2nd Peter Series
LETTERS THAT BURN
“Growing in Grace”
2 Peter 1:1-9 “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 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.”
Peter wrote his first letter because he was moved by the suffering of God’s people. He wrote his second letter because he was moved by the seduction of God’s people.
He was moved the first time by what Satan, the old lion, was doing. He was moved the second time by what Satan, the old liar, was doing.
When he wrote his first letter, the attack was from without. When he wrote his second letter, the attack was from within, and it was much more serious. The church could not be destroyed by fierce torments, but it could be destroyed by false teaching.
Peter’s second epistle follows the same pattern as all of the other second epistles of the NT—2 Cor., 2 Thes, 2 Tim, and 2 John: they all deal with error or apostasy.
In his first letter, Peter had a burden to comfort those believers who were going through the fire. In his second letter, he had a burden to caution those believers who were playing with the fire.
His second epistle is full of warning. It strongly resembles the epistle of Jude. Probably what had fully blossomed when Jude wrote was only beginning to blossom when Peter wrote.
Peter’s 2nd epistle is in 3 parts—Faith’s convictions (ch. 1), faith’s contention (ch. 2), and faith’s consummation (ch. 3).
Key verse: “Beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked” (2 Pet 3:17 NKJV).
“Don’t let these evil people lead you away by the wrong they do. Be careful that you do not fall from your strong faith” (ERV).
So…The purpose of 2 Peter is to warn against the increasing number of false teachers attacking the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And I believe the church needs these warnings now more than ever!
Peter begins with his own signature:
1:1 “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:”
The name “Simon” is generally associated with Peter’s fall. Jesus had said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat” (Lk. 22:31). And Peter went on to deny the Lord on that fateful night upon Jesus’ arrest.
On the other hand, the name “Peter” is associated with the Apostle Peter, the spiritual rock, the one on the front rank of the apostles. And it is this Simon Peter who writes his 2nd and last letter to the church.
Peter next addressed himself to his readers, describing them in three ways: First, he points out their beliefs. They were “those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.”
Peter calls it “like precious faith,” meaning “faith of equal value.” The faith of the lowliest Christian is on the same level as the faith of the greatest saint!
We are saved by faith, which is the operating principle of the Christian life. The moment we make Christ the object of our faith, we are saved, and it becomes “like precious faith.”
Then Peter speaks a blessing on them:
1:2 “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,”
Grace is God’s provision for every one of our needs while we live on earth in enemy territory.
Peace is His provision for our greatest inner need. Peace means that the war is over between us and God.
And notice how these two blessings are multiplied the more we come to know Him—“In the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”
The word Peter uses for knowledge means “precise further knowledge.” Just as we come to know a person more and more as time goes by, it is the same with God. As we progressively learn more and more about Him, grace and peace are multiplied to us!
Next, Peter informs us of what has been gifted to us:
1:3 “as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,”
Notice how “life and godliness” are ours ONLY through “His divine power.” As Christians, we are now to live His life, not our own; for Him, not for ourselves; by His power, not by our own strength.
And once again, Peter connects “knowledge” to spiritual growth, specifically “the knowledge of Him.”
And the more we come to know our Lord, the more we will experience His GLORY (the outpouring of His presence), and His VIRTUE, (His moral goodness).
The absolute goodness of the Lord has been transferred (imputed) to us POSITIONALLY. Now the indwelling Holy Spirit labors to produce that goodness in us PRACTICALLY (Rom. 8:1-4). And that’s what spiritual growth is all about!
Peter next informs us that God has given incredible promises of this very thing coming to pass:
1:4a “by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises,”
The promises of God are great and they are precious. And they are backed up by the very integrity of God Himself! There is a promise for every conceivable need. Thousands of them glitter on the pages of Scripture.
The word “exceeding” reveals the dimension, the measure, the degree, and the intensity of God’s promises. The promises of God are like blank checks, drawn on the bank of heaven, signed by the Lord of glory, and given to us so that we can fill in our name, our need, and the ‘now’ of our present emergency.
And, says Peter, it is:
1:4b “through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”
By laying hold of the promises of God, we become more and more like God, Whose divine nature has been birthed in us by being born again.
The Bible says that Jesus not only died for us, He also died as us. In Jesus, we already have died to our old life and our old, sinful nature. And we are to “reckon” it so!
We died with Him on the cross, were buried with Him in the waters of baptism, and have been raised with Him to walk in newness of life (Ro. 6:3-12).
Our new nature, given to us at our new birth, is the divine nature, the nature of Christ Himself. This is one of the “exceeding great and precious promises” of the Bible. In light of this we are promised that, “Sin shall no longer have dominion over you” (Ro. 6:14).
Peter says this is how we experience the greatest of all escapes—“having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”
The word for “escape” means “to flee away.” The best way to have victory over temptation is to put as much distance as possible between yourself and the source of temptation!
The word for “corruption” is used to describe a corpse. It carries the idea of destruction by corruption. Peter says this is the consequence for a society that abandons itself to lust.
And the Bible is crystal clear that this is the condition of our fallen world. “And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in wickedness” (1 John 5:19).
So having begun in faith, Peter sees the rest of our Christian life as a matter of addition. He says “Add!” seven times in the following verses.
He will set before us a SEVENFOLD PROGRESSION in our spiritual growth where we are to add one character quality alongside the next, like building a house of seven building blocks. It begins with virtue:
1:5a “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue,”
Virtue, which we just saw Jesus described as having, means “moral excellence.” It is the idea of genuine goodness. It says of Jesus that he “went about everywhere doing good…” (Acts 10:38). He went about doing good because he WAS good, through and through.
The best way to develop virtue is to train yourself to think right. As Paul wrote, “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise“ (Phil 4:8).
Then Peter hands us a second building block:
1:5b “to virtue (add) knowledge,”
The word for “knowledge” means knowledge acquired by learning, effort, and experience. In other words, we should never stop learning in our understanding of God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the infinite depths of truth found in Scripture. God places no premium on ignorance!
Then in verse 6 we’re handed three more building blocks, the first one is:
1:6a “to knowledge self-control,”
Solomon stands alone in the OT as the greatest example of someone with great knowledge, but lacking in self-control. The Bible says the whole world sought his wisdom, but he couldn’t stay away from the wrong kind of women. His many godless wives “turned his heart away from the LORD” (1 Kings 11:3).
So Peter says, To your knowledge add self-control.
Then the fourth building block is:
1:6b “to self-control patience,”
Patience is one of the fruits of the Spirit we wish were a gift instead. The only way we learn patience is by having to practice it.
Patience describes someone who can wait in difficult circumstances with a good attitude. They don’t go off easily on others. They can put up with irritating things without losing their religion. They have learned to trust God’s timing and Sovereignty over all their circumstances.
—Peter says, to your faith add virtue, to virtue add knowledge, to knowledge add self-control, and to self-control add patience.
Then the fifth building block is:
1:6c “to perseverance godliness,”
Godliness literally means “to be devout,” with the idea of doing those things that are pleasing to God. This is why Paul advised the church to, “Learn as you go along what pleases the Lord” (Eph. 5:10).
Then the sixth building block is:
1:7a “to godliness brotherly kindness,”
We should be kind to one another, says Peter. Being godly does not mean we’re to be distant, untouchable, holier than thou. The Lord Jesus was totally approachable. People approached Him all the time with questions, requests, or just to be in His presence. Thus, we believers are to be kind, forgiving, and approachable to others.
Then the final building block is:
1:7b “and to brotherly kindness love.”
The word is agape. The God kind of love. Love can be known only by what it does. We Christians are to shun selfishness and “do good” to all, “especially those of the household of faith” (Gal 6:10).
Now, as we close I want you to look at the amazing promise attached to Peter’s 7 building blocks:
1:8 “For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
He will literally use the phrase “THESE THINGS” 5 times in the first 15 verses of chapter 1, pointing to these seven building blocks!
The 7 building blocks Peter gave us are exactly what He personally observed operating in the life of Jesus. And they are the same things that were operating in his life. To walk in them is to walk where He walked, and to know Him better and better!
Finally, Peter ends with a mention of the perpetual babe in Christ whose growth is stunted:
1:9 “For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.”
The person who stops growing in these graces has forgotten the price Christ paid for our salvation, and that they themselves have been forgiven. They are tragically stagnant.
So Peter reminds us again at the very end of his letter that we’re to always “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!” (2 Pet. 3:18)