Everything we need - 2 Peter 1:1-11

This is a sermon by Lee McMunn from the morning service on 9th August 2009.

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I want to start by reminding us of one of the privileges we enjoy as Christians. It’s good to do this from time to time as it helps to keep us thankful. I found myself doing this recently as I thought about the privileges I enjoy because I live in the UK. NHS, food, green fields. It is easy to become a grumbler and counting our blessings helps us to remain thankful. And so I thought we would begin our series on 2 Peter by counting one of our Christian blessings.

It’s the one Peter mentions in verses 3 and 4, where he writes, “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. 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.”

There are many privileges of being a Christian. Jesus has dealt with all our sin. He has paid for it all by dying on the cross. We know that Jesus is our perfect righteousness. I think this is what Peter alludes to in verse 1. We are now prepared to reside in the King’s presence because we wear the King’s clothes. These are some of the benefits that deal with our past and secure our future.

The privilege Peter deals with in verse 3 concerns our present transformation as Christians. “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness.”

It’s so frustrating to be asked to do something if you haven’t been given everything you need to complete the task.

Throwing someone in the deep end and telling them to swim without any lessons.

The Christian life is about change. Out of gratitude we live to please King Jesus. We live with him in charge. He doesn’t simply tell us how to live (which would have been fantastic!). He also empowers us to live the Christian life.

This is vital for us to grasp. Who is given the power in verse 3? Who is included in the ‘us’ of verse 3? Is it a special group? A holy huddle? A small group of the spiritual elite?

To find out remember who Peter is writing to. Verse 1, “Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours.”

Who is he writing to? Ordinary Christians. He puts them in the same category as himself. Not apostles and so they cannot speak with his authority but in terms of status there is no hierarchy in the Christian community. We all have the same faith and the same power to live it out in practice.

When did we receive this power? We’re told in verses 3 and 4. “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. 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.”

How do we receive this power? Through our knowledge of Jesus.

When Peter uses knowledge in this verse he means personal knowledge.

Do I know Gordon Brown? Nothing goes right for the man. Tries to smile and low and behold there is a Nazi symbol behind him. I know things about him. His wife really knows him.

What does Peter mean when he says that we receive this divine power through our knowledge of Jesus? When we became Christians. When we came to know Christ personally. We are given the Holy Spirit of God to live within us.

This makes sense of what Peter says next, “…who called us by his own glory and goodness.” We care called to know Jesus Christ.

Why? For his own glory and because of his goodness. Goodness we expect. A God who reaches down to save. What about glory? A God who saves sinners for glory of his name. All eternity we will sing his praise and offer him the glory he deserves.

There is a connection between what God does and what we do. Peter himself makes that connection in verse 4. He has just said that God calls someone to believe but now look at what he writes in verse 4.

“Through these [his own glory and goodness] 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.”

The gospel comes as a series of promises. What do we do with promises? We believe them. As we believe the promises we put our trust in the one who made the promises. We become Christians. And the result? We participate in the divine nature.

What is the divine nature? The nature of God is that he is a Trinitarian relationship of three persons. So it’s not that we become divine but that we have a relationship with the divine persons. As part of this we have the power of the Holy Spirit living in us.

When we become a Christian we have everything we need for life and godliness.

This means we cannot make excuses. God has given us all the resources we need.

Understand a student sitting an exam who has not been given all the information required or someone attempting to complete a jigsaw without all the pieces getting upset.

But the Christian has everything they need to live a godly life in a pagan world. And this is why we are given a clear command in verses 5 to 7.

“For this 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.”

The first thing to notice is the order. You have a relationship with God, now live like this. It is not, live like this and then you will have a relationship with God.

The second thing to notice is how the divine resources are connected with our human responsibility. This is not let go and let God. This command is make every effort. Work hard. Start sweating. Put your back into it.

The divine resources are within you but they will only be released as you start making every effort to live a godly life.

Don’t expect to wake up one morning, walk into the bathroom, stare at the mirror and say to yourself, “I think last night’s sleep has resulted in me being transformed into the image of Jesus.”

It takes effort on our part to become the people God wants us to be.

Wonderfully Peter is not vague about the kind of characteristics we are to strive after. Not a logical order to these. So he is not saying you cannot try for perseverance until you have gained self-control. Or you must postpone brotherly kindness if you are stuck on knowledge.

These are much more like the ingredients required for a godly life. We must strive for them all. Some overlap.

To our faith we are to add…

o    Goodness. Non-Christians do good things but are not good because they hate the true and living God. But Christians are to be known for their goodness in daily life. Moral excellence. Living God’s good instructions.
o    Knowledge. Keep on growing in our head knowledge. Paul says in Romans 12 that we are not to be conformed to the pattern of this world but we are to renew our mind. How to answer questions. History and biography. Christian books.
o    Self-control. Taming the tongue or the anger.
o    Perseverance – marathon. Keep on going through good times and bad.
o    Godliness – acting like God in a situation.
o    Jonah 4:1-3, “But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. He prayed to the LORD, “O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”
o    Brotherly kindness – within the fellowship.
o    Love – unconditional for everyone.

Are we showing these in increasing measure? Or are we standing still?

The grey hairs are beginning to grow on my head and I’ve now past 30. In 10 years time I will be glad if someone says to me, you look the same as you did in 2009. But what if an angel of God said the same about me spiritually?

In fact, it’s impossible to stay still spiritually since what happens is that if we are not pressing on we are slinking back.

So if we do not have these qualities let’s not make excuses and say, “Well, that’s just my nature, my genes, my upbringing or whatever.” Let’s recognise we have all the resources we need and strive to add these qualities to our faith.

As we finish let me offer three reasons why we should.

1.    We will be effective Christians.

We see this in verse 8, where Peter says, “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.”

Implication? If you don’t have them you will be ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of Jesus. You will not be an effective personal follower of Jesus. It’s not difficult to see why. Just imagine the person who is not good, who has no self-control, who stabs people in the back and is a hater of everyone he dislikes. What chance does this person have of winning people for Christ?

2.    Because of the past rescue of Christ.

See this in verse 9, “But if anyone does not have them, he is short-sighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.”

The picture language is very informative. This person lives so much in the present that he or she cannot see at any distance. Can’t see what is coming. Has also forgotten the great rescue. We have been bought at a price and are now owned by Christ. We should be motivated to change.

3.    Because of our need for assurance.

Verses 10-11, “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, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”

Once saved always saved? Yes, the Bible teaches this clearly. It is all of God. He chooses and calls.

Our question is this: How can I be sure I am saved? Not rely on a previous decision but on present convertedness. Show it by the fruit of our lives.

If we show these qualities in increasing number then we can be sure we are genuinely one of God’s people. Doesn’t mean we are perfect. We will trip up. But over time there is evidence of a developing godly character then this is a good sign.

Tell us your Christian story. What would it sound like? Is it ten years old or is it up to date?

What a privilege being a Christian. We can change. Let’s not make excuses because God has given us everything we need for life and godliness. Let’s pray.


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