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Series Theme: Meditations in 2 Peter

Meditation No. 1

Meditation Title: Honest Appraisal


2 Pet 1:1a   Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ


As we come to this second letter of Peter, because these are intended to be more of a meditation than a study, we will not go into background of the letter but simply take it as it stands and see what it says to us as we work through it verse by verse. We will acknowledge that it is Peter's second letter (see 3:1) and therefore obviously written later than the other one.

He starts by identifying himself by the name that he is presumably known by throughout the church. When you read the Synoptic Gospels, the three writers refer to him as ‘Simon Peter', e.g. “As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee , he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew.” (Mt 4:18) and Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Mt 16:16) but when they record Jesus speaking to him, Jesus mostly just refers to him as Simon, e.g. “Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.” (Mt 16:17) and “Jesus was the first to speak. "What do you think, Simon ?" he asked.” (Mt 17:25)

We have to wait for understanding until John later writes his Gospel and adds some explanation: “Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas" (which, when translated, is Peter).” (Jn 1:42) A note in your Bible probably tells you that Peter means ‘rock' while Simon simply meant ‘small stone'. This is why there has been much play on Jesus' words when Peter had just declared him the Christ: “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church .” (Mt 16:18) The statement, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16:16 ) is surely the rock of truth that the church is built upon, yet also Peter was to become a rock within the church who would build and strengthen it.

Peter thus now describes himself as “Little stone – big rock”. Now that may not sound very significant to you but I suggest it really is. In the first letter Peter identified himself simply as “Peter an apostle” (1 Pet 1:1) but now he adds the “Simon” element to it, which will soon be seen to be reflected in the concept of ‘servant' that follows. In the Song of Songs, the Beloved describes herself as follows: “Dark am I, yet lovely,” (Songs 1:5) and, as with Peter now, there is a recognition of two aspects to our lives.

When Peter identifies himself as ‘Simon' he is recognizing his weak human origins. The Beloved called herself ‘dark'. Outside of Christ I am ‘dark'. To retain the balance that comes within humility, we always need to remind ourselves of what Jesus said, “ apart from me you can do nothing.” (Jn 15:5) or to be more precise, outside of Christ I am nothing, just another insignificant sinner. But then comes the second part – ‘Peter' - a rock established by Jesus or, as the Beloved said it, “lovely”. How many of us dare call ourselves that? But that is the truth of who we are today in Christ.

So when Peter goes on to define himself, it is all in relation to Jesus – “of Jesus Christ.” Jesus had entered his life when he was a young fisherman and he was never the same again. He was what he was because of Jesus. The call he had on his life was from Jesus. Is that how we see ourselves if we are Christians? That is the truth: I am what I am only because of Jesus, and I have become what I have become only because Jesus put a call on my life to grow into the man he had designed me to be.

So whatever roles in life Peter has, they are defined by Jesus. The two descriptions match what we have been saying previously. There is weakness and there is strength. Peter is first a servant of Jesus. A servant is a humble figure who simply does the bidding of the master. There is nothing great in that. He does what Jesus tells him to do because he is a simple human figure, the same as anyone else – but redeemed! But then he is an apostle – a member of a limited band of men called into being by Jesus to extend and build the church.

Note there is no false humility about this – “I am an apostle!” Peter knows that when he says this, some people may look up to him, but he has no grounds to boast. He is simply a redeemed failure. He is an apostle because Jesus called him and equipped him to be this. There is a real humility within this. He knows who he is and why he is, and it all goes back to Jesus.

Now you are probably not an apostle but if you are a Christian, you ARE called by Jesus and at the very least to grow into the man or woman he has designed you to be. You may be a shop-keeper, you may be a housewife, you may be a teacher, or you may be a company director. If you know you are doing what God wants you to be doing, you are HIS shop-keeper, housewife, teacher or company director, expressing Him in whatever role He's given you to be. In that role you are HIS servant, working out his will in it. There you will be salt and light (Mt 5:13 ,14) and there you will reveal Him to others (Mt 5:16 ), and there you will receive His wisdom and His guidance and His grace to be the person He's called you to be. Be blessed in who you are – in your weakness and in your calling.







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Series Theme: Meditations in 2 Peter

Meditation No. 2

Meditation Title: A Precious Faith 


2 Pet 1:1b To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:


This is a letter written by Peter for Christians. That is a summary of the second part of this first verse. His first letter had been written to the Christians scattered over the area we call Asia Minor , but this present one has a broader, more general audience. In identifying the recipients he speaks first about the work of God and then, second, about the people who are the result of God's work.

Sometimes when we see the word ‘righteousness' in Scripture we get confused and complicated because it is not a word we use in everyday life. In its simplest form it means ‘a right way of living or acting that is in accord with God's perfect design'. We forget that God is the Creator and that He has designed the world to bless us His creatures. When He finished making it He declared that it was “very good” (Gen 1:31 ). Because “God is love” (1 Jn 4:8,16) everything God does is an expression of love and is good. The Fall may have spoilt the world but that has not changed God, He is still love and He still works to bring good to the world because He IS love and will always be love because He is unchanging. Righteousness is simply living in accord with God's design.

Now of course God Himself is perfect and so when Peter speaks about the “righteousness of our God” he is simply saying, “the right actions of our God” because God's actions are ALWAYS right. But actually Peter isn't talking about God generally or of the Father; he is referring to Jesus: “God and Savior Jesus Christ”. He is not referring to two persons but two aspects of Jesus. He is both God and he is Saviour. God is his nature and Saviour was his task or role. Of course Peter himself had referred to Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Mt 16:16) Thomas similarly had declared, “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20:28) and the concept of Jesus' deity often crops up in Paul's writings, e.g. Col 2:9, but it is worth noting that these early believers were quite clear about who it was they had encountered – God in the flesh.

So it is God, who in the form of His Son, Jesus Christ, has brought about a harvest of believers. Just think about it, if Jesus had never come we would not have had all that revelation about God's love and there would have been no path of salvation through Jesus. But he has and so as a result there were those with transformed lives who were able to testify to his coming and what he had done.

On the Day of Pentecost the apostle Peter summarised it: “ Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” (Acts 2:22-24) Jesus himself, recorded by Matthew, had declared what those ‘miracles, wonders and signs' were: “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.” (Mt 11:5)

The apostle John put it in more general, almost philosophical terms, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched--this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.” (1 Jn 1:1,2) There is this ‘precious faith' declared: God has come to this earth in human form and done wonderful things and people were blessed.

But for the bigger work, it was John the Baptist who first declared it: “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (Jn 1:29) Prior to that, some thirty years before that, Joseph had had a dream in which an angel had declared about Jesus, “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Mt 1:21) At the Last Supper Jesus had said, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Mt 26:28) Later Peter was to testify to Cornelius, the first Gentile recorded as receiving the Gospel, “All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10:43 )

But Peter describes this faith as being ‘precious'. J.R.R.Tolkien stamped this word in our consciousness with his character Gollum in The Lord of the Rings , who spoke of the ring as ‘his precious'. Precious means ‘of great value, held very dear, very special to us'. From the verses we've considered above, we can see the value of this ‘precious faith'. It is the truth, it is history declared to us, and it is life changing. It is the Good News about Jesus that brings forgiveness of sins and reconciliation to God for us. It is what has transformed men women throughout the past two thousand years, some of the earliest of whom were being addressed by Peter in this letter. How wonderful! If you have lost the sense of how this wonderful faith is precious, go back over the above notes and take in the verses quoted there, and then rejoice!






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Series Theme: Meditations in 2 Peter

Meditation No. 3

Meditation Title: Resourced


2 Pet 1:2    Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.


When we wrote about righteousness, I said I believed it was something that many Christians get confused about and make complicated, and I believe the same is true of the word ‘grace'. I've never really liked the Sunday School explanation of it – G od's r iches a t C hrist's e xpense, even though it does say it all, because it really needs unpacking some more. I suppose I don't like the word ‘riches' because I believe the word ‘resources' conveys much better what it's all about. And yes they do come to us because of what Christ has done for us on the Cross.

Both Peter and Paul speak a lot about grace and peace and it was obviously one of those ‘words' that the early church had and taught that meant to much in so few words. So Peter starts by saying, “May you know and experience all of the resources that God has for you be able to live the life of one of His children.” That is what grace is, but even using the word ‘resources' still leaves question marks. What are these resources and how do they come to us, and when do we experience them. The ‘when' is probably the easiest because the answer is all the time, even though we may not be aware of it.

The ‘what' and the ‘how' are answered by the latter part of this verse – grace comes “through the knowledge of God and of Jesus ”. Knowledge here doesn't mean just intellectual knowledge or metal assent to a truth, but it actually means knowing through experience. Grace isn't something like magic dust that is blown on us by God when we pray; it is the actual presence of God Himself. The fact is, as Scripture makes plain, that when we become a Christian God puts His very own Spirit within us. Supposing you were a motor driven by electricity, God's Spirit is the electricity of your life, the thing that empowers you, motivates and energises you when you have given yourself over to Him.

Any need that you have, to be able to walk the Christian life as a child of God, flows to you in the form of the Holy Spirit within you. Yes, we submit our will to His and yes we need to obey His prompting, but when we do those two things we will always find that He will be the resource that we will need to face any situation or circumstance. We may need wisdom – He will provide it. We may need patience – He will provide it. We may need tolerance – He will provide it. We may need perseverance – He will provide it. We may need love – He will provide it. We may need courage – He will provide it. We may need faithfulness – He will provide it. These and many more things like them are expressions of this resource we call grace.

Why do we need grace? Because we live in a fallen world and left to ourselves we have a tendency to get it wrong and make wrong decisions, or respond badly to trying and difficult circumstances or people. Because it is a fallen world, other people will be less than gracious to us and things will go wrong and we need additional resources to express the nature and character of Jesus as a child of God. This is it. I know we have said it a number of times but it needs repeating: Grace enables us to live as children of God, to be the people God has designed us to be.

But it is not only grace he wants for us, it is also peace. Why should peace be marked out specially? For the very reasons we've just given, because we live in a fallen world and things go wrong and people are nasty, and all of that means life can be worrying. Remember what Paul said: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:6,7) i.e. instead of worrying, go to God and tell Him all about it and you will find His peace will fill you and hold you and keep you, the peace that comes from being one with Jesus. “In him” is an expression often found in the New Testament and it just reminds us that the New Testament teaches us that not only are we indwelt by his Spirit (i.e. he is in us), but that we are also now part of his body, the church and we are ‘in him'. Imagine the Holy Spirit coming as a cloud of light and enveloping you. All around is darkness but it cannot reach you because darkness flees before light. That is how it is now we are ‘in Christ'.

So all of these resources and this wonderful peace are ours as we experience the Godhead. THEY ARE or THEY HAVE all of these things within their Being and as we encounter the Father or the Son or the Holy Spirit, we encounter and experience these things. Note how much! In “abundance”. These are not bare, limited resources; these are all we are ever going to need. Declare it aloud today: “I have all I need for this day because He is in me and I am in Him. Hallelujah!”







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Series Theme: Meditations in 2 Peter

Meditation No. 4

Meditation Title: Resourced (2)


2 Pet 1:2,3 Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 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


So we saw, in the previous meditation in verse 2, that God has provided us with all the resources we need to be able to walk the Christian life as a child of God, and those resources come to us in the form of the Holy Spirit within us or, to put it another way, through our experience of God Himself. In verse 2 it spoke of “the knowledge of God” and now in verse 3 it speaks of “our knowledge of him”. The message is quite clear: our resources come from knowing God, not just knowing about Him but experiencing Him.

Now in case we hadn't taken in the purpose of these resources that we considered in the previous meditation, Peter now makes it explicit. God “has given us everything we need for life and godliness.” Now perhaps we need to ponder on the two key words in that verse. First ‘life'. We might assume that ‘life' simply means the “period we spend alive on this earth”, i.e. our lifetime, but actually the Bible indicates that there is a difference between those who are alive but not Christians and those who are alive and are Christians. Both are alive in the sense we usually mean when we speak of someone being alive as a human being, but when Jesus speaks about life he speaks about spiritual life or eternal life, or a dimension beyond simple material living. In fact the apostle Paul spoke of Christians as those who have been brought from death to life.” (Rom 6:13 )

There the implication is that there is a completely different dimension to ‘life' and until we receive it through Christ we are spiritually dead. Paul, speaking to Timothy said “Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life .” (1 Tim 6:18,19) There again is this implication that there is a life to be taken hold of that is more than the purely material life we previously lived.

This new ‘life' is one which is lived in the power of God and knows and experiences God. As this happens – as we seek Him and he works in us, there comes about a state of “godliness” in us. A godly person is simply one who knows, experiences and expresses God, one who has a living relationship with God. Thus the presence of His own Holy Spirit within us, is the power to make us ‘godly' or as we just said, “expressing God.”

In passing we should perhaps emphasise what Peter says – “ His divine power has given us everything we need.” Sometimes Christians sound very plaintive about their state as if God had somehow short-changed them and left them lacking in some way so that they are now weak and defenceless . Nothing could be further from the truth. With His power within us we have EVERYTHING we need to live out this godly life as a child of God. You really aren't lacking anything!

But, goes on Peter, this wasn't something initiated by us, this was the call of God. He “ called us by his own glory and goodness.” God drew us to Himself and then everything else followed. Ultimately it was God's greatness, his glory and goodness, that drew us and convicted us. Perhaps we didn't see it like that initially; we were more aware of our failure and guilt, but really it was only failure and guilt being revealed by Him, by His own splendour. As I say, I'm sure for many of us it was more like that to start with but as we started to find out about Him, who He was and what He had done for us, we found our hearts being captured and drawn and we knelt before Him in surrender and received His forgiveness and Sonship.

The more you find out about Him the more your heart is drawn to Him. Someone has suggested that if we could see Him as He truly is we would never want to leave His presence and carry on living out the life He's given us. If is a gift, in a sense, that He hides Himself otherwise we could never be the people He calls us to be, touching and impacting others with His love in this Fallen World.

So here we are, called by His wonderful Presence, equipped by His own Holy Spirit who gives us everything we need to shine as children of God in this dark world. It's not a struggle on our own but a partnership with the King of Kings – and He provides all we need. All we can do is receive it and live it.







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Series Theme: Meditations in 2 Peter

Meditation No. 5

Meditation Title: Escapees


2 Pet 1:4 Through these he has given us his 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.


Trying to understand something of the fullness of Scripture isn't always easy. Trying to catch the meaning that the original writers had in mind isn't always clear, mainly because what we have today are translations. The question mark we have is over the “Through these”. Most translations and commentators duck the issue. The NEB in verse 3 says, “who called us by his own splendour and might” and then continues in verse 4 – “Through this might and splendour he has given us his promises…” Thus in our version the meaning would be, “Through his glory and goodness have come these very great and precious promises.”

The focus thus comes back on what are these promises and how do they come through His glory and goodness. Well let's backtrack on “his glory and goodness” first of all. His ‘glory', we may suggest, refers to God's being and ‘goodness' refers to the expression of His being seen in His actions. (Although ‘goodness' is part of who He is, it is seen in His expressions, where His glory tends to be the brightness of His very presence and is seen even if He did nothing. We wouldn't know about His goodness until He expressed Himself.). Another thing to note is that God's glory is unchanging and is always there whenever He is revealed in Scripture. So perhaps another way of saying this is that we have these promises assured by God's very unchanging nature and by all that we have learnt from observing His actions and realising they are all good and are for our good.

Well next we have to ask, what are these ‘promises' that are referred to? They must surely be the very basic things of salvation, for instance, if we repent, He will forgive us and cleanse us of all unrighteousness. Or perhaps, when we turn to Him in repentance, He will adopt us into His family and we will be reborn by His Holy Spirit and will be assured a place with Him in heaven in eternity.

These promises are described as ‘precious promises' and previously we noted that precious means ‘of great value, held very dear, very special to us'. Peter likes this word and has used it to describe the blood of Christ (1 Pet 1:19 ), Christians (1Pet 2:4), Jesus the cornerstone (1 Pet 2:6,7), our faith (2 Pet 1:1) and how God's promises (2 Pet 1:4). All of these things are of immense value and very special to us.

So what is the outcome of these promises? The outcome is two fold. First, it is that we “may participate in the divine nature.” This we have seen again and again in our considerations of these verses. Because the Holy Spirit indwells us and we are also “in Christ” we have the closest possible relationship with God whereby we actually share in or participate in His very nature. Jesus spoke about this closeness in his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane : “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (Jn 17:20-23) There is the climax of God's purposes – that we become one with Him.

The second outcome is that we “ escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” Prior to our coming to Christ we were told we were, “dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.” (Eph 2:1-3) We had succumbed to sin within us and the pressures of the enemy and the ways of the world and could only look forward to the wrath of God bringing His judgment on us.

That was how we were but now we have received and responded to His promises and have become participators of the divine nature and have been set free from the power of sin, the pressures of Satan and the pull of the world and the certainty of judgment. We have escaped from all that by the love and working of God or, to put it in the way Peter says, by God's unchanging loving nature and the guarantee of His goodness that is ever seen in all of His activity. His unchanging presence and His prevailing goodness have set us free. Hallelujah!







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Series Theme: Meditations in 2 Peter

Meditation No. 6

Meditation Title: Grow (1)


2 Pet 1:5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge


The danger or difficulty with meditating on one verse is that so often verses are linked together and thus here in the verse above we have the opening, “For this very reason.” What reason? For that we need to look in the previous two verses which include the facts that God has: given us everything we need for life and godliness …. so that … you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world,” or to summarise it, God has given us all we need to be godly people living out the life of children of God, distinct from the world.

That is the reason why Peter now moves on to exhort us to continue changing and he gives us a list of things to work on. Now note before we get under way with this list that he doesn't say, “Very well, it's all right, now you've come to Christ and you've been given everything you need to live godly, Christ-like lives, you can just sit back and enjoy it. No, he seems to indicate that that was just the starting place and there are things for us to DO. Notice he says, “make every effort.” i.e. you have got something to work hard on, something that is going to bring about change in you. When we first come to Christ, we are like little babies, the New Testament says, and we've got to grow up – and that is going to take time and effort.

Can we emphasise this even more: the Christian life is about change – change in you and me. If you think you are all right as you are, you are missing the point. God has got something more, something better for you than what you are at the present. He's got all the resources to give you, but we have to make the effort to take hold of them to bring change to our life now Christ has set us free from the power of sin. The verses we are looking out now are all about ongoing change, and Peter doesn't leave us wondering; he is going to give us a ‘check list' of things to work on, so it is important that we understand what they mean, which is why we are going to take three meditations to cover this list.

He starts out “add to your faith.” His starting point is to assume we ALL have faith. If you are a Christian you have faith. How much faith is something else perhaps, but you do have faith. Faith, the New Testament tells us “comes from hearing the message” (Rom 10:17 ). You heard the Gospel and you responded to it. That is faith. Now Peter isn't concerned here with quality or quantity; he just wants to urge us to realise there are a whole variety of things that we need to be adding into our lives, so before we move on let's just remind ourselves that the New Testament does show that it is possible to have different levels of faith. For example on various occasions Jesus had to chide the disciples for having “little faith” (e.g. Mt 6:30 ). When he encountered a centurion he commented on his “great faith” (Mt 8:10), so although Peter isn't concerned with that here, we should nevertheless note in passing that each of these things that he is about to list can increase or grow in us.

So we've come to the starting post with faith. Right, says Peter, work hard on adding goodness to that faith. Many of us may use the word ‘good' but give little thought to its meaning. If something is ‘good' it is pleasingly right, correct, and proper, even excellent. Note though the first word we used – ‘pleasingly'. Whenever something is good there is a very positive feel about it. Goodness is simply the expression of what is good. God is good the Bible tells us (see back to v.3) and as children of God we are to express and imitate Him. Someone has said that goodness in this context is “Spirit-created moral and spiritual excellence of every description.”

Faith expressed will be goodness directed by God into the world, so we need to realise that faith is a practical outworking of hearing God and responding to Him, and when we do that, whatever we do will come under the umbrella of ‘goodness'. Whenever we interact with people, do they have a sense that they have been recipients of God's goodness and are left with a warm feeling as a result of it, because that is what goodness does!

Now when we start out the Christian walk we have the minimum of knowledge and understanding and every step we take we hope is the right one and we enter a major learning curve – learning to think God's way. So it is no wonder that Peter says as you learn to respond to what God says, let it all be an expression of goodness and learn what it is all about and more and more how God works and what He wants for you. One of the saddest things, I find, is Christians who are content to remain ignorant and who then get into difficulties and wonder why. God wants us to be people who understand, in a large measure at least, what salvation is all about, what Jesus has done and what it means for us today, and what His heart's desire is for us.

Remember, prefacing this list was the exhortation to “make every effort” to do these things. Are you making “every effort” to add knowledge so that you understand your Faith more and more? This means having a heart that wants to learn, that turns up on a Sunday, or whenever else there is a teaching time, hungry and thirsty for God's word and what it means. Have you thought about taking notes of what the preacher says? Do you have a daily reading of Scripture and keep a journal of what it has been saying to you? These are ways to ‘add knowledge'.

So, to conclude, do we realise we have embarked on a faith life, hearing from God and responding to Him, and every time we express Him to others we are to be expressing goodness and the more and more we go in this walk, the more we need to learn and increase understanding of what we are doing and where we are going. Amen? Amen!






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Series Theme: Meditations in 2 Peter

Meditation No. 7

Meditation Title: Grow (2)


2 Pet 1:5,6 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;


So, we said, Peter is giving us a list of things to work on as children of God, to help us to enter more fully into the life that God has got for us. We also noted that before he started the list off, he exhorted us to make every effort” to add these things. God has provided us with “everything we need for life and godliness,” but it is now for us to make an act of will and an act of effort to bring these things more and more into our lives.

Faith was the starting place, for every believer has a measure of faith. But faith is responding to what God has said and as we do that we will be expressing His goodness in our actions. But we are not to totter on in ignorance for our Father in heaven wants us to be participants in working out this new life and so we are also to make every effort to grow in knowledge.

Next he says add self-control . Why might that be? As we grow in knowledge of who He is and what He wants for us, we realise more and more who we are and the dynamics of the spiritual life, the life as children of God. In the opening verses of Eph 2, the apostle Paul reminds us what we used to be like before we came to Christ and then what we now are. We need to examine these things to see why we need self-control.

He starts out: “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.” (Eph 2;1,2) in other words we did wrong because of sin and we allowed ourselves to be led by the ideas of the word and by Satan's lies. Elsewhere Paul said, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world,” (Rom 12:2) and “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (Jas 5:7) Both of these things require us to take control of our lives to stop what we had been doing previously.

He continued with the Ephesians: “All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts.” (Eph 2:3) So, he says, we used to live our lives on the basis of our desires and our (godless) thoughts. We are no longer to do that, so we need self-control, to bring our lives into a new way of living, instead being led by God's Spirit rather than our self-centred desires. So self-control; is a vital ingredient for our lives today as we reject our old way of living and ‘put on' the new life.

As Paul said to the Colossians, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry ,” ( Col 3:5) and instead, “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” ( Col 3:12) To do these things – getting rid of something and bringing in other things – requires self-control.

But this isn't going to be easy and so Peter recognises that there will be something else we will need if we are to thoroughly work this out in our lives and so he next says, add perseverance. Why do we need perseverance? We need perseverance because it is a battle of the mind to reject the ways of the world and the lies of Satan; it is a battle to ‘put off' the old ways and ‘put on' the new things, the characteristics of Christ. These things don't come easily and so they require effort and that effort has to be sustained, it has to go on and on and on until the old things no longer have a foothold in our lives and the new things are set firm in our lives. To achieve these things you will need to persevere and so see perseverance as something you are to make every effort to add in order that the other things may prevail.

But this is not a self-help class; this is a God-helped class because our starting place was that He had placed His Spirit within us and it was by His provision and as we turned to Him that these things would be worked out. It is no wonder therefore that Peter says, now add godliness. Godliness can mean two things. First it can mean having the attitude that we will take all things to God. A godly person goes to God for help in all things; a godly person is one who spends time in God's presence. Second though, a godly person is one who starts exhibiting the nature and character of God. God's children will show characteristics of their Father in heaven. Part of the increase in knowledge that we considered previously, will be knowledge about who God is and what He is like and so, for instance, the list of things we saw above in Col 3:12 are characteristics of Christ. Thus as we grow we become more Christ-like, more godly.

So, are we aware of having to exercise self-control and of persevering in it to become more godly – more of a person who turns to God, who spends time in God's presence, and becomes more Christ-like? Do we realise it is an ongoing process that requires our effort in allowing Him to bring these things more and more into our live? May we be so!







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Series Theme: Meditations in 2 Peter

Meditation No. 8

Meditation Title: Grow (3)


2 Pet 1:5-7 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.


So, to recap, faith or hearing from God and responding to Him, leads us on into expressing Him and that is seen as it is in Him as goodness. As our relationship with Him develops so our knowledge also develops. As we learn more and more who He is and what He has planned for us, we see the part we have to play and self-control means we take charge of getting rid of the old life and bringing in the new life. But it is a battle of the mind and so we need to persevere, but when we do, the expression of that perseverance will be turning to God for His continual help and, in so doing, becoming more and more like Him so that godliness becomes observable in us.

But this isn't all heaven directional because God didn't save us to take us away to live in isolation in monasteries or other places where we have no contact with the contaminating world. No, He calls us to live in this world at two levels. The first level is within the Church. Here, among other things, we work out new relationships and the attitude we have within that is called ‘brotherly kindness'. In the Greek original it is one of the two key words for love; it is philadelphia , which places emphasis more on relationship. It's about having good feelings towards those of your new spiritual family. So Peter's emphasis now is let all these things work out but make sure they are grounded in the relationships that we now have with our new family, the Church.

In this day of mass communication, we should think more about this brotherly kindness. Because of the means of communication that we have we hear and read much about views of Christians across a wider spectrum than if this communication ability wasn't there. It is to our shame that conflicting opinions within the Church are often seen to contain great hostility and abuse. Such things should not be. If we are exhorted to work hard at establishing brotherly kindness, there will be no room for violent, vicious, carping criticism of one another in the Church.

Please note that I have been using a capital letter with the word Church, to denote that we are speaking not merely of the local church, but the Church worldwide, i.e. all believers. How do you think and speak about different denominations, different streams, different groupings within the Church worldwide? Our attitude is supposed to be one of brotherly kindness, i.e. we see all other believers as brothers and sisters in Christ and we should think well of them, even when we disagree with some of their theology and of their practices.

This is a call by Peter to express love within the relationships of the church. But this isn't something we can write off as being too big because, “I don't know a quarter of the churches in the world.” No, the reality is that in whatever area we live in there are likely to be a number of expressions of ‘the local church' and they'll all be different to the one I attend. No, having ‘brotherly kindness' starts right on our own doorstep. It is about how we think and feel about all the other believers in the areas in which I live!

But he hasn't finished there. He simply adds one more word – love. Now this is the word agape and is the word that is used to describe God's love. This isn't limited to where there are relationships. When the apostle John wrote, “God is love” (1 Jn 4:8,16), he was declaring that God's very essence is love – everything about God is love and so it is a love that is not limited to people who have entered into a relationship with the Lord through Jesus Christ. God loves everybody. That isn't to say that everyone enjoys that love in fullness, although they do in a measure because the provision of the world is an act of God's love for humanity. Most people don't think about it like that but that is what it is. So now Peter says to us, add to all else, this same characteristic of God, this sacrificial, all-embracing love that looks for the good of all people, not only those in the Church.

There is a verse in Scripture that I have known for many years but just recently I have come to realise that I have only ever through about the back part of it. It is, Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” (Gal 6:10) I've always noted Paul's exhortation to us to do good to fellow believers but I've only recently really come to appreciate his call to do good to ALL people. That is the real expression of God's love through us. When we truly love people we will seek to do good for them because, I conclude, love according to the Bible is, “selfless, sacrificial, unrestricted good will towards all others”. If we have this same good will towards others as God has, we will be seeking their good at all times.

Now to conclude, remember we are called to “make every effort” to add these things and, I suggest, this will be a long-term process. Don't be put off if you look at your life and see it is falling short of these goals that Peter has given us. See this as a target to aim for with God's grace. That is the crucial thing: we will need God's help, the help of His Holy Spirit within us, to work on these goals, yet the call to us is, “YOU make every effort.” It is a joint partnership thing. May we know and experience a growth of these things in our own lives and in the life of the Church.








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Series Theme: Meditations in 2 Peter

Meditation No. 9

Meditation Title: Effective & Productive


2 Pet 1:8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.


Peter now refers back to that list of things he has just exhorted us to work on in our lives, to add them to our lives, “these qualities”. Let's just remind ourselves what those “qualities” are that we have been examining in the last three meditations: faith, goodness; knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. That's the first thing to note, that Peter has given us a specific list of things to work on. Sometimes Christians say, well, I don't know what God's will is. Well it may include a lot of things for you but at the starting post, if you like, here are a whole load of things to specifically work on in our lives with God's help. These are things that he said, about which we are to “make every effort to add ” to our lives.

There is a suggestion built into this that we are to be very much aware of what is going on in us and the changes taking place. There is a misguided teaching that says that humble people are completely lacking in self awareness but that is clearly wrong. A humble person is someone who realises what good things are taking place in their life but attributes them to the goodness and grace of God. Yes, we make the effort but God gives the ability. We go to take a step forward, if you like, but God gives the energy to enable it to come about. Humility isn't about lack of self-awareness but of realising that without Jesus we can do nothing (Jn 15:5)

The whole point of the Bible, if we may put it this simplistically, is to reveal God and teach us about Him and about ourselves. Peter is teaching in these verses, imparting knowledge, but that isn't for just sitting on; it is for doing things with. Thus Matthew recorded that Jesus instructed us to go out, “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Mt 28:20) In other words knowledge from God requires a response. We are thus to work on this list that Peter has given us, to ensure that in reality these things DO appear more and more in our lives.

Now we might suggest that the reason for this is very simply that they will bring about “everything we need for life and godliness,” (v.3) and to help us “participate in the divine nature,” (v.4) but Peter now takes us on to two further expressions of those things. Taking a short cut, living a godly life expressing the divine nature, will result in other things being seen in us and things happening because of us. Note the two things Peter says these ‘qualities' will stop us being – “ ineffective and unproductive”

  To be “ineffective” means we don't have effect (simple isn't it!). So what ‘effect' are we supposed to have and where or upon whom? Well, very simply, Jesus said, You are the salt of the earth.” (Mt 5:13) and “You are the light of the world…. let your light shine before men.” (Mt 5:14,16) Salt and light! Salt flavours and purifies. Light brings revelation. Those are the effects we are supposed to have in this world. We are supposed to make this world a better place by the presence of Jesus in us, we are supposed to purify it by Jesus' presence in us, and we are supposed to reveal the Father and His love by the presence of Jesus in us.

So, when we express faith, goodness; knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love, we will stand out in the world and the people around us will look and realise there is something different about us and will start asking questions. That's why Peter in his first letter wrote, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Pet 3:15) The quality of our lives is supposed to provoke seeking responses from the people around us. How often we seem to fail in this!

To be ‘unproductive' means to fail to produce something (simple isn't it!) Earlier we reminded ourselves of Jesus saying that without him we can do nothing, but actually that quote comes in the context of fruitfulness: “If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (Jn 15:5) Jesus has an expectation that his disciples will be fruitful. The New Testament speaks of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22,23), the fruit of righteousness (Phil 1:11), the fruit of goodness, righteousness and truth (Eph 5:9), the fruit of lives being saved and changed (Col 1:5,6), the fruit of good works and knowledge of God (Col 1:10) and the fruit of praise that confesses that Jesus is Lord (Heb 13:5). All of these things are to be the fruit or outworking of the Spirit of God in and through us. Wow! That list deserves working through as a bonus meditation! There is much to think about there.

What has this verse been saying? One thing leads on to another, or to put it another way, to achieve a life that impacts and changes the world, we need to start by working on the things (‘qualities') that Peter has given us. The rest follows. May it be so!






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Series Theme: Meditations in 2 Peter

Meditation No. 10

Meditation Title: A Terrible Alternative


2 Pet 1:9    But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.


So what have we considered so far in this very logical flow of thoughts from Peter? God has given us everything we need for life and godliness,” (v.3) so that “you may participate in the divine nature,” (v.4) and Peter has laid out a number of “qualities” (v.8) that he wants us to “make every effort to add” to our lives (v.5), these qualities being, “faith, goodness; knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love.” (v.5-7). When we do this it will keep us from being “ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (v.8)

But Peter hasn't finished there. He has warned us once about failure to have these qualities growing in us in the negatives we considered in the previous meditation, but now he adds a further terrible warning in the form of more negatives. Previously he had said theses ‘qualities' would stop us being ineffective and unproductive (which are actions things), but now he says that if we don't have them it will reveal the sort of person we really are. Remember, he is addressing Christians, so he is speaking to all of us who would claim to be believers. If we don't have these things growing in us then it says two terrible things about us.

First of all, he says that if we don't have these qualities growing in us, then it says that we are “near sighted and blind”. Whatever does that mean? Someone who is near sighted can only see things close to them. A person who is blind cannot see anything at all. Can you be near sighted AND blind? No, you progress from one to the other. You start out being near sighted and if your condition worsens eventually you become blind. So what is he implying here? He is suggesting that there is a person who comes to Christ and then says, “Oh, don't bother me with all this so-called Christian teaching. Now I'm saved I've got all I need. I don't need anything more.” Do you notice that “I” is the central focus of what they have said? Spiritually ‘near sighted' people are self-concerned people. Really they have only been partially saved it seems, for they still hold on to a ‘self' mentality and don't want to know anything else. Another way of describing a Christian or child of God in the New Testament is calling them ‘a disciple' of Jesus Christ. The primary thing about a disciple is that they are a learner and the new life is to be one big learning lesson that goes on and on until we see Him face to face.

But what is so terrible about this is that if you are spiritually near sighted and don't remedy it, it will get worse and worse and you will eventually become blind, i.e. you start out being self-centred but in that state end up losing all understanding of who you are and what God has for you. That is how critical this warning is. We don't stand still. We either grow or we regress and if we regress the possibility is that we lose all spiritual sight. Working on these qualities, says Peter, is the means of ensuring you grow and will not be short sighted and eventually become blind. Part of this process of being self-centred and short sighted is that we forget the wonders of our salvation. This person, says Peter, “has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.”

This is what happens when we turn inwards and focus on ourselves and fail to hunger and thirst for righteousness (Mt 5:6) so that we forget that actually we are spiritually poor (Mt 5:3), we forget the conviction that came to us so we moured our state (Mt 5:4) and in so doing forget that there was a very real need for Christ to die for us – our sin which had to be dealt with. We forget what our old life was like and we forget that we have been cleansed from it. We become complacent and we lose sight of the truth, we become short sighted and that is a stage towards completely losing all understanding of the wonder of our salvation and what happened to us.

This list of qualities that Peter has urged us to develop in our lives – faith, goodness; knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love – are all things that are not ‘natural' to us, so if we turn inward and return to being self-centred, we will find ourselves in a place of deception where we think these are easy, natural expressions of the new life we have received, but they aren't. They are things that come only with the enabling of the Spirit of God who now lives in us, and when we “make every effort” to add them to our lives. They don't just happen; they come about by the dual working of God and us. You don't have them naturally now you are a Christian; you have to work on them. How many ‘short-sighted' and ‘going blind' Christians do we have in the Church I wonder? May it not include you and me!






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Series Theme: Meditations in 2 Peter

Meditation No. 11

Meditation Title: Secure


2 Pet 1:10 Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall,


I always like “Therefore” in the writings of the apostles. It is a moving on type of word, on the basis of what has been said. It's like Peter is saying, OK, I've given you this list of things to work at in your lives as children of God, and I've pointed out that they will stop you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, and they will keep you from bring nearsighted and blind, and so , or because of those things , now “be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure.” i .e. you've heard the warning, you know what you want to avoid and so this is how you will do it.

Moving on from those previous reasons to what he is now saying to do, another way of putting it perhaps, might be to say, keep on working at confirming the foundations of your faith; show that what happened at the beginning and God's apparent plan for your life are just as they seemed. Now let's look at what he means when he refers to our calling and election.

Calling refers to what we have witnessed happening that has a past, present and future dimension to it. In the past, as we were leading our mundane non-Christian lives, things started happening and we found ourselves being drawn to face the truth about our lives and then receiving the truth about what God had done through Jesus. We hardly realised it at the time but we were being called by God to come to Him to receive salvation.

We see this reference to our being ‘called a number of times in the New Testament: “To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ:” (Jude 1:1), and “those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance.” (Heb 9:15) and “God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life--not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.” (2 Tim 1:9) and “Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called.” (1 Tim 6:12) and “He called you to this through our gospel.” (2 Thess 2:14) and “just as you were called to one hope when you were called.” (Eph 4:4).

Peter himself is particularly aware of this truth as we see in his two letters: “But just as he who called you is holy …” (1 Pet 1:15) and “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light,” (1 Pet 2:9) and “To this you were called,” (1 Pet 2:21) and “to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing,” (1 Pet 3:9) and “God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ,” (1 Pet 5:10) and “him who called us by his own glory and goodness .” (2 Pet 1:3). We are what we are because God called us to Himself.

Peter's reference in his first letter (1 Pet 2:9) spoke of being “chosen” and “called”. Now Peter refers to our “election”. Both Paul (2 Tim 2:10 and Titus 1:1) and Peter (1 Pet 1:1) speak of Christians as “the elect”, and similarly both Paul (Rom 9:11 and Rom 11:28) and Peter (2 Pet 1:10) refer to the process of “election”. Election in this sense has nothing to do with voting but refers to God's CHOOSING us.

Paul wrote clearly of this to the Ephesians: “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ.” (Eph 1:4,5). Scripture is clear that the plan of salvation was decided within the Godhead even before they brought this world into being. God decided that the turning point for salvation would be belief in the work of His Son who he would send to the earth when the time was right, Jesus Christ. God looked into the future and knew all who would respond to Jesus and in that sense He chose, or predestined, or elected us to be His adopted children.

To predestine simply means “to destine or decree beforehand; foreordain.” Thus God predestined the way we would be saved, i.e. He decreed before the foundation of the world that this would be the METHOD for salvation, and in the sense that He looked forward and saw us and saw that we would exercise our free will and respond to Him, at that moment, even though it had not yet happened, God knew that it would and as such we were in His mind predestined (decreed beforehand) to be His children. Again Paul understood this order: “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified ; those he justified, he also glorified .” (Rom 8:29 ,30). Note the order: God saw and knew who would respond; they were predestined, then He called them and when they responded they were justified and adopted and glorified (made sons of God with the Spirit of God within and a place reserved in heaven).

OK, says Peter now, work at the things I've spoken about and you'll confirm this heavenly calling and you'll never fall. These things will keep you as children of God, sharing in the divine nature and escaping the corruption or destruction of the world. How wonderful it is when you see it! Rejoice in the wonder of it, and work with “every effort” on these things confirming and holding to the wonder of these things until you see Him face to face. Hallelujah!






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Series Theme: Meditations in 2 Peter

Meditation No. 12

Meditation Title: Rich Welcome


2 Pet 1:11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.


To try and grasp something of the fullness that I believe is here in this verse (which is why I'm considering it on its own) I would like to refer back to an old illustration of salvation that someone has used in the past. They illustrate salvation by reference to a lifeboat going out to a sinking ship. The sinking ship was our life before we came to Christ. When we are lifted off the sinking ship onto the lifeboat, we were saved. That was the point of our conversion and at that point we were saved. Then the lifeboat turns round and makes its way back to the shore through the choppy waters. That is the life that follows conversion, while we are still on this earth. We are being saved. But then eventually the lifeboat reaches the shore and we are on dry land and we are well and truly saved. This is our eternal life after death.

At each stage after getting off the boat we ARE saved. There was the point of conversion and then the life being lived out on earth and then the life being lived out in heaven, one being the extension of the other, both considered an ‘eternal life'. Now references to us being in the kingdom of God operate just the same. The moment we were saved we were IN the kingdom of God : For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” ( Col 1:13,14) Paul speaks of that as a past event so that NOW we Christians are in God's kingdom, experiencing something of His rule now and being participators or citizens of that kingdom. So, yes, while we are living out our lives on this earth we are living in the turbulent waters of this Fallen World, but we are still living in God's kingdom, under His rule. When we die and appear with Him in heaven, that rule will be perfect and not having to combat the turmoil of this earth. But both our life on this earth and our life in heaven, are expressions of the kingdom of God.

Now we say all this because some would see this verse as referring simply to what will happen when we die and leave this earth. At that point, they say, we will receive a rich welcome into God's kingdom – and there is truth in that. When we die we will be welcomed by the Father into heaven and there are indications that He will heap the riches of His goodness upon us in ways that are beyond our imagination and beyond what He can do while we are on earth.

But we've just shown that the kingdom (for us) starts on the day we were saved and our days following on earth are ongoing experiences of the kingdom, so we might legitimately suggest, that rich welcome was given us when we turned to Christ and continues to be given us every day of our life on this earth as we experience the kingdom.

We might even suggest that the adding or growing of these ‘qualities' (v.8) in our lives are part of the riches that we are experiencing and are part of the ongoing welcome that we receive from the Father. Let's quickly remind ourselves what those ‘qualities' are again: faith, goodness; knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. Let me ask you a question: do you think having these things in your life makes you feel good or bad or are they just neutral things? I would suggest to you that the more and more they are added to our lives the better we feel about life. Miserable Christians tend to be those who strive and struggle and don't experience all these things. ALL of these things are good things and when they are there in our lives it brings a good feeling – we ARE sharing in the divine nature and that's a good thing.

So do we see that these ‘qualities' we've been considering for so long in these meditations are not merely things we have to work for, they are also part of the riches that God wants to bring into our lives. Yes, there are surely many more things that the Lord has for us – and in fact I suspect the number, variety and quality of these things keeps on increasing the more we progress in the kingdom of God , because God is a giving God. Remember in Jesus' parable of the prodigal son, when the son returned the father welcome him by dressing him (Lk 15:22) and putting a ring on his finger – thus establishing him as a family member again – at the point of his return, but then held a feast as an ongoing expression of his ongoing welcome, with celebratory songs and dancing.

Here is an amazing picture that I suspect most of us rarely think about: that each day is another day of welcoming celebration in God's kingdom and God just wants to heap more and more goodness into our lives. As we've said previously, if God is love, love expresses itself always towards the objects of its love with goodness. God seeks to bring more and more goodness into our lives – and so often we continue to focus more on the baubles of the world's provision made out of straw.(1 Cor 3:12-15).

Dare we believe that at the beginning of today, today is another day of God's rich welcome in His kingdom of each of us, His children?







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Series Theme: Meditations in 2 Peter

Meditation No. 13

Meditation Title: Reminders (1)


2 Pet 1:12,13 So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body


God knows we need reminders! There are a number of times in the Old Testament (and New) where God sets up things in such a way that they will act as reminders for us. At the Passover, Israel were instructed, This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD--a lasting ordinance.” (Ex 12:14 ). And why? So that, when your children ask you, `What does this ceremony mean to you?' then tell them, `It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians” (Ex 12:26,27)

After Israel had crossed the Jordon into Canaan they set up twelve stones to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you , `What do these stones mean?' tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD.” (Josh 4:6,7)

And with the Law generally, “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” (Deut 6:6-9) And why? So that, “In the future, when your son asks you, "What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the LORD our God has commanded you?" tell him: "We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.” (Deut 6:20,21)

In the New Testament the most obvious reminder that comes through actions is what we call Communion: “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.” (1 Cor 11:24 -26).

It is a sad truth but we do, all of us, need reminding of the truths that we find in the Bible and the basics of the Gospel. Teaching is thus a primary characteristic of the Church so that the individual believer will take in and understand, remember and apply all that has be put down in writing for our benefit. The history of the Bible itself shows that God has gone to great lengths to ensure that His history has been recorded through human hands. In a day when ‘every man does what is right in his own eyes' we need to be reminded that God has decreed His way and that we should do all we can to ensure it is passed on, taken in and applied. As I look around, listen and watch what goes on in the Christian world there appears more teaching that is being conveyed through modern communication means (TV, Internet etc.) yet I sense that fewer Christians are reading their Bible on a daily basis and fail to see the content of the Bible as vital to their understanding of the Christian life and God's will revealed in it.

So Peter says “So I will always remind you of these things.” But then he says something that might surprise us: “even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have.” He is speaking to established believers who, he says, know these things already. Now that presents a challenge or two! First, have we had, as we've worked through these meditations, a sense of “Yes, I know all this!” or is our knowledge lacking so that it has come new to us? These believers, according to Peter, already knew all these things. Second, can we describe ourselves as “firmly established in the truth”? Are we those who can explain our beliefs, explain what we have learnt from the Bible, or are we those who are ignorant of the faith. We shouldn't be.

The writer to the Hebrews also felt this: “We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn . In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” (Heb 5:11-14) His feeling was “let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance.” (Heb 6:1) His perception was that that we should move on from basics and have a much deeper and wider understanding of our faith.

Peter comes in true pastoral mode, aware that we need reminding again and again of these things – basics and otherwise – “I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body,” so while he has breath and while he has the opportunity, he is going to keep on teaching, keep on reminding. He's got another reason in mind and we'll come to that in the next meditation, but for the moment he's just aware that we need this reminding of the truths of the gospel and of our Faith again and again. Have you got a hungry heart for God's word? Ask Him to create one in you.






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Series Theme: Meditations in 2 Peter

Meditation No. 14

Meditation Title: Reminders (2)


2 Pet 1:14,15 because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.


We have just previously considered the whole question of God knowing that we need reminders and saw how both in the Old and New Testaments He made provision for that. Thus Peter had said that he would continue to remind them of the things he had written about, even though they knew them. Now in many ways that is looking back – this is what you were taught and what we want you to remember, which is one of the reasons why he had written. But there is also a concern for the future.

Yes, he also has another reason for reminding them of the things he's been writing about: “I know that I will soon put it aside.” The ‘it' refers to his body that he spoke about in the previous verse. Peter has an awareness that he is not going to be around for much longer. Why? Because Jesus has given him that awareness. Now we don't know how or when this was. Some suggest it refers to Jesus' words back in Jn 21:18-19 when Jesus spoke about Peter's future, but these present words have a time element about them – ‘soon'. No, sometime recently Peter has received a sense from his Lord that his time on earth is limited. This has left him with a desire to do all he can for the Church before he leaves. So what is he going to do?

“I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.” How will he achieve that? At least by writing them down and sending them in letter form to be read in the churches (it may also have been by teaching in the churches while he still had the opportunity). It may be that he has already helped Mark to compile the second Gospel (as tradition has it). He is mindful that the apostles who had been with Jesus are dying off or being martyred. It is vital that the truth about what had happened in those wonderful years with Jesus is conveyed to the next generation.

The apostle John also thought the same way obviously when he wrote his letters: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched--this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard.” (1 Jn 1:1-3) These are the words of men who are very mindful that the truth must be passed on.

The apostle Paul thought similarly when he instructed Timothy: “What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you--guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” (2 Tim 1:13,14). If we aren't sure of that, he continues later, “the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.” (2 Tim 2:2) So, first of all, hold on to it and then, second, pass it on to others so that they in turn may pass it on. Then, “Keep reminding them of these things.” (2 Tim 2:14). Later he continues, “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim 3:14,15) But he doesn't stop there: “I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” (2 Tim 4:1-5)

All of these are words of men who wanted to ensure that the truth was passed on. Do we see this? It is not only that people come to the Lord and receive the truth, but the truth is accurately passed on from one generation to the next. We may think that because we have the Bible we don't have this same call, but it is a call to ensure that the Bible's teaching is received, taken in, believed, and passed on. It is not enough that there are Bibles by the thousand on shelves in the West. We need to ensure that the truth therein is being taken out of the book and applied.

Do those of us who are leaders or preachers have this same awareness of our calling? It is to make sure that we do all we can to pass it on to the next generation so that they receive it, understand and live it, and are then able to pass it on to those who follow them. May that be happening!






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Series Theme: Meditations in 2 Peter

Meditation No. 15

Meditation Title: Witnesses (1)


2 Pet 1:16 We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.


In the previous meditation we considered how Peter, John and Paul, all quite clearly sought to ensure that the good news was passed on to the next generation. Sometimes unknowing people make silly comments about the New Testament – it's all just made up, Christianity is just wishful thinking, a crutch for weak people. Actually nothing can be further from the truth. In today's verses and in a number of other verses in the New Testament we are confronted with hard fact, down to earth concrete facts of history. Peter actually addresses the silly voices that would come down through the centuries. Observe!

We did not follow cleverly invented stories.” All that these men wrote, these writers in the New Testament, was not made up stories. No, we are dealing with HISTORY here, things that actually happened in time and space. If you could time travel and go back to that time, you would have seen all the things in the New Testament actually happening. I don't know how many times I have written these things but like Peter I will delight in repeating them whenever the opportunity comes up, for the silly talk is just that, silly talk that is spoken in the face of ignorance.

No, says Peter, “when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,” that was based on fact because “we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” i.e. we saw Jesus and we saw something of his splendour that was revealed in the things he did. When Peter had been preaching, years before on the day of Pentecost, he had spoken of this: “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.” (Acts 2:22 ) In a moment he's going to refer to one special time when Jesus' glory was revealed, but in reality it was being revealed throughout his ministry. As Jesus told John's disciples, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.” (Mt 11:4,5) Who else but the majestic Son of God could have done all these things, day after day, month after month for three years?

No, says Peter, this was not made up stuff, we were actually there, we were eyewitnesses and saw it all happening in those three incredible years. The apostle John wrote in similar fashion: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard , which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched--this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard.” (1 Jn 1:1-3) You really can't get any more specific testimony than that! That is the language of a witness: I was there, I saw it, I heard it, I touched it and was part of what went on. That is the language of one who saw factual history.

The writer Luke hadn't been there but listen to the language he uses: “Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” (Lk 1:1-4) This is the language of a careful investigator who is concerned for the integrity of what he writes. That is Luke's Gospel!

The apostle John writes at the end of his Gospel: “This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” (Jn 21:24,25) I was there; you can believe me and what I've written here is only a tiny bit of what he did!

We cannot emphasise enough that we need to keep on making this point, that what we find in the New Testament is accredited history. Read the early chapters of Luke's Gospel, for example, and you find that he goes to some lengths to identify times and places and people. It is geography and history wrapped up together as they always should be. The things that happened, happened at certain and specific times, and they happened in specific geographic locations on this planet. The Gospel – the whole of Christianity – is based in historical fact. The writers of the New Testament wrote to show that and so we should declare it loud and clear.