Wednesday, May 9, 2012

2 Peter and Jude

2 Peter 1 and Jude 1-2 – Growing in Truth
Principle:  Believers grow in faith and Christ-like virtue by obeying God’s Word.
2 Peter 2 and Jude 3-16 – Contending for Faith
Principle:  Believers can only contend for faith and reject false teaching by knowing God’s Word.
1 Peter 3 and Jude 17-25 – Living for Christ’s Return
Principle:  Living for return of Christ involves preparing other for His arrival.

Peter writes this letter knowing he would die soon.  He died on a cross about 35 years after Jesus ascended to heaven.  He wrote to the same Christians as his first letter.  They were not only in danger of persecution, but in danger of being confused by false teaching.  He taught that in the last days there would be many scoffers not believing that Jesus would return, but that He would come when they least expected it – like a thief in the night.  They were to stand firm in their faith and be on guard so they would not be deceived. 

2 Peter 1
He opens his letter with grace and peace to them, because he wanted them to have more of it through the knowledge of God and of Jesus.  This is a very clear statement of the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Grace means God’s kindness to people who do not deserve it.  It means that God loves and forgives and that He helps and protects His people.  Peace is the opposite of war.  God gives Christians a quiet spirit that is in every part of a person’s life and relationships.  We have peace with God and with each other.  No one can have true peace without grace.

“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 give us his very great and precious promises…”(2 Peter 1:3-4).  His great and precious promises are:  that we will be delivered from a corrupt world and our evil desires, we are renewed in Him, God dwells in us, He’s made us holy, the glory that is to come, we’re saved by grace, we’re heirs with Christ, He loves us in spite of our failures, He will meet our every need, He will return and many many more.  He has given us everything we need to live a holy life.

Peter describes the character of a Christian.  “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.”(2 Peter 1:5-7).  Does your faith reflect these virtues?  He wants them to be all the more eager to make their calling and election sure.  If they do these things, they will never fall and will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord. 

He is reminding them to refresh their memory, because he knew he would die soon. – (2 Peter 1:14).  Peter has true knowledge speaking the truth about the power and coming of Jesus Christ, because he and others were eyewitnesses of His majesty.  He was there when Jesus received honor and glory from God in His transfiguration, when a voice came down from heaven and said, “This is my Son, whom I am well pleased.”(2 Peter 1:16-21).  We have the words of prophets and should pay attention to them.  “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture come about by the prophet’s own interpretation.  For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”(2 Peter 1:20-21).

How would people tell that you have true knowledge of Jesus Christ?
Can they tell by the fruit in your life?

2 Peter 2
Peter warned the Christians about false teachers.  There will be wide-spread success of these false teachers and many will follow their shameful ways.  They will dispute the truth of God.  They are greedy and will exploit with made up stories.  Several times Peter said that God will punish them severely.   He says that false teachers bring swift destruction from God on themselves. – (2 Peter 2:2-3).  God will punish them.  They offer cheap grace.  God’s grace is costly.

God didn’t even spare wicked angels when they sinned, but sent them to Hell or Tartarus (the very lowest pit). – (2 Peter 2:4; Gen. 6:4; Jude 6).  God brought judgment to the ungodly by sending the flood upon the world, but saved Noah who was a preacher of righteousness and his family. – (2 Peter 2:5; Gen. 6-7).  He punished Sodom and Gomorrah for their sexual immorality.  He turned Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes by raining on them fire and brimstone. – (2 Peter 2:6; Gen. 18-19). 

False teachers satisfy the wicked desires of their bodies.  They do not obey authority, especially God’s authority.  They do what they want.  They pretend to know a lot about God, but know little.  They have no moral standards.  They are greedy and never stop sinning.  They are compared to animals.  God will destroy them. – (2  Peter 2:10-22).

“If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning.  It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.”(2 Peter 2:20-21).  This means they were never true children of God.  True believers cannot lose their salvation!  They had no inward new birth and no transformation took place.  They professed to know the Lord, but did not forsake their evil ways.  They never accepted Jesus with a living faith.  This describes many false teachers today.  They think they know Jesus, but were never born again or experienced real salvation.

There were false teachers even in the church.  There are still false teachers in the church today.  So Christians should heed Peter’s warning.  Why are people willing to listen?  It is very sad that many people are willing to listen to false teachings and will follow.  False teachers appeal to the lustful desires of human nature.  They entice people and make promises they can’t keep.  People don’t listen to the truth, because they don’t like what they hear.  People don’t want to hear about Hell.  They think they are good people.  They say the Bible is not true today.  They reason that God is a good God, but Jesus can’t be the only way.  They say that God doesn’t care if they go to church.  They think they deserve to be happy and don’t deserve the wrath of God.

What are you venerable for false teaching because your faith is weak?
How can we avoid being deceived?  Know the Word of God and don’t fall for the lies.  Stay in His Word and pray often.
How do you stand attacks on your faith?

2 Peter 3
Peter is writing this letter as reminders to stimulate wholesome thinking.  He wanted them to remember the words of the prophets and the command of the Lord that in the last days there would be many false teachers. – (2 Peter 3:1-3).  They will ridicule and scoff at the idea that Jesus will return.  A scoffer is one who mocks the truth.  Do you know any scoffers?

When is He coming?  But do not forget this one thing, dear friends:  With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.  He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”(2 Peter 3:8-9).  Bear in mind that the Lord’s patience means salvation. – (2 Peter 3:15-16).  The Day of the Lord is coming and we need to be prepared.  We should live holy and godly lives as we look forward to His coming. – (2 Peter 3:11-13).  We should make every effort to be found spotless and blameless. – (2 Peter 3:14).  We should be on guard so we won’t be deceived by lawless men and fall from our secure position. – (2 Peter 3:17-18).

Jude was a brother of Jesus.  His letter is much like Peter’s warning Christians about false teachers and wanted them to look forward to the last days, because God promised to multiply His grace, peace and mercy.

As in Peter Jude reminds us of three lessons of the past.  1) God delivered the Israelites from Egypt, but destroyed those who did not believe; 2) Angels who did not keep their positions of authority were punished; 3) God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah by fire for their sins. – (Jude 5-7).

Jude lists the sins of false teachers.  They pollute their bodies, reject authority, slander celestial beings, speak against what they do not understand, they are like Cain, they are blemishes, feeding only themselves, they are clouds without rain and trees without fruit. – (Jude 8-13).  God’s judgment will come on them and they will be cast into Hell forever.  They are always complaining and finding fault with others.  They are greedy and prideful.  They follow their own desires and boast about themselves. – (Jude 16).  These false teachers will suffer God’s punishment and will be cast into Hell forever.

Do you know anyone like that?
Do you grumble and complain?
Do you blame on others?

Jude gives us advice of how to persevere.  We are to remember what the apostles foretold.  We are to build ourselves up in our most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.  We are to keep ourselves in God’s love as we wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring us to eternal life.  We are to be help weaker believers who doubt. – (Jude 17-22).

Jude ends his letter with four qualities of God:  God’s glory, God’s majesty, God’s power, God’s authority.  He reminds us that God is all powerful now and always.  Now and always emphasizes God’s total and complete command of everything.

Are you prepared for Jesus’ return?
If He comes tonight, where will you go – Heaven or Hell?
How will you discern between truth and lies?
Do you minimize sin in your life?
Do you live afraid of Judgment Day?
How will you help prepare others for His coming?

Don’t be afraid of these attacks on your faith.  Be prepared!

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