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Last week we kicked off our study in Peter’s second letter. We saw he writes to Gentiles in the first century around 60-65 A.D. Peter identified himself as a slave and an apostle. He reminded us that we are one in Christ because of His righteousness. This morning, let’s look at the incredible power of God.
Peter writes in 2 Pet. 1:2-3, “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.”
Peter offers up a nice greeting and says nearly the same thing as he did in 1 Pet. 1:2. The assumption is that his readers have grace and peace. They have saving faith by grace that gives all Christians equal standing with God through Jesus. We have peace as a fruit of the Spirit given at salvation to all who have received God’s righteousness as Peter mentioned in v. 1. Grace and peace are multiplied through knowing God and Jesus Christ our Lord. In verse 1 Peter used the phrase God and Savior. Now he says God and of Jesus Christ – two people which is a more typical greeting in Scripture. This is not just head knowledge, but knowledge that evokes change, knowledge that transforms. What good is knowledge that results only in knowledge? That’s why we’ve all taken examinations of one form or another. There must be intellectual knowledge, but there must also be personal and relational knowledge. Intellectual knowledge should lead to a heart knowledge. There’s a difference between knowing someone and having a relationship with someone. Just because someone is your friend on Facebook does not mean you are best friends.
Knowledge is critical to Peter. In his first letter, he spent time refuting the Gnostics that concluded knowledge was the be all to end all. As long as you had the knowledge, that was all you needed. Peter said no, he said that knowledge must be reflected in behavior. The Gnostics believed it didn’t matter how you live as long as you were enlightened with knowledge. I half think that’s where people in the church are today. They have the knowledge of right and wrong, of good and bad, but it doesn’t lead to a change of behavior. It doesn’t lead to transformation. The knowledge that supposedly led to a conversion experience doesn’t have any effect on an individual. We have churches full of Gnostics that think just having knowledge is good enough. Knowledge doesn’t do anything, but people are convinced that Jesus is their friend and they’re going to heaven. This knowledge of Jesus brings a multiplication of grace and peace. That’s the only way to be growing in Christ. You gain knowledge by studying – that same way you gain knowledge about anything. You want to grow in Christ? Get to know Him. How do you get to know Him? Read His story, hang with people who want to know Him, who want to be like Christ. The time for talk is gone. Jesus is looking for servants who will actually follow Him. Hosea 4:6 says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” Are you thinking, “Hey, that doesn’t apply to me, I’m not a priest.” The first phrase is the tip off. God is talking about His people being destroyed because of a lack of knowledge. And He’s talking about a rejection of knowledge. Ignorance and rebellion lead to destruction.
We have everything we need. Peter tells us, “His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness.” These resources are available to us simply by knowing God. If you know God, then you have everything you need for a life that is pleasing to God. Peter’s call to godliness is rooted in and secured by God’s grace. Without grace, there would be no faith. Without faith, it’s impossible to please God. Salvation comes by grace through faith. Confused? Don’t be. It is God that is the initiator of the relationship. He supplies what we need through His power. If He expects us to have it, He gives it to us. The life Peter refers to is eternal life and comes from the Greek word zoe. Godliness is linked to life because you can’t have godliness without having eternal life. You can’t have eternal life without the transforming power of Christ. Paul warned Timothy about this when he said there were men that held, “To a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; avoid such men as these.” (2 Tim. 3:5) If you really have eternal life, it will change your life here on earth. The godliness we may display is not because of us, it’s because of God. The source of godliness is His divine power. When we start to think in terms of what we do, we tend to get high and mighty which leads to a judgmental attitude.
One caution in Peter’s message, there is a qualifier. We have everything from God’s divine power, “Through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” Everything needed for eternal life is rooted in the knowledge of Christ. Salvation is not an emotional decision. Don’t get me wrong, there are emotions involved, but when salvation is purely emotional and those emotions fade, we’re often left dazed and confused. Maybe you wonder why there is no power in your life. Maybe you wonder why you can’t change, why you’re still the same person you’ve always been. I can tell you it’s not from a lack of God’s power. Eternal life stems first from a knowledge of who the Christ is. John 17:3, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” First knowledge, then conversion, then transformation. The transformation continues from conversion until death. Glory and excellence point to the same thing. Those that God saves are called by Christ as we understand His love and His forgiveness. This knowledge leads us to make a decision to follow Christ. The decision to follow Christ lead believers to be morally transformed by God’s inexplicable grace. This is one of Peter’s central themes and one of my defining phrases for Christianity. If you are a child of God, your life better reflect His glory. If you think you can live your life any way you feel like, you’re deceived and you’re hurting the cause of Christ. 2 Cor. 4:6, “For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”
Those who truly are called by Christ have seen and experienced Christ’s glory and His excellence and will live a life of godliness. The life of the Christian still residing on earth will be lived as an example Christ’s transforming power.