Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Knowledge of Him – 2 Peter 1:1-4

Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours: Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. (NIV)

Peter identifies himself with both his original name and the name Jesus gave him. Simon – represents his human nature along with his fallibility. As Simon, he identifies with the lowly position of servant. Peter – represents his spiritual nature along with the power bestowed on him by Jesus through the Holy Spirit. As Peter, he identifies with the exalted position of an apostle of Jesus Christ. The letter of Second Peter comes to us with both the authority of Jesus through Peter as well as the identification of a fellow alien in this world through Simon.

This letter is different from First Peter in that he is addressing it much more broadly. While the first letter dealt with living under persecution, this letter is more prophetic, looking to the future when opposition to Christ will come from within the church as false prophets and then beyond to the last days when philosophers will bring precepts into the world that deny Biblical faith. How do we live and conduct ourselves in these circumstances?

The first thing he reminds us of is that our faith is the same as his. It is just as precious and sincere as the faith that he has. The servant and apostle had to come to Jesus by faith just like everyone else. Because Jesus is God and Savior, it is by His righteousness that we have faith. The Gospel never changes. Jesus is righteous, always has been, and always will be. Because He is righteous, when He died on the cross, He could bear our sins and then give us His righteousness when we turn to Him in faith for the forgiveness of our sins. Amazing how much can be packed into one small verse.

Because we know God and Jesus, we have grace and peace. That comes in abundance. Do you have grace and peace in abundance today? If not, what is keeping that away from you? Peter clearly says it comes through our knowledge of Jesus. I hope I’m not being too simplistic; however it seems that if I don’t have peace and grace, then something is wrong with my knowledge of Jesus. Am I limiting His power in my life because of my lack of knowledge about His power? Am I continuing in some sin because I don’t really know what it costs to be forgiven? Have I lost hope and I’m in despair because I have forgotten what the eternal future holds? All are the results of forgetting or not knowing Jesus as He wants us to know Him.

Peter wants us to know that God’s divine power is sufficient for anything that faces us in life: all of the problem, heartache, illness, relational problems, and ultimately – death. His power is all we need to live godly lives. There is no need to compromise in this world when we have His power in us. Eph 3:20-21 Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen. (RSV) When we call upon His power to live godly lives, the glory goes to Jesus, not us. That power enables us to do much more than we ever thought we could. We can resist sin, go longer, and work harder than we thought. We can accomplish things we never expected when we let Him work in us.

Peter said that His power give us everything we need for life and godliness. He didn’t leave anything out. Try to think of something that His power can’t handle. Did you think of something? You’re wrong if you did. God doesn’t lie and His word isn’t wrong. This is one of those very great and precious promises that He has given us. There is a catch though. It is our knowledge of Him. He gives us all this through our knowledge of Him. It is very easy to fall short by listening to false prophets or the world. They will tell you all sorts of things about God that will keep you from having peace and grace in abundance. Some will promise these very same things but it will be based on works and not His divine power. They may even teach that faith will give you peace and grace, but the faith they teach is faith in their own teaching, not in a true knowledge of God.

Here are some good tests to determine whether or not we are participating in the divine nature of God. Are our lives holy? How is our anger? What is going on in our thoughts? Are any of these things or other things inconsistent with God’s divine nature? If so, then something is wrong and we aren’t participating in His nature, but fighting against it. It comes back to a faulty knowledge of God. With His divine nature there is escape from the corruption in the world. It isn’t just suppressing our evil desires, but an escape from them.

You’ve heard people say that it is just their nature to worry. Others also use this excuse for other things, “it’s just my nature.” But this is not what God intends. If we have been born again our nature is now God’s nature. We need to exercise that nature by putting off what we used to do and think and putting on His nature by doing and thinking His way. Then we can say it isn’t our nature to worry, or do whatever it was we used to do.

I was going to quote some verses from Romans 8:1-11 to emphasize this new nature, but I would have to quote too much. So please look it up. Let’s set our minds on the Spirit and realize in our lives the power of God to overcome the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

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