Just a Reminder

[Article written by Matt Nevins. Originally published in his email newsletter “The Lamp.”]

Reminders help us call to remembrance things that are important. At work we may leave notes to remind us to complete a task. We leave a reminder to make sure the task is completed and not forgotten. Therefore we should be able to see the usefulness to be reminded of spiritual tasks that need to be completed. The book of 2 Peter is a book of reminders for Christians (2 Pet. 1:12-15). The apostle reminds Christians of some things that need to be completed before the tasks are forgotten.

Make your election sure

Peter opens the book in verse 3 reminding the readers how God “has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.” God has completed what is required of Him for salvation, and the challenge is extended to each individual to complete the task. 1 Peter 3:21 shows the necessity of baptism and how it is our answer to God for salvation. We can choose to be disobedient after our initial obedience. Therefore just because we were once obedient to the standard of doctrine given by Christ (Rom. 6:17) does not mean we are guaranteed the inheritance.

Peter reminded the brethren that if they do not continue to grow, and add to their faith, they have forgotten of their cleansing (2 Pet. 1:9). We further learn that it is better not to have known the truth than to depart from the doctrine we once obeyed (2 Pet. 2:21). Since it is possible to depart from the truth, we need to make our election sure (2 Pet. 1:10). Our souls depend on the choices we make. All other things will fail and are empty, but serving God and being righteous is enduring and fulfilling (Eccl. 12:13-14). With such an important task before us, let us take advantage of every reminder we have.

Give attention to the Gospel

It is evident that people in the first century are not any different from people in the twenty-first century. People of either generation like to hear what sounds good, and is presented smoothly. In 2 Peter, Peter warns of the presence of false teachers and their “cleverly devised myths” (2 Pet. 1:16-21). Peter calls to attention the manner in which the gospel was presented. The emphasis was always upon the gospel, not the speaker or the eloquence of the speech.

The “sure, prophetic word” was taught as having been from God, not the will of man (2 Pet. 1:19-21). Since the gospel of Christ is of God, therefore it is in our best interest to give our attention to it (2 Pet. 1: 19). The gospel is a source of light (2 Pet. 1:19), life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3), salvation (2 Pet. 1:4), and how to overcome temptation (2 Pet. 1:8-11). This is the gospel that was taught from credible witnesses (2 Pet. 1:16-18, Acts 1:8). Peter reminds us to pay attention to God’s word.

Remain faithful to the Lord

As the Christian gives attention to the gospel of Christ, it will become evident that there are some who do not abide in sound doctrine. This is no new thing. Just as Satan taught falsely concerning God’s word in Genesis 3, Peter reminds us that there are teachers who teach falsely concerning God’s word today (2 Pet. 2:1). Therefore the Christian needs to be reminded to be on guard because the false doctrine being taught can lead some away from the truth (2 Pet. 2:2). In the face of such opposition, our goal and task is to remain faithful.

Departing from God to go back to a life of sin is horrible. When God’s people choose to depart, Peter notes that it would have been better if they had never known the truth in the first place (2 Pet. 2:21). To show the sad and disgusting nature of falling away, Peter compares it to a pig who has been washed going back into the mud, and a dog going back to its vomit (2 Pet. 2:22). Being obedient to the gospel allows sinners to be freed from sin (Rom. 6). Because of that decision to serve God, we do not need to continue in sin (Rom. 6:1). To go back into sin is to become entangled in the snare that had originally trapped us (2 Pet. 2:19). It is foolishness to leave what is right to go after what is wrong!

A means of motivation is the reminder of the punishment that awaits the wicked. Peter gives examples showing that God has punished evil in the past and will do so on the final day. The examples Peter chooses to list includes: angels that were cast into hell, the ancient world in the days of Noah and the flood, and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (2 Pet. 2:4-10). This serves as proof that God is able to punish the wicked. Today we see people who will blatantly deny the existence of God, blaspheme His name, twist His words, and desire to justify lives of sin. People who would do such things will share in the same punishment, an eternity in hell (2 Pet. 2:10-14). The unfaithful will be punished, therefore remember to remain faithful.

Continue to wait

Judgment is coming soon, but no one knows when, it will come like a thief in the night (2 Pet. 3:10). For this reason Peter is compelled to remind brethren to make sure that each saint is living holy and spotless before the Lord (2 Pet. 3:11, 14). Although we cannot be sure when judgment will come, we can be sure that it will occur (2 Pet. 3:9). Time will end when God deems it as the proper time.

Time has an effect on us, but time has no effect on God. Peter makes the observation that “one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” to the Lord (2 Pet. 3:8). God remains constant and His nature does not change with time (Heb. 13:8). Since we are subject to the effects of time, we need to become more diligent and patient with each passing moment. James makes the comment on the brevity of our lives by comparing mortal life to that of a vapor (Jms. 4:14). We are here for a season, or a certain amount of time, and then we die.

It is evident that some brethren became discouraged in waiting for the Lord’s return. The Christians were anticipating the return of Christ to be taken to the eternal abode in heaven (1 Thess. 5:2-6). Some were teaching that the resurrection already occurred which resulted in some being led away by the deception (2 Tim. 2:17-18). This causes the need for a reminder of the truth. Peter admonished and exhorted the brethren to remain patient and not become discouraged (2 Pet. 3:12). God promised in the Old Testament of a Savior who would die for the transgressions of the world (Isa. 53) and kept the promise, which was fulfilled in Christ (Eph. 3:11). God has always kept His promises; therefore He will be faithful and keep this promise in His own time (2 Pet. 3:8-10).

While some may say He will not since He has not yet done so, do not realize the nature of God’s patience. His desire is for all to come to repentance and be obedient to His will (Mt. 11:28-30, 2 Pet. 3:9). Therefore how do we want to be found when God’s promise of judgment is fulfilled? If we want to be found spotless, then we need to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18). As we continue to grow we’ll be reminded of these tasks we need to complete. The task is set before us; it is now our choice of whether we will complete the task of living godly. We have the tools, and we have the reminders, will you be successful?

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