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Second Peter 1:2-2:2 (How do we know the truth?) July 8, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Bible, Faith, False Teachers, Forgiveness, Gospel, Holy Spirit, Inspiration, Peter the Apostle, Romans, Scripture Memorization, Second Peter, Sermons.
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We continue to learn Romans 6:1-13 during these summer months.  I would like for us to think on verses 5-8. 

“For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.7  For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.”

Paul says that there are some things that we know. He says that we are certain of the resurrection because we know that our old man was crucified with Christ, that our sinful body was done away with. How though can we be sure? He repeats this truth in verse 8 when he says that if we died with Christ, we can be convinced that we will live with Him. Again, the question is this, “How do we know?” His reply might be, because we know that the resurrected Christ will die no more. How though can we be sure? 

THIS QUESTION ABOUT TRUTH IS CURRENT! 

Tomorrow as we hold the memorial service for Ron French, this question will be uppermost in some minds, “How can we know that what God has said (about eternity in this case) is true?”

We have the answer in 2 Peter 1:20-21. Let us read these two verses and then we will answer the question, “How do we know?”

“…knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

Peter begins this letter by pronouncing a special blessing on his readers. We find the beginning of this blessing in 1:2. This blessing is based on knowledge. Not just any knowledge but the full knowledge of Jesus Christ. Peter then goes on to explain what exactly this full knowledge produces in the life of the believer so that those who are reading the book will understand both the blessing of this knowledge and their responsibility to it.

FULL KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST SHOWS ITSELF IN OUR CHARACTER.

1.     This knowledge produces fruit (1:2-15). This is not theory but reality put into practice. The knowledge of God produces salvation and it produces the type of life that is different from that of the world.

a.      Verses 1-4 tell us about the eternal fruit that is produced by the Word of God. Although I will be talking about eternal fruit of the future and earthly fruit in our present lives, I hope you will understand as Peter does, that the two are inseparable. Look at verse 3. Peter speaks of that which pertains to life and godliness. Both of them are produced by the power of God by the means of the knowledge of God.

b.     Verses 5-7 tell us about the earthly fruit that is produced by the Word of God. Not only is the gospel of Christ the power that produces salvation, it is also the power that produces a godly life.

·        Why then do believers not live a godly life? Why do they not add to their faith, virtue and to their virtue, knowledge until it culminates in the love of God revealed in their daily lives? It is likely because the power of God does not work in them as it should because they have shunned the knowledge of Christ. Someone asked me several months ago what the verse meant that says that if we will not forgive our brother, neither will our Father in heaven forgive us. This is the explanation. If the gospel does not transform your way of living then it is very unlikely that your heart has been transformed. So if you never develop as a Christian to the point where you can forgive those who have sinned against you, then it is likely you have never experienced the power of God for salvation.

·        This brings us to a second question? What is my part in producing godliness? If I am incapable of producing godliness, why then am I commanded to do so? This is why the Word of God is necessary. You see, it is the power of God that produces godliness just as it is the power of God that produces salvation and eternal life but in both cases this power is set in motion by the Word of God and we respond to it by faith. This is the difference between dead works and faith. Dead works looks at the rules and says, “I can do that.” Faith looks at the promises and says, “God can do that for me,” and then responds by striving to do what God has promised to do within me. Those promises that we look at in the Word of God are like a carrot dangling from a stick luring us away from sin and leading us in the path of godliness (HT: John Piper). It is not by my power to walk in that path but it is by my assent. It is not my capability but it is my responsibility to accept and act upon the truth.

WHEN WE BEAR SPIRITUAL FRUIT, GOD’S WORD IS CONFIRMED.

c.     Verses 8-15 tell us about the necessity of spiritual fruit. We are assured by the Word of God as well as by recognizing God’s work in our heart and life. To continue strong in faith, it is absolutely necessary to be strengthened by the Word of God. I am not sure how far down the road of destruction one can go but it seems that it is possible that one can live in rejection of the Word of God to such a point that his spiritual eyesight is damaged (verse 9). In fact the implication of verse 10 is that those who have no fruit have no salvation.

GOD’S TRUTH IS NOT ONLY CONFIRMED BY OUR CHARACTER BUT ALSO BY EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS. 

2.     We know the truth by the confirmed word (1:16-18). Peter was not a moralist. He did not say I am going to tell you what to do over and over and over again until you get it. Peter said I am going to tell you what I have seen. He was an eyewitness. He was not talking about what he had heard from someone else but was speaking from his own personal experience. The confirmation of the truth of the Word of God is very important (Hebrews 2:1-4; 1 John 1:1-2; 1 Corinthians 15). That is what produces assurance of salvation as well as a holy life.

·        Sometimes someone will tell me about some experience they have that they accredit to God. Sometimes, the experience, although totally foreign to anything that I have ever experienced seems to not only be consistent with the Word of God but also to be evidenced by godliness in the life of the person who experienced it. As long as they do not lift that experience to the level of revelation from God or inspiration by God, then I can say nothing against it. Often though, there are those who tell me about an experience they have had and they attribute that experience to God and I know by their lives that God could have nothing to do with it. If He did their lives would be different. I have no confidence in their experience not because of the experience but because it does not confirm the truth of the Word of God. If your experience does not confirm the clear truth of the Word of God, then your experience is suspect.

·        Peter was different. He was not a perfect man. He was flawed but His experience with Christ changed him and now as he is coming to the end of his life, he writes and tells these people, you need to be reminded of the truth of the message of Jesus Christ. That will keep you from sin! That will establish you in the truth! It is interesting that he does not tell about the resurrection or the ascension of Christ into heaven but rather of the transfiguration, the time when Peter saw Christ in His majesty. Why? Peter understood that was the experience he had with Christ that best describes the second coming (verse 16).

WHAT IS IT THAT FRUITFUL LIVES AND EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS CONFIRM? 

3.     We know the truth by fruitful lives and by confirming testimony but first and foremost we know the truth by the prophetic word of God (1:19-2:2). This is what was confirmed by the eyewitnesses, the prophetic word of God. This may (or may not) imply predicting the future although the predictive prophecies that were fulfilled in Jesus Christ concerning the Messiah coming in power and majesty are certainly foremost in the mind of Peter as well as his Jewish readers.

a.      A prophet never spoke his own message. It was always the message of God that he spoke and that message when believed would bring light (1:19-21).

·        “The content of the Bible is revelation. The process by which that content was written down is called inspiration. And it wasn’t a high level of human activity, it wasn’t even a high level of religious human activity. Men were in the process but it didn’t originate with them and it didn’t come from their desire and their will, they were used as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit and enabled to speak from God. They spoke divine words. God used them. It was their personality. It was their background, some of their insights, their experiences, their perceptions, but every word was the word of God. (Macarthur)”

b.     A false prophet not only speaks his own message but it brings destruction on those who believe it (2:1-2).

WARNING! ALL THAT IS TOLD IS NOT TRUTH. 

There are a lot of wrong voices crying to be heard. These voices are described in 2 Peter 2:1-2. We find out two important things about these wrong voices, the false prophets.  

First, they have always been around. Peter quickly moves into his present day but he begins by saying, “Yes, we have the Word of God but do not forget, the false prophets are from ancient times also.” Just because something is old does not make it honest or true. What makes truth is not age or lack of it but a reliable source and Peter says that the Holy Spirit speaking through men is the only reliable source of truth. 

Secondly, they deny and reject Jesus Christ. It is not about believing in God. It is about trusting Christ. He is after all the only way to God. It is not about doing good works to please God. Good works deny the sufficiency of the work of Christ on the cross. It is not about the traditions of men but about the truth of Christ. How then do you know the truth? Certainly, you can look at what God has done in the lives of believers. That is evidence of the power of the knowledge of God. If you are a believer, you know now that God has given you the power to bear fruit. Strive to do it. It is very clear what the fruit should be. Make your life correspond to that fruit.

There are also the eyewitness testimonies that confirm the truth of the Word of God. Peter is one of those. Ultimately, though you are going to have to put your faith and trust in the promises of God for yourself. Only then can your way be lit to salvation in this life and in the life to come. 

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Comments»

1. David Talley - July 8, 2007

Enjoyed this study.

2. Jesus, the most superior revelation of God (last in the series on the Word of God) « Eternally Significant - September 2, 2007

[…] are better because they have been confirmed by eyewitnesses and miracles (2:3-4). We spoke about this two months ago.  We can have confidence because of the eyewitness and miraculous confirming testimony from those […]


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