2 Peter 1:1-11

Sun, 10/09/2006 - 10:45 -- James Oakley

Security is something we all crave. Job security. Relationship security. Financial security.

Indeed, whole industries have grown up to look after our security. Our houses are kept secure with locks and alarms. Our computers are kept secure with antivirus software and firewalls. Our bank balances are kept secure with a dozen different kinds of insurance. We want to be secure. We want to feel secure. And, obviously, it matters that how secure we feel tallies with how secure we really are.

But there is no more important relationship to be secure in than our relationship with God. If there is one person with whom it matters we know where we stand, it is the God who made and controls everything.

Peter wrote this letter to Christians who had immense security. The trouble was that they didn’t feel that secure. So some teachers among their own number – you can learn more about them in chapter 2 – were playing on their insecurity. These teachers were immensely confident. They felt secure. And so they offered people a share in the tremendous security they enjoyed. The problem was that their feelings were also out of touch with reality. Their security was an illusion and they were in far deeper peril than they realised. And if Peter’s readers fell in with these teachers they could lose the security they didn’t know they had.

So 2 Peter is written to tell us how to be secure and stay secure with God. If you are a Christian, Peter wants to ask if you know how secure you are, and to warn you not to lose that security. Although, of course, the ultimate goal of the letter is the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s look at the first 11 verses, in which Peter has 2 main things to say. We’ll spend most time on the first one

If you know Jesus, you have everything you need, now and for the future.

The first is this: If you know Jesus, you have everything you need, now and for the future. If you know Jesus, you have everything you need, now and for the future.

Just notice with me what Peter says his readers have.

In verse 1, they have “a faith as precious as ours”. You can read about the 12 disciples in the 4 gospels. They were Jews who had the privilege of being with Jesus day and night for 3 years, and then were appointed to write the New Testament. And Peter says that if you are a Christian, it doesn’t matter if you’re 2000 years later than them, a Gentile, who’s been a Christian five minutes. You are no further down the pecking order than them. “A faith as precious as ours.”

Then in verse 2 he says “grace and peace be yours in abundance”. If you are a Christian you can know God’s grace – the wonderful way he loves to bless you without you having to do a thing to earn it. And you can know peace – the privilege of knowing there is nothing to come between you and God whatsoever, because Jesus removed every last bit of barrier when he died on the cross. And you can know grace and peace in abundance.

Then in verse 3 he says that Jesus has given us “everything we need for live and godliness”. We tend to think that a fulfilled life, and godliness – living how God wants, are two things we have to choose between. Peter says they go together like ham and eggs, two sides of the same coin. “Life and godliness”. And if we want to live God’s way now, if we want to be maximally alive, Jesus has given us all we need to have this.

And in verse 4 he tells us that we have God’s “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.” One day, we will be like God, and we will escape the corruption that is in the world. Not escape the world. Escape the corruption in the world. Because we human beings are fundamentally selfish, with no time for God’s rule, the world is not the good place it should be. But one day we will be like God and we will live in a world that is not spoilt in any way.

As privileged as Jesus’ first disciples. God’s favour and at peace with him. All the resources needed to have the ultimate experience of living God’s way. And the promise that one day we’ll be like God and be freed from all the things that spoil our world. As I said, everything you need, now and for the future. God is indeed a generous God.

Perhaps it helps to think of what these blessings would look like were our own Queen Elizabeth to bestow the equivalents on us. Imagine, if you will, that you are doing time inside for killing one of the Corgis. And, at the time, she wasn’t too impressed. But she decides that she is going to treat you in a new way.

You are now as close a friend as the person who has been her best friend since she was 3 years old. You are taken out of prison, given unconditional pardon and showered with gifts. Any anger or bitterness she may have felt at Mutley’s demise is gone, and nothing you can do can even make her frown. She has got to know you so well, that you don’t lack either the knowledge or the wherewithal to live in precisely the way she will love best. She will provide you with all the food and clothing you ever need for the rest of your life. She is still queen, so she’s a little busy to enjoy your company. The dress code at Buckingham Palace also makes it a little hard for you to do everything as she would want. But when she retires, she’s got a room for you in Balmoral so that your world is as perfect as hers, and you can then live the life you can’t quite manage now.

It’s out of this world. But that is how the living God treats the Christian. And if it sounds good when we’re talking about the queen, we need to scale up the privilege of this an infinite number of times when we’re talking about the living God treating us in this way. But he does.

But how do all these good things come to us? The answer in these verses is that they come through knowing Jesus Christ. Verse 2: “Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” Verse 3: “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.” These things come to us as we know Jesus Christ.

And notice verses 3 and 4 say that all these blessings are given to us. They are a gift. If you know Jesus, you have everything you need, now and for the future. And the only way to have everything you need, now and for the future, is if God gives it to you as a free gift. And he gives it to those who know Jesus.

If you know Jesus, you have everything you need, now and for the future. Which means that there is no Christian who is a second class citizen. Not in any way.

The teachers were promising these people more. These people didn’t feel that they had all they needed. And that meant they were easy prey to those who would offer to fill the gap that they felt there was. But the gap was an illusion. These Christians were secure in the extreme. They knew Jesus. So they had everything they needed. These teachers were offering to plug a gap that didn’t exist.

For those of us who know Jesus today, the relevance of this just walks off the page. We need to know how secure we are. If we don’t know, we will be easy pickings for people who will pop up, and will promise to plug the gaps we feel.

So I’m afraid it’s back to the same old lies. The end to suffering or illness, the end to financial hardship, an experience of God that is more immediate. As we’ll see when we get to chapter 2, we can add some more specific gaps people will plug. We will be promised the end of the need to submit to various kinds of authority. We will be told that now we are Christians, we are free. We will be promised the end of some of Christianity’s more stringent moral requirements. But more of that when we get to chapter 2.

For now, Peter is warning us that if we know Jesus we have everything we need. Life now, and promises for the future. And therefore we are being warned not to believe anyone who promises to take our relationship with God on to the next level. There is no next level. We just live the godly life, and trust the promises.

If you know Jesus, you have everything you need, now and for the future.

If you know Jesus, make every effort to build on that relationship.

The second thing Peter wants to say is this: If you know Jesus, make every effort to build on that relationship. If you know Jesus, make every effort to build on that relationship.

We don’t have time this morning to look at these verses in a lot of detail. It is significant, though, how Peter starts them off. He starts “For this very reason”. You see we would think that if God gives us everything we need as a free gift, human effort does not come into the equation.

Peter thinks the opposite Precisely because God has promised we will get there one day, precisely God has given us all we need for now, we have no excuse if we don’t get on with it in the meantime.

And Peter lists 7 qualities that we need to grow on – which is really to say that we need to grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ. That means growth in goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love.

Peter’s point is that if we grow in these qualities we are confirming that God has indeed given us the gift of all we need. If we lack them, we are calling into question whether God’s wonderful provision has been given to us at all.

So the challenge for us is to make sure that, having got to know Jesus, we build on that relationship. More than that, that we are making every effort to build on that relationship. It means we should be looking around and saying, “I know I already do a lot, but is there anything else I could do to make sure that I am growing in the way Peter describes.”


So, do you feel secure when it comes to how God thinks of you?

Of course, what matters is not whether you feel secure but whether you are secure. Having said which, feelings do matter because it’s dangerous to have them out of touch with reality.

If you know Jesus Christ, you are secure. You lack nothing now – you have all you need to live for God, and that is where true life is found. And you have God’s promise that you will be both with him and like him in the future. You lack nothing. You are secure. We all feel slightly less secure than this, so beware anyone who plays on that difference between our feelings and reality.

If you don’t know Jesus Christ, you may feel secure, and think God likes you, but that is a dangerous illusion. That kind of security only comes as a gift to those who know him. Why not do our Christianity Explored course and find out more about how you can know him.

But the other danger Peter has warned us about is this – and we’ll hear more about this in coming weeks. Beware if you misapply the security that comes through knowing Christ. If you think that means you can live how you want. Or if you think you’ve applied the effort to grow for long enough, and you can take your foot off the peddle for a while so others can grow, beware. Because you’ve lost sight of past present and future and may not be as secure as you think.

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