Thursday, December 2, 2010

II Peter 3:14 Four Imperatives of a Forward Looking Faith Part 1

As Peter comes to close out his marvelous epistle, he gives his readers four imperatives, directions to follow, to help them as they endure the false teachers that he has told them will be coming their way (2:1). In short, because Peter knows he won’t be around forever, he wants to make sure these people, his spiritual children, know how to defend themselves against the destructive heresies of false teachers. You and I, even 2,000 years later, need to be doing the same thing. False doctrine is being sold in the church today and being bought at an alarming rate. We must be prepared just as Peter’s audience was told to be prepared to resist this theological poison.

First of all, Peter bases these commands on the proclamations of the preceding verses. Since we are looking to a future deliverance from a corrupted world of sin to a perfect, sinless, eternal home in heaven, we should live differently. Peter says, “since you look for these things”. In other words, the truth that this world is temporary and will be judged but our future home in heaven is eternal and will be undefiled should affect us. If we’re truly born again, we can’t read that truth, understand it, and remain as we are where we are. Because the Holy Spirit indwells born again believers, our whole perspective and nature is radically different from the rest of the world. The truth we know will affect the way we live.

What effect should it have on our lives? Quite frankly, we should be eagerly seeking to become more like Christ and looking for opportunities to spread the gospel. Peter here uses the same phrase he used in chapter 1 verse 10 commanding his readers to “be diligent”. Certainly we are saved by grace through faith alone and not by works (Romans 3:28). However, true faith will demonstrate itself in works (James 2:17). We are also called to study scripture with diligence (II Timothy 2:15). In short, the life of a Christian is one of exerting maximum effort like a running back straining for those last few yards. We are called to expend this effort here by Peter as we progress in our sanctification.

To what end do we expend this effort—why does Peter command his readers, and by extension us, to diligence in our walk? First of all, this diligence leads to our assurance of true salvation, as he also noted in 1:10. We are called to be found “by Him”, that is, in Christ. Just as the author of Hebrews warned his readers about falling away and abandoning their profession of faith, we would be wise to remind ourselves that salvation is not only a point but a process. In other words, it is those who remain true to their faith in Jesus Christ who are saved. If someone makes a profession of faith and turns away from the faith they are not proving that someone can lose their salvation but rather they show they were never saved to begin with. We shouldn’t confidently rest on a prayer that we prayed as a child as proof that we’re saved. Rather, we should be diligent to be found in Christ so as to realize our full salvation.

The only way to pursue that is to live a life by faith that is pleasing to God. Peter says his readers need to strive to be found by Christ in “peace, spotless and blameless”. I would say that “spotless and blameless” are descriptions of how one is found at peace by the Lord. The only way to have peace with God is to have your sins forgiven, thereby being declared spotless and blameless. The only way to have your sins forgiven is by faith in the finished work of Christ. Obviously, if someone is living with this kind of faith and seeking diligently to lead a life pleasing to God, they will repent of sins in their life. They will devote themselves to seeking the Holy Spirit’s power in defeating sin and seek to walk in a God honoring manner.

As we read this exhortation by Peter, we should remind ourselves that our faith is a forward looking faith. We should seek, as Peter says, to be found by Christ having a saving faith that is attested to by our life. In the end, that is the only true was to have assurance of salvation.

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