Reading and posting reviews online is now commonplace. Not so long-ago reviews only came from professionals such as Consumer Reports or newspaper critiques. One Saturday staple for me was watching Siskel and Ebert for their thumbs up/thumbs down review of the latest movies. Today we turn to other voices on Amazon, Trip Advisor, Rotten Tomatoes, and Angie’s List. People sharing their personal experiences, feelings, and opinions on everything from the local plumber to the hottest movie. Reading reviews requires artful discernment to arrive at a meaningful conclusion. Among other items of encouragement, our final step in our Walk Through 2nd Peter contains a review that requires attention.
Peter concludes, “Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:14–18, NASB95)
Of Peter and Paul
Peter provides us two valuable insights in a kind of aside. Peter said, “just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand.”
One valuable insight involves forgiveness and reconciliation. We learn from Galatians that there was friction between Peter and Paul (Galatians 2:11-14) Essentially, Paul publically confronted Peter for his apparent hypocrisy regarding the Gentile believers in Antioch. We aren’t told the rest of the story in Galatians or in Acts. But here is 2nd Peter another piece of history is provided giving us clues on how to color the in-between. To get from Galatians to Peter’s comment above there must have been a reconciliation between these two powerhouses of faith.
The other valuable insight involves the authority of the Bible. From Peter’s comment, we learn that Paul’s letters were being considered as authoritative, equal to the other books in what we call the Old Testament by first-generation believers.
Skeptics like to doubt the veracity of the New Testament by stating that it wasn’t considered authoritative until nearly 400 years later. What they fail to recognize is that the preexistent writings were authoritative when they were first read, thank you, Peter, for that insight. What the 4th-century councils did was codify which writings were part of the New Testament and which ones were not. They did this to thwart false-teachers from adding books that radically change the Gospel. Peter would have been proud.
There is a list of encouragements contained in Peters conclusion. Therefore, since you look for the day when God will have the last word do this…
Be diligent to be found by Him in peace. Keep your hand to the plow, don’t turn back, don’t give up. Following Jesus begins with a decision but is lived out with diligence. But this is not the striving to turn away God’s wrath or curry his favor. Our diligence leads to peace with God and peace with ourselves.
Be spotless and blameless. On the one hand, I recognize that I’m only seen as spotless in God’s eyes because of Jesus. But part of diligence is the aspiration to live out what Christ has deposited within. This requires changes of habit patterns, healing of heart wounds, walking in forgiveness, and growing in love.
Regard God’s patience as salvation. God’s patience is an expression of grace that we rarely notice. I can’t explain God’s timing, why some things are delayed and why others aren’t. I do know that I can rest in the grace of knowing that God’s patience is not for harm but for salvation.
Be on guard. Peter reiterates his main concern about false teachers leading folks astray. Forewarned is forearmed as the saying goes. We won’t rehash all of Peter’s warning here. Diligence requires a certain amount of alertness and discernment. Is a noise just a noise or is someone trying to break in? Be on guard now that you know what to listen for.
Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ! That is Peter’s final encouragement and one of the hallmarks of walking with Jesus. Are we growing in these or have we become stagnant? Are we actively diligent or are we passively sitting? Resting is Jesus is not passive but active. The farmer doesn’t buy a field and hope that something grows without any labor on his part. Our salvation in Christ is passive, our growth in grace requires our participation.
This concludes our Walk Through 2nd Peter. I think that it is important to head the warnings in this letter today. Through technology the availability and reach of false teaching and false gospels is rampant. 2nd Peter isn’t a fun book to read. It doesn’t provide many words of encouragements or paint pictures of our standing in Christ. It is a pastoral letter to warn the flock of possible danger and to remind them to hold fast to the scriptures and the command of Jesus relayed to them by the apostles. (2 Peter 3:1-2)
That is our encouragement to you as well. False-teachers exist today. We can avoid their snares by knowing scripture and growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus. As Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.” (John 10:1–5, NASB95) May you grow to hear and heed only the voice of the Shepherd.