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Some notes from the 2004 Bible conference
"Pilgrim Living"
January 10, 2004
First study: 1 Peter 1 | Second study: 2 Peter 1 | Third study: 2 Peter 3 | Order tapes/CDs

First Bible study: 1 Peter 1
Second study: 2 Peter 1 | Third study: 2 Peter 3        Top  

Peter was writing to Christian who were scattered far from one another. Yet they could share a common precious faith, as Peter wrote in his second letter (2 Peter 1:1). Pilgrim living

They are called pilgrims in the first verse of this letter. (Some translations read "strangers.") A pilgrim is someone who is on the way somewhere and knows he's not there yet. Living as Christian pilgrims means we are fully aware of our destination--heaven itself, with particular emphasis here on Christ's everlasting kingdom. But it also affects our daily living. Pilgrims don't get sidetracked; they want to make progress towards their goal.

The activity of the whole Godhead--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (v.2)--provide focus and preparation for this living.

There is a coming kingdom to appreciate. Peter particularly emphasizes this in his writings. However, the present world has rejected our King. We are living amidst that same world--what is our place in it?

Also, appreciating that kingdom does not mean we want no one else to come in. It does not make us self-centered. We are to be witnesses of that kingdom to others.

In verses 3-5, their eyes are taken off their circumstances and drawn to see God's purposes and actions for them. The power of the kingdom, displayed in the resurrection of Jesus Christ (v. 3), as already at work to keep us preserved until the kingdom is displayed (v. 5).

These believers were experiencing difficult trials (v. 6). We all will have trials in this world as true Christians. The goal of Peter's letter was to encourage them to have faith that would be exemplary during their lives as well as in the future when Christ comes in glory (v. 7).

We should be joyful Christians (v. 8)! If we aren't enjoying Christian fellowship, reading His word, or serving Him, then we should spend more time pondering the truths of this first section of 1 Peter.

Despite the trials, joy is frequently mentioned in Peter's writing. All trials do come to an end, but nothing can change the joy of having an inheritance that does not fade away (v. 4).

Compare the trials of the early Christians in Acts 4. After enduring persecution, they praised God and, as a result, experienced great power and great grace. Those blessings led to further examples of Christian living as they shared their possessions with those who had need (Acts 4:23-37).

We have now what the prophets and angels have wondered about (vv. 10, 12). This is a unique and incomparable blessing! It should prepare us for action to live as obedient children (vv. 13-14).

We should be holy as He is holy, pure as He is pure, and righteous as He is righteous (1 Peter 1:15; 1 John 3:3, 7).

The Lord prayed that we would be sanctified, set apart, while living in this world. He also sanctified Himself--He was completely apart from sin--as a means to sanctifying us through the truth (John 17:17-19).

Notice how consistently Peter links Christ to the truths he brings out. Each paragraph connects a practical application with the result of a living faith in Him.

"Conduct yourselves ... in fear" (v. 17). Compare references in the book of Proverbs, such as a wise man fearing and therefore departing from evil (Proverbs 14:16). Fear is a way of living that causes a departure from wickedness and the pursuit of clean living.

This feature of Christian living is displayed in part because we see how great a sacrifice has been offered to win us. God had to allow His Son to be made sin for us, to spill His precious blood as a spotless Lamb for us! Additionally, we conduct ourselves in fear because we know the Father does not show partiality. Our abilities, our heritage, our past service will not impress Him, so to speak. We are all accountable to live godly lives, no matter who we are.

The love of fellow believers is a natural outflow of pilgrim living (v. 22).

Second Bible study: 2 Peter 1
First study: 1 Peter 1 | Third study: 2 Peter 3        Top

An early focus of this second letter is that Christians have the knowledge of God (v. 3). He is the infinite God, yet we can know His thoughts!

This is through His divine power. God is at work in us, giving us all things needed for life and godliness and also giving us great and precious promises. We also need His help to appreciate these blessings.

The world is impressed by knowledge and power. False teachers and false prophets are attractive because they offer these. But God has true knowledge and also true power, first to keep us (1 Peter 1:5) and then to equip us for Christian living (v. 3 here). God's kingdom

God calls us by His glory. There is glory in the greatness and knowledge of Jesus, and if we glimpse that then all other attractions will fall apart.

If He has given us all things, He will have answer to our questions about suffering, trials, and anything else regarding His will. We might not know all the answers right away, but we can be assured He does have them.

We are "partakers of the divine nature" (v. 4), but we are not divine. We are not our own gods, as some might teach. We may, however, truly partake of God's own divine nature, to the extent to which we enjoy His great and precious promises.

The promises are not listed here. We have to search them out; it takes spiritual exercise. First, they are all connected with Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20). Then, there is the promise of eternal life (Titus 1:2), the promise of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:33), and others.

Verses 5-7 show some maturity in their development: first regarding God, then regarding self, then responding to others. But in another way, they are not a progressive list; they are all to be evident in each believer's life.

The Father, the Lord Jesus, and the Holy Spirit all have a part in producing fruit in the Christian's life. Yet there is another who has a part: each one of us. We should be diligent to add these features to our faith and to acknowledge any feature that is lacking.

There will be an abundant entrance into God's everlasting kingdom as a result (v. 11). This likely has a present aspect, since we are proving our place in God's kingdom already now; and a future aspect, since our rewards in the kingdom age will be determined by our fruitful and faithful living today.

Fruit for God Honeybees add seven substances to nectar in order to produce honey. If just one is lacking, we would never have honey all our lives! In the same way, these fruits of the Christian life must all be present. Galatians 5:22-23 present the nine-fold fruit of the Spirit, and if one of them is lacking it is not the fruit of the Spirit any longer.

We tend to be complacent in our accustomed knowledge and service. Peter wanted to remind and stir up these Christians (vv. 12-13). Peter knew his end was near. None of us knows whether we still have long years ahead or only a short time to live for the Lord.

Peter is strengthening his brethren, just as the Lord said he should do (Luke 22:32). And since the Lord said Peter should do this after he would be restored from failure, we see full proof that God has recovered him from even so great a failure as denying the Lord three times.

Peter's method of strengthening them is by presenting Christ's glory in His coming kingdom, which already begins to produce light in our hearts as we wait for the full reality to be displayed (vv. 16-19).

These truths are valid ways to govern our lives! They will affect our future rewards, and Peter offers his own eyewitness experience to show they are not clever fables. Christianity is not a set of philosophies that might possibly have some merit. It is the truth.

Third Bible study: 2 Peter 3:1-14
First study: 1 Peter 1 | Second study: 2 Peter 1        Top

Attack our souls The enemy of our souls will use any means to attack us. The first attack here is against the Lord's own promise and the validity of the Scriptures, such as John 14:3 and Revelation 22:7, 12, 20. The scoffers were questioning why the Christians were still waiting for the Lord to come back for them (v. 4)!

A scoffer can still be saved. Compare the thief on the cross, who first mocked the Lord but then turned to Him for salvation.

Those who talk this way ignore the evidence of God's judgment. We have that evidence all around, including the world's numerous languages, which were God's judgment on man's pride in Genesis 11. The evidence given by Peter here is that of the Flood in Noah's time (Genesis 6).

These mockers were apparently religious. They knew the claim of Jesus' promised return, they knew about the fathers, and they knew about creation. But there was no reality in their hearts, and therefore they became mockers. Religion without a relationship with God will produce scorn for His truth.

Notice that the scriptures are sufficient to answer these mockings. At issue was the Lord's return, but the answer comes from God's interruption of human history in the Flood. The God who stepped into time in the past can certainly step into time again, which is what Jesus promised.

Believers were kept in 1 Peter 1:5. Here, the sinful world is kept (v. 7). There is no uncertainty of action with God.

The assurance of coming judgment gives us confidence in His justice. It should also motivate our activity in announcing the time of His patience.

Further, His longsuffering is toward "you" (some translations read "us"). His longsuffering is also grace towards believers by allowing us an opportunity to display faithfulness to Him while we await the Lord's return.

God often waits and waits and waits before He acts. But when He acts, it is swift, decisive, and final. Compare the experience of Joseph, who endured 13 years of injustice after his dreams. Then in one day God made him second-in-command over all of Egypt.

Another lesson is that we should be careful not to take the place of scoffers ourselves. We do this in practice by not responding in our hearts to the truth of His coming. Do we keep His coming before us so that it affects our daily walk?

Since God's judgment will be final on everything in this life (not only possessions, but on everything that might even remotely be our legacy), what should we do? There are some things that are eternal, and we can spend our days connecting our lives with them.

As far as gospel preaching is concerned, the Lord is still not giving up on anyone as of this date and this moment. Let's continue on for Him.

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