By Jane Grivjak
2 Peter 1:1-4
Introduction : Throughout the next several months we will be exploring just a small fraction of the valuable promises of God found in scripture.
By way of introduction, I thought it might be helpful to ask, and hopefully answer a few questions about the promises given to us in order for us to know how to better understand, apprehend and appropriate the precious promises that are a just one of the gifts of God’s grace to us.
For whom are the promises intended?
What are they useful for?
How can a person obtain them?
Let’s read 2 Peter 1:1-4
Some background --In his second letter to the church at large, Peter sounded the warning that false doctrine was threatening the church and he emphasized the importance of holy living and sanctification as the only true evidence of genuine followers of Jesus Christ.
Peter understood that a believer who does not see the importance of taking their profession of faith to the next level, which is practical Christian living, that believer will be at risk. As we will see later, the example of a sanctified life was the way in which believers would know that they were genuine and it would also enable them to spot the imposters that were infiltrating the church.
He wanted believers to be mature in their faith and in the knowledge of God in Jesus Christ. Peter then encourages them to be aware of the resources that were available to them so they could grow in Christ…. those resources are the exceedingly great and precious promises he notes in verse 4.
1) Who are these promises intended for? (verse 1)
The promises are for those who have obtained like precious faith by the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ.
Clarke’s Commentary- (Precious faith denotes) Valuable faith; faith worth a great price, and faith which cost a great price. That (kind of) faith must be of infinite value, the grace of which Christ purchased by his blood; and it must be of infinite value also when it is the very instrument by which the soul is saved unto eternal life.
It is a precious faith because it cost Jesus His very life.
John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.
And it will cost us our very lives to be His disciples.
John 12:25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
We hold our faith in Jesus atoning sacrifice on the cross as precious because He chose to lay down His life in our place. And because He lay down His life, we should be willing to lay down our lives for Him to lay hold of the best promise of all, eternal life with Him in glory!!
That like precious faith has two facets:
*The reliance on Christ for salvation
*AND, by extension, the system of religious truths, belief system in which all believers must adhere to in order to protect and maintain that salvation that was purchased for us as such a cost.
These truths (that are part of that like precious faith), in which we find those great and precious promises were what Peter was trying to protect and maintain in order for the church to grow, mature and survive!
So, the promises (truths that make up our faith/belief system) that Peter was protecting and bestowing are for all who believe in Christ and desire to live godly lives in Him.
2) What are the promises useful for? (verses 2-4)
Let’s read verses 2-4 in the New Living Translation in order to see what the promises are given to us for:
2 May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.
3 By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. 4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world's corruption caused by human desires .
Bible notes-God’s great and precious promises refer to the divine provision(s) found in scripture for us.
Remember that our profession of faith is just the beginning of our journey with the Lord.
In his book Cheap Grace, Brandon Cook tackles the issue of the lack of discipleship in the church as it relates to practical Christian living after salvation. He notes that we are saved by grace through faith…this is a free gift of God…but it will cost us something. We must be willing to surrender ourselves to Him completely. He calls this a divine paradox. He defines cheap grace is one that places no further demands on a person, expects no transformation after salvation.
Access to the benefits and resources that God gives us will cost us something…we must be willing to surrender our lives, our will, our dreams, our rights to Him in order for Him to mold us into the image of His Son. This is a lifelong process.
Picture it this way , imagine that at the time of your conversion you are given a backpack that contained everything you needed to successfully complete the trek to your heavenly home. That backpack is lovingly packed by your heavenly Father and contains everything you will need for the treacherous journey that lay ahead. Not only does God provide “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (these are the things that are outside of the promises, such as the commandments, warnings, principles, proverbs, etc.), He also adds those “exceedingly great and precious promises” in our packs.
In addition, He goes with us, in the power and person of the Holy Spirit to be our guide and trainer. It is through the journey, as we avail ourselves of the provisions God has generously given and allow ourselves to be trained and empowered by the Spirit that our natures will be transformed into the image of Christ.
I look at the promises as those provisions in our pack that give us that extra boost to go on when the road is long or the path is dark and discouragement hangs over us like a dark cloud.
When you are weary- Isa 40:31
But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
When you are afraid- Josh 1:9
9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."
When you are discouraged- Phil 1:6
6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
When you are doubting- John 10:27-28
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.
When you are anxious- Isa 26:3-4
3 You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.
God’s provisions are all encompassing and will meet every need we have for the journey!
3) How do we appropriate the promises given to us?
a. We need to spend time in God’s Word-the source of the promises!
Ps 119:162 I rejoice at Your word
As one who finds great treasure.
Our responsibility is the be in the word in order to keep those resources at our disposal at all times.
What should our attitude be towards God’s word versus the wisdom of the world when we are in need of encouragement, wisdom, guidance, strength?? To whom do we go when we are in need? Jesus said, “Wherever your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” If we treasure God’s word above all else then we will go to Him first when we are in need.
Phil 4:19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (A wonderful promise!)
Make it your practice to see your Heavenly Father as the source of anything and everything you need!
b. We need to appropriate the promises (claim them as yours for use) by faith!
Romans 4:19-22 And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah's womb. 20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. 22 And therefore "it was accounted to him for righteousness."
God’s promises for Abraham were above and beyond what he could imagine. In him, God promised, that all nations of the world would be blessed. This was something that Abraham did not see in his lifetime. We see now the fulfillment of that promise through the coming of the Messiah. As we study the lives of those who have gone before us and see the faithfulness of God to fulfill all He declared He would, our faith will be strengthened and bolstered.
That faith will give us confidence to claim those promises as our own.
Charles Spurgeon-Every promise of scripture is a writing of God that can be pleaded before Him with this reasonable request, “Do as though has said.” The Heavenly Father will not break His word to His child. (See attached resource to see what conditions are placed on receiving those promises)
c. Once you have claimed the promises, commit them to memory and make them your prayer
Let’s take the promise in 2 Peter as an example:
God, I know you have given me divine power through Your Spirit to live a godly life. I know this comes through knowledge of Jesus and His Word. I pray that You will help me to pursue this knowledge and claim your promise that I can participate in the divine nature of Jesus-I can be more and more like Jesus and less and less corrupted by my evil desires.
d. We need to be patient as we wait to see how God will perform what He promised
Heb 6:11-12 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
I have found both in scripture and in my own experience that God often delays in keeping His promise to test us, to refine us, to stretch us, to strengthen our faith.
Like Abraham and Sarah, we sometimes need a do-over in order to get it right.
Patience does have its reward, even if it takes hundreds of years. Solomon had the privilege of bringing to fruition the promises that were foretold through Moses some five centuries before:
1 Kings 8:54-57 And so it was, when Solomon had finished praying all this prayer and supplication to the Lord, that he arose from before the altar of the Lord, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven. 55 Then he stood and blessed all the assembly of Israel with a loud voice, saying: 56 "Blessed be the Lord, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised. There has not failed one word of all His good promise, which He promised through His servant Moses.
The Promise is an awesome one!!
Deuteronomy 33:26-29 "There is no one like the God of Jeshurun,
Who rides the heavens to help you,
And in His excellency on the clouds.
27 The eternal God is your refuge,
And underneath are the everlasting arms;
He will thrust out the enemy from before you,
And will say, 'Destroy!'
28 Then Israel shall dwell in safety,
The fountain of Jacob alone,
In a land of grain and new wine;
His heavens shall also drop dew.
29 Happy are you, O Israel!
Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord,
The shield of your help
And the sword of your majesty!
Your enemies shall submit to you,
And you shall tread down their high places."
Our God keeps His promises!! Happy are those who trust in Him!!