2 Peter 1:4

Sermon preached on April 8, 2018 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2018. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at http://www.cantonnewlife.org/.

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

Did you ever have someone give you wrong directions? As much as I love my wife and trust her implicitly in many things, I don't trust her when it comes to driving directions. I actually tell her not to ever give anyone directions. The thing is she has problems with left and right. I remember one time we were on a road trip. I was really tired and she offered to drive for a bit. I thought it was pretty straightforward to our destination so I laid down in the back of the minivan behind the kids and tried to go to sleep. After awhile I felt the van slowing down and making a sharp left turn. That startled me awake because I knew there weren't any left turns on our route. Sure enough, when I got up and looked, we were going in the wrong direction.

As much as I love modern technology and GPS I know that sometimes it can lead you totally the wrong way. One time I was using it in Cape Breton where I grew up. I knew the area well. We were going back to our family cottage and it wanted us leave the paved highway to go on an old, little used, dirt road up over a mountain. It wasn't even a shorter route. There was no way I was going to take the GPS directions. A few years ago Marg and I had followed a dirt road that went from being fairly wide, to becoming single lane to becoming almost impassible—with big ruts, holes and rocks. So I wasn't going to chance taking another unknown dirt road. Not only that, but if I took it, I'd probably lose cell phone coverage. If there's one thing worse that breaking down on an old dirt road it's breaking down with no cell signal. The route I was already on was a paved road, It was the shortest route. It was the best route by far. I knew the GPS was giving us a bad route so I ignored it.

In the same way, as much as I admire many things in modern society—the incredible the scientific and technological advancements we are all familiar with—we can't always trust what it tells us. What does our society tell us about the Bible? What does it tell us about God and how to get to Him, if He exists at all?

As far as the Bible is concerned, many will tell you that you're foolish to follow it. They will tell you that it's not from God, that it was written by men in a patriarchal society and that their teachings don't reflect what God wants us to know, but rather reflect the oppression, the prejudices and hateful ideas of a primitive ancient society.

As far as knowing God is concerned, or as Peter puts it here, participating in the divine nature, the world knows nothing of repentance, of denying sin. It's all about self-indulgence, about freedom, about doing what you want to do.

Some people are so brazen that they'll point you in the exact opposite direction of where you should go. Before his downfall, the movie producer, Harvey Weinstein, told the Los Angeles Times, (From the Wall Street Journal, Oct. 3, 2009)

"Hollywood has the best moral compass, because it has compassion. We were the people who did the fundraising telethon for the victims of 9/11. We were there for the victims of Katrina and any world catastrophe."

I don't have to tell you how that worked out. Hollywood having the best moral compass. That's beyond laughable.

But even people who call themselves Christians give us bad advice when it comes to theology. Two years ago the Bishop of Stockholm in Sweden proposed that a church in her diocese remove all signs of the cross and put down markings showing the direction to Mecca for the benefit of Muslim worshippers. Eva Brunne, who became the world's first openly lesbian bishop in 2009, made the suggestion to make those of other faiths more welcome. The comments were in regard to a Seaman's Mission Church in Stockholm's dockyards. She challenged the priest there to tell what he'd do if a ship's crew came into port who weren't Christian but wanted to pray. She referred to Muslim guests to the church an 'angels'. The Bishop said that removing Christian symbols from the church and preparing the building for Muslim prayer doesn't make a priest any less a defender of the faith. Rather, to do any less would make one

"stingy towards people of other faiths".

She obviously places little value on the promises of God. The Bible tells us that the promises of God are 'Yes' in Christ. (2 Corinthians 1:20) To do what she suggests would be to totally devalue the promises in Christ. For example, in John 14:6 Jesus said,

"I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father
except through me."

It's only through Jesus that we can get to the Father. We also have to get rid of Acts 4:12 where Peter said of Jesus,

"Salvation is found in no one else,
for there is no other name under heaven
given to men by which
we must be saved."

That's a promise we would rejoice in, not hide. You'd also have to get rid of 1 Timothy 2:5,

"For there is one God
and one mediator
between God and men,
the man Christ Jesus,"

Some people who claim to be Christians do not hold to the promises of God. They want to be popular, relevant and sadly they exchange the truth of God for a lie. They throw away some of the promises of God.

Rather than being ashamed of the promises of the Bible, Peter urges Christians to delight in them, to hold fast to them, to look to them as a means by which we can draw near to God and forsake the corruption of the world. He wrote, (2 Peter 1:4)

"Through these he has given us
his very great and precious promises,
so that through them
you may participate in the divine nature
and escape the corruption
in the world caused by evil desires."

This great text teaches you that

you should treasure the promises of God.

Peter describes the promises as,

"very great and precious".

They are magnificent and glorious.

John Calvin says that Peter,

"points out that the excellence of the promises arises from the fact that they make us partakers of the divine nature, than which nothing more outstanding can be imagined."

I don't think you can say it any better than that. Christians, one of the greatest gifts God has given you is His promises.

Think about this:

It is through the promises of God that we get to participate in the divine nature.

Through the promises we become like God. We are not to think that we become God. God is God and we are creatures. That's the way it always will be. Gene L. Green writes, (2 Peter)

"Peter's thought has to do with moral transformation and not divinization or becoming divine men…"

We do not become God, but we become like Him. Because of Jesus the image of God that was marred and corrupted by the fall into sin is restored in us. In Ephesians 4:24 the apostle Paul urges Christians to,

"put on the new self,
created to be like God
in true righteousness and holiness."

Through Jesus the image of God in holiness and righteousness is being reborn in us. Because of the work of Jesus the Holy Spirit has been given to us. In 2 Corinthians 3:18 Paul tells Christians that the Spirit is making them glorious.

"And we, who with unveiled faces
all reflect the Lord's glory,
are being transformed into his likeness
with ever-increasing glory,
which comes from the Lord,
who is the Spirit."

Danker puts it this way, (1982: 459, quoted from Gene L. Green)

"To share in the divine nature therefore means to participate in the supreme virtues of the Chief Benefactor, with emphasis on righteousness and victory in the face of all that pronounces impermanence for humanity."

After the great judgment, Jesus said that you Christians, (Matthew 13:43)

"will shine like the sun
in the kingdom of their Father.
He who has ears,
let him hear."

How glorious it will be. How glorious you will be.

The day before he died, J. Gresham Machen spoke of a vision he had of being in heaven. To a ministerial friend who called on him he said,

"Sam, it was glorious, it was glorious."

When Brownlow North lay dying, there was a young army officer who was near-by. Mr. North turned to him and said,

"You are young, in good health, and with the prospect of rising in the army: I am dying; but if the Bible be true, and I know it is, I would not change places with you for the whole world."

Second, it is through the promises of God that we escape the corruption of the world.

The world today doesn't want you to believe the Word of God. Martyn Lloyd-Jones puts it this way, (2 Peter, p. 17)

"the world in which we live is a world that is inimical to our best and truest and highest interest; the world is for ever trying to come between us and God. If we listen to the world, as we all do by nature, it makes us not only think less and less of God, but even makes us feel that God is against us. It may even create an enmity against God, and a hatred of God within us. it gives us a positive liking and longing for the things that are hurtful to us, the things that debase us, the things that lower us, the things that drag us further and further away from God. Such is the corruption that is in the world through lust."

David R. Helm says that, (1 & 2 Peter and Jude: Sharing Christ's Suffering, Preaching the Word; ed. R. Kent Hughes; p. 194)

"Those who finish well in faith do so by holding fast to God's promises. According to Peter's gospel, there is simply nothing else strong enough to pull us home. Indeed, according to verse 4 it is by them that we escape the tug of 'the corruption that is in the world.' One can almost envision men, women, and children being pulled loose from the muck of this world and ascending to Heaven's skies solely by holding fast to the strong cord of God's Word."

I love that image. The Word of God pulling us free from the muck of this world.

So I ask you, do you value the promises of God like you should?

I think that we often don't value them as we should. Let me illustrate. When I was playing Little League Baseball, I was both a pitcher and a first baseman. I only had a regular glove and I when I started playing first base I wanted to get a first baseman's glove. You know how a catcher's mitt is different from a regular glove, well, a first baseman's mitt is bigger than a regular glove. It's taller and has a bigger catching area and has extra padding. It is perfect to catch or snag throws to first base that are a little off target.

When I started playing first base I wanted a first baseman's glove and I asked my parents to buy me one. But at the time they didn't have the money so they told me that they couldn't get me one. When the manager of my Little League team found out about my predicament, he told me not to worry, that the team had a little bit of money and that the team would buy me a brand new first baseman's glove. I was so excited. I couldn't wait to get it. Someone ordered the glove and when it finally arrived I was just ready to jump out of my skin—until I saw it. The new glove was so tiny and small that I was crestfallen. It was like it was for a six year old. I tried to hide my disappointment but I don't believe I was successful. I was expecting to receive a big first baseman's mitt that would help me play the position better—but what I actually received was an undersized glove that I could hardly get my hand into. What a disappointment. It was the biggest disappointment of my Little League career.

Now this didn't happen, but if that team had later on told me that they were going to order me a special bat to use in hitting—I never would have got my hopes up. Why get your hopes up when it would turn out to be such a disappointment?

I think at times we can treat the promises of God like that. Are you like that with the promises of God? Do you rarely think about them? Do you undervalue them? Do you treat them like they're going to be a big disappointment?

The promises of God are not going to disappoint you. There are very great and precious. They're going to surpass your expectations. In Ephesians 3:20 Paul gives praise,

"to him who is able to do
immeasurably more than all
we ask or imagine,"

And in 1 Corinthians 2:9 he wrote,

"No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared
for those who love him…"

In John 14:2–3 Jesus said,

"In my Father's house are many rooms;
if it were not so,
I would have told you.
I am going there
to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come back and take you
to be with me that you also
may be where I am."

Do you really think that Jesus is going to disappoint you in fulfilling His promises? Jude 1:24 refers to Him who is going,

"to present you before
his glorious presence
without fault and with great joy"

I think the best way of impressing this upon us is to look at the promises themselves—and we'll get to that in a minute. But one question beforehand,

where are these promises?

According to the end of 2 Peter 1 we get them from the Scriptures. Consider verses 16-21. (2 Peter 1:16–21)

"We did not follow
cleverly invented stories
when we told you about the power
and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,
but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
For he received honor and glory
from God the Father
when the voice came to him
from the Majestic Glory, saying,
'This is my Son,
whom I love;
with him I am well pleased.'
We ourselves heard this voice
that came from heaven
when we were with him
on the sacred mountain.
And we have the word of the prophets
made more certain,
and you will do well
to pay attention to it,
as to a light shining in a dark place,
until the day dawns and the morning star
rises in your hearts.
Above all,
you must understand that
no prophecy of Scripture came about
by the prophet's own interpretation.
For prophecy never
had its origin in the will of man,
but men spoke from God
as they were carried along
by the Holy Spirit."

The promises are contained in Scripture. We should be studying the promises and applying them to ourselves.

David R. Helm says that, (1 & 2 Peter and Jude: Sharing Christ's Suffering, Preaching the Word; ed. R. Kent Hughes; p. 194)

"True knowledge of God is always attended by a fixed belief in God's promises. So often today people want to claim relationship with God while at the same time they abandon the words of the Bible. It is as if we want a God in our own making—one who exists under the authority of our own word.This verse challenges such a notion. In fact, by the time we reach chapter 2 we will see that the entire letter is at odds with such a belief. Those who finish well in faith do so by holding fast to God's promises."

What are some of the very great and precious promises?

Our standing in Christ.

Peace with God is one. Romans 5:1 says,

"Therefore, since we have been
justified through faith,
we have peace with God
through our Lord Jesus Christ,"

Romans 8:1 says,

"Therefore, there is now
no condemnation
for those who are in Christ Jesus,"

Romans 8:15–16,

"For you did not receive a spirit
that makes you a slave again to fear,
but you received the Spirit of sonship.
And by him we cry,
'Abba, Father.'
The Spirit himself testifies
with our spirit
that we are God's children."

Ephesians 1:7,

"In him we have redemption
through his blood,
the forgiveness of sins,
in accordance with the riches
of God's grace."

1 John 3:1,

"How great is the love
the Father has lavished on us,
that we should be called children of God!
And that is what we are!"

Revelation 21:7,

"He who overcomes will inherit all this,
and I will be his God and he will be my son."

Hebrews 13:5,

"God has said,
'Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.' "

Our future

In Philippians 1:6 the apostle Paul wrote,

"being confident of this,
that he who began a good work in you
will carry it on to completion
until the day of Christ Jesus."

Life eternal is one. In John 3:16 Jesus said,

"For God so loved the world
that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him
shall not perish but have eternal life."

Our bodies are going to be like His glorious body.

Philippians 3:20–21,

"But our citizenship is in heaven.
And we eagerly await a Savior from there,
the Lord Jesus Christ,
who, by the power that enables him
to bring everything under his control,
will transform our lowly bodies
so that they will be like his glorious body."

We are going to dwell with God. In Revelation 21:3–4 we read,

"And I heard a loud voice
from the throne saying,
'Now the dwelling of God is with men,
and he will live with them.
They will be his people,
and God himself will be with them
and be their God.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
There will be no more death
or mourning or crying or pain,
for the old order of things
has passed away.' "

And Revelation 22:2–5 says,

"On each side of the river
stood the tree of life,
bearing twelve crops of fruit,
yielding its fruit every month.
And the leaves of the tree
are for the healing of the nations.
No longer will there be any curse.
The throne of God and of the Lamb
will be in the city,
and his servants will serve him.
They will see his face,
and his name will be on their foreheads.
There will be no more night.
They will not need the light of a lamp
or the light of the sun,
for the Lord God will give them light.
And they will reign for ever and ever."

Christians believe the promises. They have been given to you through Jesus Christ.

You must not treat God's promises like you treat man's promises. I could promise you that I'll be here in two weeks. But if I promised you that I'd be foolish. I might not be here then. I could let you down. The thing I should say is,

"If the Lord wills I'll be with you."

God is not like men and their promises.

I once played an April Fool's joke on Marg. I promised her something and it was all a joke. It was a lie.

But God does not lie. Psalm 145:13 says,

"The LORD is faithful
to all his promises…"

Hebrews 10:23 adds,

"Let us hold unswervingly
to the hope we profess,
for he who promised is faithful."

You Christians are to be like Abraham. Romans 4:18–21 says,

"Against all hope,
Abraham in hope believed
and so became the father of many nations,
just as it had been said to him,
So shall your offspring be.
Without weakening in his faith,
he faced the fact that his body
was as good as dead—
since he was about a hundred years old—
and that Sarah's womb was also dead.
Yet he did not waver through unbelief
regarding the promise of God,
but was strengthened in his faith
and gave glory to God,
being fully persuaded that
God had power to do
what he had promised."


1 Thessalonians 5:23–24

"May God himself,
the God of peace,
sanctify you through and through.
May your whole spirit,
soul and body be kept blameless
at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The one who calls you is faithful
and he will do it."