4th Sunday after Pentecost July 3, 2022
2 Peter 1:2-15
1 Peter 5:8-11
465, 398, 402, 49
Hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) unless otherwise noted
+ In the Name of Jesus Christ +
Prayer of the Day: Almighty God, our heavenly Father, because of Your tender love toward us sinners You have given us Your Son that, believing in Him, we might have everlasting life. Continue to grant us Your Holy Spirit that we may remain steadfast in this faith to the end and finally come to life everlasting; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 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, 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.
But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.
Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth. Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease. (NKJV)
Dearly Beloved Fellow Believers,
Stories of great disasters often include accounts of great escapes. A report about a horrible fire that consumed a building and took many lives may also include an amazing rescue. Reports of devastating storms almost always include accounts of those who survived—sometimes miraculously. Such narrow escapes from injury or death are evidence of God’s mercy. The unbelieving will of course question God’s mercy and ask why He didn’t spare everyone. But those who know the Scriptures understand that human sin has corrupted this world so that it is subject to disasters and that it is by divine mercy that anyone is spared.
But for examples of truly great escapes we have to look to Bible history. There we read of the Flood in which all humanity perished except for Noah and his family who escaped by taking refuge in the ark. We read of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in which everyone in those two cities perished in the fire that rained down from heaven—except for Lot and his two daughters who escaped because they were conducted to safety by angels sent to rescue them. We read the prophecies of Jesus about the coming destruction of Jerusalem and His instructions to His disciples about when they should get out of the city. From church history we learn that His disciples remembered and heeded Jesus’ warning and escaped. Those were escapes from divine judgments. They teach us that God will not condemn His children with the unbelieving.
In our text the apostle Peter likewise tells of an escape from divine judgment. And this escape speaks directly to us; these words are addressed to believers in every age. Peter tells us that we have already escaped from something far more deadly than a fire or a storm. But he also warns us that we are not yet out of danger. One who escapes from a burning building needs to stay clear of it so as not to be burned with the terrible heat or overcome by the smoke from the fire that still rages. One who has taken refuge in a safe place during a storm needs to stay there until the storm has passed. This is what the apostle Peter here admonishes us and helps us to do as we consider the theme, “MAKING GOOD OUR ESCAPE.”
If we are to appreciate what a great escape God has given us, we need to remember what it is that we have escaped from. By God’s grace, Peter says, we have “escaped the corruption that is in the world.” What does he mean by this?
We find out as we read through the rest of this epistle. As we do that, we see that the epistle is a warning about false teachers. These were not false teachers who were currently at work, but they would be making their appearance in the future. Peter himself was soon to be martyred, as he says here. But speaking by inspiration of the Holy Spirit he warns of false teachers that would arise after his death. They would be of the very worst kind. Peter says that they would “secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them.” (2:1) They would depart from the Christian faith and try to convince others to follow them. Their message would be that it isn’t necessary to repent of one’s sins and to strive to live a holy life. With the promise of freedom, they would lead people into slavery to sinful desires and ungodly conduct. Peter is warning his readers not to be taken in. What these false teachers would be peddling was corruption, the spiritual rot that has infected the world since the Fall. It is the cause of every trouble, every ill that afflicts the world. And it is for this corruption that God will finally condemn the world on the Day of Judgment.
What Peter foretells here has a familiar sound to it. Isn’t the false message he describes here what we are hearing in our time? We are being told that we should be able to do whatever pleases us, whatever seems good to us. Conduct that God’s Word condemns as evil is defended. Choices that are selfish and that hurt others are excused, even commended. In the name of Christ many today preach a false gospel of forgiveness without repentance.
As we hear this sort of thing we need to keep in mind what Christ says here through His apostle: the corruption that is in the world through lust is not to be accommodated; we are not to make compromises with it; it is a thing to be escaped. Sinful desires are to be feared as corrupting and destructive of the human soul. Temptations to sin are to be fought.
We who believe in Christ have escaped the corruption that is in the world. The Holy Spirit has led us to repent of our sins and to trust in Christ for forgiveness. Yet the danger remains of being drawn back into the corruption that is in the world. So Peter urges us not to be complacent about our faith and our salvation but to be diligent to cultivate the fruits of faith in our life. He lists seven such fruits of faith: virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. The number seven is significant, for it is the number in the Bible that is associated with the Holy Spirit and His gracious working in us. We “add” these things to our faith by continuing in the word of Christ. Through the word the Spirit gives us true knowledge of the Savior and growth in Christian virtues.
The more the Holy Spirit builds us up and sanctifies us the stronger our defenses against the devil and the ungodly world. “If you do these things you will never stumble,” Peter says. If we have knowledge of the truth we won’t be misled by false teachings. If we have self-control we won’t easily be led into sin. If we have perseverance we won’t fall into complaining and despair in times of trial. If we have brotherly kindness our attention will be directed at others and their needs rather than on self. If we have love for God, for the Lord Jesus, we will desire what pleases Him.
Finally, we make good our escape from the corruption that is in the world by dwelling on what we have in Christ. Peter certainly does that here and helps us do it.
In Christ we have grace and peace multiplied to us. Let’s take a moment here to dwell on these two precious words. Grace is God’s favor. It is an unearned, unmerited favor; He looks on us favorably because Christ has cleansed us of all sin and His perfect righteousness has been imputed to us. Nothing stands between us and God, no barrier, no obstacle; nothing hinders our prayers. And because we have God’s grace we have peace. Because God looks upon us favorably there is nothing for us to fear. When we are in need we know that we have in God a gracious Father who knows all our needs and is able to fill them. His power, wisdom, and resources are limitless.
Are we worried about the future? If so, we need only remember what Peter says here: God has given us “exceedingly great and precious promises.” God Himself has made promises to us. God has committed Himself and in terms that are unconditional. Think of some of the promises that God has made to us and all who believe in Jesus Christ. Here is a small sample: “I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33) “I go to prepare a place for you…” (John 14:2,3) “Whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” (John 11:26) “He will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body.” (Phil. 3:21) “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10)
These are the words of Christ to us. This is what we should dwell on in our thoughts, day by day. When we find our minds dwelling on sinful things, or just things that are upsetting and troubling, then let us call to mind the promises of our God, what He has made a commitment to give us and do for us. With these powerful assurances we will make good our escape from the corruption of the world and finally enter “the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Amen.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.