This is Love

2 John 

“The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth, because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever: Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love.” 2 John 1-3

While the “elder” is not identified here, it is believed that John wrote this short little book in his later years. He was probably advanced in years, maybe in his 90s. The elect lady could either be to a person or to a church. The latter seems to be what is more widely accepted and “her children” would be the congregation. It was mentioned in my studies that this could have been written during a time of persecution and that would be why there is no definitive recognition of the writer nor the audience as recognition could lead to death. This book certainly reads like Johns writing, he speaks of truth and love which is a theme for his writings. In fact, although a short book, it reads very similar to the first book of John, repeating much of the same words and phrases. 

“I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father. And now I ask you dear lady-not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning-that we love one another.” 2 John 4-5

John is happy that the members of the congregation are walking with the Lord. Wouldn’t that be the heart of every pastor to know that his congregation was walking in truth, but to take it a step further, it’s not enough to just walk in truth but to love one another. I have been a part of churches where the love overflowed and I have been a part of churches where there seemed to be a spirit of competition and criticism. Our call as christians is to abide in Him but if we are truly abiding, then the love should flow from us to other believers. Love is the key. We can’t say we are abiding in Him, if we are not loving our fellow christians. 

“And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.” 2 John 6

John goes on to give the warning of deceivers and the antichrist and he tells us to be careful of them. We know from his previous writings that antichrists are just those who are anti-Jesus. They will try to twist their teaching to make it appear to be of Christ but it is not. John gives a warning in verse 10 to be careful that you do not allow this teaching into your house. This is not to say do not associate at all. How in the world would we ever bring others to Christ if we do not associate at all. However, we should be careful of who is teaching in our churches and we should be sure that what they teach and/or preach is biblically sound. 

“Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting,” 2 John 9-10 

John ends his book saying he doesn’t want to put much in writing but has a desire to meet face to face. Don’t we know how that feels? 

“Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.” 2 John 12

I would always rather meet face to face with my church family and my fellowships of many friends. Aren’t we glad though that we have had the means this past year to meet over Facebook groups and zoom meeting when need be? But oh how it will be a joyful day when life is back to normal and we can meet more and more in person. We feel you John! It certainly will make our joy complete! 

That we may Know!

1 John 5

John likes to break things down in very simplistic terms. Which may be one of the reasons I like him so well. I think sometimes we make this Christian life so hard because we try so hard to overthink all of it. I have told you before I am a very simple minded woman. Because of that, I truly need to break it down and not overthink it. 

“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” 1 John 5:1-5

John is telling us the basics of our christianity is this, first believe that Jesus is the Christ and then you can be God’s child. We already learned that God loved us first and therefore if we are God’s children we can naturally love Him back and this makes it easier to also love His children. When we feel love for God’s children this is how we will know, and when you love others through the love that God has for us, this will not be a burden. God’s children will just not be that hard to love when we are loving them through the love God has for us. And through all that love our faith will grow and we will become overcomers of this world because of our belief in Jesus. 

“This is he who came by water and blood – Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies because the Spirit is the truth.” 1 John 5:6

When I read commentary on this verse, it says there are two different thoughts on this passage about water. It states that John could be referring to Jesus being born of water as in born of a woman and there is water when He was born therefore, it is referring to his humanity. But it could also be referring to his baptismal. I must say that when I first read it, before I went to commentary, my first thought was baptismal. But what I can say is that John was saying these 3 things testify to the fact that Jesus is the Son of God, and that could be said of his birth and his baptism. So whatever train of thought your mind takes you it is still true. Jesus was born of a woman, Jesus was baptized and those around heard God speak. Jesus did pour out His blood by dying for us on the cross and then there is the Spirit that lives in us because of what Jesus did for us. So whether the water refers to his birth or his baptism they agree with the other two, his blood and the Spirit, and they testify to us who Jesus is. 

“For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood and these three agree. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son.” 1 John 5:7-9

Through this testimony of Jesus, the three that John mentions here, we can know that these are the ways that God testifies to us of the eternal life that we receive. 

“And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” 1 John 5:11-12

John wrote all of these things to show us the testimony that we have in Jesus and to show us the simplicity of it all. If we believe in Jesus, then we have eternal life through Him and we can be assured of that. 

Also because we know Jesus we have the ear of the Father when we pray. 

“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the request that we have asked of him.” 1 John 5:14-15

If we come to God with a request and it lines up with His promises in His word and His will, we can know that God will answer. But I also like that line that says “and if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask”. I am sure that there have been plenty of things that I have asked of God that were not necessarily a promise from His word. But the key here is to ask according to His will. I always ask if I am not sure what His will is on a matter that His will would override my request. When I am praying about a person or a situation or circumstance, sure many times I have an idea how I would like for something to work out. However, there is a prayer that will never fail. “Thy will be done!” So many times, I lay my requests down and I may be asking for something, but I always say to Him, “Lord, if this is not the way this thing should go, change my heart and thy will be done on this matter.” We can always know that He hears us. But we also know that His thoughts and His ways are not our own. I can also testify that the times that things didn’t work out the way I thought they should, when I lay my requests down to Him and ask for His will to override mine, that it usually will blow me away at the better of how it works out. 

John also goes on in this passage to address some of the things he has been addressing throughout this book and that is that God’s children will not live in a lifestyle of sin. We are to correct our brothers in love. There is sin in the world, and all around us, but we can know that we are children on God, no matter what is going on in the world. 

“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” 1 John 5:20

Jesus came to give us an understanding of who God is, and through Jesus we know God and we know eternal life. 

John leaves us with a simple statement. 

“Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” 1 John 5:21

Idols can come in many shapes form or fashions. Some are objects and some are careers or other people or sometimes even ourselves. John is telling us in a very simple statement keep your mind focused on God and on His Son and the Spirit who lives inside of you. 

God is Love!

1 John 4

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.” 1 John 4:1-3

Sometimes I will have a thought, or a pull to do something and I think immediately it is God telling me to do something in my Spirit. Yet, there are always, always, always checks and balances to see if it is truly God calling me to do something or if it is some other spirit pulling at me. First and foremost, is it something that aligns with Jesus and who He is. For instance, I once knew a man who was saying that God had called him to the mission field, which sounds great.  However he had a wife and children and his wife, who was also a Godly woman did not at all feel she was being called to the mission field. He actually left his wife and children to go on mission. Now someone there was not being obedient to the true Spirit. How do I know?Because I do not believe God would ever bust up a family. God created family, He is certainly not going to tear it apart. What they should have done is pray about it together until they felt the true calling was revealed. But I believe that God would call them both to the mission field. Not just one of them to the mission field and the other to stay behind and tear their family apart. If a calling like that is truly of God, they would be on the same page. There are spirits of the antichrist that want to tear apart the things of God and he can sure disguise himself as an angel of light. But we have a hope in that God’s spirit lives in us and we can check everything with His spirit who lives in us. 

“Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4

I love that John’s central theme for this book is love. But not just any love but the love that the Father has for us so that we can love Him and love each other! 

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8

In the ancient greek this sentence starts out “agapetoi agapomen”. In other words “those who are loved, let us love”. In other words, we are already loved by God, not because we gave our lives to Him, not because we love Him, not because we are worthy of His love. We are loved already. First and foremost, Jesus died on the cross, because He already loved us. God sent His son to die on the cross because He already loved us. We are beloved, therefore let us love one another. We can love others because the love that is flowing to us, can and will flow through us to others if only we allow it to. If we are not loving others, it is because we do not really know God. God is love! 

“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” 1 John 4:10-12

God loved us first. And because of His great love for us he sent His Son to die for us and to atone for our sins. We are loved by God therefore we ought to love one another. The world cannot see God unless they see the way God abides in us. They will see God abiding in us as we love others because His love is perfected in us. We will be able to love the unlovely only because of the love that flows through us because of the love God loves us with. 

You know this makes it sound so easy. But really it is easy to love others when you let your heart get so close to God that it spills over. Are you carrying around some bitter spirit? Do you have people in your life that are difficult to love? Are you afraid to love because you have been hurt by love too many times? Turn it all over to Jesus and fall in love with Him. Think on the fact that He loved you first! He loved us before we were even born! You ask Jesus to show you, to lavish His love on you and before long you will look at that coworker differently. You will look at the unlovely differently. You will find that the bitter spirit in your heart cannot live in the same heart as Jesus. Jesus will come in and take over your heart with His love. 

“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.” 1 John 4:15-17

You start by confessing Jesus, and allow Him to move into your heart. Then God will abide in you and you in God. And over time you will start to believe and to feel His love flow through you and that love is perfect! And then you can love others with the perfect love from the Father. 

Love One Another

1 John 3

While I study out of the ESV most of the time the first verse of this chapter bears quoting from the NIV. 

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” 1 John 3:1

I love the way this verse is quoted in the NIV because of the excitement of it. You can’t use the word lavished without thinking of something being poured out all over the place. The Father has lavished us with love, and then there is actually an exclamation point at the end of the sentence to emphasize it even more. The Father did not pour out His love on us because of anything we do or have done. He pours it out on us and calls us His children because that is what we are! All we have to do is to accept this love! Then the next sentence of this verse explains all of the ridicule and persecution we ever receive because of our christianity. “The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” We get so upset at being misunderstood by the world sometime and yet it’s not us that is misunderstood as much as it is God. The reason the world thinks that what we believe is foolishness is because the world does not know God. Nor can it understand the love of God. 

John goes on to explain that those who are God’s children will practice righteousness and those who are not will practice sinning. This is not to say that we will ever be perfect and not sin, only that those who practice sinning, living in a lifestyle of sin, are those who do not know Him and are not His children. 

“Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” 1 John 3:7-8

John breaks it down very simply here. If you are a child of God and if you abide in Him you will practice righteousness. Make no mistake, God will never leave His children alone in sin. That is not to say that children of God will never sin. That is impossible because we are all human. However, if you are a child of God and you are trying to live a lifestyle of sin, God will not allow you to continue in it. I believe He will provide you a way out at first and then if you do not grasp that way out, He will throw obstacles in your path to that sin. 

“No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.” 1 John 3:9

God will not allow His children to remain in a lifestyle of sin. They will not prosper in sin and they will not be blessed in sin. John takes this a step further, however. Our christian life is not just what we are kept from and staying out of a lifestyle of sin. But it is also about what we do! 

“For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” 1 John 3:11

John goes on to give us the example of Cain, who murdered his brother all because his brother was trying to live his life rightly. Cain murdered Abel because Cain’s deeds were evil while Abel’s were righteous. But John is also explaining that we do not have to carry out the act of murder to be murdering in our heart. 

“Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” 1 John 3:15

Now I know that not everyone is lovable and yes, there have been a few people who have had actions against me and my people that I have had to pray really really hard about the feelings in my heart. But the truth of the matter is, there is never any room for hate in the christian heart. Friends if you have someone that when you hear their name or you look at them you feel something bubbling up in you that could be hate, you have to pray against that. 

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s good and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” 1 John 3:16-17

We can love because of what Jesus did on the cross and the fact that he laid down his life for us. We can lay down our lives for others because of what Jesus did for us. God’s love must abide in us, and through God’s love we can love our brothers. 

“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him;” 1 John 3:18-19

We can’t be all talk and no action and truly be abiding in His love. If we abide in Him and in His love we will show it by the truth that is within us. You see this is the thing, if we say we are abiding in Him, we have no choice but to love. 

“And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.” 1 John 3:23-24

If we are abiding in God, and we believe in Jesus we will love one another. Yes, even those people that are harder to love. And we will know that we abide in Him by the Spirit that lives in us as well. 

Anointed to Abide!

1 John 2:18-29

John is sending out a warning. He is warning his “children” of The Antichrist to come as well as the many antichrists who have already come. An antichrist is just what it says someone who is ANTI Christ. The Antichrist, or an antichrist will stand for everything that is opposite of Jesus. Hmmm does that make you pause? I hear many people talking about what is going on in the world today as the last days, and it may be. However, we have no idea how long the last days may last. The thing that we as Christians are to know is that antichrists will always be among us which is why we have to hang so close to Jesus that these antichrists will not affect our every day walks. 

“But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.” 1 John 2:20-21

All christians have anointing of Jesus. We often think that only those who preach and those who are in vocational ministry are anointed but when you are a Christian and you have the Holy Spirit living inside of you, therefore you have an anointing from Him. You have the capacity to grasp the knowledge of Him, you know the truth, therefore, you can recognize the lie. Anyone who denies Jesus is a liar and is an antichrist. Antichrists have been around since Jesus was crucified. We are not to live in fear of them, nor are we to be surprised that they are here now nor are we to look expectantly for them. But we are to be aware that they exist. And the awareness that the spirit of antichrist is here should push us and give us more of an urgency to study the scriptures. 

“Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us – eternal life.” 1 John 2:24-25

There will always be antichrists, there will always be those around who are trying to deceive us. In 1 Peter 5:8 Peter had reminded us that we have an adversary who is prowling and seeking someone to devour. But we have Christ in us, who is the hope of glory. We shouldn’t cower in fear but continue to abide in Christ so that we will have the anointing from Him so as to walk daily with Him. 

“But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie -just as it has taught you, abide in him.” 1 John 2:27

As his anointing teaches us and we see truth and we gain knowledge of Jesus, we learn more and more how to abide in him. And when we are abiding in him, we need not live in fear nor should we just stand around gazing into the clouds awaiting His return. But we should live in confidence that one day He is coming. 

Is this the last days? Maybe, I’m not smart enough to know. But I do know that God’s word tells us that no one will know. So I don’t really think that we are to try to predict the when, the where, the why or the how. We are simply to live, to abide in Him so that we will be ready when that day comes. 

“And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.” 1 John 2:28

Shine your light!

1 John 2:1-17

“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2:1-2

John has already made it clear in the first chapter of his book that we cannot become sinless. However, his desire would be for us to become sinless. But we have an advocate that goes before us to the Father, that even in our sin, we can be made righteous in Jesus. He is the propitiation for our sin. Propitiation is the act of gaining or regaining favor or goodwill of someone. Jesus gains favor with the Father for us. 

“but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” 1 John 2:5

If you are truly saved by Him you will do your best to walk with Him and the “way in which he walked.” If you are doing your best to keep his word, then the love of God will flow through you. 

“Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.” 1 John 2:7-8

I think what John is trying to say here is I am telling you what you already know. You have known this since the beginning, it is the old commandment to love your brothers, you have heard it all before. But I am giving it to you as a new commandment so that you will sit up and take a listen because there is a present darkness in the world but we are to be the light that we already know how to be. Our light for Jesus has already been shining and the world is trying to snuff it out. But the true light will continue to shine even in the darkness. If we buy into the world and how the world behaves we will begin to hate our brother and our fellow man and when we do that we are walking in the same darkness as our fellow man. But if we continue to love and to be a light then we will not stumble. 

“Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.” 1 John 2:9-11

Oh I don’t want the darkness to blind my eyes to love for my fellow man. It can be so hard to be in this world and not to be of this world. But that is exactly what Jesus told us to do. (John 17:14-18) Jesus was praying for us to the Father that He protect us from the world, not that we would be taken out but that we would know how to live in it and how to shine His light. 

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and desires of the eyes and the pride of life – is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” 1 John 2:15-17

Friends the bottom line is this, when you belong to the Father through Jesus, you can’t love the things of the world. I heard it put this way, “it’s not that we will not sin, but our relationship to sin will be changed.” We will not love the sins that we once did. If you have ever seen anyone do a complete 180 turn from a sinful lifestyle, chances are they have had a true encounter with Jesus! It can be an exciting thing to watch. But that does not mean that the darkness is not still surrounding us. It is trying to get at us, to pull us in and make us hate and make us angry and make us lash out. It is so hard some days. But that is why abiding in Him is so important. If you are abiding in Him it is so much easier to shine your light! 

Walk in the Light!

1 John 1

This letter begins with John discussing relationship with Jesus!

“That which was from the beginning,” 1 John 1:1a

John is immediately pointing us back to the beginning.

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” John 1:1

God, the Father and His son Jesus were here even before the beginning. God created the heavens and the earth! The Word, Jesus was with God and was God even before any of earth came into existence! 

“which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life-“ 1 John 1:1b

John is saying this beginning, this Word, this Jesus, I heard Him, I have seen Him, I studied (looked upon) Him, I touched Him! John wants the people he is writing to, to know, I am not telling you something I heard ABOUT, I’m telling you something I KNOW! 

“the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us-“ 1 John 1:2

John is driving his point home that Jesus, the son of God, lived and breathed on this earth. The definition of manifest is clear or obvious to the mind. John is saying he clearly knew this Jesus as a living breathing person! 

“that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ” 1 John 1:3

And now John gets to the purpose, I have seen it and I am telling you about it so that we can be in relationship with each other and that you can be in relationship with Jesus too. John “got it”! John knew a close, intimate relationship with Jesus and he wanted others to know that close intimate relationship with Jesus too. 

“And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete! 1 John 1:4

John is saying that his joy, his life would be complete if he knew that others had found this relationship and close fellowship with Jesus too! His whole purpose in writing this book is to point others to relationship with Jesus. This should be our main goal and purpose as Christians as well. For our life to point others to Jesus. Not to judge, or condemn others but to live a life so close to Jesus that others want what we have. This Christian life should be inviting not condemning! 

“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” 1 John 1:5-6

John is again reiterating, I have a first hand knowledge I am giving you, I heard it from the source. God is light! Think of a light bulb. There is no shadow coming off of the light bulb. A light has no darkness at all! Jesus is light, he is perfect in every way. We can’t be in close fellowship with Him if we are walking in darkness. This is not to say we will never sin, this is saying we will not walk in sin, we will not live a lifestyle of sin. Many times people mistake this grace that we receive from Jesus, thinking they can do whatever they wish and ask forgiveness later. But when you think that way, it is a sure indication that you are not walking in the light but in darkness which means there is no fellowship with Him. 

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  1 John 1:7-9

It’s all about relationship to John, the relationship we have with Jesus and the relationships we have with other believers. If we are truly walking in the light, walking in relationship with Jesus, then the blood of Jesus will cleanse us from our sins. It is not that we do not sin, it is that our sin grieves our heart toward repentance so we can be washed in the blood of Jesus. It’s not denying our sin, it’s a knowing that only through Him and His blood that he spilled on the cross, can we be made righteous to have relationship with Jesus the Son and with God the Father. It’s admitting that we can’t walk this out alone. 

“If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar and his word is not in us.” 1 John 1:10

This relationship with Jesus is not to try to claim perfection on our own! Quite the contrary it’s recognizing that without His blood covering me I am not worthy to walk anywhere near the light! 

I think I like John a lot! 

Keep Living in the Waiting

2 Peter 3

This last chapter of Peter is discussing the last days. Peter wanted his audience to be reminded that there will be a day of judgment to come. 

“This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.” 2 Peter 3:1-3

Peter is saying, pay attention to the scriptures, he was also noting the importance of the New Testament even as it was unfolding before their eyes. He couldn’t have known that these writings would live on for thousands of years except by way of the fact that the prophetic scriptures had already lived for thousands of years. He also says that there will be scoffers in the last days who want to follow their own sinful ways. He goes on to say that the scoffers would be thinking that things would just continue as they had been from the beginning of time. But he wanted the believers to remember that just as the world was made by the word of God, that the day will come that the world will burn up by the word of God. The thing is, we can predict that we are in the last days, but the truth is we have no idea how long these last days will last. Time does not have the same meaning to God as it does to us. 

“But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.” 2 Peter 3:8-10

It is God’s desire that all should come to repentance, and He will act with that thought in mind always. God is patient, and in His kindness, He wants everyone to have a chance for redemption. But the truth is when that last day comes, it will come like a thief, no one will know that it is coming and it will happen quickly and the works that have been done on earth will be exposed immediately. 

“Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!” 2 Peter 3:11-12

I wonder, and these are my thoughts here, if the people were becoming so consumed with watching for the return of the Lord, that they were forgetting how they should live. I had that thought as I read “what sort of people ought you to be”. Did Peter ask them that because they were becoming consumed with the thought of the Lord’s return that they were forgetting to just live their day to day lives in holiness and godliness. For me, if I am waiting for an event or for a season of life to turn or change, sometimes I feel I get so paralyzed in the waiting I forget to keep on living. I think that could be what Peter is pointing out to them. Don’t get so caught up in the last days and the waiting that you forget to keep living. We are waiting for His return but we are supposed to keep living as we wait. 

“But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.” 2 Peter 3:13-14

The only way to be diligent to be found by Him without spot or blemish and at peace is to keep growing in Him. We should count the Lord’s patience as our salvation and see that His patience is giving opportunity for more and more people to come to Him. We should be aware of the world, that there are people who will twist the scriptures for their own gain but what we do with that is keep ourselves grounded in the scripture. We must be careful to be in the world but not to be carried away by it. 

“You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen” 2 Peter 3:17-18

Yes we should be ready if today is the day but we should also keep living in the waiting in case the day isn’t coming for a thousand years. That is what will bring Him glory. If the world sees that we are not cowering in fear but that we are living in the waiting! 

God will Rescue!

2 Peter 2

“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.” 2 Peter 2:1-2

In this second chapter Peter is warning them that although there are godly men who will hear and know the scriptures and prophesy in their midst there will also be false prophets. There were long ago, just as they are among you! Sound familiar? Peter goes on to tell them that many people will follow these false prophets, that they will distort truth, and that they will exploit with false words because of their greed. But they won’t get away with it forever. 

“Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” 2 Peter 2:3b

If you wonder if God is going to allow the false teachers to not be punished, just look at history. 

God didn’t even spare the angels who sinned but cast them into hell. He did not spare the world but he preserved Noah because he was righteous living among the ungodly. When the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were brought down, Lot was living among them and he was grieved because of the conduct around him, yet Lot was rescued from the cities as they went up in flames. I hear all over how worried we are about the future, and believe me it is easy to fall into the worry. But if the Lord could rescue Noah and the Lord could rescue Lot…

“then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment,” 2 Peter 2:9

That one’s for us! That statement right there is for those who know Jesus. Even in the midst of the crazy, and the worry over the future, if you are His, he knows how to rescue you!  That is the most encouraging line of this whole chapter. Hang onto it. 

Peter goes on to describe the ungodly surrounding them. The very people he wants to warn against. He says that they are “bold and willful”, “they do not tremble as they blaspheme”, they blaspheme about “matters of which they are ignorant”. 

“They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children!” 2 Peter 2:13b-14

I don’t know about you, but I think Peter could have been looking into the future as well. As I was reading the descriptions of the ungodly I must say I was feeling a lot of familiarity. But we who know Jesus and belong to Him, when we think on the things of evil that are surrounding us we can know this. 

“These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person to that he is enslaved.” 2 Peter 2:17-19

This is a word from the Lord and we can be assured that those who practice all of these things will not be left unjudged. 

Peter ends this chapter with one final warning. He warns those that have heard the word of the Lord and yet they turn back to evil and unrighteousness. 

“For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them.” 2 Peter 2:20-21

This is not talking about people who truly followed Jesus and fell backwards for a time. This is talking of those who appear to have been saved and have heard the scriptures and good teaching yet turn their back on it. We can know that there will always be people in our midst who will take on the appearance of having been saved yet given the chance they will walk right back into a lifestyle of corruption and greed. However, I have seen those who were saved and made bad choices and fell into greed and corruption for a time, but the Lord would not leave them there. He will always watch out for His children and He will never allow them to be comfortable in sin. And you can take that one to the bank. 

Oh Lord, thank you for the warnings and thank you most of all that you will always rescue the godly. We may not know when or how the rescue will come but we can be rest assured, it’s coming! 

The way to Godliness

2 Peter 1 

“Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” 2 Peter 1:1-2

Some very important things to note about this second letter that Peter wrote. First he introduces himself first as servant then as apostle. Peter was much more concerned with being recognized as a servant of Christ, than as his standing as an apostle of Christ. Second, he is writing this letter to fellow Christians and he is extending them peace and grace because of their knowledge of Jesus.

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” 2 Peter 2:3-4

The way we exercise the power that is ours to claim, is through knowledge of God. He called us to be His and to be able to be a part of his own glory and excellence and through the knowledge that we gain of Him is how we live a life of godliness. When you start walking with Him and living with your life for Him, then you become a partaker of His divine nature. I love the way Peter phrases it here “his precious and very great promises”. The promises of God are precious and they are great! In other words, as we grow in our knowledge of Him is how we exercise power and it is the only way to live a life of godliness. I think people tend to shy away from feeling that they are living a godly life because they think it says something about themselves. But that’s not the point at all, you can only live a godly life because of who He is not because of who you are. I am one step away from slipping off the curb every single day, if not for the grace and peace of Him who flows through me. 

“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 2:5-8

Have you ever come in contact with a new Christian who is so on fire for the Lord that their faith is spilling out all over everyone? It is a fun thing to watch! But the only way to sustain that is to build upon it. That’s what I love about these verses, everything about this walk builds to get us to love. And I know in my life sometimes it’s like I take a step back here and there and then have to start walking toward love again. When your faith is new and it’s exciting that builds virtue. As virtue in your life grows your knowledge of Him and who He is and what He has done for you grows and with that knowledge self-control kicks in, and then you become more steadfast and able to stand against the things of the world and the fiery darts of Satan and with that it builds godliness in you. Godliness produces more brotherly affection for your fellow man and as that grows you begin to love more like Jesus! 

“Therefore brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:10-11

Peter makes it sound so simple here when he says practice these qualities. But really I think it’s us who make it hard. Many times we think if we have not arrived at the steadfastness or love for our fellow man, then we have failed. But we have to remember that godliness in us grows as our knowledge grows. Diligence is simply putting into practice dragging your will to the cross every day. Ask Him for the strength for the self-control you need, ask Him to help you be steadfast against the world, ask Him to help you to love your fellow man. Especially when some of them are not necessarily very lovable. You know there are just some people you have to pray for Jesus to love them through you, because you really don’t like them very well. Some people are just harder to love than others and if Jesus isn’t doing it through you then it just isn’t happening. 

The last part of this chapter is Peter giving them a glimpse into some of the things of Christ, which he was fortunate enough to eyewitness. 

“For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,’ we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.” 2 Peter 1:16-18

Peter is telling them, and us, I’m not just telling you about things I heard ABOUT, I am telling you about things I HEARD!! We have all had moments in our lives that are profound moments that  we will never forget. Can you imagine if you had heard God’s voice audibly from heaven standing on a mountaintop? Peter heard it first hand, he heard God say “This is my beloved Son!” And he wants others to know it’s not a fable and it’s not a myth! Jesus is the Son of God! 

The last three verses of this chapter is encouraging us to pay attention, for these words, these prophecies, the Scriptures, don’t come from mere men, they come from men who listen to God Himself by the Holy Spirit! 

“And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:19-21

Oh I love that picture and I pray, Holy Spirit carry me along and help me to be a lamp shining in a dark place!