Friday, 22 February 2008

Some thoughts on 2 Peter

By now I'm sure you must be aware that I spent the past weekend at the UCCF New Leaders Training in Liverpool. Throughout the weekend, Tim Rudge (UCCF Field Director) opened 2 Peter to us in four talks. Unfortunately I missed the first talk on 1:1-11 (any ideas for where I could get an mp3 would be appreciated!) but here is a brief summary of what I learnt from the talks. Any thoughts/comments much appreciated!

True Truth

Tim showed us in the talk on 2 Peter 1:12-21 that the gospel is a true truth which we need to remind ourselves of iso that we should become established in it.

But how do we know it is true?
  • 1:16-18 show us that Peter and the other apostles were witnesses to Christ's majesty at the transfiguration (Mk 8:34-9:10) and that they heard God quote Psalm 2 over Jesus during the event. This quote shows that Jesus is indeed God's promised Son who had finally come and will rule and judge the world.
  • Peter also writes in 1:19-21 that the church has something even more sure than their testimony in the fact that the Scriptures were both inspired by the Holy Spirit and the people that wrote it down were carried along by the Spirit whilst they were writing it. It was God's exact words that they wrote down and it was God making sure that they wrote them down accurately.
And since we know that it is true, we need to remind ourselves of the gospel so that we might become established in it. We must be studying the Bible each day.

Dodgy Dealers

The second chapter of 2 Peter is a warning passage. It doesnt say to do anything, rather it tells us to watch out for false teachers. If we are to become established in the gospel, we must be on our guard for false teachers who twist the scriptures.

But what do false teachers teach? 2:1-3 says they deny the Master who bought them, but what could that entail?
  • They might deny the work of Christ . This could be by either adding to it, saying that Jesus' death and resurrection is not sufficient for our salvation, or by taking away from it, saying that Jesus was not God.
  • They might deny the sovereignty of Christ. This could be in saying that Jesus won't return to rule the planet and judge it.
  • They might deny the salvation of Christ. This could be in saying that God has freed us and therefore we are free to sin as much as we like.
They will do it by secretly introducing destructive heresies, taking people to hell. They will be in churches, and the elect might be convinced enough to be thoroughly shaken, but as Mark 13 points out, it won't be possible for the elect to be led astray.

Look at the contrast, the gospel truth purifies (1 Pt 1:22ff) but twisted truth taught by false teachers will deceive people and lead them astray.

But Peter encourages nervous Christians, God will judge these people. 2:4-9 show that God will judge
  • the powerful. Angels are powerful and impressive, but they are held in chains if they disobey. The powerful and impressive false teachers will be held in chains too.
  • the popular. Noah preached righteousness and people despised and ignored him. God judged the more popular people in the world and will judge the popular false teachers.
  • the blatant. God rescued Lot from a burning city where the sin was so blatant. God will save his people from blatant false teachers and will judge those false teachers.
But we were reminded to remember this with humility and not arrogance. We shouldn't be judging people inside the Christian Unions for doing things differently - one of the strengths of the CUs in our universities is that they are non denominational and we agree on what matters (maybe sometime soon I shall write a post about what it is worth agreeing to disagree over and what isn't worth agreeing to disagree over in our CUs, as it is good to be reminded!)

Glorious Hope

2 Peter 3 reminds us that throughout all our trials (which we will face) with false teachers we have this glorious hope of the return of Christ for which we can truly look forward to.

But sceptics will scoff about it. 3:1-4 says that they will use a couple of arguments, but will ultimately be motivated by their own evil desires. They might use the argument of time - ever had someone ask you mockingly "Where is Christ?" or "When will he return?" this is what he's talking about! Or they might use the argument of observation, pointing out that "there's no evidence for there being a God."

In both cases, the sceptics ignore some pretty key stuff. 3:5-10 shows us what they ignore.
  • The time argument forgets that God has a different relationship to time than we have - with him, a day is a thousand years and a thousand years is one day (3:8). He is also patient, not wishing anyone to perish and allowing everyone to have an opportunity to repent, so he restrains his anger for the time being, although Christ will return one day to judge the world.
  • The observation argument ignores that God rules the world through his word - he creates, judges and sustains through this word. He will judge the world through this word too.
So what will these sceptics see? 3:10-13 show us that Christ's return will be unexpected, will bring destruction (not disappearing, but be laid bare before God), will bring judgement and will bring renewal (a new heavens and a new Earth, which will be the home of righteousness.)

How should we, as Christians, live in light of this?
  • We should long for the day (3:12-14). What we desire rules us. Spend time in the word of God and long for the day.
  • We should live for the day (3:14). We should be spotless, blameless and at peace. But don't just abstain, do things too - serve, love and care. This is how the early church grew (along with being filled with the spirit and preaching the word of God to the lost).
  • We should speed the day. The gospel needs to be preached to the ends of the Earth before Christ returns. Can we make that day come sooner by taking the gospel out? What a motivation to take the gospel truth to the far reaches of the world.
What an awesome book!


peterdray said...

Cheers mate, well reported!

Anonymous said...

I wish I was convinced as you are about knowing for sure the Bible is true!

opentoesandals said...

hehe - my aim with this post was to basically rewrite the notes that I took on the talks on 2 Peter rather than justifying what is said in 2 Peter.

Having said that, I'll write a post in the next few days on the reasons why I believe the Bible is true. For the time being might I suggest you look at some of the documents on a Christian website called bethinking which answers questions like whether the Bible is true

Scott said...

Thanks Tim! Gutted I wasn't there - sounds like an awesome weekend.