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Great and Precious Promises… 2 Peter 1:4

25 Aug

Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through  them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world  caused by evil desires. (2 Peter 1:4)

        Great and precious promises refers to the numerous offers of divine provision found in Scripture. These promises offer us the glory and virtue of Christ as the basis for our growing participation in the divine nature. We have Christ within us, as He promised (see John 14:23), to enable us to become increasingly Christlike (see 2 Cor. 3:18).

Because we have become new creatures in Christ, we have already escaped the corruption (the moral ruin) that is in the world through lust (perverted desire). We should make our escape from this world evident to all by our godly behavior and the renewing of our mind (see Rom. 12:2). These promises are the fourth resource (vv. 1, 3) upon which believers may draw for sustaining help.

I have heard some incredible promises in my lifetime, just as you probably have also. Most often advertising promises far more than it delivers. But the promises of our text are completely reliable. Indeed, the benefits of heeding Peter’s words, and the consequences of neglecting them, are great.

Listen to his words: “For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:8-11)

Peter calls for diligent, disciplined, life-long effort on the part of the Christian. This is a discipleship text which requires discipline and self-denial. It is a challenge to every Christian for all the days of their lives. No Christian ever works his way through this text to move on to other pursuits.

Heeding Peter’s words keep us from being useless and unfruitful in our relationship with Jesus Christ and enables us to live in the present in light of our past conversion and our hope for the future. Doing as Peter instructs can keep us from stumbling and assure us a triumphant entry into the kingdom of our Lord. Conversely, neglecting Peter’s instruction diminishes our perception and confidence in the salvation God has provided and sets us up for a fall.

Peter’s own words should convince us to pay careful attention, for the benefits pertain to our past, our present walk, and our future hope. May we approach our text with a deep sense of its importance and an open and willing heart eager to hear and heed what God’s Spirit has revealed.

Scripture affirms that “Jesus is the yes to every promise of God.” These promises are the offers of divine provision found in the scriptures. They offer the glory and virtue of Christ to us as the basis for a growing participation in the divine nature. We have Him within us, as he promised, (John 14:23), to enable us to become increasingly Christlike (2 Corinthians. 3:18).

Because we have become new creatures in Christ we have already escaped, by new birth, the corruption (moral ruin) that is in the world through lust (perverted desire). There only remains that we shall make this escape evident to all by our changing behavior.

This expression (“divine nature”) is not different from the concepts of being born again, born from above (cf. John 3:3; James 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:23), being in Christ (cf. Rom. 8:1), or being the home of the Trinity (John 14:17–23). The precious promises of salvation result in becoming God’s children in the present age (John 1:12; Rom. 8:9; Gal. 2:20; Col. 1:27), and thereby sharing in God’s nature by the possession of His eternal life.

Christians do not become little gods, but they are “new creations” (2 Cor. 5:17) and have the Holy Spirit living in them (1 Cor. 6:19,20). Moreover, believers will partake of the divine nature in a greater way when they bear a glorified body like Jesus Christ (Phil. 3:20,21; 1 John 3:1–3)[1]

It is clear from this verse that participation in the divine nature is the starting point of Christian living, and not its goal. This participation becomes more and more evident as we allow our thinking to be renewed (Romans. 12:2) by understanding and appropriating the great and precious promises found in the scriptures. These promises are the fourth resource upon which believers may continually draw for sustaining help.

In verses 3 and 4 there is a tremendous and comprehensive picture of Jesus Christ. (i)  He is the Christ of power.  In him there is the divine power which cannot be ultimately defeated or frustrated.  In this world one of the tragedies of life is that love is so often frustrated because it cannot give what it wants to give, cannot do what it wants to do and must so often stand helpless while the loved one meets disaster.  But always Christ’s love is backed by his power and is, therefore, a victorious love.

He is the Christ of generosity.  He bestows on us all things necessary for true life and true religion.  The word Peter uses for religion is eusebeia, the characteristic meaning of which is practical religion.  Peter is saying that Jesus Christ tells us what life is and then enables us to live it as it ought to be lived.  He gives us a religion which is not withdrawal from life but triumphant involvement in it.

He is the Christ of the precious and great promises.  That does not so much mean that he brings us the great and precious promises as that in him these promises come true.  Paul put the same thing in a different way when he said that all the promises of God are Yes and Amen in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20).  That is to say Christ says, “Yes.  So let it be,” to these promises; he confirms and guarantees them.  It has been put this way-once we know Jesus Christ, every time we meet a promise in Scripture which begins with the word “Whosoever,” we can immediately say to ourselves, “That means me.

He is the Christ by whom we escape the world’s corruption.  Peter had to meet the antinomians, the people who used the grace of God as an excuse for sin.  They declared that grace was wide enough to cover every sin; therefore, sin does not matter any more, the grace of Christ will win forgiveness for it.  For any man to speak like that is simply to show that he wants to sin.  But Jesus Christ is the person who can help us overcome the fascination of the world’s lust and cleanse us by his presence and his power.  So long as we live in this world sin will never completely lose its fascination for us; but in the presence of Christ we have our defence against that fascination

The word “corruption” has the idea of something decomposing or decaying. “Escaped” depicts a successful flight from danger. At the time of salvation, the believer escapes from the power which the rottenness in the world has over him through his fallen, sinful nature.

He is the Christ who makes us sharers in the divine nature.  Here again Peter is using an expression which the pagan thinkers well knew.  They spoke much about sharing in the divine nature.  But there was this difference-they believed that man had a share in the divine nature by virtue of being man.  All men had to do was to live in accordance with the divine nature already in them.  The trouble about that is that life flatly contradicts it.  On every side we see bitterness, hatred, lust, crime; on every side we see moral failure, helplessness and frustration.  Christianity says that men are capable of becoming sharers in the divine nature.  It realistically faces man’s actuality but at the same time sets no limit to his potentiality.  “I am come,” said Jesus, “that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).  As one of the great early fathers said, “He became what we are to make us what he is.”  Man has it in him to share the nature of God-but only in Jesus Christ can that potentiality be realized.

Jesus Christ is the Messiah of the divine nature or new man. Exceeding great and precious promises have been given to us. The promises are those that have to do with the divine nature of God, the divine nature that is planted within the heart of a person who believes in Jesus Christ.

When a person believes in Jesus Christ, God sends His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, to indwell the heart of the believer. God places within the heart of the believer His own divine nature and makes him a new creature and a new man. The believer is actually born again spiritually. He actually partakes of the divine nature of God through the presence of God’s Holy Spirit.

And note what happens: the believer escapes the corruption that is in the world. He lives eternally, for the divine nature of God can never die. When it is time for the believer to depart this life, quicker than the blink of an eye, his spirit is transferred into heaven, into the very presence of God Himself. Why? Because of the divine presence of God: the believer is a new creature, a new man, a person in whom the very Spirit of God Himself dwells; and the Spirit of God cannot die. The person thereby escapes the corruption of this world.

These promises are great because they come from a great God and they lead to a great life. They are precious because their value is beyond calculation.

God makes a promise; faith believes it, hope anticipates it, patience quietly awaits it. He is the God of promise. He keeps his word, even when that seems impossible; even when the circumstances seem to point to the opposite.

His promises are, virtually, obligations that he imposes upon himself. God’s promises are like the stars; the darker the night the brighter they shine. We know this because God cannot lie. “When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, {14} saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” {15} And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised. {16} Men swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. {17} Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. {18} God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged.” (Hebrews 6:13-18)

The Revised Standard Version puts it this way, “His precious and magnificent Promises.”  There are so many of God’s promises. I am told that there are over 30,000 promises that God has made His people as recorded in the Bible.

God will keep His promises.  God is faithful. He is not whimsical, capricious, or flippant. He cannot violate His own integrity nor fail to keep His promise. We would have no gospel without God’s faithfulness, no good news unless God could be counted on. Our gospel begins with the claim: Our God is faithful!

Paul tells us that God works in and through all things for the good of those who love Him. (Rom. 8:28).

Professor E. C. Caldwell ended his lecture. “Tomorrow,” he said to his class of students, “I will be teaching on Romans 8. So tonight, as you study, pay special attention to verse 28. Notice what this verse truly says, and what it doesn’t say.” Then he added, “One final word before I dismiss you — whatever happens in all the years to come, remember: Romans 8:28 will always hold true.”

That same day Dr. Caldwell and his wife met with a tragic car-train accident. She was killed instantly and he was crippled permanently. Months later, Professor Caldwell returned to his students, who clearly remembered his last words. The room was hushed as he began his lecture. “Romans 8:28,” he said, “still holds true. One day we shall see God’s good, even in this.”

Notice that his emphasis is on God’s good, not our temporary health, happiness, or prosperity. That perspective allows us to see our suffering and pain as bad in themselves, yet to be reassured that He is working in and through them to fulfill His good purposes.

When we can say, “Lord, use me any way You can to advance Your plan, ” we will have begun to understand the meaning of Romans 8:28. And, as the professor said, this verse will hold true — even through tragedy.

Yes, God is a faithful God, meaning He will keep His promises.

David Livingston, missionary to Africa went to Glasgow University to receive the honorary Doctor of Law Degree. He said, “Would you like for me to tell you what supported me through all the years of exile among people whose language I could not understand and whose attitude toward me was always uncertain and often hostile? It was this promise God had made me, “Lo, I am with you always even unto the end of the world.” “It is the Word of a Gentleman of the most strict and sacred honor.”

When David Livingston was found in the jungles down on his knees, he was cold in death. His Bible was opened to that text upon which he had placed his finger a thousand times.

We are saved by hope according to the Word of the Lord.

(Rom 8:24)  “For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?” 

(Rom 8:25)  “But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” 

New Testament hope means “certain expectation.” We are assured that what we hope for will be ours.

Two little girls were counting their pennies. One said, “I have five pennies.” The other said, “I have ten.” “No,” said the first little girl “You have just five cents, the same as I.” “But,” the second child quickly replied, “My father said that when he comes home tonight he would give me five cents, and so I have ten cents.” Trustfully, she counted what her father had promised as though she already had possession of it.

We need to appropriate these promises, believe them, and rest upon them.  A man called upon a needy widow in Scotland. She complained of her condition and remarked that her son was in Australia and doing well. “But doesn’t he help you?” he asked. “No, nothing,” she said, “He writes me once a seek but only sends little pictures.”

He asked to see them and found each of them to be a draft for ten pounds. That is the condition of God’s children. God has given us many “exceeding and precious promises” which we either are ignorant of or fail to appropriate. Many of them seem to be pretty pictures of an ideal peace and rest but are not appropriated as practical helps in daily life.

The promises of God are like keys that unlock doors of difficulty, despair, and doubt.  A scene from Pilgrim’s Progress illustrates the point.  The author John Bunyan portrays Christian, the main character in his allegory, as temporarily at a standstill on his journey to heaven. He finds himself locked in a dungeon beneath Doubting Castle. Then one morning Christian says in amazement, “What a fool am I, to lie in a stinking dungeon, when I may as well walk with liberty! I have a key in my bosom called Promise, that will, I am persuaded, open any lock in Doubting Castle.” To which Hopeful, his traveling companion, exclaims, “That is good news, good brother; pluck it out of your bosom and try!”

So Christian pulls out the key and tries it in the dungeon door. The bolt opens with ease, and Christian and Hopeful hurry out. They then proceed to the outside door that leads into the castle yard, and the key opens it too. One last barrier stands between them and freedom — an iron gate. At first the lock resists. Christian keeps working the key of promise, and finally the heavy gate swings open.

Do you find yourself locked in doubting Castle, held prisoner by despair? Choose to trust one of God’s promises and act upon it today.

Someone has give us some good advice, if we’ll only take it.  “Life is so stressful, so crowded with work and battle and burden that we need all along to fortify ourselves with the promises from God’s Book. One does not even know how to pray like he ought, if he cannot take these promises, and fill his mouth with them, and plead them before God, saying, as did one of old: “Do as thou hast said.” These promises are designed to inspirit us, and rest us, and fortify us. We do not make enough of these promises from God’s Book. They fit every condition in human life. If we will only find it, there is no condition that is not met by a promise out of God’s Book, and these promises give us a grip on spiritual realities.

I summon you today, my busy men and women, to search out these promises from God’s Book constantly and appropriate them, and make them your own, and plead them before Him. One promise from God’s Book has, times without count, anchored a human soul and kept it going in the right way.”

One has said, “No matter how dark, the promises of God all shine brightly.” God’s promises are so precious to us now while we live and they’ll be precious to us when we come to the end of life here. The promises of God will light up the death bed for the Christian.

A young preacher was called on to visit a dying saint, eighty seven years of age, who was a devout Christian. The preacher asked God to give him a message for the time. When he entered the room the old man said to him, “Sir, I am dying. For years I have been feasting upon the promises of God, but this morning I can’t remember a single one of them.” The preacher said, “Dear friend, do you think that God has forgotten any of His promises?” the old man answered, “Praise God, He will remember, won’t He?”

God helps us to stand on His promises.  We live in changing times.  It seems like our society in which we live today is jazzed up and sex drenched. Liberty has become license to sin.  I believe we have some very sad days ahead,  unless we as a nation wake up.

Moral decay is rampant. Man has taken deity out of religion.  Some today are facetious enough to tell us that Jesus Christ was only a good man. We live in an age today where men have taken the supernatural out of christianity, and say the Bible is uninspired.

Morality has been taken out of our preaching in America. So many have become hard and soured on God. Art has been changed on the cinema screen to base sex. Art for art sake can be re-phrased as Art for sex sake.  Nudity has become the subject for a lot of things. Ethics have been taken out of business.  A man’s word and handshake used to be enough, but not anymore.

Our age has taken fidelity out of marriage.  Marriage was designed to be a lifetime commitment but now people view it as temporary. Some make marriage a 90 day option.  Many try out the marriage bed before they try out marriage! We live in a day of pantomime church, pantomime christianity, a see saw theology.

Man is trying to sabotage the Bible, humanize God, deify man, minimize sin, glorify science, secularize religion, glamorize sex and neutralize our society.

On many fronts our nation is in grave danger. With all these terrible things going on in the world, I ask this question today.  Is there anything we can really depend on?

I know we can’t depend on military might, Financial institutions, religious organizations.

We conclude the only thing we can depend on anymore, is that which was always dependable.

The word of God is dependable and true. “In the beginning God”,  is the first statement in the Bible (Genesis 1:1). The next to last statement is, “Even so come Lord Jesus”. (Revelation 22:20 ). There is the alpha and the omega of divine revelation. The beginning and end of Gods message to man.

The God of the Bible is a covenant God.  he can be depended and relied upon. Psalms 119:89   reminds us that Forever O Lord thy word is settled in heaven.  Thy faithfulness is unto all generation. This passage tells us that whatever God has spoken is settled both on earth and in heaven.

When God speaks that settles a matter.  There is no room for debate.  Whether I believe it or not it is settled.  What God said about the church is settled.  What God has said about church attendance is settled.  What God says about the Lord supper is settled.  What God has said about forgiveness and love is settled. There is no room for argumentation

And when we might be prone to think God has forgotten, Peter remind us that “The Lord is not slack concerning his promises as some men count slackness, but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.  The writer to the Hebrews also said, Let us hold fast to the profession of our faith, for he is faithful who promised. (Hebrews 10:23).

God is dependable, trustworthy and reliable!  God can produce with all the promises he has made.  God never commits himself to something he cannot do!  In fact God can do all that he said. We can count on all the Lord has said and told us about.

Several years ago a man had a gospel meeting in a southern town.  The preacher was to stay with an elderly couple of the congregation.   The home was modest and small but filled with lots of love.  The preacher had a small room prepared for him the whole week.  The preacher and the couple had tremendous devotionals together.  This older couple was sweet and loving.  They read and prayed together that week.  The bible was worn and well marked. The preacher noticed several passages that were marked and beside the verse there was a TP beside of the passages.  The preacher asked what the markings were far.

The man said the passages that are marked , those are promises of God.  He said and the TP written beside of the verse means they have been tried and proved in my life.

He said when two of my sons were in the service our older boy died in the war.  He said I took mama to the table and held her hand and said we still have the promises of God though I son is gone.  The second boy came home from the war and the second day he was home he was killed by an automobile accident, he said that was devastating.  We lost our second son but we still have the promises of God.

My third child was a daughter.  She came home one day and her marriage was destroyed.  Her husband had become a sexual pervert.  The man took his wife and daughter and said this is terrible but we still have the promises of God.

The man said preacher after this meeting, mama will go in the hospital for some tests and the doctors told us to expect the worst. Even if she goes home to the Lord we will still have the promises of God.

A few weeks after the meeting the preacher wrote the couple and the woman had passed away from the surgery.  The note was answered and said mama’s gone but we still have the promises of God. The promises of God can help us and see us through the most difficult times of life.

Sometimes we feel short changed and cheat in life. We try to be the best person possible but things just does not turn our for us. We need to hear the promise of God.  In the by and by God will make things right for his children.  If we love and serve God, he will make things right.

Life is a tapestry of many colors and hues.  Sometimes in our lives we have dark moments.  Every life has hills and valleys. In the end of all things, our lives will look like a beautiful picture and tapestry. All things will work together for our good. Sometimes things go great, then suddenly something knocks us down into the valley of depression. God says,  keep loving and serving me, and things will work out for your good.

A crippled blacksmith was a Christian.  He had a bedridden wife and a child with polio.  The blacksmith was very happy and cheerful even in the midst of one problem after another.  A man asked him why he was so happy with all his problems.  The blacksmith took a piece of metal and placed the metal in the fire.  The blacksmith then took the metal and placed it on an anvil.  He threw it back in the fire and said it doesn’t have the right temper.  Finally after doing this several times he threw the metal on the scrap heap.   The blacksmith said, everyday I pray to God and tell him to go ahead and put me in the fire, but God, please don’t ever throw me on the scrap heap.

Sometimes in the valley of life, in the fires of life the difficult times remember God can use that experience to make us better and stronger.

I have seen people through the year that have obeyed and been changed by the word of God. Some harlots have been made holy, the doomed and the damned have become redeemed.  The lord can change the life of the most defiled and giove hope and help.

There is a land of new beginnings and that is the kingdom of God, the church.  I am glad to tell you no matter who you have been, what you have done through Christ you can me made new and clean again. The Lord offers a new beginning. That is the promise of the Lord also.

When the sinner believes on Jesus Christ, the Spirit of God uses the Word of God to impart the life and nature of God within. A baby shares the nature of its parents, and a person born of God shares the divine nature of God. The lost sinner is dead, but the Christian is alive because he shares the divine nature. The lost sinner is decaying because of his corrupt nature, but the Christian can experience a dynamic life of godliness because he has God’s divine nature within. Mankind is under the bondage of corruption (Rom. 8:21), but the believer shares the freedom and growth that is a part of possessing the divine nature.

Nature determines appetite. The pig wants slop and the dog will even eat its own vomit (2 Peter 2:22), but the sheep desires green pastures. Nature also determines behavior. An eagle flies because it has an eagle’s nature and a dolphin swims because that is the nature of the dolphin. Nature determines environment: squirrels climb trees, moles burrow underground, and trout swim in the water. Nature also determines association: lions travel in prides, sheep in flocks, and fish in schools.

If nature determines appetite, and we have God’s nature within, then we ought to have an appetite for that which is pure and holy. Our behavior ought to be like that of the Father, and we ought to live in the kind of “spiritual environment” that is suited to our nature. We ought to associate with that which is true to our nature (see 2 Cor. 6:14ff). The only normal, fruit-bearing life for the child of God is a godly life.

Because we possess this divine nature, we have “completely escaped” the defilement and decay in this present evil world. If we feed the new nature the nourishment of the Word, then we will have little interest in the garbage of the world. But if we “make provision for the flesh” (Rom. 13:14), our sinful nature will lust after the “old sins” (2 Peter 1:9) and we will disobey God. Godly living is the result of cultivating the new nature within.

[1]MacArthur, J. J. 1997, c1997. The MacArthur Study Bible (electronic ed.) . Word Pub.: Nashville.

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2022 in Christian graces

 

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