Tuesday, September 2, 2008

II Peter 1:3 The Blessing of Knowing God Part II

On Saturday mornings when I was a child, there was a program that came on between cartoons called “School House Rock”. One of the lyrics in the theme song said something like “It’s great to learn ‘cause knowledge is power.” I believe Peter would agree with the people who wrote that. In fact in the first part of this verse, that “He [God] divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness.” The method God used in directing His divine power to give us these gifts was the “true knowledge of Him”. We observed how blessed we are that God chose to reveal Himself through us in His word and how that revelation gives us the power we need to live godly lives. However, that is not the only blessing that comes from knowing God. In fact, as we’ll see today, the blessing of knowing God extends to include everything involved in our salvation.

First of all, it is important for us to realize that God is sovereign regarding the offer of salvation. We are told throughout the bible that no person is seeking after God. For instance, as David writes in Psalm 53:1-3 “There is no one who does good.2 God has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men To see if there is anyone who understands , Who seeks after God.3 Every one of them has turned aside; together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one.” Therefore, God has to take the initiative in saving us. Peter says here that it is not man who seeks God, but rather it was God “who called us”. Peter, since he is talking to fellow Christians, is referring to the call to salvation. The bible teaches us quite a bit about this call and, more importantly, that this call is not heeded by everybody. In John 10:27, Jesus says “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” The fact is that if we respond to the gospel message and the convicting power of the Holy Spirit it is not due to our figuring things out or being more spiritually sensitive than other people. We respond because we are His sheep. We were the lost sheep who had wandered astray and, as a friend of mine has observed, lost sheep don’t go looking for shepherds.

Some people argue that teaching the sovereignty of God in salvation isn’t fair. Since God is in control of everything, how is it fair for Him to condemn anyone since it is His call that draws His sheep to Him. Why doesn’t He just elect everyone to salvation? However, that is the wrong question. The question that should arise in our minds is, “Since salvation is solely due to God’s initiative in spite of our rebellion and sinfulness, why does God save any of us?” Peter here gives us the answer. He called us, Peter says, by “His own glory and excellence”. The Lord’s “glory” (Greek-doxa 1391) is the expression of how wonderful and glorious He is. His glory never fades, never changes, and reveals Him to be the perfect, holy, righteous God who alone is worthy of our praise. The Greek word “doxa” not only refers to splendor or brightness but, as noted in Thayer’s Greek Dictionary, includes how others perceive Him. Certainly, those of us who have been called to salvation would say that we have found Him to be as good as His word. We praise Him and worship Him as our Savior and Lord. It is to His own glory, therefore, that He saves us. It also reveals His inner character. Peter says He called us by not only His glory but also His “excellence”. The word translated “excellence” is “arête” (703) and in Greek that word refers to moral excellence or virtue. God, in saving us, demonstrates the highest moral excellence. As Paul observes in Romans 3:25-26 “This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Therefore, He remained completely just in requiring punishment for sin. By doing so, He justified us who were sinners by punishing His Son on our behalf.

As we have seen in this verse, knowing God not only blesses us in this world because we know Him through His word but also we are blessed in eternity by having been called to salvation. Why did He save us? To demonstrate to everyone that He is worthy to be praised and holy beyond compare. Praise God for His sovereignty in salvation.

Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible Copyright 1960, 1962, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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