Listen to audio above while following along with transcript below (also available for download in Word at www.biblestudyministriesinc.com)
I want to share a verse from John 14:18, and it’s not the entire verse, just one little portion of it, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you,” just that part. The first application, of course, is that He promised He would send the Holy Spirit, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you, and I’ll send the Holy Spirit.” The final application is the second coming, when He comes to set up His kingdom, but there’s a perpetual application all along the way, and that is that He continues to come to us in the word of God. So, that’s where we are this morning. He is not going to leave us as orphans. Whatever is going on it our life, He’s going to come to us. He keeps coming. He said, “If I go away, I will come again.” Sometimes His parting is as necessary as His coming. After His resurrection, when He appeared to those disciples on the Emmaus Road, and then He disappeared. His disappearance was every bit as instructive as His appearance. So, He comes and He goes and He comes and He goes, but He’ll keep coming. Let’s pray together and commit our time to the Lord.
Heavenly Father, we thank You for gathering us again. We thank You for the Holy Spirit that lives inside of us and whose pleasure and ministry it is to open the written word and point us to the Lord Jesus, the living Word. We ask you again this morning that You would come to us. You know our needs and You know our hungers and You know our capacities. Meet us where we are and take us where you would have us. We commit this session unto You in the matchless name of our Lord Jesus. Amen.
Welcome to our introduction to the second epistle of Peter. I think you know that we finished our look at 1 Peter, and as we ever do, we come to this new book to receive a fresh revelation of the Lord Jesus. Every book in the Bible gives us a revelation of the Lord Jesus that no other book gives us in the same way. So, we are always on the lookout for what is that revelation of the Lord Jesus. Remember in 1 Peter we saw the Lord Jesus as the ideal Pilgrim, living in our heart. That was the revelation from 1 Peter. He completely trusted the One who indwelt him, His holy Father God, and he trusted Him so that he could be done unto. He didn’t deserve it, because he knew it was redemptive. That’s how he lived, and that’s how he calls us to live. Just so, there’s a special revelation of the Lord Jesus in this second epistle, that no other book gives in the same way. It’s my prayer that this morning before the session closes, we’ll see what that revelation of Christ is. That’s what we want to see this morning.
I want to ease in on this book of 2 Peter because it’s unique. So, I’m going to make three general observations. It doesn’t really tie into the message yet or the revelation of Christ, but it’s just an approach to the book, and I think it’s important, it’s instructive. You may have already heard some of these things but let me just call attention to them.
The first observation comes from 2 Peter 3:1, “This is now, beloved, the second letter I’m writing to you in which I’m stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the Holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by the apostle.” That first expression, “This is now the second letter.” In the New Testament there are five second letters. There’s 2 Corinthians, 2 Thessalonians, 2 Timothy, 2 Peter and 2 John. Some could make an argument that if you take churches in Revelation, there might be a 2 Ephesians and a 2 Colossians, because there is a letter to the Ephesians and to Laodicea which also received Colossians, but that’s a different author. This is the second letter by the same author.
The reason I’m calling attention to that is because there is something that all the second letters have in common. I want to call attention because Peter is one of the leaders of that. Every second letter warms against false teachers and the spirit of error. The second letters are full of warning against false teachers. I’m not suggesting by saying that, that there are no warnings in the first letters, because there are, but this is an emphasis in the second letter. For example, there’s only one chapter in Jude and that’s one of the strongest books against false teaching. I think some of the strongest language against false teachers and the spirit of error is right here in 2 Peter.
I think one reason why Peter is making this emphasis is because it’s in contrast with his first epistle. The message of his first epistle, and understand how I mean this, sort of messed up some of the Christians, so he had to readdress them. It’s the same group; he’s writing to the same people. In the first Peter there was a danger out there, persecution from the outside. The danger was external, and his appeal, of course, was to trust the Lord for patience to endure under that tyranny, that undeserved suffering. It was an external enemy, but now there’s an internal enemy. I’m not saying in the heart. I’m saying in the church, in the group, in the body, in their midst, these false teachers came in, and the persecuted Christians had so embraced that first message to be willing to be done unto, they got it, and the problem was that they were in danger of being done unto by these false teachers. So, they were submitting to these false teachers. Peter said, “I’ve got to write another letter. They need to be willing to be done unto, but they can’t be submitting to these false teachers. Peter is encouraging them to persevere in truth because that will be a safeguard against all this deception of these heretics.
The false teachers that came in, these were not misinformed Christians, Christians who went astray. These were unsaved people. They did not know the Lord. These unsaved people came in and pretended they knew the Lord. When we get to a more detailed look at the epistle, Lord willing in the fall, I’m going to point out, because Peter gives several safeguards against false teaching in this epistle. I’ll isolate the particular error. It was called Gnosticism. It wasn’t full blown yet, so it’s Gnosticism in it’s insipient form. It’s just the seeds of Gnosticism. So, that’s my first general impression, that this is a second epistle, and second epistles emphasize false teaching and the spirit of error.
My second general observation, and you may not have even been aware of this, there has been an attack on the authorship of 2 Peter. Many people think that Peter did not write 2 Peter. In fact, of all the books in the New Testament, many of the books by the destructive critics question whether they are genuine and belong in the Bible, and that kind of thing. The claim that Peter didn’t write this book, that this is a fraud, that somebody else wrote it, the reason I’m bringing that up is not to correct that right now, but because it introduces a subject that we need to deal with in detail, not this morning, but it’s the subject of inspiration. Which books belong in the Bible and which books do not belong in the Bible?
It’s interesting that 2 Peter is questioned as to its inspiration, and it’s one of the greatest books on inspiration in the New Testament. Listen to 2 Peter 1:20, “Know this first of all, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation. No prophecy was ever made by an act of human will. Men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” 2 Peter 3:15, “Regard the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, also, in all his letters, speaking in them of these things in which some things are hard to understand which the untaught and the unstable distort, as they do the rest of their scriptures, to their own destruction.”
Have you heard the expression “the canon of scripture”? I think many people have heard that. The word “canon” just means “a rod, a measurement, a rule”. A canon is the rule, “We rule this book in, and we rule these books out.” That’s what the canon is. The books that were ruled out were called “apocryphal books”. They were ruled out because many were being counterfeit, and at least doubtful. They lacked authority, and so on. Many of them contradicted the books that were ruled in. So, you have a list of books. We accept 66 books in our canon. We say, “The Bible is 66 books.” Since 2 Peter was one of these books that inspiration was attacked, I want to clear the air as we begin here. In the fall, Lord willing, I’m going to try to answer this question, “How do I know for 100% certainty that these 66 books in our Bible, no more and no less, are the inspired word of God. We are going to look at that in detail. It’s suggested by the attack on the inspiration. So, I’m going to pick that up, Lord willing, and address it in the fall. Let me say this much for now.
The single most emphasized reason why they say that Peter didn’t write it is because the style is different. When you read 1 Peter there’s a style, and you see how Peter writes. If you read 2 Peter, they say, “Somebody else had to write that. That couldn’t be Peter because that’s a different style.” Let me ask you this. Who wrote Genesis, the human author? It was Moses. Who wrote Leviticus? Moses. That’s a different style. Who wrote Ecclesiastes? Solomon did. Who wrote Song? Solomon. That’s a different style. Who wrote the gospel of John? Who wrote Revelation? I think there’s a different style there. The Holy Spirit is not in bondage to a certain style, and He can use anybody and use any style that He wants. 2 Peter 1:1, the first verse, “Simon Peter, a bondservant and an apostle of Christ.” If Peter didn’t write this letter, it begins with a lie, with a fraud. If any book begins with a lie, I’m not sure I can trust anything in that book. We don’t know the author of Hebrews, but it doesn’t begin with a lie, just because you don’t know the author. That’s my second observation. My first observation is that it’s one of the second epistles, and the second observation is that the authorship is under attack, bringing into focus this whole idea of inspiration, which we’ll address, Lord willing, at a future time.
My third observation is this. 2 Peter is Peter’s swan song. I call attention to that expression because there’s a myth out there that a swan called the “muted swan” never sings until he’s ready to die, and then it sings a beautiful song. That’s a legend in nature. That’s not true, but this is Peter’s last words, his dying words. After this he went to heaven. The last thing that he wrote, we ought to pay attention to. What is he going to say on his deathbed? He wrote this standing on his grave. So, we need to pay attention to it. The last words, the swan song, the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy, and Moses is Deuteronomy, and Joshua is chapter 24 and is his swan song, and so on. Last words sometimes are very, very meaningful. Loved ones lean over their dying loved ones, their family and friends, to hear the last whisper, and what are their dying words, and so on. Especially if they’re men and women of God, you want to hear, because their last words often bear weight and leave an impression.
I’ll never shake the last words I heard. I was an orderly in a hospital. In those days I didn’t know the indwelling life of Christ, so I was zealous. I was an evangelist. If you met me, you’re going to hear about Jesus, and I was ramrodding Christ down everybody’s throat. Anyway, this man was dying, and I told him, “You were made for two worlds. You’re leaving one, but you aren’t prepared for the other. You need to see God.” He said, “I have no time for God, and he died.” Those were his last words. I broke into a sweat. I couldn’t even finish the day, and that’s been in my mind ever since. Last words are very, very powerful.
According to commonly accepted chronology, Peter is now about seventy-five years old. He wrote his first epistle in 64 or 65 AD. This was written shortly after. We know that he died in 66, so this is just four years before Jerusalem was destroyed by Titus, the Roman emperor. We think he wrote about 66 AD. 2 Peter 1:13, “I consider in right, as long as I’m in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me, and I’ll be diligent that at any time after my departure, you’ll be able to call these things to mind.” Peter not only knew that his death was soon and imminent, but he also knew it would be violent death. Jesus had told him that. One of the last words of Jesus to him after the resurrection, John 21:18, “Truly I say to you, ‘When you were young, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wish, but when you grow old you’ll stretch out your hands, and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.’ This He said signifying by what kind of death he’d glorify God. When He had spoken this, He said to him, ‘Follow Me.’”
I don’t want to introduce humor here, but I can’t read this verse without thinking of my dear father-in-law, Lillian’s Dad, Gus. Lillian wanted to buy him a special lamp, and we had a store called The Christmas Tree Shop, and she wanted to surprise him, so she put him in the car and he said, “Where are we going,” and we said, “It’s a surprise.” He said, “Please tell me where we’re going.” She said, “It’s a surprise.” Finally, she said, “Okay, we’re going to the Christmas Tree Shop.” And he said, “Just like it was written, ‘When you get old they’ll take you by the hand and lead you to a place you don’t want to go.’” So, every time I read that verse, I think of that.
I’m going to be honest with you. I’m not afraid of the fact of dying, the fact of death. Flesh and blood can not inherit the kingdom. I know too much now. I’m not afraid of that. Judgment is not in front of me. My Lord Jesus took my judgment, and He died for my sin. One reason I’m not going to hell is because I’ve already been there in the Person of Jesus, my substitute, when He died on the cross. That’s all done, and I have nothing to fear. I’ll be absent from the body and present with the Lord. I’m not afraid of the fact of death, but the method of dying…. There’s no sting in my death. Jesus took the sting out, the sting of death is sin. Although I don’t fear the fact of death, I am a little timid about the method of death. I’ll be happy when it’s over with. For sure, I’ll be in heaven, but I’m rather timid. I’m not afraid to die, but is it going to be a slow, painful death, like some of our dear brothers and sisters in Christ have had recently to endure? Is it going to be by violence? Am I going to end up by going to a grocery store or church and some idiot is going to shoot me down with a gun? How am I going to die? I don’t want to burn to death, and I don’t want to drown, and I don’t want to fall over and hit my head on the bedpost. I don’t know how I’m going to die. My guess is a heart attack, because I’ve already had one, and I did pretty good at that one. It was my first one, and I did pretty well. Probably I’m going to go that way, or a stroke, or something like that.
I bring this up because Peter not only knew his death was imminent, soon, but he also knew that it was violent, and he wasn’t anxious about either. He was at peace. He had what he described as, “Joy unspeakable and full of glory.” I’m glad I don’t know in advance. I think if Jesus told me in advance, like He told Peter, “You’re going to be martyred,” I wonder how many restful nights I would have had until it came to pass. In my library I have a set of ancient books called “The Ante Nicaean Fathers”, those books that were written in the first three hundred years after Jesus went to heaven. I think you know, they say, fact about Peter’s death, that he was crucified upside down. Have you heard that? He gave two reasons for that. Most Christians only know one. The first reason he gave was that he didn’t feel honored to die the same way the Lord Jesus died, and so he asked permission to be crucified upside down. But according to history, the same record that records that, records this, and I’m quoting from these anti Nicene fathers, Peter speaking, “I want my feet directed toward heaven because already my feet are on the road to heaven. I want to go to heaven feet first.” He wanted to go to heaven feet first to show everybody that he’s not afraid to die, and that’s the path that he’s on. When Peter wrote 2 Peter he was standing on his grave, and that becomes important, as we read 2 Peter and study it, as the words of a dying man. Very instructive.
While we’re focused on this, before we get to the theme and the revelation of Christ, I just want to show you the victory that Peter had in the life of an imminent death and violent death. He made three descriptions of death in this first chapter of the second epistle. 2 Peter 1:10&11, “Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you, for as long as you practice these things, you’ll never stumble, for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be abundantly supplied to you.” Notice those words. He called death, “an entrance into the eternal kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ,” and he didn’t just call it an entrance. He said that it will be abundantly supplied to you. We have an expression that we call, “The Grand Entrance,” and when somebody enters and there’s pomp and there’s glory and there’s flair and the throwing out of the red carpet, multiply that times infinity, and you get Peter’s idea of death. It’s an entrance into the eternal kingdom of the Lord, and the Lord throws out the red carpet. It’s an abundant entrance, abundantly supplied. Entrance, just the word, it’s not scary. I get lost a lot, but if am driving along and I see, “Entering the city limits,” or I come to place and it says, “Enter through this door,” I don’t break out in a cold sweat, or say, “Oh, an entrance; what am I going to do? It’s such a terrible idea that I have to enter.” That’s how Peter saw his death. It’s just an entrance, “I’m going into the eternal kingdom of the Lord, and I’m going in on a red carpet.”
The second description he gives is in verse 13, “I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.” The NIV says, “Putting aside the tent of this body.” KJV calls it a “tabernacle”. Peter knew that his natural body was just a temporary dwelling until God gave him a glorified body, and as he proclaimed in his first epistle, he said, “We’re just pilgrims traveling around in a tent. That’s all we are, but there’s coming a day when we have to lay aside the tent, lay aside the old tabernacle, lay aside the fleshly tent.” Peter was looking at that and he said, “I’m going to get a red carpet one day and enter feet first into heaven. There’s going to be a day, Jesus showed me, that I’m going to have to lay aside this earthly dwelling. I’m moving out and moving on, and I’m moving up.”
The third description that Peter gave, verse 15, “I’ll be diligent at any time after my departure that you’ll be able to call these things to mind.” The English word is “departure”. I’ve tried to avoid quoting Greek words because I can never get them right, but I’ve got this one down. Let me tell you the word in Greek for “departure”. Listen carefully; exodus. That’s the word he’s using, exodus. He said, “My death is an entrance; my death is a laying aside of the old tabernacle. My death is an exodus; it’s a going out. For Israel in the Old Testament the Exodus was a great deliverance. That’s what the Exodus was. They didn’t fear the Exodus. In fact, they’ve celebrated it now for thousands of years. Every Passover they celebrate the Exodus.
I don’t know if you’ve heard the name Horatio Bonar? He’s one of eleven children. Two of the Bonar children became pretty famous preachers, Andrew and Horatio. They both had written books. Horatio was more into the poetry and devotional writing, as well. They lived in the 1800’s and their names, the Bonar brothers are pretty big in Scottish religious history. Anyway, Horatio was 80 years old when he died and they found some lyrics on his desk. I don’t know if this is true or not, but one account I read says they put it on his tombstone. I tried to check that out. I wasn’t sure. Here are the four lines he wrote, “Let my parting, then, be tearless, since I bid farewell to tears. Write this day of my departure festive in your coming years.” Isn’t that a wonderful look at death? “My parting is tearless; write this day of my departure festive.”
I’m so glad the Lord was pleased to give us 2 Peter, the dying testimony of one who was so victorious when he knew the fact and the method of his death. He did not for one moment of time fear what was coming. If he could be that victorious, I think I can have some hope, and I think you can have some hope. What encouragement this testimony is for Christians! So, those are the three observations; it’s a second epistle, and it’s an attack on inspiration and he looks at his own death and is his swansong.
That brings me to the two more things I want to cover in this introduction lesson. I want to state what I believe is the distinctive message of 2 Peter, and then I want to show what is the special revelation of the Lord Jesus that this book gives that no other book gives in the same way. I’m saying I want to give the theme of the book, and the revelation of Christ. They’re related. Of course, they have to be related, but they’re not the same. The theme is not the revelation of Christ. It would be a shame, I think, to be able to walk away with the message of 2 Peter and miss the revelation of our Lord, Jesus Christ. We gather to see the Lord. You’re not really going to understand the message until you get the revelation of Christ.
So, let me first present the theme, and there are two parts to the theme, and then we’ll look at the revelation of Christ. The first part is in chapter 3:18, which is the last verse, by the way of the entire book. The last verse gives the theme; “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” “Grow in the grace and the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Those are his parting words. Those are the last words of this dying man, “Grow, grow, by the grace of God grow in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The book begins in verse 2, “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus, our Lord.” Grace and peace is multiplied, that is, increased. It ties in with growing. If I’m going to grow in the knowledge of the Lord, I’m going to need multiplied grace, over and abundant grace. It’s not surprising that when Peter is on his deathbed, his last encouragement to Christians is, “Grow, grow in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.” One reason I think God let Peter have that message, because I don’t know if there is a greater illustration of progressive sanctification in all the word of God than Peter himself. Peter knew about growing. If you study Peter in the gospels, and then study Peter in the Acts, and then study Peter in the epistles, you say, “Is that the same guy?” He’s growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ.
Now, you stepped into Christ, one act of faith, you stepped in, but ever since then it’s been a process, and the process has to do with growing. I know I’ve shared this truth, but let me mention it again. I think Peter is an example of Proverbs 4:18, “The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn that shines brighter and brighter until the full day.” Old age is not compared to the setting sun. That’s how man looks at it. “The day is coming to a close, and there’s going to be a sunset, and then you’re going to die.” No, old age is compared to the rising sun, and it grows brighter and brighter until the perfect day. I’m not suggesting that Peter didn’t have growing pains along the way. You know his story and you know he had growing pains, but in the end here, he doesn’t become an old grouch, a cranky old man. It’s the opposite of that. He was full of the joy of the Lord in old age. Many Christians as they get older begin to fizzle and they get cold and they get hard and they get self-willed, and so on.
It’s encouraging to see Peter, not only growing, but growing all the way to the end. I don’t want to grow old gracefully. I want to grow old fruit bearing, bearing fruit, like Peter. He grew all the way to the end, and if he can anyone can. I say that, but how did he do it? It was by a miracle, and a miracle rules nobody out, because it’s a miracle of God you are included.
I remind you of our study in Exodus when Israel came to the Red Sea, Exodus 14:15, “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward.” That expression, “Go forward,” is the first time it’s in the Bible. What did it take that day to go forward? Remember that the Red Sea is in front of them. It took a mighty miracle of God. Every step forward requires a mighty miracle of God. Nobody grows without a mighty miracle of God.
I want to recommend a prayer as we study 2 Peter together, and the prayer comes from 2 Corinthians 3:18, “We all with an unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image, from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” Many of us knew and remember Charles Baker. I can’t read that verse without thinking of Charles Baker. That was one of his favorite expressions, “From glory to glory.” He always said that. Here’s the suggested prayer as we study 2 Peter, “Lord, in our study of 2 Peter teach us what it means to go from glory to glory.” That’s growth, “One degree of glory to another degree of glory.” That is God’s plan for every Christian for his entire life right up to the end. That’s the first part of the message – grow. That’s the last verse in 2 Peter, but there’s a verse just before that, that gives us the second part of the message. It’s in 2 Peter 3:17, “You, therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard, so that you’re not carried away by the error of unprincipled men, and fall from your own steadfastness.” The KJV just says, “Beware.” The NAB says, “Be on your guard.” Put it together and you’re going to get the whole message, “Beware, but grow,” “Be on your guard, but grow.” That’s the message of 2 Peter.
I mentioned when I pointed out, that this is one of second letters, and that there’s a great emphasis on false teachers, and the spirit of error. The entire second chapter, and that’s why they say it’s not his style, is given over to false teachers. 2 Peter 2:1, “False prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.” That’s one of the reasons I say that they are not saved, because they are going to get swift destruction. And then the last verse shows that they’re not saved, 2 Peter 2:22, “It happened to them according to the true Proverb, ‘A dog returns to its own vomit, a sow after washing returns to wallowing in the mire.’” These are unsaved people. They are not sheep. They’re dogs. They’re not sheep. They’re pigs. Peter calls attention to that. When we get into 2 Peter, when we come to that chapter he’s going to teach us what to expect from false teachers and he’s going to teach us how to avoid the pitfalls. That’s really what 2 Peter does.
I told you that the error was Gnosticism. I’ll give you another Greek word, gnosco, agnostic, a knower. They claim to be knowers, and that was their advantage with these Christians who were being persecuted and submitting and willing to be done unto. In comes a group of people who say, “You want to know the Lord? We’re knowers. We have an esoteric relationship with God. Join us and we’ll teach you how to know the Lord. But their boasted knowledge was human reasoning. It was human wisdom and not revelation. They were going to try to know the Lord through their mind instead of the revelation of the Lord. Human wisdom does not lead to a heart knowledge of Christ. 2 Peter 2:13, here’s the fruit of their ministry, “Suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong, they count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime, their stains and blemishes, reveling in their deception, as they carouse with you, having eyes full of adultery, that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children.” Error always pampers the flesh; it appeals to the flesh. You can’t try to know God with human wisdom and expect to be holy. You’re not going to be holy if you are knowing Him that way.
The word “Christ” itself just means “anointing”, “the anointed One”. Antichrist is against the anointing. Those who are antichrist don’t believe in revelation, and don’t believe in the anointing. The false teachers’ knowledge was carnal, and was fleshly and worldly, and so the second part of the theme is, “beware,” “beware but grow,” “beware of this knowledge that comes from the mind but grow in the knowledge that’s called “the true knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ”. I say we’ll develop that more as we dive into the book. Let me read those two verses together and summarize the message. Verse 17 & 18, “You, therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard, so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men, and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity.”
We’re going to look at many safeguards against error, but here’s one of the big ones, grow. The safest Christian in the world is the one who is growing in a heart knowledge of the Lord Jesus. You don’t have to worry about error if you’re growing in Christ. The Gnostics stressed human wisdom, and the Bible stresses revelation. I picture Peter, this is my weird imagination, going feet first up to the red carpet, and as he goes, he just yells out, “Beware, but grow, grow in the knowledge of Christ.” That’s 2 Peter. That’s what that’s all about. That’s the theme.
Now, as we get ready to close this introduction, we need to see Jesus, see the revelation of Christ. How does 2 Peter reveal Christ in a way that no other book does? I told you there is a huge emphasis on error, heresy and false teaching. Wouldn’t you expect that the cure for error would be truth, that the cure for the lie is the truth? Peter in this book stresses the Bible as truth. That’s a big part of it. John 17:17, Jesus in His prayer says, “Sanctify them in the truth. Your word is truth.” 2 Peter 1:4, “By these He’s granted to us precious and magnificent promises. By them you may become partakers of the divine nature.” Where are the magnificent and precious promises? They’re in the Bible, in the scriptures. 2 Peter 1:19, “We have the prophetic word made more sure.” What is the prophetic word? It’s the Bible. It’s the scriptures. 2 Peter 1:20, “Know this first, that no prophesy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation.” What is scripture? It’s the Bible. 2 Peter 3:2, “Remember the word spoken beforehand by the holy prophets, the commandment of our Lord and Savior spoken through the apostles.” He’s talking about the Bible. That’s the promises. That’s the prophetic word. That’s the scripture. That’s the word spoken by the prophets. 2 Peter 3:5, “It escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago.” The word of God. Verse 7 of that chapter also says, “His word.” 2 Peter 3:13, once again, “His promise, according to His promise we’re looking for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwell.”
So, Peter, getting to the revelation of Christ, begins with the truth, the Bible, the written word, the scripture. We have the word of God. One might think that Peter is urging Christians, “Therefore, if you want to be free from error, study the book. Be experts on the word of God. Know what’s written in the word of God.” That’s not his distinctive message. Peter’s longing, his great longing is that they grow in the knowledge, not of the Bible, but they grow in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Peter also emphasized that when he said in verse 2, “Long for the pure milk of the word,” and then in verse 4 he said, “coming to Him.” He is the Living Word. John 14:6, Jesus said, “I’m the way, and the truth and the life.” The Bible is the truth, but it’s abstract. It’s the truth on paper. It’s the truth in print. Peter is concerned that you grow in grace, that grace and peace be multiplied. 2 Peter 1:3, it’s called “the true knowledge of Him.” As I said over and over again, Peter refers to the Bible as the truth.
Peter’s safeguard against error is not the Bible. It’s not truth in the abstract. He calls us to the knowledge of the Lord. I want to return to 2 Peter 1:19 because there’s one description of the Bible I left out, and I left it out on purpose, so that I could come back and emphasize. 2 Peter 1:19, “We have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you pay attention, as a lamp shining in a dark place.” Stop there for a moment. That’s the Holy Spirit’s description through Peter, that this book is a lamp shining in a dark place. If you know anything about the place, you know that it’s pretty dark out there. It’s dismal, and it’s a dried-out place, and the Bible is the lamp.
One of the first memory verses I ever memorized was Psalm 119:105, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, a light unto my path.” I want you to notice in that verse the relationship between the written word and the Living Word. 1 Peter 1:19, “We have this prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention, as a lamp shining in a dark place until,” until what, “until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your heart.” Pay attention to this book until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your heart.
In the fall, Lord willing, I’m going to take that passage and relate it as Peter does, to the transfiguration. But I pass by that now. This morning I want you to know the distinctive revelation of Christ in Peter is the morning star. You might be familiar with that metaphor, the morning star, or the bright morning star. In nature, what we call the morning star is not really even a star. It’s a planet. It’s Venus. The idea is that as dawn begins to come, all the other stars disappear because they aren’t that bright, but Venus is the last one that you can see before the sun rises. That’s the morning star. It’s a star that says, “Goodbye night, and hello day.” That’s the morning star. It’s the star that says goodbye to the darkness and welcome to the dawn. Revelation 22:16, Jesus identifies Himself, “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I’m the root, the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” Pay attention to the lamp until the morning star rises in your heart. The way we say it is, “Pay attention to the Bible until you see Jesus.” That’s the whole point of this. That’s the day star rising in your heart. In fact, that’s the only way to study the Bible. If you are studying the Bible just as a lamp, and you want to be an expert on the lamp, you’re going to be led astray.
2 Peter is a great book on the second coming of the Lord Jesus. 2 Peter 3:4, that was the complaint of the false teachers, “Where is the promise of His coming? He promised to come.” 2 Peter 3:10, “The day of the Lord will come, like a thief in which the heavens will pass away with a roar, the elements destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and it’s works will be burned up.” Verse 12, “Looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God.” All through 2 Peter Jesus is coming, Jesus is coming, Jesus is coming. Peter emphasizes this truth, the One who is coming is already here. Do you follow that? The One who is coming is already here. 2 Peter 1:4, “By these He has granted to us precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature.” When did you become a partaker of the divine nature? The answer is that it was when you got saved, Jesus came to you. He came into your heart and into your life. Peter talks about a second coming, “Some day He’s going to come again and set up the kingdom, and the whole heaven and universe will be purged, and it will be destroyed with a tremendous fire.”
He came when you got saved. He’s coming someday. He comes every day. When you read this book, pay attention to the book until the day star rises in your heart. Many don’t get that far. Many people study the Bible and are experts on the Bible and they know all about the Bible, and then they get up and they preach the Bible, and they think they’re preaching Christ, and they’re not. They’re preaching the lamp, the lamp in a dark place. I’m not saying that’s bad. I’m glad to hear some people preaching the lamp, but pay attention until you see Christ, and then present Christ. That’s the message of 2 Peter, that He keeps coming and coming and coming, and until He rises as the day star, you aren’t done studying that passage. You study the Bible until Christ dawns on your heart, and in that moment, goodbye darkness and hello day. In that moment darkness passes away, and you enter into a new life and a new day and a new revelation. Do you know what that’s called? Growing, “Grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ.” Come to this light, this lamp, this book, the Bible, the written word, until the word is made flesh, until Christ Himself reveals Himself to you.
I want to close with this final illustration. The last book in the Bible, do you know how it begins, Revelation 2:1, “The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among His seven golden lampstands, says this..” Revelation begins with Christ in His church. He’s permeating the body and He’s walking among the candlesticks. How does it end? Revelation 22:20, “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I’m coming quickly. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” It begins with Christ present, and it ends with Christ coming. The One who is coming is already here. He’s here. Some people get all excited about the second coming of Christ. I’ve never been able to make that my own because I’m enjoying His coming every day. When I study the word, I’m enjoying His coming.
I had a brother in Christ who is in heaven now. We were seeing Christ in the word together. We were weeping and enjoying this revelation of Christ, and he said, “I hope Jesus doesn’t come; that will ruin everything.” You know what he meant. He was already enjoying the Lord. So, the One who is coming is ever coming, and it never ends, all the way to the end, “Beware, but grow. Beware, but be on your guard, but grow in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 3:18, “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord, Jesus Christ.” So, as you see Him, continue it. That’s 2 Peter; how to grow, by continually seeing Jesus in the word. One day, and we don’t know, it could be today, 2 Thessalonians 1:10, “When He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who believe.” There will be final coming. As we began and I quoted the verse that He’s not going to leave you orphaned, He’s going to come to you and He’s going to keep coming.” Keep seeing Him and keep growing, and then one day when He comes to be admired by all who believe.
As I understand it, that’s the theme and the revelation of Christ in 2 Peter, and we’ll break it down, Lord willing.
Father, thank You for who you are and how gracious you are. Thank You for Your word, that You’ve given us this word in order that we might behold the Lord Jesus. Take us forward this summer in a heart knowledge of Christ. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.