Precious Faith, Precious Promises


Precious Faith, Precious Promises
II Peter 1:1-4
I remind you that these words are written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit by the Apostle Peter. Peter, when the Lord Jesus Christ met him, was a fisherman. It is rather amazing, is it not, what God can do with a Galilean fisherman? It was Simon Peter who was used by the Lord to preach on the day of Pentecost and 3,000 people were won to faith in Jesus.
It is Simon Peter who has penned two of the books in our New Testament. We have just studied the book of I Peter. We're moving now into II Peter. In these two books we have what the Christian life is and what the Christian life is intended to be. 
You will discover that there is some difference in emphasis in these two letters. For instance, in the first letter that he wrote to us it has to do with the subject of suffering and persecution, trouble on the outside. Now, in the second letter, he will talk about false teachers, trouble on the inside. 
In the first letter he presents Satan as a roaring lion seeking to devour. In this letter he will present Satan as a seductive serpent seeking to deceive.
When persecution and suffering come to a church, it has a way of just drawing people closer to the Lord. Suffering in the life of a Christian is like driving a nail into a piece of wood. It just drives the nail deeper and more firmly in that piece of wood. Suffering has a tendency to purify the believer.
On the other hand, false teaching has a tendency to pervert the believer. 
In the second chapter of II Peter he is going to lay before us the counterfeit faith. He's going to present false teachers. But in order that we might understand the counterfeit better, he will present to us in the opening chapter the genuine faith, the real deal. So that's why he says in verse 1, "Like precious faith." He is talking about the genuine article, the real deal. 
FBI agents who are assigned to spot counterfeit money go through a period of training when they familiarize themselves totally with genuine money. In other words, they found out that the best way to spot the counterfeit is to be thoroughly familiar with the real thing.
The same thing is true with you and me. If you really want to be able to spot counterfeit faith, you need to be able to understand what genuine, real faith is all about. He is setting before us, "Like precious faith." Precious faith, valuable faith, worthwhile faith, the kind of faith that will get you to heaven.
Notice what he says in verse 1, "Like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Savior, Jesus Christ." The righteousness of God is presented in the real faith, in precious faith. The righteousness of God means that you and I can be saved through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Any ingredient or commodity which can make it possible for you and me to go to heaven when we die is indeed a precious commodity. 
That's what he talks about here. "Like precious faith through the righteousness of God and our Savior, Jesus Christ."
I want to talk about that precious faith for a little while, and I want it to become precious to you indeed before you leave this building. This precious faith which saves us rests upon
I. A Divine Person.
He said that it is through the righteousness of God and our Savior, Jesus Christ. He says in verse 2, "Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus, our Lord." A divine person, Jesus, our Lord, God, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He teaches us here that salvation is an experience where we come to have a knowledge of Jesus Christ.
There are two primary words that are used for knowledge in the New Testament. One of the words is the word gnosis. We get the word Gnostic and the word knowledge from that. The other word is a word with a preposition built on top of that word. Gnosis with a preposition on top of it, epegnosis.
The two words differ in meaning in this way.   Gnosis knowledge is information knowledge. It's the kind of knowledge you can get on the Internet. It is digital in nature. It is factual in nature.
On the other hand, the word knowledge he uses here is a word that's not just information knowledge. It is interpersonal knowledge. It is intimate knowledge.
Let me use an example here. I know carpentry. I understand the language and the tools and the angles and woods. That is I have informational knowledge.
On the other hand I know Lisa. I have intimate and interpersonal knowledge of her. When he talks about the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ in this letter, he is talking about a personal experience. Real saving faith is a personal experience with Jesus Christ. It is not just knowing about Jesus. It is knowing Jesus in a personal way.
There are many people who know about Jesus. Probably every one of you in this building knows about Jesus. You have heard about Jesus. Jesus is not an unfamiliar name to you. But though you may know about Jesus, I wonder if you really know Jesus. Have you had a personal experience with Him? Have you come to know Him in a saving kind of way?
Our salvation, this precious faith, rests upon a divine person. Notice some things he says about this salvation. He says to us first of all about this salvation that it is something that is very fair
He says that it is, "Like precious faith." Look at the word like. "Like precious faith." The word which is used here for like precious is the word from which we get the word isosceles triangle. 
What is an isosceles triangle? It is a triangle which has at least two equal sides and angles. The emphasis is on equality.
He is saying that the salvation which saves us is a like precious faith. It is an equal faith. 
What does that mean? I think this: it is something that is available to all. Anybody who wants to be can be saved. It doesn't matter what you have done. It doesn't matter where you are from. It doesn't matter what your background may be. This faith of the Lord Jesus, this salvation is a like precious faith. It is available to all, that is, the basis of salvation is the same for everyone.
Do you remember the ark and the flood and do you remember that there was just one door to that ark? If the giraffe got in, he had to stoop down to go into that door. If the little hamster wanted to get in, he would have to crawl up and go in that same door. The entrance was the same for all. 
That's the same thing here in regard to salvation. Anybody who wants to be can be saved. We're all saved on the same basis. By the way, once the hamster and giraffe were both in the ark, they were both in the ark equally as well.
If you are saved today, you are a child of God. You're going to heaven when you die. It is a like precious faith. The fairness of God's great salvation.
Then notice that he talks about the greatness of it. In verse 2 he says, "Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus, our Lord." Look at the greatness of it. It is a salvation which brings grace into our life. Grace comes into our life through salvation. Grace means that you and I have a problem with God. The Bible tells us that we are running from God. 
We have displeased God. We have disobeyed His holy law. We are running from God like the fugitive on television years ago. God is on the run. He is coming after us. That's what grace is.
But not only that, but the Bible says that He gives us peace which means that we not only have a problem with God, but we have a problem with ourselves and with other people. Relationships have been torn up and your life has been torn up.
The word peace means to join together. It means to put things back together. The shattered pieces of your life can be put together by Jesus. The wounds and the scars that sin has made upon your life can be healed and put back together by the Lord Jesus Christ.
"Like precious faith." It is based upon a divine person. Then I want you to notice in verse 3. Let's follow the thought of the passage. The second thing I want you to notice is that our salvation, this precious faith, rests upon
II. A Divine Power.
He says in verse 3, "According as his divine power." It rests upon a divine power. 
There is calling power indicated. Look at the last of the verse. It says, "Through the knowledge of him," that is, that personal experience with Jesus, "that hath called us to glory and virtue." Literally that could be read, "By his own glory and goodness." God calls you. It is calling power.
The Bible talks about a general call which is the great invitation for anybody who wants to come to be saved. God issues the call "to whosoever will, let him come." That's why when I preach the message and then give the invitation, I will give you an opportunity to receive Christ as your Savior. I have the authority of God Himself who says, "Invite them to come unto Me." There is that general call.
But then the Bible talks about that special call, that effective call. That is, those who respond to the Lord become "the called." Those who answer the invitation become those who have responded to His holy calling. "By his own glory and goodness." He calls us by His own glory and goodness.
How does God call? How does God make His appeal to you? I think it must be kind of like what attracts a boy to a girl. He decides he's going to ask this girl out for a date. What is the basis of that call for asking her for a date? Is it that "Sassoon" hair and maybe those eyes all made up with mascara? Maybe it's that Close Up toothpaste smile. There's something about her that is attractive. He calls on the basis of that personal attraction.
If I could just get you to see how wonderful Jesus is and if I could just get you to see what a difference He could make in your life. If I could just get you to see how precious Jesus is today, then I believe you would respond and answer His call. He has called us by His divine power. It's a power that calls us.
But there is something else in this third verse. Dig a little deeper. Not only is it calling power, but it's changing power
"According to his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness." He's saying that if you come unto Me, I will give you everything necessary for life and godliness. He's talking here about spiritual life.
He's talking about eternal life. "Life and godliness."
When a little baby is born and receives life, that little baby receives everything that is necessary for life. The genetic structure is all there at birth. The same thing is true spiritually. When God saves you He gives you eternal life, and everything necessary for the living of that life is made available to you at the moment of your salvation. He has given us all things that pertain unto life and godliness. The word godliness means a godly life.
Notice the order. He says, "Life," and then, "a godly life." You can't live a godly life until you have life. You can't live a Christian life until you have had the Christian experience. You can't live for Jesus until you know Jesus. He has given you everything necessary to life and godliness. He has done it, the Bible says in this verse, "through the knowledge of him." It all comes in Jesus.
Later on in the second chapter he's going to deal with false teachers who are saying to people that you need more than Jesus. When the Lord Jesus Christ came into your heart and into your life, everything necessary to live the Christian life had been made available in and through Jesus Christ.
I heard about a guy who went on a cruise. Toward the end of the cruise he just finally went to one of the crew and said, "Man, could you help me? I'm starving to death. Is there anything you could give me to eat to help get me by?" The crew member said, "Are you on this cruise?" He said, "Yes." The crew member said, "Did you buy a ticket on this cruise?" He said, "Yes, I did. I've enjoyed it all, but I've been sleeping on the stairs at night and I brought some cheese crackers and I've been eating them to get by every day, but I've eaten them all up. Could you help me a little?" The crew member said, "Man, don't you understand? When you bought the ticket and when you got on the boat, everything was taken care of. It was provided for you. You had a cabin. You could have slept in a bed. You had three, ten, twelve meals a day. You could have eaten it all. It was all in the ticket."
The Bible says that He has given us all things that pertain unto life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who has called us. It's all available in Jesus. 
He's going to talk about growing. That's his emphasis in the last verse of the letter. He's going to talk about growing. Are you growing as a Christian? Are you becoming everything that you ought to be?
I think about athletes. These NFL athletes are phenomenons. It's an amazing thing. I think about other athletes who had that kind of ability, athletes who had professional ability, and yet for some reason they never lived up to their potential. They have the speed and the size. 
They had the natural gifts, and yet they never lived up to their potential. Maybe it was lack of focus or maybe they were lazy or maybe they didn't apply themselves. But the potential was there. They just never lived up to it. 
You have the potential today to live a godly life, to be what God wants you to be, to have a fruitful and productive life. It is all provided for you in Jesus. You've got to just take advantage of the power that's there.
Precious faith. A faith which saves us. Precious faith rests upon a divine person. It rests upon a divine power. But now verse 4 tells us that this faith which saves rest upon
III. Divine Promises.
This is one of the greatest verses in the whole Bible to me. It says in verse 4, "By which are given unto us exceedingly great and precious promises." Have you notice how Peter likes the word precious?
There are certain words that catch on at certain times. Teenagers are good at words like that. About the time I learn one set of words, they change the words on me. It used to be awesome. That was the big word with teenagers. Everything was awesome. That's just awesome. "Look at that boy. He's just awesome." "Look at that book. It's just awesome." "Look at that dog. It's just awesome." Everything was awesome.
Peter's word is precious. Go through I and II Peter and look at the things he puts the label "precious" on. 
For instance, he talks about precious faith in this verse. He does it in I Peter. He talks about precious faith there. Then he talks about in I Peter 1, verse 18, the precious blood. How precious is the blood of Jesus. Then in the second chapter of I Peter he talks about the precious cornerstone. Jesus is the precious cornerstone. In the eighth verse of that chapter he says unto those who believe, He's precious. Jesus is precious.
Then he comes along here in this fourth verse and he talks about the precious promises, the valuable promises, the worthwhile promises.
I ran across something that John Wesley wrote that I think expresses it pretty well. He wrote one morning in his diary, "All these days I scarce remember to have opened the New Testament but upon some great and precious promise, and I saw more than ever that the gospel is in truth but one great promise from the beginning of it to the end."
That's right, isn't it? The Bible is just a book with promises. It is a book filled with promises. It says here, "By which are given unto us exceedingly great and precious promises." Think how great the promises are. Precious promises. Think how precious and sweet and valuable are the promises of God.
What is a promise? A promise is an announcement of something someone is going to do. The value of the promise is based upon the person who makes the promise. 
He says in verse 4, "Whereby," tying it to verse 3 and our knowledge of Jesus Christ. "Whereby are given unto us exceedingly great and precious promises. Second Corinthians 1, verse 20, ties it together. 
It says, "For all the promises of God in him," that is, in Jesus, "are yea, and in him Amen." What it's saying is all the promises of God are in Jesus. It is Jesus who is the one who guarantees the reality of the promise.
A promise of God is like a check. I don't know what your need is, but what would it take to get you totally out of debt and fixed for life? What would you like to have this morning? How about 30 million? Do you think that would at least get your bills paid?
Say you get a letter in the mail in the morning. You open that letter and in that letter is a check made out to you for thirty million dollars. I'll tell you the first thing you are going to do. You are going to look down there and see who signed it. 
If it's Terry Tolbert, then you are in a world of hurt! But if it said Bill Gates, then that's a different story. What do your have to do to get that 30 million? Just turn it over and endorse it.
Here are the promises of God to you. Whatever your need is, whatever problem you are going through, whatever battle you are fighting today, there is a check that comes in. Unlimited resources, signed Jesus. All you've got to do is claim it. All the promises are in Him. Jesus says, "Yes," and He signs it. All the promises in Him are Amen. You just take advantage of His offer. 
He's talking here about the promises of salvation. You've got to work with me quickly as I try to wrap up these last statements in the fourth verse. 
He says, "By which are given unto us exceedingly great and precious promises, that by these," that is, these promises that have to do with salvation, with the precious faith, "That by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."
"Having escaped the corruption." By means of these problems you can escape corruption. The word corruption is a graphic word. It was a word that described moral decay, rottenness. It was a word that was used to describe a decaying, rotting, decomposing body. 
First Corinthian 15 talks about these bodies of ours. They are sown in corruption. They are sown in rottenness. They are sown decaying. He says that this old world is like a rotting, decomposing body. That's true, isn't it? Think about our world. It's profanity. It's perversity. It's pornography. The world is like a rotting, decomposing body.
That's the chain on the outside that binds us, but he says, "Through lust." That means evil desires. That's the hook on the inside that pulls us toward the corruption of this old world.
But look at the promise. The promise says that if you will come to the Lord Jesus Christ, "Having escaped." Praise God there's release. You can escape.
Look at Legion. Old Legion was living in a graveyard where dead bodies were. He heard about Jesus. He came running out of the caves of those tombs and he ran to Jesus. He escaped while he had a chance.
You can be set free from the corruption of this old world. You can escape today. 
Then he says, "Having become a partaker of the divine nature." Not only can you escape corruption, but you can experience regeneration. You can become a partaker of the divine nature. That means that you can have union with Jesus. That means that you can be indwelt by the Holy Spirit. That means that you can experience the new birth and you can be made a brand-new person in Jesus.
How? Look at verse 1 again. Right in the middle of the verse it says, "To them that have," here's the key word, "obtained like precious faith." Did you see that word? "To them that have obtained like precious faith." He didn't say attain. 
Salvation is not something you attain. You don't merit salvation. You don't earn salvation. You don't work for salvation. You do not attain it. But you can obtain it. That just simply means that you can receive it, not on the basis of what work you've done, but on the basis of the work He did on the cross.
You can choose a life of corruption, a life of bondage, or you can choose a life of new birth and godliness.
Let's bow our heads in prayer.
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