************ Sermon on 2 Peter 1:1 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on August 9, 2020

2 Peter 1:1-2
2 Peter 1:1
"A Precious Faith"

Our is a precious faith. Our precious faith is under attack by Satan and his forces of evil.

How do we defend ourselves against their attacks? Peter tells us. He is an old man when he is writing. He is in Rome, probably in prison. He is expecting that soon he will die for the faith (cf 2 Pet 1:13-15). But before he dies He wants to tell Christians how to defend themselves.

We can sum up what Peter says with one word: knowledge. This word or a form of this word shows up sixteen times in this letter. Knowledge. So, what do we need to know? According to Peter's second letter, we need to know four things: first, we need to know our saving faith; second, we need to know Scripture; third, we need to know our enemy, our adversary, the false teachers; fourth, we need to know how to live before God. If I was to use four words that begin with "S" we need to know: Salvation, Scripture, Satan, Sanctification.

Today, we begin looking at the first thing we need to know in order to defend our precious faith. But before we do that, let's look at Peter's introduction to his second letter.

I Simon Peter
A "Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ." That's how this letter starts. Letters in New Testament times began with the name of the writer. By way of contrast, we end our letters with the name of the author.

"Simon Peter." Both names. It is important when both names are used. I remember doing that with our sons. If we said "Joshua" he may or may not listen; if we said "Joshua Thomas" he knew he was probably in trouble. You use two names to make a point.

"Simon." That's the Greek version. The Hebrew version is "Simeon." Simeon, if you remember, was one of the sons of Jacob and the name of one of the tribes of Israel. Simon, Simeon, same name.

"Simon." Which Simon? I ask that because ten people have that name in the New Testament. Which Simon or Simeon? "Simon Peter." Peter. That's the name Jesus gave to him. By the way, the Aramaic/ Hebrew word for Peter is "Cephas." Simon. Which Simon? "Simon Peter." Not Simon Magus. Not Simon the Just. Not Simon the Zealot. Not Simon the Leper. Not Simon who carried the cross. Not Simon Iscariot. Not any of the other Simons. "Simon Peter." Simon Peter wrote this letter.

Simon was his name before he met Christ. Not every time, but most times Simon was the name of sin and dishonor. Remember what Jesus said?
(Lk 22:31) "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat ... (34) before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me."
And, after Easter's resurrection, do you remember how Jesus reminded Peter of the denial? Three times -- not two, not one, but three times -- Jesus asked, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" (Jn 21:15,16, 17). Simon was the old name, the name of dishonor and disobedience, the name of the old man of sin.

Peter was his name after he met Christ. The Greek word, Petros/Peter, means rock. Jesus said, "you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church" (Mt 16:18). Not saying, as the Roman Catholics do, that Peter is the first pope; but rather speaking to Peter as the representative of all the apostles. Peter is the name of the new man, the renewed man.

"Simon Peter." Both names. Together. He is the old man, the old man of sin. He is the new man, a new creation in Christ. He is both at the same time. He is Simon when Jesus confronts him about his sin. He is Peter when he preaches with power at Pentecost (cf Acts 2:14). We are all like that. You and I are the old man and the new man at the same time. We are saints and we are sinners at the same time. We love Jesus and we deny Jesus at the same time. We all see ourselves in Simon Peter.

B Who is this letter from? Who is writing it? Simon Peter, further identified as "a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ."

Simon Peter, an apostle. Apostle means one sent forth as a representative. In this case, sent forth to represent Jesus, to speak for Jesus with authority.

Simon Peter, a servant. The actual Greek word for servant means slave. Hardly anyone was lower than a slave. Slaves were the bottom of the totem pole. To be a slave means to be in a position of submission, obedience, humility. Simon Peter was a slave of Jesus Christ. Again, in Simon Peter we are to see ourselves. With him, we are slaves of Christ. Like him, we are in a position of submission, obedience, humility to Jesus Who bought us with His precious blood.

Do you see this? Servant and apostle. Humility and authority. Modesty and dignity. What a model for spiritual leadership!

C "Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those ..." Who is "those" Peter is writing to? In 2 Peter 3:1 we read "this is now my second letter to you." So the audience is the same as those to whom he wrote the first letter. So, to whom did he write the first letter?
(1 Pet 1:1) Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God's elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia ...
Who did Peter write to? God's elect scattered about the Gentile world. Mostly Gentiles. But certainly some Jews as well. Under the inspiration of the Spirit, he wrote to you and me as well.

II Our Saving Faith
A Now, remember, Simon Peter wants us to know certain things so we are protected from Satan and his false teachers. The first thing we need to know is our saving faith. Listen to what Peter says after introducing himself:
(2 Pet 1:1) To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours ...
When Satan attacks your precious faith with false doctrine, your defense begins here. You need to know you are saved, that you forever belong to God.

Our Bible reading uses the word "precious" to describe our saving faith and I use the word in my sermon title. But precious is probably not the best translation. Other Bible versions say "of the same kind as ours, equal standing with ours, equal in value." The Greek word is used in a variety of situations. It is used for equal in rank, equal in price, equal in position, equal in honor, equal in standing, equally privileged, equally precious, equally honored, equally valuable.

"As precious as ours, the same as ours," writes Peter. That is, the same as the apostles. So, whether you are a lay person or an apostle, you have the same saving faith. Do you hear what Peter is saying? Peter is saying all Christians have the same saving faith; we all have saving faith that is equally valuable, equally precious, equally honored, and so on. There are no first-class and second-class Christians. Whether you are Jew or Gentile, you all have the same faith. Whether you are in North America, Europe, Asia, or Africa, you all have the same saving faith. Whether you are Reformed, Presbyterian, or Pentecostal, you all have the same saving faith. Whether you are red, yellow, black, or white, you all have the same saving faith.

This was a big deal to Peter. Remember how the Lord instructed him about this? Peter was sent to the home of Cornelius, a Gentile (cf Acts 10). He learned God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation (cf Acts 10:34-35). He learned that everyone who receives the Holy Spirit ought to be baptized (cf Acts 10:47-48). And, then, Peter had to explain his actions to the apostles and brothers throughout Judea (cf Acts 11). When they heard Peter's explanation, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, "So then God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life" (Acts 11:18). Saving faith is saving faith no matter who has it and all saving faith is of equal value.

B One of the things we need to know about saving faith is its source. Peter writes, "To those ... what." "To those who ... have received a faith as precious as ours." Received. Not taken. Not grabbed. Not earned. Not deserved. Received. Meaning what? Meaning saving faith is a gift.

Received. There are a number of Greek words that can be translated as "received." The one in our text is most unusual, not common at all. The verb means "to obtain by lot." By the casting of lots God revealed His will. Lots were cast, for instance, to determine the guilt of Achan who stole from God at Jericho. Lots were cast to select Matthew as an apostle in the place of Judas. The casting of lots means no personal effort, no personal skill, no personal worthiness are involved. It is from God and God is the one in control. So what is Peter saying about his audience? They have saving faith, a precious faith, because God willed to give it to them. They received their faith from God. God allotted faith to them. Go back to 1 Peter 1. Remember who is Peter's audience? It is "God's elect" (1 Pet 1:1). They have "been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father" (1 Pet 1:2).

So, this precious faith, this saving faith, is not given to everyone. Not everyone is redeemed. Only those are given saving faith who have been chosen by God. Given by God so no one -- no heretic, no heresy, no false teacher or prophet of Satan -- can take it from you. It has been given you by God and you are forever safe in Him and belong to Him.

C The source of our saving faith is God. Look at the means He uses: "through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ."

Let's start with the title. Peter mentions "our God and Savior." Peter is not talking about God the Father. Peter takes an Old Testament title for God and applies it to Jesus. Again and again, for instance, Isaiah identifies God as Savior:
(Isa 43:3) For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

(Isa 43:11) I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior.

(Cf Isa 45:15,21; 60:16)
Peter is calling Jesus Christ our God and Savior. Or, to turn it around, our God and Savior is Jesus Christ. Say that to the JWs and Mormons who come to your door. He is God. He is Savior.

Our precious faith, our saving faith, comes from God. And it comes to us through the righteousness of Jesus. We are talking about the active and passive obedience of Christ. Jesus’ active obedience is His perfect obedience to God’s law; not once did He sin against the Father in thought, word, or deed. Jesus’ passive obedience is His willingness to go the way of the cross for our sins.

Because of Christ and His righteousness, ours is a saving faith, a precious faith. What a sure foundation.

"Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours" (2 Pet 1:1).

Now, remember why we need to know this. Because of the Devil and his attacks. People who are unsure of their salvation, people who are unsure of who Jesus is and what Jesus did for them, can easily be tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming (cf Eph 4:14). But those who have been given saving faith have a wall of protection against the forces of deceit. Theirs is the assurance that they are saved, that they forever belong to God and that nothing can pull them away.
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