2 PETER 1:12-15
Series: I'll Fly Away - Part Three
Pastor Stephen Muncherian
January 20, 2008
Please turn with me to 2 Peter 1 - starting at verse 12. Today is our third look at Peter’s second letter. As you’re turning there take a look at this clip.
Do you ever feel like sometimes things just don’t work out they way you planned? We never know when life is going to take us in a completely different direction. True?
In Peter’s second letter Peter is sharing about heaven and the hope we have in Jesus. What happens after our time here on earth is done. Peter also shares about living life right here in the present. As we go hurtling down the trajectory of our lives - with everything that can grab us and take us where we don’t want to go - what can we stay focused on that will keep us on track with God’s purposes for us - what will give real purpose and meaning to our lives?
Look with me at verse 12. Therefore - which is everything we’ve looked at the last two Sundays. Peter writing about God’s promises to us and our need for diligence in our relationship with God.
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.
Let’s pause there. Notice Peter’s purpose is to remind his readers of what they already know. Say this with me, “They know this.”
The wheels are turning in his readers’ minds, “Peter’s repeating himself. He must be having a senior moment. We’ve heard this before. Just humor him.”
The Revised Standard translation puts Peter’s words this way: “Therefore I intend always to remind you of these things…” There’s purpose here. Not senility.
“These things” have to do with the life we have in Jesus. The almighty God of creation desires to have an intimate personal relationship with each one of us - in which He - God - supplies all that we need to live in that relationship - the very ability and divine power necessary to live life as God has designed life to be lived - including the very basis of that life - the salvation offered to us in Jesus Christ.
Because of all that God has given to us we need to be diligent to put effort into that relationship. Practically - to work at - to passionately pursue - moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. Remember those 7 qualities?
Peter is up front with his readers. “You know these things. And, I know you know these things. But, I’m going to remind you anyway. Because you need to be reminded.”
If we been around church for any number of years we ought have pretty much set in our minds the basics. We’re all sinners. Jesus - God - coming as a baby - living in Palestine - doing miracles - dying on a cross - the resurrection - we need to trust Him as our Savior - and read our Bible and pray a lot. Oh - and go to church and Sunday School. There’s just basic stuff we know.
Sometimes things get added to that depending on what franchise of the church we go to. Are we together? In some congregations its okay to raise our hands and say amen. In some congregations it isn’t. We don’t smoke or drink or play cards or use those kinds of words or listen to that kind of music. We learn how to talk Christian-eze. We wear ties and ankle length dresses. Well, the men wear the ties and the women wear the ankle length dresses. Well, you knew that.
So, people become kind of like connoisseurs of the church experience. Once we get the basics down and the Christian culture that we’re suppose to be a part of - so that we know how to be good Christians - then we start evaluating things on what pleases us. How good was the worship team? Did the pastor keep me awake? Is there stuff going on for the kids? People start plugging in to different congregations based on what works for them.
Its so easy to kind of drift through the Christian life - existing as a Christian - knowing all the right stuff - doing all the right things - focused on what makes us feel comfortable about our “Christian experience journey of faith.”
But, just knowing stuff isn’t what’s important. All the stuff we add isn’t what’s important. Here’s a shocker. In the Christian life - we’re not the most important thing. God is. Really knowing Jesus at the gut level is what’s important. Being totally sold out to Him deep down inside is what’s important. Trusting Him with our lives. Trusting Him as our Savior. All the stuff that Peter’s been writing about here in chapter 1.
Repetition is the key to what? learning. That’s why we need the reminder. Because we get off track. We forget the essential truth of what we know. We need to keep relearning the truth - coming back to it. To get refocused not just on what we know - but what it means for us to “know” Jesus and to pursue life in Him.
So Peter writes, “I know you know this. But, I’m going to remind you anyway because you need to stay on track with God.”
Going on - verse 13: I consider it right - it’s the right thing to do - as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder…
The verb “to stir up” is the Greek verb “diegeiro.” Which has the idea of taking someone who’s asleep and dumping a whole bucket of ice cold water on them. Rousing them. Stirring them. Waking them up. “WAKE UP!” Turn to the person next to you and tell them that: “Wake up!” If they’re asleep give them an extra nudge.
Living life with the living God isn’t about us. Its about being passionately sold out to God.
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.
Pause there. Notice that Peter’s time is short. Say that with me, “Peter’s time is short.”
In John 21:18,19, we read that Jesus told Peter the circumstances of Peter’s death. Jesus told Peter that after a season of ministry and maturing - when Peter was older - he would be led against his wishes to his death - a death that would be the result of following in obedience to Jesus. “Follow Me and this is how you’re going to die.” So Peter followed Jesus. Imagine that. The Christian life isn’t about us.
In 64 A.D. Peter - along with the Apostle Paul - Peter was in Rome. 31 years have gone by since Jesus told Peter the circumstances of Peter’s death. Peter is now in his 60’s. He’s had a long ministry. He’s matured. He and Paul are there in obedience to Jesus - sharing the Gospel with others.
64 A.D. is also important because that was the year the emperor Nero set Rome on fire and then blamed the Christians - ordering hundreds of Christians to be killed in various cruel ways. Nero hates Christians - and he also hates Peter and Paul. Through their ministry some of Nero’s own household had come to trust Jesus as their Savior.
According to tradition - around this time - there was magician in Rome - named Simon Magus - who pretended he could fly through the air and do all kinds of things that no one else could do. One day Simon Magus was performing in front of a large crowd - and Peter and Paul were in that crowd. (not the same Simon of Acts 8:9-24)
Apparently Peter and Paul prayed that God would confuse the magician and end his abilities. When they finished praying Simon Magus - with whatever he was doing to convince people he was flying - Simon Magus fell and broke both his legs.
Nero liked Simon Magus so he had Peter and Paul thrown into prison for nine months. - during which time - while they were in prison Peter and Paul kept on track - obeying Jesus - sharing the Gospel - and two Captains of the Guard and 47 others came to trust in Jesus as their Savior.
Nero had Peter brought out for execution - scourged him - which was absolutely cruel torture - and then had him crucified. At Peter’s request - he was crucified up-side-down. (1)
All this came about in exactly the way and timing that Jesus had shared with Peter some 31 years earlier. As Peter is writing this letter - 2 Peter - probably around 65 or 66 A.D. - writing from a Roman jail cell not too many days removed from his crucifixion. He can see it coming.
Have you ever wondered what you’d do different - or if you would do some things different - if you knew when and where you would die? One person said, “If I knew when and where I would die I would never go there.”
If you knew that next Tuesday at 4:36 p.m. you were going to die - would you do anything different between now and then? Buy a life insurance policy? Go blow your life’s savings on something absolutely worthless?
The word Peter uses for “earthly dwelling” is “skenoma” which literally is a tent. Think nomadic peoples wandering in the wilderness. We pitch our “skenoma” - tent - dwell there for a while - and then move on. Very temporary. The importance of a tent is not the tent - its what it shelters in side - Peter.
Peter’s temporary shelter is going to be laid aside and he’s going to move on. That time for moving on is coming quickly. But its not a time to be feared - to be anticipated with dread - terror of the unknown. A trying to reclaim a lost life. So many people fear death. The whole moving on thing is happening exactly the way Jesus said it would.
Do you see the confidence that Peter had? “Jesus said it would be this way. I’m moving on and moving in with Jesus.”
There’s an urgency in Peter’s tone. A passionate focus. Peter, knowing when and how he would die - the time being short - just kept right on doing what Jesus had called him to do. Preach the Gospel. Bring people people to Jesus and help them grow in that relationship. Keep reminding them of what’s essential. Keep them focused on what it means to live this life of faith.
Going on - verse 15: And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind.
Notice Peter’s diligence. Say that with me, “Peter’s diligence.”
Watch this and think about diligence. (Video). How long do you think these guys are going to stay in business?
Diligence is not giving whatever it takes just to get by. Diligence is the Greek verb “spoudo” which has the idea of a driving desire - a passionate urge - eating - sleeping - breathing - sacrificing everything - doing whatever it takes to make this happen.
The purpose of Peter’s diligence is so that we get “these things.” What things? The gut level reality of what it means to live life sold out to the living God. To get these things cemented in our minds - hearts - souls - at the core of who we are. So that - even after Peter is living with Jesus - when life jerks us around - our knee jerk reaction - coming out of the core of who we are is to stay on track with God - to keep on keeping on with God - choosing to pursue Him - living by faith in Him.
In Peter’s life - and death - there’s an example here for us - as we’re hurtling down the trajectory of our lives - there’s an example here of what gives real purpose and meaning to our lives.
There are two certainties in life - death and what? taxes. Someone said, “Maybe death and taxes are inevitable, but death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.” (2)
Unless Jesus comes back pretty soon - we’re all going to die. Time - for each of us - time is passing. We may not know when we’re going to die. But, our departure time is closer now than it was this morning when we got up this morning.
In the diligence that Peter has for reminding - in the passion of how Peter faces death - in what Peter lived for - even facing death - in all that there’s an example for us of what gives purpose and meaning to life. In reality - in all that there’s a challenge for us. Do you hear it? Here it is: “ What are we living for?” Say that with me, “What are we living for?”
In the last 20 years or so I’ve done over 70 funerals. I’ve been with a lot of families - including my own - a lot of families going through very difficult times. Its possible to get a pretty good idea - by the way people face death - its possible to get a pretty good idea of how they’ve lived their lives.
People who’ve lived in futility face death with fear. They’re either trying to hang on to life by any means or they’ve grudgingly resigned themselves to the inevitable - they’re angry and bitter - constantly complaining about all their aches and pains and having to live in “this place” - how life has jerked them around. Death is ultimate pull in a direction they don’t want to go.
10 years ago - this month - I did the funeral service for a lady who’s approach to death has stood out in my mind with the same kind of challenge that Peter’s words have.
When I saw Emelia for the last time - it was shortly after I saw her that she slipped into a coma and died. She knew her time was short. When I visited with Emelia - it was like talking with someone about to go on a long journey - she was going away and we wouldn’t see each other for a long time. She asked about my family - our kids. She talked about my great-grandmother whom she knew in Egypt.
She was at peace. Like a great matriarch she was pronouncing blessings and attending to last minute details with her family. She was concerned about their relationship with Jesus. There was no fear or uncertainty. She said that she was ready to go and was tired of waiting. This is the way she faced life and this is the way she faced death.
There was purpose and certainty - she knew her Lord - she knew where she was going - and the God that she had trusted and obeyed all of her life - who had given significance and purpose to her life - is the same God that she has gone to be with in death.
Time is short. What are we living for? Are we diligent? Passionate to make certain that those around us know Jesus - really know Him. So that when we're gone - they’ll remain solid in their faith - diligent to remind others of what it means to live life with the living God.
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible®, © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.