BEWARE OF THE CONTENTIOUS RHETORIC OF THIS AGE
Intro to 2 Peter
As we enter into Peter’s second letter along with Jude’s letter later on, these two letters are viewed and considered by some as the “Dark corners” of the New Testament. R C Sproul wrote, “It has been said that 2 Peter is the forgotten stepchild of the New Testament. There perhaps have been fewer commentaries written about this book than any other of the New Testament, with the possible exception of Jude.” As a result there are not many sermons preached from either of these letters. Because in honesty this is a fighting letter more than it is a friendly one. Peter holds nothing back in his defense for the truth of God and His word against those who are go contrary against it. But if the church ignores these warnings as Peter talks about in his letter then many will be deceived in believing a lie. Peter’s first letter was to comfort and instruct believers who were facing the external threat of persecution. Peter’s second letter addresses the even more deadly threat of false teachers who would arise within the church.
This letter is to be on guard, or aware
against their deceiving lies.
Peter didn’t identify particular heresies, not because he was ignorant but because false teachers all have the same underlining deception.
They deny Christ as God. 2:1
They teach you to follow after cleverly devised tales. 1:16
They teach destructive heresies. 2:1
They mock the second coming of Christ and the coming judgement. 3:4-7
They practice immorality. 2:2, 13-14; 19
They despise authority. 2:10
They are arrogant and vain. 2:18
They seek material gain. 2:3; 14
John MacArthur wrote, “Second Peter serves not only as a much-needed rebuke of the false teachers of Peter’s day, but it also gives characteristics common to the false teachers of every age. Because wickedness of life flows from heretical doctrine, Peter focused more on their godless behavior than on the specific teachings they propagate.”
To quote Jesus, Himself, “You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. “Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? ‘And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'” Matt 7:16-23. This is about warning us to avoid teachers when we they produce bad fruit. If the fruit of a minister’s life is bad, Jesus tells us very clearly that this means he is a wolf, not a shepherd.
Something we need to strongly consider as we approach this letter is something Al Mohler said in an “Ask Ligonier” Q/A time. R C Sproul asked! When is a false teacher a false teacher? It’s when he teaches falsehood. Al Mohler added this and it’s important for you and I to understand before we claim someone is a false teacher. “I would just add that I think there is in the New Testament a clear reservation of that title not just for one who teaches falsely but for one who is uncorrectable and who resists correction. Apollos was a false teacher. But when he was taught how to preach a better way, how to be more faithful to Scripture, he was corrected (Acts 18:24-28). So there’s a difference between a false teaching and a false teacher. Because just about any preacher, especially one who is just starting out, is going to teach something that’s false. That’s quite different than being a false teacher: uncorrected and uncorrectable.
An example of the uncorrected and uncorrectable is found in one of largest church that have some of the largest crowds attending…..North Point Community Church, Andy Stanley preached a sermon series entitled, “Aftermath.” His church’s website describes his series as follows: “If you were raised on a version of Christianity that relied on the Bible as the foundation of faith, a version that was eventually dismantled by academia or the realities of life, maybe it’s time for you to change your mind about Jesus. Maybe it’s time for you to consider the version of Christianity that relies on the event of the resurrection of Jesus as its foundation. If you gave up your faith because of something about or in the Bible, maybe you gave up unnecessarily.”
He was recently asked to speak to Dallas Seminary students and he said this, “My purpose today is to inspire you to tether the faith of this and the next generation to the resurrection rather than the inspiration, infallibility, and the authority of the Bible. If we still say the Bible says it, that settles it, we need to abandon it.” Andy Stanley has also stated that Christianity does not hinge on whether or not the Bible is true. He is also quoted saying, "We don't believe Jesus rose from the dead because the Bible tells us so...if Jesus had not risen from the dead, there would be no bible, there would be no church, and I would have no job."
Like him there are so many others….
Mike Todd, Transformation Church, who just hired Carl Lentz, who was fired for sexual adultery from his pervious church.
Bill Johnston…Bethel Church
Steven Furtick, Elevation Church SBC
Brian Houston…Hillsong and everything Hillsong.
Beth Moore, Joyce Myers, Paula white
T.D Jakes, Duplantis, Hinn, Sid Roth
Brandon Robertson, a homosexual pastor who says "Homosexuality isn’t a sin and he also refutes the Word of God as authoritative."
But what did Paul said about this, “….appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.” Rom 16:16-18
Avoid them! Why?
Satan is the great counterfeiter and author of the fall…… Gen 3:1
He perverts a false gospel….. Gal 1:6-9
This perverted gospel is preached by his false ministers……. 2 Cor 11:13-12
They produce false Christians………. 2 Cor 11:26
Satan plants his counterfeits wherever God plants true believers……. Matt13:38
According to John we are to test all things and motives to the Scriptures. “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.” 1 John 4:1-3
Why does Peter have to write such an aggressive letter? Correct and sound doctrine is crucial to salvation and growth in spiritual maturity. It comes as no surprise that God warns us many times in Scripture to be aware of false teaching. Christians need to be able to recognize false teachers in order to know when they are being led down a path that God did not intend! The prophet Ezekiel wrote, “My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and utter lying divinations. They will not belong to the council of my people or be listed in the records of Israel, nor will they enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Sovereign LORD.” Eze 13:9. Jeremiah wrote, “Then the LORD said to me, “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds.” Jer 14:14. Jesus said, “For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. Matt 24:24
Why it so important today that we take notice
of what is happening in the church?
Many churches today do not want to
take doctrine seriously!
As Paul wrote to Timothy, “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 2 Tim 4:1-4. Like most false teachers they like say, “Doctrine divides, so instead we must focus on relationships and the love of God.” The churches of Asia Minor were not just struggling with the persecution and suffering addressed in Peter’s first letter; they also had strife and dissension within their ranks.
Unfortunately that leads too many false teachings that have eternal consequences and for Peter the most predominate heresy during his time was…. Gnosticism became in church the later part of the first century, and into the second, and third centuries. If Peter was aware of the Gnostic threat, then he would have certainly would have addressed this particularly by name. But “Gnosticism” comes from the idea that says, “They do not know whether God exists without knowledge.” The Latin equivalent to that word is “Ignoramus”. The Gnostic influence argues that truth, particularly ultimate truth, could not be learned through the mind. Could not be learned through the use of rationality. Could not be used through the five senses, or through scientific investigation. The only way the truth of God can be understood, they argued is through mystical intuition that goes beyond the categories of reason. Gnostics attempt to add Greek philosophy and Oriental dualism with a lite sprinkling of Christianity to add some flavor. They even claim to have a special pipeline to God that not even the apostles had, according to them. Gnostic thinking is basic to the “human potential movement” because it focuses on man and his problems, man and his needs, man and his happiness. Taking up the mantra of Enlightenment thinking by making “man as the measure of all things.” Gnostic thinking would assume that human tragedy is not the result of sin, but only ignorance. This is dangerous because it removes or makes the gospel ineffective and causes doubt to the validity of the Scriptures.
Peter writes with the hope not only of guarding God’s own people. But of unmasking all who stand condemned for compromising on what it means to really know God. I say all this by introduction because this is why Peter begins this letter by acknowledging that everything……. We are…have….and have become, are due to God revealing it to us through His Son and His atoning work. (v1-v2). It is interesting to note a small difference from his first letter. (v1) “Simeon Peter”. He uses his birth name and the name Jesus gave him. And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Matt 16:17-19
Why does Peter uses his birth name and
the name Jesus gave him?
What Peter wants us to know is that we are
meeting the whole man.
Simeon Peter the man who made big claims yet knew how to fall and fall hard. Simeon Peter the man who was an extroverted, assertive, loud, headstrong, unbridled who was always getting into trouble and causing grief to his Master. Simeon Peter the whole man who has a track record and a real history that was full of sin and destruction, but now the man “Peter” rests in the grace of Christ. It’s like Peter is saying to quote John Newton, “I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am”. Simeon Peter is a man who knows the fullness of guilt and grace. This whole man that writes this letter is evidence of God’s saving grace, and not in what the world thinks, believes or teaches falsely. Our hope is built upon nothing else than Jesus Christ and His righteousness imputed to us for the forgiveness of sin.
Simon Peter is an example that you can fall and yet still
finish the race that God has you on.
You can seriously wipe out and yet be restored as we see the angel tell the ladies who went to prepare Jesus body on the third day. “But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you." Mark 16:7
Have you ever wondered why Peter was centered out in Mark’s gospel from all the other disciples After Peter’s last encounter before Jesus’ death he felt terrible for his betrayal to his Master. Mark’s gospel gives proof of the kindness and mercy of the Lord Jesus. Peter had brought dishonor in his denial; and Jesus would have been right from that moment to cast Peter off and noticed him no more. But Jesus loved him still; as Jesus reminds the disciples, “Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” John 13:1. Jesus is the character of a friend that never leaves or forsakes us; a friend that sticks closer than a brother. “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Prov 18:24
You can have regrets and yet know what it is to be rescued by Christ and the gospel. “When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs." He said to him a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go."(This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, "Follow me." John 21:15-19
Chapter One is an exhortation of what the Christian life is all about. Chapter Two gives warning on how to recognize false teachers. Chapter Three gives us a word of certainty about the Lord’s return which comforts the believer and the coming judgement of those who deny the truth of God’s Word. The Purpose For This Letter is meant for us, to stand, and not fall, and to be alert to the dangers of those who try to compromise or water down the gospel, to appease fallen man and woman. As a slave to Christ and also as an apostle Peter is obligated to warn and comfort the believer to those who try to destroy the gospel. As a slave and as a Pastor, it is my responsibility to warn you of false teachers and the destructive doctrines of demons they bring. Just as you are slaves of Christ by exposing the darkness with light. “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” Eph 5:6-11
By your life, your conversation, and all your influence.
This is the business of Christians.
Our lives should be a standing rebuke of a sinful world, and we should be ever ready to express our disapproval of its wickedness in every form. This is only possible through the grace of God and the knowledge of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ. (v1-v2) See think about it for a moment! If you are born again Christian we have been given the privilege to know God through the redemption that is in His Son. While a world full of people live every day blind to the knowledge and wisdom of God. Just as Paul said in the opening of his letter to the church in Roman….. They deny God and seek the creation and worship the environment. The knowledge that Peter is conveying here is the idea of “a degree of intimate understanding of a specific subject, the subject being “God”.
The substance of one’s salvation
The beauty and privilege to know God through His Word.
The knowledge that produces a personal experience through the revealed gospel.
The key ingredient in receiving God’s grace is the full knowledge of God and Christ. Knowledge reflects an understanding of the grace of God at work in the believer’s life. All the believer’s peace and grace comes in/through the knowledge of God, This is not available to those who do not know and wholeheartedly embrace the gospel. Being armed with this knowledge gives us a special armor to expose and be alert to the moral lapse of our present culture and ultimately apostasy and false teaching in the church. As we begin this short book we need to be careful because we can create dissension in multiple ways, particularly in the areas of relationships and theology. To guard ourselves against that kind of disharmony in our families and our church…. We as God’s people need to know who He is. Our knowledge of God through His Word is the first line of defense against the conflicts that threaten to harm the family and the true church. As Peter closes his letter by saying, “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 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 3:17-18. This letter is to help us to grow, to be alert And to take the time to guard our minds with the proper knowledge of God so that we may not drift off from the path that God has laid out for us.