DAY ONE: PETER WROTE AN URGENT PARTING LETTER.
There are some questions that make us think – think deeply. For example, if you were given one minute to enter your burning home and your loved ones and pets were safe, what would you want to save? This question forces us to think about what possession is most important to us. Maybe it is a favorite picture, a meaningful keepsake or a treasured Bible. Whatever it is, the question makes us think about what we consider worth saving, what is most valuable to us. A similar question is – if you knew you only had 6 months to live, what would you do with your remaining time on earth? Again, it makes us think about what in life is most important, the issues of life that truly matter.
For most of us, if we knew our time on earth was short, we would want to leave a final message. We would want to leave messages of love and the hope we have of eternity. We might also want to include warnings of dangers and problems to avoid in life. Well, that is exactly what Peter did in his second epistle. You see Peter knew his time on earth was coming to an end so he did exactly what you and I would do. He left a message; he wrote a letter to his beloved children in the faith leaving them (and ultimately us) words of encouragement, warning and hope.
READ: 2 Peter 1:12-15 and John 21:18-19
Peter knew he was going to die. Jesus had told him how he would die and it would not be an easy death. Tradition tells us that he was crucified like Jesus, but crucified upside down at his own request because he did not consider himself worthy to die in the same manner as his Lord. Scholars believe Peter was martyred in Rome in 68 A.D. So it is believed he was in a Roman prison when he wrote this second letter, about 67-68 A.D. under the rule of the Roman Emperor Nero. By the influence of the Holy Spirit, and the increasing tension and persecution of a society ruled by a despot, Peter knew the end was fast approaching.
READ: 1 Peter 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1 and 2 Peter 3:1-2
Knowing the end was near, Peter had a very specific purpose in writing his second letter. Since no recipients were given for his second letter, it is believed his intended audience was the same as the first letter – the believers in the provinces of Asia Minor and ultimately us. Peter’s purpose was to remind. He wanted them to know and remember the things he wrote. The words remind or remember occur six times in this short letter and the words know or knowledge occur fourteen times. His purpose is clear. As a dying man, he had some important things to say. He wanted to leave them remembering some critical information. He wanted them to know and remember three crucial facts:
- Chapter 1 – Remember salvation is sure.
- Chapter 2– Remember deniers are dangerous.
- Chapter 3 – Remember Christ is coming.
We will look at each chapter over the next several weeks.
- Romans 6:23; Hebrews 9:27; Ecclesiastes 3:2; Psalm 139:16; Psalm 116:15 What does God say about our death?
- In light of our inevitable death, how should we use our remaining days?
- What do you need to remember to say or do while there is still time?
DAY TWO: SALVATION CHANGED PETER’S LIFE.
Peter’s purpose in writing his final letter was to help the readers remember, to know for certain some very important facts. The first fact is critical. He reminds the recipients in Chapter 1 that their salvation is sure. For the rest of this week, we will see Peter affirm this fact from both his life and this letter.
READ: 1 Peter 1:1 and 2 Peter 1:1
From these two verses, we learn that Peter the Apostle authored both 1st and 2nd Peter. Note however, the different ways he introduces himself as the author. In the first letter it is just simply “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ”. In the second letter he seems to take a more humble approach. He adds the descriptor “servant” and he uses both of his names-his original given name and the name Jesus gave him. We can’t know for sure why he did this but perhaps as he contemplated the end of his life, he reflected back, remembering what he once was and what he had become. You see, Peter was a changed man. And what had changed him? Jesus had.
READ: Mark 1:16-18; John 1:40-42 and Matthew 16:13-20
Simon, son of Jonah, encountered Jesus on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and nothing was ever the same again. Jesus changed Simon from the self-confident, overly talkative, in a hurry, impetuous, fisherman, into Peter the God-confident, bold speaking, patient, wise, fisher of men. And it wasn’t just meeting the human Jesus that changed Peter; it was Peter’s realization and belief in both the humanity and deity of Jesus that brought about the change. He was changed the same way we are changed, through our precious faith in our God and Savior Jesus Christ. Peter confessed that Jesus was the Son of God earlier in his life and he makes the same confession here near the end of his life. Verse 1 is a very clear statement of the deity of Jesus. Jesus is both the divine Son of God and the human man who is our Savior because of his sacrifice on the cross. Peter’s confession had not changed, but he had. That is one of the reasons Peter knew his salvation was sure; it had changed everything.
It is also how we can know our salvation is sure; salvation changes us. The day a bride enters the marriage covenant on her wedding day, her life is changed. There is a before and an after; her life before marriage and her life after marriage. There has been a definite change. Her name, her identity and her future are all changed by the commitment she makes. When we commit our lives to Christ through faith in his death and resurrection, our lives are changed forever. We have a new name, Christian; we have a new identity, child of God; and we have a new future, abundant life now and a future eternity in heaven with Jesus. Recognizing Jesus as God’s son and receiving Him as our Savior changes us forever. Nothing is ever the same again and that is how we can be certain that our salvation is sure.
- When did you commit your life to Jesus Christ? How has your life changed? How is your ‘after Christ’ different than your ‘before Christ’?
- Read Psalm 40:3; Ezekiel 36:26; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:23-24 From these verses, what has God made new? This is just a partial list. Can you think of and list more?
DAY THREE: SALVATION IS A GRACIOUS GIFT FROM GOD.
READ: 2 Peter 1:2-3 and Ephesians 2:8-9
Yesterday, we learned from Peter’s letter and his life that salvation is certain because we are changed by it. Peter was changed the same way we are, through our faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We believe and receive the gift of salvation. Our salvation is accomplished for us by Christ and given to us through our faith. That is the next assurance Peter stresses. Salvation is sure because it is given to us.
Jesus accomplished our salvation on the cross; it is a finished work. Nothing has to be added. Salvation is not dependent on us at all. We can’t earn it, we can’t buy it, and we certainly don’t deserve it. We never have to worry if we’ve done enough, or are good enough. We can only accept it and receive it as a gift of God’s grace. And what an amazing gift it is! Peter, in these few verses, gives us a partial list of all the incredible gifts we have been given.
Peter tells us we’ve been given grace and peace in abundance; the grace from God that gives us peace with God. Once we have peace with God, we experience the power of God which gives us “everything we need for life and godliness.” Through God’s power and our knowledge of Jesus, all that we as believers need for spiritual vitality and godly living are given to us. Physically we are born with everything we need for life, we need only to be fed and grow. The same is true for our spiritual life. We are spiritually born with everything we need to live a godly life, we only need to be fed by God’s word and grow. We will discuss spiritual growth tomorrow.
READ: 2 Peter 1:4
Peter also tells us that we have been given “great and precious promises” which enable us to develop and live this godly life. Through these promises we are assured we can “participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world.” The promises of God are found in his Word. Because God’s Word cannot fail, his promises can be depended on. If we have been a Christian for any amount of time, God’s promises become very familiar to us and we tend to take them for granted. These promises are given to us so we can know them, claim them and thus live by them. They are great and precious. Allow God to speak to your heart and prove himself faithful through the promises found in his Word.
When we believe and become a child of God, we are given so much. Let us praise our God and Father and his son Jesus Christ because our salvation is assured not because of anything we have done, but only because of the grace of God which was freely given to us.
- Read Ephesians 1:1-14 From these verses, list the spiritual gifts we have been given because of Jesus Christ.
- Read John1:12; John10:27-28; John14:1-3, 26-27; Romans 8:28; Philippians 4:19; Hebrews 13:5-6 These are just some of the promises of God. You may think of others. Which one do you need to believe and claim today?
- Are you resting in Christ’s finished work or trying to prove you deserve God’s grace?
DAY FOUR: SALVATION GIVES POWER FOR GROWTH.
READ: 2 Peter 1:5-11; Galatians 5:22-23
Over the last two days, we have learned that when we believe in Jesus Christ we are changed. We are born into the family of God and are given incredible spiritual gifts. After we experience this spiritual birth, we receive new life in Christ, and where there is new life there must be growth. That is the next reason we can be sure of our salvation; it matures us.
In this next section of his letter, Peter lists seven godly characteristics of this new life. This list is similar to the one that Paul gives in Galatians, the fruit of the Spirit. These are not stages of development where we must pass one to get to the next, but it is a list of desired qualities to be developed simultaneously. We grow in one area as we practice another. All of these qualities should be present and at some stage of development in our spiritual life. Spiritual growth is not automatic. Peter tells us to make every effort, we don’t work for our salvation but we do work out our sanctification. We need to cooperate with God as we apply his truths and learn to obey, follow his will and become more like Christ.
Faith is the first virtue mentioned because it is our foundation. It is what saves us; it is where we begin, but then we are to add to faith each of the qualities listed. The word “add” literally means to supply generously. We should make lavish provision to grow spiritually. Each of these should be present in our lives in increasing measure; they need to be growing in us, maturing us. We need to be growing in maturity so we can be productive in God’s kingdom; serving, witnessing, obeying, doing God’s will so we can produce fruit that will bring glory to God.
READ: 1 Peter 2:2-3
When babies are born, they don’t stay babies, they grow and mature. We would be concerned if they didn’t. Spiritually, we need to be doing the same thing, growing and maturing. This is how we are sure of our salvation. We are changing from the inside out, doing things we would not have done before we were saved. Peter describes it as “making our calling and election sure.”
Our profession of faith saves us but it is our progression of faith that assures us. There should be outward evidence of our inward change. When we profess Christ, there is no noticeable physical change that we can see; no fish symbol or cross appears on our hand or forehead. The evidence is our changed attitude, our Christ-like behavior. Just as we mark our child’s physical growth on a wall or in a baby book, we need to mark our own spiritual maturity. We need to be progressing, growing, climbing higher and going deeper with God. And if we are consistently maturing, we will not doubt but be certain and sure of our salvation. Our rich welcome into God’s kingdom will be assured because our growing maturity proves we are truly one of God’s own.
- Review the characteristics listed in 2 Peter and Galatians. Look back a month, a year, 5 or 10 years; in what areas have you experienced the most growth?
- In which areas do you see the least amount of growth? Pick one you struggle with. Ask God to help you mature in this area.
DAY FIVE: SALVATION FULFILLS PROPHECY.
READ: 2 Peter 1:16-21; Matthew 17:1-8
Today we come to the final reason Peter gives to remind his readers that their salvation is sure; fulfilled prophecy assures us. Peter gives his eyewitness account of the transfiguration of Jesus and he uses it to validate the authority of the prophets and the Bible.
The transfiguration is not a story, myth or fable with no basis in fact, but it is historically provable because of the presence of eye witnesses. Jewish law required the testimony of two or three witnesses for a matter to be established (Deuteronomy19:15). Peter uses the word “we” referring to James and John, the other apostles who were with him on the mountain. There were three eye witnesses who saw Jesus receive “honor and glory from God the Father” and heard the voice proclaiming, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” All three (Peter, James and John) witnessed the human Jesus transfigured into the Divine Son of God. The promised one from God, the Messiah, had come in the person of Jesus Christ.
READ: Matthew 1:20-23; Isaiah 7:14 and John 1:45
Peter uses his own experience of hearing the voice of God and seeing Christ in his glory as evidence of fulfillment of the Old Testament prophets and their promises of the coming Savior. His experience corroborated the prophetic promises of the first incarnation, of one coming who would be able to “save his people from their sins.”
Our Bible is full of prophecies about Jesus’ first and second comings. These prophecies are not man made in their origin or in their interpretation. They are, however, man made in their writing. Under the direction of the Holy Spirit, God used common men to write uncommon prophecies for common people to read and understand. Human writers were controlled by a divine author. Every prophecy regarding Jesus’ first incarnation has been fulfilled. Jesus came to bring salvation. Salvation is God’s idea. He spoke it through the prophets and accomplished it through Jesus Christ. The words of the prophets concerning Jesus, the Messiah, have been “made more certain” because they have been fulfilled. We can be convinced of our salvation because of fulfilled prophecy.
- Read 1 Corinthians 15:51-55; 1 John 3:2; Revelation 22:1-5 Which future prophecy are you most looking forward to being fulfilled?
- When have you been tempted to doubt the certainty of your salvation?
READ: Luke 22: 54-62
Peter wanted his readers to know for sure that their salvation was real. It was important to him because there may have been a time when Peter himself was not certain of his salvation. Peter in denying his Lord, might have thought that because of his failure, his salvation was in jeopardy. But Peter knew, and in writing this first chapter of his second letter wants all believers to know, that our salvation is sure and secure because of Jesus. Once saved, nothing we do, have done or ever will do can take away our secure position in Christ. We can be sure of our salvation because it changes us, it is given to us, it matures us and fulfilled prophecy assures us. Praise Be to God!
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