for eternal life (v. 4). Based on all this, then, he encouraged these believers--and us--to pursue godliness in our daily lives now (vv. 5-9). At the end of the list of qualities we should be cultivating are two: “mutual affection” and “love” (v. 7c-d). Remember that we are called to add mutual affection first, then add “to mutual affection, love.” Aren’t these describing the same thing?

No, they are not the same. Mutual affection is a form of love--a very important form of it. But the “mutual” aspect of it means that there is giving and receiving on both sides. This is the loving aspect of fellowship within the body of Christ. As Jesus forms his body, bringing us together into local assemblies, we meet others who become our friends due to shared faith in Christ. That friendship means that we rejoice together at times, we weep together at times, we share financial resources when needed, we pray for each other, we show hospitality to each other, and so on. That’s mutual affection and it is an important part of the body of Christ.

God calls us not only to love those who love us, but to love those who don’t love us. We are to love our enemies, according to Jesus. We also will encounter people in the church who are fellow believers with us but are hard to love. Our personalities do not mesh well or we just don’t have a lot in common. It is not a problem or a sin to like some people more than others or to have stronger relationships with some people more than others.

But personal spiritual growth calls us to go beyond loving those that we love naturally and who love us back. Just as Christ loved us when we were his enemies and were lovely, we are now commanded to grow in grace by loving beyond mutual affection. This means learning to give without expecting (or even getting) anything in return. It means seeking what’s best for others and putting their needs before ours.

Is that kind of love something you’re cultivating in your life? Are you thinking about what’s best for your family and friends and seeking for ways to help in those areas? Are you looking out for those who are overlooked and possibly unloved in our church or around you and seeking to love them?

Numbers 30, Psalm 74, Isaiah 22, 2 Peter 3

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: Numbers 30, Psalm 74, Isaiah 22, 2 Peter 3. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can't do all the readings today, read 2 Peter 3.

A key promise of our faith is that Christ will return and he will do so “soon.” Yet it has been over 2000 years since Christ was born; where is the return he promised? This skeptical question has remained in each passing generation since the original disciples of Jesus lived. Here in 2 Peter 3 Peter warned us that we would face it, too. He calls these people “scoffers” (v. 3) and accuses them of “deliberately” forgetting the creation of the earth and the flood that destroyed everyone except for Noah and his family (vv. 5-6). Even though they “deliberately forget” these things, Peter urgent us not to “forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” Although many generations have passed since Christ lived, this is evidence of God’s mercy, not that he doesn’t exist or keep his promises. As Peter said in verse 9: “…he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” It is God’s saving grace, his abundant mercy, that has led to such a long (from our perspective) time between the two comings of Christ. However, he will come and, when he does, people will be surprised (v. 10a) and everything will be destroyed (v. 10b).

If you lived in a house that was going to be razed to the ground any day now so that a new road could be built through it, would you spend much time repainting the trim outside? Would you save up to replace the old carpeting with wood floors? Would you care if there were cracks in the sink? Of course not. Since this world, as we know it, has been condemned and slated for destruction by God, “…what kind of people ought you to be?” Should you waste massive chunks of your time each week watching television? Should you obsess over your handicap in golf or work 100 hours per week to make as much money as possible? Verse 14 advocates a different way to spend your life: “…since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” We may live out our entire lifespan on this earth but, when measured against thousands of years, 80-90 years seems like very little. Wouldn’t be wise to be careful about how we spend the precious life we have from God? 

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we'll talk scripture again tomorrow.

Numbers 28, Psalm 72, Isaiah 19–20, 2 Peter 1

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: Numbers 28, Psalm 72, Isaiah 19–20, 2 Peter 1. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can't do all the readings today, read 2 Peter 1.

Second Peter 1:3-4 is a passage I return to again and again in my own life as a Christian and in my attempts to teach and encourage other believers toward godliness. The passage starts with a bold proclamation: “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life….” If you believe in Jesus, you can become a godly person; God has provided you with everything you need to become one and nothing you need is missing. The ability and tools to grow in godliness come supernaturally and spiritually from God himself for the passage says, “His divine power has given us…” But how exactly was it given to us? Verse 3 continues, “…through our knowledge of him who called us…” In other words, it is our knowledge of God that enables us to become godly. This is a reference to our salvation, how we came to know God, for the next phrase of verse 4 says, “…who called us by his own glory and goodness.” It was God’s grace in salvation—grace that brings glory to himself—and his goodness that caused us to come to know God and have all that we need for a godly life. Verse 4 expands on this reality by telling us that God’s gracious salvation consists of “great and precious promises” and that the result of these promises is “that through them you may participate in the divine nature…” This is a reference to the new life that God gave us. His promise to us was that, if we believe in Jesus, we will know God, have our sins forgiven, and be given a new nature that desires to become like God in holiness. When we believed in Jesus, these promises were planted into our lives and began to bear fruit that gives us all we need to become godly men and women. 

Note, though, that we don’t just passively and automatically become godly. No, God “has given us” through “his divine power” “everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him.” When we understand this truth, Peter urges us to put it to work in our lives; verse 5 says, “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge….” The phrase “for this reason” takes us back to all that God has done for us. Since knowing him in salvation means receiving everything he given us—everything we need—for a godly life, we should actively build faith and holiness into our lives. God does some of this for us through the conviction of sin in our conscience, through the purging effect of trials/discipline in our lives, and through the teaching of his Word and the sharpening effect of community in the local church. But, as we live out our days as Christians, we must add to our faith all that God commands us to become. Since he has given us everything we need, we can become the people God calls us and commands us to be. So don’t lose hope in your struggles against sin! Don’t give up believing in the power within you to become holy within and without. Keep reading God’s word, talking through it with godly teachers and mentors, and applying it to your life. The seeds of godliness, once planted, will grow if we cultivate them to cause us to be beautiful in holiness in God’s sight. In addition to being declared holy through Christ’s blood, the gospel tells us that we can become holy through faith and obedience. So, keep striving for holiness and reaching to become the kind of man or woman of God that God has called us to be. And, when you feel yourself backsliding or becoming discouraged, remind yourself of this verse; memorize it: "His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness." Memorize it, remind yourself of it, then believe that it is true as you work on growing in Christ.

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we'll talk scripture again tomorrow.