All we need is Jesus. The indicatives of the Word tell us what we need to know. The imperatives tell us what to do. (2 Peter 1:1-11)

Speaker(s): Pastor Gregg Hensel
Sermon # 11566
11:00 AM on 10/28/2018

 

P. Greg Hensel

Good morning, everyone. What a joy it is to be with all of you in the house of the Lord. I intentionally wore purple. I heard purple was an important color here in Baltimore! But don’t let anyone know that because I’m originally from Minneapolis this actually stands for something else! It’s good to be with you here this morning. P. Gary and I met in 1986. We were young guys on a Jesus film team in Kenya. We showed the Jesus film throughout all kinds of different areas and got to know each other very well. I found out P. Gary is quite a tinker. He likes to tinker with things and we had a lot of issues some with generators and electric lights and plugs and we were in villages with no electricity, so he proved himself to be quite handy. We also have some funny memories of generators not being what they are supposed to be and other things that went on. Here we are 32 years later. The one thing I remember about Gary, he was a man committed to the Lord and he had a great testimony and he had a heart for the world, and it’s fun to see how the Lord has used him over the years.

It’s good to be with you this morning. Yes, from a boy from Minnesota and a girl from Belgium, they meet in Senegal and start a family and the Lord moved us to Oman, Jordan for 16 years. And then when we came back to the U.S. we said okay Lord where’s next? And he said, northern California. I thought northern California? I’d been in Africa and my wife is from Europe and I’d been in the Middle East, and he sends me to a small town in northern California only to discover that that in fact is another culture as well. We’re undergoing a missionary journey to a new culture learning new languages and learning new ways of doing things. But we’re so blessed.

I’m ordained in the Evangelical Free Church of America, pastoring an Evangelical Free church there after we finished our time almost 3 decades with Campus Crusade for Christ. So it’s good to be with you. I heard so much about this wonderful church over the years through Gary, through his family and it’s exciting to be here and see your love for the word and world and how you want to bring those two things together. We share a common passion and vision in that regard.

The old Apostle sat for a moment to let the news sink in. He had heard the warnings. He knew that this day would come. But he was still somewhat startled that the danger was already present. The words he heard so long ago were now echoing in his ears. Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these? Yes, Lord. Yes, Lord. You know all things. You know that I love you. Then take care of my sheep. Three times this scenario played itself out. It was still fresh in his mind. Feed my lambs. Tend my sheep. Feed my sheep. Yes, he comes back to himself. The sheep are in danger and it was his duty to protect them. The wolves must not be allowed to damage the flock of God. The more he thought about what was happening, the faster his heart raced and his mind began to be full of thoughts and even brimming with anger. How dare they bring in their dangerous and deceptive teaching? Do they not understand how serious their judgment will be one day? But more importantly this apostle thought, the sheep need help. So with his mind now freshly focused on the task at hand, with resolve in his mind, this great spiritual shepherd, Peter the apostle, picked up a pen and began to write. 2 Peter is one of those books of the New Testament that doesn’t get a lot of attention in our modern world. In a world where tolerance is the sentiment of the day, where emotion and experience are emphasized over truth; and where God is viewed as a heavenly grandfather who only loves and never disciples only accepts and never judges. The message of this short epistle rings strangely in the ears of our contemporary culture yet it is just the message that is needed today. In a world of such moral chaos and confusion, there is a need for a clear message of truth and morality and the collision of voices that say there are many paths to truth. The message of 2 Peter says no, there is only one truth and many false truths. Because Judgment day is coming, now is the time to choose. Peter the apostle confronted spiritual compromise in his day and called the church to moral purity and to live in the light of the coming judgment. We’ll look at a little bit of what he has to say. In my experience traveling to different countries, I notice people respect the authorities over them. If a king or prince or prime minister entered a place, everyone would stand. This morning we are in the presence of the King of Kings.

In his honor I’d like to you stand as I read his word in 2 Peter 1:1-11 (ESV). There are many false teachers present in the church today just as there were in the day of Saint Peter. They’re damaging. They’re dangerous in their message. If we were to take the time to go through the whole book of 2 Peter, we would see he deals with them in a very stern and direct but very wise way. First, he tells his readers about greatness of the salvation that we have in Christ and the gift of God, chapter 1. Then he will warn them about the dangers of these false teachers and remind them of the coming judgment, Chapter 2. Finally, he will remind his readers to be patient because God is carrying out his plan in his own timing. Therefore, God’s people are to live holy lives and grow in the Lord, Chapter 3. We will not cover all that this morning, but you get an overview of what is there. Peter is combating a group of heresies that have come into the church. The church at this time is composed of those both from Jew and Gentile background, soon becoming a universal church, a cosmopolitan church. Although we do not know their exact location it is most likely this letter was written to believers in Asia Minor, which we know today to be Turkey. He’s writing around 65 A.D. He’s in Rome, in prison and as we read through the end of chapter 1, he knows he’s going to die. History tells us sometimes between 65 and 67 A.D., Peter was put to death at the hand of Nero when he was heavily persecuting the church of Jesus Christ. Thus, the words in this letter were given not only to encourage the church to stand firm in the midst of moral confusion, but they serve as his last words to his followers. We know that last word are words that last. We’re going to walk through this passage. We’re going to spend just a few moments with the introduction to this letter and launch into really the heart of the passage.

2 Peter 1:1, this word servant is better translated a slave because that’s actually what it means in the background. A slave of Christ is someone who shows totally devotion to Christ in all he does. This is a title that Paul used for himself that Jude used for himself that Peter used for himself. In the Old Testament, a slave of the Lord was actually a title of honor because you were connected to the one who was worthy of all honor. Peter tells us he is a slave of Jesus Christ tells us he recognizes he has been set apart for a purpose for God and called to be holy. It’s the same for each one of us if we are in Christ. Do you wear the name “slave of Christ?” Have you been called and set apart for his purpose and glory in these few years he has given you here on this earth? He goes on to those who have obtained a faith with equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. What he is saying here is that those second generation believers to whom he is writing, those, that wave coming after the initial wave of the church with the apostles and their followers, he is saying you are of equal standing with us in the faith, both Jew and Gentile. You’ve received the same faith that we have. The way the language is used here, it shows that this faith that they have is of divine origin. It’s given through divine initiative. That will be made clear as we go through the rest of the passage. Faith is the good news of the gospel that saves sinners and puts them in a right standing before a holy God because they are dressed with the righteousness of Christ.

I think when we look here at the end of vs. 1 when it talks about the righteousness that is talked about by God, I think it refers to ethical behavior. Because there is a contrast all throughout this letter between the expected righteous behavior of God’s people and the wicked unrighteous behavior they see on the part of those in the world. The result of God’s impact on our lives is that there will be ethical believer on our part as believers and that’s contrasted with these false teachers who are misleading people far away from the gospel. And this verse ends with a clear statement of the deity of Jesus Christ who is called our God and Savior. Now, what is going on in the background here is Peter is in prison under the Roman Empire because of the gospel of J.C. and at that time, the emperor cult was just starting to become known, where the emperor would require the citizens of Rome once a year to offer a sacrifice and make some type of confession to Caesar as Lord, as Savior, as God. Peter knows that is something that a believer in Jesus Christ rightfully cannot do. Here as he is writing this letter, he says in the knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord or our God and Savior Jesus Christ. He is making a confession to the emperor I will follow Jesus and Jesus alone. And I think today as we look at challenges that come to believers around the world as they face the pressure from emperors, the pressure from prime ministers, the pressure from presidents, the pressure from whoever it might be, wanting us to conform to them and obey their authority, I hope you will join me in standing up and saying we will confess Jesus as Lord, Jesus as God, Jesus as Savior and no one else. He follows up that greeting with a blessing.

vs. 2. You recognize these two words grace and peace together. It’s the gospel. It’s lavish abundance of God’s grace that saved us, that transformed us, that gave us new life, new heart, new hope, now gives us peace with God that all is at rest. All is well. He’s blessing them with the gospel in this last letter that he writes. And in this knowledge of God, this personal knowledge of God as you’ve experienced his favor, as you’ve experienced his grace, grow in knowing him in a more intimate way. This knowledge we know is received at conversion, it grows through our lifetime as believers and will continue to grow until that moment when we see Jesus face to face and we’ll be perfected. But here we have this great apostle wanting to defend the church, wanting to defend the faith, begins his letter and end it with the same blessing that believers would grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wouldn’t you like that to be the bookends of your life? You begin with Christ growing in the grace and knowledge of him and you end your life still growing in the grace and knowledge of him and proclaiming his glory to others.

That is what Peter is doing for us as he sets the table for what will be the main part of our message in vs. 3-11. We’ll see that it can be broken down into approximately three sections. First main point is “Called and Empowered.” All we need is Jesus. I hope as you are following along in your copy of God’s word, you will see what we are doing as we work our way through these verses.

vs. 3-4. Listen to the great theology that flows out of these verses. Wow! In just a couple verses we see divine power, godliness, knowledge of God, the glory of God, divine promises, partakers of the divine nature, freedom from sin and the corruption of this world. Let your pastor know this passage preaches good things here we can learn from it. Peter knew this was the last letter he was going to be writing. He wanted to get in as much as possible to his readers to prepare them for what is to come. First we see that there is divine power at work in our lives. His divine power has granted to us. This power comes to us completely from God through J.C. It is not a power that we have earned. It is not a power that we can produce. It is the power that has been given to us by the one who has called us. God is the great initiator in every aspect of salvation. His great power is what is at work in our lives and it’s what we need. It says this great power has granted us everything we need to live godly lives. It has granted to us all things pertaining to life and godliness. All that we need for godly and ethical lives has already been granted to us if we are in J.C. Therefore, Jesus is all we need to live for God. Sometimes the gospel gets watered down. People say if you want a better marriage, come to Jesus. If you want a happier life, come to Jesus. If you want to have even in the words of one false teacher, your best life now, come to Jesus. My friends, no. Jesus is not a means to an end. Jesus is the end. He is the goal. We want to live for him. He is our treasure. Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added unto you. That is what we want to do this morning. Find yourself this morning looking to Christ and Christ alone not only to save you from sin, not only to empower you to have victory over rebellion and corruption in society but to grow daily in your walk with him. This power is received through the personal knowledge of God. You can see it there as we just walked through the text. This personal knowledge of God that results in changed lives, ethical behavior.

2 Peter 1:3. Maybe we should all memorize it. It tells us that we have everything we need already in Christ to live godly lives. Salvation is of divine initiative and through divine power. When the Lord God calls people to salvation, he opens their eyes God to see the beauty of Christ and to see the ugliness of their sin. You call out to him and say Oh God, have mercy on me and cleanse me and give me the life you want me to have. Have you heard the voice of God calling you to repent of your sin?

vs. 4. What are these promises? Peter isn’t giving us an exhaustive list here and spell everything out but we can tell from the context at least one of them is eternal life. He introduces the letter by saying we received a precious faith, one that leads to and promises eternal life.

And all throughout 2 Peter this is the case. They have been promised divine power all they need to live godly lives so they will become partakers of the divine nature. There’s been some confusion. There’s been some abuse and misuse of this verse throughout church history. I think we can make it simple. To partake of the divine nature is to become like Jesus in our behavior and actions. The power and promises of God ought to allow us to share in the characteristics of God that will cause us to become more and more like God. We know that is the plan of God the Father for each one of us, that we’ll become more and more molded into the image of his Son. Is that not our hope? That we’ll become more like Jesus. These are the benefits and results of his calling that he has placed on our lives. To partake in the divine nature is to share and show the moral excellence of Jesus in our daily lives. He gives us godly attitudes that we might become more like God. Now, hear me carefully. It’s important we make this distinction: we will become like God, we will not become God nor will we become little gods. We will be those who are transformed into the image of Jesus Christ because he has created us in his image, saved us for a purpose, set us apart for his glory, and he will make us to become more like Jesus Christ. Jesus lived out the perfect righteousness that God required. He satisfied the holiness of God. That righteousness at the moment that we believed is applied to us. And as a result, in our position before God, we are holy, but it will not stay there because as that is working in our lives, in our actual practice we will become holy. And that’s where this message is leading to. So as we’ve seen our first point this morning, Called and Empowered. All we need is J.C. We are going to take our next point from

vs. 5-7. 2) Cultivating ethics. We are to become like Jesus. Now when we get to verse 5, it says for this very reason. What reason? Because God has already given us all we need in Christ Jesus that we might be holy. For that reason make every effort. Now this could also be translated as, do your very best. Give all your heart. Do it in all earnestness. What that means is hard work is required on our behalf to live out this gift God has given us in Christ. If you bear with me, I want to give a little bit of a grammar lesson, not because we want to be grammar nerds but because we want to be able to understand what is going on in the Scriptures. This little teaching will help you put together a lot of what you see in the N.T. There are two types of verbs in this passage. As you see how they work together, you will see how it helps you understand what it means for you and how to live it out today.

vs. 3-4 we have verbs in the indicative mood. That means they indicate what is true. They tell us something is already happened. For example, we read in those verses, we have been called, we have been granted power, we’ve been given promises, and we are partakers of the divine nature. Those are statements of fact. They indicate what is true. Indicative verbs. What has happened and what is true. Because these are true, we get to the second verb which is the verbs in the imperative mood. The imperative you know to be commands. Because these things are true, this is what we do. Imperatives are built on the indicatives. Because of what is true, not because of what we have done but because of what Christ has done, and what God is doing in our lives through Christ, those things are done on those indicatives we build the imperatives and grow into the holiness that is to be ours in Christ, is ours in Christ and should be manifested more and more. You put the imperatives on top of the indicatives, not the other way around. Because these things are true, this is what we do. As you go through the New Testament, you’ll see this type of phenomena going on side by side all throughout every letter.
So you’ll be a good student of the word of God, won’t you?

vs. 5. You look at these things and you say, is that something that is true, something that was given to me or done for me? Indicative. And as a result, these are the things that I need to do. Imperative.

In this case, we’ve looked at the indicatives, we’ve looked at the imperatives, and now we go back to verse 5. Make every effort. We know that to be an imperative verb. Make every effort to supplement your faith. The word here means that effort and expense is required on our part so that we are living out the faith we have been given. We should not be surprised to see that this biblical writer places the concept of faith and the concept of works together. What needs to be clear is that the faith comes first. We are saved by faith, but as a result of being saved there will be fruit. There will be works. This is something we saw in the book of Galatians. For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything. But listen, only faith working itself through love. Faith leads to something. Faith produces something.

James 2:26, 1 Jn 3:18. See how that works together. Because we are saved, it will show itself through growth and deeds and obedience. God has granted to us all that we need for life and godliness. Now he calls us to live godly lives. Indicative leads to the imperative.

The great Augustine in the 4th century understood this when he said, “Oh, Lord, command what you will and give what you command.”

We want to live out this salvation life God has given us knowing that as we do so it is God empowered and brings us to holiness in Christ. We are children of the reformation. We confess and believe salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone for the glory of God alone. These same reformers who helped the church get back to the gospel said yes we are saved by grace alone but not by a grace that is alone. Faith will bring its children. There will be the result of the new birth. It will be the result of encountering Christ, the result of being now in the kingdom of light as we heard earlier having escaped from the kingdom of darkness. Faith will prove itself by the actions. That’s what Peter is getting at here. You’re grounded on the indicatives in Christ. Now, live out the imperatives.

vs. 5. Virtue. We might say a better word is moral excellence. I think that’s right. A little better translation. Moral excellence. I think it rings in our ears when we understand we’re called in Christ to moral excellence. How will that impact how we live, how we think, how we make decisions, where we go, with whom we go there? If we need to add, supplement, work with our faith, virtue. Virtue, knowledge. Personal knowledge of God. We want to know his divine will. You have been born again and have a new heart you want to know his word. You want to spend time with him. Are you nurturing the garden of your heart and the truth of God’s word so it will produce fruit one day? We are coming up close to the end of the year. Oftentimes people make resolutions on January 1. Wouldn’t it be great on January 1 we all decided this year I’m going to grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and then you put in a plan how you are going to do that: memorizing Scriptures, studying the Bible every day, getting into accountability group, learning to share my faith, going on a trip. What are those things you are going to do to help you grow because of what you know in Jesus Christ? Knowledge with self-control. Self-control is keeping our passions under control and guided for divine purposes. We know our passions can either lead us astray or can lead us to great productivity and fruitfulness. I think we know what Peter is saying. Under the control of the Holy Spirit who fruit is self-control, we will guide these passions he gives us and use them for godly purposes.

This is in contrast to 2 Pet. 2 how these false teachers were using their passions and desires.

vs. 6. Self-control with steadfastness. Steadfastness might mean endurance. It might mean perseverance, but think of the context. Believers are under pressure from the government and Peter in prison is saying to them have steadfastness. Do you see how these work together? The more we know about Christ and who we are in Christ and the more we allow him to channel our passions with self-control under the purposes of God, the more we can stand firm when false teachers and persecution come. We can hear the logic that the apostle is giving to us. Godliness – like God, our lives should be more and more like the God we worship in thought and word and deed. Here’s something that an anthropologist will tell you a theologian will tell you, we become like the God we worship. Two examples. Think on the one hand of the late Reverend Billy Graham and on the other end I want you to think of Osama bin Laden. Both of them worshipped a God. Both of them were devoted to their God and wanted to see the characteristics of their God come out in their lives and they did. We who are called by God are called to reflect more and more the character of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit as we are grounded in the word. But I have a question this morning. As people look at us, as they see our pattern of life day by day, what type of God do they see us worshipping? Are we worshipping a God full of compassion and truth and mercy and holiness and justice and righteousness or a God that is hard hearted, stubborn, unrighteous, unjust, and angry? Do you see why this is important what Peter is telling us this morning? What is true is the foundation for what we do. And now he wants this fruit to be produced in our lives. It’s godliness, becoming like God.

vs. 7. Godliness, brotherly affection. We are called to be a family. God’s idea of bringing us together from all these different backgrounds and ways of life. It is his idea so that we would learn to love one another and grow in our sanctification by brushing up against one another. We are called to grow in our brotherly love one for another. And with that love. The word AGAPE, the distinctive Christian value. The love being the climax of all these other attributes and the one that completes them. Love according to Paul is the most excellent way. It’s a true mark of the believer. Love is goodness is again. It goes beyond emotions and involves will and mind and heart because love is doing best for the other person. I think you will agree with me this morning, this is an impressive list of attributes and it’s challenging. Left to ourselves, we would be undone. We can’t do in our own strength what we are required to do, what we are commanded to do. That’s why Peter began with what is true that leads to what we are to do. Because we are now clothed with the righteousness of Christ, if we are indeed in Christ, and we are led by the power of Christ, as we obey him, as we love him, as we serve him, as we proclaim him, we will become more like him. That is exactly what Peter is calling us to do. Are you growing in these virtues? Are you seeing the track record of growth in your life? If we were to look back over your life in the last five years and do a test of these virtues, can we see a pattern of growth in your life in these virtues? Are you falling deeper into Christ, dependent upon Christ so that the fruit of Christ is flourishing more and more in your life? That’s what God desires. That’s what he desires that we would be more and more fruitful for his glory and purposes.

3) Concerned and eager. We are to become like Jesus. After laying the foundation for what is true, indicatives. And after giving a list of virtues of what we are to do, imperatives. Peter now turns to the importance and the reason for why he said everything he said up to this point because eternity is in the balance. The gospel is of God he says. It is able to transform your life and cause you to grow into knowledge and maturity, and that is what we are to do. But has the gospel grasped you? Has it taken root in your life? Are you Christ dependent in everything you do in your life?

vs. 8. I find it interesting Peter puts it in the negative. He could have put it in positive terms. I think Peter and in the purpose of this letter as he knows he is facing death with a church that is facing false teachers, he wants the alarm to sound. Be careful. Stay in the faith. An alarm bell should go off in their minds. Are we sure that we are trusting in Christ and nothing else? Where else would we see a similar alarm in the New Testament?

In James 2:20 that says faith apart from works is useless. An alarm bell should go off in our minds? How am I living?

Mat. 20:3, we are warned against those idling in the market place when they should be useful somewhere else. An alarm bell should go off in our minds. Am I using my time as God would want me to use it?

Mt. 3:10, an alarm bell goes off: am I that fruitful tree planted in Christ that is producing fruit? Or have I allowed everything to go stagnant and stale and I’m depending on other things.

vs. 9. In the early church, believers were immediately baptized after confession in faith in Christ. Baptism became the very real, the very immediate physical symbol of something that just happened spiritually. They had been cleansed from their sins. Whoever is not growing is like this short sighted person who is somewhat blind. He forgets what has happened to him. He’s behaving and living like the unconverted. He’s not giving evidence of his conversion. May it not be said of any one of us that such is the case.

vs. 10. We see there is again decisive action that is required.

Same word used here in vs. 5 where we translate it as make every effort. We could translate it make every effort to confirm your calling and election. Be sure you are in the faith. It’s for today, tomorrow and in an ongoing matter for all eternity. Work is required because God has already saved us. Charles Spurgeon said God sends every bird his food but he doesn’t throw it into the nest. Action is required to receive God’s provision. He’s calling his readers to be sure they are in the faith because there are false professors of faith all around him. Profession of faith is not enough. What is needed is possession of faith. And when that faith is there, it will begin to prove itself, the life that is producing righteousness and fruitfulness by the power of Christ and for the glory of Christ and the purposes of Christ.

vs. 11. What have we seen? In verse 4, we see called to holiness.

In vs. 5-7, we are called to grow in the holiness we received and now put in practice.

vs. 8- 11 we are asked are you living rightly before this holy God? vs. 11. If you continue in these qualities, you will never fail, you will never fall down, you will not lose what God has procured for you. There will be richly provided for you an entrance in the eternal kingdom. This is not salvation by works or through works. It’s salvation that proves itself through works. There’s fruit, obedience, joy, the fruit of the Spirit, new mission fields being reached. New churches that are being planted. New men and women in Baltimore being reached because the gospel is going out through the people that God has redeemed and he’s going out to call others to come and join the flock of the redeemed. If we live out what we know to be true and what is commanded here, it will result in joyful living, fruitful living, confident living, knowing we will be welcomed into the kingdom of Christ at one’s death. Jesus said when he gave the parable of the talents, well done thy good and faithful servant. Do you nog want to hear those words one day? Do you want to be sure that your life mattered? That it had impact? That you were faithful to our Lord and as a result, he is joyfully receiving you into his presence. As we proclaim the kingdom of God which is eternal, which is full and given only to believers, we are contrasted to that of the kingdom of Caesar and we might say, any of the kingdoms of men which are temporary and limited. We will be those who call Jesus Lord, who call Jesus Savior, who call Jesus God because he alone is worthy of those titles.

A missionary who served in China 40 years was known to be a scholar and servant. It is said that his daily prayer included this: “Oh God our Father. I accept thy gift of love. Help me to pass it on for Jesus’ sake.” The indicative leading to the imperative. God make us holy and share it with other people. He died at 92 surrounded by many saints hearing last word and testimony. One who was present watching how he lived and died said if we live the eternal life now, we will live it always.

Is that the story of your life? Have you encountered Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Is there evidence of growing fruit in your lives? Does your practice match your possession? Do you long for and expect to receive a warm welcome into the kingdom of Christ as if it’s already happened? If not, now is the time to make things right.

 

 


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