1 Peter 1-5; 2 Peter 1-3 - The Bible from 30,000 Feet - Skip Heitzig - Flight PET01
The Bible from 30,000 Feet-- soaring through the scripture from Genesis to Revelation.
Turn in your Bibles to 1 Peter, chapter 1. 1 Peter, chapter 1-- I feel as though Peter has been viewed inaccurately and treated a bit unfairly. There have been so many bad Heaven jokes about Saint Peter with his clipboard, standing at the gate, letting people in, or questioning them that, unfortunately, you hear enough of those crazy stories. And you begin forming a theology of Peter standing at the gate and letting people in. Peter has nothing to do with you getting into Heaven.
The other unfair, inaccurate depiction of Peter is that because of his background as a blue-collar worker, a fisherman from the Sea of Galilee, a working man, and because of his personality so clearly portrayed in the New Testament as a bit rough, Peter has been dubbed or regarded by some as an ignorant kind of a person. You may think that until you take one read of 1 or 2 Peter. And you discover far from it. This guy was keen. He was very intelligent.
Now, we're not the only ones that have made that mistake. The early church, when they faced early persecution from the Jews in Jerusalem, the Sanhedrin, those who were the spiritual elite, looked on the apostles, including Peter and James and John, as being unlearned and ignorant men, the Bible says. It said they noticed in their dialogue that they were unlearned and ignorant men but that they had been with Jesus.
Well, that qualifying phrase-- they had been with Jesus-- proves that he wasn't ignorant. If you're in Jesus school for three and a half years, you're going to come out ahead, not behind. And when you read 1 Peter and you read just the first few verses, Peter touches on things like divine election. He touches on the Trinity. He touches on a number of pretty deep theological issues, though he is very, very practical, like James was.
Peter was a fisherman who became a fisher of men by the one that he followed, by the Lord Jesus Christ. He was a fisherman from the Sea of Galilee region. He was not born in Capernaum, where he eventually lived in the town that Jesus set up shop in, headquarters at. But he was from a little town just a few miles to the northwest of Capernaum, a little fishing village called Bethsaida-- Bethsaida.
And he moved to Capernaum. And his fishing business incorporated all those little towns around the Sea of Galilee. He was a fisherman who became a fisher of men. And his dad was named Jonah. Jesus said, blessed are you Simon, son of Jonah. Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in Heaven.
Now, what's interesting about the name Bar-Jonah, [NON-ENGLISH]-- it's an Aramaic word. It means "the son of Jonah." But when you get to John 21, some translations have Jesus saying after the Resurrection, Simon, son of John. And so the question is, well, which was it? Was he the son of Jonah? Or was he the son of John?
Both-- same name. Johanon is the Hebrew pronunciation. "Yo-nah," or Jonah, is the Aramaic shortened version of the Hebrew Johanon. And the Greek version is John. So it depends on what part of the country you're from, I guess. You could render it both ways.
His original name was not Peter. His original name was Simon. Simon means "hearing." He wasn't great at hearing. And so Jesus renamed him "pebble." That's what [NON-ENGLISH] means. [NON-ENGLISH] is a small stone. And Jesus called him Cephas, or Peter-- Simon, son of Jonah, or Peter.
He was regarded as the leader of the Twelve Apostles in the gospels. I say that because in all of the lists of the Twelve Apostles, Peter is always mentioned first. Judas is always mentioned last. And there is more literary real estate written about the apostle Peter than any of the other apostles.
The reason we can rib him and cajole him and make fun of him is so much is written about this very human of the apostles. He is featured very prominently in the gospel stories. By the time we get to the book of Acts, he is already leading in the church at Jerusalem in the formative years. And then the leadership is passed on to the half brother of Jesus called James that we studied last time when we were in the Book of James.
It was Peter who stood up in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost and boldly preached the gospel. And talk about an effective ultra call. 3,000 people came to make commitments to Christ on that day and then were baptized in Jerusalem. So he was very effective. And yet he was very impulsive.
One of the reasons I love studying about Peter is because I relate so much to Peter. My wife will tell you that I'm often guilty of making a decision and then processing it afterwards. Where she is a forward processor, I'm a later processor. I just sort of shoot from the hip, make a decision, do it. And then it's like, uh, I don't know if I really wanted to do that. And I backtrack a little bit with certain things.
And that's why I read Peter. And I go, yeah, man, I get you. You are impulsive. And he was, not that I would do this. But he took a sword out in the Garden of Gethsemane and tried to chop a soldier's head off. It's a good thing he was a fisherman and not a swordsman because he ended up just getting his ear and not his head.
When Jesus was transfigured before the apostles Peter, James, and John, it was Peter who spoke up and said, hey, let's build three condominiums right here-- one for you, Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. And you remember with that little outburst from Peter that God the Father had to interrupt Peter and say, this is my beloved son. Listen to him. Your name is "listen" or "hearing." Shh. Listen to him.
So Peter was that one. And Jesus predicted Peter's failure. We know that Peter denied Christ. Jesus said, Peter, Satan has desired you. He has been asking for you. He wants to sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you. And when you are returned or you return to me, you are recovered. Strengthen your brethren.
Remember when Jesus said that? Strengthen your brethren. He now writes 1 and 2 Peter. This is Peter strengthening his brethren. We have two books in the New Testament from this man.
A quick little background about 1 Peter as opposed to 2 Peter-- we believe that 1 Peter was written around 64 AD, either before, maybe even during, or slightly after-- but probably before-- an event that took place in Rome, the burning of Rome, which I'll get into. We'll touch a little bit about that. So we think it's around 64 AD. 2 Peter is written around the same time period but right close to Peter's death, which is around 68 AD.
Now, as to where Peter wrote this from, there's a little bit of controversy because the book ends by saying that he wrote it from Babylon. And yet we have no historical record that Peter ever traveled to Iraq to the city of Babylon. We know there was a Jewish enclave in Babylon for years. That's where they were held up for 70 years in captivity years before that.
So it could be that he literally went to Iraq, went to Babylon, had some form of ministry, although tradition places Peter as being in Rome and dying in Rome. Now, again, we don't know for sure. We just have record. We have traditional record. But the record states traditionally that Peter died in Rome and lived in Rome before his death with his wife.
It could be when Peter says, I'm writing this from Babylon, as we'll see as we close this book-- now, you know. Just in case you don't, this is the Bible from 30,000 feet. I'm covering 1 and 2 Peter, which means we're just going to be looking at a snapshot of a few verses, tying a few words and thoughts together, and giving you a summation of the book. But he writes from Babylon.
It could be that Babylon, which was a place of false worship in the Old Testament, was a code name by New Testament times for the city of Rome. You say, well, why wouldn't you just say Rome? Here's why. The church was under scrutiny by the Roman government. They were looking for anything at all to arrest Christians, to kill leaders.
And so by saying, from Babylon, a Roman official might read that and have no clue what he's talking about when, in fact, he says, I'm Peter, one of the leaders. And I'm writing from Rome. So somebody who is scrutinizing this may miss that. And so it is believed-- believe me, there's controversy about a lot of things in scripture. And this is just one of them. I tend to think he wrote it from Rome. And he used that as a pseudonym to mean the city of Rome.
What's the theme of this book? In a nutshell, you're going to suffer. Now, that's no news to you. You're living through COVID-19. You're in it. The whole world is suffering. But as a believer in particular, you are called in part to suffer for His name's sake for the right reason, not for the wrong reason. Everybody suffers. And you can suffer for doing stupid things. If you're going to suffer, make sure that you suffer for the right reason.
I remember the Four Spiritual Laws. They're still a very powerful tract of truth. But I believe it begins by saying, God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. Now, stop there. If you stop and you look at that and go, oh, wow, well, that sounds good, a wonderful plan for my life, He does.
But define "wonderful" because wonderful plan for your life may include a good dose of suffering for the right reason-- to bring you closer to Christ, to help you minister to people who are suffering as well, to make you a powerful tool. Of course, nobody really tells young seekers that. But that's another story.
Peter verse 1, an apostle of Jesus Christ-- to the pilgrims of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. Where are these places located? In modern-day Turkey, Northern Turkey, ancient Asia Minor.
When he says, pilgrims of the dispersion, I already covered that sort of in James-- the diaspora. The diaspora was a term for Jews who had been scattered around the world. It could be that Peter was writing to Jewish believers. Or it simply could be that Peter is co-opting the term "diaspora," dispersion, and writing to any Christian who has suffered persecution and because of the persecution had to leave, had to scatter, had to move and is scattered around those areas. So it's a general epistle to the pilgrims of the dispersion.
Notice what he says about them in verse 2-- elect according to the foreknowledge of God, the Father. This is a pretty deep, heady, doctrinal set of truths in verse 2. In sanctification of the spirit for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Christ, grace to you and peace be multiplied. The word "elect", [NON-ENGLISH], is a word that speaks of being handpicked.
Now, I just want you to think for a moment and take hope in this idea. Of all the people in the world, God his hand-selected you. He picked you. He selected. He elected you. He knew you and had you in mind before the foundation of the world. And you are part of His royal family. So no matter what you are going through as a suffering believer, don't you know anybody suffering hearing that God, of all the people in the world, elected, selected, picked you would help your hope to grow?
Verse 3-- blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled that does not fade away reserved in Heaven for you. Notice that term "begotten us again." That's the third-person active of "being born again." If you go to verse 23, he picks up that idea-- having been born again, not of corruptible seed, but incorruptible.
Jesus told Nicodemus, you have to be born again. You have to be born-- [NON-ENGLISH] is the Greek term-- from above. You've had a physical birth. You must have a spiritual birth. I remember when I first came to Christ, and I had not heard the term "born again." I had never heard that term in my life. I grew up in a Catholic family. We didn't talk about born-again Christians. we never read the scriptures, so I didn't even know it existed.
So when I was 18 and I watched that Billy Graham program and I said yes to Jesus, I still hadn't heard the word "born again" yet. I went back down from the San Francisco Bay area down back to Socal, where my family was from. And I remember a friend of mine who didn't know that I had received Christ about a week before walked up to me, saw me, and decided, there's Hetizig. I'm going to go share the gospel with him. He needs it.
So Ray walked up to me. And he goes, Hetizig. And I looked at him. And he said, have you been born again? And I was arrested by that question. I said, hold up there. Where did you get that term? He goes, what are you talking about? What term? I said, you just asked me if I was born again. Where did you get that idea? That's a great term.
And he goes, well, Jesus said that. You must be born again. And again, I had not read that. I said, He said that? And he showed me in the scripture where He said it. And I went, man, I have been looking for some descriptor, some way to tell people what it feels like, what I've experienced in the last week or so in knowing Jesus. And that term sums it up. That's what happened to me. I've been born again.
And so I remember coming to this revelation. And Peter picks up on that born again idea, begotten us again, or born again. To an inheritance-- verse 4-- incorruptible, undefiled that does not fade away. It is reserved in Heaven for you who are kept by the power of God through faith, ready to be revealed in the last time.
What Peter is doing is trying to foster a sense of security in the minds and hearts of those that he is writing to. They feel shaken by persecution. They are suffering, as you will see in just a moment. It's getting hot. It's getting hard. It's getting difficult to live the Christian life.
So he wants them to be secure. You're elect. God handpicked you. Not only did He handpick you. He transformed you. You are born again. Not only that, Heaven awaits you when it's all done. It is reserved in Heaven for you. All of that is to bolster their security.
Remember in John chapter 1 where John says, He came into his own. His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the power to become sons of God who were born not of blood, not of the will of the flesh, not of the will of man, but of God.
So Peter is reinforcing this truth. You're elected, selected. You are begotten again. You have an inheritance reserved for you. So take heart in that. Take heart whose you are and where you're going.
You know, we're all going to Heaven. Remind yourself of that when you wake up tomorrow. I'm Heaven-bound. Now, though we're all going to Heaven, here's what I've noticed about a lot of us Christians. You'd never know it. We have the ticket to Heaven. It's guaranteed. But we're not enjoying the ride.
It's a bumpy ride. But stick your head out the window every now and then. Breathe in the air. Look around at the difference of the terrain. Whoa, it's hot outside. So? It'll be cold in the mountains in a couple hours. Just enjoy the variety. You're going to have and you're on your way to the Celestial City. But enjoy your way there. God knows how to give you variety.
So in this you greatly rejoice-- verse 6-- though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom, having not seen, you love, though now you do not see Him. Yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
In July of the year 64 AD, Rome burned. A fire was set burning many of the public buildings in Rome. It was widely believed-- and it is by historians to this day. It was believed back then. It is recorded in history. Most people believed the emperor himself lit the fire. Caesar Nero lit the fire.
Why? Well, he had a penchant for building things. He loved new buildings. And the only problem with Rome is everything was already built out. So he had to destroy things so that he could build it according to his vision.
But because the public ire was turning against him, to divert their anger, he had to come up with a scapegoat. And the most convenient group to blame it on were Christians. Up to that point, Christianity was called a "permitted religion"-- permitted religion. It was permitted by the Roman government to practice Christianity because, up to this point, it was regarded as a sect of Judaism. Judaism had been widespread in the Roman Empire for years.
So it was just another part of being a Jew, in their thinking, until the fire. Once the fire happened and people started looking at Nero, Nero started saying, it's the Christians who did it. It began a widespread persecution that went for the next 200 years that became very violent and very extreme and very catastrophic for the early church.
Now, playing into the scapegoat of Christians were several factors. Factor number one, the Christians took the Lord's Supper. They took communion like we did this past weekend together as a church. But because it was emblematic of the body and blood of Jesus, the rumor that went around Rome is that Christians were cannibals. They ate flesh and blood.
Never mind the emblematic nature of communion. Nobody cares. When there's a rumor or gossip, nobody cares about the facts. They just like the spin. They like the tweet. And it's like, oh, wow. They're cannibals. So then they started fomenting that.
Number two, Christianity upset the family structure in the Roman Empire. It regarded women as equal. It honored the place of women. There would be church services where men and women would be worshipping together, something not practiced at large in Roman culture. And slaves were admitted to the church and regarded as humans and given dignity. And that upset the equilibrium of the politics of Rome.
And not only that, but Christians believed and believe that one day the world will end. And even Peter writes how it's going to end in 2 Peter. It's going to end by what? A fire. It's going to be burned. Sometimes you say, well, it's all going to burn anyway. Yeah. If you keep saying that enough, when a fire happens in Rome, they go, oh, the Christians are always talking about burning things.
So those factors played into that false, fake news narrative that was perpetrated by Caesar Nero. And for 200 years, the church suffered. So Peter's telling them, steel yourselves. Arm yourselves because-- verse 9-- receiving the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Down in verse 13-- therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lust as in your ignorance. Go down to verse 17. And if you call on the Father, who, without partiality, judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your sojourning here in fear.
Now, this fear is the fear of the Lord. It's the awe and reverence of the Lord. It's that reverential awe that produces holy submission to a loving God, a term that appears no less than 50 times in scripture-- the fear of the Lord. That's the idea of this fear. Live in the fear of the Lord.
Go down to verse 23. Having been born again, not of corruptible seed, but incorruptible, through the word of God-- now, I'm emphasizing that because it's going to be emphasized by Peter-- through the word of God, which lives and abides forever. Because now he quotes Isaiah chapter 40. He quotes from the word of God in the Old Testament.
All flesh is as grass and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers. Its flower falls away. But the word of the Lord endures forever. Now, this is the word by which the gospel was preached to you. Therefore laying aside all malice, all guile, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes desire the pure milk of the word.
You see the thread of thought. He quotes the word. He says the word is the gospel. And then he says, crave it. Desire as newborn babes pure milk of the word that you may grow thereby if, indeed, you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. Feed on biblical truth, solid truth. Feed on the word of God. Don't settle for junk food. He lists five types of junk food here-- malice, guile, hypocrisy, envy, and evil speaking.
If you eat junk food-- and I'm not looking at you weird like I suggest that you do. But if you do, it will ruin your appetite for good food. If you feed off spiritual junk food, it'll ruin your appetite for the word. If you feed on these things, these are all appetite killers. Then it will diminish your appetite for the word of God.
So we've already tasted. Notice what it says. If indeed-- verse 3-- you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. We've already had an appetizer, man. So it's like we've been eating junk food. And then somebody gives us this hors d'oeuvre from this crazy awesome restaurant where the chef has been schooled by the best. And you just have a morsel and go, whoa. I want more of that.
OK. Then don't eat the junk food. Feed on the word. Feed on the good stuff. Feed on the truth. You've already tasted that the Lord is good. That's what happened when you first came to Christ. Now continue with Him and feed on the truth. You see, He's writing to those who, in a time of persecution, in a difficult time, are all over the map. And He encourages them to hold fast.
Go down to verse 8, more quotes from the scripture. I don't have time to chase them all down. But he says-- quoting the word-- any stone or stumbling and a rock of a fence. They stumble being disobedient to the word to which they also were appointed. But you are a chosen-- there it is again-- elect, a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
Now, your spiritual growth is directly proportional to your spiritual appetite. If you have a hunger, if you have a thirst-- Jesus said, blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. They will be what? Filled.
And once you're filled with righteousness, you just don't want the junk food. You've had the real deal, man. It's hard to go back. So your spiritual growth is directly proportional to your spiritual appetite. Learn to have an appetite for the milk of the word that you may grow thereby.
Now, having given that encouragement, Peter recognizes that the people to whom he is writing-- see if this isn't current or contemporary. They live in a very wicked world. And the government is corrupt.
So how do you live in a world like that? What do you do with that? When you find that to be a reality and you're a person who loves the Lord-- having not seen yet, you love and rejoice with joy unspeakable-- how do you carry that out in a wicked world with corrupt people?
Verse 11-- beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the gentiles-- so personal holiness-- that when they speak against you as evil doers, they may by your good works which they observe glorify God on the day of visitation. Therefore-- part of those good works-- submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether to the king as supreme or to the governors as those who are sent by him for the punishment of evil doers and for the praise of those who do good.
Those are difficult verses, more difficult at certain times than at other times. Easy to preach from when everything goes your way and you've got the person you want in civil government, et cetera, et cetera. Not so easy when the guy in charge happens to be Caesar Nero, who will burn a city and blame the Christians. And the result of that is Christians being killed.
Now, what Peter writes is very similar to what Paul writes in Romans chapter 13. Christians were already being viewed suspiciously. Peter is saying, don't add fuel to that fire. Sorry to use that analogy given what we just found out historically.
But because believers were meeting in homes privately, not in the public arenas of Rome, because of the Lord's Supper, because they wouldn't bow down to Caesar and put that little pinch of incense over here, saying, Caesar is Lord-- they refused that they would rather die a martyr's death and bow down to Caesar. Because of that, they were already viewed very suspiciously. So Peter is saying, as much as you can, you obey civil government. You do what they say.
Now, you also know there's always a caveat to that, right? Being a good Christian means being a good citizen until being a good citizen means being a bad Christian. And there's a line that when it's crossed, you go, I'm sorry. If you tell me that I can't do that, you might hide behind a number of reasons. But you crossed a line.
So we know that that happened with Pharaoh when he gave a government commandment to the Hebrew midwives to kill all the baby boys that were born in Egypt. They refused to do it. It says they feared God. And they did not do what the king said.
We know the early church disobeyed the government in Acts 4 and 5 when there was a law in Jerusalem that they could not meet together publicly. They could not preach the gospel freely. And Peter said, whether it's right in the sight of God to listen to you more than God, you judge. But we can't but speak the things which we have seen and heard. We must obey God rather than men.
Now, I'm following the ping pong ball every week of what we as people in our land can and cannot do. And it changes from politician to politician. And it changes, by the way, from scientist to scientist. There's not one scientific narrative.
Unfortunately, in this pandemic, science has become politicized and weaponized. And it depends on what science you want to listen to. But there's different lines of science. And it's easy to say, well, those Christians are idiots for even meeting. No science at all. And yet scientists will easily refute that.
So it's not an easy thing to navigate, all of that to say-- and I don't want to spend much time on it. But it is very relevant to what we're dealing with because we have a president saying churches are essential. And I happen to agree with him. We are essential. And people need to go to church. And I believe that. That's a New Testament thing.
And we have a governor who says, not so much. And though I love both and pray for both and try to respect both, can I just say freely and frankly, it ain't easy to do it. So having said that, I should probably move on because I know this is being recorded.
Let it be. Peter shows now how they are to live the Christian life at home with servants in verse 18, between husbands and wives in chapter 3, and in chapter 3, verse 8, finally summing up those different roles. All of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another, love his brothers. Be tender-hearted. Be courteous, not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but, on the contrary, blessing knowing that you were called to this that you may inherit a blessing.
Verse 17-- actually, verse 16-- having a good conscience that when they defame you as evil doers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better-- now watch this-- if it is in the will of God to suffer for doing good than for doing evil, for Christ also suffered once for sins the just for the unjust that He might bring us to God, et cetera.
Peter figures in the possibility that it might be God's will for you to suffer. Even though there's an entire false theology built called the health and wealth movement that God wants your best life now and you can have health and wealth now, the Bible never promises, ever promises that you will have your best life now.
It always promises your best life is after now in the hereafter with Him forever. That's the thrust of this letter-- is that you have an inheritance undefiled reserved in Heaven for you. You're going to suffer now. Peter promises that. Jesus promised that.
And notice what Peter does here. He says, look, Jesus Himself suffered. If Jesus, your Lord, the one that saved you, made you born again, et cetera, et cetera-- if the one you follow was ill treated by his generation and killed and suffered, you think you're going to escape if you follow Him?
So go down to chapter 4, verse 12. Look at us skating through. Beloved, do not think it's strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you as though some strange thing happened to you. Why is it, then, that every time we suffer we go, gosh, this is strange? How many times have you heard it? These are the weirdest times, so strange. The whole world is suffering.
Yeah, it's a little different than it always has been. But we've always suffered. There's always been hard times. And when a Christian suffers, they're like, I can't believe it. The Lord let this happen to me. We just flip out. And Peter says, well, I don't know why you always flip out. Don't flip out. Flip ye not out, basically, is what he's saying. Do not think it's strange. But rejoice.
In the midst of this weird time we're in, the world is not rejoicing. If you do, you will stand out like the most blessed sore thumb ever. You will be such an exception. It's like, what are they so happy about? I'm selected by God. I got an inheritance reserved in Heaven for me. I don't know. What am I happy about? Right? So rejoice.
And rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part, He is blasphemed. But on your part, He is glorified.
Now, Jesus predicted-- one of the things he promised you-- oh, we love the promises of God. Do we? One of the things Jesus promised us is you will be betrayed by parents, by brothers, by friends, by family. And you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake.
So when that happens, don't go, weird. Say, hallelujah. It's what He predicted. And it's going to sound weird. But how about this? How about this? I get to suffer. You're going, Skip, you're going way too far on that.
Well, Paul said that I might know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering being conformed even to his death. I want to experience what Jesus experienced-- resurrected power and suffering because He did that, too.
And when I suffer, I'm going to look at it this way. Jesus suffered. I'm suffering. He suffered for doing right. I'm suffering for doing right. We're enjoying a very unique kind of fellowship together in this suffering. I am fellowshipping with the Christ who suffered on this earth. And He can relate to me as my great high priest. I love that thought.
But verse 15-- let none of you suffer as a murderer, as a thief, as an evil doer, as a busy body in other people's matters. If anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed. But let him glorify God in this matter, for the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God. And it begins with us first. What will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?
Now, a variety of people are mentioned in chapter 5, elders. And then verse 5-- likewise, you younger people submit to your elders. Let all of you be submissive to one another, clothed with humility.
As we finish out-- it's a shorter chapter-- I take you to verse 13. Notice this. She who is in Babylon, probably referring to the church in the feminine collective-- she who is in Babylon elect together with you, greets you, and so does Mark, my son. Greet one another with a kiss of love. You're not allowed to do that yet. Peace to you all who are in Christ Jesus, amen.
Now, Mark, the Mark here that is mentioned, is John Mark. And John Mark apparently was a close associate with Peter. It was that John Mark who was on one of Paul's missionary journeys who left in the middle of it.
And his uncle Barney, Barnabas, wanted to bring him on the second missionary journey. And Paul said, nah, that guy's a flake. I don't want him. Get him out of here. So you know that back story. Well, John Mark, who lived in Jerusalem, was friends with Peter.
And it is believed that when he wrote-- by the way, John Mark wrote the Gospel of Mark. When Mark wrote the Gospel of Mark, the words of Mark come from the lips of Peter. It's Peter telling his story, the story of Jesus, to Mark. That's why many think Mark was the first gospel written, the words of Peter through Mark. And it is that association that gave us the Gospel of Mark.
So that sums up and ends the first epistle of Peter, the theme of which is, if you follow the Christ who suffered, you, too, will suffer. And why is that? Well, we'll really see this in the next book.
But when you preach truth, when you preach a narrow truth-- and our truth is a very narrow truth. We're running around saying, there's only one way to get to Heaven. There's only one way to salvation. There's only one person to call on. You can believe a number of things. Believe it if you will. But it won't take you anywhere. You have to believe in Jesus to go to Heaven. It's a very narrow message.
When you do that, the people who don't believe that, which are most people, will not like the person saying, Jesus is the only way. So listen-- if there were 485 ways to Heaven, I would preach all 485 ardently. I would. If there were, I would do that. But I'm not given that option because there aren't.
I used to have a very open mind. People say, you're close-minded. You bet your life I'm close-minded. And I'll tell you how it happened. I remember how I got so close-minded.
First of all, I came to Christ. And He washed my mind. I've been brainwashed. So He cleansed my heart and my mind. And then He narrowed my mind down to one option only. And that is there is no other name given among men by which we must be saved but by the name of Jesus Christ. So when you believe that and you articulate that belief, guess what? You going to suffer. And Peter would say, welcome to the club.
Here's the formula if you want one. Great persecution is the result of the great commission. Great persecution is the result of the great commission. What's the great commission? Going to all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. If you do that, the result will be great persecution. Great persecution is the result of the great commission.
I realize that what I am saying is not appealing. You're saying, Skip, are you trying to sell us on-- this is your finest selling point? Come to Christ, and you have a life of suffering. Well, suffering is guaranteed for every human being, saved or unsaved.
So given that, I'd rather suffer for the right reason. And I'd rather suffer temporarily and get the ire of this world than the alternative of suffering eternally and take the ire of God, which is what's left if you reject Christ. So Yeah. Yeah. I think that's a pretty strong selling point, actually. I'll take that because it beats the alternative of weeping and gnashing of teeth.
So with that in mind, we come to 2 Peter, which really is all about judgment. It's a shorter book. And we'll have time to go through these three chapters very quickly. 1 Peter-- you could sum it up by saying 1 Peter speaks about dangers from the outside. That's persecution. 2 Peter-- dangers from the inside. And that is false doctrine or deception.
I mentioned it was written around 68 AD, or right before Caesar Nero's death. Tradition has Peter dying at the hands of Caesar Nero during his great persecution. But the suffering has increased on the outside and false doctrines on the inside because any time you have suffering, you have people who are now, in their suffering, willing to listen just about anything, anything that gives them a philosophy of relief.
And so that's why suffering can be dangerous because you're susceptible. And the principle is simple. The light of truth attracts bugs. Light attracts bugs. Truth attracts bugs. Turn on the light of your porch tonight. Wait a while. Bugs will come. You turn on the light of the gospel in a pagan environment, bugs are going to come outside and try to get inside. And they've gotten inside already.
So Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, will kind of forgo those greetings. Peter gets personal at first and says, OK, we're in danger of apostasy, falling away from the truth, false doctrine.
The best safeguard to apostasy is maturity. The best safeguard to rampant apostasy is personal maturity-- growing, not staying where you are, pressing forward, learning new things, learning new disciplines, et cetera. So notice verse 3. It says, divine power is given to us all things that pertain to life and Godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.
By the way, these section of verses was the very first Bible study I ever gave in Albuquerque. The very first night in the Lakes Apartments were from 2 Peter chapter 1 for a very important reason, which I really can't explain now because of our time. But to me, it was revolutionary in my life. That's actually why. That's really the reason why.
His divine power has given us all these things by which have-- verse 4-- been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises that through these, you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust, but also, for this very reason, giving all diligence add to your faith virtue and to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, perseverance Godliness, to Godliness brotherly kindness, to brotherly kindness love.
Go home and look at that list. Look it over. And see if you can check all those boxes and say, yep, I have all those things in my life 100%. If not, you've got some growing to do. You got something to look up to.
So notice in that section there's two parts, God's part and our part. God's part-- He'll give you all the power you need to get the job done. Our part-- be diligent. Be practical. Work hard. Add to your faith. Don't sit back in cruise control and go, yeah, I'm just going to Heaven. Woo-hoo, whatever. No.
Now do everything you can to cooperate with that power and grow and be effective and productive because-- verse 8-- if these things are yours and abound, you will neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. The word "barren" means "useless" or "ineffective" or "inoperable." Or you might translate it "doesn't work."
Have you ever had somebody say, yeah, you know, I tried Jesus. I tried Christianity. But it didn't work for me. That's what he's talking about. If you stop adding to your faith which you don't work for, you don't work for it. You don't work for salvation. It's a gift of God. But you add to that experience. You grow.
If you stop growing, you could come to a part where you go, yeah, I tried it. It didn't work for me. No. It's not that it doesn't work. It's that you stopped working. You stopped winding your own clock and growing and adding to these things in your life.
So verse 12-- therefore I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know them-- this is why we keep teaching the Bible-- and are established in the present truth. Yes, I think it's right as long as I am in this tent, this body to stir you up by reminding you. Good teachers will reinforce truth by repeating it. Let me say that again.
I'm seeing if you'd get that. OK. Now he gives a personal example. And that is he says, look, I was around when Jesus was baptized. I was around when Jesus was transfigured on the Holy Mountain. And now in verse 18-- and we heard the voice that came down from Heaven when we were with Him on the Holy Mountain.
Look at verse 19. We also have the prophetic word made more sure. Or the old King James-- we have a more sure word of prophecy, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in the dark place until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing first that no prophecy of scripture is of any private interpretation. For prophecy never came by the will of man. But holy men spoke as they were moved or carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Here's what Peter is saying. I experienced the miracle of listening to God the Father say, this is my beloved son whom I was well pleased. I was there the day He was baptized, and that happened. I heard that. That was awesome. I was there on the day when I saw Moses and Elijah show up from the Old Testament, just like-- poof-- superheroes with Jesus, having a conversation. It was amazing.
But I actually have something more reliable than what I saw with my eyes or heard with my ears. And that is a more sure word of prophecy. The objective truth of the word of God in scripture is more to be relied on than your own physical senses for one simple reason. You might have a sensation that may be only a portion of the truth.
You may hear something. And you may hear it. Or you may think you hear it. You may see it or think you see it. And people's experiences vary from person to person. That's why a person will-- my experience is this. I haven't experienced that. I look at it this way. That's all good. You're entitled to your subjectivism.
But there is, beyond subjective, objectivism, an objective reality. And we know as believers-- and I think we can demonstrate as believers-- the objective nature and reliability of scripture. And that's why he says it's more sure. It is more certain. And again, this is why we study the scripture. Other books give you information. This book gives you transformation. This will change you. You'll grow thereby. That's what he said.
So we're at chapter 2. But-- now going back to the Old Testament-- there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, denying the Lord who bought them and bring on themselves swift destruction.
So easy to understand this. Look, there's always been false teaching. As long as there's been truth in the world, there's been falsehood in the world. It happened in the Old Testament. It happened in the time of the Lord Jesus. It will happen in the church in Rome. It will happen in the church in Albuquerque. It's always been around.
And many will follow their destructive ways because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness, they will exploit you with deceptive words. For a long time, their judgment has not been idle. And their destruction does not slumber.
In the first few decades of the church, the big enemy was the doctrine of Judaism or Judaizers. That is, they believe in Jesus but said you have to be circumcised and keep the law of Moses to be saved. So there was this legalistic vein that was prevalent in the first few decades.
After the Judaizer cult was sort of taken care of and minimized by the council in Jerusalem in Acts 15, a whole other wave of false doctrine came called "gnosticism." And guess what? I'm not going to tell you what it is. Why? Because next time when we're in 1 John, it's all about gnosticism. That's when I'll explain it to you.
So the reason I'm bringing it up is I brought up two veins of false doctrine. There's Judaizers and gnosticism already. Peter's still alive. John the Apostle is still alive. My point is it does not take long for truth to get sidelined. It just takes a few people in a congregation listening to some wacky idea, and it spreads like wildfire.
And they're dealing with it back then. And Peter's warning of it back then-- and pretty strong. So Jesus predicted it. He said, beware of false prophets. In Luke 18, Jesus said, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth, et cetera, et cetera.
Verse 4-- for if God did not spare the angels who sinned but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness to be reserved for judgment, did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness-- here's the point. If God judged angels who sinned, if God judged a world that sinned by a flood and killed everybody except for eight people, do you think He won't do it again to those who take the truth and twist it and ruin it and get people to follow false things? So in other words, God has a track record of being fair. And He will do it again.
Chapter 3-- beloved, I now write to you the second epistle, in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets and of the commandment of the apostles of the Lord and Savior, knowing this verse that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.
Now, really briefly, Peter is highlighting a belief system that is still in vogue in the American and European universities called "uniformitarianism." And that is that history is an uninterrupted flow of events with a long evolution.
Peter goes, not so fast. I know that's a prevalent belief system. But there is enough evidence that shows that it's not uniformitarianism as much as catastrophism. There have been events that have punctuated history, like a creation and a flood and, later on, a worldwide judgment, that there is evidence of that in the world. So notice his line of thinking.
Verse 5-- for this they willingly forget that by the word of God, the Heavens were of old. The earth was standing out of water and in the water by which the world that then existed perished being flooded with water. That's a catastrophe. That's catastrophism. That's a punctuated event, not a long line of uninterrupted flow of evolution.
But the Heavens and the earth which now exist are kept in store by the same-- there's so much in here. I wish we could delve into it. Done it before on Sunday morning. So you can chase that down.
Verse 10-- but the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise. The elements will melt with fervent heat. There's the future catastrophe that he's talking about.
Verse 14-- therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace without spot and blameless, an account that the long suffering of the Lord is salvation, as also our beloved brother Paul. So Paul's writings were being circulated at the time. Now watch what he says about Paul and his writings.
According to the wisdom given him as he has written to you, as also in all his epistles-- so there's various letters that Peter says Paul wrote-- speaking in them of these things in which are some things hard to understand-- that's an understatement. Book of Romans would be one of those-- which those who are untaught and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do also the-- notice this-- rest of scripture.
Notice that Peter is linking Paul's writings to being part of scripture. They do it with Paul's writings like they do the rest of scripture. They do with Old Testament scripture. And they do it with New Testament scripture, all of that to prove a point. If people say, well, they never considered the Bible to be written till the fourth century, Peter believed the Bible, Paul's letters, were an errant scripture this early on. That's a very powerful text.
So then he says-- one of my favorite versus, verse 18-- but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever, amen. We did it-- 1 and 2 Peter.
You want to know what happened to Peter really quick? Peter was married. It is believed by tradition that his wife was crucified. Peter watched it. He was forced to watch his wife die by crucifixion and gave her an encouragement before she died, simply saying, remember the Lord. What a beautiful thing to tell a dying spouse. Remember the Lord.
Then it was Peter's turn. Peter was up for being crucified. Peter said, I am not worthy to be killed in the same manner as my Lord, demanded that he be crucified upside down. And tradition says that's how Peter died in Rome-- of crucifixion upside down. Peter died as an old man.
And he knew he would because Jesus in John 21 said, and when you are old, others will take you where you don't want to go. And they'll do what they want to do to you. Peter had his death predicted by Jesus. And He said, when you are old. That's why in Acts chapter 12, when they kill James by beheading him and they were going to kill Peter the next day, the Bible says Peter was sleeping.
Who can sleep on death row? Peter, because he knew he wouldn't die tomorrow. Even though the government said, you're dying, he goes, I'm not going to die. Jesus said I'll be an old dude. I'm still a young man. So good night. He woke up, and it never happened. But when he was old, according to the word of the Lord, Peter died after living a great life in testimony.
OK. I went overtime. Thank you, Father. Thank you for being here. Let's have a proper prayer so the worship band can look like they're seamlessly coming up at the end of the worship.
Father, thank you for this time together. Thank you for our ability to rejoice in truth, knowing that loving and believing our Savior and believing in living the truth has consequences that come with it, which consequences we gladly accept. Because in so doing, we fellowship with the suffering of Christ.
In Jesus' name, amen. Let's stand.
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