2 Peter – Part 3: Remember the Gospel!
Theme: REMEMBER THE GOSPEL!
2nd Peter represents the Apostle Peter’s 2nd epistle. Written shortly after the first, the distinguishing mark of this letter is not only its focus on the gospel, but its efficient and effective presentation. In this respect, Peter does two things. First, he reminds us of what the (true) gospel teaches (1:1-15), then he provides us with those reasons we should not only remember what this gospel teaches, but also why it is important that we are growing strong in our commitment to its truths (1:16-3:18).
1. What Peter reminds us is the true/saving gospel message (1:1-15):
1.1. Through faith in the righteousness of Christ we GAIN a justified state (or “standing”) with God (i.e. forgiveness from the eternal penalty of sin) (1:1-2).
1.2. Through faith in Christ we also GAIN a glorified/exalted state (or “standing”) before God (i.e. empowerment for godly living, the promise of eternal life and freedom from the bondage to sin) (3-4: TRANSLATION = YOU CAN DO IT!!!!!).
1.3. Though we have GAINED a justified and glorified state through faith in Christ, we MUST MAINTAIN this state/standing through faithfulness (1:5a – “make every effort to supplement [giving all diligence add to – KJV] your faith”).
1.4. Such maintaining should not surprise us given the reason God justified/glorified us, as well as the commitment we made in order to gain that justification (1:5a – “For this very reason…”).
1.5. Faithful maintaining looks like growing in those areas/attributes of obedience God commands in His Word (5b-8 – “virtue” = faithfulness to God’s Law. All the remaining areas/attributes function as the means to accomplishing this first area/attribute; CONTRA E.G. “Christian growth does not involve becoming stronger and stronger, more and more competent every day. It involves becoming more and more aware of how weak and incompetent we are and how strong and competent Jesus was and continues to be for us. I’m not saying the Christian life is effortless; the real question is Where are we focusing our efforts? Are we working hard to perform? Or are we working hard to rest in Christ’s performance for us?” – Tullian Tchividjian [One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World; Jesus + Nothing = Everything]).
1.6. Failing to maintain means losing what we gained (1:9).
1.7. Faithfulness in maintaining what we have gained will mean salvation (i.e. Faith + Faithfulness = Salvation NOT Faith + Nothing = Salvation) (1:10-11).
1.8. Peter thought it was incredibly important to remind believers of these specific “qualities” (G&M) of the true/saving gospel message (1:12-15).
2. Why Peter thought it was so important to not only remind believers of this gospel (of G&M) but see that they were growing strong in their commitment to its truths (1:16-3:18):
2.1. B/C the gospel (of G&M) is not the invention of men, but the message of both Christ (whom God Himself affirmed) and the OT Scriptures (1:16-21).
(16) “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths” = A gospel message which sounds right or seems to make sense but lacks Divine and Scriptural support/authority. “when we (“rather/instead” – avlla) made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty…(17) when He received glory (or affirmation) from God the Father…(18) we ourselves heard this” = This is where Peter got his gospel. It was the message of God’s powerful Son at His coming. It was also a message supported by (and consistent w/) the written (and inspired) Word of God. (19a) “And we have something more sure [i.e. reliable], the prophetic word…the (20) prophecy of Scripture not from someone’s interpretation…nor (21) produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” = Those portions of the OT which prophesied about the coming NC, confirmed that it (like its predecessors) wb a gospel of G&M (see Jer 31:33 [“law written on their hearts” = inward justification gained by faith], 34 [“know Me” = relationship w/God maintained thru outward obedience/faithfulness] w/Heb 10:15-18; Rom 2:6-29 w/3:28-30; 1Jo 2:1-7; G&M was the mechanics of the preceding gospels – e.g. Abrahamic = Gen 17:1-7, 18:17-19; Mosaic/Old = Exo 24:7-8; Deu 7:9, 29:9-20). (19b) “to which you do well to pay attention as a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts” = IOW: Continue to follow this illumined path until the day of Christ’s return! As such, this represents not only another affirmation of maintaining of what we have gained (i.e. maintain until the end/Christ’s return), but also a serious warning given the authority by which the message comes (Christ and the Scriptures). We dare not neglect or forget it! In Peter’s mind (however), that is exactly what those he was speaking to (which includes us) were in danger of doing. This is especially true in light of the second reason for calling them to remembrance.
2.2. B/C false teachers wb in the Christian camp denying the gospel (of G&M) and leading many astray by appealing to feelings rather than the facts (i.e. sound doctrine) (2:1-2a).
(1) “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you” = Though the NC does bring w/it better promises than that of the OC (Heb 8:6), the eradication/extinction of spiritual wolves (i.e. false prophets/teachers) was not one of them. They would continue to rise up w/in the ranks of the new Israel, in the same way they had in the old Israel (e.g. Act 20:28-29). And like the past ones, these new false prophets and teachers will also attempt to convince people of a different (and therefore damning) gospel (Gal 1:8-9). Their actions will not (however) be apparent or always easy to spot. Hence why Peter can say they are those “who will secretly bring in destructive heresies [i.e. false doctrine or gospels]”. The particular false gospel Peter sees as most clandestine or easy to sneak by the watching eyes of the saints? The false gospel which (among other damnable things) is “even denying the Master who bought them” = IOW: It is a gospel which teaches that you can have the benefits of Christ as Savior, yet refuse to submit to Him as Lord (or “Master”). It is the heretical, destructive, different and very damning false gospel of “GAIN BUT (no need to) MAINTAIN (i.e. growing faithfulness in those areas/attributes of obedience listed in 1:5-8 is nice but not necessary to salvation)”. In this sense, the false teachers of the NC are exactly the same as the false prophets of the OC since this (too) is the false gospel they preached (See Jer 6:13-20; 23:16-17). (2a) “And many will follow their sensuality [avselgei,aij= appealing to a person’s feelings versus the facts as the means of persuasion]” = The success of those peddling a false gospel message will NOT be due to their skills of biblical interpretation, breadth of knowledge in relation to both the Old and New Testaments or their ability to prove their gospel is indeed the correct one through demonstrating its consistency with the rest of God’s redemptive plan through the Scriptures. Rather, these individuals will win people through connection to people’s emotions. IOW: The support for their gospel (or interpretation of certain texts in the bible) will be driven more by how they make you feel than what the facts really are. Examples of methods used in this regard will include: catchy slogans and phrases which promote the use of feelings as a trustworthy guide to truth (e.g. “Follow/trust your heart”, “Your heart will never lead you astray”, “How can something that feels so right be so wrong?”), telling captivating/sensational/suspenseful/funny/sad/heartwarming stories, sharing supernatural experiences (visions/dreams), performing skits/plays, distracting thru the use of trivial/titillating data (e.g. spending the majority of the sermon talking about Bethlehem’s manger-caves), deploying fallacious – yet intellectually sounding arguments (e.g. ad-hoc: “according to the dog’s brownies” = making stuff up that people may be inclined to feel is true as the means to establishing your point; e.g. “By nature, our consciences are hardwired to the covenant of works. The default of the old nature is mentally to slide back under the covenant of works.” – Nicholas Batzig [“Legalism Defined”]; Col 2:8; 1Ti 6:20). All things meant to distract us away from the facts and convince/persuade thru feelings (Jud 1:4-8). The Christian that does not stay in continual remembrance of (or grow strong in) the facts regarding the true gospel message (i.e. the G&M gospel presented by Peter in 1:5-11), is the prime target of false teachers (i.e. the G &NO M gospel) since: human depravity already makes the idea of maintaining (i.e. the obligation of obedience) difficult for/distasteful to us (i.e. our sinful nature is anti-obedience; 1Jo 3:4), human discernment will always be governed by feelings when knowledge of the (biblical) facts is weak (2Pe 2:14 – “They entice unsteady souls”, 18 – “they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error”; Jud 1:10; Eph 4:11-14; Heb 3:12-13, 5:11-14).
2.3. B/C this heretical “gain but no maintain” group will speak with bold ignorance against the true gospel (of G&M) and its followers (i.e. true Christians) as though it were us and not them who were condemned to Hell (2:2b-12).
(2b) “because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed” = The success of the false teachers’ feelings (versus facts), approach and gospel heresy of gain BUT no maintain, will cause the true gospel (of G&M) to be viewed as the wrong one. As a result, a tragic turning of the tables will occur. The only gospel that can save (again, the true gospel of G&M) wb cursed/condemned as false (and therefore damning) whereas the heresy (of G& NO M) wb touted as the truth (2Ti 4:3). Such condemnation (however) will not be reserved for the true gospel alone. According to Peter, they will also attempt to condemn true Christians as well. (10b) “bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones” = True Christians – those committed to maintain their justified state through righteous practice/ living. These will likewise become a target of the heretical (G & NO M) group’s bold and blasphemous campaign (2Ti 3:12). That the term “glorious ones” does indeed refer to those who believe faithful/righteous living is necessary (to maintain) as part of the true gospel message is irrefutable once one considers those Peter offers up as his examples (of “glorious ones”) in the previous verses (Noah and Lot): (5) “Noah, the herald of righteousness”, (7) “righteous Lot greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (8) for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds” = Practical righteousness (i.e. righteous, faithful obedient living) is clearly what is being referred to in these verses given what it stands in contrast to (“sensual conduct”, “lawless deeds”). This (then) is why Peter calls such individuals, “the glorious ones” – b/c of their commitment to practicing righteousness. That such righteous/obedient practice is being viewed as indeed necessary (i.e. you MUST maintain what you gain) and the differing factor between the true gospel and that which is false is also made clear by the differing eternal outcomes communicated by Peter in relation to those practicing righteousness/obedience (vs. those who don’t) and his attachment of the latter to those he is identifying as the false gospel teachers (4-10) = Like the fallen angels or the wicked people of Noah and Lot’s day (the “ancient world” of “long ago”) – who also thought what they did would not affect their eternal outcome, Peter assures us that the false gospel teachers (and those who embrace/follow their message) in our day are equally in for a big, damning surprise (“their destruction is not asleep”, they are kept “under punishment until the day of judgment.”), whereas those who knew what they did mattered (and subsequently obeyed), wb “preserved” (or protected) – even in relation to those who persecute us (“the Lord know to rescue the godly from [their] trials”).The false gospel gang will nonetheless (and once more) continue to act as though they are the ones on their way to heaven. What else (then) to remember is not only what they do (i.e. condemn the true gospel and us) but how they do it since this (too) Peter knew to be important in keeping God’s people of the right gospel path. Two ways: (first) despising authority of Christ = (10b) “who…despise authority [Anti-LBS, “you can have Jesus as Savior w/o submitting to Him as Lord”, see again 2:1; CONTRA E.G. “In Christ, we are carried directly to heaven, no work necessary on our part. Only when you realize that the gospel has nothing to do with your obedience but with Christ’s obedience for you, will you start to obey. The only Christians who end up getting better are those who realize that if they don’t get better, God will love them anyway. The only ‘if’ the Gospel knows is this: ‘if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.’ (1 John 2:1) The gospel liberates us to be okay with not being okay. We know we’re not—though we try very hard to convince other people we are. But the gospel tells us, “Relax, it is finished. Christians can uncouple performance from identity. After all, don’t we live our lives under a banner that reads “It is finished”? Wasn’t that Jesus’s final pronouncement from the cross? Thankfully for Peter (and for us), when Peter calls out for a Savior, Jesus springs into action. Matthew says that, “Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him” (v. 31 NRSV). There is no hesitation. No requirement. Just salvation. Sanctification is the daily hard work of going back to the reality of our justification.” – Tullian Tchividjian, [It is Finished: 365 of Good News; Jesus + Nothing = Everything; One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World], (second) erroneous interpretation/understanding of the Scripture due to irrational thinking and biblical ignorance = (10b-12), (3a) “In their greed they will exploit [lit. attempt to engage] you with false words [i.e. false words regarding what the bible actually teaches– see 3:16]”.