2 Peter 3:17-18

2 Peter 3:17-18

 (A Bible Study Led by Dr. Larry Reynolds)

August 7, 2014

 

  1. Did you see the story in the news this past week about a woman named Theresa Roemer who lives in the Woodlands just north of Houston…has 3000 sq. ft. closet in her home…packed with expensive purses, shoes, jewels, and family heirlooms…recently forgot to set the alarm on her closet and a burglar broke in and made off with more than $1 million worth of items… hope she had good insurance coverage!...

  2. Have you ever thought about how much time and energy and money we spend trying to protect ourselves from things that can potentially cause us harm?  For example—

--spend thousands of dollars purchasing insurance protect us from financial disaster in case of accidents or natural disasters or illnesses…

--go outside on bright, sunny day…sunglasses…sunscreen…

--get in car fasten seat belt…air bags…sensors…

--constantly warning our children to be aware of their surroundings and not to let unscrupulous people to take advantage of them…

  1. To do such things makes sense…if we know there is a potential danger to us, it would be foolish not to do all that we can to guard ourselves from that danger…that is something of what Peter tells us at the end of 2 Peter 3 …as have told you numerous times now, 2 Peter 3 written against backdrop of Lord’s promised return to this world…in this chapter tells us some things to do in light of that return…we have seen that in verses—

    --1-2 tells us be informed…--3-13 be alert…--14-16 be diligent…

      And today, from vv.17-18 going see tells us be on guard, to protect ourselves from those who would lead us astray as we await the Lord’s return…(text – 2 Peter 3:17-18)

 

T.S. – As read NT cannot help but see that a major theme woven throughout the pages of this book is the necessity of keeping our spiritual guard up… over and over we are reminded of the importance of being vigilant, watchful, alert… of not letting our guard down…for example--

--Jesus told His followers to “…keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation…” (Matt.26:41)

--in his farewell address to the leaders of the church at Ephesus Paul reminded them to “…be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock…” (Acts 20:28)

--in his first letter Peter challenged his readers to “…be on the alert [for] your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour…” (I Peter 5:8)

      And the reason we need to be vigilant is that there is a spiritual war raging in our universe…between God and Satan…good and evil…right and wrong…as Paul put it in Ephesians 6:12, “…for our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

 

      And Peter tells us in this passage that because that war is raging all around us we need to “be on guard”…the tense of the verb conveys the idea of continuous action…keep on being on guard…continually be on guard… and in the verses that follow we are told that involves two things…

 

I.       Being on guard involves resisting wrong influences

1.      Tell you about friend with whom I grew up…his name is Whatley Langham… lived about a block from me…have no idea where Whatley is today…last I heard he was living somewhere in Alaska…attended same high school and same church…as child made commitment to Christ…very active in our church’s youth ministry… brilliant young man…received academic scholarship to one of most prestigious universities in our nation…freshman year at college fell into wrong crowd…pseudo-intellectuals group who delighted in attacking and ridiculing Christianity…at first tried to resist and counter their attacks…but gradually gave in to them and renounced his faith…

2.  Learned something from that…not that Christianity cannot stand the intellectual assault of skeptics…it certainly can…some of the world’s greatest thinkers in virtually every intellectual discipline have arisen from the ranks of Christianity…but what I learned was that we need to be on guard against those who would lead us away from truth…

 

1.      That’s why in v. 17 Peter warns us against “…being carried away by the error of unprincipled men…”…the verb translated “carried away” pictures someone being swept along by a crowd…not necessarily intending to go where the crowd is going, the person just gets caught in the flow and cannot escape…

  1. The phrase “…unprincipled men…” is reference to the false teachers, the counterfeit Christians which Peter exposed in detail in chapter 2… around the fringes of Christianity there have always been those who miss the mark…those who take the message of the gospel and twist it and distort it for their own selfish purposes…all you have to do is turn on your television to find such people at work in our world today…
  2. Jesus often warned about religious leaders who lead people astray… told His disciples in Matthew 16 to “Watch out and beware of the leaven (the teaching) of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
  3. In Critical Decisions in Following Jesus George Johnson points out that Jesus strongly criticized the religious leaders of His day for their lack of principle…

They did not practice what they taught (hypocrisy).

They put heavy burdens on others but not themselves (legalism).

They sought and loved public recognition (pride).

Status, respect and titles were important to them (arrogance).

They locked people out of the kingdom (judgmental).

They established laws to benefit themselves (greed).

They neglected to emphasize justice and mercy (bias).

They were accomplices to silencing the prophets (oppressive).

  1. Being on guard means resisting people, not being swept away by people like that…but more to it than that…in addition to resisting wrong influences…

 

II.    Being on guard means cultivating right influences

1.   The first part of v.18 is one of the most well-known and often quoted passages in the Bible…”…but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…”…there are several things about that statement which are important to understand…

  • Verb “grow” is imperative…this is not a suggestion…not something should do if want to…command…what is expected of every believer…it is also present tense meaning that growing is a continuing process…not a one time thing…not something we ever finish in this world…we are to keep on growing…notice that Peter says we are to grow in two directions…

  • First, we are to grow “in grace”…disagreement among Bible commentators concerning what this means…

    --some say to grow in grace means to grow in the virtues, the character traits which should be in our lives…they point back to 2 Peter 1:5-7 where Peter lists eight things which should be part of our character – faith, moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love…some say growing in grace means growing in those qualities…

    --however, others say growing in grace means to grow in our ability to withstand trials, tribulation, and difficulty without buckling under the pressure…one writer says  “We never really experience the grace of God until we are at the end of our own resources.” [Wiersbe, p.98]…[that was experience of Apostle Paul…thorn in flesh…serious affliction…three times asked God remove it…three times heard God reply, “Paul, my grace is sufficient for you.”…the difficulty Paul faced helped him to rely upon more, to appreciate more the grace of God…]

  • Second, we are to grow “in knowledge”grace is the experiential part of our spiritual development; knowledge is the intellectual part…both are necessary…we are to grow in our heart and we are to grow in our head…grace without knowledge can be shallow and superficial…knowledge without grace can be harsh and legalistic…we need to grow in both areas to be what God desires for us to be…

     

1.   Carol and I spent most of last week taking care of three of our seven grandchildren…amazing to us how fast each of the grandchildren are changing…two of the three we had last week were young preschoolers who, to put it mildly, are interesting, fun, and difficult to manage…however, the other grandchild we had was an 11 year old, it she was almost like being with an adult…reminded me that growth is necessary part of physical life in this world …and what is true in physical realm is also true in spiritual realm…

2.   It is God’s plan for us to keep on growing, keep on maturing as Christians…growth in the spiritual realm pretty much follows the pattern of growth in the physical realm of life…basically we need two things to grow spiritually just as we need two things to grow physically…

  • We need adequate nutrition…the nutrition for spiritual growth is God’s Word and prayer…if we don’t spend time in the Scripture and spend time praying, we will not have much growth in our spiritual lives…”I’m not getting fed in my church.”…only people in world have to feed are babies and those who are ill…rest feed themselves!…if been Christian for any length time, it is your responsibility to see that you are getting proper spiritual nutrition…know no other way than investing time in God’s Word and in prayer…

  • Mean church unimportant?…no!…also need an environment which encourages us to grow…not going be very successful in growing tropical plants at the North Pole…need warm, loving, caring church fellowship to hold us accountable and to encourage us to grow…my experience is that Christians who are not a part of nurturing church family have difficult time maintaining the vitality of their walk with the Lord…

Conclusion

1.   On that morning, as she always did, Dawn Robinson began her day by spending time in God’s presence…she remembers asking that day for God to lead her and protect her…then she went to work…day was 9/11/01… worked in south tower of World Trade Center…8:45 a.m. heard loud boom and saw smoke coming from North Tower…voice came over intercom saying no danger in south tower and to stay at desk…Donna says she felt that God telling her something else…had a compelling urge, which she believes came from God, to get out of the building…not long after she left her office, flight 175 rammed into the south tower on the precise floor where Donna worked…since that day, she has asked herself over and over, “What if I had not begun that day spending time with God? Would I have been in position to hear God’s warning to me?” [Sermon Central]

2.   We live in dangerous world…need constantly be on guard…this part of God’s Word tells us we do that by resisting wrong influences and cultivating right influences…(text)

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