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God’s Ultimate Excellence for Us - Part 1

Notes & Transcripts

God’s Ultimate Excellence for Us - Part 1

2 Peter 1:1-4

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - March 3, 2013

BACKGROUND:

*Tonight we begin a study of 2 Peter, and as I was thinking about this short book, the word that came to my mind was "ultimate." This book speaks to us about ultimate things. Let me give you a little background.

[1] One thing I didn’t expect was an ultimate examination.

*I was surprised to learn that many modern Bible scholars have cast doubt on 2 Peter. A.T. Robertson certainly did not question the validity of 2 Peter, but he reported that it was the "Most Doubtful New Testament Book."

*Robertson noted, "Every book in the New Testament is challenged by someone, as indeed is the (historical truth) of Jesus Christ himself and the very existence of God. But it is true that more modern scholars deny the genuineness of 2 Peter than that of any single book in the (Bible)." (1)

*Stanley Morris reported that: "No book of the New Testament had a more difficult time establishing its authenticity, apostolic (authority), and its deserved place in the (the recognized list of inspired books) as 2 Peter. This was due in part to the fact that 2 Peter was not widely known very early, and, so many people in the second and third centuries A.D. were falsely writing under the name Peter." (2)

*William Barclay called 2 Peter "one of the neglected books of the New Testament." (3)

*Well, this little book may have been neglected. But we must not neglect it, because its four pages are packed with important truths God wants us to apply. And this book may have been doubted, but we must not doubt it, because it surely is part of the Word of God! God wants us to study it and apply it to our lives.

*Notice what Peter said about the Old Testament Scriptures down in vs. 19-21. This is from the KJV:

19. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

20. Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

21. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

*What Peter said about the Old Testament in this letter is also true of the letter itself. This surely is the Word of God, and we should surely take it to heart.

-But 2 Peter did get an ultimate examination.

[2] And it speaks to us about ultimate error.

*I am talking about the kind of errors we hear from false teachers. As Peter says in chapter 2:

1. There were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.

2. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.

3. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber. (2 Peter 2:1-3)

*2 Peter speaks to us about ultimate error.

[3] And about the ultimate ending.

*This includes Peter's discussion of his soon coming death, and there Peter helps us see how to get ready for our own death. But chapter 3 also includes important information about the end of this broken world, and God’s plan for a brand new world.

*These are some of the ultimate things concerning the book of 2 Peter. But tonight we will look at God’s ultimate excellence for our lives, and how we can get it. Let’s begin by reading 2 Peter 1:1-4.

INTRODUCTION:

*How can we have the excellent life God wants us to have? -- We can have it by trusting in Him, because He is excellent in every way. In these verses Peter opens his letter by celebrating some of God’s excellent ways.

1. And first here, we see that we can trust in God’s goodness.

*I’m talking about the goodness of God we see in vs. 1, where Peter said: "Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ."

*Believers: We have obtained our precious faith by or through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ. Every good thing we have has come from the goodness of God! Every good thing we are has come from the goodness of God!

*As Paul said in Romans 7:18: "I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find." But then in Romans 7:24&25a, Paul also said:

24. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

25. I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. . .

*Jesus Christ is our source for righteousness. And He is our only hope for real righteousness. That’s why in Jeremiah 23:5&6, the prophet wrote:

5. "Behold, the days are coming,'' says the Lord, "That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.

6. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely; now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS."

*Our goodness can only come from the goodness of God. As Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:21: "For He (i.e. God the Father) made Him (i.e. Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." Our goodness can only come from the most excellent goodness of God!

*One of the most exceptional testimonies of God’s goodness you will ever hear is from astronaut Jim Irwin. He told about an experience he had when he went to the moon. And Jim said: "When I looked out and saw the earth, only as big as a little marble, I thought, 'How big am I? I'm just a speck of dust, if that big compared to the universe. And yet, this little speck has the capacity to know God! To know the One who holds the universe, to know His love, and have His direction.'

*For the first time, I saw -- felt God's love for the earth. I realized then that God loved that little blue marble, that little planet. He loved all the billions of people on it, and He loved me! I realized at that moment that my relationship with Jesus Christ was the most precious thing I had." (4)

*How can we have the excellent life God wants us to have?

-By trusting in God’s goodness.

2. And by trusting in His grace.

*It’s the grace we see in vs. 2&3, where Peter said:

2. Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,

3. as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,

*We can always trust in God’s amazing grace! That's G.R.A.C.E. -- God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense.

*Here’s part of what Martin Luther said about grace: "Just as the sun is not darkened by the whole world enjoying its light, and could, indeed light up ten worlds; just as 100,000 (candles) might be lit from one light and not detract from it; just as a learned man is able to make a thousand others learned, and the more he gives, the more he has, so is Christ, our Lord, an infinite source of all grace. The fountain always runs over, full of grace." (5)

*And I love what Jerry Bridges said about God’s grace: "Our worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace." (6)

*We need more and more of God’s grace in our lives, so Peter proclaimed his great desire for fellow Christians: "Grace and peace be multiplied to you. . ."

*It is very important for us to see how God’s grace and peace can be multiplied in our lives. That’s why Peter tells us twice in vs. 2&3:

-In vs. 2: "Grace and peace be multiplied to you." (How?) "in the KNOWLEDGE of God and of Jesus our Lord."

-Then in vs. 3: "As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness." (How?) "through the KNOWLEDGE of Him who called us by glory and virtue."

*If we want more of God’s amazing grace in our lives, we must have more knowledge of God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. We must know more about God’s love, and the price Jesus paid for our sins, more about His cross and the power of His resurrection, more about His life and His teachings. We must take the time to examine His Word. We must take the time to speak to Him in prayer.

*I want more of God’s grace and peace! How about you? -- Yes, of course you do. Well, God’s grace and peace will be multiplied in us as we get to know Him better. But remember that it must be received by faith. It must be received by trusting in the Giver of grace.

*Rick McCarley explained this truth through a story he heard from a pastor friend. One of the members of that man’s church is a lawyer. And not long ago this lawyer was meditating on several Scriptures. God touched his heart, and the lawyer decided to cancel the debts of all his clients who had owed him money for more than six months.

*He wrote a letter explaining his decision and its Biblical basis. Then he sent 17 debt- canceling letters by certified mail. One by one, the letters began to come back, unsigned and undelivered. Maybe a couple of people had moved away but not likely. In the end, 16 of the 17 letters came back to the lawyer, all because the clients refused to sign for them and open the envelopes.

*They were all afraid that this attorney was suing them for their debts. And Rick McCarley said: "How profound! -- We owe a debt for our sin and God is willing to cancel it. But too many people will not even open the letter that explains that." (7)

*If only those people had known the lawyer better, maybe they would have trusted him. We must get to know the Lord better. We must trust Him more and more. Then we will see His life-changing, amazing grace multiplied in our lives.

*How can we have the excellent life God wants us to have?

-By trusting in God’s grace.

3. And by trusting in His guarantees.

*I’m talking about the promises Peter mentions in vs. 4. But let me start at vs. 3:

3. as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,

4. by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

*"By which (i.e. "By the divine power of Almighty God") have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”

*The promises of God are precious because they come from the always reliable heart of God. The promises are precious because they have the power to transform our lives and help us in every situation.

*So, if I am afraid, I can hear God’s Word say: "I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears." (Psalm 34:4)

*If I am worried, I can hear the Word of God say:

6. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

7. and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

*If I need guidance I can hear God say: "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye." (Psalm 32:8)

*God has a precious promise for every situation I may face. Ravi Zacharias told the story of a Vietnamese friend who re-learned this truth under the most terrible conditions.

*This man was an interpreter who helped Ravi during his 1971 ministry in Vietnam. He was a devoted young Christian, and his name was Hien Pham. They became close friends, but in 1975, Vietnam fell and Hien's fate was unknown.

*Seventeen years later, Hien called Ravi to tell his amazing story. Shortly after Vietnam fell to the Communists, Hien was arrested for helping the United States. After one long stretch of suffering, persecution, and non-stop Communist propaganda, Hien began to buckle in his faith. "Maybe," he thought, "I have been lied to. Maybe God doesn’t exist. Maybe my whole life has been governed by lies. Maybe the West has deceived me."

*Finally, Hien made up his mind. He decided that when he woke up the next day, he would never pray or think of his Christian faith again. The very next morning, he was assigned to clean the latrines of the prison. It was the most dreaded chore.

*Hien was so upset when he started. But as he cleaned out a tin can filled to overflowing with toilet paper. His eye caught some English words printed on one piece of paper. Hien hadn’t seen English for a long time, so he quickly washed it off and slipped it in his pocket. He planned to read it at night.

*Late that night Hien pulled out a small flashlight and shined it on the damp paper. Literally trembling with shock, he began to read these faith-affirming words from Romans 8:

28. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

31. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

32. He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

35. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

37. Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

38. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,

39. nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

*Hien began to weep. He knew his Bible. And even though he had not seen one for a long time, Hien knew there wasn’t a better Scripture for someone as discouraged as him.

*Hien cried out to God in repentance, praise and thanksgiving! The next day he asked the camp commander if he could clean the latrine again. I know it’s gross, but he did that because one of the officers was using a Bible as toilet paper. Hien desperately wanted more of God’s Word, and over time, he was able to rescue a major portion of God’s Word.

*Then one day God set Hien free from that prison camp. And later on, God set him free from Vietnam! -- It was miraculous! (8)

*Just when Hien needed Him the most, God was faithful!

-He is always faithful! So we can always trust Him.

CONCLUSION:

*How can we have the excellent life God wants us to have?

*Trust in the Lord!

-Trust in God’s goodness.

-Trust in His grace.

-And trust in the guarantee of His promises to you.

*Let’s go to the Lord in prayer.

(1) "Robertson's Word Pictures" by A.T. Robertson - 2 Peter - THE SECOND EPISTLE OF PETER - ABOUT A.D. 66 OR 67

(2) MORRIS' COMMENTARY - Morris' Introductions to the Books of the Bible by Dr. Stanley L. Morris - AN INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF SECOND PETER - (C) Copyright 1993 by International Bible Translators, Inc. - (C) Copyright 1993, Ellis Enterprises Inc.

(3) BARCLAY'S DAILY BIBLE STUDY SERIES (NT) by William Barclay, Revised Edition (C) Copyright 1975 William Barclay - First published by the Saint Andrew Press, Edinburgh, Scotland - The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - INTRODUCTION TO THE SECOND LETTER OF PETER

(4) Dave Dean, "Now is Your Time to Win," p. 122 - Source: Sermons.com sermon "There's God In Them There Hills" by James Merritt - Psalm 19:1-14 - Collected Sermons, James Merritt, ChristianGlobe Networks, Inc., 0-000-7892

(5) Source: SermonCentral sermon "Amazing Grace" by Robert Renberg - 1 Timothy 1:12-17

(6) SermonCentral illustration contributed by Jerry Bridges

(7) SermonCentral illustration contributed by Rick McCarley

(8) David Holwick illustration #4313 - CATEGORY: Deliverance; Honesty; Lie; Vietnam; Providence; Word Of God; Bible; Doubt; Question; Escape; Trouble; Indoctrination; Lying - SOURCE: Rev. Glenn Gunderson (Best Illustrations) - TITLE: Deliver Us From Evil AUTHOR: Ravi Zacharias - PAGE: 190 - ENTERED: 322/1998

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