Be Diligent to Grow ~ 2 Peter 1: Be Strengthened! – 1:12-18

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Be Diligent to Grow, Part 3

Be Strengthened!

2 Peter 1:12-18

Bruce A. Hess

Please take out your Bibles and I want you to turn in your Bibles (not yet to 2 Peter, chapter 1), but instead to the gospel of Luke and chapter number 22. Before we get to 2 Peter 1, we want to go to Luke, chapter 22.

Now, there is no Scripture that calls us to do it, but some of us have chosen to pick a verse that we like to call our “life verse.” It is a verse that is really a special theme in our life. Usually if you choose a “life verse,” it grows out of your own unique experience, your own unique spiritual life.  I am going to share mine, my “life verse,” in just a minute, but before I do that, I want to give a little back story to my life verse.

Some of you know this information, but I trusted in Christ when I was eleven years old. I was in fifth grade and some traveling child evangelists came to our town and came to our church. They shared the gospel and I trusted in Christ based on what they shared that day. Now, the pastor of my church had a great heart for people. I still appreciate to this day his heart for people, but, at least to me, his preaching was very anemic. I don’t know whether that was due to his training or his lack of training, but to me, when I heard what he had to say every week it seemed like we were repeating the same thing every week; it had very little application to my life.

Over the next few years, I developed this perspective that the Bible is boring, and I vowed that one thing that I would never, ever, ever do, and that is, that I would never be a pastor of a church, because a pastor of a church would have to read and teach the Bible and I had no interest in doing that. When I was nineteen, I went off to college. Actually, I was eighteen, but it was when I was nineteen at college that someone helped connect me with a person who, for the very first time in my life, truly taught from the Bible. And I was astonished by that. The Bible was so real; it was so deep; it was so practical; it was so profound that I began to lean in with a vigor to learn more of what God’s Word had to say.

By the time I was twenty-one I was thinking this thought: you know there are a lot of churches out there with anemic Bible preaching, maybe God could use me to be part of the solution! So, I chose, as a “life verse,” Ezra, chapter 7 and verse 10. It is an outgrowth of my spiritual experience. You say what does Ezra 7:10 say? It says this, “Ezra set his heart (he made it a focus in his life) to study the Law of the Lord and to practice it (Oh, that is a vital step), and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.” Which is what I’ve been doing now for fifty years, and forty-two years as a pastor.

You might be saying, Bruce, that is quite interesting, but what does that have to do with 2 Peter, chapter 1? There are many Bible students, me included, who believe that Peter likely also had a “life verse,” and it was a life verse that grew out of his own spiritual experience. That is why I have us in Luke 22, I want us to look at verses 31-34.

Here, Jesus, in Luke 22:31, is speaking to Peter. Simon is another name that he went by, and Jesus says to him, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat (you are going to go through it). But I have prayed for you, that your faith will not fail; and you, once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” We all remember Peter’s response, right? In the next verse, he said, “Lord, I am ready to go both to prison and to death with You!” Jesus says to him, “I say to you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied Me three times that you even know Me.”

What happens to Peter? He has a spiritual crash-and-burn episode in his life. There was a spiritual collapse. In the tenderness of the Lord Jesus, if you go to look at John, chapter 21, He says later on to Peter, What I want you to do is to shepherd My sheep.

I want your eyes to go back to verse 32 in Luke 22, because I really believe this was his “life verse.” You notice Jesus says there. “When you have turned again (after you have recovered from this spiritual crash-and-burn), here is what I want you to do, Peter, I want you to strengthen your brothers.” When you start tracking Peter after Jesus’ ascension, and you track him into the book of Acts, that is exactly what he is doing—not only sharing the message of Christ, but he is strengthening his brothers.

You can look at the first letter he wrote, the book of 1 Peter, and he is strengthening his brothers. They were facing trials and suffering, and he says, Brothers and sisters, I want you to be encouraged, strengthened in the face of those things. Now, when we come to 2 Peter, chapter 1, he is strengthening his brothers and sisters in Christ. He is saying to them, Be diligent to grow. He is exhorting us to grow spiritually. He is basically saying, I don’t want you to be spiritually immature, like I was at the beginning. I don’t want you to crash and burn and have a spiritual collapse.

Go back to 2 Peter, chapter 1 now. I want you to see a verse we’ve already looked at in our study. He says at the end of verse 10, as long as you practice these things (talking about the previous verses), you will–interestingly enough he says–never stumble. You are not going to crash-and-burn like I did.

Now, the title I’ve given to today’s message is, “Be Strengthened.” It comes from chapter 1 of 2 Peter, verses 12-18. I’d like to read those verses and invite you to follow along in your Bible as I am reading.

Peter says in verse 12, “Therefore I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them and have been established in the truth which is present with you.” Verse 13, “I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind.” Verse 16, “For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” Verse 17, “For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory: “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well pleased” – and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.”

Now, today’s plan, as we look at this section, breaks into two parts. First of all, we are going to look at the Spiritual Importance of Remembering in verses 12-15. Then, he is going to give us something specific to Remember, and that is that Jesus will Return! He is going to give eyewitness proof of that in verses 16-18. Then, in verses 19-21, he is going to talk about the most reliable proof of all, which is Scripture. We will be picking up verses 19-21 next week.

Let’s begin by looking at this idea of the Spiritual Importance of Remembering. Look at verse 12 with me. You will notice how it begins, it says, “Therefore.” In other words, based on what I have covered previously. It says, “Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things.” The NET Bible says, “I intend to remind you constantly.” Why? I want to fulfill my calling; I want to live out my “life verse.”

 “I will always be ready to remind you of these things.” What are the ‘these things?’ Well, if you’ve missed our previous study, it is available on YouTube, it is available on our website, you can go back and look at those messages, but ‘these things’ would include, verse 3:  the complete spiritual resources that He has granted to us, that He has bestowed on us. These things would include, verse 4: the precious, magnificent great promises that He has granted to us, that He has bestowed on us.

Basically, what he is saying is, we don’t have an excuse not to grow. Everything that we’ve needed has been given. Then, ‘these things’ include what he talks about in verses 5 and following where active faith breeds spiritual character. Then, in verses 8 and following, how spiritual growth brings practical benefits to us. We can be effective and fruitful. We can be spiritually insightful. We can have spiritual stability, which means we don’t have to crash-and-burn.

Also, as we saw last time, the practical benefit of a special future blessing for those who are growing there is a grand entrance into eternity. He is basically saying, I am reminding you of these things, I am repeating these things, I want to reinforce these things. So, he said, “I am teaching these to you again, reminding you,” verse 12, “even though you already know them.” Now, why would he do that? Because there is no guarantee just because I know something, that I am going to consistently apply it in my life. There is no guarantee that even though I know it, it will be at the forefront of my spiritual focus.

He says there, “…you already know them and have been established in the truth (verse 12) which is present in you.” What is the truth? It is divine truth. It’s not truth that shifts with the winds and the whims of culture at all.

Look at verse 13. He says, “I consider it right,” I consider it spiritually proper; I consider it spiritually appropriate to do this, “as long as I am in this earthly dwelling.” That word that is translated ‘dwelling’ here is just the common word for a tent. It says, as long as I’m in this tent. Paul talks about the tent in 2 Corinthians, chapter 5. He says what we live in is an ‘earth tent.’ You know the real you, the real Bruce, lives inside this earth tent, but I’m not always going to live inside this earth tent. There will be a time when I depart from the earth tent.

He says, “I consider it right as long as I am in this earth tent to (I like this phraseology) to stir you up by way of reminder.” That little verbal phrase ‘to stir you up’ means to awaken, to arouse out of lethargy or from being spiritually drowsy. You know, when he says that my mind immediately goes to the backdrop of the night the disciples were with Jesus in the garden. Remember that? Even though Jesus said, I want you to pray with me, Peter and the disciples were struggling to stay awake, just spiritually drowsy. It is very easy for us to drift into lethargy, because, in the midst of everyday life, it is easy to get there. He says, I want to awaken you, arouse you out of your spiritual lethargy, from being drowsy.

So, two verses in a row, he says, I am repeating truths; I am reminding you of these truths, which tells us the importance of repetition, right? Repetition in learning is so critical. Repetition is crucial in learning a sport. It is crucial in learning self-defense. It is crucial in learning how to shoot. It is crucial in any skill. Repetition is important in the spiritual life.

I was doing a little bit of research and was looking for some quotes on repetition. The first one I found was this, “Repetition is the first principle of all learning.” It is where it all begins. Then, I saw this quote, “Repetition is the mother of learning and the father of action.” You see, processing truth is best done over time through repetitive engagements. Repetition builds long term memory pathways in our brain. That is why it is so important. He says, I’ve got to repeat these things, so we get those pathways clearly drawn out in your brain.

Many of you are aware of John Wooden, who is considered to be the greatest basketball, collegiate basketball, coach in our history. I came across this from John Wooden…he shared the eight laws of learning. Would you like to hear what the eight laws of learning are? Here we go, here are the eight laws of learning. He says the eight laws of learning are:

  • Explanation
  • Demonstration
  • Imitation
  • Repetition
  • Repetition
  • Repetition
  • Repetition
  • Repetition

The eight laws of learning.

Why is it repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition? Because, repetition…listen…develops conviction and we all need to be reminded of things. It is never: Oh, I hear it once, I’m just going to move on. That is why, men and women, we need regular exposure to God’s word. I need it and you need it.

Verse 12, he says, “I am going to remind you of these things, even though you already know them.”

Verse 13, it is right, it is spiritually appropriate, to stir you up, wake you out of a little of your lethargy by way of reminder. This was a practice not only of Peter, but it was also a practice of the apostle Paul. Look at Philippians, chapter 3, verse 1, he says, “To write the same things again (things you have heard from me before) is no trouble for me (and I love this wording, he says) it is a safeguard for you.” It means spiritual safety for you. It means it is to your spiritual advantage that I write the same things again, that there is repetition, that I’m reminding you of truth.

This is why, men and women, we should never start to tune out, thinking when someone begins to talk about some Scripture: I’ve heard that before; I’ve heard that book taught before; I’ve heard those verses discussed before. Instead, what we need to do is, we need to say to ourselves, What might the Holy Spirit want to teach me again? What might the Holy Spirit want to remind me? What might the Holy Spirit want to reawaken me to? The repetition, the reminding, it is a safeguard. Repetition deepens conviction. I don’t know about you, but it is easy for me to forget what I ought to remember.

Look at verse 14, he says, “Knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent.” Picturesque language, “the laying aside” is a descriptive that was used of just taking off clothing. He says, the taking off of my earthly dwelling (the temporary residence of the real person)…he says, my taking off of this earthly dwelling is imminent as the Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.

Now, as Peter writes this letter, he is likely in his mid to late sixties and Jesus said something very interesting to him in John chapter 21. I want to look at it here. He had said to Peter, “When you are old, Peter, you will stretch out your hands (which, by the way, was an idiomatic expression of crucifixion). When you are old, you will stretch out your hands and others will tie you up and bring you where you do not want to go.” Then, John adds this parenthetical comment, “Now Jesus said this to indicate clearly by what kind of death Peter was going to glorify God.”

Now, Eusebius, who is the Greek historian, he tells us, records this in his history, that Peter was indeed crucified, but he was crucified upside down, because when he was to be crucified, he said, I’m not worthy of being crucified the same way my Savior was crucified.

Look at verse 15. He says, “I will also be diligent that, at any time after my departure, you will be able to call these things to mind.” In other words, I’m going to make every effort that even after my departure, you will be able to call these things to mind. By the way, that little word ‘departure’ is literally, in the original, the word – exodus. What happens in an exodus? Well, someone goes from one place to another place. You know, the Jewish nation had the exodus from Egypt, they went from one place to another place, they were delivered from bondage through that exodus. For a believer, when we die, we go from one place to another place, and we are released from sin and death.

In verse 15, when he says, “You will be able to call these things to mind,” most likely he is making reference to his anticipation that what he is writing in 2 Peter would become part of Scripture. Even after he was gone, they could read these things and be remembered about what he had to say.

So, the first thing we said we were going to do today is look at the Spiritual Importance of Remembering. We’ve done that. Now we want to gear shift over to something specific he tells us to remember and that is, that Jesus will return! This is eyewitness proof he wants to talk about is in verses 16-18.

Just so you know, the Second Coming is a theme that Peter likes to talk about.

When he wrote his first letter, he talks about the Second Coming in chapter 1 and verse 7 and verse 13. He talks about the Second Coming in chapter 4 and verse 13. He talks about the Second Coming in chapter 5 and verse 4. Then, when you come to 2 Peter, which we haven’t gotten there yet, in chapter 3 there is a whole chapter on the Second Coming, which we will get to eventually.

I want you to notice what he has to say in verse 16, he says, “We did not follow cleverly devised tales.” The word, literally, in the original, is – myths. I like the way the NET Bible translates it:  “We did not follow cleverly concocted fables.” We did not follow carefully crafted stories. We did not follow fabricated fiction that was dreamed up by people somewhere. No, he says, we were not following those things, “When we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.”

Look at that little phrase, “When we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus.” Now, when you first glance at that phrase, ‘the power and coming of our Lord Jesus,’ you might wonder, what is he really referring to there? Is he referring to the First Coming? Is he referring to the power of miracles that Jesus performed? Or is he referring to making them aware about the Second Coming, you know, the future return of Christ? So, when you first glance at it, you might say, I don’t know which one he is referring to, but clearly, he is referring to the latter, to the Second Coming and the return of Christ.

There are two reasons why that is true. Reason number one is the word “coming” that he uses here is a word called parousia, in the original language, p-a-r-o-u-s-i-a. That is the word “coming.” That word, parousia, always in the New Testament, every time it is used, is referring to the events of the Second Coming, not the First Coming of Christ.

The second reason why we know that he is referring to the Second Coming of Christ and the power of Christ, is what happened at the Mount of Transfiguration; what actually occurred there.

Now, the story and the account of the Mount of Transfiguration is recorded in Matthew 17 and in Mark, chapter 9, and also in Luke, chapter 9. He says, “We were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” By the way, did you notice the shift in the pronouns in the verses we’ve been looking at this morning? If you go back to verses 12-15, it is ‘I,’ ‘I,’ ‘I,’ ‘I,’ clear to ‘me,’ ‘my departure.’ Then, you come to verses 16-18 and it is ‘we,’ ‘we,’ ‘we,’ ‘we,’ ‘we’…who are the ‘we?’ The ‘we’ is Peter, James and John. He says in verse 16, “…we were eyewitnesses of His majesty,” His grandeur.

What all happened that he is talking about? Let’s flip back to Matthew, chapter 17 for a moment. I just want to go back to look at some of the information that tells us a little bit about this event, so turn with me to Matthew, chapter 17, verse 1. In fact, as you go back to Matthew, chapter 17 and verse 1, we actually want to back up one verse. You know that the original writings had no chapter divisions in it so, go back to the last verse of chapter 16 of Matthew. Jesus is speaking to His disciples, and He says, “Truly I say to you,” verse 28 of chapter 16, “there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” That is a prediction.

Now, look at verse 1 of chapter 17, “Six days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John.”

I don’t know if you know this or not, but this is one of those instances where the critics come along and go, Man, I’m glad, Bruce, you pointed out another error in the Bible. They are everywhere; there are errors everywhere! In Matthew it says this happened six days later, in Luke 9:28 Luke says, “Some eight days later,” this happened.  So they like to say, There you have it, one says six the other says eight, error, error, error!

Not really. Not really. It is obvious that Luke, in his gospel is doing some kind of rounding off when he says, some eight days later. It is very easy reckoning, potentially. You have the day that Jesus made this prediction, you have six intervening days, then you have the day that the event happened. It’s not a contradiction. It is just a different way of communicating about it.

Chapter 17, verse 2, they are high up on the mountain and “Jesus was transfigured before them, His face shone like the sun and His garments became as white as light.” You know what is happening here? Peter, James and John are at an ‘advanced screening’ Yeah! Anyone ever been to an ‘advanced screening?’ Some of you have. This is an advanced screening of the Second Coming in glory.

 Verse 3, notice that, “Behold Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Jesus.” Now, Moses represented the Law, Elijah represented the Prophets. We learn in Luke, chapter 24 and verse 27, that Jesus came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets. We see in verse 3 that Moses and Elijah are talking together with Jesus. You wonder, What were they talking about? Matthew doesn’t really record it, but Luke, in Luke 9:31, tells us a little bit about it. It says that Jesus and Moses and Elijah were speaking of Jesus’ departure (that’s the word “exodus”), which He, Jesus, was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. You see, in Jerusalem there was going to be an exodus. He was going to be leaving His earth tent, there was going to be a change that was going to happen.

Chapter 17 and verse 4, Peter basically says (of the events on the mountain), Hey, I think this is party time here, let’s make a memory. Before he could literally say anything else, in chapter 17 of Matthew, in verse 5, it says, “A bright cloud overshadowed them (This was the Shekinah Glory from the Old Testament) and a voice came out of the cloud.”

Now, I’m going to leave Matthew, let’s go back to 2 Peter and chapter 1, verse 17. He talks about how “Jesus received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance was made by the Majestic Glory. This is My beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.” In other words, He received royal honor, it came from the Majestic Glory, from God, Himself, who said, in an audible voice, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.” He was validating the person of Jesus. He was validating the words and works of Jesus. I like the way the NET Bible translates it: it says that God the Father said, this is Jesus, in whom I am delighted, delighted!

Look at verse 18. He says, “We ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain.” Here is what he is telling us, what we need to be reminded of, we need to remember that Jesus will return! Peter says, I’m an eyewitness, I was at the advanced screening.

You know what is really interesting? That historical event that happened on the Mount of Transfiguration, only five people witnessed it. Peter, James, John, Moses and Elijah. Only five witnessed it, but in the future all mankind is going to witness this, all of the universe is going to witness this.

Matthew 24, verse 30, “The Son of Man will appear in the sky (notice this), then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds with power and great glory.” Now, why was it so important to remind these believers of this? Why is it important for us to be reminded of this? Well, when he gets to chapter 3 and verse 11, he is going to say this, in light of that, that He is coming back, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness? It should make a difference in how we choose to live our life.

Now, next time we are going to zoom in on verses 19-21 of chapter 1. We are going to look at the most reliable proof of all, and that is Scripture itself. But, as we walk away from what we’ve been looking at today, I want to draw some Life Lessons and I’ve got two in mind.

The first one is this, Be Encouraged! Men and women, be encouraged! Our faith is not rooted in fairy tales, it’s not rooted in cleverly concocted fables, it’s not rooted in some sort of fabricated fiction that somebody, somewhere, dreamed up. It is rooted in eyewitness history. 1 Corinthians, chapter 15 talks about how the resurrected Jesus was seen by more than five hundred people at once. Be encouraged, our faith is not fabricated fiction. Don’t let the enemy of our souls mislead us. Don’t let him question who Jesus is, the solidness of your salvation, because he is always there whispering: “Aaahh it’s probably not true, it’s probably not true, it’s probably not true.” Don’t let him mislead you.

The second life lesson is, Don’t Forget! Don’t forget what? We all…how many is included in all? Everybody here, everybody listening, we all will have our own future exodus. There is going to come a time when all of us are going to lay aside the earth tent. We are going to leave it behind and we are going to enter into eternity.

Here is the question because I don’t know everybody here well…I don’t know everybody listening well: are you prepared for this event? You know, there are only two destinies of everyone who has ever taken a breath. John 3:16, one of the first verses I ever memorized, “God so loved the world that He gave His unique Son (that’s the work that He did on the cross) that whoever believes in Him (trusts in Him, rests in His work) shall not perish, but have eternal life.” There you go, the two destinies, eternal life and perishing in judgment.

Two verses down, John 3:18, “He who believes in Jesus is not judged.” That is one destiny. “He who does not believe (uh-oh) stands judged already, because he (or she) has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

So, the question for every one of us is: what have you done with Jesus? Please make the right choice to believe and trust in Him.

Let’s pray together. Father, we just thank You so much for the Word of God. It is such an amazing book that we have in our hands and we thank You that we have someone like Peter who cares enough to remind us, and remind us, and remind us, of truths that we need to know—because they are a safeguard to us.

But most importantly, I’m concerned about everyone who hears my voice, that they make the right destiny choice to look to the person of Christ, not what they can manufacture, but what He did on our behalf. May they trust in Him so when it comes time to lay aside the earth tent, when it comes time for the “exodus,” it can be an exodus not into judgment, but into eternal life. What a great, great experience that will be. We pray that for everyone, and we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Questions for Reflection

Be Strengthened!

2 Peter 1:12-18

1. As Bruce stated, while there is no Scriptural admonition for us to choose a ‘life verse,’ still some Jesus followers have done so.  If you have chosen a life theme verse, share what it is and why you have chosen it.  If you haven’t selected a ‘life verse’ for some reason,  what verse stands out to you as especially encouraging in your spiritual life?  Elaborate on why that is.

2. Bruce postulated that events and counsel from Jesus in Luke 22:31-34 and John 21:15-19 likely had significant long-term impact on Peter.  Imagine you are relating Peter’s experience to someone new to their faith.  How would you elaborate on the cause-and-effect impacts of those events on Peter’s life and ministry after Jesus’ ascension?

3. We often find ourselves thinking—Well, I’ve heard that verse before or I’ve heard teaching on that subject before.  Yet Peter goes out of his way to stress the spiritual importance of us being reminded of spiritual truth.  List several reasons why it is vital to be reminded of truth we “already know.”

4. Bruce quoted legendary basketball coach John Wooden’s “eight” laws of learning. Can you remember them?  What is unique about those “eight” laws?

5. Think of a biblical truth that might often slip from your everyday life focus.  What is the truth and why do you think it is so easy to lose practical focus on that truth?

6. In Philippians 3:1 Paul wrote that saying the same things again is a “safeguard for you.”  Why would that be true?

7. Several times Peter referred to leaving his ‘earth tent’ (vs. 13, 14) and having an ‘exodus’ from this world (vs. 15). What practical things can we learn for our life from what Peter is discussing?

8. The Bible says there are only two destinies in this world (see Matthew 7:13-14).  How confident are you about your future spiritual destiny? What have you done with Jesus?

9. Give God praise that our faith is not based on cleverly concocted fables but on rock solid historical facts.

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